East musicians storm the stage at Coffee Works

Sherin Nassar ('13)/Eastside opinions editor

On a typical Tuesday night, most Cherry Hill East High school students are stowed away in their rooms working on the pounds of homework they have been assigned or studying for a huge test the next day, but a few select East students replace their backpacks for a microphone or a guitar, or for the more musically inclined, both, and exercise their fledging musical talents at Coffee Works’ Open Mic Night.

Hosting their Open Mic night every Tuesday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Coffee Works, located in the Ritz Center in Voorhees, has become a musical sanctuary for new up and coming musicians at East.

“Two summers ago, [Jeremy Savo (‘09)] and I played at Coffee Works, and I’ve been playing here for the last five months. It is such an easy environment to play in and it’s also an easy way to get [your music] out there and have people listen, since it’s so crowded,” said Josh O’Neil (‘13), an avid Coffee Works musician who has been playing the electric guitar for seven years.

The easy-going environment at Coffee Works has provided East students with the energy and fire to continue improving their music. Most newbies’ first times at Coffee Works are a worthwhile experience.

Nick Cavaliere (‘12), who learned through friends about Coffee Works’ Open Mic night, played Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons for his first performance. Unfortunately, his guitar was out of tune, spurring some of his nerves. But, in spite of the guitar mishap, the crowd still sang along and appreciated his efforts.

 “It’s so much easier to get everything you have on the table here, because it’s such a chill environment where a lot of people play,” Cavaliere (’12) said.

 O’Neil’s first time playing went off without a hitch, but when he played for his third time to a larger group of older people, he was shaking in his shoes expecting less enthusiasm.  Instead, all he could see as he performed was the crowd forming the words to his Bob Dylan song.

“When I saw their smiles on their faces, it really created the drive for me to continue, because when you play live it dramatically increases your confidence and you drive to learn and crew new music,” O’Neil (’13) said.

But the satisfaction of seeing the crowd’s appreciation is not the only thing some East students receive from the experience; they also create new connections to help them in their pursuit of a musical career.

 “I’ve made so many friends and connections here. I am currently recording my EP and I’m not paying any money for the studio time, because of all the friendships I’ve made here,” said Mike Riesman (’09).

 Playing the guitar for nine years and acoustic for one, Riesman found his own music to have improved from the time he has spent at Coffee Works’ Open Mic Night.

“There is no competition here, it’s just a really friendly environment where you support each other and nurture each other’s musical talents,” Riesman said.