Heralding Dylan at Walnut Grove cafe

Two self-proclaimed music-lovers came together almost by fluke one day in a Walnut Grove cafe, never realizing their shared vision for promoting the arts in Langley would soon blossom into a new concert series.

Back in mid-June, the Water Shed Arts Cafe on 88th Avenue introduced a new menu and store manager Naomi Lippett decided to promote a baked potato giveaway through social media. The first five people to post won one of the cafe’s infamous “jacket potatoes.”

Dale Einarson was the first to reply. He had been coming into the cafe for a couple of months at that point – mainly for coffee, but occasionally for meals.

“I fell in love with the place,” he said, drawn to the independent spirit and the efforts being made to promote both visual and audible artists.

“I liked the vibe of the place,” said the recent transplant from Atlantic Canada, who had been heavily involved behind the scenes in music for several decades before moving west last year.

While the long-time music promoter was keen to remain active in the music industry, he had been struggling to find an appropriate venue to hold small, intimate concerts.

When he came into the cafe a few days later to collect his prize – namely the deluxe stuffed baked potato – a huge chat with Lippett ensued that covered everything from spirituality to community, and – of course – music.

“I didn’t get my potato – they sold out – but we had a good conversation,” Einarson recounted.

They realized there was a synergy between them, and they developed a vision to turn the 65-seat cafe into a tiny music mecca.

The idea is to host a monthly StoneHouse Concert Series featuring high-calibre blues, rock, country, Americana, and alternative musicians from Canada – and eventually the United States, they explained.

“The idea is to bring people from farther away and take the musical nights down a new road from what it was before,” Einarson said, acknowledging that jam nights and current music evening featuring up-and-coming artists will remain an important part of the Water Shed fibre.

However, they sought to create a feeling similar to the Gaslight coffeehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village that was made famous during the 1960s by hosting musicians such as Bob Dylan.

“It’s not going to cost them $300, like it would cost at Rogers Arena,” Einarson said, noting that depending on the artist coming to the Water Shed, it will likely cost guests $10 to $15 to attend.

There will be no pre-sold tickets, Lippet said, explaining that the hope is to build hype around the monthly events that are expected to feature some of the nation’s best musicians in an up-close-and-personal environment where guests can reach out and shake hands and chat with the musicians, and really feel their music.

First up is award-winning Canadian blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and band leader David Gogo, who is performing at the Water Shed on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.

“Who would have thought so much would come from a potato?” Einarson concluded.

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