House concerts are a folk tradition that’s as old as “Oh! Susanna.” But nowadays they’re the stage for pop performers, too — everyone from Wilco’s revered Jeff Tweedy to Canada’s Be Good Tanyas to your neighbor’s aspiring singer/songwriter college student. Other arts — dance, theater and even visual arts — are being presented in Minnesota houses, apartments and back yards, as well.
These alternative gigs are less a response to tough economic times than a grass-roots strategy of reaching and building an audience. The Twin Cities blog Cake in 15 has been hosting 35-seat house concerts for indie-rock hipsters. And living-room performances have become special-occasion events for baby boomers who don’t see much live music beyond arena concerts by old heroes like Elton John or James Taylor.
“There is a network of 300 to 400 people [around the country] who host events on a monthly basis; they’re amateur promoters,” says DiNizio, who will do 70 to 80 living-room gigs this year. “These house concerts are not for every artist. Not all of them have the right temperament.”