By Nikki Koskinas, Riverside folk musician and actress
Musicians and artists from the Riverside Center for Education community had the opportunity to perform, Friday, October 14, at the Commons in Westmont. This locale offered a professional sound system, plentiful seating, and a nursery space for “little” attendees.
For Peter Searby, the director of Riverside, a Coffee House, has long been a dream. His idea was to have a place where performers, young and old alike, could gather.
“I was frustrated there was no venue for young performers. After 10 years I am finally able to provide a space,” Searby said.
Riverside’s main program is the Tutorial, which seeks to provide a “landscape of action” for boys to learn to become “men of courage, faith and family,” according to the Riverside website. But, there also are co-ed programs, like folk music classes and theatre.
A band comprised of young Riverside folk musicians was among the performers at the Coffee House. The leader, Teresa Jansen, played guitar and sang. Though she was nervous, she thought the group did very well.
“Everyone was very supportive. It was so laid back,” Fiona From, another band member, said.
A second student act was the Barton Boys. Brothers Jude (bass) and Asher Barton (guitar) played the song Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles.
While many performances included instruments like guitars, ukuleles, fiddles and harmonicas, Christian Ruch, played the concertina, which is popular in Irish music.
“I loved (his) song, I wish he had played longer,” Genevieve Schuchardt, said, regarding Ruch’s performance.
Riverside parents also got in on the act. Rick and Carrie Allegretti, a husband-wife duo, who dabble in folk and Christian music, kicked off the night. Vocalist Carrie said that although she was in choir when she was young, she never had any formal musical training.
“It wasn’t until my husband and I started goofing off in music after we were married that I once again started singing,” Carrie said.
Rick, on the other hand, played bass for many years in a band, but after it broke up taught himself guitar, which he found to be a more appropriate solo instrument.
Musical couple Emily and Collin York, who have a son enrolled in Riverside’s Tutorial, also performed. Colin plays piano, guitar, and bass, and Emily shared she has had training as well.
“I played violin and piano when I was young then in high school taught myself guitar,” Emily said. “The (Coffee House) is different, unlike (other) events…This has a clear purpose— the music.” said Emily.
The evening had positive reviews from many different audience members.
“It’s such an explosion of talent,” Liam Mitchell, one of the Riverside tutors, said.
Jennifer Dorn, another tutorial mom said, “To fully enjoy the coffee house one must have a cup of coffee, a cinnamon roll, and a seat.”
Evening closed with Searby playing and singing covers and his original music. He shared his excitement about his idea coming to life after 10 years.
“It was as I hoped. An opportunity to enjoy music and friends, and to promote young performers,” Searby said.
The plan is to offer several Riverside Coffee House evenings throughout the school year.