Twenty-plus years of some of the best singer/songwriters in the country have made Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse a neighborhood institution.

 

Founded in 1982 by Presbyterian minister Trey Hammond, Uncle Calvin’s maintains a strong Dallas following as well as a national reputation among top folk artists.

 

          Friday evenings transform NorthPark Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall into one of the nation’s top-rated acoustic music listening rooms. Started as a refuge from bars, the not-for-profit, volunteer-operated and smoke- and alcohol-free coffeehouse now draws a much larger audience. Take a look at their featured musicians, and you’ll see why.

 

          Among their most famous alumni are the Dixie Chicks. Other favorites include Janis Ian, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Tom Paxton and Christine Lavin. Twentieth anniversary shows brought Trout Fishing in last October.

 

          We are focused on folk music, in general, but are not limited to any one particular style, says Michael Terry, booking coordinator. Original contemporary folk is the mainstay, but we include bluegrass, blues, soft rock, pop, mountain, country and Celtic music. The important thing is that the quality has to be very high.

Terry credits the Coffeehouse’s high standards of professionalism for its stellar reputation.

 

“I think that keeping the talent level so high attracts both a loyal audience  they know that whoever we present is going to be good and it also attracts the more accomplished musicians, he says. Our waiting list can be years long. We are very well known throughout the country as a venue whose staff really respects and honors the performer, and we receive dozens of booking requests each month.
          Drawing an audience from all parts of the Metroplex, Preston Hollow, Lake Highlands , Lakewood and Richardson are always well represented, he says. 

 

          Even more impressive than the musical lineup is Uncle Calvin’s dedication to the community. Concert admission donations fund hunger organizations such as the Austin Street Shelter, the Oasis Housing Project, the Stew Pot, the North Texas Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity. Thousands of dollars are donated annually to help provide food and shelter for North Texas families.

 

          Uncle Calvin’s popularity is causing some growing pains however. Because some artists have such a large following, the original concert space can be cramped.

 

“We love to have sold-out shows, but it is distressing to have to turn away folks at the door, Terry says. With that in mind, Calvin’s has teamed up with the cities of Plano and Richardson to co-present shows in their new performance venues. Plano’s 325 seat Courtyard Theater hosted the anniversary show, and Richardson’s Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts is developing a quarterly series with Calvin’s to utilize its 300 and 1,200 seat venues. 

 

          Great music, a good cause and friendly people all add up to a great Friday night. Gary Trobridge, the volunteer Coffee Chef, says, Several regular attendees and volunteers have become good friends with each other and with the performers over the years. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and very social

 


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