Coffeehouse-inspired show brings a variety of talent to Smith Student Center

Published by adviser, Author: Katie Ellis - Campus Life Contributor, Date: September 12, 2013

The atmosphere at the first Starbucks Unplugged Event at the Smith Student Center on Tuesday evening was infectious, as performers stepped into the spotlight to showcase their talents for the large crowd in attendance.

Artists from across campus, Pittsburgh, Grove City, Hermitage, and more came to perform sets of chart-topping and original songs for nearly fifty audience members.  The event was the brainchild of senior music major and student manager of Starbucks, Andrew Lake, 21.

Lake previously attended an open-mic night at the North Country Brewing Company which gave him the inspiration to bring a similar event to campus.  Unplugged was created so that students could have an outlet to share their musical ability and poetry with their peers.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in fine arts to share their talents,” Lake said. “A lot of people have much more than just music to share.”

The event gained enough popularity through advertising on campus, Facebook, and word of mouth, that all of the performance slots were filled for Tuesday night’s event, and people have already begun signing up for the show in October.  Lake who served as the emcee for the event has high hopes for the future.

“I hope that people want to get more involved in showing their art on campus, and that Starbucks will help out with that.  If there’s an interest, and if there’s still musicians willing to participate, I’m looking to make this a semi-regular thing.” he said.

Senior communication major and business minor, Karissa Caylor, 22, did her part as the Marketing Intern for AVI to get the student body involved in the event.  She passed out fliers at the organizations fair to the Slam Poetry Organization, the Illusions, and other students on campus to get the word out. Illusions, and other students on campus to get the word out.

“It’s catching on like wildfire.” Caylor said.  “It’s bringing groups of people who wouldn’t ordinarily hang out with each other together.”

As coffee percolated in the background, a hush fell over Starbucks as Haley Cardwell, 19, a sophomore Psychology major, opened the show with two songs, including “The A Team”.  Her acoustic set came together after a series of guitar mishaps and last-minute song change.

Cardwell’s guitar strings broke just minutes before the event and she was forced to borrow a guitar from her neighbor, she said.

In spite of her pre-performance troubles, she’s already signed up to perform at the show next month.

“I’m trying to learn tabs which everybody else played today,” Cardwell said. “That’ll be a fun learning experience.”

In between acts, audience members were engaged in lively conversations about what they could expect from the next artist preparing their set.  Each performer was given ten minutes to set up, perform, and disassemble their equipment.

Performing as a duo, juniors Haylee Wittman, 20, an art education major, and Megan McHaffie, 21, a therapeutic recreation major, made their first public performance together at Unplugged.  McHaffie was visibly nervous for their performance as her hands began to quiver before she started playing her guitar.

“I’m trying to teach myself how to play guitar, this was a bucket list item for me.” McHaffie said.

As their performance wore on both McHaffie and Wittman became more comfortable in front of the audience and even laughed off self-described, “mess ups”.  The duo closed their set with an original spin on the Jason Derulo song, “In My Head”.

“It was fun, a bunch of our friends were here,” Wittman said. “It’s not that scary when you have all of your friends sitting out there pretending like it’s playing at your house.”

The second-to-last performer elicited some of the loudest applause of the evening with his original songs and rendition of a hit pop song.  Sophomore public relations major, Mark Byars, 19, worked the crowd by engaging everyone in the audience no matter their location.

Byars said that he takes every opportunity available to perform because he’s trying to start a professional music career.

The Starbucks Unplugged event had a massive first turnout, thanks to the artists who came out to share their craft with their peers.  Due to the talented artists and large turnout, plans are in motion to have the event twice a month.


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