Easy Listening

Don’t want to go to a show? Bring the band to your house.

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In Jelena Putnik’s Vancouver living room, a quiet group of about 30 people leaned forward on folding chairs and bar stools. Music was playing, but at this party, it wasn’t coming from the stereo. At the front of the room, a musician discussed what the guests were about to hear: a fusion of Chinese and Western tunes performed by the Canadian duo Silk Road Music. As musician André Thibault took out his Middle Eastern lute, he asked, “There wouldn’t be anyone here who knows how to belly dance?”

Turns out there was. An Egyptian woman from the back of the room got up and walked over to the band. “The night was really magical,” says Putnik.

If you want to host a show at your house, you’ll need to find someone to play.

For the last year, the 45-year-old Putnik has been hosting concerts at her house. No genre is excluded – she’s invited jazz, blues and folk musicians to her abode, where people as young as seven and as old as 80 have taken in a show.

According to Winnipeg-based Home Routes, a company that organizes home concerts across Canada, more and more people are inviting artists into their houses to play for friends. For Putnik, it’s a great way to discover new artists, as well as a novel way to throw a party. “I love the intimate connection with the performers,” she says.

If you want to host a show at your house, you’ll need to find someone to play, which you can do by contacting artists through their websites. Or, connect with Home Routes. It sends 90 folk and classical groups on tours across the country, and has a list of about 200 people who hold concerts in their homes. At the show you’ll want to collect donations – often $10 to $20 per person – which go to the artist, says Tim Osmond, Home Routes’ artistic director.

Putnik and two friends usually plan an event together. Preparations include creating a poster, e-mailing an invitation to people and organizing a potluck dinner for guests with a menu inspired by the concert. For them, it’s the preparation that may be the best part. “We get together, pop in a CD of the artist who’s coming, open a bottle of wine and ask, ‘What kind of food does the artist taste like?’”

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