by JESSICA MCKENZIE, Staff Writer
On Oct. 24, about thirty or so students gathered in Hayden 100 for a couple of hours to sip Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and share impressive talents. The second Coffee House of the semester featured everything from classic Motown jams on the acoustic guitar to a stand-up comedy routine inspired by a concussion.
All Manhattan College students are encouraged to participate or watch Coffee House, which takes place once every month. Performances of music, spoken word poetry, or stand up comedy are most commonly presented.
Senior Adam Granger has performed and watched many Coffee House shows over the past two years. He felt compelled to showcase his musical talents after seeing posters around campus in his sophomore year. “I met one of my best friends to this day at my first Coffee House,” he said.
His time performing at Coffee House has taught him a lot about using his passion for music to please a crowd. He enjoys writing original arrangements of popular songs to give the audience a fresh take on old favorites. With his electric guitar, he has made metal arrangements of hits such as “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson and “So What” by Pink.
“[Coffee House] has helped me to build my persona as a performer, and try to figure out what kinds of performances are more popular amongst audiences,” Granger said.
For Thursday night’s performance, Granger played “A Day In the Life” by The Beatles on the piano and “We Will Rock You” by Queen, which was driven by his electric guitar and the audience’s stomps and claps.
“Everyone is there to support you. If you forget the lyrics, we’ll sing along with you, or we’ll clap and cheer for you. Know that you’ll feel comfortable when you come to a Coffee House,” said host Chantal Flores.
A junior civil engineering major, Flores has been a part of Coffee House since her freshman year. She discovered Coffee House when supporting a friend and ended up spontaneously singing onstage herself. Since the hosts at the time were looking for their replacements as they approached graduation, she jumped on the opportunity to get more involved with the event.
“Whenever I come to a Coffee House, I have a weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel like [we’re] just celebrating everybody’s creativity. I’m really happy to be apart of it,” Chantal said.
The hosts of the show, Chantal, along with Erin McWilliams and Joseph Corrao entertained the audience between acts with Halloween-themed knock-knock jokes and on-the-spot performances such as a ukulele rendition of “Hey Jude” and an RA parody of “Riptide” by Vance Joy.
While there are many familiar friendly faces at every Coffee House, new entertainers are always welcomed with enthusiasm.
Freshman Marketing major Zach DiRenzo experienced his first time singing in front of a crowd last Thursday night. While he has played lead guitar for a band in the past, he pleased the crowd solo with classics such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “Wonderful Tonight.”
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do like all of my favorite artists, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr., and Eric Clapton,” DiRenzo explained. “[They] play solo acoustic guitar and sing. [They] show how well-rounded they are.”
During his set, DiRenzo had a full row of supportive friends from the second floor of Lee Hall in the audience. “I’m very grateful for everyone who came and for [all who support] live music in general. I think it’s very important that we have things like this at colleges where kids can come and show their talents,” he said.
While the intimate setting of Coffee House is not what he has experienced in the past, DiRenzo appreciated the audience participation and encouragement. He looks forward to playing his guitar and singing for the next Coffee House. He is excited for potential Coffee House performers in the future.
“Go for it. Don’t think twice. Follow your gut and you won’t regret it,” DiRenzo said.
Future Coffee House performers and audience members can look forward to the next event, scheduled to be Friday, Nov. 15 in Hayden 100.