Still strumming

Kevin Curley
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Jamestown coffeehouse celebrates 10 years

There is a long-standing tradition of music in Jamestown.

The community celebrated its tenth year of coffeehouses last Saturday with 90 attendees, 17 performers, a hearty lunch and too many instruments to count.

The night starts at 7:30 p.m. with a 30-minute jam session where everyone is free to get on stage and get warmed up. From there, performers will play two songs each for an hour or so and then everyone will enjoy a nice meal. Then the music plays and the toes keep tapping until almost 11 p.m.

Performers are free to play what they wish and on any given night you can hear country, bluegrass, gospel, Irish or Newfoundland traditional.

People come from far and wide to play and/or listen to the music, Naaman Barber has driven from Conception Bay South for the past six or seven years to join in on the fun.

Marie Yetman is one of the founders and serves as the evening's emcees. On top of being a performer and organizer, she also tells jokes in between performers to break up the silence and keep the audience in stitches.

Yetman and her husband, along with Pat and Andy Leonard of A&P music started the coffeehouse tradition in 2004. It began as a parable of talents project for the St. James Church. Each member of the church was given $5 and asked to use their talent to make the money grow.

"We decided to go into St. John's and sat in on a coffee house. My husband, Pat and Andy being musicians, we thought we would try it. We saw how it was setup and how everything went," says Yetman.

They held their first coffeehouse and it exceeded all their expectations.

"At the time we were thrilled. We each used $5 to put in as our talent money, and we made $500 that night, so we were really excited," says Yetman.

Jamestown has the distinction of being the second longest running coffeehouse in the province and Yetman and her group have used their talent to keep the lights on and the bills paid at the church and the Jamestown Recreation Centre.

"We've continued ever since, we have four or five a year and it's been really good for us. They are always well attended, drawing a crowd of 60 to 130 people," she says.

The event has gathered a faithful following of musicians, many of whom have rarely missed a coffeehouse in the past 10 years.

"It gives some of these musicians a chance to perform when they don't have any other place to play. They play one tune in the jam session and then two tunes in the actual show," says Yetman.

The musicians all come free of their time and talent and volunteers serve the meals and donate goods.

"It is very good of them to support us in that way. That's how we are able to generate the funds we do, they don't charge," says Yetman.

New performers keep showing up and attendance is holding steady; the Jamestown coffeehouse shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

The next coffeehouse will be held on Friday, June 6, grab an instrument and come join in on the fun.

Organizations: James Church, Jamestown Recreation Centre

Geographic location: Jamestown, Newfoundland, St. John's

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