Kicking Out the Jams at the William James Hall Coffeehouse
The William James Hall Coffeehouse is a semiannual event, sponsored by WJH Building Operations, and the departments of Psychology, Sociology, and Social Studies. Now in its 12th year, it provides an opportunity for staff, students, and faculty to showcase their talents. Building manager Bill Santoro originated this event in 2007 at the request of several staff and students within the building, all musicians who wanted to share their gifts with their friends and colleagues. In addition to managing William James Hall, Santoro is a professional musician himself. He and his lifelong music business partner, Michael Higgins, under their stage name Willie T and Doctor X, bring in their sound system and mics for the performers to use. Together they emcee and open up the show with a short set of mostly original songs. They then introduce performers for the open mic segment, who offer a wide range of musical styles and genres. The open mic is followed by a featured guest artist, brought in from the local music community, who performs an extended set. Refreshments are served, and a good time is had by all. The event is free, and open to the public.
Throughout most of its history, the WJH Coffeehouse was self-funded by vending commissions. When these revenue sources began to dwindle, the event was in danger of becoming extinct. Professor Mahzarin Banaji, Psychology Department faculty chair, an avid fan of the WJH Coffeehouse, could not fathom the thought that such a wonderful community-building event might be dropped for lack of funding and was determined that it must continue. Professor Banaji stepped in and offered funding, and she worked with the Sociology and Social Studies departments to chip in to make the Coffeehouse, much loved by WJH occupants and the Harvard community, financially viable. She has also enthusiastically promoted the event to her colleagues at Harvard. This year’s spring Coffeehouse will feature the following performers:
- Acoustic rock/folk/blues duo Willie T & Doctor X
- Mather House Chamber Trio, with Celia Raia (Psychology)
- Winthrop House Resident Tutor Grant Jones, singer/songwriter
- Dylan DeMarco (Psychology), vocalist/guitarist
- Featured guest artist Alisa Amador, local singer/songwriter/guitarist(jazz/pop/rock)
Come one, come all! Spread the word!
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