‘Feels Like Woodstook Organized by Canadian Army Engineers’

At the monthly coffee house events in Whitehorse, it’s all about the music, not the drinks. Anyone of any age is welcome to get up on the stage.

Taking place in the Whitehorse United Church,t They provide an alcohol-free, smoke-free environment, opening up the possibility of young musicians practicing their art, and allowing audiences to listen to live music. And while there won’t be any beer, there will be coffee and home baked goodies instead.

“People pay more attention to the music when they don’t drink,” says Paul Davis, president of the Folk Society of Whitehorse. “This event is all about music. And because of the non-alcohol environment we also welcome teenage bands and younger musicians. The youngest musician we ever had was six years old. It’s a great opportunity for the younger generation to show off their talent and make new experience. It’s an event for all ages. That is the unique spirit of the coffee house event.”

The next one will be Feb. 1, with local band The Canyon Mountain Boys opening the show. Following their performance, there will be an open mic for anyone interested in taking the stage.

“It’s like Woodstock, organized by Canadian army engineers,” Davis says. “It’s well organized and we couldn’t do it without the volunteers. We have 20 of them, setting up the stage and the Yukon Bluegrass Music Society is offering coffee and home baked goodies.

“All kinds of music are welcome – it’s not only about folk music. Folk in this case means local people, or travelers who are just passing by.”

The Folk Society of Whitehorse is a collective of 30 people and they have been hosting this type of gathering for 28 years.

“We are like the grandfather of open stages in the Yukon,” he says. “People come from all over the Yukon to the coffee house events. People are even coming from Alaska. We have an exchange with Alaskan musicians and we will do a Yukon-Alaska coffee house in April. We also try to make it to the Alaska Folk Music Festival in Juneau. It depends on the weather conditions, but it’s important for us to share experience.”

During the past 28 years Davis has witnessed a lot of changes in the amount of opportunities available to musicians getting a start to their career in the Yukon.

“The support for musicians beginning a career in the Yukon is better,” he says. “There are a lot more opportunities for the younger generation of musicians and more events, workshops, and sponsoring is going on.”

The Folk Society has even expanded the support they offer new musicians, adding their sponsorship to the annual Arts in the Park public events in the summertime.

“We are proud to be a part of a larger local music movement,” Davis says.

The coffee house on Saturday, Feb. 1 features The Canyon Mountain Boys, followed by an open mic for all ages. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and anyone interested in playing should sign up for the open stage before 7 p.m.

Cover is $5 non-members, $4 for members, and $3 for students and seniors.

Upcoming coffee houses include one on Saturday, March 1 featuring The Blue Creek Band. There will be a special coffee house on Saturday, April 19, which is a Yukon Alaska Show with an open stage by invitation. This one is also a pot luck that starts at 4:30 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m.

The folk society’s coffee houses take place at the Whitehorse United Church, which is located at 6th Avenue and Main Street.

For more information contact Paul Davis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 633-4255.

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