“I have toured Canada for almost 40 years, but primarily the major centers. Home Routes offers artists and rural communities an incomparable opportunity to celebrate Canadians and their art in a unique and inclusive setting and creates a practical and cost effective way to tour those areas.” ~ Shari Ulrich
Q. What is Home Routes all about?
A. Home Routes is a unique undertaking which started February 2007 with the intention of creating a linked group of community based house concerts all across North America methodologically we recruit and organize brand new volunteer hosts from every nook and cranny and then place them geographically into “circuits” of twelve houses in twelve communities. Artists are then engaged to perform a complete circuit only. The circuits are timed in such a way that musicians can perform on sequential days thereby making the economics of touring work. Home Routes is about animating into existence new community based volunteer presenters for whom the joy of bringing live music into their home community is the ultimate prize. Home Routes is about meeting mutual needs for the artists and the communities. Home Routes is about developing a vibrant infrastructure for folk music.
Q. What does Home Routes mean when we talk about Folk-Roots music?
A. Within the framework of folk-roots we are talking about contemporary singer-songwriters, blues artists, bluegrass players, old time players, world music artists, folk-revivalists, country-blues, Celtic and British musicians, Cajun and French Canadian musicians, etc., a complete spectrum of world class traditional and contemporary acoustic music, a bit of everything.
Q. When does Home Routes operate?
A. Home Routes operates between late September and early December and again between early February and the end of April. It’s a fall and winter season and we pay attention to Easter, Xmas, Passover and we keep one focused eye on farm schedules. We want to be done before planting and we don’t want to start until harvest is finished. Home Routes is primarily, but not exclusively, a rural based organization.
Q. How does Home Routes pay for its ongoing operations?
A. Home Routes is a non-profit organization, funded by a combination of government funding, individual donations, artist fees and corporate sponsorships. The staff team members receive equal wages. Our financial statements are available upon request.
Q. Why is it necessary for the artist booking to be centralized?
A. There are two reasons why we have decided to organize Home Routes as a centralized house concert booking service:
- It’s the only way that we can ensure sequential performances for artists. When artists go out on tour and they work for a day or two and then they have three days off before they work again, they spend the money they have earned surviving on the road instead of going home with money in their pockets. Restaurants and hotels cost a lot of money as compared to paying rent and buying groceries. We ask everybody who joins Home Routes to agree to do shows on different nights of the week so that over the year, every house concert operator will get a Tuesday show, a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday show. We offer one day off a week for the artist, generally on a Monday. This enables us to send performers out six nights a week doing back-to-back shows.
- By booking centrally we have some insight, based upon experience, about the artists we are sending out on the road. Mostly we know what they are like as people, what they are like as musicians and we have a reasonable understanding about how they will do at your house. It’s our imperfect human way of making sure that you and them both have a great experience.
Q. Is Home Routes only about Folk-Roots Music?
A. Duke Ellington once said “What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the language of the world.” and we at Home Routes take that quote to heart. Clearly our expertise is with folk-roots music but we are aware that this concept works well with most music. Our plans are to start with and develop what we know and then we’ll expand into separate circuits around different kinds of music. Stay tuned.
Q. Is Home Routes in my community? How do I attend?
A. You can check our schedule and if there is somebody you want to see coming to your community, email us or give us a call at our toll free number (866) 925-6889 and we’ll call the presenter in your community and give them your contact information. If they have room, they’ll call you. We do not give out the names or contact info of our presenters.
You can always call the toll free number and ask for information or you can write us at email@example.com
Hosting Home Routes house concerts:
Q. What expenses are involved in hosting Home Routes concerts?
A. The time it takes you to invite your friends, neighbours and family to a concert, an extra plate of food at dinner and a comfy bed for the artists at night. Some hosts incur voluntary expenses to print tickets, posters, buy snacks and coffee/tea, but it is typically left up to the host to decide if or how much they would like to contribute. We’ve had some folks completely renovate their basements into complete theatres with sound systems, velvet curtains, coloured lights and folding cinema-style seats!
Q: How many people are expected to attend?
A. Generally, we like to average about 30 once you’re established; it’s not where we expect anybody to start.
Q. How much money will I make doing this?
A. Nothing, not a red cent, zip, double zip, nada, guernischt, bupkas, rien or zilch.
Q. If I’m not making money doing this, why should I do it?
A. For love of music and for community service to strengthen the kinship among your family, friends, neighbours, and their friends; to bring live music to your community; to support the artists; to have an astonishing amount of fun.
Q. Well that sounds high minded and all, but what’s in it for me?
A. Over time you will be exposed at close range to some of the finest professional folk-roots musicians from North America and around the world. If you love music, this is the perfect way to hear it. You will make lifetime friendships and the experience will be life altering and fun.
Q. All things being perfect, what is Home Routes’ expectation about the number of shows per household?
A. All things being perfect, each home on a circuit is provided with six shows, three in the fall and three in the late winter.
Q. Do I have to present all six?
A. We’ve seen that our format works very well when a host does all six shows. However it works equally as well when two families in the same community share the six shows. There are many duel host combination that share the six concerts between them and also share their audience. That way not only is the work load divided in half but each home creates its own unique experience within the community and that relationship really helps to build the overall community audience.
Q. What is the best way to get an audience to show up?
A. House concerts are promoted by word of mouth, email and the good ol’ telephone. Start by inviting your friends, family and neighbours. Once you’ve got a core audience word of mouth will help it grow. There are some basic rules and techniques that are happy to pass on to new house concert presenters in the form of a comprehensive booklet and by utilizing our team, by phone or email, at your convenience. We are here to help you succeed. Before you know it you will be a grassroots living room impresario of no small skill!
Q. Will Home Routes accept everybody that applies to be a house concert presenter?
A. No. The home has to work as a space and we have to be confident that Home Routes can work for your particular circumstances. Artists, even the toughest of them, are artists. They are brilliant and sensitive which is why they can perform and we will want to know that you understand the human part of caring for an artist and staging a show.
Q. Do I get to pick the artists?
A. Home Routes Artistic Directors plan an entertaining and diverse concert series for hundreds of concert presenters across the country. Audiences have come to trust our artistic approach. Decisions are made with the help of regularly convened juries, however we also value your suggestions.
Q. How does the artist make money?
A. These are professional artists doing professional concerts and admission is charged at the door. The artist keeps the admission of the shows as well as money from their record sales. All revenue from ticket and product sales from every concert goes directly to the performers. Home Routes takes a 15% commission from the artist once the tour is over, which makes up about 24% of our operating budget. Also songwriters are eligible to receive performance royalties from their professional rights organization.
Q. Is my house suitable?
A.Organizing your home as a performance space is easier than most people imagine. Presenters have come up with ingenious solutions over the years utilizing everything from barns to basements. We’re quite experienced at doing this now that we’re into our 5th season and we will work with you to determine whether your home is appropriate and which configuration works best. Here are some basic considerations:
- House concerts are almost always a solo performer or a duo. Occasionally you will see a trio but that would be a rare exception.
- The performers will need a performance area of some kind – maybe just a throw rug, maybe something more elaborate. A space of approximately 4′ by 6′ should do. When they’re performing they’ll need to be seen and heard by the audience. Some performers like to stand and some like to sit and the space needs to be able to accommodate both of those things.
- You’ll need adequate space and chairs for the audience. They need some access to be able to get to and from those seats, not just at the beginning and end but sometimes, given the nature of nature, during the show.
- Round up all of your chairs: kitchen, dining room and office chairs are fine. If you don’t have enough chairs at home, you may find that your neighbours won’t mind bringing a few, or that the local hall or church has some folding chairs they could lend out. This will give you a good idea of the number of people you can fit. It makes perfect sense to do a dry run just to see how it fits and also to measure your capacity.
- Make sure people can reach your room and move around in it. You might be able to cram 40 chairs into your den, but without space for the performers to get to and from the stage, and for listeners to get to and from their seats, it could be unworkable. Ideally, you would like the audience to enter towards the back of the room (away from where you put the performance area) so guests won’t cross in front of the performance once it’s underway.
- Parking: If parking areas are not obvious, ensure directions to your home include the location(s) people could/should park their vehicles.
Q. How do I sign up?
A. Right on! Call us at our toll free number 1-866-925-6889 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to hear from you and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions and get you signed up. If we’re not in when you call, leave a message and we’ll call you back. You can also click on this link.
Q. You don’t know me as an artist, how do I apply?
A. If you’re an artist that nobody in the office is familiar with, mail us a package including a recording that demonstrates accurately what you sound like as a solo or duo performer. Highly produced albums just add confusion to the decision making process. We need to hear you just how it would sound in a living room. If we’ve never seen your act before, we need a clear indication of your performance skills beyond musical chops. On stage skills, personality and professionalism all play a large role in influencing our team. A short bio, picture, contact information all helps us figure it out. References from artists that we know are pretty useful.
Q. How does Home Routes choose the artists?
A. Within the framework of presenting a balanced musical series for every circuit, the Artistic Director hires who he pleases, that is his responsibility. We hold juries every few months. There are no deadlines because submissions keep coming in. Every single submission that crosses our threshold is listened to and discussed by the jury. The jury can say no but the jury cannot say yes. That task is for the artistic director alone. The jury only passes forward to the Artistic Director what inspires them as fans or as musicians. The volume of submissions has increased exponentially since we began four years ago; this often leaves the jury and the Artistic Director with the difficult task of choosing between excellence and excellence.
Q. Can I send you my EPK?