About the North Elk Coffee House
The North Elk Coffee House is held on the third Saturdays of September through November and January through May. Guest performers present live music in a variety of styles, including: Celtic, Blues, Bluegrass, Jazz, and traditional American folk music. All members of the community are welcome to attend. The Coffee House seats 110 people at small, candlelit tables, in the friendly and intimate style of the coffee houses of the 1950’s and 1960’s. There are desserts, snacks, and coffee, tea, soda, and water available for a suggested donation. The audience is mostly comprised of adults, but there are also families in attendance. The coffee house is smoke-free and alcohol-free, and has no religious affiliation.
The North Elk Coffee House is located in North East, MD, a small community on the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. We are housed in the parish hall of St. Mary-Anne’s Episcopal Church.
From the north, take Route 95 south to Exit 100A. Follow the left lane on the exit ramp, Route 272 south, toward North East. From the exit, go about two miles, into the town of North East (crossing Route 40 and a small railroad bridge). After the bridge, we are about one half mile farther along, on the right side. It is a large white-sided building with a front porch. Look for the blue and white North Elk Coffee House sign out front. There is on street parking and a parking lot across the street, adjacent to North East United Methodist Church.
From the south, take Route 95 north to Exit 100A. Follow the right lane on the exit ramp, Route 272 south. Then follow the directions above.
The doors open at 6:45 p.m. We sometimes have an opening act, or we play the music of one of our upcoming performers until 7:20. The audience is invited to visit the kitchen for snacks and drinks. At 7:30 the guest artist begins their performance. They play two sets of music with a short break in between. The evening ends by approximately 9:30 p.m.
Your donations are collected at the door on the night of the performance. Tickets are not distributed in advance. The suggested amounts are $8 for adults and $6 for children, under 18. All money that is collected, beyond the cost of running the coffee house, is donated to The Meeting Ground, an organization that supports the homeless individuals and families in Cecil County, Maryland. Read more about The Meeting Ground at: www.meetingground.org .
The North Elk Coffee House is completely managed and staffed by volunteers. Without their help, our monthly shows would not be possible. There are opportunities to assist with setting up and taking down the room on the day of the performance and baking for and working in the kitchen during the show. If you are interested in joining our other volunteers you can contact Rick Waterhouse through the St. Mary Anne’s Church office: 410 287 5522 or, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
A lighted table is set up on which the artist’s CD recordings and other information are displayed. The audience may purchase the guest artist’s recordings before and after the show and at intermission. Guest artists normally greet the audience and sign CDs at intermission and at the end of the evening.
Main Street has many shops selling antiques, craft items, artwork, and food, all within walking distance. There are also “fast food” restaurants, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, just a two- minute drive from the coffee house.
You may look for announcements about the coffee house on this web page. We also announce the performances in the Wilmington News-Journal and the Cecil Whig. Information is sent for announcement on WVUD (FM 91.3), the radio station at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE. WVUD has a weekday morning folk program called “Roots”, on which they make concert announcements and sometimes have performers as guests. You may also look for our banner in front of the Parish Hall during the week before the performance.
For Potential Performers
The North Elk Coffee House is a non-profit venue operated as a community outreach of St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church. Artists receive $300 for the evening’s performance of (2) 45-minute sets of music. The Coffee House provides stage and sound equipment, although performers are strongly encouraged to bring their own microphones, effects boxes, etc., as desired. A committee meets in June to select artists for the coming season. Musicians interested in playing at the North Elk Coffee House should send a CD and promotional information about themselves to:
North Elk Coffee House
c/o St. Mary Anne’s Church
315 S. Main Street
North East, MD 21901
2015-2016 Schedule of Performers
September 19 – Jim Petrie
October 17 – ellen cherry
November 21 – Heather Pierson
January 16 – John Lionarons
February 20 – Kate MacLeod
March 19 – Pam Ortiz Trio
April 16 – The Levins
May 21 – Toby Walker
September 19, 2015 – Jim Petrie
Jim Petrie is a fine musician, whom we were able to connect with thanks to coffee house co-manager, Doug Donley. As a result, we booked Jim as our opening performer of the season. Jim’s training is as a classical guitarist, but he is also a singer and writer of songs that are a mix of styles – country, folk, blues, and a little rock ‘n roll. Jim will get the 2015-16 session of the North Elk Coffee House off to a great start!
Jim taught himself to play then studied classical guitar at Hartt School of Music. He later studied with Oscar Ghiglia at the Aspen Music Festival and School. After developing his guitar skills, Jim taught guitar at Simon’s Rock (Bard College), the Loomis Chaffee School and the Hartt School Community Division. Jim added “audio engineer” to his resume, after he moved to New York City and studied at the Audio Institute of Research. He worked at Counterpoint Studios and Soundtrack Studios as assistant engineer, engineer and as a digital editor for advertising clients and recording artists including Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones, Leon Redbone, Eric Bogosian, Rosenshontz and many others. After earning a graduate degree in business he went to work for his family’s directory publishing company. Since 2009 he has been writing and performing in the New York area. He plays as both a soloist and with his band.
Jim will be joined on our stage by guest, Stephen Benson, who is very active on the New York City freelance scene. Stephen is comfortable in a variety of musical settings from jazz and classical music to rock, blues, rhythm and blues, Broadway, bluegrass and klezmer music. He has performed and or recorded with people as diverse as Phoebe Snow, John Sebastian, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, The New York Philharmonic, and The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He currently performs on Broadway in the orchestra pits of The Lion King, Chicago, and Aladdin, and is on the jazz faculty at Montclair State University.
Jim is currently recording an album of his original music and hopes to release it in the fall of 2015. Come get a preview of the new CD, when Jim and Steve play in September. You can learn more about Jim Petrie and listen to some samples at: https://www.reverbnation.com/earnestmister .
October 17, 2015 – ellen cherry (lower case letters intentional!)
A few seasons ago, we found a great new performer for the North Elk right nearby in Baltimore – ellen cherry! We are happy to say that she is making a return trip to the coffee house stage in October. Ellen is a songwriter, guitarist, and singer, in addition to living a life that is overflowing with composition, recording for television, recording and producing the music of others, and receiving grants from the Maryland State Arts Council. This girl is busy! With a blend of folk, pop, jazz, and instrumental music, ellen will entertain you with original songs that combine a strong voice with upbeat guitar work. Come out this month and let ellen cherry warm up your fall evening with her energetic performance.
Ellen has been writing and recording her music since 1997. Many have taken notice of her talent since then, as she has licensed her music for play on the Oxygen Network, MTV, and Soap.net. You might have heard her singing her song, “We Are Baltimore”, as part of a television commercial for FOX News – Baltimore in 2009. Ellen has also composed music for two independent films and an award-winning score for a shadow puppet performance: “Alonzo’s Lullaby”. She has recently been commissioned for an album of songs by the Maryland Historical Society; and WYPR, one of the local NPR affiliates, hired ellen to be the Music Director for their “Stoop Storytelling” program. In 2012, ellen released her newest collection of songs, a piano and vocal album produced by Caleb Stine, entitled “Please Don’t Sell the Piano”. Ellen will take time from her busy schedule to share her music, reflecting her love of women’s history, poetry, and literature, on our stage this month. Join us! You can get a preview at: www.ellencherry.com .
November 21, 2015 – Heather Pierson
In November we will have another returning performer for you. Last season, Heather Pierson brought her wonderful music to our stage. She was an audience favorite, which is why we are so looking forward to her visit this month! At first glance, Heather Pierson appears to be the girl next-door – youthful, friendly, and a little bit shy. At the seat of a piano or brandishing her father’s old Gibson, however, she transforms into a world-class performer, baring her soul in a manner that leaves her listeners breathless and entranced. This talented, multi-genre singer/songwriter and winner of the 2012 New England Songwriting Contest will present another show you won’t want to miss.
Heather was born in Joplin, Missouri but her family called western Maine their home, by the time she was 5 years old. She got her early introduction to music on the piano from her dad, and from listening to him play the jazz clarinet. A few years ago, Heather also picked up the acoustic guitar and she has been composing on piano and guitar ever since. In the last 4 years, she has released three albums, including 2013’s ”The Hard Work of Living”, which features her Americana/folk/roots songwriting and award-winning single “A Hard Man To Please”. Her life’s work, she says, is to share her love of music and of life with others – one song, one heart, one mind at a time.” Heather Pierson is an amazing talent. Her gorgeous, rich vocals are filled with soul. She’s as comfortable and adept with bluegrass as she is with jazz. Don’t you dare miss an opportunity to hear her live,” raves WVPE Public Radio. You can do that in November at the North Elk Coffee House! Learn more about Heather’s musical journey and hear her music at: www.heatherpierson.com .
January 16, 2016 – John Lionarons
John has performed several times at the North Elk and we are so excited to welcome him back in January! With his humorous stories, great voice, and talents on multiple instruments, a performance by John Lionarons is entertaining indeed! John’s main instrument is the hammered dulcimer, with which he has won many awards at the National Hammered Dulcimer Championships in Winfield, Kansas. However, that is just the beginning; John also entertains with his accordion, piano, fiddle, guitar, tin whistle, bodhran and rhythm bones. A recent musical adventure is learning to play the glass harp he built himself. John is a polished and entertaining veteran of the musical stage and you are sure to enjoy his performance.
John Lionarons’ hammered dulcimer music, drawn from the Celtic tradition, is mesmerizing and has audiences applauding for more. He draws listeners into his music with stories that relate the history of their composition and their handing down through generations. John also enjoys presenting Early American tunes, which he has honed during several years as the guest artist, welcoming visitors to the Philadelphia Visitor Center. You can find him there several days a week. In fact, when John last performed at the coffee house, he came straight from work in his Colonial American outfit! During the evening’s performance, John switches effortlessly from the dulcimer to the guitar, fiddle, and accordion. His original music has been nominated twice for Philadelphia’s BARRYMORE AWARD for Excellence in Theatre. John is also a talented composer; he has written and performed music for local theater companies, including People’s Light and Theater Company in Malvern, PA. His compositions include original scores for productions of “Beauty and the Beast”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, and “Through the Looking Glass”. Join us in January for an evening with John Lionarons. Read more and hear some of John’s music at: http://johnlionarons.com/fr_home.cfm .
February 20, 2016 – Kate MacLeod
If you like traditional American folk music, played on guitar and fiddle, and expressed through a clear and beautiful voice, don’t miss hearing Kate Macleod this month! That is what we said when Kate last played our stage and it is as true as ever; we know you will enjoy her music. Kate is originally from the Washington, D.C. area but now lives in Salt Lake City. She originally went there to study violin making and the love of that instrument is evident in her mastery of its use in both the traditional American folk songs and original compositions she presents. Kate’s busy schedule includes tours to Europe, live performances on radio stations, working as a music producer, and, this month, playing at the North Elk!
Though Kate loves playing traditional music, she has also made her mark with thought-provoking, original compositions. She loves the fact that other singers want to cover her songs, exposing them to more listeners. In her own words: “…despite the overly commercial and complicated world we live in, I’ve learned that music does make a difference in people’s lives.” Her wonderful music has been played on: “A Prairie Home Companion”, Tom May’s “River City Folk”, and “Peace on Earth”, a holiday show hosted by Judy Collins. Her most recent recordings are her solo CD “Kate MacLeod – At Ken Sanders Rare Books” – a concert recording of original compositions inspired by books, and “Lost and Found” – a recording with Kat Eggleston. A Sing Out! Magazine review says, Kate MacLeod “channels the spirit of the great Carter Family classics.”Join us in February to hear Kate for yourself! Read more about her and hear some of her music at: www.katemacleod.com .
March 19, 2016 – Pam Ortiz Band
Pam and her band paid a visit to our stage two years ago and we are happy to welcome her back! Pam Ortiz has been playing and singing since the late 80’s. After ten years with the band, Terra Nova, and a break, during which, “all of life happened” as Pam says, she is back on the road and returning to North East for our show in March. Pam will bring along her husband, Bob, and a third musician to round out her trio. It will be a special night of music!
During her break to raise a family, Pam continued to write songs and play music. She is now back in performance mode with her guitar, musical friends, and a set of new songs. In 2012, Pam held a CD release party, at which she introduced songs from “Rattle Them Chains”, her newest CD. Pam and her husband, Bob, are all about the music and sharing it with others. When one of their shows was cancelled, due to Hurricane Sandy, they hosted an open rehearsal in their home town of Chestertown, MD. People were welcomed to come and sit in on an improvised evening of shared music. The most recent project for Pam and the band has been Red Devil Moon, a new musical collaboration with playwright, Robert Earl Price, inspired by the modernist novel, Cane, by Harlem Renaissance writer, Jean Toomer. Join us and we promise you an evening of heartfelt music played by a musician who, by her own admission, is happy to have “smaller glasses, shorter hair…not to mention a few extra wrinkles.” Read more about Pam at www.pamortizmusic.com .
April 16, 2016 – The Levins
Ira and Julia Levin will be our second new act of this season, and we know their music will make them seem like old friends. The Levins (pronounced LeVINNs ) are a husband and wife contemporary folk duo, that offers wonderful harmonies with acoustic accompaniment. Their music is upbeat and hopeful. Along with music from their first CD, My Friend Hafiz, they will share songs from their 2015 release: Trust. We hope you will be able to join us to hear them live.
Blending guitar and piano with their beautifully-matched voices has been their life since 2002. They were married that year, after meeting at a singer-songwriter competition in Berkeley, California. In 2010 they moved to New York, leaving the bands they had worked with on the west coast, to start composing and performing together. Their albums have led them to perform both nationally and in Amsterdam and England. They have opened for Cheryl Wheeler, Vance Gilbert, Sloan Wainwright, and The Kennedy’s, among others. As Tom Staudter, of the Croton Gazette writes, “The straight forward vocals and unhurried tempos allow listeners to share in the earnest and honest musical art that Julia and Ira have perfected. “ Come out and help us welcome Ira and Julia to the North Elk! You can read more and hear some of their music at: http://www.thelevinsmusic.com/ .
May 21, 2016 – Toby Walker
Our final show of this season will feature another of our favorites – blues guitarist, Toby Walker. Toby opened our season in 2013 and we look forward to hearing him again! “Little” Toby Walker, as he is called, may be short in stature but his guitar skills are large as life. Toby is an excellent finger-style guitarist adept at blues, rags, and hot country picking. He is also a skilled singer and songwriter, drawing inspiration from traditional and contemporary music. His raw vocal style recalls the blues legends of the Mississippi Delta, some of whom Toby credits with mentoring him in the American Blues tradition. His musical style has been compared to that of David Bromberg and Hot Tuna. Toby’s wonderful live performances mix his musical skills with his abilities as a storyteller, as he shares his inspirations for songwriting and stories of his travels through the American musical tradition.
Toby loves sharing his music and what he has learned from it. In 2006, Carnegie Hall acknowledged his musical talents, hiring him to teach in their “American Roots” program for middle school students. During a performance tour through England, the London Sunday Times wrote: “(Toby Walker) is an acoustic gem. Your ‘Live At The Bottleneck’ CD is pure acoustic blues heaven. We’ve rated it as one of our Top Five Picks for the season, right next to Eric Bibb and B.B. King.” Toby’s most recent CD is “What You See Is What You Get”, another example of his polished finger-picking blues guitar work and authentic vocals. Join us as Toby Walker closes out another season of great music at the North Elk Coffee House. You can read more about him and sample some of his music by going to: www.littletobywalker.com .