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House Concerts: The Art of Listening

Art of Listening at House Concerts


Hi I am Kathy and was a bad listener at my first House Concerts….

Admittedly I had to learn the art of listening, truly listening, to the musicians and the gift of their music in House Concerts settings. Should have been simple, right?

I have been listening to music for years, even the same House Concert artists in different settings. Same artist, same show? Not so much. For some of you this is old news and you already have it.  Yet after hearing about a House Concert as recent as last night, I am more compelled to finish this note, sharing this message with others.

Summer 2011 was my first experience with House Concerts, starting with Kelly McGuire. When Kelly started his show I was still chatting and socializing so after a song or two, as he quite eloquently asked me to come up front and help him sing “Friends”, which I did. Not fully realizing that was an excellent way for Kelly to very politely ask me to be quiet and listen.  It worked, thankfully for Kelly and those attending the show as I took my seat back with the crowd.


Text and Photography © Kathy Mullen
Kelly McGuire House Concert

I attended a couple of other house concerts and then it was time for my first ‘real’ lesson from Hugo, who handled it a little differently than Kelly had.  We had a conversation about House Concerts being different than the shows with his band in Hogs Breath, Key West.  House Concerts and Listening Rooms are environments truly meant to showcase the artist’s storytelling and songwriting abilities. In Listening Rooms people could be asked to leave if they are interrupting the show.  That conversation left me with thoughts to ponder.

Several months later I had the pleasure of hosting “The Frozen Gringo’s” during their Winter Tour of 2012.  I started watching their show with a party I hosted at The Giggling Goat. I was enjoying the music but far too busy entertaining and having fun to give Hugo and Jeff the respect they deserved as they performed.

After spending more time with the Gringo’s, I received the gift of Hugo’s second lesson (I hadn’t quite gotten it the first time) while he graciously expanded on the lesson, sharing the life of an Independent Musician who takes their show on the road. Our conversation included what is put into their songs, sharing their personal stories and just as importantly the road time spent away from family and friends along with expenses incurred to bring their show to our homes in an intimate setting.

The lesson shared, especially shared with me twice now, created a strong intrigue in me to listen, really listen to see what I had been missing. There is a time and place for socializing built into to the shows but I had been misusing that with the incredibly talented musicians I had right in front of me.


The Frozen Gringo’s House Concert in San Antonio, TX

Thank goodness there would be another opportunity to ‘try and do better’, which I did at an upcoming show on their tour. Attending this show, with the thoughts Hugo had imparted to me allowed me to gain a whole new appreciation for the challenges of entertainers and musicians with people like me and their lack of awareness, understanding and ultimately respect.  What an entirely different evening and experience I walked away with, even with embarrassment from some of the audience on the lesson they had yet to learn.

As more time passed, I hadn’t had enough and was just beginning to understand and see music from a very different yet incredibly rewarding viewpoint, seeing the roles of not only the musician but the audience. WOW.

I did my best to work my way into a sold-out show…thankfully Hugo hadn’t given up on me and cleared my way in. No words can describe a magical evening that I will never forget from many incredibly talented musicians, playing for more than 5 hours to an audience of 80 plus people where you could almost hear a pin drop as everyone was fully engaged in the musicians, the stories, songs, entertainment and the overall experience. The true diamond was in the music, yet there were plenty of treasures to be captured from all aspects of the evening.

With several House Concerts behind me now, and making amends with the artists I needed to, I have  a strong passion to share the Art of Listening with you.


© Tammy Camp
I caught Kathy practicing the Art of Listening @ the Trop Rockin’ Ranch

Listening in the manner Hugo asked me to has opened up a whole new world, far beyond just the songs.

I have found many places on Facebook regarding House Concerts and a great website is at

Supporting Independent Musicians just as you would any entrepreneur is a way for them to continue to provide us the gifts of their music.

Have you been to a house concert?  What did you like about it?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Sharing is Appreciated!