Singing the Blues, Live But Socially-Distanced

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Photo courtesy of Steve Findley

The Coffeehouse at All Saints is providing socially distanced live music, both in person and online.

Although live music concerts have been few and far between for East Lansing, The Coffeehouse at All Saints is striving to provide live music in a safe environment during the pandemic.

Following up on its July and August live outdoor performances, The Coffeehouse at All Saints will offer another outdoor concert at All Saints Episcopal Church (800 Abbot Road) on Sept. 25 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Whether attending in person or watching the performances through Facebook Live, spectators can expect to hear soloists and ensemble groups perform jazz, folk, classical, blues, spoken word, and more.

Steve Findley, creator and emcee of The Coffeehouse at All Saints, spoke about the event series, which is going into its 14th year.

“Over the years, I have collected many names of people who publicly perform music or spoken word (poetry, book excerpts, skits and amusing stories, e.g.).…My list currently has about 60 performers on it.”

People of all ages at the events – as both performers and attendees. “We’ve had plenty of young people perform over the years,” said Findley.

“We have a great audience…encouraging and supportive. I think we offer a great opportunity for young people to get a chance to perform live in events beyond their recitals for example. I have seen children and octogenarians in the audience, so I know we touch a wide variety of people,” he continued.

The event series took a month off due to COVID back in March but quickly adapted for its April, May, and June shows by providing online-only performances. Beginning in July, The Coffeehouse at All Saints invited a live audience and continued to stream on Facebook Live for those at home.

“Everyone has voluntarily socially distanced and masked,” Findley said. “I am proud of our audience and performers as everyone wants this to work so they follow the guidelines. Our audience size has been about 60 so there is plenty of room in the parking lot to distance, and enjoy the show.”

One of the scheduled performers, Zach Henrys of Potterville, is excited to return back to the live music scene after a long pause. After meeting Findley at the Broad Art Museum, Henrys began playing The Coffeehouse’s shows about three years ago.

The 43-year-old has been playing music for 24 years, using a variety of instruments: the guitar, harmonica, lap steel guitar, Weissenborn lap slide guitar, dobro resonator guitar, stompbox and ukulele.

“I’d have to say it’s equal parts blues and folk,” Henrys said of his music. “Sitting somewhere under that umbrella called Americana. I’ve been told I have a pretty laid-back, easy going feel to my music.”

“Last month opened with ‘Amazing Grace’ delivered through bagpipes and featured a good portion of folk music, jazz, rock, and soul. A string quartet, as well,” Henrys said of the show. “I’d say this time will be an interesting mix again, including folk, pop, instrumental, and gospel music. I’ll be there playing lap style guitar on my Weissenborn, sticking to that blues/roots/Americana lane.”

This Friday, spectators will also hear from Larry Clark, Marsha Hacker and Kim Finison, Jim Jersey, Jonathan Townley, Kerby Rials, Dan Wilson, Marcy and Chris Christoff, and The Quincy Quartet.

The outside show was previously scheduled for Sept. 18 but was postponed due to weather. The event will take place in the parking lot on the West side of All Saints, and will be streamed live on Facebook.

In-person attendees are encouraged to bring their own chair, and welcome to bring their own food, and drink. Visitors are also advised that the church restrooms will be closed.

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