Ever since Phoebe serenaded her Friends at Central Perk with ‘Smelly Cat’, coffee shops and live music have gone hand in hand. Locally owned coffee shops such as Danneman’s, Aurora, Java Monkey, and Kavarna with their eclectic aesthetics and local musical acts bring a welcome reprieve to a city saturated with Starbuck’s. Coffee house performance spaces are making a comeback on the scene, especially with the increasing popularity of singer/songwriter and folk music. People can see true talent in a small venue and enjoy a chai tea and biscotti with their friends all in their own backyard. Areas such as Decatur, Virginia-Highlands, and the Old Fourth Ward are where many of these cafes call home.
“People just kind of come in and ask to play,” says Kate Pedrick, owner of Danneman’s Coffee in the Old Fourth Ward. “We don’t have a regular schedule of artists, but we do host several events such as Painters and Poets, Tango lessons on the first and third of every month, and Sunday Dinner.” explains Pedrick while making a latte. Sunday Dinner is like a jam session for local DJ’s, where they mix and sample their own, and each other’s, music.
“You’ll just be downstairs [during Painters and Poets] and all of a sudden you’ll hear this loud cheering from upstairs. It’s pretty crazy.” Pedrick says with a smile.
Danneman’s, a renovated old grocery store, has two levels. The Downstairs is a cozy space with couches and a few high top tables, while The Upstairs is where musicians take the stage on the charmingly worn hardwood floors. They even recently hosted a CitySearch event where Missy Gossip & the Secret Keepers was the in-house headliner.
While some places stick strictly to drip coffee and cappuccinos, others such as Kavarna in Decatur offer up friendly baristas, an expanded food menu, and a large selection of beer and wine when just a simple cup of joe won’t do. The stage in the front corner is large and inviting to any artist who is lucky enough to play on the Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights that the shop hosts entertainment. The art on the walls is a visual seizure, and will inspire even the most tone deaf and lyrically challenged shower singer to grab a guitar and take the stage.
As the days go on, every Atlanta neighborhood will surely have their share of quirky coffee houses with brilliant musical acts. The symbiotic relationship between musicians and coffee houses is strong and will only increase as performance spaces are being factored into the renovations of old buildings, and artists are being booked for bi-monthly or weekly appearances. In the end, everybody wins as local business stay busy, local artists gain new fans, and coffee shop patrons satisfy not just their caffeine fix, but enjoy a tasty treat for their musical sweet tooth.
But that's just This Girl talking...