Paula Reynolds (right) welcomed singer/songwriter Michael Johnathon to her home for a “house concert” last Saturday night. House concerts are growing in popularity as a fun way to enjoy live music, meet new friends, and share good food. Photo by Phil Houseal
by Phil Houseal
Imagine inviting 50 of your closest friends into your living room to listen to your favorite musician. They are called “house concerts,” and they are happening all across the country.
Paula Reynolds, who moved here from Corpus Christi with her husband Marty 2 1/2 years ago, is spreading the concept locally through Hill Top House Concerts.
The Reynolds attended their first concert in the home of Jack and Barbara Fields.
“It was amazing,” Reynolds confided. “Here were a bunch of people with the same interests, sharing potluck, and I’m standing next to the artist munching Triscuits.”
Enamored of the concept, the Reynolds decided to host concerts in their Northwest Hills home.
“It works beautifully,” she said, “but it is a lot of work.”
In the days leading up to the concert, Reynolds clears out the living room area, brings in as many as 60 chairs and five tables, and of course, makes sure the house is clean. Hosts usually provide tea and serving utensils.
There’s also the responsibility of attracting a crowd. Hosts spread the word via the web, posters, and word of mouth. Most concerts have a $10 suggested donation per person, which is collected at the door. All the money goes to the artist.
Guests each bring a covered dish. The concert is usually in two parts, with a break in between where guests mingle, eat, and meet the artist.
“We will do these as long as they are supported by the community and are fun for us,” Reynolds said.
They are also fun for the artist, as a house concert is a dream setting. “It’s nothing like a club,” Reynolds said. “Every artist says it is their favorite way to perform, because people are listening.”
“House concerts are quite popular in Texas and California,” agreed Fredericksburg guitarist Graham Pearson, who has performed at several in the Austin area. “It is a way to hear original music in a small, exclusive setting, in the comfort of someone’s home. The artist gets all the proceeds, there is no smoking, and guests bring their own food and drink.”
“We always attract a neat mix of people,” Reynolds said. “Half the guests we know, and the other half become new friends. The comfort level is amazing. When you have strangers walk into your kitchen and put down a platter of food, it’s like family.”
So when it comes to enjoying live music, meeting new friends, and sharing good food, there really is no place like home.