MARQUETTE - Dan Truckey wanted to create a venue for a specific kind of music.
"I'm a folk musician like a lot of people here," he said. "There's really no place for folk musicians to play regularly. There are no coffeehouse venues in Marquette.
"Instead, we wanted to create one."
Top, Kerry Yost and Friends perform April 23 at the Peter White Lounge, part of the new Beaumier Coffee House Series at Northern Michigan University. In set, Joe Secreast and Tony Parlato play during the same show. (Photos courtesy of Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center)
Thus the Beaumier Coffee House Series, sponsored by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, was founded.
Truckey, the director/curator of the center, thought the series would be a hit.
"We have had great success so far," he said. "Our first event featured Scotty Alan along with Fast Eddie, Bill Hart and Randy Seppala and it went really well.
"The whole idea is to create a quiet family atmosphere for our performers," he said. "There are couches and chairs spread about and we serve coffee and lemonade and snacks. People can have quiet conversation and really enjoy an evening of music.
"It's a good listening room and I think the performers feel they can play the music they want," Truckey said. "We are trying to create a venue for musicians to play their original music, the stuff they don't get a chance to play in other venues."
The first night of the series was in April and Alan, a singer-songwriter who's now in Los Angeles working on his latest CD, was thrilled with how the evening turned out.
"It was a good turnout," Alan said via email. "Dan and I were both really happy with the number of people who came out for it. The audience was attentive. I hope the series can continue because it gives local musicians a place to play to an attentive listening audience which is completely different from a noisy bar setting.
"I think Dan has a good thing going and I am looking forward to seeing this progress into a regular thing."
Which is what Truckey is hoping for as well. There is another concert set for May 21, then the series will take a hiatus until September, when two shows will take place.
"This is part of the U.P. Folklife Festival which the center puts on," Truckey said. "Usually we worked it all into a one-weekend event, but there was just too much to do it all in one weekend. So were are spreading it out over two semesters.
"There are folk musicians all over the U.P. who can take part and it's just too much to handle on one weekend," he said. "So spreading it out is a good thing."
Like with so many other things in present tough economic times, funding may become an issue for the series.
"We have funding from the state which we have to spend by the end of September," Truckey said. "After that, what happens will depend on the money we are able to secure. The main cost is paying the performers. We have great volunteers who help with everything from the PA to baking treats for the concerts.
"We don't charge admission but do accept donations," he said. "People have been generous so far."
Finding talent has been easy.
"We have a committee of people involved who all know a lot of musicians," Truckey said. "The committee decides who we should ask. We have had some (musicians) approach us.
"I think the decisions will be tougher in the future, but it has been relaxed so far."
Anyone with suggestions for future series performers can contact the Beaumier Center at 227-3212.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.