Music Cafe in Hamilton always a surprise

The group Berachah Valley performed at the Music Cafe, at Miami University Hamilton Downtown, in March. PROVIDED
The group Berachah Valley performed at the Music Cafe, at Miami University Hamilton Downtown, in March. PROVIDED

When people attend Music Cafe at the Miami University Hamilton Downtown site, they never quite know what to expect, but they’re likely to be pleasantly surprised, says the Rev. Mark Finfrock, a former emcee of the events.

“I was with Music Cafe close to 17, 18 years,” Finfrock says. “It was always new. The talent in our Southwestern Ohio region is just amazing. It’s the one place where you can go and try your stuff on a real audience, and it’s almost like it’s a ‘no-harm, no foul.’”

The music is almost always original, or performed with musicians’ “own twist on it,” he said. He’d still be an emcee, except he’s pastor of First United Methodist Church in Hamilton, and evening church meetings often conflict with performances.

“A lot of it was just people hearing new talent, and new things,” Finfrock said. “And we had some seasoned people there.”

Performers can be people getting back into the music businesses, high-schoolers, retirees working to find their voices again, among other possibilities.

One the most memorable performances was several years ago, by a Chinese husband and wife who worked locally.

“They sat down and they played traditional Chinese instruments, and they just blew the house away,” Finfrock said.

“The quality always surprised everybody,” he said. “When people would come to the Music Cafe, they’d say, ‘We didn’t realize this was here, and we didn’t know how good it was.’”

The next Music Cafe, which is free, will be at 7 p.m. today, April 25, at MUH Downtown, 221 High St., and will feature four performers: Bruce Rich, with piano and vocal, originals; Dan Erdman, inspirational originals; Kevin Loving, pop folk country; and Rick Tallarigo, folk/folk-rock/Avante-garde.

Each will perform a 25-minute set.

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