Sunday, March 18, 2012

Texas Tour: music? in houses?

I meant to give you a pre-house show tour blogpost, I really did. But then I had errands to run and bags to pack and food to eat and sleep to sleep and prayers to pray. And alas, I did not write that blog.

But read on, and you'll know what a house show is, what it means.

So, first you call up some friends or some friends of friends living somewhere in the United States (or abroad, if you've got the money and time). Then you ask them if they want to open up their front door and let some musicians play songs and share stories... oh, and can they at least feed you one meal?

And if they say yes, then you're really excited!

Then, you show up on the day of the show, shake hands/give hugs, pet the dog, rearrange furniture, and begin unloading the Uhaul (which you better get used to because you're going to hit 'repeat' and do this a lot more during the tour!)

{Our setup in Richardson, Texas - photo credit: Matthew Clark}

Then after the usual prep - equipment arrangement, sound check - you sit down to dinner (homemade venison chili, if you're lucky) with your hosts and talk about life. Get to know each other. Be present with the people who have opened a corner of their lives to you. Enjoy this time; it's the best part of a house show, the time you get to have good, slow, human interactions.

And then the doorbell rings.

People arrive, old friends show up, family you haven't seen in years greets you warmly or maybe it's a room full of strangers... to you, at least. Because your host has invited friends (and maybe those friends invite friends), there's an air of familiarity, even if you've just met your guests. Another great part of a house show.

You welcome people from the microphone, and you help them understand what a house show is. It's personal. It's interactive. Guests can ask questions; you might ask them questions. Stories are told; songs are sung.

{San Antonio, Texas - photo credit: David Vignes}

{San Antonio, Texas - photo credit: David Vignes}

The hosts usually provide coffee and snacks, or they invite others to bring the snacks. And when you take a break between song sets, you'll go get a snack, too.

When the night of singing and storytelling is over, you'll reminisce with those old friends; you'll remember how good it was to live life with them, and how good it is to have them back again. You'll meet new people; you'll hear words of encouragement. You'll sell a t-shirt or a CD; but don't be too disappointed if you don't sell many - this is not what it's about.

This is what it's about: people. You don't write songs just to sing yourself to sleep with or to sing in the shower. You may have begun writing songs this way, but if you're on a house show tour, chances are that you are now writing songs in order to share them. To give them as gifts to other people. They may cry; they may laugh. They may just enjoy a restful evening while their kids have coke and pizza at grandma's house.

{Stafford, Texas - photo credit: Cintia Listenbee}

Then when the last guests leaves, you'll collapse on the couch and tell each other how "full" you feel (though you might be a a little cranky and exhausted - I speak for myself here) and tell each other what a good and crazy idea this was to pack up your stuff and go play music together.

{What about you? Have you been to a house show; have you hosted one? Were you the musician who played in someone's living room once? Share your thoughts with us!}

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