Origins cafe in Cooperstown brings diversity to menu and music
[Editor’s note: This feature is a part of this week’s “Summer Dreams” — our weekly guide to fun, food, and the arts throughout Otsego County. Find it inside The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta every week, all summer long!]
It stands to reason that a summer music calendar at Origins Café would be as eclectic, innovative and fresh as the food on the menu – and that’s exactly what’s happening this summer as the Cooperstown restaurant gears up for its artist gig series. featuring 2022 featuring tangos, brass band, world jazz and thoughtful improvisation over four special evenings.
Local bass impresario and musical omnivore Evan Jagels worked with Origins Café owners Kristen and Dana Leonard to bring a diversity of styles to this unique setting – a multipurpose room that includes a greenhouse, lush, vibrant plants and the restaurant. full service. This is the second year of the concert series.
“Last year’s was such a hit that we wanted to do it again,” Jagels said. He’s excited about what’s on offer for summer 2022, adding, “We want to bring bands to town that people wouldn’t think of or think they’d see in an upstate New York village.”
First this year, then on Saturday June 18, Latin Grammy Award winner Pedro Giruado and his Tango Quartet. Their website states: “The quartet’s fervent and virtuoso musical style takes elements of Argentine tango, European classical music and American jazz, and combines them gracefully and organically, bringing something new and exciting in form while retaining all the richness and beauty that characterizes the genre.
Mr. Jagels puts it simply like this: “People may have a preconceived idea of what tango is. When an audience is exposed to something like tango at a world-class level, however, they know they love it.
Along with the pedigree of Grammy-winning Pedro Giraudo, the quartet includes the assistant concertmaster of the New York City Ballet, a principal bandoneonist from the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and an international piano prodigy who now lives in New York.
Mr. Jagels and Kristen Leonard are expecting an exciting night on June 18 and then again on July 23 when they host the Dingonek Street Band at Origins.
“I was driving in New York and heard a marching band on the radio,” Mr Jagels said. “There was a brass festival in Kingston and it was just amazing to see. They weren’t marching bands playing traditional parade tunes. There was Afrobeat, New Orleans jazz, etc. The experience really became the seed of our Origins concert series.
Dingonek is a Brooklyn-based six-piece band “dedicated to human cultivation and sonic adventure,” according to their website. “Built on the festive energy and raw spontaneity of the second-line brass band tradition, Dingonek has created funky, high-energy party music all its own by absorbing and reworking elements of Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz , punk rock, free jazz, and Balkan brass music.
If that’s not eclectic enough, Capital Region-based sextet Heard is coming to town on August 20, a show the restaurant expects will be ‘kid-friendly’ with a pre-performance workshop of the evening. About their 2018 album, “Flyaway”, the late and scholarly musicologist Greg Haynes of Albany wrote: “Not sure my ears are big enough to hear all the influences of Flyaway or the multiplicity of voices and instruments … most striking is the vast number of percussion instruments… and while the instruments and the voices and textures they produce are numerous, the music is clear and evocative.
The final concert scheduled to date in the series is a September 24 performance by Duo Extempore – featuring world-renowned pianist Nicole Brancato and, on bass, Mr. Jagels.
“As the name suggests,” Mr. Jagels said, “it’s improvisation and improvisation. We sought to express the physical space of our environment through the music we develop; we’ll consider the room and space we’re in, its history, its origins, and bring that to life with the music we create.
The duo formed during the pandemic lockdown, when the two musicians started collaborating online, later meeting in person and deciding to explore different performance opportunities together in the same room. Their next appearance will be June 11 at Glimmerglass State Park’s Hyde Hall, when they bring the building’s history, artwork and artifacts to life through an impromptu musical performance.
“We will be using the original fortepiano from the mansion,” Mr. Jagels said. “We study the history of Hyde Hall, its architecture, its people, the people who worked there and their own traditions.”
* * *
The four concerts scheduled so far aren’t the only music playing at Origins — Mr. Jagels brings in local musicians for the seasonal dinners the restaurant serves for its reservation-based dinner service on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We have local music to pair with the food we serve at local farms,” Kristen Leonard said. “It’s a combination that fits perfectly with what we want to do here at Origins and with Carefree Gardens.”
A mile from Cooperstown, at 588 Beaver Meadow Road, the popular restaurant grew after the Leonard sisters decided to open a food truck ten years ago.
“We passed that first truck pretty quickly,” she said. “We have a larger food truck that we still use today, but we saw the opportunity to take what we have here at the garden and turn it into a restaurant that fit our vision of fresh, fresh food. prepared.”
Their website lists the local farming partners the restaurant sources food from – with menus changing to “share the best of seasonal flavors.” The family has traveled the world to learn about sustainability, biodiversity and the culinary arts – a background that creates an atmosphere at the restaurant unique not just to Otsego County, but to visitors who make it a point to make coffee a must-have when they’re anywhere nearby. The Leonards share their passion through their “Growing Leaders” program, in place for 10 years now, open to all middle and high school students.
“We hope to impact the next generation of changemakers,” Ms. Leonard said. “We have kids here every year who want to make a difference, starting with plants and food decisions.”
Its program opens students up to planning garden space, planting, tending and growing the foods they choose to grow, and then preparing food to serve to the public from the gardens. they started with the first sowing in April.
“We had them work in what was our first food truck,” she said. “They get all the experience and it’s completely convenient for them. We have also installed a pizza oven so they can prepare pizzas to serve at our concert series. They adore him.”
“We want to inspire entrepreneurs,” she said. “High school students come here with real passion and we want to help them find their role. They know they are the new advocates for food sustainability, healthy choices, and different ways of doing things.