It reminds of that stat showing how many millions of plays an artist would have to get on Spotify to earn the average salary of a Spotify employee. Same with the iPhone. Why do we value the machine that holds the music more than the human who created it?
Almost all of the hosts I’ve met volunteer their time and open their homes to support the musicians who’ve been struggling to make any money from their recordings for the past 20 years. If we let corporations commodify the whole concept of community by taking over the house show scene, the musicians will suffer.
Let’s not let that happen, yeah? I want to create a community that values the musicians first and foremost. Will you help me do that by coming to our shows and bringing your friends? To sign up for our list and receive invites to our upcoming shows, visit insidelands.org
Do you play an acoustic instrument? Do you sing or write songs? Join us for one of our Sunday afternoon music hangouts sometime. They’re a very casual hang. Songwriters trading songs. Like an open mic without a mic. They usually happen around lunchtime and last for a couple hours. Different locations and hosts each time. If you’d like to come play some songs with us, join our mailing list or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll reply with the address and details. Hope to see you at our next gathering!
How lucky am I to have such talented friends? Last night’s show reminded me what a beautifully simple thing it is just to sit in a room and watch gifted people pour their hearts out. Matt Lucas has created an ideal listening room for songwriters and the people who dig what they do. Couches, rugs, bean bag chairs, a stage, lighting, PA system, and of course, the disco ball. I’m super grateful to Matt, Amie, Brad, and everyone who joined us for our first gathering at Matt’s yoga studio / martial arts gym / music space known at The Open Matt. Here’s to more collaborations like this in the seasons ahead.
Many of you may be wondering, “What is a house concert? How will I recognize the signs that I might be having one? Are there any known treatments?” Relax. House concerts are among the most common forms of musical expression in a post-venue world. They’re a 3D interactive offline reality game in which players meet in a human dwelling space and make sounds at each other. Points are awarded for humor and charm. At the end of the night, players with the most points may score.* *Scoring is neither guaranteed nor likely.
Here are answers to questions I’m frequently asked.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Just for fun. I’m a former performing songwriter who still loves hearing bands play in listening rooms and small venues where the audience is there more for the music than the social scene. A lot of those local venues have closed over the past few years, so my friends and I are doing what we can to create alternative venues in living rooms, yoga studios and wine tasting rooms.
Q: Is this a business? Are you a professional music promoter?
A: No. I do this for the love of music, not money.
Q: Who gets the audience donations? A: 100% of the tip jar donations collected at the shows go directly to the pockets of the performers (who sometimes give a few bucks to reimburse the homeowner hosts for snacks).
Recently, I was surprised to learn that some of the new, major players in the house show scene don’t compensate the musicians who play their shows. To me, this goes totally against the tradition of house concerts. The fact that they don’t promote who will be at any given show just underscores their belief that their gimmick, their system, their platform is more important than the musicians. It reminds of that stat showing how many millions of plays an artist would have to get on Spotify to earn the average salary of a Spotify employee. Same with the iPhone. We value the machine that holds the music more than the human who created it.
Almost all of the hosts I’ve met volunteer their time and open their homes to support the musicians, the same people who’ve been struggling making to make any money from their recordings for the past 20 years. If we let corporations commodify the whole concept of community by taking over the house show scene, the musicians will suffer. Let’s not let that happen, yeah? I want to create a community that values the musicians first and foremost. Will you help me do that by coming to our shows and bringing your friends?
Q: Are these music parties open to the public?
A: These are invitation-only parties that take place in private homes, backyards, yoga studios, wine tasting rooms and sometimes on the beach. But anyone can request an invitation to attend by emailing me at drew[at]insidelands.org.
Q: Could you help me organize a music party at my place?
A: Yes, I love collaborating with other supporters of local music. Drop me a line at email@example.com and let’s talk details, ok?
Q: How can I get invitations to these gatherings?
A: Just sign up on my mailing list with the form in the upper right hand corner of this page or email me at drew[at]insidelands.org and I’ll sign you up.
When last year’s Outside Lands festival was announced, the lineup included so many of my favorite bands, I had a nearly Pavlovian reflex to grab tickets as fast as possible.
Then I mind drifted back to that Bottlerock moment when the loud talkers in front of us managed to drown out The Cure with their chatter. I heard one of them ask the other, “Who is this band?” They seem truly annoyed that the band was interrupting their party.
That’s when I knew I was fully over the festival scene. I started wondering why we couldn’t create an alternative scene where music-loving, semi-agoraphobic peeps like me could actually hear the bands they came to see.
My low-tech, no-brainer solution was to revive my house concert series and rename it “Inside Lands”.
So if you’re one of the ones who still craves the live music experience, but could do without the loud bar crowds, come hang out with us.
In September 2001, I was living in a cottage in Sonoma county, fairly far and isolated from my friends in the city. My birthday was just two weeks after the 9/11 attacks. I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but I didn’t feel like hiding out at home alone either.
So I invited my musician friends up to my place for an impromptu music party. They brought their guitars, ukeleles, cellos, and djembes. We sat out on my porch and played under the stars until almost midnight. It was exactly what I need to clear away the pent-up dread in those strange, anxious days.
Now, 15 years later, I still remember how cathartic the feeling of community was at that first Porchapalooza. It inspired me to keep trying to recreate that vibe on a regular basis. So, for over 10 years, hosting house concerts was what I lived to do. It was a hobby that meant more to me than any job ever could.
It gave me a chance to meet a few of my musical heroes—Peter Case, Glen Phillips, Noe Venable, Gregory Alan Isakov, and many more.
I couldn’t believe my luck. Songwriters I’d heard on the radio for years were somehow suddenly playing in living rooms for small gatherings of my friends. Having tried to be a performing songwriter myself, stumbling into the role of house concert host felt like I’d finally figured out how to stay connected to music in a way that was meaningful and useful.
It felt like I’d found my proper place in the scene that I loved. Not on stage. But close enough to it that it felt like part of the action.
For me, the best moment at any house concert happens about halfway through the night when the banter begins.
I don’t know whether it’s the wine kicking in or nervous energy wearing off, but you can sense when the artists and the audience realize there’s no stage separating them. They’re just people in a room together. It helps you hear the songs in a different way.
I think that was especially true whenever we presented songwriters “in the round.” Like those epic shows hosted by Heather Combs at Hotel Utah Saloon, you’d sometimes get to watch musicians who’d never met before sing harmonies on each other’s songs. Improvised collaboration. That’s something you don’t get to witness too much in a formal venue.
I’ve missed the loose, chatty, party vibe of those first songwriters-in-the-round shows. I’ve missed the camaraderie and community they created. And I’ve missed feeling like I could do something to help shine a spotlight on the people I admired.
So, in the coming year, I want to continue lending a hand to my friends who still host shows. I want to keep trying to gather people into those listening rooms. I want to collaborate on house concerts and music parties as often as possible.
If that’s your jam and you’d like to attend (or host a show at your place), follow our Facebook page and I’ll let you know when we’re gathering.