Business: Godfrey Daniels Coffee House
Location: 7 E. Fourth St.
Managing Director: Ramona LaBarre
Contact Info: 610-867-2390, godfreydaniels.org
What's special/unique about your Organization?
“Live music in an intimate space for 36 years and counting,” LaBarre said. The legendary listening room showcases local and internationally known singer-songwriters in the world of folk, blues, bluegrass, rock and genres in between. It was an early proving ground for folk stars Richard Shindell and John Gorka (who famously once lived in the club’s basement). Other luminaries that have performed there include Dar Williams, Chris Smither, Graham Parker, Gatemouth Brown and Townes Van Zandt. The legends have not only performed in Godfrey’s living room-like environment, but mingled with their fans at the coffee counter in the front of the club.
What's your most popular product/service?
“Bands bring the most energy,” LaBarre said. However, many solo performers have also lit the room up with a guitar and a voice. One such performer is Kevin Gordon, who will be performing a members only show for the club’s 36th anniversary on March 30. Anyone can become a member, but reservations are required to attend this show.
How have you weathered the recession?
“By staying true to our mission,” which according to the club’s Website is: “to create and nurture the appreciation of traditional and contemporary folk music and performing arts by providing an intimate environment where professional artists, amateur performers and audience members will be enriched by the unique experience of live performance.”
What's your favorite story/anecdote about your business?
LaBarre most enjoys the stories about how children of performers or club patrons have grown up to become performers or patrons themselves. For example, during a performance by Philadelphia-based rock band Marah, lead singer Dave Bielanko talked about how his parents took him to Godfrey’s to see Townes Van Zandt when he was 13-years-old. “It’s about full circle,” LaBarre said.
Tell us about the history of the organization.
According to the listening room’s Website, club founders Dave Fry and Cindy Dinsmore carved the listening room out of the remains of a closed doughnut shop and staged the first show – featuring Fry, the Shimersville Sheiks and Mary Faith Rhoads – on March 17, 1976. The name of the club came from the “euphemistic expletive favored by W.C. Fields.” In its earliest days, friends helped to run the club and most money collected went to performers. It quickly became an “internationally acclaimed club on the ‘folk circuit.’” Godfrey’s became a non-profit in 1978, continues to be run primarily by volunteers and devotes most of the money collected to paying performers. However, this year, LaBarre has become the club’s first full-time managing director, thanks to a grant provided by a generous “anonymous donor,” LaBarre said. Another grant is paying to replace the club’s sound system.
LaBarre grew up in Dallas, Texas in a family of music lovers. Her father was a singer-songwriter who fronted a local country band. “I think that’s where my passion for music came from,” she said. “I live to put the artist and the audience together.”