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The High Street Coffee House is the place for live music in Boscawen

  • Decatur Creek entertained the crowd at the High Street Coffee House on Friday as the featured act for January. The coffee house is held the first Friday of the month, and includes open mic slots for musicians, poets and comedians. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 1/9/2019 2:11:58 PM

For about a decade, Liz Kantz has been on the lookout for the right time and place to start a coffee house in Boscawen.

As a musician, she has traveled all across the state to play at small acoustic venues, but wanted something in the town she called home. Then, during an everyday conversation – about a topic completely unrelated – the wheels were put in motion.

Kantz brought up the idea to Laura Lane, volunteer coordinator at the Boscawen Congregational Church, mentioning the town hall basement (located beneath the church) would be ideal, but the rental fees might be a bit too much. Thanks to a partnership between the church and town, it turns out the church gets the space at a discount. It led to discussions with leaders of the church, where member Chris Paul jumped on board. And the High Street Coffee House was born.

“They had been talking about this for a while,” Paul said. “And I love getting people together, and we could get this started with not a lot of money.”

It debuted in November with Green Heron and December’s gathering featured Fortunes Favor, who gave it a holiday feel with their song “(I do all my) Christmas Shopping at the Dump.” The coffee house is held the first Friday night of each month and just this past week, Decatur Creek, took the stage as the featured act.

“The music community is being very supportive,” Paul said. “We all know it’s going to take a few months, but the interest has been there for the musicians.”

As a musician, Kantz is pretty closely tied in with the New Hampshire music scene, so she leaned upon singer/songwriters and groups she knew from performing at other small intimate coffee house-style venues. Early on, it was clear that High Street Coffee House would quickly be able to fill a lineup for a night.

“They all jumped on it,” Kantz said.

In addition to the featured acts, which begin the night at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute set, there are also eight to 10 open-mic slots for those seeking a creative outlet. The spots are on a first-come, first-serve basis and are 10 minute in length – which for most acts equates to two or three songs. But it’s not just limited to musicians; last month, there were two poets, and comedians are welcome too.

“You never know who’s going to show up,” Kantz said.

And to cap off the evening, the featured group plays another short set, which has been known to include those who were part of the open mic portion.

So far, there has been no issue finding the featured musicians, as the lineup is set through June, and there has been plenty of interest in the open mic. Now, it’s all about bringing people in the door to enjoy the music.

“We’d like to see more people,” Kantz said. “Because we’ve got some really good musicians.”

Kantz said she designed the Boscawen version with elements of the Andover Community Coffeehouse, The Open Door in Hillsborough and Spireside Coffeehouse in Dunbarton.

The idea is to use a “donate what you can” approach to bring in some money. The goal is that there will be enough in the pot at the end of each night that can be split between the featured act and the church.

“We hope, down the road, to use this as a fundraiser,” Paul said. “The first two months paid for the initial start-up costs, but we’re starting with a clean slate for January.”

In traditional coffee house style, the coffee is free, and there’s hot food and desserts for sale.

“It’s a family-friendly environment,” Paul said. “You can come, put a couple dollars in the basket, grab a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup, all for under $10.”

The next coffee house is Feb. 1 and will feature Kantz’s band, Entangled Strings, a six-piece band that plays all covers and as Kantz describes it, “Americana with a twist.” Refreshments and open mic sign-ups begin at 6:30 p.m. with music starting at 7.

Search for High Street Coffee House on Facebook for more information.

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