“The whole thing evolved out of our love of music,” Stephen R. Kovach said.
Kovach is owner of Gathering Grounds along with his wife Marty Kovach. “We want to support local musicians so that they have a venue,” Stephen Kovach said.
Although the open mic started at the cafe, they have now teamed up with Wayne Center for the Arts for the monthly event. “I donated some [sound] equipment ... It’s nice to be able to be up on a stage rather than in a corner here [at Gathering Grounds] ... Having the big room and extra audience and space is very important ... We take our coffee and baked goods over, so it’s still a coffee house,” Stephen Kovach said.
Lynn Jones, Wayne Center for the Arts general manger, said, “I’d love to see it grow. It’s interactive. It’s beautiful. It’s family-friendly. We’d love to see some local comedians too.”
Jones brings a large basket of percussion instruments to the event, and it’s not unusual to see all ages in the audience playing along with the acts.
If local artists need more motivation than the desire to get up on stage, Stephen Kovach brings local musicians into the coffee house to perform, and a great way to find them is at the open mic.
“We aren’t a big enough venue for them to become famous here, but if we find someone who is accomplished and likes to play original music, we can give them a showcase.”
A musician himself, Stephen Kovach often plays at the open mic. “I love playing there ... I grew up playing in coffee houses when I was young. I love to hear the other musicians. I’ve seen so many people just light up that there is a place in town to play their own songs.”
Jeremy Clevenger is a musician and one of the hosts of the open mic evenings. “I definitely want to make the open mic a place where everybody feels comfortable. It’s really a way to create community. It’s a perfect match for what I feel is my vision in life. I’m a social worker, so it all ties together.”
Marty Kovach said, “We opened the coffee house with the mission of building community. Our moniker is ‘Where Coffee Meets Community.’ For us the arts are a very big component in that ... We just really want to have a place where people can come and relax and feel like home. We operate under the ‘Cheers’ model ... If you think about it, beyond one’s living room and the shower there aren’t a lot of places for adults who want to perform and get that experience ... Open mics are the perfect place for all ages.”
Professional pianist Ed Marthey also frequents the open mic. “I enjoy anytime I get a chance to play in front of people.”
Open mics are held the third Friday every month, with the exception of April, at Wayne Center for the Arts, 237 S. Walnut St., Wooster, from 7-9 p.m. The event is free and open to all ages. Sign-up is on a first-come, first serve basis. For more information or to inquire about plans for April, email Lynn@wayneartscenter.org.
Published: February 10, 2017