Thursday, Jun 20, 2019

Step right up to the microphone

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Bill Clow, left, and Dale Sinderson perform during Bad Joke Night Oct. 23 at the Firehouse Depot, 107 W. Front St. The art behind Clow and Sinderson is from Sandra Fink May. HML PHOTO BY SCOTT MUNKS

Randy Donaldson, owner and operator of the Firehouse Depot, a local coffee shop at 107 W. Front St., is trying something different. Looking to capitalize off the success of the Starline Building down the street, Donaldson is hoping to attract local talent to his business by holding open mic nights and featuring local artists.

“We want to make it a community place,” Donaldson said. “We want to make it a place where local artists can present their work, and come and meet and greet other local artists as a way of promoting their own work and as a way for us to give back to the community, as well as making it a more interesting place to come.”

The Firehouse Depot will hold open mic nights from 6 to 7 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday. The first performer, who came in Oct. 18, was a student from Northern Illinois University.

“It was very good,” Donaldson said. “We only had a half-dozen people in the audience, but it was the first one. We hope to get him back. He’s very good.”

Donaldson said he is looking to develop a relationship with the artists who work in and display at the Starline Building. The Firehouse Depot featured the artwork of Sandra Fink May in October.

Donaldson said he is in talks with local storyteller Jim May, who is interested in performing.

“Jim wants to do some of his own things here,” Donaldson said. “I’ve talked to him about doing story slams.”

Donaldson said he is open to different ideas. Local artist Dale Sinderson and Harvard School District 50 Director of Community Outreach Bill Clow held Bad Joke Night Oct. 23.

“If you know Dale, you know he’s got plenty of bad jokes,” Donaldson said. “So we want a showcase for that.”

“[Bill and I] thought it would be kind of fun to do jokes that are bad – jokes you’ve heard a thousand times,” Sinderson said. “It helps out a local business. We want to keep positive local businesses in town. It’s a win, win.”

Sinderson said they have not decided when they will do it again, but said they definitely will do it more than once.

“You’re not going to get a good read from one time,” Sinderson said. “You need at least two or three.”

Donaldson said the business, which has been open for about two months, is starting to take off.

“We’re starting to get some regulars,” Donaldson said. “We’ve been very grateful that people come in and tell us they are coming in because they want us to stay, they want us to succeed. The level of support from the community has been fantastic. Those are the people that make us really want to succeed because this is something that Harvard has needed for a long time.”

For information about entertainment at the Firehouse Depot, visit