The Gypsy Coffee House, nestled comfortably in between Guthrie Green and the Drillers Stadium, is definitely haunted. Or at least that’s what the photos on their website insinuate — along with standard images of the coffee house’s decor and drink offerings are a couple photos in which hazy white figures can be seen.
I didn’t see any ghosts when I visited last Tuesday night, but I did get the idea that I might if the hustle and bustle of the Gypsy’s weekly Open Mic Night died down and I were left alone in the darkened restaurant.
As it was, the Gypsy was poppin’ at 7PM last Tuesday. The diverse assortment of people filling nearly every seat in the house seemed to coordinate nicely with the Gypsy’s eclectic decor. It consisted of exposed brick walls, black lights, a cosmic-themed mural on one ceiling, curtains in a side room that appeared to be made out of an old green parachute, hanging tapestries, an assortment of mismatched sofas, stained glass windows, purple Christmas lights, and oddly shaped mirrors dotting the walls. A lot of the decor had a vintage look, adding to the venue’s slightly spooky vibe.
I asked if they had tea and the friendly barista presented me with a menu card of about 50 different tea options (and I’m only exaggerating a little bit when I say that). I finally settled on jasmine tea and was given a small mug and a personal teapot, which I precariously balanced on a tiny ceramic table as I settled into a sofa facing the “stage.” There was a seemingly complete band set up on the left side of the room, including a drum set and amps ready for the performers to use.
The performers were required to arrive at 6:30 to sign up, with performances beginning at 7:00. There appeared to be a ten minute time limit for performers. The Gypsy has a strict “no covers” rule — original content reigns at Tuesday Open Mic Night.
First up was singer/guitarist Ethan “The Hawk” Smith of The Casual Six Band. Some other members of the band appeared to be performing alongside him — apparently they play at a lot of local venues. Smith started off the show with a bang, playing energetic rock n’ roll with a lot of fast, aggressive guitar solos, wailing vocals, and the occasional alt-rock-esque spoken word bit. He spoke pretty fast and it was hard to discern, but at one point I picked up the line “That’s why I’m always 20 minutes fashionably fucking late” before he dove back into a riff.
Margaret Kenyon was the only woman I saw perform, and looked to be in her late teens or early 20s. She appeared onstage with nothing but an acoustic-electric guitar and a lovely, rich voice. As far as I could discern, her first song was sung in Spanish — it was haunting and slow, with quite a few minor chords. The second song was a more upbeat indie-acoustic number.
Also notable was the band Death Mountain Trip, which was composed of two guys and had a very distinct alt-rock sound reminiscent of Muse or Radiohead. It involved a lot of power chords and the liberal use of chimes.
Before leaving about an hour into the open mic, I had the pleasure of also hearing singer/guitarist James Wesley, who presented us with a type of indie-acoustic music that could have easily worked as a soundtrack for driving through the mountains. He introduced one of his unnamed songs as “I don’t know what it’s called yet… Maybe ‘Summer in Kansas,’” which seemed pretty fitting to me.
As I left the building, I caught the beginnings of a vocal/guitar performance by a man named Greg — I unfortunately didn’t catch his last name and didn’t get a chance to ask him what it was. However, he sounded exactly like Hozier. Like, to a tee. Had I not had somewhere to be, I would have absolutely stuck around to hear more.
All of the performers I saw on Tuesday were either singer/guitarists or part of a full band. The Gypsy’s open mic night differs from the stereotypical event in it’s more of a hub for musicians than for aspiring poets or short story writers. This was evident in that many of the musicians seemed to know each other and contributed to each other’s acts in a very fluid, natural way. The fact that the Gypsy also offers a monthly music series featuring a local musician every Friday and Saturday night alludes to this trend.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at the Gypsy. I will say that I felt super out of place because I was one of the youngest attendees, and also because there seemed to be a fair amount of regulars who were pretty familiar with the musicians and baristas. However, every musician I saw was genuinely talented and could have just as easily been playing a show at the Vanguard as a coffee house. I loved that I was able to listen to some quality music while also enjoying the ambiance and the delicious jasmine tea that the Gypsy had to offer.
In summary, the Gypsy Coffee House’s Tuesday Open Mic Nights are absolutely worth the visit. I would recommend bringing a friend — the whole event had a very social quality to it, with people hovering around or playing board games in groups of twos or threes, that I sort of missed out on by showing up alone with my notebook. That said, I found it to be a great weeknight event, and the talent didn’t disappoint in the slightest.