Thursday, January 19, 2012

Live Music @ Wired Beans Cafe (in video)

I had an epic experience last night.   While I headed over to Wired Bean Cafe (my new favorite coffee shop in Mt. Airy) planning to sit quietly and get some work done I instead ended up getting treated to one of the best open mic nights I've heard in quite a while.  After talking with the cafe's owner Robert Wheeler, it turns out that Wired Beans hosts family friendly open mic nights every Wednesday from 7 - 9p.  One of the folks present informed me that there can be thirty folks in attendance on good night, and sometimes there's traveling musicians that stop in from all over the country.  The open mic night is in addition to poetry nights which are held every Thursday from 7 - 9p (one of which I walked into last week).

The host for the evening, Sad Patrick, opened up by playing John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery," which really got my attention.  As more folks gathered into the small coffee shop, Beorn Sunflower took the mic to play a few original songs, mostly off his album "Songs From the Fridge."  I was able to pick a copy of the album and it's got a sweet sound... sepia toned folk music drenched in Beorn's weathered yet powerful voice.  Next up were two sisters with absolutely amazing voices, singing everything from Beyonce to Etta James's "At Last."  I got their permission to tape a rendition  of Jill Scott's "The Fact Is."  Bethlehem is the main singer here, although I didn't catch her sister's name:

Wow... what a voice!  Bethlehem and her sister are regulars at Wired Bean's open mic nights, so be sure to come by and check em out.  After that Bethlehem sang a couple songs with Sad Patrick, but the highlight of the evening was when her father showed up with a couple friends.  He had just gotten out of choir practice at New Covenant Church, so he sang a hymn called "Touch the Hem of His Garment."  For a finale he then sang "Stand by Me" (with his daughters backing him up from the audience).  I fell into sheer musical ecstasy at this point, listening to the family sing such a moving song while other audience members drummed along on cafe tables.

I'm always someone that needs to be getting something done... checking emails, reading various articles, etc. so for most of the night I was on laptop while listening to the performance.  During the duets though, Bethlehem graciously motioned for me to pay closer attention, and she was absolutely right.  I ended up shutting my laptop and instead soaked in what was going on all around me, and I'm very grateful for it.  That's the sort of place that Wired Beans Cafe is... while you can certainly have your privacy, it's a coffee shop where folks congregate to learn from each other, affirm each other and pay attention to each other.  It's a place that creates community amongst the unforgiving grid of Philadelphia's urban landscape.

God's peace,

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