I suspect most neighbours would be more likely to greet you with a scowl the morning after you threw a party that wrapped up about 3:00am, but not mine. Mine bring you pie and a thank you note.
It was an unqualified success, last night's house concert by Olenka and the Autumn Lovers. We had a very respectable turnout - about 35 people - which was pretty much the optimum number needed to fill the living room. With every square inch of the living room jammed with every chair that we could scrounge from around the house and garage and from a few of our neighbours, a kitchen party was pretty much the only option before the concert proper, what with the night being decidedly too chilly for my plans to have the guests meander throughout the house and into the back yard prior to the concert.
We hadn't really anticipated that guests would arrive bearing as much wine as they did. We were asking for donations to the band at the door, after all, so had stocked up on an inordinate quantity of beer and wine. But our friends and neighbours are nothing if not generous, and despite our best attempts to make a dent in the alcohol stockpile that accumulated in the kitchen, we could easily throw another party tonight and wouldn't even need to go to the liquor store. Suffice it to say I was not forced to drink that sketchy box of Zinfadel that the Spousal Unit had bought on a whim, a fact for which I am forever grateful, as Zinfadel is not supposed to be pink and smell of cherry Kool-Aid. Our neighbour, the Big Rock rep (aka the beer elf), really took the party to the next level, though, when he set up a couple of kegs in the backyard. Despite the chill of the night, those kegs were very well attended.
We greeted a steady influx of guests until just before concert time, when Olenka, Sara, and Paterson took their places on the lovely technicolour deer rug, purchased at the Regina Value VIllage, which they were using for a stage. I had been warned by some "how to host a house concert" websites that I may need to work to get the attention of chatty inattentive drunks, but our guests were remarkably respectful of the fact that they were there for a concert, not just a piss-up, and quickly took their seats after my announcement that we were about to proceed.
Oh and what a lovely concert, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers treated us to. With classical guitar, violin and cello, and with Paterson's and Sara's beautiful soaring harmonies accompanying Olenka's strong and passionate voice, the Autumn Lovers brought us on a soulful journey through revolutionary Poland and Vancouver's east side. For over an hour, they serenaded us with a powerful acoustic rendering of their award-winning music.
I think the aspect I found most satisfying was glancing around the room during the show, looking at the rapt expressions on the faces of my friends. They were so obviously enjoying the intimacy of the evening. The inclusiveness of the experience brought such a relaxed vibe to the show, a feeling that you could never find in a larger concert venue. The between-song banter was not a one-way street. People commented and asked questions, jokes were tossed back and forth, and the barrier between performer and audience was blurred and obliterated. I absolutely love it when that happens.
It's even more fun when you can relax and have a few drinks with the band and a few dozen friends and neighbours after the show.
I was so pleased with my first foray into hosting a house concert. It was most gratifying to me that people were so receptive to the idea, so curious and open-minded and so willing to support independent Canadian musicians. And it was so wonderful to be able to share some space and some meals with such a talented group of musicians. My family have found some very talented new friends, who give impressively bone-crushing hugs. I cannot wait to try this again.