Coffee house makes events accessible to all
Journal staff writer
     People with disabilities enjoy attending cultural events as much as anyone else, but for many, the hassles of getting to a show outweigh the pleasures.  But accessible entertainment for the disabled is available tonight at Inwood House, a residential community for the disabled in Wheaton. Residents have opened a coffee house that operates the first Friday of each month.    Musician Larry Cline and friends will warm up the Inwood Coffee House audience at 8 p.m. His performance will be followed by the house band Profusion, a fresh brew of professional and amateur talent that plays through 10 p.m.
    According to Lesley Choy - founding director of the Unidentified Flying Opera Company in Silver Spring, which has served people with special needs through the arts since 1995 - the concept of a premier coffee house with world-class entertainment was discussed by several people in the community.   ``I'm sick and tired of people with challenges getting the dregs," Choy said. She said she believes the coffee house can achieve ``total integration of people with challenges and people without challenges.''
    On separate occasions, she said, professional musicians who have entertained Inwood residents suggested the place would make a great coffee house.   ``Everybody had the same idea," Choy said. ``It was just meant to happen." The coffee house, at 10921 Inwood Ave., opened in November to a small crowd of about 50 people. Tonight is their second night in business.
    Choy said the lineup will open with a featured act, followed by a blend of professional musicians who comprise the house band. The band also provides backup to amateurs invited to perform at an open microphone session.   ``The band seems to be forming into a rowdy contingent of really good musicians," Choy said. Although the makeup of Profusion varies each month, band members rehearse together for a performance that transcends a mere jam session, she said.  ``We have wonderful, imaginative performances," Choy said. Tonight's show is worth the $5 cover charge, she said, just to hear musician Art Harrison play the Theremin, an electronic synthesizer that sounds like a musical saw and conjures memories of the original theme of the television show ``Star Trek." When played, she said the Theremin ``looks like magic because you're waving your hands over a flat box and music is magically produced."
    Also, talented Inwood residents are expected to perform tonight during open mike, including ``diva" Phyllis Schulman, 62, whose musical stylings are reminiscent of Jimmy Durante.   Her repertoire includes classic standards ``A Day in the Life of a Fool" and ``Bye, Bye Blackbird."
    Choy said the Inwood Coffee House offers an unforgettable experience for anyone who participates as a performer or audience member.   ``It's a wonderful way to feel connected to all people," she said.
    The coffee house is open to the public at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 or free for Inwood House residents. Cover charge includes coffee and hot tea. Snacks are sold for a small charge.
    The Inwood House is east of Westfield Shoppingtown, formerly Wheaton Plaza mall, at the corner of University Boulevard and Inwood Avenue between Georgia and Arcola avenues. Call (301) 649-6595 or visit
    The M Street Brass Quintet is the featured act in February.
Back in the day ...
Children of the new millennium can see how their peers in the 1800s entertained themselves by spending a ``Winter Pastimes Afternoon" from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the historic Beall-Dawson House in Rockville.
    Activities include making a Jacob's Ladder toy and exploring other 19th-century pastimes, such a looking through a ``stereopticon," the precursor to a hand-held View Master slide show.
    Between noon and 3:30 p.m. Sunday is the last chance to experience the Beall-Dawson House holiday candlelight tour and to see an exhibit on local sports history.
    A display through Jan. 31 - titled ``Montgomery County in the Face of Adversity" - recounts the experiences of local residents when the nation was at war, through photographs and documents from the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I and World War II.
    Admission is $3. Call (301) 762-1492 or visit