During my years in Ann Arbor, it was easy to forget that folk music does not draw passionate crowds in most parts of the USA. More than a decade in Duluth has been a great lesson in appreciating local musicians – some of them darn fine but unlikely to be discovered 150 miles north of the nearest big city. I’ve also appreciated independent KUMD folk music and Boston’s folk station streaming on the web. Then there is the joy of singing, of being the music, three times a day in the Chapel.
In the last two years, though, I have been discovering folk music as it’s enjoyed without The Ark. Stagenorth started in a teensy abandoned church in Washburn, WI (pop. less than 4000). The Red Mug in Superior, Beaner’s in Duluth. Some name I recognize from the past catches my eye: Claudia Schmidt, Garnet Rogers – and I find myself with a small group in some cozy location.
Bob Franke doesn’t tour out to the midwest all that often so the chance to hear him – and do a couple of errands along the way – induced me into the 300+ mile round trip.
So I’ve discovered the Gingko Coffeehouse, across from Hamline U at the corner of Snelling and Minnehaha. Even though I’ve never been here before, it feels like home: coffee, folkies, music. Someone else brought paperwork to finish before the concert.
Sociologist Beau Weston teaches a seminar on coffee houses as a place neither home nor work where community can take shape. Gingko has that feel: I am glad to know it.
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