House concerts find home among fans

Image caption,
Katriona Gilmore urges her house-concert audiences to "keep on supporting live music like this"

Professional artists are increasingly looking to house concerts to cut a niche in the ever-more competitive music world.

Acts from the US and Canada, where house concerts are already well established, are frequently crossing the Atlantic to perform in people's homes around the UK, often as part of their tour schedule, triggering a knock-on effect among Britain's own musical talent.

Key figures in the movement - artists, hosts and gig-goers - offer their views on the growing phenomenon of house concerts.

The hosts: "It's daunting for the artists, too"

"We only do it for artists that we like. It is way too much work to do it for people we are ambivalent about." Simon Holderness, Turners Hill House Concerts

"It's pretty daunting for [the artists], too. A lot of them are used to large venues and bright lights. Here you have 30 people intently listening to your every word and note." Jeff Colton, Maidstone Housegigs

"In the early days when the children were at home the downside was the children continually losing their beds to travelling artists." Tony Fothergill, House Concerts York

"The problem I found was that as I was running 'proper' concerts elsewhere there was perhaps a suspicion that the artists I was putting on at house concerts weren't so good and therefore less appealing." Julian Lowry, Julian Lowry Music, near Guildford

"Lots of [performers] have outgrown us. We have to take that on the chin, but also with some pride." Simon Holderness

"I used to help create the setlists and help sell the CDs. I have had guitar lessons from Beau Stapleton, and I also play the violin. When Katriona [Gilmore] was performing, I watched the fingering closely." Ayesha Holderness, 14

"To see someone's face half a metre away is quite a lot scarier than seeing a sea of faces several metres away." Katriona Gilmore, Gilmore and Roberts

"The first gig I played with Chumbawamba was in front of 80,000 people in Poland... I find it more frightening in house concerts because you know what people are feeling by looking around. You can see exactly what they are thinking." Michelle Plum, Plumhall

"The last few gigs I have done, if I feel disconnected from the audience for whatever reason - like the stage is too high, the gear's not that good - through doing house concerts I now feel confident enough in a gig to unplug and go into the audience." Emily Baker

"The stage was always difficult for me. I was always uncomfortable on the stage. I'm always much better in with the people. I like it like that." Francis Dunnery, of 1980s band It Bites, speaking on his website

"It's ideal for acoustic acts, a lot more informal than a proper gig." Jamie Roberts, Gilmore and Roberts

"You can play to a full audience who are less responsive and then to a small audience that is very warm and reactive to what you are doing and saying." Katriona Gilmore

"You don't get heckled or anything, although you might get a bit of jovial banter. But they tend to be onside. So that can be quite fun." Emily Baker

"You get the impression that artists are really confident people, but a lot of the time that isn't the case... A lot are very shy on stage and would shy away from this." Michelle Plum

"People come here and they are attentive. Simon [Holderness] has had some fantastic people in this room."

"Because we attend small music venues anyway, we just knew it would be a good evening's entertainment."

"They don't usually have microphones, so it is just the voice and instruments. Everything is natural."

"I like it when you can talk to the artists."

"For an intimate venue they are proper acts. You would expect a pub band, but we've got the cream of folk performers."

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