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A production of "Joe's Cafe" in Black Mountain, NC: October 16 

In Asheville, North Carolina, from "Hot Picks" in today's Asheville Citizen-Times:

Hello, Joe

The new musical revue “Joe's Café,” plays at 8 p.m. Saturday [October 16] at White Horse Black Mountain, 105 Montreat Road, Black Mountain. Rupert Wates, Dave Turner, Valorie Miller, Petty Ratusz and Mike Holstein star in this show, set in an all-night café where the regulars have some interesting stories to share. Admission is $8.

On the Net:

(photo by John Fletcher/

Cast of Joe's Cafe: Rupert Wates, Valorie Miller, Peggy Ratusz and Dave Turner

We're excited to be performing "Joe's Cafe" here in the mountains of WNC. Please tell your friends in the Asheville/Western North Carolina region :-)

Many thanks,

-Rupert, Valorie, Peggy and Dave

Concluding the tour in San Francisco with 'Best Music Revue' award 

We ended the tour this afternoon in San Francisco - two months, 50 shows and more than 10,000 miles after opening in Hamilton, Ontario. Audiences in San Francisco were consistently good and very appreciative. To cap the week, we heard today that the organizers of the festival have awarded "JOE'S CAFE" the prize for 'Best Music Revue' on the Fringe for 2010. A nice finale for our long odyssey.

From Victoria, BC, we find a final word from Indianapolis 

As we wrap up our stand in Victoria, BC, and begin the journey to San Francisco, thought we'd share a last-minute review we discovered by Katelyn Coyne in Bravo Indianapolis:

"Joe's Cafe is the first and only concert show I've seen thus far in the 2010 IndyFringe. Singer-songwriter Rupert Wates presents an evening of original compositions based on tidbits of news and historical information he has collected over the years. Paired with two outstanding female voices, Wates picks away at the guitar with incredible skill. From an homage to the late great George Carlin to a dangerous retelling of police brutality in Queens, NY, Wates creates an experience that hearkens back to the hay day of folk music...a thoroughly enjoyable evening of toe tapping music..." (Katelyn Coyne, Bravo Indianapolis)

Nuvo in Indianapolis: 'Warm, witty, tender, poignant...' 

Here's a Fringe review by Rita Kohn of Nuvo
Joe's Cafe
Rupert Wates and Friends, New York
4 1/2 stars

"This warm, witty, tender, poignant program of fifteen songs cuts across the U.S.landscape to share stories of ordinary people and fleeting moments made memorable by Rupert Wates' razor-sharp, insightful touch as a composer and lyricist. Emotions in the songs, and their delivery by Wates, Stacey Lorin and Valorie Miller, are nuanced. It's a welcome respite to sit in Joe's Cafe, feeling the strong melodies in your bones and absorbing the messages in your gut. You'll take something powerfully important away – we connect best when we feel the story. Take time for Joe's Cafe."

Indianapolis Fringe Festival: perfect venue, nice audiences and a 'Run to see it' recommendation 

We've had some good shows here so far - the venue is perfect and the audiences are very nice. Received this review yesterday:"Joe's Cafe was a wonderful musical experience. A 'concept album' of the first magnitude...touching songs, wonderful guitar work and angelic voices...truly memorable and ... run to see it!" (Bill Bourus, Indianapolis Fringe Festival audience reviews, August 24, 2010)

Final Minneapolis show tonight, five-star review 

We'll be performing the final Joe's Cafe show in the Minneapolis Fringe Festival tonight (August 14) at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 8:30pm. We were pleased this morning to see the following five-star review:

Bought the Album, Too

"Ready for a Fringe change of pace, I found this a great evening of well-penned, intelligent songs about real lives. Each song story was complete, and several were especially terrific, leading me to buy the CD. Don't remember the titles, but toasting the lion and the lamb is an anthem we need this political season, as is the one about the mixed-race marriage, and the tribute to George Carlin. Between-song patter was minimal in this driven set, but maybe one less song would have allowed us more time to mull after each song ended. Four voices, guitar, keyboard, even a hint of Joni Mitchell." (Jon Skaalen, Minneapolis Fringe Reviews, August 13, 2010)

Minnesota Fringe Reviews: 'Solid Singing and Story-telling' 

Here's the latest review in Minneapolis:

"I didn't know what to expect from this show, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is not a play, but rather a band combining storytelling with music. There was just one guitar player and one keyboardist, and two other vocalists; all four of them took turns singing lead and back-up vocals. The stories are based on real people in America; many of them were quite sad and upsetting, while others were sweet and uplifting. I was almost moved to tears a couple of times, for different reasons. The lyrics were clear, well-written, and captivating, but the best part of the show was simply the music itself (especially the vocals of the two female singers). I just sat in the theatre, letting the music wash over me, and I absorbed it like a sponge. The Garage's acoustics make it the perfect venue for this show, and it's one I definitely recommend." (Heather Baldwin, Minnesota Fringe Reviews, August 13, 2010)

More reviews from the Twin Cities 

Riveting stories, told in song (five stars)

"Within the cozy confines of the Theatre Garage, 'Joe's Cafe' serves up an interlude of impeccable story-telling, set to music. Rupert Wates' song-writing is elegant and spare. Delivered by musicians who've mastered their craft, it is exquisite." (Roberta Parker, Minnesota Fringe Reviews, August 10, 2010)


From Sandra McDonald, Minnesota Fringe Reviews, August 10, 2010:
"Simple stories that might have long been forgotten.... sung so beautifully!"

From Amelia Kritzer, Minnesota Fringe Reviews, August 10, 2010:
"Joe is a talented chef."

Joe's Cafe 'highly recommended' 

We opened Joe's Cafe live at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage last night, and we were pleased to find the following review this morning about the performance ("Delivers exactly what is promised," by Sharon Kahn, Minnesota Fringe Reviews):

"There's no need to describe this show because the description on the show page is detailed and accurate. All you need to know is that the show delivers exactly what the description promises.

"The songs are simple, clear and poignant with lovely melodies and the musicians are very talented. Each song has a single lead singer (they take turns) with the others sometimes performing backup harmonies. All the singers have strong, sweet voices, making it easy to understand the lyrics (important with story songs!).

"My only nitpick is that some of the songs would have been more effective if the ending hadn't been telegraphed by the song introduction, or in one case by the title. Have the confidence to let the songs tell their own stories, folks! If you have to explain the context, do it afterwards so you don't steal the story's thunder.

"The Theater Garage is a great venue for this act. The open bleacher seating around a bare floor lends a feeling of intimacy that works well with the material, and the sound fills the space perfectly. Highly recommended."

View Magazine Online: A musical revue that is 'truly magical' 

A review of Joe's Cafe live from View Magazine's online edition:

"This show would fall under the category of musical revue; however, expect some top–notch storytelling as well. Rupert Wates, Stacy Lorin and Valorie Miller create lasting images with their songs. Let go and follow the journeys they fashion with their music. It is truly magical when voices come together and the particular chemistry of this trio is undeniable. Some might say this isn’t theatre, but it certainly isn’t just for music lovers. Try it out!" (Katie Penrose, July 22-28, 2010, Hamilton Fringe Festival 2010 Reviews from View Magazine Online)

Hamilton Fringe Reviews: 'Highly recommended for a change of pace and of heart' 

Another Joe's Cafe live show review: This one from the Artword Theatre's 2010 Hamilton Fringe Reviews website

"Rupert Wates is a musician and song-writer and plays a mean guitar. Flanked in a simple setting by his two songstresses Stacy and Valerie (I think I’ve got their names right, as there’s no programme) the group takes us on an American journey through the 20th century. It’s a seamless and smooth trip, with only minimal intros by Wates, and a word or two from his partners. Val has the look and sound of the sixties, singing her ballads in the kind of defensive detachment we remember from seeing US TV and films of the period. She has a clear and convincing delivery. Stacy is warmer, evoking recollections of her country’s folk tradition, of snow falling in New York and tragic love in South Dakota. Wates takes centre stage with more of a poet-balladeer to his stories, touching on disparate subjects from George Carlin to the emotions of the American experience in their several wars. One senses his quiet leadership of the group, of the gentle director, like a leader of a commune. It is a real pleasure to hear and feel the sounds of our southern neighbours, and sense the genuine affection they have for their century of troubles and tendernesses. The less than an hour it takes seems too short. Highly recommended for a change of pace and of heart. It has five more performances to go, and the next is today, July 18, 3:30 pm at the Studio Space, Theatre Aquarius." (Tom Mackan - Fringe Reviews, July 18, 2010)

Ontario Arts Review: 'A fast-moving one hour of accomplished entertainment' 

From a review of Joe's Cafe live this week at Theatre Aquarius Studio in Hamilton, Ontario:

"Rupert Wates; [Valorie] Miller and Stacey Lorin, are all about as professional as it gets, with voices and momentum that project the story behind each varied offering... There was one offering sung a cappella by soprano Lorin- chorus line …‘in South Dakota’, that left the audience so spellbound that applause was both hesitant and delayed. If you are a Folk fan, or even if you are not…this is a fast-moving one hour of accomplished entertainment." (Danny Gaisin -

Reviewer on 'Joe's Cafe' live in Ontario: 'Magic goes into overtime. Don't miss this show.' 

At the opening night of "Joe's Cafe" live in Hamilton, Ontario, we were well received by the critics. Here's an excerpt from one review:

"The moment Rupert Wates strikes the first chord on his guitar and begins to welcome you, you will know you are in good hands and are in for a real treat. Wates, along with his two friends, Stacey Lorin and Valorie Miller, spend the next sixty minutes telling stories and creating poetry with music. Wates has a true poet's gift to create images that leave lasting impressions. How wonderful to encounter lyrics that tell stories again. They have been absent far too long. The other element of this wonderful evening is Wates's virtuosity on the guitar. Hie fingerpicking is mesmerizing, as are his melodies. His two friends display their own virtuosity as well, Ms Lorin with a haunting rendition of 'The Skies Of South Dakota', Ms Miller with the moving 'Darkness, Darkness'. When all three sing together the magic goes into overtime. Don't miss this show." (Reviewer: Tim Koetting)

Session produces new version of 'Sally's Farm' with strings  

On July 8, 2010, I returned once more to Hard Luck Recording Studio to add strings to my own version of the song Sally's Farm from Joe's Cafe. The recording features myself on voice and guitar and Marc Schmied on double bass. Bryan Saunders played cello and Carolyn Pook played violin on another great arrangement by John Guari. The attached podcast contains the finished product, engineered and mixed by Chris Medrano. This was one of the last sessions at the old Hard Luck premises. They're moving next door in August.

Joe's Cafe coast-to-coast tour begins July 17 

The epic coast-to-coast tour of Joe's Cafe begins this Saturday, July 17, in Hamilton, Ontario, with a live radio show on CFMU FM 93.3, followed by the opening night at Theatre Aquarius. Performers will be Rupert Wates, Stacey Lorin and Valorie Miller, with Dave Turner making plans to join the group in August for five nights at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. The tour comprises fifty dates in two months at Fringe Festivals all the way from Toronto to San Francisco. For the finale at the Exit Theatre in San Francisco, the ensemble will be joined by bassist James Schulz. Watch this space for on-the-road updates.

The full tour itinerary is on the calendar page.