Joe Hill Coffeehouse in Rossland still needs a hero

With the current organizer retiring from the voluntary position and no one to take his place, the future of Joe Hill is uncertain.

The prospect of the end of the Joe Hill Coffeehouse is not good news for Rossland, but it is a very real possibility given that there is still no one to fill the boots of the current organizer Michael Gifford.

Gifford has been the force behind the monthly talent showcases since they began four years ago, but announced his intention to retire from the voluntary gig late least year. Since then, no one has stepped up to take the reins, and with only three more shows planned, in March, April and May, it may be the last of the coffeehouses.

Gifford hopes that there will still be a person or group who will take on the responsibilities of setting the show up.

The retired music teacher said he has enjoyed his time as organizer.

“It’s been fantastic, beyond my wildest dreams,” he said. “I took it upon myself to do it and got the volunteers to help and the whole idea, the principal of the thing, is to give people a place to perform.”

He said in that respect it worked, with some astonishing talent coming through the doors to play.

The problem he has is that there is always another show on the horizon.

“So I had to draw a line, and that line was that this is my fourth and last year,” he said, adding that he couldn’t be around for the planned June show, so May would be the last show. The coffeehouse takes a break usually for July and August.

“Representatives form the Rossland Radio Co-op met with me and said that they’d take it over,” he said, but added that they later changed their minds due to various reasons. “So I was back to square one.”

Gifford said he always thought it would run more smoothly with a group of people rather than a single person.

“That’s the weak link in the whole chain in all these things that happen, one person is overworked,” he said. “I’ve done it, but I’m so passionate about music so I’ve been able to push on.”

So he hopes that a group of people will come forward to continue the shows. He said what he does is simply receiving emails, phone calls, printing out the show sequence and organizing volunteers.

“It’s just contacting,” he said. “You don’t have to be a musician or booking agent or a manager, you don’t have to be good in math, you just have to stay at it.”

This month’s show is on March 18. Here is the line up:

Michael Gifford – tropical ukulele; Laela, a 15 yr. old song writer/singer/guitarist; Kerry Kean – songs and poetry; Les Carter – fingerpicking your favorites; Stew & Newt – keyboard & guitar rock/pop;  Motes & Oats – great original songs with harmonies, guitar, ukulele, flute; Janet Marshall’s Irish Party – Janet & friends; The Vaughans – Cranbrook rock family-style!

Show starts at 7 p.m.