House Concerts

House Concert an Old Idea Reborn… A brief history…

One night, a friend and I attended a coffee house concert at a local college. During the intermission the performers joined us for coffee…We asked how we could access more music venues into our area… Someone suggest doing a house concert. 

“What’s a house concert?”  I asked. The response “It’s a concert in a house. Like in days of old when bards traveled the country bringing news (not fake), songs and songs from distant places…”

 We started the House Concerts in Wisconsin the fall of 1979.  Our goal: to provide Folk performers and audiences an intimate listening space.  In the tradition of folk music, we wanted to bring friends, family and community together for a down home evening. 

We also wanted to support to traveling musicians… The hosts offer a meal or two, a safe bed an audience to listen and a pass of the hat to help the performer down the road… Sometimes I found greet things in the hat… guitar string, cheese, maple syrup. All good.

We started with a couple concerts in our area.  We offered them as a primum on Simply Folk’s annual WPR fund raiser… The word spread rapidly.  Now House Concerts are being held all over the globe… And as they say:  THE BEAT GOES ON!


The Nuts and Bolts of Holding a House Concert

A. How many folks make a house concert?

I am honored the be invited into your home to share fellowship and music… The size of group is unimportant but the more the merrier. I have played house concerts for 6 to 100 people.

B. Can I do a House Concert in a Small Space?

Most people are surprised at how many people can be seated comfortably in a living room. Using concert-style row seating, with kitchen or dining room chairs and guest bring a chair or two. A little furniture rearranging, an average 12 X 18 living room can comfortably seat 35 people.

If your home is absolutely too small, consider hosting the concert jointly with a friend who has a larger home, or in your community center, church or weather permitting outside…

C. How long is house concert?

Generally, two 45-minute sets with a 20-30-minute intermission are typical. The concert format can be tailored to each individual situation. Some folks have a pot luck prior to concert.

D. Paying the Fiddler

“Suggested Donation: “The cost of a movie in your community.  When introducing the performer, the host can mention the donation basket and requests folks be as generous as possible.  This request should be repeated at the break and at end of the concert…

E. Will I need Sound?

House concerts by nature are acoustic music… In most instances, a sound system is not required. In the rare cases where it is needed performers generally supply one.

F. How Do I Attract an Audience?

Invite friends and neighbors via post cards, phone calls. Facebook, e-mails, a short ad in local paper, shoppers guide, or organization newsletter… Check with performers to see if they have a local fan list. 

If in Wisconsin, you can list it on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Simply Folk @

No matter what forum you use for invitation we suggest having people RSVP for reservations using e-mail or phone # for contact… Only give physical address to those you feel comfortable doing so…

G. Any other suggestions?


  1. Make sure artist and guests alike are aware of house rules. Smoking? Alcoholic beverages?
  2. Children are welcome and need to be seated with their parents…
  3. Remind your guests that this is a listening concert and to please turn off their phones…
  4. Have a great time.

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