Last updated: June 26. 2014 11:20AM - 678 Views
By Marilyn Delk

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When Darke County Center for the Arts Artistic Director Keith Rawlins attends conferences, he sees and hears so many great performances that it makes him dizzy. However, he knows that a large number of those talented artists could not entice local audiences to fill Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. In the not too distant past, he would have returned home bemoaning the fact the he’d seen amazing performers that he could not present because he had no venue in which to put them.

At about the same time, DCCA surveys indicated that some potential audience members were looking for opportunities to enjoy a casual evening in a comfortable setting where food and drink could be enjoyed along with entertainment. And so, Keith and other DCCA officials devised the Coffee House Series, resolving DCCA’s dilemma while also meeting the desires of many local citizens. Coffee House shows are rooted in DCCA’s mission to enrich our community by presenting high quality performing artists while giving those outstanding, but not (yet) famous artists the opportunity to spread their wings, pursue their livelihood and fulfill their own dreams.

Coffee House shows take artists to the audience in inviting spaces throughout Darke County. The new season opens Oct. 16 at Union City’s arts hub, the Arts Depot, where Poetry Alive! actors will turn poems into short dramas or comedy sketches or moving theatrical experiences, depending upon the source material. Poetry is acted, not read, by skilled creative actors who leave an impact wherever they perform.

A wordsmith of rare clarity, troubadour John Flynn will bring his songs that address the times we live in to The Coffee Pot in Greenville on Nov. 6. Music icon Kris Kristofferson praises the talents of his friend, saying that John Flynn has “an eye for powerful imagery and anything funny, and a heart open to surprises and the possibilities of moving emotions.” Known as a truth-teller who speaks to the heart and the spirit, the committed artist writes and sings songs that resound with awareness, irony, humor, and compassion.

Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat wowed his audience when he performed at The Bistro Off Broadway a couple of years ago, so DCCA is honoring requests for the return of the blues singer/storyteller/slide guitarist by welcoming him back to the same venue on Jan. 8. The popular performer’s nickname is due to his walking with a cane because of issues with his left leg that required several surgeries and eventually amputation. You’ll hear Delta blues, Chicago blues, Mississippi blues – or as “Walkin’ Cane” describes his repertoire, all shades of blues when this charismatic charmer comes back to Greenville.

Tall Heights has headlined in packed rooms across the country, showcased at the prestigious South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas, and is scheduled for this summer’s Buckle Up festival in Cincinnati, so by the time they hit town, Tim Harrington and Paul Wright might have gained the fame that matches their talents. These highly esteemed new artists on the robust urban folk scene will provide fans of good music with a not-to-be-missed opportunity when their voices and guitar and cello blend in sublime harmony within the intimate confines of Greenville’s Montage Cafe on Feb. 5.

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin will bring their engaging mixture of folk, roots, bluegrass and jazz to Arcanum’s Wayne Trail Historical Society House on April 16, closing the Coffee House season. Stephanie is an accomplished writer, singer, and fiddler whose lyrics are infused with wit and wisdom; Luke is a master of the guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and almost any instrument he picks up. Known for their ability to raise the roof with their soaring harmonies and foot tapping melodies, Bettman and Halpin play eclectic acoustic music that ranges from catchy folk/pop to soulful ballads to down home fiddle tunes.

Tickets to Coffee House shows are a real bargain at $10 each (even less for DCCA members), and are on sale now at DCCA’s office on the third floor of Greenville Public Library and online at www.centerforarts.net. For more information, contact DCCA at 547-0908 or dcca@centerforarts.net.

Marilyn Delk is a Director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at marilynd@bright.net. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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