Late last week, I sent my wife a text message which was basically a menu: Beef fajitas, tortillas, borracho beans, the arroz rojo she makes (a recipe handed down from my mom, which no one else in the world can duplicate like Tish). Some boudin. And lots of Lone Star and Saint Arnold beers.
“Beef fajitas?” she texted back. “Are we sure 3 Day Holocaust eats meat? They could be vegan.”
“They’re called 3 Day Holocaust.” I wrote back. “They’ve gotta be carnivores…right?.”
3 Day Holocaust is a punk band from Ventura, California. They’re currently traveling across the U.S., and made a pit stop in Houston while heading back west. Tonight, they'll be shredding the faces of audience members in Austin. But over the weekend, they watched a little television, skated the mini-ramp and caught up on much-needed sleep at my house.
A few years ago, I wrote about housing touring acts at our Houston-area home. Since then, we’ve hosted a lot more bands; it’s still one of the most interesting and exciting things we get to do. And the more we’ve done it, the more we’ve learned about putting up a band for a night or two. A roof overhead is good, but a sense of home for these artists is even better. They appreciate it. And we appreciate what they’ve taught us about living the untethered lives of touring musicians.
Because we live in a massive city with others who also love music and musicians, we know some of you may one day follow suit and open your own homes to hard-working music professionals. Our advice, in a nutshell, is to do it. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned about making bands feel at home on the road.
Talk With Your Visitors, But Allow Them Some Space
If you’re inviting people into your home, you’re probably the type who enjoys people and wants to hear their captivating tales. Learning how others live is why any of us travel at all. Getting to have California or Colorado or Canada delivered to your doorstep in the form of artistic people is better than watching Anthony Bourdain on TV any day. So when the vibe is right, converse with your guests. However, it’s good to remember that these musicians have sometimes driven great lengths and endured the occasional struggles of independent, touring artists to reach your home. Allowing them space to decompress from the work they do is important, too.
Give Them Clean Linens, a Hot Shower and Wi-Fi
These are the basics of home life, which we take for granted but are highly coveted by road warriors. Melissa Chapa’s daughter, Whitney Flynn, plays in a band with my son. Whitney also books lots of touring acts in local venues, so Melissa has opened her home up to many bands, too. Here’s what she shared from her experience:
“We have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people from around the world hosting bands in our home," Chapa says. "It's a way to pay it forward for those that have housed my daughter and her bandmates. I hope I give them a reprieve and a peaceful place to rest and sometimes regroup from the stresses traveling can create. An open kitchen with lots of spices for the DIY chefs has often been appreciated. Home-cooked meals are also appreciated and in my opinion needed, but that might be the mom in me speaking.
“The washer, dryer and shower are used to get ready for the next leg of their journey. We give them space to unwind, slow down, relax and sleep comfortably,” she continues. “All the bands have been respectful and so very considerate that they are always welcomed here. It is so sweet when we find letters, CDs and sometimes get a package of homemade sweets as a thank-you. Most of all, we have new friends and have hopefully provided a safe, comfortable haven along the way.”
Allow Visitors to Say Thanks
When a band tries to show appreciation for your hospitality by washing after-dinner dishes or buying a 12-pack of beer, give them the freedom to do it. This makes the whole enterprise much more communal and comfortable. You also learn more about your visitors this way. For instance, a band we’ve hosted a few times is Michigan’s Rent Strike. The band’s vocalist, John, is a crazy-good songwriter and a crazy-good cook. We’ve given him the run of the kitchen and been rewarded with stellar meals and a few new recipes. Our humble homestead was dubbed “Sendehaus” by members of Albuquerque’s Arroyo Deathmatch in a nice thank-you note they left behind after a stay years ago. That little gesture stuck with us and set the tone for future stays by other bands after them.
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Share Something Specific to Your City
Members of Chatterbox and the Latter Day Satanists woke to breakfast at my house once and kept calling the delicious food they were devouring “chalockees.” It never occurred to us that foods like kolaches, mastered by Texas’ Czech settlers, aren’t known and enjoyed in places like Boulder, Colorado, the band’s home base. In Houston, being able to share our area’s heritage doesn’t have to mean a day trip to NASA or an afternoon on Galveston Island. Showing Houston pride can be as simple as supplying your visitors with a box of Frenchy’s chicken or a FYHA sticker for the tour van’s back bumper.
Invite People to the Show
Bands and hosts might be enjoying their social time, but at some point the musicians have to go do their jobs. The job is done much better when a crowd is on hand for the show, not always a guarantee for traveling acts. You don’t have to be a show promoter or venue operator to help get the word out; it’s as simple as a Facebook post with the event page attached. Clean sheets and home cooked meals are fine, but helping out-of-town bands connect with new audience members is even better.
One Hot Meal
Providing a meal for someone else is a universal sign of respect that dates back to our ancient ancestors. So show ‘em what you got. Smoke a brisket, bubble up some gumbo, order Chinese food (hey, we’re not all cooks). And try to be considerate of your dinner guests. 3 Day Holocaust? Half are vegetarians. They enjoyed a pot of vegan chili, fresh guacamole and Tish’s rice. The other half and I crushed five pounds of fajitas before the band hit the road again.