A ‘Cosmic’ event

"Cosmic Coffeehouse" showcasing local musicians will be held at the Crosswicks Community House on Main Street, Saturday, Jan. 10.

By: Scott Morgan
   CHESTERFIELD — It seems somewhat apropos to listen to Ken Palmer talk about the limitless; ironic to listen to him speak of removing music makers from "the vacuum." His milieu, after all, is space.
   But from inside the confines of the Crosswicks Community House on Main Street, Mr. Palmer is eliminating the voids and limits that typically ensconce the creative lives of instrumental songwriters. Without space to play, musicians of the third kind — practitioners of a sound interchangeably called "space music," "ethereal," "ambient," or "psychedelic" — are chained to studios and basements and computer terminals, Mr. Palmer says. Saddled, if you will, by the laws of inner space that keep the electronica trapped in artists’ heads and out of the ears of those who might enjoy it.
   If all this sounds a little cosmic, you’re starting to catch on; and so, too, is the Cosmic Coffeehouse. Back in the summer, Mr. Palmer, 45, gathered his band Brainstatik to do a benefit for the Crosswicks Community Association and decided to move it inside because of the heat. Given the nature of the sound, he decided to call the intimate event the "Cosmic Coffeehouse."
   The concert went so well, he says, that Brainstatik and other bands decided to do it again in November. And now again this weekend.
   "It was a one-shot thing, originally," he says. "But it’s a showcase now for people who don’t get heard — which is kind of cool."
   Much to Mr. Palmer’s surprise — and obvious delight — Crosswicks has turned out to be pretty into the ambient scene.
   "There’s a pretty strong space music scene in Philadelphia and New York," he says. But he didn’t know there were so many artists right here, the number of which seems to keep expanding like, well … space. From a one-shot deal, Mr. Palmer now has a backlog of techno bands looking for a place to play.
   "Crosswicks is a lot more lively than people think," he says.
   And apparently a heck of a lot more groovy. As Cosmic Coffeehouse grows, Mr. Palmer says, so too do its limits. For this Saturday’s show, in fact, Cosmic Coffeehouse will feature Fringe Element, an all-keyboard quartet that will do not the typical line-up-and-play show, but a quadrophonic concert in the round.
   And thanks to the success of Cosmic Coffeehouse, he says, his own band "is really coming out from under the rock." With more shows, more word of mouth and more musicians showing up to imbibe the psychedelia, he says, Brainstatik could start moving toward new frontiers — film soundtracks.
   Or at least National Public Radio.
   The third Cosmic Coffeehouse will be held at the Crosswicks Community House on Main Street, Saturday, Jan. 10. Tickets are $10 and available at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the concert begins at 8 p.m. For more information, call 298-1877, or visit the Web at www.cosmiccoffeehouse.org.