Column: House concerts: bringing entertainment close

Last week we hosted a “house concert” or as we like to say, a “ranch concert.”

Last week we hosted a “house concert” or as we like to say, a “ranch concert.”

This is an increasingly popular phenomenon in the music business. This was our third in the past few years.

Many musicians struggle to make a living and one way the public can help them is to host, in their home. Musicians take all the revenues.

This is how it works: find a performer that you know and like and invite people to your home, charge everyone who can afford it $20, have them bring a dish for a potluck dinner, feed and house the performers, leave the proceeds of CD sales with them along with the donations.

If 30 people show up, and each donate $20, that is $600 that the artists take home.

We went to our first one at friend’s house near Likely and attended three there.

The host needs to know the movements (tours) of the artist and invite them to stop over for the event.

We catch them on their way to the ArtsWells event (Wells) in late July. This year the two women from Ontario (ScarlettJane) had been to Bella Coola doing workshops with children, then went to Harrison Hot Springs, thence to us and were going on to Wells the next day.

We borrowed the network of people (e-mail, Facebook contacts) from neighbours who had hosted previous house concerts in the area.  Then we add our contacts.

These events are held outdoors — we haven’t been rained on yet — in front of our little log bunkhouse on the lake. We need to provide a few chairs and tables, but people bring their own beverages and chairs along with a food dish. Needless to say, they are all gourmet.

One event saw the backdrop of the setting sun and the lake in the background behind the performers and they could see the moon rising behind the spectators.

I have to credit and thank our daughter-in–law, Shannon, who spends some of the summer on the ranch helping out and exposing the two grandchildren from Canmore, to ranch life, with organizing the events.

What she is teaching them is that you can bring the enjoyment of live music home which may be easier than travelling to distant venues. This reinforces the point that life amidst all the work can be rich by importing a little extra culture.

Shannon, who has a professional musician brother, knows how important these house/ranch mini concerts can be for artists’ welfare. Many of the artists are friends of his. And importantly, these events balances our workaday life in the place where we want to be in the summer: home on the ranch!

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.

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