Bell towers add a new chapter in historic downtown Brunswick

In August 2015, Beans in the Belfry wrote a new chapter in the history of Brunswick and of the old Reformed Church at 122 W Potomac Street.

Erected in 1910, as engraved in its corner stone, this church building was on the outskirts of

1910 corner stone

1910 corner stone

Brunswick, but as the town expanded, it found itself in the heart of the (now historic) downtown district.  Just 53 members are credited as the first organizers.  The beautiful stained glass windows, given as memorials of loved ones in the church, have long been a notable part of Brunswick’s downtown scene.  Over the following decades, the congregation grew to include Knoxville, Burkittsville, Petersville and even Lovettsville, until its last service was held on December 27, 1968.

On October 16, 2004, Beans in the Belfry opened its doors in the century old brick structure to welcome the community, travelers, cyclists and music lovers into an eclectically furnished meeting place and cafe. An extensive menu satisfies just about all tastes for hot or cold refreshing beverages, a light meal, delicious baked goods and even craft beer and local wine.

New striped steeple roofs using stamped metal shingles

New striped steeple roofs using stamped metal shingles

Much repair, inside and out, from sewer pipes to stained glass windows, was needed, the most visible and most recent being a new main roof and the new striped bell tower roofs, just completed this month.  The metal shingles recall the same stamped pattern as the originals and were shipped from Texas by the only factory in the US that still makes historic metal shingles.  The adventurous can climb into the large belfry by way of a fixed ladder and enjoy a scenic view of the area.

In 2011, the large belfry was the site of an award winning independent film, ‘God and Vodka’ by Daniel Stine.  The central scene captured a young couple sitting in the open air belfry reminiscing about growing up in their fictional home town (Brunswick).

A mysterious disused old wooden door gives access to the smaller belfry.  The chamber behind it might serve as a special romantic dining spot some day.

When you drive or walk up West Potomac Street, or get off the C&O Canal towpath in Brunswick,

Bike Parking and Bike Wash for customers

Bike Parking and Bike Wash for customers

raise your gaze and look for the newly clad striped bell towers of Beans in the Belfry in the 100 block.  They beckon you to rest for a while, enjoy good eats, refreshing drinks and fine fellowship.   You can also say a silent prayer and thank our creator for the beauty in life.  For cyclists, there is safe parking in the enclosed gravel lot and a bike wash.


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OPEN MIC as seen by Frederick New Post – Third Thursday 7 to 9pm Meet Tomy Wright and Gary Free

Open Mic scene at Beans

OPEN MIC sponsored by SAW and F.A.M.E.

Colin McGuire –  thank you for your visit – do come back with your guitar.  Down a bottle of Morning Glory espresso stout before you play to inject some wickedness into the evening. 


Beans In The Belfry, 122 W. Potomac St., Brunswick

When: 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month

Best Moment: Meeting Gary Free, a 76-year-old local musician who wouldn’t stop telling the 14-year-old’s mother that her daughter needed to “learn some standards” for the next time she plays.

Open Mic performers in Feb 2015

Open Mic performers in February 2015

Synopsis: Have a family? Feel like hanging out in a 1910 red-brick church building? Like to sit on couches? Love walking into rooms that look like Martha Stewart’s zany new-age nephew might have decorated? This place is for you. Hosted by Tomy “One M” Wright (almost one year of Frederick Playlist, and writing “Tomy ‘One M’ Wright” still delights me to no end), it’s the cleanest, kindest, warmest, most-welcoming option you have on a Thursday night. The open mic has been running for six years, according to Wright, and if you have a kid who can play a ukulele and write songs — much like Gabrielle Zwi, whose mother warned me of her mom-eratzi status very quickly and

Tomy One "M" Wright

Tomy One “M” Wright

somewhat aggressively — there isn’t a single good reason in the universe to not take advantage of this platform. It’s as family-friendly as it gets and the talent in Brunswick is worth the 15-minute drive. There were members of Willie And The Chaperones and Signs Point East there, and Wright, himself, had no problem sitting in with pretty much everyone, making it a communal atmosphere that goes a long way

Gary Free, free as a bird!

Gary Free, free as a bird!

for parents who don’t want to see their daughter cover a Disney song on a ukulele in the middle of a bar that sometimes smells like french-fried urine. Also: They get bonus points for shouting out to “the guy from the newspaper.” Also (again): They get bonus bonus points for having someone like Free on hand, reminding me every three minutes that he once played with Patsy Cline at the firehall in Brunswick. Legendary.

Quote Of The Night: “My name is Gary Free. Free as a bird.”

Rated On A Scale Of Justin Bieber To Razorblade: The Soundtrack To Disney’s “Frozen.”

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So Say It! Slamming in the Belfry 4th annual poetry slam April 18, 7 to 10pm

Wayne Drosynski is the Brunswick champion of Slam Poetry and will bring together slam poets and audience on April 18 at Beans in the Belfry. This is what Wayne has to say – yes So Say It!

“It’s hard to believe Slam Poetry was 30 years old in November. It’s hard to believe that Poetry in our culture had been locked for so long into writing that Spoken Word Poetry got its
own name and, at the Get Me High Lounge in Chicago in 1984, seemed radical to the point
of derision by “the Academy.” Derision in spite of the fact that every technique and device
available to written is also available to Spoken Word Poetry, and then some. Derision in
spite of its clear majority throughout history and across geography. And derision in spite of
Shakespeare, who was, if anything, a Spoken Word Poet who appealed to crowds much like
this one. Crowds who would have headed for the doors at the first sign the entertainment
might deteriorate into a “poetry reading.

Here are your poets for this evening. We guarantee them to be regular people all:
Poem A. Ellis Burruss It’s Not You
Poem B. Wayne Drozynski Moonwalking to Altoona
Poem C. Laura Dvorak Borderline
Poem D. Mickie Kennedy Gumbo
Poem E. Paul Headrick Ode to an Old Friend and His Record Collection On His Sixtieth Birthday
Poem F. Wanda Remington The Two Fridas
Poem G. Will Tisdale A Man Untitled


Poem H. John Flannery Imagine a Man in Pain
Poem I. Rowan Lover
Poem J. Ian Siegel Goliath
Poem K. Bill Derge A Modest Proposal to Rename The Renaissance Fair
Poem L. Jerry Cayford Dear Friend
Poem M. Kiki Wilson Random Ramblings of a 23 year old almost successful failure

A huge thank you to our Mistress of Ceremonies, Caroline Goell!

Vote for your 3 favorite poems in order of preference.
Vote using the Letters A-M shown with the poems above.
Put the Letter of your favorite poem in the first box, the letter of your second favorite in the
second box and the letter of your third favorite in the last box.
Please do not put the same letter in more than one box.
Thanks for Joining us!

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Jazz vs Bluegrass, uniquely similar, both at Beans in the Belfry

Jazz and Bluegrass are very different types of music, especially when considering the typical sound each of the music styles has.  But, despite all of the differences, bluegrass and jazz have special similarities. They are both uniquely American, shaped byCG Duo vertical European immigrants and African American roots.   During the course of a piece of music, each instrument will take its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment; these ‘Breakdowns’ are often characterized by rapid tempos and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes by complex chord changes.  Jazz and bluegrass are also very explorative and both styles are easily participatory.  A good working knowledge of several dozen ‘classic’ tunes ( will enable you to play practically any song.

At  Beans in the Belfry you can listen to bluegrass regularly at least four times a month, most Thursday evenings, second and fifth Sunday afternoon, and some weekend evenings when many groups have a bluegrass / Americana theme.Carl Disque and the Prophets Jan 2010 Photo by Jason Turner

You can hear jazz every Sunday during brunch and second Wednesday evenings. On Sundays the groups can be a duo or trio of guitar, vocals, clarinet, flute, saxophone, keyboard, drums, trumpet and even tuba.  Themes vary from New Orleans style, to bebop, fusion, dixiland and modern jazz.

On Second Wednesdays, 7 to 9pm, Jeff Cosgrove, drummer, sets the tone when he assembles award winning jazz talents on sax, bass, keyboard etc to take the stage and have fun.  To learn what is motivating Jeff, see a recent interview that Lisa V. Proulx conducted with Jeff, originally published in Brunswick Citizen Newspaper “Spotlight on the Arts”, February 5:

Cosgrove sees music as a shared language

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove will be performing at Beans in the Belfry on Wednesday, Jeff Cosgrove on drumsFebruary 11, from 7 to 9pm.  He will be back to play every second Wednesday.

Launching his “mixed bag” of world class jazz, Jeff is an internationally known musician who has been written about in jazz publications all over the world; Tokyo, Italy, France and Belgium to name a few.  He has also been recognized by The Washington Post, and the New York Times.

As an artist, Jeff understands the importance of being proactive and promoting himself.  To be recognized in international magazines, Jeff wrote his own press releases and had them translated into Japanese, French, Italian and other languages.

Jeff Cosgrove Mixed BJeff grew up in the Washington DC area, attending high school in Alexandria, VA.  Wanting to play music, he tried the clarinet in the 4th grade but “failed” so turned his attention to the saxophone.  This wasn’t a success either.  “I wasn’t big enough!” he says.

He does not come from a musical family, but his grandfather loved music and encouraged young Jeff to play.  “He was my mentor”, he recalls.

Eager to play some sort of musical instrument, Jeff got behind a drum set in the sixth grade and was hooked.  He began playing in garage and touring bands but says over the last 30 years he has only been in about five bands.  Through the years, Jeff has studied with master drummers Mike Shepherd, Tony Martucci, Joe Hunt, Matt Wilson and Andrew Cyrille.Jeff Cosgrove Wednesday Mix Bag

As an adult, he moved to Shepherdstown, WV where he earned a psychology degree from Shepherd University.


Jeff has been performing at Beans in the Belfry since 2006 and is excited about  bringing his versatile  brand of music to the area.  “I put 110% into my music,” he says.  He loves playing at the coffee house.  “It is such a nurturing atmosphere for artists; I can find my own voice and they are open to accepting my ideas.  Beans in the Belfry has helped boost  Brunswick culturally and it’s a fun place to be!”

Jeff is looking forward to bringing diversity to his performances.  “I want to try something new every month.  Every second Wednesday will be different.  I want to evolve as an artist and I love being in situations where I’m not sure what’s going to happen!”Jeff Cosgrove & Friends, live jazz at Beans in the Belfry

Jeff has two CDs out:  “Alternating Current” (with Matthew Shipp on piano and William Parker on bass) and “For the Love of Sarah” which his wife Sarah pushed him to complete.  Reviews have named “Alternating Current” one of the best recordings of the year.

Jeff feels music is a common language shared by all of us and says, “I want to make an emotional connection, and I want my music to be recognized.”

Jeff and Sarah have been together for 18 years and married for twelve.  They live in Middletown with their sons Micah, 7, and Isaic, 8, ad three cats.  “I am very fortunate”, he says.  Learn more at   Both his CDs can be found on Amazon.


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Bluesgrass is growing at Beans in the Belfry in Brunswick even before Springtime

There aren’t enough days in the month for bluegrass, but this is how it is now:

From January on for the rest of 2015 (at least), you can hear local bluegrass performed by Brunswick resident Eric Knowles (formerly of ClearSpring) and friends from around here at Beans in the Belfry on the Second and Fourth Thursday from  7 to 9pm.  It makes for a relaxing evening with good harmonies, deft picking and fine fellowship.  You can get supper there as well, such as homemade beef stew, chili with corn muffins, hot grilled paninis and more.

On the First Thursday of the month, from 6:30 to 9pm, Bobby Bales of the Grassy Ridge and Claude Jones will host an Open Bluegrass Jam. The first day will be Thursday, February 5!  This is what Lisa Proulx writes in the local newspaper The Brunswick Citizen:  “ Known as a bluegrass Bobby Bales picture 1-29-15legend, musician Bobby Bales began playing guitar at the tender age of 12 by watching other people play.  Today, that passion for music is still alive and well…. His first gig was with the Country Diamonds when one of the band members was Ernie Bradley.  He went on to play with Bob Duley and the Country Stars, South Mash Band, Southern Itch, The Cando Band and others.  Most recently, for twelve years, he was with Bad Moon Rising Band and King Street Bluegrass. After all these years, he has come full circle and is back playing music with Ernie Bradley.”

Also sponsoring this event will be musician/manager/sound engineer/promoter Claude Jones.  Says Claude, “Bluegrass music is a very welcoming culture for people to just come out and jam.”  Bobby agrees, “Bluegrass incorporates families, is multi-generational and it nurtures musicians of all ages.”  Bobby, a native of Maryland, lives in Brunswick and has one son, Justin, who is also into music…  He enjoys “jamming” as often as possible and lends his special talent to many different genres.  His moto is “If it ain’t fund – don’t do it!”

And that’s not all:  on Second and Fifth Sunday, from 3 to 5pm, is another Open Bluegrass Jam lead by Claude Jones.  Here is how Juliana Jones describes her experience of the Sunday Open Bluegrass Jam on March 10, 2013:

It was a fine afternoon at Beans in the Belfry. Ernie Bradley from Grassy Ridge, in the black hat on banjo, de facto led us; his brother, directly behind Claude Jones, Randy Leith, played terrific bluegrass jam with claude jones and eric knowlesresonator guitar; to the left, Eric Knowles from Clearspring played banjo and guitar (that’s his son peering up from behind the couch); Roger Worthington from Hagerstown is on the bass; that’s Linda Adkins on fiddle; Mike Ward is in the white Tee with his back to us; Josh Ungar is next to him on mandolin and next to him is Jason Hannan also of Clearspring who played guitar – there were a couple more guitar players not seen in this photo, Jerry Swope out of Hagerstown, and a newer player who’s name escapes at the moment.

Are you new to bluegrass? It’s derived from Bill Monroe’s ‘Blue Grass Boys’ and his home in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky.  It’s a version of the ballads that were brought to Appalachia from the Scottish, Irish and Welsh and then fused with African American jazz, to make it a unique American genre of music.  Hear it from Bill Monroe himself:  “It’s  Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin’.  It’s Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It’s blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound.”

Join the jams or plan to listen.  Come hungry and thirsty because Beans in the Belfry serves terrific eats that you  can pair them with a local beer or glass of red wine.  Get yummy desserts too and the best espresso or latte in around!


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