Music, Memories and Mochas

If you’re looking for a place with good coffee and good vibes, Cafeteria is the place to go. Local artists and musicians gather at the coffee shop on Main Street in New Paltz for open mic at 7 p.m. every Monday.

Open mic has been an event at the café ever since it was known as The Muddy Cup, its original name, according to the owner Tanner Townsend. At Cafeteria, open mic nights are noncompetitive, encouraging anyone and everyone to perform.

John Westphal, a first-year jazz performance major, has performed at open mic a few times. He finds it to be therapeutic and a nice break from schoolwork. The last time he performed, he played two original songs he wrote, called “Portlander, Washington” and “Lenses.” He forgot the lyrics, so he came back the following week to perfect his mistakes.

“When I get up there with my guitar, it’s more personal and I can say a lot more that I normally wouldn’t,” Westphal said.

Westphal opened last week’s open mic with his two original songs. He sang and played his acoustic guitar with authority and passion.

When Westphal is at school, he’s typically playing and recording jazz-style music.

“This is different from the music I record because this music is a lot more personal to me,” he said. “When I record, for instance, it’s more about texture and sound.”

Dagen Julty, a Rosendale resident, performs at Cafeteria almost every week. He took note of Westphal’s performance.

“He plays from the heart,” Julty said.

Julty has been privately teaching music and composition for 35 years. He performs at Cafeteria under the name Oglesby the Clown and plays all different instruments and sings. Audience members who attend open mic regularly know Oglesby’s routine.

For this performance, Julty used a synthesizer to create a beat for him to rap and play flute. He made up the lyrics on the spot and played flute similar to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

“Open mic fosters people to bring out their uniqueness,” Julty said. “I know how to vibe with the audience.”

The talent each week continues to impress not only Julty, but audience members and employees as well.

Maddy del Caño, a first-year French and public relations major, has attended and performed at open mic nights before. The variety of talent continues to impress her.

Her favorite performance this week was Oglesby the Clown.

“I never expected to see something like [it], but nevertheless, it was impressive in spite of how weird it was,” del Caño said.

The first time she performed at open mic night, del Caño played cello and her friend, Heather, sang “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse and “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People.

Compared to other open mics, del Caño said this one didn’t feel as competitive.

“It’s amazing to see the range of performances and the amount of talent that’s in this small area,” del Caño said.

Townsend speaks for Cafeteria and its audience members when he says they appreciate anyone who can get up on stage.

“It takes a lot of guts,” Townsend said. “When you’re here listening to open mic, you may hear spoken word, stand-up comedy, instrumental, a singer/songwriter or groups of people playing together. We just want everybody to come up, express themselves, have a good time and enjoy the show.”