Grange Hall Grows Quiet
By: Michael Rausch, November 11, 2011
A group of friends gathered one frigid evening in January 2004 at Mark Wiklund’s home in Sandwich. Six months later, the popular Grange Hall Coffeehouse was born out of the historic East Sandwich Grange on Old County Road.
“We were at my house, complaining there was nothing to do around here, and we just started saying it would be nice to have music, it would be nice to have someplace to go,” Wiklund recalls, “and slowly we said, ‘Well, there’s the Grange Hall, why aren’t there things at the Grange Hall?’ ”
Seven years later, the coffeehouse is hosting its final show on Saturday, with blues guitarist George Gritzbach and his band performing.
“We’ve come to the end of the run,” Wiklund explains. “There was a long time when we were able to attract good name musicians and we were able to have a full house, and then the musicians, especially after the recession hit, just became less available to us and we weren’t able to quite sell out as much.”
At $18 per ticket and a seating capacity of only 100, money for performers, after paying additional expenses such as utilities, was limited. Another problem the Grange Hall Coffeehouse faced were royalty payments to artist representation groups like ASCAP, SOCAN, and BMI.
“If we were to put on a song by the Allman Brothers and play it for a group of people who’ve paid to be here, we would owe some form of royalty because we used their copyrighted material to entertain our audience,” Wiklund says.
“They were willing to negotiate with us, but for nonprofits that are cutting it by the skin of their teeth, that are paying struggling musicians, that are run by volunteers, they’re putting a burden on many nonprofit coffeehouses that is heavy.”
Wiklund stressed that the Grange Hall Coffeehouse is not closing down because it ran out of money.
“That was not the straw that broke the camel’s back, but there were lots of straws, and I think that the main reason is really that we just had been doing it for seven years. We had a good run and it was time to move on.”
If you go…
George Gritzbach Band @ the Grange Hall Coffeehouse
91 Old County Road, East Sandwich
Doors open at 7:30 PM and the show starts at 8 PM
Tickets are available online at www.grangehallcoffeehouse.org