by Renee Tomell
January 13, 2010
What started as a community service project to help youth at loose
ends at the end of the Sixties, evolved into an internationally
recognized venue for folk musicians. Two Way Street Coffee House is
about to turn 40, and while a day-long celebration is planned this
fall, fans don't have to wait to revel in the music. Looking back on
the remarkable journey is director Dave Humphreys, who co-founded the
volunteer-run organization in 1970.
How did you build the reputation for fine musicians?
Originally, it was more local talent, and many of the kids themselves
performed. Word started to spread. Musicians and poets would show up
... including people from a fairly thriving (Chicago) music scene. As
more social service organizations popped up (to serve youth needs),
our emphasis shifted a little more to the music side ... and the
weekly concert format. (Now,) the age group includes young adults and
seniors and everything in between. We try to offer ... a music venue
for not a whole lot of money in a friendly, intimate, nonalcoholic environment.
Where do your musicians hail from?
We want to support the local music scene; about 60 percent of our
shows (use) talent (from) a couple hundred miles maximum. The other
40 percent is people coming from all over North America and beyond:
Australia, England, Germany and quite a few from Canada.
Talk about Two Way's expanded folk music involvement.
We are quite active in music industry groups, most notably Folk
Alliance International, the primary industry group (www.folk.org). We
helped found that organization. We learned that by presenting
performers from other areas, we make ourselves better known, so that
when our local performers want to expand their horizons and ...
contact venues in New York and California, (saying,) 'I've played at
Two Way Street' ... that helps (them).
The series is known for variety within the genre.
We define folk music very broadly. We also present some world music,
a lot of Celtic music, American old time country music, but also some
very contemporary music that's being written as we speak. (It's)
music that matters, that tells a story.
HEAR THEM PLAY
WHAT Two Way Street Coffee House presents Friday folk concerts
WHERE 1047 Curtiss St. in First Congregational Church, Downers Grove;
(630) 969-9720; visit www.twowaystreet.org for sing-arounds and other
WHEN 8:15 p.m. Fridays, with John Hasbrouck & The Northside
Southpaws, Jan. 15; guitar champion and Windham Hill artist Chris
Proctor, Jan. 22; and songwriter Drew Nelson, Jan. 29.
HOW MUCH $7 donation