One of the more popular folk venues is back! The U.U. Coffeehouse at 69 Silver St. in Waterville is about to open its doors once more and is still managed by Jerry Saint Amand. The first performance will be at 7 Saturday night when Ellen Tipper performs. She grew up in Waterville and, in addition to her singer-songwriter career (with two CDs under her belt, “Flanagan’s Field” and “The Juggler”), she also works internationally in the field of global health and has been in Pakistan this past year taking some time off from her performance schedule. Seeing she’s using this U.U. Coffeehouse gig to get back into sharing her music, it seemed only proper to chat with the Mainer about what’s happening in her life nowadays.’


Q: Well, let’s see, you’re coming to the U.U. Coffeehouse.’

Tipper: Yeah, absolutely—I’m very much looking forward to that.’

Q: You have played there before, have you not?’

Tipper: I played there about two summers ago…when it was in the studio theater at the Waterville Opera House, and that was a really fun show—just a great group of people and we had a great time so it was a really fun place to play.’

Q: Now this time ‘round it’s at the U.U. Church, correct?’

Tipper: It is! Jerry moved it back to the church, so I’ve actually not played in that space before. I’m looking forward to seeing what that feels like.’


Q: So what’s been up with you lately?

Tipper: Well, I haven’t put out a new album yet but I have still been doing some writing. I put out a couple of new tunes that I wrote last year and submitted those to something called The Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Song Contest; they have a contest every year and they pick the top 10 to go play in the finalist round, but they pick the next 15 as honorable mentions so I was part of that 15 for those two songs. I was really pleased to be in that group — I was in that honorable mention group in 2010 so it’s nice to feel like the new music I’m putting out is still in there. There’s usually about five or six hundred different submissions so it’s nice to get into the top 25.’


Q: Any plans of putting out something new album-wise?’

Tipper: Well, I’d love to but one of the things that’s challenging is putting together the up-front cost of making a CD. It’s really a tricky thing when you’ve got a family and everything else that goes on. So I have to sort of take those things slowly. And in this new world of Pandora and iTunes and everything else that you almost feel like maybe it’s best to start putting out singles and then put out some EPs, so I’m sort of trying to figure out what’s next.’


Q: How will you be accompanying yourself at this Waterville show — acoustic guitar, keyboards?’

Tipper: I’m basically just going to have my keyboard. I have been starting to do some guitar lately but I’m not quite ready to take it out and perform songs. I’m sort of getting into that quite a lot more but, again, most of my songs are piano driven so it’ll just be me on solo piano. Unfortunately, there isn’t actually a piano there — I prefer to play a piano when I can but if not I play a keyboard that has a good simulated piano sound, a Yamaha Grand sound, so it works. But it’s definitely different than when you’re playing an acoustic instrument so I always figured I should have taken up the ukulele instead, it’s easier to bring around. But I love the piano and it seems to be the instrument that inspires my songwriting.’


Q: As far as material goes for this show, I’m sure you’ll draw from “Flanagan’s Field” and “The Juggler,” correct?’

Tipper: Yes, but I’m also looking forward to sharing a number of new songs as well that just haven’t been cut yet — there’s a lot of them, they’re just sort of percolating so I’m looking forward to sharing some of them. Oh, I should add that the last show that I did, there at the studio theater, I did a combination of my own songs and then I sort of chose cover songs that I really love from each decade. That was a fun format to do and Jerry said that he really wants me to play some classics for him, so I may do that again. I may sort of do like a run through the decades: songs from the 20s and 30s and 40s and 50s … I sprinkled those throughout the show; I may do that again.’


Q: Is there anything you’d like to get across to the folks reading this article?’

Tipper: Well, I love being able to come and do a show in Waterville having grown up (there) and it would be great if the folks who couldn’t come to the studio theater show the last time I was in Waterville because it was sold out, I hope they can get their tickets early. It would be fun to have a whole hometown crowd — that would be a great thing to have there. And also it means a great deal to me to be able to share what I’m writing and working on now—it’s very special.


Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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