The Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse
Some Other Articles From Our Past
9 Lower Main Street in Sunapee, NH
Phone: 603-398-8214 (Vic Reno)
Agree on a date that works with the performers
schedule and according to best date for the host to gather
During the show:
Have some small flat surface available (dining
table, kitchen counter, card table) located where people will
be congregating during the intermission to set up for CD sales
and mailing list.
End of performance:
Since the monthly performances started in July, word of mouth and a com fortable atmosphere have attracted audiences and performers of all ages and have kept them coming back. "One of the things that sets the coffeehouse apart from the bar room scene is it's a family affair," said organizer Randy Richards. Instead of a noisy club, Richards said he wanted to present shows in a more intimate setting, free of smoke and other distractions, where the emphasis would really be on the music. And the shows are certainly all-inclusive events. Members of the audience ranged in age from elementa ry and middle school stu dents to senior citizens. And musicians, too, were of all different ages, from high school students on up. For many in the community, the open mic nights are a chance to showcase their talents and hone their skills in front of an audience that's attentive and appreciative.
Wes Whitaker, a senior at Sunapee High School and one of the regulars, said the: coffeehouse is an ideal setting. "This one is good because they let everybody play," he said. Often, he said, it's harder for younger musicians to play out, since so many venues are 18- plus. .
Whitaker and his friend Josh Bushueff, another Sunapee senior, often play at Woody's as a guitar duo, performing creative covers of tunes like the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon:' as well as songs they've written themselves. "I guess you could call it jazzy - jam - blues-rock." Bushueff said of his and Whitaker's style of playing. Whitaker recounted how his and Bushueff's musical partnership began: "Josh and I got our guitars on the same day - Christmas when we were in seventh grade. We've been just jamming ever since." For Whitaker, Bushueff and other performers, the open mics are often a door way to bigger gigs. After playing a few I5-minute sets, the two were able to land a couple of their own hour-long performances at Woody's. "We got to vary up our set and have our own concert," Whitaker said excitedly.
Another of the performers Thursday, George Perry, said he's been coming to the coffeehouse shows for a while and has also per formed at a few. He's now preparing to move to Grafton to take over as minister there, but he isn't leaving without first singing a few gospel songs and doing some magic tricks.
Just before Christmas and again last week, Perry and the Rev. Jim Hill of Newport appeared as the group Gospel Train. Even though theirs were the only religious songs performed, they added to the varied styles of music played through- out the evening. As Hill joked at the beginning of his and Perry's set, "We'll try not to make it church, but we'll sing about Jesus - and if you don't like "it then in about 15 minutes we'll be gone."
Joel Dulude described him self as one of the "instigators" of the coffeehouse performances. Owner of Travel Network in Sunapee, Dulude puts together the roster at every open mic night and sometimes plays his harmonica and acts as master of ceremonies too.
"I live here in the winter and I like to see more activity in the harbor," he said. "Usually the streets roll up after Columbus Day." But now the shows at Woody's seem to be a welcome diversion. "Obviously the people want it," Dulude said, looking around the packed restaurant last Thursday. "Another full house."
Needless to say, the Community Coffeehouse per formances don't come together all by themselves. They rely on
the efforts of volunteers to keep things running smoothly and to get the word out by hanging, fliers and encouraging others to attend. In' fact, just before last Thursday's show, the steering committee for the coffeehouse held its first meeting and appointed its officers. Matt Driscoll, a junior at Sunapee High School, was elected vice president. Himself a multi-instrumentalist and open mic regular, Driscoll said music is mainly a hobby, but that he would someday like to run his own recording studio. The idea behind the steering committee is to help the coffee house performances grow by attracting more community involvement.
"Sunapee has a lot of talent that's not really discovered yet," Driscoll said. . The Community Coffeehouse finances itself through donations made by audience members at every performance. According to Richards, none of the groups charge for admittance, but the master of ceremonies always passes around an old top hat twice a night for the performers, and audience members are welcome to contribute as much or as little as they want.
Sunapee's Community Coffeehouse is actually the second Richards helped start. The first he formed in 1993 while living .in Leavenworth, Washington at the time, Richards said, he had been playing piano professionally for years but singing and playing gui tar front of an audience were new to him. Rather than take his act to a noisy, smoky bar, Richards and others in Washington found their own space and set their own rules.
Members of the audience were encouraged to listen respectfully to performers, and to get up and sing themselves if they felt the urge. Friends baked cookies and other goodies, which they sold to keep the performances going week after week.
These days Richards stays mostly behind the scenes, helping musicians adjust the microphone stands and keeping watch over the PA system. But in a pinch, he said, he'll get up on stage to play keyboard or flute. "If there's nobody else that's signing up, then I'm a backup," he said. As the Community Coffee house continues to grow, Richards said he hopes to see people from outside Sunapee get involved as well, for example Colby-Sawyer students.
"One of the key things about this is we want to have students involved," he said. Richards said he hopes the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse will be as successful and enduring as the one he started years ago on the other side of the country In Washington, he said, the coffeehouse attracted bigger audiences and different per formers as time went on, becoming a real community event. Now more than a decade later, it's still going on strong .
The Sunapee Community Coffeehouse, he said, “will probably be sustainable. The one in Washington just keeps going.” “I hope to get a gig on the schedule in Washington sometime”.
In addition to the open mic nights, the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse also hosts bands every week. After the new year, the weekly performances, including the monthly open mic nights, will move to Fridays at 7 p.m
Please forward this to anyone who might be interested in knowing about the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse.
CoffeeHouse, A Great Venue in Sunapee