David Fee: How a ‘Homesong’ venture in Scotland is bringing live music to life in our living rooms


Singer-songwriter David Fee from Campbeltown talks about the start of a new venture called Homesong, whose purpose is to encourage more people to hold gigs in their own homes

THIS is really one of those ‘what happens now?’ stories, like the many that occurred after those of us who voted Yes learned to live with the reality of No. 

For me that event became the spark to putting a long-term dream into action – one that sprang out of my involvement in music. As a spare time singer/songwriter I had read, a number of years previously, about a new kind of music gig that was as grassroots as it is possible to get; an intimate, usually unplugged gig that happens in a home setting. In somebody’s living room, in fact.

I loved the sound of it and I knew from the moment I first heard about them, that one day I wanted to host home gigs and play at them. After indyref, the thought occurred to me, as to so many people, that I couldn’t wait for change to magically happen. I had to be a part of that change. Put up or shut up, as the saying goes.

So, a couple of months after the referendum, I started planning a home gig at our home in Kintyre. It wasn’t very difficult. I knew an artist who had held something similar in her own home in Glasgow, and invited her to come and play. Then I invited local friends, family and neighbours to come on the arranged date. And then we had the gig. I called it Homesong Campbeltown.

It was everything I’d imagined: an intimate way of experiencing music with an audience who were there to listen. Most of the music was original and new to us, with songs stripped right back. It wasn’t just entertainment, but a way of communicating ideas and making real emotional connections. In our house. 
Everyone enjoyed themselves. We put out our ‘busking box’ and folk gave generously to the artist, making it financially worth their while. That was part of the idea, too.

Over the next two years we held, perhaps, 15 of these gigs in our home. We’ve had local artists and ones from further afield. I’ve played myself. Everybody who experiences them, artists and audience alike, speaks positively about them. 

It gives an opportunity for people to meet together with friends, and get to know new faces from their neighbourhood. Sometimes we share food together. It becomes its own little community gathering, with no political aims, but with all the potential positive benefits that can happen when connections are made in the place where we live, even if that is simply the benefit of strengthening the local bonds of community. Isn’t that what the traditional ceilidh used to be about?

In Kintyre we’ve managed to find a few more home venues without really trying too hard. One host emailed me recently to say that hosting Homesong gigs were the best part of 2016 for her. This year, I’m looking out for more Homesong hosts in our part of the world.

But home gigs can obviously happen anywhere there are homes.

To that end I’ve set up a Homesong website (with support from Firstport and UnLtd) with the aim of promoting the concept of these gigs on a wider scale. We’ve made a wee film which gives people a feel for what happens. I write a daily blog, and there are lots of articles about the practicalities of hosting or playing at homesong gigs.

Scotland is the perfect place for making home gigs a more widely known reality. We’ve got great musical traditions here. There are lots of small, rural communities, and more isolated city areas, that would really benefit from and appreciate this way of gathering together. 

We just need more hosts, willing and able to open up their homes for that purpose. I’m sure they exist.

If we can make that happen, then Scotland also has a host of talented artists who would be willing to play at them. Artists who struggle to find a way to support themselves while making original music or art, and who sometimes struggle to even find an audience who are paying attention.

Again, Homesong gigs are potentially an answer to these dilemmas. In this post-indyref, pre something-or-other Scotland, Homesong is another grassroots way in which we can continue building the better communities and neighbourhoods that many of us dream about; a Scotland where we learn again that everything worth keeping stems from the quality of the relationships we build and the enjoyment we have making them.

If you love music and bringing people together then why not host a Homesong where you live? Or if you’re an artist why not get actively involved in finding new or existing home gig venues to play at?

Homesong is a not-for-profit organisation. You can find answers to many of the questions you may have at www.homesong.co.uk. Also see the site created by Rob Ellen who has been promoting this idea of home gigs in Scotland for a number of years.

Pictures courtesy of David Fee

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