The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Jennifer White and Jimmy Sferes. Courtesy photo.

Andover Community Coffee House

When: Friday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m.
Where: Highland Grange Hall, Route 11 and Chase Hill Road, East Andover
More: Open mike signup at 6:30 p.m., or email

It’s a hoot
Andover Coffee House combines folk music, activism

By Michael Witthaus

 Drawing inspiration from a similar effort in Sunapee, the Andover Community Coffee House will launch Jan. 16. Opening night will feature music from Sferes and White; the folk duo has appeared on the PBS radio series Prairie Home Companion, and won an Honor Award at the Great American Song Contest for their upbeat original “Small Stuff” a few years back. Joining them is Richard King, a familiar presence at the Sunapee Coffee House, now in its 10th year.

Though it’s anchored by veterans, the point is to provide an open microphone for King’s hometown and the region. “What I’d like to see is a community-based effort where aspiring performers can get out and learn how to get on a stage in front of people,” said Paul Currier, who chairs the effort’s steering committee. 
Currier himself will take a turn — “I play a variety of string instruments, and I grew up during the Peter, Paul and Mary era” — but he also hopes to attract younger performers to the monthly gathering. 
“If we had a few people who aren’t on the steering committee sign up that would be good,” he said with a chuckle. “People can play most anything, and we’re going to have a sound system if people want to bring in their own stuff and plug in — but it will be mainly acoustic.”
In addition to music, the program will feature work from local photographer Steve Colardeau. Artistically, talent of all kinds is welcome — “singers, musicians, poets, writers, artists and crafters,” according to a press release. 
Jimmy Sferes and Jennifer White bring a message with their music. White is both sustainability coordinator and an assistant professor of environmental studies at Colby-Sawyer College, where Sferes also works. The married couple occasionally performs as the green-themed Eco-Tones. White once described those shows as “somewhere between a concert and a presentation.”
Lately, they’re involved in the permaculture movement, which Currier likened to “Mother Earth News updated for the 21st century.” There’s hope of organizing a discussion group around the topic on alternating weeks if the coffee house can generate enough interest. “There is an element of that kind thing, an overlap between music and activism.”
To begin with, however, it’s about the music. 
Sferes and White play a harmony-rich blend of folk, blues and rootsy rock, all infused with Sferes’ dynamic guitar work. White, a New Hampshire native, met Queens-born Sferes while he was working in a Lyons, Colorado, music store. She was shopping for a songbook and found a life partner. They’ve performed together since 2003 and have made two albums.
Richard King helped launch the Sunapee Coffee House, performing during its first season in 2004 and later serving as president of the organization. He plays guitar and sings old-time American folk in a steady baritone. His musical style draws from pop, blues, country and standards, leaning on storytelling songs.
King’s input was critical for the Andover organizers. “Richard was a big help with ideas, as were Robin Macey and Marianne Levesque, who are all active there,” said Currier. “We’ve learned a lot from them and hope to learn more.”
Like the Sunapee effort, the Andover Community Coffeehouse will be held in a church — church property, actually. The Highland Lake Grange Hall sits across the parking lot from the Andover Congregational Church, which purchased the building after it closed a few years back. 
“We think it’s good for music,” said Currier. The large space has a performance stage, a full kitchen for refreshments, comfortable seating and “reasonable acoustics.” 
As seen in the January 15, 2015 issue.

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