As an independent artist, you need to get creative in order for people to hear your music. Yes there is Spotify and YouTube, and there are festivals and larger gigs. But my heart for this new album is to help people engage in their own personal worship with God and so, House-gigging has become a part of my album journey. I did this with great success with my last album, and will probably do it for future albums too. Over the last two weeks I’ve spent the weekends playing in the lounges, a garden and a shop of friends and fans. The Summer of Gigging has officially begun.
Playing in front of hundreds is a lot easier than a handful of people in a lounge. You learn a lot about the people you are playing for when it’s up close and personal. The anonymity and distance of the stage doesn’t exist. You experience a real vulnerability (hmmm… sounds like a good name for an album…). So as I packed up the car and drove the short journey to St Ives I felt nervous. It’s rare that I’m not nervous before playing, but this particular time I had crammed nine songs from my new album into the set list, and was certain a mistake or two would be made.
In a generation where Netflix is king, I really value people coming out to listen to live music, particularly an artist they had never heard of before. It’s comforting to know that even though instant gratification is fashionable, good old fashioned listening and appreciating music as it gets made, will never really go out of style.
I suppose what I love the most about house-gigging is how each experience is unique. That’s the benefit of entering someone else’s space – you never quite know what it will be like and it’s guaranteed to be different to the last one. So here’s a little expose of the last few weeks.
Jodies House (St Ives)
Intimacy. The evening sun streamed gently through the windows of the conservatory. The twelve of us made ourselves comfortable on an array of couches, mattresses and cushions. You could hear the creak of each chord change, the breath in my voice and see my facial expressions for any bum notes. They listened to my stories with interest and by the end, I could see that the songs had made a difference. Music has incredible power, and this night showed how it can unite a diverse group of people.
Paul & Jan’s House (Gorleston)
Home. Returning to Paul and Jan’s house made us feel particularly relaxed, and, well, at home. We knew around half of the people who had joined us for the first house gig hosted here some sixteen months earlier. People wore slippers, chilled in the deep sofa’s – you get the idea – the sense of community was fantastic! This was certainly a bunch of friends enjoying time together listening to music. Personally I loved the night because our sixth month old daughter, Lilja joined in for the first few songs before bed time. What’s not to love about that as a new dad?!
Ruth’s House (Milton Keynes)
Banter. Gardens certainly have a different vibe to lounges, and this garden was full of fun and laughter. After the amazing BBQ, I settled in my little gazebo and began playing songs. Little did I know that two of the kids there crept up behind me and started miming as if playing in the band (or mocking me – I couldn’t work it out). What followed was several moments of banter between me, the kids and the rest of the people there. With big crowds you simply can’t hear the banter back and forth, but it was a pleasure to get to know new friends in MK. Plus, I played a completely unplugged version of a new song “Father, Father” right in the middle of where people were sitting. Talk about intimate.
Voices. So, technically this wasn’t a house, but it is my first time playing in a shop. SOAR is a charity shop, making a difference with the most vulnerable in the centre of Luton. After only a couple of songs I could hear these fine people singing along to the chorus’ without having to tell them how they went. Pretty awesome for any musician. So I decided to teach a new song, and we just went off on one, singing beyond the song and encountering God’s presence. When people are up for it, it’s more than ok to scrap the planned set list. With people watching on from the road, and stepping into the shop, this was by far the most diverse of the nights.
I look forward to what the rest of the Summer has in store for me as I travel with my music. It’s a real privilege to be used by God to bring worship into people’s home. I love the intimacy, the banter, the sense of home and family, and love, love, love it when we can sing together. Thanks each and every one of you for having me.
Want me to play at your house? Send me an email, I’ll get it direct and promise to respond: firstname.lastname@example.org