At its core, Host & Artist is a community, because we believe house concerts, and even art itself, is about community.
Some of our favorite singer-songwriters are passionate about house concerts. Here's what they have to say...
Whenever I’m in an intimate setting—no sound system, no fancy lights, no band—and the listeners are just a few feet away, I’m struck all over again by why I fell in love with songwriting in the first place: a story, a string of a few words in a certain order, all planted in a bed of chords and rhythms, can arrest someone’s attention for a few precious minutes. In a world of clamor and distraction, that’s nothing short of miraculous. In that space, it’s not about how good or bad the song is, how perfect or imperfect the performance is; in that space we’re all reminded that we’re not alone, that our stories intersect—and if the artist and the audience are courageous enough to open themselves to a little bit of wonder, or a little bit of light, we can all come away a little bit changed. Over time, those little changes can shape our lives in big ways. All because of a song.
I've loved the community feel of house shows, how intimate and fresh it feels, and the good conversations that come from it all.
– Kristen Slaughter, host
House shows are a wonderful way to connect deeply with your audience. When done well they provide the best settings for listeners to connect with the work and the artist in a way that is far more satisfying than so many other kinds of gigs.
We have made some of our best friends playing house shows. We stay with the hosts and often find that we leave feeling refreshed and refilled spiritually.
One of the most encouraging things I have learned by doing house shows is how many wonderful people and communities there are all around this country. I get to stand awkwardly during intermission around a table of appetizers with folks from all walks of life. And I have made many great friends in the process. I have conversations with them to find out what is going on around them and what people might be coming into the evening with. Which songs would speak to what they are experiencing? Even just one story of a divorce, a loss, a joyous moment – can shape the entire evening. And I think this is the factor that makes each show so different and fun. The house is the great intersection between what I might have to offer and what the people there need. But... it is also the intersection of my need and what the people there have to offer me. And that works when everyone is on an equal playing field.
When I started, I wish I knew how much fun it can be, and how lovely it is to fill my house with music and the memories of people relaxing into the beauty of the evening. Songs that didn’t speak to me on the record can be quite moving when sung live.
– Katie Hays, host
We have never had a bad experience and it has been great to see who shows up. We have had different areas of our lives represented at these house shows. People from our family, people from our church and friends of our children. That has been great to see.
– David Slaughter, host
The joy that comes from hosting well, the joy of preparing heart and home to welcome the weary ones who enter it and then feeding their bodies and souls with food, drink, music, truth and beauty... When I see the smiles on the people who come, see them moved to tears by particular lyrics, hear them afterward share honestly about their own lives and struggles, hear them laughing out of pure joy when someone says something funny, I could explode with happiness. House shows are special times.
– April Pickle, host
It's encouraging to see the way people show up for house shows. It's honestly a weird pitch ('come see a concert in my house!') so I'm grateful and encouraged that there is a place for something like that in today's culture of streaming moments and "being there" online.
Connecting with people. Making friends. It’s really fun to meet new people and to see again folks who’ve hosted me before. I’m amazed at people’s kindness and hospitality. I find that people are really generous with their homes and time. I think that’s part of the culture of this particular way of pursuing music – it’s especially personal, and the people who tend to be into that are usually nourishing people.
House shows are some of the most beneficial events that we do. We surprisingly make a decent amount of money at each event – but more than that our connection with folks is better than with any other event we do. It's just so intimate and vulnerable and I think folks really feel like they get to know us.
– Jonathan Martin, artist
House shows feel more like a conversation than a performance. Long ago, bards moved from place to place, sharing a poem in exchange for a place to stay or a warm meal. House shows feel like that, and it is really a sweet thing. In a noisy culture full of platforms and social media profiles, house shows feel intimate and real.
To make a connection with an otherwise complete stranger. Music is not salvation, but it sure can be a lifeline to folks who are struggling and maybe need a reminder that they're not alone. I am grateful that some of my songs over the years have edified a few people, if only to remind me that I'm not alone, either.
The most encouraging thing is the feedback you get from people. Most of the people that come out have never been to a house show, and they're kind of nervous at first because they're in a stranger's home, but so many people tell me afterwards that it's one of their favorite concert experiences.
I would tell younger artists to do this because it will help them grow. Use the intimate nature of house concerts to work through and trust the process and vulnerability to allow themselves the freedom to not have a plan. There is an interaction that can happen in a house concert and unplugged setting when you don’t necessarily stick to a set plan that you made beforehand. Because there are no walls between the audience and performer.
People love live music. And you can touch a lot of hearts in a unique way in that format.
People love to listen and are happy to support someone who brings a word of truth or encouragement to them.
Songs can impact people in many ways. Sometimes you get to see that at house shows.
The possibility is there to build something beautiful, lasting and memorable. The music serves as a connecting point. It’s the conversations surrounding the music that forge relationships that endure beyond the music. We love the musicians that come in and often feast at our table. The conversations that have taken place there have been and continue to be the real treasure for us as house show hosts.
– Lynn Holloway, host
There were people in almost all the cities I went to that said, "I didn't know this was even a thing! I can't believe I walked to my neighbor's house for a concert!" They loved it.
I'm always encouraged when people listen intently and engage with my music. A kind, listening crowd is such a gift, whether it's 20 people or 50. That's the joy of house concerts for me.
People are just waiting for an excuse to gather in this more non-traditional, vulnerable way to support artists they love. One successful house show experience is enough to lay to rest any doubts that audiences want to participate. They're usually just waiting for artists and hosts to take the initiative.
There is an actual audience out there for every artist. House shows are on the Quality side of the Quantity vs. Quality spectrum. They're intimate and real. If someone wants to know what you're truly about as an artist, a house show is the place to start.
My experience playing house shows has been incredibly satisfying. It has confirmed to me that all I want as a songwriter is to have a few people sit and earnestly listen to what I've written… A handful of people who show up ready to thoughtfully listen to some songs is about as good as it gets.
I’m always encouraged by how much people really do enjoy listening to music intentionally. Some may have never done that before. Quality music and quality songs really do reach people in a meaningful way when they are paid attention.
There is always some surprise for me in who shows up, and in what people find in the songs. I nearly always have one or more people tell me at some point after the show or in the week after how meaningful a particular song or story was for them. Our own story, in some measure, is the story of us all.
– Laura Preston, host
The intimate atmosphere of the house show strips away some of the "magic" experienced in big music clubs (colored stage lights, massive sound systems, being lost in a big crowd) and replaces it with a "deeper magic" that focuses on the lyrics, melodies, stories, shared laughter, and the camaraderie of community.
The most encouraging thing seems to be that people want to be together, sharing time and space and experiences. There is a real sense of togetherness and community at house shows that are truly beautiful that I have and hope to experience every single time.
House concerts expose a bit of the magic I am always hoping to find. They are moments when the momentum of the mundane tips over into appreciation. Hope fills a roomful of faces because we have been so desperately searching for it. It's not because of me. The art is an excuse to be in the room and feel this 'togetherness' that tells us we are not alone... Even that we are surrounded by people who value these moments of true clarity, when we can confidently say that our lives are headed somewhere good. When we point out what's beautiful to one another, it matters, because it helps us to carry on. That's ultimately why I'm here.