If you’re a fan of straight answers, don’t ask owner Kevin Turner to tell you what Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse is all about.
“When people ask ‘What are you?’ I just say ‘We’re a coffeehouse.’”
Turner uses this vague reply because to sum up all that Fresh Brewed does can be a tough task.
If you go
- Where | Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse, 933 A Broadway St., Myrtle Beach
- When | 7:30 p.m. every Thursday
- More info | Call 251-8282 or visit http://freshbrewedcoffeehouse.com/
“I visited Europe and saw the coffeehouses there and I always just thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do something like that here?’” said Turner. “And we’re not there yet. We’re always working on it, but that’s the vibe we’re going for.”
Although Turner doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed as just a place for recovery, he admits that Fresh Brewed facilitates a lot of counseling.
“We deal with folks who are burned out. We deal with addicts. We have about six recovery meetings a week,” he says. “I had a lady just the other day tell me that this place saved her life.”
But it’s not about proselytizing or preaching.
“We just love people,” he says. “And in the meantime, we make a mean cup of coffee.”
An open stage
Fresh brews and friendly displays of faith are not the only successful ventures at the coffeehouse.
The thing that has helped the venue make its mark on the local music scene is its weekly open mic night, hosted by singer-songwriter Brian Roessler each Thursday evening.
“We get a great audience of people,” says Roessler. “Kevin has really opened this place up to those of us who may not have a voice somewhere else.”
He says the show typically gets between 12-17 performers per week this time of year and 10-12 during the tourist season.
“Whether you are a musician or a poet or whatever, it truly is an open stage where everybody can come perform and show their talents,” said Roessler.
In addition to being a showcase for talent, it can also be a place for artists to pick up some new tricks of the trade.
“I get to watch a lot of amazing musicians and they might do something that I think ‘Hey I should try that,’” he says. “I think all musicians are scavengers in a way and you kinda learn a lot of new techniques just by watching all these great folks.”
Daddy and daughter
Dan Barnhart, a local musician who has been attending open mic night since January, says the experience has been invaluable to him.
The casual performer who has hope of becoming a professional songwriter, says having an environment to test his material is important.
“I get to come here and play my new songs that I write. Some do good, some don’t, but having that feedback is great.”
Part of what makes the place so special, he says, is that it’s one of the few local venues which supports original music and gives songwriters a place to play.
“Before this place, I never used to play out. It was mostly just me doing it in my basement,” said Barnhart. “But being here has definitely helped me and definitely helped my daughter as well.”
Barnhart’s daughter, 15-year-old Kasey, also performs regularly at open mic night, doing both covers of pop and country tracks and the occasional duet with her father.
“When she first started here you could barely hear her sing,” he said. “But now she’s got so much confidence that you can hear her belt it out no problem, and that’s cool.”
Honing his skills
Another young participant is 17-year-old guitarist Steve Pethel. The North Myrtle Beach High School student regularly attends open mic night to hone his craft.
“It’s just a really relaxing place to play,” said Pethel. “It’s more of a listening room here and it’s not like a bar environment where everyone is sitting down drinking and not exactly hearing everything you play.”
In addition to the attentive crowd, a lack of original venues in town make Fresh Brewed especially important.
“I kinda miss the Basement. Now that it’s gone, I hope to keep playing Drink! and Fresh Brewed, but that’s pretty much it.”
Right now, Pethel is working on putting together new music and hopes to form a three-piece band in the near future.
“The acoustic is fun, but there’s some stuff that’s rockin’ that’s just better with a band,” he says.