Tips on how to book a show at The Abbey Coffee, Art & Music Lounge
Tucked away behind Vintage Faith Church at 350 Mission Street, The Abbey Coffee, Art & Music Lounge has helped ignite a bit of a singer-songwriter revolution in Santa Cruz. Celebrating its second anniversary this month, The Abbey is a family-friendly, nonprofit venue, owned and operated by the church. With a built-in Sunday crowd, the venue showcases an eclectic blend of local and touring musicians.
A coffee house first, The Abbey only showcases music on Saturday and Sunday evenings, with a rare Friday night performance for special occasions. Volunteer booker Bennett Gibson works for Apple by day and handles booking by night. Gibson prefers e-mails that are short and to the point. Include your band name and a link to your music for a more immediate response. Still trying to keep its own head above water, The Abbey has no budget to pay artists yet, but you can sell your merch (no house cut) and the audience is known to be generous with a tip jar. The bottomless coffee cup can also be a perk for those who enjoy a coffee buzz in the evening.
Catering primarily to the acoustic set, the unique space has a large raised platform stage and in-house sound system. Gibson finds artists are pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the sound and the overall warmth of the room. Perhaps it is the association with the church, but The Abbey audience also tends to be rather reverent. This is a rare venue where the audience will actually stop, listen and appreciate the fine art of the performers gracing the stage.
Once a month The Abbey hosts an open-mic night; available to all performers, it is nonetheless ideally suited for the budding musician seeking an accepting and kind audience for their stage debut. Lest we not forget the story of legendary singer-songwriter John Prine and how he got his start at an open mic in Chicago. Movie critic Roger Ebert heard him there and wrote the first review Prine ever received, calling him a great songwriter. And the rest, as they say, is history.
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