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Open mic event in Bridgeville brews interest

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:04 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Bridgeville Area News
Ed Chabala, 85, of Bridgeville chuckles after playing an old bar song Sunday, May 2, 2013 during an acoustic open mic night and craft brew swap at Bridgeville Public Library.
Mike Loschiavo of Ambridge sings and plays guitar in front of a crowd for the first time during an acoustic open mic night and craft brew swap at Bridgeville Public Library.
Jim Wisbon of Bridgeville works up the nerve to play a tune during an acoustic open mic night and craft brew swap at Bridgeville Public Library.
Randy Jarosz | For the Bridgeville Area News
Mike Aquilina, secretary of the library board and also known as the brewista, looks on as Dr. Audrey Guskey of Bridgeville tries a Rogue Voodoo doughnut beer Sunday, May 2, 2013 during an acoustic open mic night and craft brew swap at Bridgeville Public Library.

So much for the public library being a quiet place of contemplation, at least in Bridgeville.

The Open Mic Night and Craft Brew Swap program that began last month at the Bridgeville Public Library has slowly grown into a hit.

“This turnout has been great for one of our adult programs,” said Michael Aquilina III, secretary of the library board of trustees. “For public libraries, it's a challenge to get adults to come in.”

Aquilina said performances have ranged from rock and pop to opera, and he hopes to bring in other genres such as poetry and speech.

The combination of live music and craft beer came from a crossover of interests among board members – a conglomeration of “beer snobs” and musicians, he said.

“People who come in might not be familiar with microbrews,” he said. “Here, they see something they're interested in and they get a chance to try it.”

Entertainment on tap on a recent Sunday night included lifelong Bridgeville resident Ed Chabala, 85, who has been playing guitar since he was 7. Chabala takes his talents to Bridgeville senior centers, the food bank and now, the library.

“This is what I do for fun now,” he said.

Mike Loschiavo of Ambridge performed in front of an audience for the first time.

“We had to drag him in here,” said Jim Wisbon, a library advisory board member who helps organize the event. “He's never even been in front of a mic.”

Wisbon said he hopes the program will bring in not just more performers, but audience members as well.

“A lot of people will play just for themselves,” he said. “This is a clean, safe, friendly place for them to come perform.”

Most important, he said, is to just bring more people into the library.

“When people think “library,” they traditionally think “quiet,” he said. “We're more than just books.”

Wisbon said the board is looking to attract a variety of performers, and to host demonstrations from local blacksmiths and potters as well.

“It's evolving,” he said. “It's positive. It's a lot of fun.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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