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  • Carrie Sownie

Three Steps for Planning a House Concert to Benefit Bread & Roses

We appreciate the many ways people support our mission. Hosting a house concert is a fun way to bring friends together for live music and to share our mission of bringing healing live music to isolated people in Bay Area institutions. Keep in mind that the "house concert" concept can be interpreted creatively in terms of location. Many thanks to those who have recently presented concerts to benefit Bread & Roses including board members John Botti and Raj Gopal; Circle of Advisors members Greg Beattie and Dr. Bruce Victor; as well as musicians/producers Lane Murchison, Pete Petitt and KC Turner.

Would you like to host your own house concert to benefit Bread & Roses? Take these three simple steps to get started:

1. Find a location

You can host your concert at (you guessed it), your home! It can work well if you have ample space inside or out where you can open your doors to a gathering of like-minded fans of live music. Or throw a cozy party for a special occasion for just a handful of family and friends. The host usually provides refreshments from drinks and snacks to more elaborate fare. Convenient parking is also a key factor.

Board member John Botti hosted a very special concert last August at his home in Sonoma, which was also a send-off celebration for his daughter Emma Botti before she went to college. The setting was a beautiful backyard garden and patios where guests enjoyed listening to music featuring jazz guitar provided by John in his BDZ Project as well as vocals/piano from Emma and her friends from Marin Academy, and delicious food catered by Girl and the Fig.

Many of our supporters have hosted small benefit concerts at a variety of other locations, including cafés, bars, workplace venues, schools and music stores. Greg Beattie and Victoria Blythe presented a concert to benefit Bread & Roses in October for about a hundred people in the theater attached to Stevie Coyle’s Mighty Fine Guitars shop in Lafayette. The night of memorable music featured all East Bay performers who are accomplished singer-songwriters including Greg and his wife Vicki, board member Steve Meckfessel and Laura Zucker.

2. Gather your musicians

The most important part of any concert is the talent! If you are a musician, this is a great way to showcase your latest work. You can also feature performers you have collaborated with or musicians you would like to present. Bread & Roses staff can be a source of suggestions for possible talent or help with performer outreach as needed.

KC Turner is a producer and promoter extraordinaire who regularly seeks out up-and-coming musicians and excels at curating rousing line-ups of local musicians. Last December his annual Bazaar Stock event at the Bazaar Café in San Francisco featured over thirty talented artists, including many who regularly volunteer to perform for our isolated audiences: Mokai, Rory Cloud, Michael McNevin, Beth Marlin, Megan Slankard, Matt Jaffe, Francesca Lee and KC Turner. We are grateful that he chose Bread & Roses as a beneficiary of last year’s musical marathon, passing a tip jar throughout the day and night.

Dr. Bruce Victor, along with his wife and musical partner Marla Fibish, is a presenter as well as a performer. They host occasional benefit concerts in their Larkspur home, the site of a former popular house concert series called the Acoustic Vortex. For their concert to benefit Bread & Roses in December, they curated a show-stopping line-up including their own group Noctambule with guest Suzuki Cady, Greg Beattie and Victoria Blythe of Calaveras, Caroline Sky, Matt Jaffe, Marian Hubler and Dr. Tom Neylan.

3. Invite your friends

What’s a great show without a great audience? If you are hosting a benefit for Bread & Roses, this is a wonderful way to introduce new people to our organization. Maybe you have friends with the capacity to be generous donors or people who are talented musicians and might want to join our tribe of volunteers. Other prime possibilities to add to your guest list include neighbors and followers of the artists you will be presenting. Consider if you would like to present a public or private event. Do you want to host a private gathering in your home or would you like to stage a public event and promote it more widely? With events open to the public, you will need a plan for getting the word out. We can offer suggestions or help to promote awareness on social media. If you are hosting your event at a public or commercial venue, it is likely they will also have some marketing channels.

Pete Petitt reached out to us last year about a concert they were planning in December at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco and offered to dedicate a portion of the proceeds to benefit Bread & Roses. The opening trio featured Jamie Goodyear, Mason Morfit and Lane Murchison of Birdseed followed by Pete’s jam-band Dark & Stormy. All the musicians invited their friends to this popular SF music venue and gathering place. Many people came out for a holiday reunion and to support the musicians. In October Birdseed opened our Fall Benefit at Sweetwater Music Hall. We appreciate the continuing support from the Bird School community.

In the summer of 2016, Raj Gopal, a member of our board and a talented musician, hosted a “Rock the Bank” fundraiser for Bread & Roses, inviting his Bank of the West colleagues in San Francisco. The venue (next door to their office) was board member Alex Wellins’ company meeting room for the Blueshirt Group at Next15. Raj performed with a few of his co-workers, including Dan Beck, the bank’s CFO, on saxophone. It was a wonderful way for him to introduce fellow staff to our mission, and also a fun, feel-good after work party!

We appreciate the many creative ways our supporters are finding to share our mission of healing live music with others. We are grateful for the support, whether hosting a big party or a small get-together. We can help if you need assistance with outreach to performers or a sound system the night of the event. It’s a great way to enjoy an intimate connection to the music, similar to what you might experience at a Bread & Roses institutional show. Proceeds from all benefit concerts help to sustain over 600 concerts a year for isolated Bay Area folks who need music most.

Photo/Video Captions:

1) Board member John Botti performing with his daughter Emma Botti. Photo by Marian Hubler.

2) Emma singing with her friends from Marin Academy. Photo by Marian Hubler.

3) (l-r) Laura Zucker, Victoria Blythe, Greg Beattie, Steve Meckfessel performing at Mighty Fine Guitars. Photo by Valerie May.

4) Communications Manager/Producer Marian Hubler with KC Turner holding the tip jar. Photo by Don Shearer.

5) (l-r) Mokai, Producert Francesca Lee and Alex Webber at Bazaar Stock. Photo by Don Shearer.

6) Matt Jaffe accompanied by Noctambule playing Neil Young's "Rockin in the Free World." Video by Marian Hubler.

7) Jamie Goodyear and Lane Murchison at Neck of the Woods. Photo by Marian Hubler.

8) (l-r) Daniel Beck and Raj Gopal at Rock the Bank. Photo by Lily Ruiz.

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