The Tramontane Cafe, known affectionately as “The Tram,” celebrated the one-year anniversary of their reopening this past week, honoring their first year back with a special edition of their monthly “Sunday Nite Showcase” on June 25. The Tram’s official anniversary of their reopening is June 22.
Owners Robin Raabe and Garrett Ingraham have always maintained the Tram as not just a business, but space to build community. At the Tram, the arts are celebrated, everyone is not only welcome but encouraged to thrive, and the atmosphere is one of respect for others. The Sunday night event, the seventh since last June 22, reflected all of these traits that make the Tram a special place.
“Every month we’ve had at least one new act,” noted event host Ingraham. “A lot of old favorites have come back too. We get a lot of joy out of this and we really appreciate you.”
“And now comes the time of the night where you make a lot of noise!” he added, encouraging the crowd to cheer for the upcoming performers. “And now you stop!,” Ingraham said next, a lighthearted way of reminding the audience that when someone is performing onstage, those in the audience are expected to either sit silently or speak in whispered tones so as not to disrupt the set the artist has worked so hard to prepare. This “listening room experience” marks a new practice at the Tram, implemented over the past year to ensure all artists who take the stage will be heard.
“Tune in. Hear everything. Experience it,” Ingraham said.
The year since the Tram’s reopening has indeed been a welcome blend of old and new, and everything about the evening reflected this pattern. As each act set up, the audience was treated to clips of recordings by musicians who had played at the Tram in the past, some currently in the audience, others past favorites.
Photo: Audience members enjoy an opening performance by “Pandemic Therapy”
Musical duo “Pandemic Therapy” both opened the live show and made their debut at the Tram. Another duo, “Jonah and Kayla,” took the stage next, celebrating another first.
“This is our first time playing onstage as a couple,” Jonah explained after introducing his wife Kayla to the audience.
Photo: Jonah and Kayla perform as a duo for the first time.
Other artists also shared a bit about changes in their work.
“I’ve had the blessing of being in some great bands with best friends,” musician Matt Klausner said to announce his set. “Now I’m solo.”
Ingraham introduced singer-songwriter Lou Santacroce as “An amazing songwriter and friend to the Tram.”
Photo: Singer-songwriter Lou Santacroce performs.
Other acts audience members knew and loved from the Tram’s earlier days included Kevin Keating and Adam Rivera. Keating honored a request to play “Jack’s Letters,” a moving original song based on actual letters written from his father to his mother. Rivera was acknowledged as the first act to play at “Virgo Bat and Leo Phrog’s,” a coffeehouse owned by Raabe and Ingraham before the Tram.
Diversity is another hallmark of the Tram, both in art form, and in tone and message. Sunday’s showcase featured two sets by comedian Ed Smyth, known for creating and performing as quirky characters. Poet Mike Cecconi read some serious pieces, but also treated the audience to a performance of his “shaggy dog story,” a hilarious piece highlighting the absurdity of the characters in the “Scooby Doo” cartoons questioning every seemingly odd thing that happens to them, but never batting an eye over the fact that their dogs can talk. Poet Matthew Cushman took a contemplative tone, inviting the audience to first experience a moment of silence, and then reflect on both silence and the power of words.
Photo: Poet Mike Cecconi speaks on the absurdity of talking dogs in “Scooby Doo”
But whether one is a musician, a comedian, a poet, some other type of artist…or someone called to an entirely different path…whether one is contemplative, serious, humorous, or some combination of any of that, the one shared sense is that of comfort and community.
During the showcase, audience members quietly made their way around the room to the front counter to purchase coffees, teas, sodas, and smoothies, along with the healthy cafe fare that has always been a staple of the Tram’s menu. And of course…the biggest softest cookies around were available as well.
Perhaps poet and author Jacob Lasher summarized the evening…and the Tram overall…best when he stated, “I just want to say it’s an honor to be in a room with all these talented people. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Other artists sharing their talent Sunday night included Rick Gray, Zachary Parker Stevens, Markus Sykes, and Home Visitor.
Local artists looking for a place to perform, those who want to support the arts, and anyone else who enjoys great coffee and cafe food in a safe and welcoming atmosphere are encouraged to hang out at the Tram. They are located at 1105 Lincoln Avenue. Visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TRAMONTANECAFE for up-to-date information on hours and events.