Waco-Tribune Herald: Common Grounds brews strong musical lineup this fall

Aug. 16, 2012

Article reprinted with the permission of The Waco Tribune-Herald.

By CARL HOOVER

Thursday August 16, 2012

Common Grounds, the Baylor University-area coffeehouse, aims to offer a live music schedule this fall with as much of a kick as its Cowboy Coffee, bringing national acts such as MuteMath, Sondre Lerche and Gungor to complement shows by local bands.

Longtime Common Grounds favorite and Baylor graduate Jillian Edwards, a pop/Christian singer-songwriter now relocated in Nashville, headlines a four-band show on Tuesday, joined by Caleb, Johnny Stimson and O, Loveland.

Wes Butler, a musician himself, coordinates the coffeehouse's live events and tries to bring in acts that appeal to its somewhat diverse clientele. That makes for a mix of singer-songwriters and small bands who play alternative rock, pop, Christian, folk and more. "Our demographic is coffeehouse and Christian university. It's always a work in progress when it comes to genre," he said.

Despite the coffeehouse's relatively small outdoor stage, the venue can hold from 500 to 600 concertgoers and Butler said closing its drive-through area can expand concert seating by several hundred more.

Intimate setting

The outdoor stage and its cozy environs have attracted acts looking for more intimate settings or places that bring muscians closer to their listeners. New Orleans band MuteMath added Common Grounds for that reason to a 2011 tour featuring smaller venues. Though the coffeehouse unintentionally exceeded the audience cap requested by tour management, with more than 600 people showing up for the concert, the experience impressed the band enough that it's worked Common Grounds into this year's tour.

"Having MuteMath back a second time speaks a lot to that," Butler said. Norwegian pop star Sondre Lerche will return this fall and the Grammy Award-winning country duo Civil Wars, which played Common Grounds in March 2011, is seeing if it can fit the Waco venue in its Texas tours.

The fall will featureEdwards on Tuesday, Sondre Lerche on Sept. 28, alt rockers MuteMath on Oct. 16, Nashville singer-songwriter Robby Hecht on Oct. 25 and Christian worship band Gungor on Nov. 9.

New to the coffeehouse is the Waco indie band The Hawks and The Found, which performs Aug. 24. "It's a little (more) heavy than what we usually have, but we'd thought we take a chance," Butler said.

Edwards returns

Starting the concert season is Edwards, a frequent performer at the coffeehouse during her years at Baylor and who grew a loyal following in the process. "She loves Common Grounds and we love her," Butler said.

Edwards is winning attention for her songwriting skills and clear singing voice and has released two albums of original tunes. During her years at Baylor, she worked with the student-run Baylor Rising Artist Network, now Uproar Records, and released a nine-song CD "Galaxies and Such" in 2009.

The Richardson native moved to Nashville last year after graduation and has released her second album, "Headfirst."

Opening act

Opening for her on Tuesday is Caleb, the alt rock trio featuring Caleb and Will Chapman, sons of star Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. Also playing are Dallas pop-rock musician Johnny Stimson and his band; and local folk/country duo O, Loveland.

Tickets for Common Ground shows are available at the coffeehouse and, for the bigger shows at least, online at www.eventbrite.com.

Butler offers a bit of advice that's echoed for any event on or near the Baylor campus: "You've got to come early to get parking," he said.