Alex Browne photo Stephanie Lee, music coordinator at Islands Cafe’s White Rock store, says monthly music nights help enhance the “aloha spirit’ of the business.

Music nights aim to keep Islands hopping

Monthly events at White Rock Cafe promote upcoming artists

Islands Cafe’s White Rock store has another dimension to add to the appeal of its Hawaiian-themed art and surfboards, Hawaii-sourced coffee, acai and poke bowls and other treats.

On the third Friday of every month, from 7:30 p.m. until doors close at 11 p.m., it’s also a venue for new and upcoming artists in the Semiahmoo Peninsula and Lower Mainland.

Stephanie Lee, barista and music co-ordinator for Islands Cafe in White Rock, says it’s an opportunity to enjoy music by singer-songwriters in keeping with the laid-back island atmosphere created by owners Jalene and Robb Harding (whose large, colourful paintings are among those decorating the walls).

“It’s the aloha vibe of love, respect and community,” she said, adding that in addition to a line-up of three to four performers each music night – which is hosted and M/C’d by Rachel Fournier – the atmosphere is usually enhanced by tea lights throughout the premises, at 1237 Johnston Rd.

“All the girls from work come to support the artists, as well as the artists’ friends and wives and girlfriends and boyfriends and families, and a lot of our regular customers,” she added, noting that the well-received event fits in well with the “family” feeling of the business.

“And when the music is done, the musicians talk together about collaborations, or share tricks of the trade or information about upcoming gigs – everyone’s so supportive of each other. “

While regular musicians are generally from the White Rock or South Surrey area, Lee – who inherited the music co-ordinator part of her job about a year ago – adds that the interconnectedness of the music scene in the Greater Vancouver area means she’s also being exposed to musicians from across the region and giving them opportunities to perform at the cafe as well.

That’s certainly the case with the headliner for the next music night on Dec. 21, emerging young Vancouver singer-songwriter Molly Annelle.

Annelle’s appearance will feature songs from her latest EP, Pick Me Ups, newly-released and available on all major music platforms.

“I heard about her from one of our regular performers, David Fretter, who said ‘you have to hear her music,’” Lee said.

Entirely produced, written and sung by Annelle, the six-song EP covers genres that, according to her promo material, include everything from “alternative R&B to electronic/dream pop and chillwave” and “soothing, yet funky, melodies.”

Among other regular Islands performers who will likely appear that evening are Peninsula favourite Richard Tichelman – a former colleague at Islands who is now pursuing his music career full-time.

“He’s so super-talented and making such progress, but he’s still part of the family and comes by whenever he can,” Lee said.

White Rock resident Fretter is another reliable regular, Lee said, adding that in addition to musical talent he also has a flair for comedy which has led to him branching out into sets at comedy clubs.

“He’s the sweetest guy, and anytime I have a cancellation or can’t meet my deadline he’s so ready to jump in – and he’s introduced me to so many artists,” she said.

“We also have another wonderful girl, Madelyn Read, who is also a White Rock local. She does an act that’s a crossover between country and hip hop. I heard a few songs before I booked her and she’s really good. She has that southern twang thing going, but her songs are so upbeat, everyone can get into it.”

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