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Acoustic Cafe replaces older program in hopes to attract more students

After the Emerging Artist Series struggled to pull in music listeners to the Front Room because of a late start time, Ohio University Campus Involvement started a new program to engage students in local music.

Starting at 12:30 p.m. every other Thursday this semester, the Acoustic Cafe takes advantage of passing traffic through Baker University Center to provide a place to eat while OU student musicians perform during the hour. Organizers hope this program will catch more eyes than the Emerging Artist Series did.

“I think the timing of (The Emerging Artist Series) was a little hard; it was at eight at night, so it was probably a little late,” said Blair Crombie, graduate assistant for the Campus Involvement Center and an organizer of Acoustic Cafe. “We thought (Acoustic Cafe) would reach a lot more students (at 12:30), and a lot of students are already in Baker at this time.”

Thursday is Ben Leeson’s turn to perform with his brand of folk songs. Past performances include violinists Lauretta Warner and Amelia Thornton, followed by bluegrass band The Wayfarers.

Crombie said with two Acoustic Cafes already past, attendance has been strong, as students fill tables with seating for around 20 and passersby standing around the walls, enjoying the music.

“The big thing is that students even if they don’t have time to stop, they’re just riding the escalators (and) they still hear it,” Crombie said. “So they just look down over the escalators and it seems to make their day a little bit.”

Another difference between the Acoustic Cafe and the older Emerging Artist Series is who is being booked. Some performers came from Kentucky and as far as New York for last semester’s program. But Crombie said the Acoustic Cafe has a more local focus.

“We have an amazing school of music and amazing performers (at OU), so why look in New York when we have amazing talent right here?” Crombie said.

Leeson, a junior studying video production and political science who regularly performs at Front Room’s open stage, said his performance at the cafe was a chance to become acquainted with a different crowd.

“I take a lot of pride in songwriting, so if people take something away from the lyrics (and the music), it’ll be pretty good,” said Leeson.


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