Tidings Cafe: A retrospective

Tidings Café is a musical performance in the Ashland Daily Tidings newsroom. This idea sprung from the minds of reporter Hannah Guzik and former web editor Mike Green. Green had seen a small web concert put on by Washington Post and thought the Tidings could pull off a similar weekly segment for our website. Our goals were high from the get-go; we would put together a quick and inexpensive stage area, and then cooperate with Britt to get big performers into our newsroom. Well not everything goes according to plan at the Tidings.

Green booked an amazing jazz vocalist from Chicago that has family in the Ashland area, who would be visiting. Typhanie Monique was scheduled as our first performer on May 1, 2009. Since I am one of the few Tidings correspondents that know how to shoot and edit video, this project was going to depend a lot on me. I learned this just one day before Typhanie Monique was scheduled to play, and we had absolutely no area for her to perform in; nor did we have any accompaniment for her.

Scouting the Tidings building for a performance area, I quickly settled on our back room which was basically a big storage space of a well used coffee maker and junky old office equipment from what looked like the 1950s. Once I had reached panic realizing how much work was still ahead of me, turning this storage space into a stage, I called my mother and got motivated. With a little help from Goodwill, my mom and I managed to clear out the junk and string up a curtain.

With a budget of zero dollars and little time, we had created a very simple, but acoustically sound space. One final touch I felt we needed was a rug to cover up the stained carpet. Myles Murphy, volunteered to bring a rug from home. We were set, and I was nervous and excited. Typhanie Monique came and blew us away with her voice and her warm demeanor, Green had managed to get Bil Leonhart to play guitar with her for the performance — an amazing Jazz guitarist.

What followed was a flood of local interest and a seemingly endless amount of possible performers. Not only does Ashland have such a high concentration of musical talent for a small town, but our proximity to I-5 is perfect for persuading big touring acts to stop by.

While we weren't able to book any Britt performers, mostly because our staging area still needed a lot more work before we brought in any big names, we did host 30 bands in 8 months. Almost all genres of music have been represented at the Tidings Café. From spoken word poetry like we are theUnreal to local rock legends the Karen Lovely Band. My goal in spotlighting these bands was to have something for everyone.

Most of the Tidings Staff was reluctant to help out with this project at first, but once we built up some momentum, everyone was on board, scouting potential musical acts and taking turns writing the article that coincides with each band. Of course having a rock concert in the back of the newsroom on deadline can be a little distracting. Oh, and that carpet that Murphy brought? Well once it was down at the Tidings, we noticed a very bad smell emanating from our staging area. To be polite, the carpet needed to be cleaned. Even though the effort of him bringing it all the way from home was very much appreciated, I begged — no, pleaded — for him to take it back.

The staff definitely has their favorite bands and performances. I wish I could give special mention to each one, but alas, there is only so much room on the back page. So instead I compiled a video with clips from every performer we have had at the Tidings Café. Please check out our YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/ashlanddailytidings, or visit www.dailytidings.com to see the Tidings Cafe retrospective, as well as past full-length performances.

Special mention goes to Denizen TV for shooting a handful of performances. As well as Nick Morgan who is always willing and eager to do a write-up for us. But really we have to thank all the of the performers that have taken the time to haul all of their equipment to the Tidings, take time off of work and put on a unpaid gig for our listening pleasure. Also, the entire staff of the Tidings, from newspaper carriers to sports editors that put up with the chaos on Tidings Café days.

If you are in a band or artist that would like to play at the Tidings Café, or if you'd simply like to recommend one, send an e-mail to mandyv911@jeffnet.org or drop by the Tidings office.

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