The Willow Tree 'golden' for local artists
The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room offers drinks, space and a vibrant atmosphere to visitors.
Located downtown at 216 E. Main St., The Willow Tree's interior boasts multi-colored walls, decorative lights, paintings and even a lava lamp. A shelf against a wall provides games and books for visitors.
Painted over the doorway leading to the spacious side room is a quote by rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles: "Music to me is like breathing - I don't get tired of breathing. I don't get tired of music."
The owners of The Willow Tree seem to feel the same way.
On Jan. 23 they opened their doors to local musician and ETSU student Brandon Wadley, one of several artists who have jumped at the chance to play their music at The Willow Tree.
Teri Dosher, who co-owns the coffeehouse with her daughter Zoe, explained that they both simply love music. "The biggest drive for [the coffeehouse] was to have a music venue ...We both have spent so much time supporting live music," she said.
"To have a place where I can finally give those artists the attention that I think they deserve is a lot of fun," she added.
Dosher quit her teaching job about a month ago, right as she and her daughter opened shop on Jan. 1.
To her, the changes are worth it: "It's been a dream of mine and my daughter's to do this for about seven years," she said. "This summer we were talking and we said 'You know, we need to either see if we can do this or just stop talking about it.'"
Due to serendipitous circumstances, their dream became doable.
This summer, the Doshers decided that the perfect space to launch their dream would be in the location of the former Galaxy Lounge.
The next day the owner of the building announced he was looking for someone to take over the lease. To them, it was a sign: "You don't turn your back on something like that," Dosher said. "I'm living my dream, and I have no idea how it happened."
They hope to allow musicians to get 100 percent of profits from any ticket sales. The goal is "to have a place to just really support musicians, not only live performing musicians but visual artists."
All the artwork hanging on the walls are from a local artist who will also get all of the profit from sales. Dosher summed up her and her daughter's goal, saying, "The whole thing is hopefully to support artists of all kinds and to give people who appreciate art of all kinds a place to come and gather."
She said that students, too, are more than welcome, mentioning that she has already seen many coming to work on group projects or solo assignments in the laid-back atmosphere of the coffeehouse.
The community, as a whole, also stands to benefit. "It's been a networking place. It's been so much fun to sit up there behind the coffee bar and watch people meet each other who have like interests."
Dosher plans to offer The Willow Tree as a gathering space free of charge to groups trying to promote any kind of community or environmental awareness.
Of musician Wadley, she said "He's wonderful ... he was one of the first ones to come in, and he was so excited about the space and I loved that he was so excited about it."
Wadley described his experience playing at The Willow Tree as "delightful."
"The Willow Tree is unique because it's a place you can make your own."
He also praised the versatility of the space and sound in the building. "It is great playing music and supporting a local business that also uses local products like Elizabethton Coffee Co. coffee. It only makes sense for local musicians and local small businesses to support one another and this place is golden for that dynamic," he said.
Of the coffeehouse's name, Dosher explained that there is a large willow tree in the front yard of her home.
"That's always been my contemplating place. I crave to go there on a daily basis ... that's where a lot of dreams for this came together ... it's where I go to have my soul rejuvenate."
She hopes that her and her daughter's creation will be a "happy place" for others as well.
Of The Willow Tree's early success, she said so far it has turned out "better than I ever thought that it would.
"It's all pretty magical how it's come together."
For more information, visit The Willow Tree's page on Facebook, and stay tuned for updates from their website at www.thewillowtreejc.com.
To hear Wadley's latest EP The Listening Room, search for Brandon Wadley Solo Project on Facebook.
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