Sound Surfing / Good Folk Coffeehouse is good news for folk music fans
When Brandi Hayden first started the Good Folk Coffeehouse over a quarter century ago, she wasn’t exactly sure what inspired her to keep the series going, year after year.
“It took me the first six years to figure out why I really wanted to do this, but I finally did,” Hayden said. “Without going into great detail, I get very excited when I hear great music. It really doesn’t matter if I know the name of the performer or the genre of music. I get an undeniable urge to want to share it with folks. My feeling back then was ‘You’ve got to hear this.’ And, it still is.”
Brandi Hayden began the Rowayton-based series with her husband Bill in 1990. Although they stopped doing monthly shows in 2015, they still hosted annual concerts with folk veteran Bill Staines. It was recently announced that the Haydens, longtime Norwalk residents, will be producing the Good Folk Coffeehouse series on a regular basis once again, including Staines’ Thanksgiving appearance on Nov. 24, which is all good news for folk fans.
The 2018-19 Good Folk Coffeehouse season debuts with “Deeper Than The Skin,” with Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway at 4 p.m. Sunday at the coffeehouse’s home base, the Rowayton United Methodist Church, 5 Pennoyer St.
“Our 25th season started in September 2015, but due to my increasing physical limitations, we decided that our Silver Anniversary year was when we’d stop,” Hayden explained. “But we didn’t. We announced it at Bill Staines’ annual Thanksgiving show — he has been our regular Thanksgiving coffeehouse performer since season eight — but when he started to perform, I knew I couldn’t do that. When Bill ended his concert, with the applause and acclaim he always receives, I got up on stage and said that if the Good Folk could only do one coffeehouse per season it would be, and has been, Bill. Thanks to him we have had a continuous, nonstop — albeit abbreviated — run.”
The decision to start the series up again on a more-than-once-a-year basis is due to the continued support the Norwalk couple is receiving from the leadership at Rowayton United Methodist Church, the series’ home.
“Our new minister, the Rev. J. Michael Cobb, was appointed in July of this year and, while catching up on the history of his new church, he was informed about the Good Folk. To our delight, he asked if it were possible to increase the number of shows in our series again,” Hayden said. “Having his wonderful enthusiasm and support we, of course, said ‘Yes.’ It will be on a limited basis, but we are encouraged and delighted by his support. One notable change, we were always on the fourth Saturday of the month but will now be doing some Sunday afternoon concerts as well.”
Another constant will be the inclusion of food in the admission price.
“I have always believed that music and food go together,” Hayden said. “We actually originally started out with light entrees, quiches, desserts, coffee, tea and apple juice. I do love to cook, so since we were on a Saturday night, I decided to do a pot of chili and never looked back. My current physical limitations have made it a wise decision to go back to light entrees, quiches and desserts. And due to our late afternoon Sunday concert time, we thought it best to give our audience something to snack on without ruining Sunday dinner.”
Hayden also explained how she and her husband, Bill, share the duties in running Good Folk.
“We are co-producers of the series,” she said. “The division of labor is, I do all of the booking of performers and plan the menu. I used to prep the food, most with Bill’s help, and cook it all, until limitations kicked in. Now Bill does 99 percent of the heavy lifting, since I cannot. I still plan the menu, but getting it prepared and to the table is something I can no longer do alone. I have the help of some dear friends and longtime volunteers to help in the kitchen, while Bill is setting up our sound, lights and chairs with the assistance of the volunteers who are there at the right time.”
The open mike stage, another Good Folk hallmark, won’t be a part of Sunday’s show.
“Not for Greg and Reggie,” Hayden said. “Theirs is a special event and a musical presentation that should be appreciated whole cloth. As for the future, we will leave that up to the performer.”
“Come hear, come eat, come enjoy,” Hayden said, adding “good folk, good food, great music.”
Suggested donations: $20 for adults; $10 for children ages 7-12; under 7 are free. Proceeds go to support the missions of the Rowayton United Methodist Church. Visit goodfolkcoffeehouse.com.
Mike Horyczun’s Sound Surfing column appears every Saturday in The Hour. Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.