Tuesday, March 27, 2012 • Finding the balance at Acoustic Café

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, March 27, 2012, edition of the Lassen County Times.

There is a balance between music and silence, and venues like Acoustic Café seek to strike such a balance. For five years now, the community has been coming together once a month during the fall and winter in the Lassen College cafeteria to hear a variety of acoustical performers from folk to country to blues and jazz.

Spearheaded by Lassen College Dean of Students Cary Templeton and Lassen County Arts Council member and musician Doug Sheehy, Acoustic Café is a joint venture between The Lassen County Arts Council and Lassen College.

Templeton said, “A few years ago, when the college was receiving some bad press in the community, Doug Sheehy and I came up with the idea of creating a place to showcase both local and out-of-town talent as a way to bring the community together.”

Sheehy concurs it’s been a productive collaboration that’s kept the energy of Acoustic Café going and has drawn in a crowd of regulars.

“Cary has been indispensable. He always makes sure everything gets done,” said Sheehy. “This year the Associated Student Body has also gotten more involved.”

He noted, though, one disappointment is there isn’t a lot of audience participation from the college crowd.

“Most of our regulars are from the town,” he said.

In a world that is growing increasingly louder with speakers sometimes so high the walls vibrate, many local residents do appreciate having a quieter place to go.

“There is no alcohol and it’s not loud and crazy like a bar can be,” said one man at the March 2, show. “It’s a place where family and neighbors can congregate and enjoy a wide range of local and out-of-town acoustic musicians.”

The March 2 Acoustic Café, which featured Erika Mannkins and Lee Asnin, was one of the best attended this year, according to Sheehy.

Some patrons feel the remodeled cafeteria, even though smaller than before, is less cozy and doesn’t have the same ambience as when sofas were pulled up in front of the stage and people casually mingled.

Nevertheless, it continues to be a popular spot for cold winter evenings and many regulars frequent the place.

There will be no Acoustic Café in April. The next one will be May 4 and will feature a Cinco de Mayo theme.