Agreed. We just had the fortune to hear Willie P. Bennett in a Nanaimo venue, a bar. They showed NO respect for a man that is an icon of Canadian music. Willie had to do his sound check will the bar music was playing. And then through his whole set there was a hum loud enough we could not concentrate on his music. Then of course there were those who had to shout Right On, and so on. The sound guys never did fix the hum.
It was an insult but Willie just trooped on as the gentleman he is. (Next day he laid down some harmonica tracks for us--a real pro and again, a gentleman).
I think the reason we had the "ON THE SKIDS" thoughts from some people is because we are 7 hours north of Vancouver and in a rural area, 30 minutes from town.
Then there is the issue of expectations. When we were producing on Vancouver Island we had trouble getting $12-15 for concerts at a theatre because th folk club only charged $3 for admission. Therefore, the value of folk musics had been set in some people's mind as $3.
I thi8nk house concerts have to figure out a good price, one that seems reasonable and then go with it.
One point I did not make was that we always charged the same, whether for Don Ross, or Ken Hamm or a mor elocal act. Seemed to work. Folks had there money and change in hand at the door.
Also, BTW, in performing we have found that donations at the door don't work. Set a ticket price and collect it, at the door.
We also print tickets that are sold at a music store and a copy shop in town. If we know the folks they can reserve from us. This helps us to judge how tickets are selling and make an extra push if need be with phone calls.
Lights. Outside. Make it look warm and inviting and safe. Folks are coming to a strange place the first few times and like to see what's at the end of the driveway. We have been to some where even the porch light was not on. Folks are generally reluctant to venture out much so make it easy. We light the side of the house and have an extra couple of halogen lights that light the yard and trees. Also some accent lights on the building we use.
House concerts are a good all round solution.