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December 3, 2008 > Local performing artists charm applause

Local performing artists charm applause

By Denny Stein

Good food, music, and poetry is squeezed together and served up at the Essanay Cafˇ in Niles, every second Wednesday of the month.

On November 12, the Essanay Cafˇ was filled with people until there was standing room only. Musicians and their instruments lined the back halls and spilled out onto the patio, where impromptu performances arose spontaneously. Bruce Cates, owner of the Cafˇ, is the person responsible for bringing together this sensation of senses. A tasty menu offers a choice of "tapas," small appetizer size dishes, and a few entrees, plus delicious desserts (try the Peach Cobbler). Wine and beer flow and the audience warms up as performers sign up for the first come, first served open mic stage.

Mr. Cates gleefully emcees the evening, providing introductions of the performers, interspersed with commercials for the cafˇ's upcoming specials (Depression Tuesday dinners, all organic vegetables, volunteers needed for the Niles Holiday Train, etc.). This evening, one of the first musical sets was a duo, on guitar and balalaika playing a rousing set of Greek folk songs that would have brought the audience to their feet, if there had been room. A young guitarist sang original songs, the most memorable of which urged us to "fly away from the ringtones!" The quartet that followed included a standing bass, guitar, electric guitar, drums and harmonica. Their accomplished playing filled the Cafˇ with a rich, full sound.

It was an evening of creativity, strumming, singing, and declaiming. Artist followed artist, poets recited from their own work, one gentleman read a story, various instruments and combinations of instruments were played, and a pair of socks was being knitted. Whether or not you like music, poetry, or socks, the Cafˇ was an interesting gathering of Fremont talent, and a great place to have dinner.

Essanay Cafˇ
37533 Niles Blvd., Fremont
(510) 792-0112

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