Twice monthly, on Sunday afternoons, a neighborhood coffeehouse in Philadelphia offers a music showcase for singers and songwriters.
Prior to the “show”, baristas give free coffee to the performers, while also waiting on their paying customers. The whoosh of the espresso machine is always in the background, distorting the music just enough to make that authentic coffeehouse sound.
College students hunch over laptops, deep in study. Neighborhood regulars of all ages, sizes, races and ethnic backgrounds sit comfortably in conversation, turning their attention if the tune is catchy or the volume annoying.
The show continues, and young children are drawn in by the live music. They seem fascinated by the sound, and sit close to the musicians, staring in wonder. A young girl dances spontaneously.
Often, family and friends come out to support the musicians, most of whom are not professionals, but perhaps are on their way, harboring big dreams on a Sunday afternoon, or perhaps just singing their hearts out and reveling in the joy that music brings.
Jim Klasen and Elissa Sklaroff, long time performers, venue hosts, and amateur photographers, have spent the past year documenting the contemporary coffeehouse music experience. They want to thank all the performers who gave so much of themselves, and brought so many smiles to their audiences.
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