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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Java Democracy

Gig at Stir the Soul Coffeehouse tonight. It'll be fun as always. Very diverse and mellow crowd. The crowds keep getting bigger there too. Daney Jelley is doing an amazing job of building this business and this music venue. It's hard to get a gig there. I usually get in about every two months, it seems. It's interesting to read Daney's comments on his e-zine. It's apparent he's had to field some flack about the image of the place. He handles it, like he handles everything, gracefully and honestly. He's a prince to work for.

It's a pretty interesting microcosm of how our society treats perceptions, differences in life styles and social standing. And age. Once he wrote about the misconception that it was a Christian coffeehouse. He responded that he could just as easily be accused of being a Buddhist or muslim coffeehouse. People are welcome to come in and sing about whatever they want. And I've heard them do it. Done it myself. This place defines freedom of speech. If you're not sure what the spirit of our constitution is beyond fireworks, go sit through some of the amazing open mic sessions on Monday with host James Albritton.

So my neighbors in this decidedly upper middle class gated community, drive past STS and see motorcycles parked there. They get the feeling it's not their kind of scene. No valet parking either. What am I doing living in this neighborhood? The reasons are long and complicated but a quick summary is this: We stumbled into the smallest house there when it was still affordable and I thought I might still be playing golf. I didn't give any thought to the idea that I'd be in a minority group. I'm not bothered by that concept. I've always been in a minority group even though I'm a white guy. I learned a LONG time ago to work with it instead of using it as an excuse. But that's fodder for another blog. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. But for the record, I could no longer afford to buy there, nor have i ever got around to playing golf since we moved to Florida. It's all music all the time. And commercial free, too if you ignore the obvious self-promotion that goes on here.

I can attest to the fact that I'm welcomed and accepted at Stir the Soul. Even though I'm not a regular hanger-outer there. Even though my outside interests, my station in life, and my age, are probably different than the majority there. I'm sure I'm not regarded the same as many others who frequent the place but I'm not the same as most so what should I expect? People eventually learn that I'm very young for my age, rather tall for a short guy and reasonably cool for a white guy.

That's why the coffeehouse scene in general has the potential, at least, to be the perfect model of life in a free democracy. Stir the Soul and Poughkeepsie's Cubbyhole and my other fantastic regular gig, Bella Luna Cafe', are excellent models of this.

So for many, STS, looks like a place they usually avoid. And if I followed that same logic, I wouldn't be living where I do. Or relearning that people who are SO different from me are still people. People I like. People whose friendship I can depend on. Perhaps they consider me to be a total eccentric but they don't hold it against me. I hope they learn from that and visit a coffee house some day soon. Even if I'm not gigging there.

posted by Bud @ 9:02 AM

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