Reviving the notions of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant, Daniel H. Coleman, producer and artist promoter for the Murfreesboro label, Mastermix Music, joined forces over the past year with another fresh propriety, JoZoara Coffeehouse, ultimately releasing Live at JoZoara: Monkeys and Mochas at the end of September this year. The 13-track sampler of local singer/songwriters who have graced the coffeehouse’s stage tells the story of the 3½-year-old Thompson Lane establishment, substituting Guthrie’s humor and aloofness with the more solid Christian-themed or love-based message accompanied by the gentle folk strumming of acoustic guitars and solo piano with little uppity and jazzy surprises along the way.
The album is solidity of production, family-oriented intentions and contemporary gospels collecting well as a subtle promotional tool for everyone involved as well as doing the good deed of spreading Murfreesboro culture to a wider audience.
The first song and title track, “Monkeys and Mochas,” is what puts you in that Arlo train of thought. Written specifically for this album by Rory T. Miller, he takes the lead with voice and guitar backed by a country brushed snare, snapping fingers and angelic background vocals as he paints a coffeehouse scene welcoming little vacations from life.
This is the first piece of promotional bread sandwiching the rest of the album of contemporary folksy gospel by the likes of Murfreesboro’s 180 Degrees Ministries’ Allen Morrell in “Who Am I,” the stride-stylings of Angie Kelly in “Christians Have Everything,” and a nice jazz version of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” by First Fruit Jazz Project, sounding like these guys grew up listening to Weather Report.
The rest of the meat consists of the singer/songwriter love songs inspired by anyone from spouses or spouses-to-be such as in Daniel Gregory’s “Love Bug,” “Anna Sussanah” by Lulu Mae Music, and Chad Pittman’s “Beth” all the way to love for grandparents in the beautifully banjoed “Fly Me Away (Sparrow’s Waltz)” by Roam Country Radio or in Greater>Than’s “Rocking Chair” later on Monkeys and Mochas.
Also, Lance Allen nails the second track, “Play It By Ear,” which is an impressive finger-picking ditty. Pat Donahue would be proud. And all of this before the second piece of selfless promotion bread completes the sandwich with Daniel H. Coleman’s own “Ballad of JoZoara,” written specifically for this album as well.
The folks at Mastermix and JoZoara released this year’s worth of coffee shop stage presence, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to keep it up. JoZoara still hosts open mic night every first and third Saturdays of the month with Mr. Coleman taking applications that can be found at JoZoara along with copies of Monkeys and Mochas (also available on Amazon.com). Store information and upcoming events can be found at jozoaracoffeehouse.com.