News/Thoughts

Coffee House With A Mission

After attending a weekend music festival, we head home remembering our favorite acts and discussing with our fellow travelers every aspect of our enjoyable experience with no thought as to what the members of the bands might be doing next. I can not speak for every string-music band, but I can sure tell you where Lorain Jordan and members of her Carolina Road band go when the stage lights go dark. They head on back to Garner, NC where Ms. Jordan can kick back with a good cup of coffee within the confines of her very own coffee house. Loraine Jordan is often referred to as the Lady of Tradition in the bluegrass world. She grew up around bluegrass music in costal Carolina and now resides in Garner, NC just a few miles beyond the city limits of the capital city of Raleigh. Jordan is an award wining performer with 20 plus years in the music business and has been front and center with the band Carolina Road since 1998 as a mandolin player and singer; however, back in Garner, NC, she is a business woman and purveyor of good coffee as well.
Several weeks ago during the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) conference in Raleigh, Ms. Jordan invited some members of the media to join her for a evening of music at her coffee house, and members of the AR staff was privileged to be included on the guest list for that event. This coffee house is such a unique fusion of music, food, and fun that we wanted to know the back story of what Loraine’s Coffee House is all about so I recently took up some of her down time to find out.
Repurposed
Loraine’s Coffee House is located in a refurbished and reappointed former drugstore building and first opened in July of 2014. Ms. Jordan told us, “It was always in the back of my mind that someday I wanted to have a place where I could stage live bluegrass/Americana music in an environment that was a non-bar scene—not a restaurant but rather just a laid back place where folks could kick back with a cup of coffee or a smoothie and maybe a snack to listen to music. Years ago, I went to places like The Birchmere and The Cellar Door in the DC area where they had people come in to listen to the music. I always thought that was so fantastic.” She continued, “I was always looking around for the right place and found it here at home just seven miles south of Raleigh. There was this drug store building for sale. It was a fairly modern building so we took everything out of the inside and completely remodeled the interior into a coffee house type of place. We added some tables and chairs, upholstered sofas and chairs, some low tables, and a coffee bar. People can come it and choose to sit where they will be comfortable and have a coffee.”
The interior of the house opens up into much more that a cozy coffee house. The décor is mostly album covers and pictures of classic country artists (prominently featured are pictures of the 12 artists that joined Ms. Jordan and Carolina Road in their latest project, Country Grass, which features classic country artists doing classic country songs with bluegrass arrangements and traditional string instruments. Other pictures of well known personalities with autographed well-wishes for the success of the coffee house are also scattered about the walls.
Offices near the front door of the house serve Ms. Jordan as headquarters for her Jordan Enterprises and for Steve Dilling who is booking agent for the coffee house stage and banjo player for the Sideline Band.
A professionally managed, robust coffee bar along one end of the building opens daily at 6:30 AM and closes around 7:30 PM whenever music is not featured on stage. It serves coffee, muffins, and deli sandwiches to folks who come in from all over with their laptops and do work, others sit around and read a book, and yet others come in and have meetings.
Music On Tap
The focal point of the coffee house is the big performance stage along one long wall that is equipped with great sound and lighting and is replete with a green-room at stage right for performers to relax before going on stage. Ms. Jordan said, “We added a great big stage along one side. Its probably the biggest stage a coffee house ever had; however a bluegrass band has six or seven players and they need room to perform.”  Not only does the stage provide a place for Loraine Jordan and Carolina Road to play when they are home from the road (they play there at least every other month) but also hosts well known classic country and bluegrass personalities. The list of folks who have graced the coffee house stage reads like a who’s who of classic country and bluegrass acts. Jordan said, “The ones who come always like the experience and want to return for another performance.”
There seems to always be something happening at the coffee house. On Tuesday nights, they have a local jam session and folks who play acoustic stringed instruments can set in the circle and play together. Non-pickers come in to listen to the players jam together. On Thursday nights, they have a house band, and people come up on the stage with their banjo and fiddle and join in. On Fridays and Saturdays, professional bands grace the coffee house stage. If that is not enough, Sunday mornings find an active church worship service in session each week.
As far as cover charge and admission tickets go, normally there is no charge when single acts, duets, and local bands play—they just pass the hat. Folks wishing to attend the professional musical performances on the other hand must purchase tickets in advance either through their WEB site , by telephone, or by purchase at the door.
Multi-Use
In addition to the coffee and the music, the coffee house has a conference room that is available to rent for meetings and private gatherings. It can hold 20 attendees and includes a big video screen for movies and presentations. The coffee house folks also hold music workshops in this space, and a local music teacher has held the recital for his music students in the conference room where his students’ parents could come listen. Further, the main floor and event stage area are available for public rental, and that rental can include live entertainment and catered food service for as many as 85 attendees. I asked Ms Jordan if she was pleased with her venture, and here is her reply, “I think I am satisfied with the coffee house venture. The bluegrass community is finding out about it and coming out and being a part of what is going on here. The jam sessions are getting really busy along with the music workshops. We’ve had bluegrass around here (North Carolina area) for a long time; however, we here in North Carolina are the best kept secret in the bluegrass world. We are not Kentucky but we could be considered the late bloomer of bluegrass.”
In closing, Ms. Jordan has this message concerning the magical place she’s put together in Garner, NC, “It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to have an establishment where the community could come together and mingle in a family atmosphere. I am hoping that this can be everyone’s home away from home and become a place to relax and meet and greet while enjoying the artistry of locally and nationally known musicians. I have played music on the road all over the country for 23 years. Now, I want to come home and play in my backyard.”
If you ever find yourself in Raleigh, NC, you owe it to yourself to make the short drive over to Garner and check out this special place. It is easy to find: from I-40, take exit 298A and go south on US401 to US70 toward Garner; turn south on Timber Dr.; and travel to 101 Timber Point Lane (call 919- 714-7990 for guidance if you get lost). Loraine Jordon’s Coffee House is open weekdays: 6:30AM–7:30PM; Saturdays: 8:30AM-7:30PM; and Sundays: 10:00AM – 4:00PM (closed during the worship service that starts at 10:30). On event nights, the closing is pushed out until 9:30PM. You can call the coffee house at (919) 714-7990, and for information about the music and events, you can call (919) 779-5672. You can also point your computer browser to www.lorainescoffee house.com. Also, to find out more about Loraine Jordan and Carolina Road, go to
www.carloinaroadband.com web site for bios and tours dates.

 

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