Here are some of musicians I’ve had the pleasure of presenting at Inside Lands and my original series, Bay Area House Concerts.
A Great Big World (Ian Axel and Chad King)
Adrianne (The Rescues)
Allie Moss (Ingrid Michaelson band)
Bobby Jo Valentine
Chris Von Sneidern
Dear John, Love Renée
Echoes + Artifacts
Elizabeth and The Catapult
Graham Patzner (Whiskerman)
Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Gregory Alan Isakov
Jeff Campbell (Static & Surrender)
Jeff Pehrson (Box Set)
Jim Brunberg (Box Set)
John Walter (Walty)
Kunkel & Harris
Kyler England (The Rescues)
Mark Davis (To Wake You)
Matt Langlois (Welcome Matt)
Misner & Smith
Molly Venter (Red Molly)
Monica Pasqual (Blame Sally)
Nick Shattell (not an Airplane)
Oona Garthwaite (Marston)
Peter Case (Plimsouls)
To Wake You
Uma Robin Mackey
Yours Truly, Michele
Every month, my friends and I present acoustic music parties in homes and private listening rooms around northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. 100% of the audience donations go to the musicians.
A few months ago, I was surprised to learn that some of the major players in the house show scene don’t compensate the musicians who play their shows. To me, this goes against the tradition of house concerts.
The fact that they don’t promote the names of the performers before the show underscores the belief that the 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. Why do we value the machine that holds the music more than the human who created it?
Almost all of the hosts I know 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? Let’s 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
Q: How can I get involved in hosting a music party at my place?
A: I love collaborating with other people who want to give songwriters a place to perform. If you have a place that can fit 40-50 people and would like to have me organize, promote and co-host a show at your home, send me an email and let’s talk about possible dates and artists.
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. Just send me an email and tell me which show you’d like to attend.
Q: How can I get invitations to these gatherings?
A: Just send me an email and let me know which show you’d like to attend. I’ll reply with address and details.
Q: Who gets the audience donations?
A: 100% of the donations at the shows and on inside-lands.ticketleap.com go to the performers. One of my main motivations for creating the Inside Lands series was to support the indie musicians I love and try to help them earn a living from their art.
Q: Is this a business? Are you a professional music promoter?
A: No. This is my hobby.
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 venues have closed, so my friends and I are doing what we can to create alternative venues in living rooms, yoga studios and wine tasting rooms.
Q: How can I get booked as a featured performer?
A: If you’re a singer-songwriter who’d like to perform at a house concert, introduce yourself to me in person at our next event. Booking decisions are shared by the homeowner co-hosts. Most shows are solo singer/songwriters performing in the round, and I lean toward San Francisco Bay Area acoustic acts that don’t need a PA. But I always love being introduced to new music, especially if you play indie folk, chamber pop, or Americana rock. Check out past performers to get an idea of what I tend to present.
I’m Drew Pearce, a singer-songwriter who loves hearing live music in listening rooms. As a former performer, I have great memories of places like the Owl & Monkey Cafe where small groups of people would gather to give their full attention to the music. When that venue closed, I kept looking for places that had the same kind of listening room vibe.
Back when I was a contributing writer for Acoustic Guitar magazine, I was assigned to write an article on house concerts. Hearing the hosts tell their stories inspired me to try hosting myself.
That was September 2001. I was living in a cottage in Healdsburg, far from my friends in the city. My birthday was two weeks after 9/11, and 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 house for an impromptu music party. They brought their guitars, ukeleles, cellos, and djembes. We sat out on my porch and played under the stars. It was exactly what I need to clear away the pent-up dread in those strange, anxious days.
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 I started devoting almost all of my free time to hosting house concerts.
Over the years, it’s given 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.
After trying 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 missed the loose, chatty, party vibe of those first songwriters-in-the-round shows. I missed the camaraderie and community they created. And I missed feeling like I could do something to help shine a spotlight on the people I admired.
So I want to continue collaborating with my friends who want to co-host shows in their homes. I want to keep trying to gather people into those listening rooms. I want to organize acoustic 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.