Some of you may or may not be familiar with Jennifer Lawson (The Bloggess) – if you are, you know that she is one amazing lady with two New York Times Best-Belling books to her credit (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy) and an amazingly hilarious blog that shares a lot of her struggles with depression and the incredible darkness that we all can fall into when we get captured by it…never letting us forget that depression lies and there is light on its way and that you are worthy of being Furiously Happy.
What does this have to do with music or house shows, you ask?
It’s quite simple, really. Those that make art, take music for example, typically have gone through some pretty tough times. May they be circumstances, events, depression, struggles, anger, being poor, losing love, moving into the more joyous times; finding love, faith, friendship and happiness…even books – all of these things meld together and sometimes, successfully separately, to create art. Some of the best songs in the world, came from utter heartbreak.
My good friend and incredible singer/songwriter and musician Emma Hill, has just come out on the other side of – for lack of a better phrase – a really shitty year. Let me tell you something about this incredible creature – and this may be the typical M.O. for most people that struggle with their own issues – you’d never know that she’s going through anything at all. When she is on tour, she is “on” and ready to perform and that part of her – the dark side – sort of gets pushed down and she has a show to put on and so there’s no time to dwell in the darkness. And she is REALLY successful at it. From her sad times, have come some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I admired her music before I actually met her. Then, when I met her, I fell in love with her as a person and we became fast friends. We’ve had long talks and quiet times and lots and lots of fun times. So when she was struggling last year, I decided to send her Jenny’s book, “Furiously Happy”.
If you have not read this book, I highly encourage it. HIGHLY. It’s hilarious and uncomfortable and healing and FABULOUSLY FUNNY!
A few really cool things happened after Emma read this book. 1.) She found someone that makes her Furiously Happy. Her new love, Patrick. 2.) She wrote an incredible song inspired by her new found love and the book that helped her find her way out of the darkness.
At our most recent house show, before the crowd came and it was just our family and her and her musical companion Bryan Daste, she told me she had a surprise for me. She preceded to grab her guitar and her song Furiously Happy stumbled into my life. I was beyond touched and actually started thinking about what this song would mean to Jenny and all the people that have been touched by her writing. I want to share it with you here and hope that you share it with your loved ones and those that mean everything to you and also to those that may be in the darkness, trying to fight their way out.
Music is life.Live it. Love it. Share it with the world.
We’ve talked about where you’re going to seat everyone – now let’s talk about how you’re going to feed all of these people! And, BEVERAGES! When preparing for your house show, you first need that all important “Yes” from your artist of choice, you’ll agree on a date, you’ll invite your friends and family via social media and word of mouth, then you begin deciding how big of a bash you’re going to throw. We have always viewed these House Shows as a “party”. We usually have mingle time before the show, which typically revolves around a light meal or easy to graze on foods and oodles of beverages. You can just keep it very simple with bowls of chips scattered throughout your house or you can ask people to bring a dish they’d like to share that’s easy to grab and go. Our plan usually revolves around something easily made in large quantities and portable with very little clean up required afterward and we have also gone to the extreme of creating a huge spread. While simpler is better, if you’re good at making something and have a dish that people rave about, by all means – MAKE IT! Just remember, asking for your guests participation in bringing a dish can really save you a lot of stress. The last thing you want to do is man the stove the whole night – take it from me, the “hostess with the mostest”. I have overworked myself at shows so much that it was hard for me to enjoy myself and yes, I regretted it. But then again, I’m a MOM, and MOM’s like to make sure everyone is taken care of to the point of it teetering on the OCD side. I come from a long line of MOM-types…I’ve learned to live with it…so my advice is to keep it simple, easy to grab foods like pizza, eggrolls, chips and salsa, popcorn – shopping at Costco is NOT underrated for these events. Something that we have continuously done over the years is provide a selection of adult beverages and also non-alcoholic beverages for those that are taking the roll of Designated Driver. We will typically have a cooler for beer and a separate cooler for non-alcoholic drinks and a table in our kitchen with spirits so people can make mixed drinks. So many types of beer and spirits get accumulated and we also ask that our guests bring their favorite to share. People are very generous with what they bring and are always willing to share with the group. We do give the disclaimer in our invite that there will be adult beverages consumed, so if children are present, adult language may and most definitely WILL be used throughout the night.
Disclaimer – but very important to remember:
When people drink, they tend to get loud. My suggestion would be to not really have hours and hours of mingle time before the show. We typically let people know they can start showing up 1 hour before show time. The whole point is to enjoy this intimate setting surrounded by friends enjoying some amazingly talented musicians. It’s very important that people pay attention and give the artists the respect they deserve. Drinking can lead to disruptive behavior, so please ensure people remember the reason they are there – they can always really let loose after the show when the night shifts from music to hanging out and partying.
The main thing to remember is that this is an event to showcase music, so be as extravagant as you want or keep it really simple. You’re already guaranteed to have an amazing show with the artist/artists that you love, so planning out what you want to provide your guests and how much participation you’ll need from them is key.
All you wanted to do was throw a house show for your friends. Now that your Facebook Event has been set up and you’ve invited everyone on your friends list to come listen to your chosen artist, reality sets in.
HOLY CRAP, I DON’T HAVE ANYWHERE FOR PEOPLE TO SIT!!!!!
Don’t worry, first timer…it’s going to be okay. So what are we looking at really? You invited 100 people? How many actually said they are coming? 20? Alright – just take a big deep breath and lets walk through this together, shall we?
You have a couch, that will seat 3 comfortably, if you tell people they can sit on the arms of the couch, that’s 5. Ok – we need 15 more.
Kitchen table chairs. Most people have 4-6 chairs. Let’s go with 6. Now we’re up to 11 – MORE THAN HALF WAY!! Nicely done!! I’m really impressed how you were able to pull yourself together. Let’s keep going.
Computer desk!!!!! There’s a rolling chair there! AWESOME! We are up to 12 – and you thought you didn’t have any chairs in your house! Why you always jump to conclusions, I’ll never know. Are you ready to get creative? We need 8 more chairs…let’s do this, yo!
Do you have a couple throw pillows on your couch? GREAT! Throw those puppies on the floor! It’ll be perfect…now we need 6.
CAMPING CHAIRS! ooooohhhh yeah…now we’re talking. I have like 4 of those suckers in the basement! This is awesome! Still need 2 more.
The picnic table out back? What? There’s a bench out there, right? BAM!
I can’t believe you were worried about this! Just like Glenda the Good Witch told Dorothy, “You had the power all along, my dear.”
Here are a couple alternatives that I found on Pinterest for those of you that are looking for other ways to pull seating where once there was none:
Explaining what a House Show is to someone that hasn’t actually experienced one, is nothing short of difficult to do. If you are a music lover – someone who appreciates and understands what it takes to create something that is personal and then putting it out there for the world to hear and feel and experience, taking into account the hours upon hours that it takes to not only write the lyrics to the songs, but the music that accompanies it – it’s a little easier to fathom. But for someone that may not take that serious approach, it becomes a little more difficult to express how truly incredible these shows are.
Emma Hill and Bryan Daste came into our lives less than 3 short years ago. Since then, we have hosted probably 5 shows with them and attended probably 10+ shows. I use them as an example so much because they were our first brush with House Shows. As I’ve written before in How I Became a House Show Junkie, explaining how Emma came into our lives, during the time that we have come to know Emma and Bryan, we have grown very close with them. True friendships have taken the place of where the crazy fan-family once lived. This tends to come in the form of donning myself the President of the Superfans of Emma Hill Facebook page I created…among other things, like shamelessly plugging everything I can get my hands on – tour dates, rounding up friends and family across the US to get them to a show that might be playing in their area, promoting her music videos, and taking copious amounts of photos and videos on my YouTube channel from the concerts and shamelessly sharing them on all of the social media outlets I can.
It should come as no surprise then, that I write about this most recent show and visit with them here, on this humble blog.
We were lucky enough to spend about 4 days with Emma this time – 3 with Bryan. Emma flew in fresh (she may laugh at the “fresh” part…but I didn’t notice) from Thailand and I took a couple days off work to be able to spend time with her and after a day of much needed rest, Bryan arrived. After not seeing each other for a couple months or more, Bryan and Emma needed to get some rehearsal time under their belts and my house and BACK YARD (you’re welcome neighbors) were filled with music. They think of it as work, I just wanted to clap like a nutjob after each song they finished. Awkward. You know what’s cool? Doing the dishes and singing along with LIVE MUSIC instead of a recorded track or CD or playlist.
We were the first stop on their Spring tour. Friday evening we went to Longhorn BBQ where they performed their first show. The following day was our House Show at my Uncle Jeff’s house, but first they had an appearance at another of my family members’ businesses – they were celebrating being open for 5 years and threw a big wingding and asked them if they’d play. After Emma and Bryan were done there, they zoomed over to my Uncle’s house and got settled and ready for the show. There was probably 45-50 people there.
For the first time EVER, I left my cell phone in my purse. I wanted to just completely take in the show this time. I was not disappointed – I never have been. This show was even better than the last one – I’m pretty sure I feel this way about all of their shows. Emma and Bryan played their first set – over an hour and a half – before taking a break. The goal was to stretch the show a bit in the hopes that by the time the 2nd set came around, my oldest daughter would arrive after her shift was over at work. It aaaaaaaaaallllllllllmost worked. We waited as long as we could, but before Emma and Bryan started to play, my husband came up to me and said we were going to do a little impromptu tribute to Bryan – it’s always about Emma – she’s the songwriter and lead and deservedly so, but there is a subtle loveliness about what Bryan brings to her shows that needed to be addressed – and because they are adored by our friends and family so much, we thought now was the time. (Plus Katie hadn’t gotten there yet…)
There were so many things we wanted to say. Firstly, what an amazing friend he is to Emma – but his musicianship is really first class. He truly enhances what Emma is trying to accomplish. Even the most subtle of notes, or his perfect harmonies, the fact that he has an APP on his PHONE that he uses in one of the songs he plays with Emma…AN APP, y’all. And it’s perfectly incredible. The fact that he gets all of my husbands corny jokes, plays an AMAZING pedal steel, plays an equally incredible Banjo…I mean…and THE DREADLOCKS, you guys! It was a very emotional tribute for me and my husband – but then, my Uncle Jeff got up there…and even now, I’m tearing up. My uncle described how all his life he sang with my Dad as a back up vocalist and musician and how he knows what it’s like to be in the back ground and how much he appreciates what Bryan does and it was really special. Bryan’s voice just simply drifts in and out of songs and it’s almost as if it’s not there at all, but you can tell that if it weren’t there…you could tell and the song would be missing something. And at other times…he’s bold and right where he needs to be echoing Emma.
Something that most people didn’t realize was that after the 2nd set was done, I went up to Bryan and he was truly humbled and little did we know how much he needed to hear what we said that night. He said something to me like, he has been questioning what he’s doing and wondering if it’s the right path…and I just almost completely broke down because, I can’t imagine my world without this guy playing music and I can’t imagine what it must be like to be doing something you love so much, and have it feel like a struggle at times. One thing I’m certain about:
Bryan Daste, you sir, if you ever read this, need to never ever stop. You have a gift that needs to be heard and experienced and as sure as you are about your next breath, I’m sure of this.
As has become tradition, Emma asked Katie to sing Meet Me At The Moon with them as evidenced below:
The show wrapped up in amazing fashion, with Emma singing Alaska Dear. (that link is previously recorded – because I was not using my phone this show…)
The post show jam is always a HOOT. I have a very musical family and there are usually about 4 guitars, a stand up bass, a mandolin, Bryan on the pedal steel or stand up bass and a family friend named Pat that plays his box like a drum. And then there’s Jerett….my cousin. He’s usually got his Electric Guitar amped and ready to shred.
Where do you live? Do you have a large local music scene? Do you have someone that may be lesser known that you’d like to promote a little bit? Share a link in the comments and let us know what you’re listening to right now!
Music is life.Live it. Love it. Share it with the world.
First, we had the INCREDIBLE Bradford Loomis and Beth Whitney of The Banner Days in our home to play for our family and friends. We had an incredible time!! Our house was full of love and appreciation and best of all, MUSIC.
Here is a link to The Banner Days Bandcamp music player. FYI – I completely adore the song “Song in my head” but you can’t go wrong if you listen to all of them…like…”Brother” is playing right now and I’m dying because of Beth’s voice. As far as Bradford is concerned…this beast of a man has the soul of a gentle giant and his powerful voice filled our home to the RAFTERS in the best way imaginable and he could hold it back so softly to a whisper – just magical.
They are truly spectacular and there are some HUGE things happening for them within the music industry. It was very exciting to have had them in our home before they blow up so huge they won’t be able to play in these intimate settings anymore. So gracious and humble. GAH! How is it that these people we meet are so freaking AMAZINGLY talented and STILL SUPER RAD?!
The Banner Days are getting ready to embark on a tour across the US and I encourage you to look for them – like them on Facebook and check their status messages to find out where you can see them live.
We had a chance to see Bryan play at a local church in Tacoma, WA a couple years back. The show was put on by a local production company called The Warehouse. They put on these great shows called “Candlelit Show” and they are usually held in a church or really cool old vintage concert hall – anyway – when our friends told us they booked him we pretty much freaked out and instantly said we’d be there.
His touch on the guitar is really great…soft and subtle fingerpicking and his voice is just tender and builds throughout the song. Bryan is also getting ready to tour starting in May and y’all should look him up if you’re on the West coast.
Just so that you can get to know Bryan a little bit, I wanted to share this video. You’ll need about 12 minutes…but just before the 4:00 mark, you’ll hear his sweet voice sing and his guitar. I hope you enjoy:
You’ll probably get tired of reading my words and telling you how important music is to me and our family and friends, but it bears repeating. If you know of an independent artist or hear something that I’ve shared that you like, start following these artists. They need our support. Go to their shows. Be prepared to purchase their CD’s, T-shirts and any other merchandise they have for sale. Donate to them. Participate in their Go Fund Me pages, GIVE. THEM. MONEY. They work so hard to share their gifts and talent. They deserve it.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. I’d love to hear from you – if you are interested in hosting your own House Show and would like to know how to accomplish this or have any questions at all, leave me a comment.
Music is life. Live it. Love it. Share it with the world!