Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Terra Cafe Easton Opens New Terra Cafe Bethlehem Featuring Open Mic

In the typical tropical flair that fans of Terra Cafe in Easton have come to know and love, 
tabletops in the new Terra Cafe Bethlehem are hand-painted by local artist, 
Joseph Ryan Gourniak, at www.JOEYWORLDFAMOUS.com

Posted by: Noël Jones

Easton entrepreneurs Manuel Fresneda and Marcel Bedoya have done it again--the owners of Terra Cafe in Easton have opened a second cafe, called Terra Cafe Bethlehem, in what used to be the infamous Wildflower Cafe at 316 New Street, known for its impressive show of talent on open mic night. Last night I went to check it out, and it looks like Terra is on track to continue that tradition. The house was packed--I counted about 45 people in the small venue that sports a coffee bar, colorfully painted tables, and a stage with three mics, a drumset, keyboard and amps.

Although the patrons seemed to be a mostly younger set in their early twenties,  there were  singer/songwriters, poets and comedians of all ages in attendance and the room was buzzing with creative energy. The open mic is hosted by Bill Medei every Monday and Tuesday night at the cafe, with a sign up list that opens at the bar at 7pm, and the artists performing from 8pm to midnight.

I was surprised to bump into Peter James, a singer/songwriter with a silver handlebar mustache and a beard the length of a necktie (not a face you forget), who used to attend Jack Hardy's weekly songwriters' night in the Village in New York at the same time I did. He gave me a beer (the cafe is BYOB) and the scoop on the songwriters' scene in
the Valley, then started off the night with a few original songs, setting the bar pretty high.

Dave Frye was also on hand, who I understand is one of the founders of the Bethlehem folk music venue, Godfrey Daniels, which I intend to check out soon.

For those who are fans of Terra Cafe in Easton, you will be happy to know that Sidney and Sarah were in the house, and it turns out, Sarah plays guitar and writes songs too. She did a couple of original tunes and then sang a traditional folk song, "Wagon Wheel" with Sidney singing harmony from the audience.

My favorites of the night were a wicked jazz/rock guitarist named Tony Ferrizzi, a round-faced, red-bearded philosophy graduate who played the craziest rendition of "Autumn Leaves" I've ever heard, before launching into Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man." I also like the drum work of Will Gourniak of Phillipsburg, who sat in with a few of the different artists, including some duet work with his brother Joey, as well as singer/songwriter Dan Epstein, who plays guitar, keyboards, trumpet and harmonica, and spent the rest of the night dancing in the aisles and sporting a cool hat. Come to think of it, there were a lot of cool hats floating around...I'm going to have to find a cool hat...

Around 10:30 Dave Cahill took the stage and performed what I can only describe as a trio of flamenco punk tunes, that involved a lot of looping with pedals--definitely not something you see every day.

I was glad to see there were a couple of poets and comedians who performed as well, but I have to say that my favorite character of the night was not a musician or a poet, nor a comedian at all--an older dark-haired fellow named Thor (who also had a cool hat) who had been a regular on the scene in the Wildflower days, and was out just to take in the vibe and the talent. Everybody seemed to know Thor. "They call me the anti-stress guy," he says with a proud smile, "sometimes at the bar down the street, people want to fight, but I calm them down." (Perhaps we could send him to Congress?) He leans over the table whenever a musician that he's particularly excited about takes the stage, "wait 'til you hear this guy." I can't quite place his accent, and he tells me that's because he was an army brat and lived all over the world, never for more than a few years at a time. So how many languages can he speak? He doesn't remember--six or seven. Being a nerd I guess every language I can think of, and it turns out he speaks at least 10, "but not all of them so well," he says, waving his hand, and then answers his cell phone in a language I cannot make out, before informing me after he hangs up that he also speaks the Lakota dialect, because he's half Lakota/Nez Perce.

If I were not of such fortunate brain chemistry, I could have easily left the cafe feeling inadequate--after all--I play guitar like a five year-old, do not speak 10 languages, can't remember how to properly steam the foam on a latte, and have no special talent for breaking up bar fights. But one thing's for sure: I know where to go now for an interesting time on Monday nights in the Lehigh Valley!


Dennis R. Lieb said...

I never got around to checking out Wildflower...the one time I was supposed to be there for a meeting about passenger rail they were closed and the meeting had to be moved down the street to Banana Factory. I will certainly now check it out to support the Easton connection.

In any event it was interesting to hear mention of Godfrey Daniels - another place I have amazingly avoided attending for decades...amazing because I was on Fourth Street a lot in the 80's for punk shows at the Fourth Street Saloon...amazingly entertaining and very funny stuff.

There are two lively possibilities coming up for a trip to GD's. Graham Parker will be playing there April 15th. Here is the link info:


If you haven't heard him think of a bluesy version of Elvis Costello with staying power.

There will hopefully be a rescheduling of Pat DiNizio (former lead singer/songwriter of the Smithereens). He was ice stormed out this winter and no new date has been set yet. After the Smithereens break-up he undertook an innovative "national living room tour" where he actually traveled cross-country to play in peoples houses, at family reunions and weddings. Talk about bringing the music to the people! A friend of mine left me a frantic phone message a few years ago that he was at Bushkill Park for a little girl's cancer fund raiser and DiNizio showed up out of nowhere in a beat up cadillac and started playing acoustic Smithereens songs at the amphitheater.

Thems was the days.


Dennis R. Lieb said...

The Graham Parker link didn't seem to transfer to my post properly. Check out Godrey Daniels artist listing page for details of April shows -you can click on a bio of him.


Untouched Takeaway said...

I saw Graham Parker with Nick Lowe in NJ late last year - they were both fabulous.

I'm obviously a Nick Lowe fan :D


noel jones said...

I will have try to see Graham Parker--sounds like a good reason to go check out Godfrey Daniels...

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto says:

Noel I was there on Friday evening and you are right - another fine business by someone who started in Easton. They do a great job in Easton and now these business owners are spreading their wings to Bethlehem.

Of course I still like the Easton cafe better.....

noel jones said...

I hope the Easton cafe will expand to have open mics here too--Something to draw some of those college kids down off the hill...but also a place where musicians and poets of all ages can go regularly. we do have a few open mics in Easton that I've learned about lately: every other Wed at Porters, Thursday nights at Mothers, the 2nd Friday of each month at Connexions...but it's nice to have a regular weekly spot for those under 21...

peterkc said...

I haven't had a chance to check out the new Terra Café in Bethlehem yet. Can anyone tell me whether Terra Café in Easton serves Fair Trade organic coffees, teas, and chocolate? If not, we ought to all start asking for Fair Trade organic -- and refuse to buy these products if they're made by exploiting poor workers and poisoning the environment.


noel jones said...

Yes, Terra is passionate about serving fair trade coffees. They also sell art and crafts by Columbian villagers and send the money back to them.

sydney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sydney said...

Terra Cafes' Coffee comes from:

Terra Cafes' Baked Goods:

Terra Cafes' Daily Specials/Events:

thanks Noel!! Hope to see you back soon! Bring your friends:)