Blue Moon Coffeehouse

The Blue Moon Coffeehouse enjoys a reputation among artists and audiences as a great listening room. National touring artists typically headline the shows that occur on an elliptical basis in a room that looks more suited to shooting hoops by day. The love of music, respect for artists and the quiet ambiance of oil lamps and cabaret seating combine to create an atmosphere where the music is the focus at the Blue Moon Coffeehouse.

As a listening room, quiet is requested at all times during a performance. Guests are reminded to turn off cell phones and pagers. All Blue Moon performances are taped for later broadcast on public radio, WGLT~89 FM. Over the years, the listening palette of Blue Moon audiences has richly developed, and the performers who play the venue appreciate the warm welcome and enthusiastic response of Blue Moon patrons. If you are looking for music as a backdrop for conversation, there are probably better spots around town for that kind of evening. Between sets and after the show, the artists of the Blue Moon will give you plenty to talk about.

The Blue Moon Coffeehouse is proud to have been named the best place for live music in The Pantagraph's Spring 2003 and 2004 Reader's Choice survey of "The Best of The Best in Central Illinois." Long regarded as a community treasure by the many artists who have played throughout the 16-year run of the series, locals continue to "find" our little gem. We appreciate the kindness of Dan Craft who keeps the community informed of the many entertainment opportunities---including the Blue Moon! It's an honor to be selected by hometown friends of the Blue Moon. We hope to shine brightly for many years to come!

The Sons of the Never Wrong's Blue Moon show on August 29 begins the eighteenth year of bringing the finest in acoustic music to the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University and to the Bloomington/Normal community. Artists new to the series, along with favorites from seasons past, add to an already rich pastiche of music and memorable evenings. The Blue Moon proudly calls Carrie Newcomer, the first performer to walk on its stage, a warm friend whose gift of music and spirit helped to form the vision that a coffeehouse here could prosper.

Ani DiFranco played the Blue Moon three times before requiring ever-larger venues to meet the demands of her audience. It was up in the Blue Moon's gracious green room (a room larger than some of the venues these artists have played) that Ani wrote Buildings and Bridges during a set break, and she played it here for the first time (reading lyrics from the hastily scrawled notes on a brown grocery bag) when she returned to the stage.

No one attending Vance Gilbert's debut Blue Moon show will forget the sound of silence after he delivered a five minute song while standing atop a chair---without instrumentation or microphone---to an audience who wouldn't let him leave even after a three hour show. It was a blessing as well as a benediction---and after a quiet moment or two, the hushed crowd reverently exited the room.

Greg Brown, Patty Larkin, Susan Werner, The Uppity Blues Women and many of the "best of the best" in contemporary acoustic music have performed and continue to play this improbable series. In addition to bringing recognized talents to the venue, the Blue Moon is always listening for the emerging artists...the ones who years later we can say that we heard and saw "back in the day." Dar Williams was such a find when she was a girl, a car and a guitar. Ani was a scant 19 years of age when she first burst onto our stage...and she still comes back to dance, in the words of Utah Phillips, "with the ones that brung 'ya." The Voices on the Verge show gave Blue Moon devotees an opportunity to hear the new voice of acoustic music as expressed by Jess Klein, Erin McKeown, Beth Amsel and Rose Polenzani (who had previously played Blue Moon several years earlier when she opened for Susan Werner). Garnering a lot of interest in the music community is Ember Swift who appeared as a special guest in a November show with Blue Moon mainstay, Sonia. Antje Duvekot and Natialia Zukerman wowed audiences in Spring, 2009--showcasing some of the best in new artists hitting the national scene. Truly, the Blue Moon Coffeehouse continues to play host to artists of renown as well as cutting edge talent.

As always, Blue Moon performances are open to the public. Doors open at 7:30 PM and the shows, usually consisting of two sets, begin at 8:00 PM. Tickets ($10 each) for the public are available at:

  • The Garlic Press in uptown Normal, IL
  • At the venue, beginning at 6:00 PM on the night of the performance
  • The Blue Moon Hotline (309/556-3815) is staffed M-F; 8:00 AM - Noon; 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM;call to reserve tickets or to purchase tickets with a credit card
  • Email your ticket requests:

Tickets for the special after season show with the Willy Porter Band are $15 each and available through our regular ticket options detailed above.

Encores and Kudos

Without the involvement of many at Illinois Wesleyan University coupled with the help of good friends through the years, the Blue Moon Coffeehouse would never have held its first concert, let alone prospered over thirteen seasons. It is appropriate in our second decade of music, to recognize and appreciate:

Bob Dillon, the best sound man and friend a harried producer could ever hope to have working on her behalf. Bob has worked, fretted, cared and labored to help make the Blue Moon a success season after season. Starting that first year when none of us knew what we were creating, Bob helped us transition from our first Mackie mixing board, a cute little 8 channel number that we thought could handle all that we could ever want to do...and then we met Ani DiFranco! Who knew that a girl and her guitar could require so much amplification? Too bad we hadn't begun to learn about EQs...perhaps the JBLs might have been able to give the volume she wanted without that distracting hum. But it was "killer in the headphones"...and out in the house. No one quite knew what sprite had blown through town that night, but everyone in the audience knew that music would never be the same. None of it would have happened, or continue to happen, without the skilled hand and caring heart of Bob Dillon.

Bruce Bergethon flies right seat at all Blue Moon performances both quieting the nerves and enduring the creative mood swings of the fact, it was Bruce who dubbed the disembodied voice of the Blue Moon "Impressaria!" Bruce is the general manager for WGLT, the local public radio station. He is also one of the smartest (he could have gone to Princeton) friends I have, and certainly the most knowledgeable when it comes to music. Almost from the start of the series, Bruce has recorded the shows for later broadcast on WGLT. The library of these recordings is an amazing archive of wondrous nights of music, many capturing performances thick with talent and moments of sheer magic. He is my good friend, and perhaps the most generous of spirit of anyone I know. He also writes one heck of an intro!

Jim Diehl first came into the Blue Moon family as a consultant when additional equipment was needed to meet rider requirements. He also provided necessary assistance helping a neophyte sound engineer understand the physics as well as the application for mixing a good show. As the complexity of mixes has grown through the years, Jim has become the primary sound engineer for the series. As much as I enjoy mixing a show, having Jim Diehl at the Blue Moon has given artists and audiences the benefit of a seasoned professional at the board. It's a pleasure for me to see him work the board, and in the middle of a performance to have him lean over to me to whisper his approval for the night---"We're having some fun now!"

George Wainwright held together many of the first seasons of the Blue Moon with electrical tape, a smile and a shrug. He is one of the original can do guys...and if we don't really know what we're doing, then we'll figure out how to make it work in the moment, and how to make it work better next time. Almost every show we did in those early seasons reset the learning curve from the previous night. And while sometimes we would agree that "good is done and done is good" with George on the job, it was always done right. Well almost---there was that time when disappear fear blew the limiters on the speakers even though we'd both been assured that the amplifier could give us all and more than we could ever want in a folk show. Three mixing boards, four monitors and two sets of speakers later, we just might be onto something! Thanks for your all of your effort and support, George!