The Music Cafe

$$$$ ($14 and under)
Coffeehouse serves up music performances along with frappes and lattes.
Thu 6 am-10 pm; Wed 6 am-9 pm; Fri-Sat 6 am-11 pm; Sat 6 am-11 pm; Sun 8 am-2 pm
(Montgomery County)

Editorial Review

Lattes are the drink of choice at the Music Cafe, a year-old coffeehouse and performance space in Damascus. "We're in a dry town, so we can't serve alcohol," explains owner Kurt Esche, but he says the lack of booze hasn't hurt. "There's a lot of people that don't want to be in a bar atmosphere, so it does help with that."

Live music is featured every Friday and Saturday night, with bands setting up in a corner of the brightly lit room across from the espresso bar and next to bookcases holding well-thumbed paperback books and board games. There's a $5 cover, but children younger than 12 are admitted free, so families come in and find tables where they can sit and enjoy the music, stuffed animals and coloring books in tow.

Don't expect to hear any Wiggles, though. The Music Cafe has featured the likes of the Blues Vultures, a rootsy rock band led by former Kix guitarist Ronnie Younkins, and up-and-coming honky-tonk singer Ty Braddock. The bluesy Mary Shaver Band is headlining the cafe's first-anniversary celebration Aug. 18. "We don't have one set genre" of music, Esche says. "It's a lot of classic rock and country and blues, but it's a variety of everything. We're not stale."

Bands perform from 7 or 8 to 10, and the early start helps Mom and Dad catch the band before the kids need to go to bed. An open mike is held Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Though the Music Cafe lacks the standard trappings of a rock-and-roll venue -- beer, dim lights, an 18-and-older crowd -- the sound is great, and the espresso and frozen frappe drinks are well-made. Don't forget to peruse the selection of local CDs while you're waiting for your drink.

--Fritz Hahn (August 3, 2007)