For this edition Upbeat producer Zoë George explores the etiquette of house concerts – is it OK to BYO? Do I have to take my shoes off before coming inside? And what should I bring for the host?
She talks to Anthony Uphof from Blacksheep Farm about all the home truths about how to be a great guest.
ZG: Can I BYO?
AU: We aim for the event to be suitable for the entire family. If it makes you comfortable, then bring it. But we do provide alcohol.
ZG: Should we bring something for the host?
AU: We enjoy it when someone brings something to share; a house concert is about sharing. Ours is a paid concert, so we manage it well and we provide something to eat and drink.
ZG: How many people can fit into a lounge?
AU: In our lounge, we can have 50-60 people, on seats, steps and beanbags. You can bring a blanket and cushion. You’re not going to be squished in like sardines, but it’s intimate.
ZG: So that means we should consider how we smell?
AU: Do consider the person you’re sitting next to. Scrub up but don’t overdo it, but don’t under do it too, with the perfume. We’re rural here, so if a local farmer comes in from afternoon milking we might have to give him a quick hose off! It’s about friends getting together so turn up wearing whatever you’re comfortable in. And jandals are fine.
ZG: Should we take our shoes off at the door?
AU: Normally it’s shoe off policy, but if the guests haven’t been out in the fields then leaving shoes on inside, is fine.
ZG: How do I get an invite to a house concert?
AU: Often they are spontaneous. But if you see it advertised, invite yourself.
ZG: Is ok to bring friends?
AU: Yes that’s fine, but do book a seat as there is a limit.
ZG: When should I arrive?
Arrive 15-20 minutes early, grab a seat and soak in the event. The etiquette is the same as going to the theatre or opera. If the concert has started, wait until it’s stopped then find a seat. With this type of intimate event, performers made it part of the performance.
ZG: Technology - on or off?
If you must keep it on, keep it on silent. If you want to tweet your enjoyment, then tweet, but we prefer you tweet later. It interferes with some of the audience and performers. Discuss it with us. We want to share this. Ask before you do it. It’s little simple courtesies that help.
ZG: The performer can see me?
Yes, they can! This is the magic. It’s an intimate event. You make it happen by sitting there - you’re part of it.
ZG: Can I sing along?
The appropriate thing would be to call for an encore and join in then.
ZG: Should I give a donation to the performer?
I’m sure they would graciously accept that.
ZG: If we want to host, how do we do that?
There are a lot of formalities. We’ve been trying to do it informally. It’s about referrals and talking. It grows in time. I’d encourage more people to do it. It’s a great way to get musicians to put their art out and for us to enjoy it too.
ZG: What are some top tips for being a house concert host?
Get good acts together that people will enjoy and identify with. It takes a lot of planning. Get it out early. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the initial uptake. People need reminders.
ZG: Is it ok to stick around after the concert?
Often people will linger around the piano and raise their own voices.