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Musician brings open mic to Uptown

New West musician Jeff Neufeld plays his guitar outside the Blenz coffee shop at 6th and 6th, where he
New West musician Jeff Neufeld plays his guitar outside the Blenz coffee shop at 6th and 6th, where he's hosting a weekly open mic night.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Jeff Neufeld’s passion for public performance was revived by playing his guitar at open mic nights.

Now he’s hoping to revive open mic nights in Uptown New West.

Neufeld is the organizer of a new weekly amateur music session at the Blenz café at the corner of Sixth and Sixth. Next week’s open mic will be on Thursday, but from then on they’ll be every Wednesday through May.

Neufeld, a graduate of the music program at Capilano College, played drums in a band when he was younger. But as career and family responsibilities took hold, music faded into the background.

Until he picked up a guitar and walked into the old Myles of Beans coffee shop in Burnaby.

Neufeld, 45, says he was terrified as much as enthralled.

“You get so much feedback from people,” says Neufeld of the intimate environment. “You know you’re doing your job right.”

Neufeld also performed at The Orange Room on Sixth Street. When that closed, he drifted Downtown to the Heritage Grill, where he continues to play one night a month.

But with a young family, Neufeld wanted a venue closer to home. That’s when he saw a handwritten notice posted on the window at Blenz seeking local musicians to play in the coffee shop.

“We wanted to bring in more business,” admits Gauri Chadha, who runs the café with her husband Vinny.

But they were also responding to customers’ enquiries to boost the ambiance.

“People don’t always want to go to a pub to listen to music,” says Chadha. “The coffee shop is like their second home.”

Neufeld runs a licensed daycare from his home near McBride Boulevard and often plays music at farmers markets on weekends.

He says open mic nights are a welcoming environment for musicians and audiences. He’s also scheduling his nights a little earlier, from 7-9 p.m., to make them more family and senior friendly.

“It’s nice to be able to hear a real musician play a real instrument,” says Neufeld.

To attract talent, he’s started a Facebook page. That allows him to exchange messages with prospective musicians and even listen to samples of their music to see how they’ll fit into the show.

To learn more about the open mic, including a link for musicians who want to perform, go to www.jeffneufeldmusic.com.

 

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