Editor’s note: This story was published prior to Tuesday afternoon’s announcement that Highland Coffees will remain open ‘for years to come,’ to quote owner Clarke Cadzow. Be on the look out in next week’s issue for reaction and coverage of Highland Coffees and the Highlander Music Festival.
By Tara Bennett and Claire Salinas
Several local bands will perform for the very first Highlander Music Festival on Nov. 14 at Highland Coffees.
The idea for the Highlander Music Festival came from a group of local college students after the cancellation of this year’s Northgate Festival, which has been put on by Highland Coffees owner, Clarke Cadzow, and the Northgate Merchants Association for the past nine years. However, with the recent announcement of Highland Coffees’ Christmas Eve closure, Cadzow was unable to organize the fest this year. Still wanting to celebrate Northgate and the local community, the group of students decided to put on a music festival of their own, which received positive response.
“The response was immediate of people just willing to come out and do something for free to show their support of the community,” said Lauren Cross, one of the organizers of the event. “Everyone is just so connected in the local music scene here, there was no hesitation whatsoever from any of the bands, and they were so willing to work with our schedule and our lineup, and it was incredible.”
The event is an all-ages show, and will be held from 4-11 p.m. on the patio at Highland Coffees. According to Cross, Highland Coffees was the perfect location for the music festival as it was one of the businesses that represented the festival’s goal of showing support for the Northgate area.
“It is so much more than just a coffee shop,” said Cross. “I have made countless friendships through Highland Coffees.”
The lineup for the festival includes Caroline Schaff Music, Molly Taylor Music, Ship of Fools, Jetlagger, Levee Daze, Burris, Minos the Saint and Gardens.
“I’m excited to see all of them,” said Cross. “Gardens and Minos the Saint are two of my favorite local bands, and so seeing them play in a kind of a different setting is going to be really exciting. Then we also have Levee Daze, who is going to be playing a stripped down, more acoustic set, so I think that will be a really unique experience.”
Along with the free music, there will be giveaways in between each set. Door prizes include gift cards from Highland Coffees, Eutopia Salon, Yoga Vibe Baton Rouge and Louie’s Cafe as well as local artwork.
“We really just want it to be huge showing of support for Northgate, for local merchants,” said Cross. “You don’t have events like this often. You can’t really find eight hours of free, incredible music everyday… We care about the community and we care about the culture here.”
According to Peter Jenkins, co-organizer of the Save Highland Coffees cause, the festival will be an important protest tool against shop landlord Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, with whom Cadzow failed to come to terms on a new lease. Jenkins has helped secure nearly 6,000 signatures on a petition to keep the coffee shop open, but he feels the festival will be equally important as the petition in the protest movement.
“I think it’s important to show there is an actual number behind the cause,” said Save Highland Coffees organizer Peter Jenkins. “We can show the numbers on a petition, but faces are harder to ignore.”
According to Jenkins, Cadzow has been a driving force behind the economic development in the area and has resulted in an increase in property value.
“He [Cadzow] basically organized the Northgate merchant association and they have been committed to improving the Northgate area and working with community officials and politicians to make the Northgate area robust and prosperous. From what I understand twenty-five years ago the area was not that great, and there were really low property values. The market rate has risen more than it should have and that’s because of the community. Without their leadership, the Northgate area would not be where it is today.”
Jenkins believes that landlord Hank Saurage should consider all the benefits he has received from Cadzow’s work while deciding who to rent the property out to.
“Maybe helping the Northgate area to become profitable should be considered when they’re making their decision. I do think history matters. I think that community matters and this community has helped make Mr. Saurage a prosperous person. He has enjoyed the fruits of our community and he should provide for our community in return.”
Jenkins explained that while he encourages the community to contact Saurage to express their concern over the shop’s impending closure, he and his fellow supporters don’t intend to protest in silence.
“We’re not just going to sit at home or at Highland Coffees sipping our coffees,” he said. “We’re going to come out and celebrate the 25 years that Highland Coffees has been around.”
Highlander Music Festival Lineup:
4 p.m. – Caroline Schaff Music
4:45 p.m. – Molly Taylor Music
5:30 p.m. – Ship of Fools
6:30 p.m. – Jetlagger
7:15 p.m. – Levee Daze
8:30 p.m. – Burris
9:45 p.m. – Minos the Saint
11 p.m. – Gardens