The Underground Café: Then & Now


Jessica Crosson

Cal U Alumni Sam Stuckey, Steve Weinstein and Taylor Overly perform at the Underground Cafe: Throwback Night.

Briana Hendriksen, Staff Writer

The Underground Café held ‘Throwback Night’ this past Thursday, Oct. 13 in the Natali Student Center’s Heritage Lounge in order to honor the evolution of the organization over the years.

The weekly open mic was held at a special time from 6-9 p.m. in order to accommodate members of the University and Cal U alum community in preparation for University President, Geraldine Jones inauguration this past Friday afternoon.

Special guests included Vice President of Student Affairs and former UG Café advisor, Dr. Nancy Pinardi, 2015 Cal U graduate and former Underground Café President, Taylor Overly and current Underground Café member and avid performer, Ryane Corwin, to name a few.

Sam Stuckey, Sarah Barger and Taylor Overly open up Undergound's Throwback Night.
Jessica Crosson
Sam Stuckey, Sarah Barger and Taylor Overly open up Undergound’s Throwback Night.

Underground Café stepped away from its normal Open Mic style and held time slots for featured artists from the past and present to perform original and cover songs throughout the evening.

The organization began in the early 90’s when many towns did not have coffee houses so the open mic concept and Underground Café was a fresh addition, especially to California University of PA.

“For many students it was a new experience to be involved and certainly to perform in front of other students. They were a little hesitant at first,” Pinardi said. “Since that time, with each freshman class, the incoming students are more familiar with coffee houses, so they came prepared to perform and the numbers grew.”

Over the years, students and faculty have been able to watch the organization grow into something for everyone. With the involvement of food services providing free coffee at each open mic, more of an allocated budget to recruit outside artists to perform, and a constantly increasing number of active members, the organization has had the opportunity to thrive and improve since its start.

Recent Cal U graduate and former 2014-2015 President of Underground Café, Taylor Overly made his way back to the open mic and performed with a few other UG Café familiar faces, Sam Stuckey, and Steve Weinstein for a duration of the night.

“We haven’t all played together in a long time and it felt really good to be back (at Underground Café), “Overly said. “It creates such an awesome atmosphere in the Union and I realized how much I miss being a part of it.”

What does Overly hope to see from Underground Café in the years to come?

“For the future, I would love to see Underground Café continue to grow,” he said. “So many students on campus have amazing talents and it is a great way for them to come together and showcase them.”

Former UG Cafe president, Taylor Overly, performs once again.
Jessica Crosson
Former UG Cafe president, Taylor Overly, performs once again.

No matter if you are interested in poetry, singing, rapping, playing various instruments, or want to showcase an artistic talent that you have, the Underground Café is the place to freely express yourself in any form.

So what is the best part about Underground Café? The responses from those in attendance at ‘Throwback Night’ themed event varied.

“My favorite thing (about Underground Café) is the energy. People go for the entertainment and to just have a good time. Plus, I get to express myself every time, which is the best of both worlds,” frequent UG Café performer Ryane Corwin said. “I think it is so special because it is an escape from everything else. It is a great artistic environment. “

Dr. Pinardi’s response was not far from agreeance with Corwin’s thoughts on the growing organization.

“The students of course are the best part, and the bonding over the music they created,” Pinardi said. “Students who perhaps would not have interacted otherwise respect and enjoy one another’s music.”

With the response that Underground Café has received since it was adapted at Cal U, to how it has evolved over the years in attendance and opportunity, there is no doubt that the organization will continue up the latter to success in the years to come. As some may see it, The Underground Café is the place that will always leave you coming back for more.