At 234 shows and going, downtown Hamilton’s Music Cafe enters its 20th year this month

Music Café, a collection of musical performances that happens every fourth Tuesday of the month at Miami University Regionals Hamilton Downtown, is celebrating 20 years this month.

That span has included 234 shows with more than 600 performers, many of them coming back at least annually for a decade or more because they enjoy performing for Hamilton’s appreciative audiences, officials said.

Hamilton resident Keith Jones, the volunteer talent coordinator and organizer, has attended 233 of the 234 shows — he missed one because he was out of town for a work obligation.

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“I find that very amazing,” Jones said. “Seems like we just started it yesterday.”

The free events started at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts and moved to Miami’s downtown venue at 221 High St. two years ago. They can seat about 70 people.

“It’s one of those places where all the shows are so different, unique,” Jones said. “We have so much talent here in this area.”

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Among the highlights have been a husband and wife, formerly with the Beijing Opera, performing on traditional Chinese instruments, he said.

“We also had Torben Asp from Denmark perform,” Jones said. “He like the area so much that he immigrated to the US and regularly performs at the Music Café.”

Another time, a group of belly dancers performed. Groups have been as diverse as Miami University’s steel drum band and the people who will perform Tuesday, March 26: Kevin and Barb, performing pop folk country; Berachah Valley, doing Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel; and Elderly Brothers, with original folk music.

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Jones’ wife, Antoinette Webster, serves as mistress of ceremonies and works the snack table. People can watch live performances from around the globe, as people from Europe and Australia have.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with shows starting at 7:00 pm.

“We have great audiences, and we have a lot of people who try to make every show,” he said. “The performers are extremely grateful, they have so much talent. We rarely have any clunkers. Every once in a while we get a performer in there who maybe should have had more practice before they came, but they’re very, very few.”

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