A Brief History of the Troubadour
The Troubadour (a.k.a. Troubadour Folk Club) was formed in 1980 by Bob Pasquarello as a coffee-house venue at Churchville Nature Center for concerts by local and regional performers on off-nights. Bob and some other local musicians had realized that the auditorium at the Center was very good acoustically for musical performances, and approached the Center management with a proposal for regular concerts. The Troubadour Folk Club was eventually started with a loan from the CNC Advisory Board (‘Friends’) and the first concert featured then-Philadelphians Kim and Reggie Harris in the fall of 1980. It continued regularly every Tuesday night (except the summer months) for the next ten years.
Bob also instituted an ‘Open Stage,’ where anyone could stop by, sign up and perform three songs before the regular concert. He limited this to six people per night and there were usually more than enough local musicians eager for a spot on stage. In later years, this evolved into a round-robin type of ‘Open Stage’ for the entire evening, and the regular concerts were cut back to once or twice a month.
The Troubadour has always been staffed totally by volunteers, and it is a separate (self-sufficient) entity not connected with the Nature Center in any way, like the other clubs that meet there.
The emphasis of the Troubadour has been acoustic music from the beginning, and because the room is so good a sound system is not always needed, depending on the show. Many regional and national acts have performed there, including John Gorka, Amy and Jennie, Tom Paxton, Claudia Schmidt, Eric Andersen, The Persuasions, Magpie, Rosalie Sorrels, Utah Phillips and Garnet Rogers among many others. It was common, during the eighties, to have capacity crowds of about 100 people at each show, and in the case of a few performers for two shows.
Bob relinquished control of the Troubadour about 1991, and a number of people have managed it since then: Lynn Zinberg, Jennifer Willis, Art Dell, Jeff Morgan, and most recently Scott Petersen. The gate at the Troubadour has fallen off in the past few years primarily because of conflicts, responsibilities and other commitments, and although there are many more choices for entertainment today, attendance for fewer shows is on an upswing. Due to lack of interest on the part of local musicians, the ‘Open Stage’ is discontinued and the Troubadour no longer presents concerts every Tuesday night, but occasionally on Saturday nights. For eighteen years there has also been an annual outdoor Folk Fair, a day-long outdoor event including a variety of performers in a festival setting, with children’s events and crafts. The Fair was originally scheduled in the autumn for its first years, but since then held on a Saturday in June.
Compiled by Scott Petersen, December 1998
He can be reached at Scott@thetroubadour.org
(Scott has been involved with the Troubadour since its beginning)
ADDENDUM, November 2001: It should be noted that the annual Folk Fair has not
been held for the last few years, since this history was originally written.