According to Vincent Tolpo, there used to be an event called Last Saturday Coffeehouse held at the Shawnee Community Center. And according to him, it sometimes captured large audiences and always featured local entertainers across a variety of genres.
“This was an early program of the Cultural Council of Park County,” Tolpo recalled. “It ran roughly from 1996 to 2010. Last Saturday Coffeehouse provided an open microphone venue for local performers. Anyone who signed up had a spot. There were all kinds of musical performers, acoustic, folk rock, country, rock and classical. There was poetry reading, theatrical skits, and once in a while, dance.”
What was most striking about Tolpo’s fond recollections was the number of people who turned out for these events – although turnout was admittedly hit and miss.
“There were times when it was just me and Katie Malone performing to an audience of two, including the performers,” Tolpo said. “Then there was a night when a snow blizzard hit and the place was packed with a full house of about a hundred people and a full card of performers. Can we recapture that community of performers and audience? We’d like to try and find out.”
A date has been set, in fact, to help Tolpo and others make that determination.
“On Saturday, January 18, at 11a.m., we will meet at the Shawnee Community Center to organize and get ready,” Tolpo said. “Of course the Shawnee Civic Association or some other nonprofit organization must approve LSCH as a program, but we’d like to find out if there is interest in a casual performing arts venue at the Shawnee Community Center.”
According to Tolpo, nonprofit entities such as the Shawnee Civic Association, which is helping with planning for the Jan. 18 meeting, and the Cultural Council of Park County, have already shown interest in reviving and perhaps improving the lost tradition of Last Saturday Coffeehouse.
“The plan is for Last Saturday Coffeehouse to be an incubator for acts that would perform at the Platte Canyon High School Community Talent Show,” Tolpo said. “And proceeds would go to PCHS arts. Furthermore, there are a number of regional entertainers who would be happy to come here to perform, provided that we can assure they will have a significant audience. So we would like to build audiences for live performance projects, or perhaps even a series, featuring all types of performers.”
With a heart full of fond memories and a long list of reasons why Last Saturday Coffeehouse should be revived, Tolpo and others will gauge interest levels and make their best pitch at the Jan. 18 meeting.
See next week’s edition of The Flume for full coverage of the Jan. 18 meeting.