The Long Story…
It was always Café Paradiso owner Steve Giacomini’s vision to provide a venue for the type of vibrant social interchange he experienced in the coffee shops of Berkeley in the ‘60s. On the opposite coast, Tim Britton grew up at the knees of the folk music icons at the festivals and coffeehouses his parents founded around Philadelphia. The fated meeting of their passions was bound to bear fruit. For eighteen years, the café, Steve, cafe co-owner Meret Amick, and Tim have donated their resources in service to a steady stream of extraordinary local and internationally acclaimed talent. Tim has donated $10k of premium sound equipment and countless hours running it, writing articles and recording interviews for little or no remuneration. Tim is committed to providing an unusually refined standard of sound and is often gratefully singled out by the artists as the best they’ve experienced. Steve has contributed his time and refined sensibilities to carefully curating the booking, designing and putting up posters, and writing promotional articles, not to mention being the visionary behind the best cappuccino this side of Italy!
Something special happens in that room, between performer and audience that Fairfield is famous for; the collective gasp that escapes in the wake of a particularly poignant lyric; or the extra few seconds of silence when the audience can’t bear to break the spell with their applause. Some may remember the moment when a capacity house roared irresistibly to their feet after only the first tune of preeminent Irish fiddler Martin Hayes. Or when the Titan of the Telecaster, Bill Kirchen of Hotrod Lincoln fame unexpectedly sassily sauntered through the audience wielding not his guitar, but a trombone(!) during the inevitable standing ovation. Perhaps more than any other Fairfield venue, Café Paradiso has provided a window into the rich experiences this town has to offer, to the point of inspiring a number of visiting performers to consider relocating here, several having actually done just that! It is the kind of cultural magnet that makes Fairfield feel like a viable home for those used to more urban amenities, but thankful to leave the crowds and traffic behind.
Despite the quality, Fairfield audiences are light in quantity. Although we occasionally shoehorn in over 100 people, typical turnouts range from about 20 to 50. Thoughtful attendees will wonder how they make ends meet. The answer is they don’t. Ticket sales rarely cover the costs of advertising, let alone Steve and Tim’s time, or provide a respectable fee for the performers, who often have no choice than to accept little more than expense money. The fact that most performers are nonetheless enthusiastic about returning, speaks for itself. Profits from the bar on concert nights sometimes barely pay the barista. Usually the cafe has eaten the costs and Tim has frequently waved his already drastically reduced fee for running sound in deference to the performers making anything above their dinner and gas.
In addition to weekly formal concerts, the café hosts a free open mic every Wednesday. Through thick and thin, it’s been a vital creative outlet for amateur and professional entertainers, both neophyte and veteran, and a launching pad for some of Fairfield’s brightest lights, as well as an invaluable and unique opportunity for performers and audience alike to experience things found nowhere else. Tim being one of the world’s premier Irish pipers, the café has also been home to a dedicated enclave of aficionados for a free informal Irish session every Sunday afternoon, bringing the strains of the auld sod to life amongst cups of coffee, tea and beer.
It has always been a labor of love, but the fact is that neither the Café, Steve, nor Tim have ever been in a position to carry the costs. After many years of consideration, we are very excited to announce the creation of a nonprofit, Fairfield Muse, to sustainably ensure the continuation of the music at Café Paradiso.
Recently entering our third year, we have yet to come close to the $50k we hoped for annually for equipment, labor for sound, booking, promotion, and administration, advertising, venue rental, and fundraising, essentially covering the current costs that are sustained at a significant loss. To the extent we surpass $50k, we can expand on the existing equipment so we do not have to scramble to accommodate the larger shows, upgrade the exceptional but limited sound system, service the piano, purchase an attractive backline required for some acts, such as guitar and bass amplifiers, electric keyboard, and drums, and contribute to artist fees to compliment the relatively humble ticket sales. After accomplishing that, we will then develop the ability to video the events, edit them into marketable content, and expand this website for promotion and distribution. Finally, we will create a structure for providing funds for local musicians to make quality recordings that they otherwise would not be able to afford, and provide career management services to help get them to the next level.
For those patrons of the arts that want to support this cultural hub, this is an unprecedented opportunity to invest powerfully in our current quality of life as well as the future of Fairfield. Tax deductible checks can be made out to Fairfield Muse and dropped off or mailed to Café Paradiso, 101 N. Main St. on the square. Donations can also be accepted on this site. Single payment or monthly auto-pay options are available. Any amount is welcome and perks are available for various levels of donors. Donors will be acknowledged on this site unless requested otherwise.
We are ecstatic that we will finally be able to do the artists justice, both touring and local, as well as deepen the enjoyment for our beloved Fairfield audience. We hope that you will be as enthusiastic in your desire to be an integral part of this wonderful endeavor that promises to change the face of our dear community.
Still wondering what all the buzz is about? Go to http://www.cafeparadiso.net/events-tickets/, look up the world class musicians there on YouTube, find something to your liking, and come to one of the shows on us! Just say, “Fairfield Muse R Us” to the door person to get in for free. At the end of the concert, decide for yourself if it was worth the ticket price, and then pay what you want, if you want, and maybe make a donation to Fairfield Muse! See you soon!
Please “like” and share our Facebook page, Fairfield Muse, where you can get more details and the latest news. Feel free to call 641-919-0756 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments. Please share this all your friends, and come enjoy the shows!