Java & Jazz: Live entertainment flows from downtown coffee house, wine bar

The deep aroma of espresso hangs over the small crowd in the Downtown Escondido storefront, as Dan Naylor approaches a microphone positioned on a small stage near the entrance of the shop. 

Naylor, a popular figure around town who works for the city and moonlights as a sign spinner for the coffee shop - He's affectionately known around town as "Dan the Man" - has Cerebral Palsy. He pulls down the microphone and speaks with a slow drawl. 

"You wanna hear a joke?" he says. 

"I was hit by a car when I was younger and was in a six-month coma and I still wanted to be a stand-up comedian but was in a wheelchair," he continues. "So I said I would be a "sit down" comedian and be rolling with the jokes."

The crowd erupts with laughter.

This is the scene on Friday night at Kettle Coffee & Tea on Grand Avenue, where jokes might fly, spoken word might be uttered, or a song might be sung at the Kettle Open Mic Night, a fixture at the coffee house for the past seven years. 

A performer plays the accordion at a Kettle open mic night

Live entertainment - especially acoustic music - has been a crowd pleaser at several coffee shops, wine bars, and restaurants in Escondido, attracting guests who want to sip a cup of java or enjoy a glass of wine with the relaxing ambiance of Spanish guitar, or a joke told by Naylor.

"Kettle is about coffee, community, and care," Naylor said. "We get all original music, poetry, and stand-up comedy, and the crowd enjoys it, he said."

Thursday was originally the Open Mic Night day, but the date was changed when the Kettle changed owners last year. 

It took a while for the new date to take traction, but the past few open mics have been very well attended, Naylor said. 

The new Open Mic Night day ties in well with the festive atmosphere in downtown Escondido on Fridays between April and September, when downtown hosts Cruisin' Grand, billed as the "largest weekly car cruise west of the Mississippi."

"It's really fun," Naylor said. 

Escondido has a number of unique coffee houses, providing a break from the daily grind. Koffie, Cute Cakes, and Esco Gelato all bring a distinct flavor to the downtown area and Blue Mug Coffee & Tea fills your java fix on the city's northern edge on El Norte Parkway.

Musicians Jimmy & Enrique perform at Sip

For those looking for tunes and a drink with a little more oomph than a cup of coffee, just west of Kettle, visitors can enjoy sipping on locally produced wine and beers at Sip Wine & Beer, downtown's newest wine bar.

And every other week, patrons can sway to the guitar and drum beats of Latin duo Jimmy & Enrique, or be serenaded by the vocals of Jacob Acosta as he strums his acoustic guitar. 

"Our goal is to support the local wineries by carrying their wines, as well as offer live music to bring people in," said Cassandra Schaeg, Sip's CEO and founder. "I think it gives people an opportunity to experience a different vibe in addition to having good wine and accessibility of local wine, one thing that keeps people coming back is the events and the live music we showcase."

Sip, which just celebrated its fourth anniversary, is hosting live music acts Warren LaPlante on June 22 and Ruben DeAnda on June 28.

"People are saying we enjoy coming to Sip and are bringing our friends because we are the only wine bar and we're offering live entertainment that brings a different vibe to the downtown scene," Schaeg said. 

Escondido visitors looking to get away from the urban scene but who still want that fusion of music and imbibing can take a short jaunt to west Escondido or the picturesque San Pasqual Valley, where the wine and the music flow copiously.

Throw on your cowboy boots and bring your best dance moves every Friday at Cheval Winery in Hidden Hills for Country Wine (Line) Dancin' from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

On Fridays and Saturdays, Orfila Winery in San Pasqual Valley hosts Tunes on the Terrace, where patrons are welcome to dance, relax, and enjoy smooth jazz, blues, modern and more styles of music on the patio overlooking the vineyard.

And Hungry Hawk Vineyards (also in San Pasqual Valley) has a plethora of live music on its calendars on the weekends at its tasting room, such as the acoustic guitar/vocal duo Father & Son, which is slated to perform June 23. According to the bio, the father and son team performs "an electric mix of music from Cole Porter to Coldplay."

For more information about these and other events, check out the Visit Escondido calendar of events

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