ST. STEPHEN – The Loyal Tides Coffee House music venue opened its 10th season this past Friday and held its first in-person event in two years.
For the past two years, the event was recorded and posted online for people to view.
Launched by local musician Hayden Wiebe when he was 17, the Coffee House has been a place for musicians both professional and hobbyist to come and play in the winter months.
Held at the St. Croix Vineyard Church, the Coffee House initially began in a smaller room on the main floor. Interest in the event soon saw them moving to a larger room in the basement of the building.
Wiebe’s mother, Carol Anne Wiebe, said, “Within the first year, we were down here. On Valentine’s, we decided we would try it downstairs and do a dessert night and the place was absolutely packed.” At that point, they knew they would have to stay in the larger space.
Wiebe said the smaller room had a capacity of about 50 people while the larger room can hold around 160 people. On Friday, the room was full to overflowing with people standing in the hallway waiting to get in.
The family moved to St. Stephen from Manitoba when Wiebe was 10. His parents were involved with putting on a coffee house in their hometown and when their son was looking to find a place to play locally, Wiebe and his parents launched the coffee house here.
The event includes an open mic and people can sign up to play as they arrive. Each musician can play up to two songs, although some only do one.
“We have a really strong base of people who come and are becoming more consistent with playing,” said Wiebe.
The open mic attracts players from young to older.
“We’ve had from five years old to 80 years old,” Wiebe continued.
A featured artist is brought in for each event, who plays a longer set. The featured artist on Friday was Charlotte Bartlett from Saint Andrews.
Bartlett has been playing for more than 20 years and is a multi-instrumentalist. Friday was her first time at the Coffee House. She likes these types of venues because of the greater intimacy and ability to interact with the audience.
“I play a lot of events like Oyster Fest and Indulge where people are there for other things, not necessarily to listen to me,” she said.
She continued to say that, on Friday, she was performing all original music and the venue would give her the ability to talk with the audience about how she wrote the pieces and what they mean to her.
“You can make more of a connection with the audience,” she concluded.
The Coffee House takes place the second Friday of each month at the church from November through April. There is no admission or cover, however donations are appreciated. Donations go to paying the featured artist and covering the expenses of running the event. Being a coffee house, there is a selection of coffees and teas available for purchase. The event is dry, so no alcohol is served.