Central Coast-based blues/jazz band Karen Tyler Trio will perform at Kreuzberg, CA tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. Courtesy Photo

This Tuesday Songwriters at Play will showcase the Karen Tyler Trio at Kreuzberg, CA.  The showcase begins at approximately 6:30 and will go until approximately 9:30. Bill McClintock, Craig Louis Dingman, JoanMarie Asher and James Mattheis will also play four-song sets.

The headlining Trio consists of Karen Tyler, an award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist, and Valerie Johnson and Al B. Blue, blues and jazz singers.

Tyler won the Monterey Bay Blues Festival’s Battle of the Bands back in 2003 and is a California Arts Council Touring Artist.  Tyler began her career in blues bands from Central California but moved to Texas in the early 90s.

There, she focused mostly on acoustic blues.  In 1994, she began writing feature articles for Austin Blues Monthly.  In 1998, Tyler moved back to the Central Coast; a few months later, she opened for John Lee Hooker at the Mid-State Fair.

Valerie Johnson and Al B. Blue are part of a blues presentation at the Smithsonian Institue and formed a program teaching kids about blues music called Blues for Kids.

“Blues music is funky with a lot of unexpected changes in rhythm,” bio-resource and agricultural engineering sophomore Dan Schricker said. “It’s played on soothing instruments that make it a relaxing and exciting genre of music to listen to.”

Songwriters at Play host Steve Key has been hosting songwriter showcases for approximately 30 years.  Since 2007, the showcases have been in Morro Bay, three venues in Santa Maria, two in Solvang, one in Grover Beach and Shell Beach.  The three current venues are located in San Luis Obispo, Santa Margarita and Paso Robles.

“I’d been hearing great things about Kreuzberg,” Key said.  “I sent an email expressing my interest and they said ‘Talk.’  I’ve been working with them for about five months overall.”

Songwriters at Play adopted the name in January 2010.

“Its sort of like a brand name,” Key said.  “It lets people know we’re doing various shows but with the same format. Also, it gives us a central website for all the information.”

Songwriters at Play’s next event will host guitarist Tim Pacheco with Bob and Wendy at Kreuzberg, CA.

Key said he likes to feature acoustic style singer/songwriters, but not exclusively so.

“I try to mix it up,” Key said.  “I like to present various artists like folk, jazz instrumental, blues, etc. We play whatever we can squeeze in.”

Key said Songwriters at Play is open to a variety of performances, but it’s not like an open mic.  Prospective artists need to send Key an email, preferably a few weeks in advance.

“I love to get new talent,” Key said.  “Once they get really good, I try to encourage them to come back.”

Chris Foster, bio-resources and agriculture engineer sophomore, said listening to live bands at a café is a completely different atmosphere than attending a festival.

“It’s much more casual,” Foster said.  “You can listen to the bands, but also hang out and talk to the person next to you.”

Kreuzberg, CA is no stranger to hosting artists.

“Customers really enjoy the performances,” Stacey Thelen, a Cuesta College student and barista at Kreuzberg, CA, said.  “They can go online and listen to the music beforehand and become more knowledgeable about the artists.”

Thelen, who tries to go to as many concerts as she can, said the concerts at Kreuzberg, CA have a different atmosphere.

“It’s a small town, so we bring in a lot of people,” she said.  “But it’s not too crowded.  Everyone has a seat, whether outside or inside, and people can just hang out before a performance.”

Schricker said he prefers to see live concerts over listening to the artist’s albums.

“I like how I get to see bands creating their music in its full spectrum and not just what is captured on an MP3,” Schricker said. “Concerts bring together all sorts of different people that all share the same love of music.  All this adds to one big festival that is much more fun than listening to music from the computer in a dark room.”

The self proclaimed coffee shop/bookstore/restaurant hosts the Songwriters At Play showcase every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30p.m. Other live performances begin at 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The showcase is an event for all ages.  There is no cover charge.

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