Java House to support local musicians with live music every Friday


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Audio:The Nadas

"Star Crossed"

The smell of caffeine and procrastination fills the air on Friday afternoons at the downtown Java House.

And starting this week, the coffee shop will also be filled with live music from local musicians.

The Java House, 211½ E. Washington St., is bringing the music back to its downtown location at 8 p.m. every Friday. The Iowa City staple has long been a supporter of the arts by hosting art exhibits and poetry slams at its other locations, and now it will show support for Iowa City’s music scene.

“We never did away with it, we just took a break,” said Java House coordinator Angela Winnike. “Before, we never had any regularity to it, but now we do.”

During that break, the Java House found Jake Koch, who is now the “go-to” music coordinator for the establishment.

He connects with local artists, often by going to other local venues, such as the Mill’s Open Mike Night, and listening to the music is out there. Koch said that if he thinks the musicians would be a good fit, he approaches them about playing at Java House.

However, he said, he hasn’t had to look much further than his email for interested talent. Generally about 15 to 20 acts a week inquire about playing.

“We have musicians who will email us, and then I’ll take a listen to what they have,” Koch said.

Besides the new Friday night entertainment, Friday afternoons at the Java House include the long-standing live show “Java Blend,” thanks to Iowa Public Radio.

Ben Kieffer, an on-air announcer at IPR, runs “Java Blend” show at 2 p.m. every Friday.

“The Java House has offered its downtown Iowa City location as a venue for hundreds of bands and artists from around Iowa, across the country, and yes, even around the world,” Kieffer said. "This has added to Iowa City’s already rich and cultural landscape tremendously.”

Kieffer is known for bringing in many big-name acts to play a live set and talk about their music, which is broadcast on air. This Friday, the Nadas, a group from Ames, will be on the show.

The Nadas will promote its latest album, Lovejoy Sessions. The group had success before involving the public in its process by having fans pledge money toward the album’s production. The members will showcase some new songs on Friday.

“Every time we put out a new record or project, [Kieffer] will let us come do one of these shows,” said Jason Walsmith of the Nadas. “It has been an awesome way to reach a mass audience, and the Java House provides a perfect venue for it, not to mention some tasty coffee.”

And coffee is certainly something the Java House knows how to do. It is one of the few local establishments that has dedicated itself to excellence in specialty coffees. Winnike believes this aspect is one of the many things that makes establishment special.

“We’ve been around for almost 19 years,” Winnike said. “And we still focus on quality and creating an experience for people so that when they come in here, they aren’t just grabbing a cup of coffee and leaving. Our chairs are always full at any given time of the day. So it’s just like sitting in your living room.”

“Live at the Java House”
When: 8 p.m. Fridays
Where: Java House, 211½ E. Washington
Admission: Free and open to the public

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