"There's Just a Lot of Magic Here:" The Coffee House at All Saints
Above: The Stump Brothers, a Coffee House favorite.
When East Lansing’s All Saints Episcopal Church was going through tough times in 2006, they decided to come together. Steve Findley invited a few friends to the church on a Friday night to play music, founding what is now known as The Coffee House at All Saints (“Coffee House”).
“It all just started with people who were unhappy, and it was a time for them to be happy,” Findley said. “Sometimes we would have a meal or sometimes we would just play.”
For 13 years, the church has continued to host the Coffee House, where people perform poems, readings or music. The church does not charge a fee and it is completely secular. Many bring snacks and drinks, and the church provides coffee.
In the beginning, the gatherings were informal, consisting of eight to ten performers. Within a year, organizers transitioned to a more structured format, offering open mics and allowing people to sign up in advance to perform multiple songs or readings. Today, Coffee House is booked with performers three months in advance and the number of participants has grown to 102.
“There’s just a lot of magic here,” Findley said. “I don’t know a lot of the people that perform, but there’s just a lot of faith. What I mean by that is I’ll just simply say ‘great, come’ and my thinking is that they will be great. They want to do well so they’re doing the best they can, which has been true.”
Findley noted that the Coffee House is a useful platform for people to grow by performing in front of a large group of people. He recalls a time when a young girl came to play the clarinet. She hadn’t been playing for long, so after she performed, she knew she had to practice more. She returned for two subsequent performances – improving significantly each time and receiving a great response from the audience.
He cites many memorable performances through the years, there have been, including the “Stump Brothers”, a group of high school boys who played the trumpet and ukulele. Findley and the audience questioned the combination of the two instruments, but they were instantly astonished as they heard them play, realizing the how well the instruments sounded with each other.
“Afterward, I found out that the kid who played the ukulele had been playing for seven years,” Findley said. “They had come and surprised the entire audience and later became regulars -- they probably performed eight times.”
Throughout their 13 years in operation, The Coffee House at All Saints has grown significantly in popularity.
“I think our ability to be booked out now is great,” Findley said. “I used to be worried if we were going to fill the month and have enough people, otherwise it was me just printing off songs on the internet so we can sing along. If there was a popular song, we would probably have sung it. We have some people who have come here all 13 years. You know it’s free entertainment and for me, it’s a passion. I get to play and sing. It happens every month and it has just grown to be where it is self-fulfilling; it’s quite nice.”
Coffee House at All Saints occurs the third Friday of every month from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. All are welcome and admission is free.
All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 800 Abbot Road.
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