That may mean busking in the street or finding other venues large and small. One area songwriter I know told me he and his partner once played a show crammed into the fast food restaurant’s drive-thru window area.
Another way many singer-songwriters have found to show their talents, and pay a few bills, is to play at house parties. North Carolina performing songwriter and storyteller Michael Reno Harrell says his house concerts appeal to people who love live music but don’t care for the late-nights and crowds often associated with club scenes.
One of the first house parties I went to was in Nashville when I was hanging with a resident songwriter there for a day. The house where the party was held had a stage in the back room and was set up with a built-in sound system to accommodate three to four performers playing in a round.
The last two house concerts I attended were in Hickory, NC where a couple turned a basement into a small concert hall with professional lighting and sound equipment. For a small donation I had a chance to see and hear great regional songwriters Malcolm Holcombe and David Childers in an intimate setting.
But hosts don’t have to turn their homes into nightclubs to invite an artist to perform.
Because you often only have to accommodate a solo performer – two performers at most – a small corner of the living room will usually do. As Michael describes his typical set up: “… it takes a little planning. Move the coffee table to a bedroom borrow some folding chairs, use the kitchen chairs, put pillows on the floor.”
At the shows I’ve attended people are happy to bring food and beverages, which makes it a real party.
Often it’s a symbiotic relationship for the artist and the fan. The artist may need a midweek gig between shows and a place to stay between venues. The fan gets to introduce his or her friends to a favorite act and enjoy a live show with all the comforts of home, literally.
Depending on the artist’s requirements, it may take up to dozen or two people kicking in $15 to $20 apiece, but that’s not bad for a memorable and unique evening of entertainment.