Coffee, tea and song
Entertainment for families coming to Freshwater
With apologies to hard bread, there might be nothing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians love more than a cup of tea and a bit of good music to help stir the soul. A group of Freshwater residents are hoping that formula will help build support for a new monthly musical event in the community.
The Freshwater Cafe will be held the third Friday of each month at the Freshwater United Church Community Centre, located in the centre of the community, from 7-10 p.m. The free event will feature a variety of local entertainers performing in front of audience members who can satiate themselves with muffins, juice, and fair trade organic tea and coffee offered for sale.
The first night for the family-themed event is scheduled for Jan. 21.
The event was the brainchild of Wayne Cole, Andrew Peacock, Gerry Strong, and Jim Van Evans, who were all involved in setting up a show at the community centre for acclaimed Scottish acoustic guitarist Tony McManus last fall. Strong calls him “the Eric Clapton of acoustic guitarists.”
That concert attracted close to 100 showgoers, a larger one than that for his performance the night before in St. John’s at the Ship Pub. “ The idea was born out of that experience,” says Cole. For now, the Freshwater Cafe will be a monthly event, though Cole says he hopes it may become a bi-weekly happening if successful.
“It depends on participation from musicians and the community,” he says.
The music will not be abrasive, keeping in step with acoustic sounds covering folk, bluegrass, and the softer side of rock.
Though not billed as an open-mike night, Strong says musicians who attend will be welcome to drop in and play a tune or two.
“The idea is to have somebody for sure who’s going to be here, but anybody who also comes in will have the opportunity to play,” says Strong, a well-known folk musician in the province whose tin whistle work has graced many recordings.
Strong will serve as an MC to start things off, and will organize the evening’s lineup of entertainers, which will welcome both professionals and amateur musicians.
“For something that’s billed as a family event, we want to make sure it’s a comfortable atmosphere for people to bring children and spouses and so on. We don’t want anyone to go up to the microphone to tell dirty jokes,” laughs Cole.
While there are no names shored up as far as entertainers go, Strong says he hopes to attract musicians good enough that the group may look into offering workshops out of the community centre.
“ We want this event to also have an educational component to it,” says Cole. “ We will be inviting professionals to come and do workshops and share with local amateurs their gifts and skills.”
Holding a successful monthly event might also prove a coup for the community, which has seen its population become more seasonal with each passing year.
“People just come here to drive through and look at the place and take some pictures,” says Cole. “But the community does not have a Tim Hortons or Starbucks or anywhere where folks can gather. So, we’re hoping as we build on this program, this will probably be open weekdays in the summertime, and people can come in and have a coffee.”
The community centre came into existence as a school in 1958. The Freshwater High School housed 112 students taught by three teachers, according to an article published in the Evening Telegram at the time of its opening. That school closed in the early 1980s.
The Freshwater United Church Men’s Fellowship Club is offering access to the community centre and will also help with setting up the canteen, says Cole.
“Good for the community is good for the church.”