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Nameless Coffeehouse Folk Celebrate 25th Anniversary

By Tara H. Arden-smith, Contributing Reporter

Cambridge's Nameless Coffee-house may have made a name for itself this weekend with its two-day 25th Anniversary celebration.

New England's oldest donation-supported coffeehouse trotted out a concert lineup of such local artists as Ellis Paul, winner of the 1989 Boston singer-songwriter contest, Fred Small, just returning from a tour of Australia, and Lutz Elena Beltran, discovered in a statewide Nameless talent search.

For roughly 100 onlookers last night at 3 Church St.--about one third of them first-time audience members--it was a grand showcase of local folk music performers, as true to Nameless tradition as the renowned "nameless" hot cider.

Beltran sang in Greek, Spanish and English, while Paul sang a tune about Wilbur, the politically incorrect rat. The concert lineup also included local artists Barbara Kessler, with Orrin Star and Rod MacDonald making surprise appearances.

"I really enjoyed the musicians, and I would recommend seeing a show here to any of my friends," said Craig R. Haimson '96.

J. Peter Kostishack '96 said, "It brought out the natural fiber-wearing, buckwheat pancake- eating, protest-attending, equal rights-advocating, star-gazing, nature-walking, sensitive guy in me."

The first night of festivities--more performers are slated for tonight--gave musicians and coffee-house organizers a chance to reminisce about a Square institution.

Small said he finds that the Nameless "plays an absolutely vital role for an acoustic musician."

The Nameless hosts concerts for one full weekend every month and hold an open-mike night each following Friday.

Small, who first sang at the Nameless 13 years ago, said that although the crowds have changed through the years, he has always found it to be a cozy second home.

"The Nameless supports beginning folk musicians when no one else will, and I feel a responsibility now to return and support it," he said.

Tom McLain, president of the board of directors and producer of the event, said it is significant that the Nameless has been able to survive 25 years paying neither staff members nor performers.

"We're an all-volunteer organization," McLain said.

Many of the onlookers last night were of the middle-aged set, not the almost exclusively college crowd the Nameless attracted at its inception.

"I was so happy when I found out about it," said Sel T. Sahin. "I like the people and the atmosphere here. It feels like my student days [at Boston University in the 1960s]."

Musicians Jack Hardy, Wendy Beckerman, Stephen Baird, Raymond Gonzales and Amy Malkoff are scheduled to begin performing tonight at 8 p.m. to conclude the birthday celebration.

The Nameless is located in the parlor of the First Parish Universalist Church in Harvard Square.

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