The smell of hot chocolate, coffee and other refreshments wafts through the Plaster Student Union South Lounge, accompanying the sound of various individuals and organizations as their talents are put on display.
This event is ‘Coffee Shop Sounds,’ which occurs twice a semester, is hosted by Missouri State University Student Activities Council.
According to SAC, the remaining 2019-2020 dates are Nov. 5, Feb. 11 and April 7. The event typically lasts two hours — 7-9 p.m., in the PSU South Lounge, but times may vary.
Co-Entertainment Chairs of SAC, Kendall Vowels, junior entertainment management major and Rachel Reed, junior wildlife biology major, are in charge of putting on the event.
Students in attendance will get a free mug with the event logo.
“At our last event in early October, we had almost 150 people come to watch,” Reed said. “And we ran out of food and mugs but people still enjoyed themselves.”
Both chair members emphasize that this event is casual and intimate. Attendees are welcome to come and go as they please.
“People can use the furniture to relax and even bring homework if they want,” Reed said.
The event organizers have been looking to expand their range of performers for future events.
“This event has been around for far longer than I’ve been here,” Vowels said. “However, this is the first year we are opening this up to more talent than just music. Last year, we did a trial run with a comedian at one of our shows. But this year we want to reach out to other organizations like the theater department, improv performers and a slam poetry group called ‘Untamed Tongues.’”
Last year, Vowels worked with the Concert Chair to create the SAC Artist Showcase on March 31.
“We wanted to do a bigger night event as opposed to the coffee sounds because some acts won’t fit as well within the coffee shop setting,” Vowels said. “In the PSU Theater, you can see anything from an acoustic performer to a group of aerialists.”
Unlike a talent show, Vowels said there is no ranking system since the acts are so diverse.
“A soloist versus the Beartones isn’t in any way comparable,” Vowels said.
According to Reed, only one audition is required to participate in ‘Coffee Shop Sounds,’ and performers can participate in Showcase without a second audition. However, performers cannot partake in two ‘Coffee Shop’ events back to back, in order to create more performance variety.
Veronesa Fucile, junior entrepreneurship major, was late to audition, so she ended up sending in a recording instead.
“I went to the Blair-Shannon practice room and it was perfect because it was quiet and I just set up a computer and recorded what I would do in the show,” Fucile said.
She said she mixes her own tracks and cuts out the vocals for live performances.
“I’ve performed at places like Flea Bar and Grill and the Outlander Brewery and Pub,” Fucile said. “I also worked with Smiley Records based here in Springfield but didn’t sign a contract with them because as an entrepreneur I believe in doing things myself and having 100 percent control of my music.”
When combating nerves, Fucile reminds herself that if she loves what she does, her passion will be projected to the audience.
Singer-songwriter Samantha Seigel, junior electronic arts major, places her confidence in the fact that her songs could help someone in need.
“If my song is something particularly poignant or emotional I remind myself that I wrote it for that one person in the crowd who needs to hear that song, to hear that they will be OK,” Seigel said.
Coming from a theater background and exploring songwriting, Seigel has spent most of her life on stage. As a result, she said branching out and gaining exposure is key.
“You can be in a play or a musical but you’re not performing your own stuff like stand-up or improv or your songs, so you aren’t able to put yourself out there as much,” Seigel said. “This event is so important to give people like me the publicity they need. If you find someone you like, you can follow them on their SoundCloud or Youtube.”
To those looking to perform in the future, the set list and allotted performance time is flexible.
“The regular set list time is 25 minutes,” Vowels said. “Although, I had a friend reach out to me saying, ‘I’ve been learning guitar and want to perform in front of an audience but I’m not comfortable doing a whole set, can I do one song?’ And I said yes.”
Vowels emphasizes the importance of hosting events like these.
“We are for supporting students and helping them chase their dreams and potentially, change the world,” Vowels said. “Some of these students could even be the next John Goodman.”