The 12 Corners Coffeehouse is a concert series in Rochester, NY that features some of the best artists in folk music, acoustic music, blues, bluegrass and similar genres.
The concert series was founded in 1995 by Glenn Drinkwater and Cilla Shaw. The bi-weekly concert series was originally held at the 12 Corners Presbyterian Church before moving to the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 South Winton Road. (The series will be moving to a new home in February of 2002 when it moves onto the RIT Campus and finds a new home in Ingle Auditorium, and sponsorship from the RIT Student Music Association).
The concert series has featured acts like Vance Gilbert, David Wilcox, Katryna and Nerissa Nields, Susan Werner, Lucy Kaplansky, Christine Lavin, Ellis Paul, Alan Whitney, Cheryl Wheeler, The Kennedys, Greg Brown and many more. Most concerts are opened by a local or regional performer.
While waiting for the concert to start, and between sets, the all-volunteer staff sell coffee, tea, cookies, juice and other yummy goodies.
The coffeehouse itself is a non-profit organization affiliated with the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance. 80% of the ticket sales go directly to pay the performers, and the remaining 20% is used to offset the operating expenses of the concert.
Although I had known about the concert series for quite some time, I did not have the opportunity to go to one of the shows until September of 2001 when Vance Gilbert was performing. Colleen Sexton, cousin of Martin Sexton from Syracuse, NY opened the concert. I had first heard Vance Gilbert on the main stage of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival the previous summer where he made the crowd keel over laughing. The concert at 12 Corners was no exception.
Vance spotted person sitting in the front row of seats staring intently at his left hand as it made various chords on the guitar. Vance stopped the pickup to the song he was about to play and said to the person "bet you can't play this one!" and contorted his hand into some long stretched out chord.
My third concert of the series was also memorable. Christine Lavin was playing a holiday concert late in December. She is well known for her song that brings a bunch of male volunteers from the audience onto the stage to be backup singers for her song Sensitive New Age Guys. At the end of the song, she shook the hands of all of the guys except for one. She took off her guitar, gave it to him and said "Now it's your turn to play a song." Many of the people in the audience were stunned, not knowing that Christine had just passed her guitar off to fellow folk singer Alan Whitney, a Rochester native who was at the concert anyways. (And he was really good!)
The bi-weekly concert series starts at 8:00 PM on Saturday nights, and runs from September to mid-May. Sadly, the organizers decided to let 12 Corners go, and 12 Corners Coffehouse gave its last show in February of 2002.
A new concert series called has replaced it called Heartland Music, staffed by many of the former volunteers of 12 Corners.