Voices of the Bay

Roger and Donna Dubord Keep Folk Traditions Alive in Bristol

Their love of folk music and their church resulted in the founding of the Stone Church Coffeehouse ten years ago


For Roger Dubord of Bristol, the folk music of his youth ignited a lifelong appreciation for the acoustic sound. Ten years ago, he and his wife Donna, who are members of Bristol’s First Congregational Church UCC, discovered some fellow parishioners who also love folk music. An idea took shape that led the church to create Bristol’s Stone Church Coffeehouse, which is now celebrating its tenth season of showcasing folk, country, bluegrass, Celtic and traditional music.

Serving as co-directors since the beginning, Roger and Donna divide their responsibilities from bookings and contracts to overseeing the accounts and welcoming patrons on performance nights with the support of a group of dedicated officers and volunteers. A schedule of eight shows are produced September through May with a break in December. Performances are held in the DeWolf Room at the First Congregational Church UCC.

Married for 47 years, the Bristol couple began volunteering in youth sports when their two children were young. Among his many involvements, Roger is a past General Chairman of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee and still oversees the Fourth of July Committee’s Foot Races, an all ages event he began 30 years ago this year. Donna was one of the founders of the Rockwell School Parents Group and serves on the Trustees and Fundraising Committees for the First Congregational Church UCC.

January 28 will feature popular bluegrass band Twisted Pine, a winner of the 2014 Freshgrass band competition. To purchase tickets, call the Dubords at 401-253-4813 or visit their website.

Roger: What has always attracted me to folk music are the stories in the songs. The demographic of our audience is age 50 and up with some young people and even families attending. It’s ironic that most of our musicians are very young people who write and perform this style of music.

Donna: The musicians don’t just play song after song after song. They are storytellers and between the songs they will ask questions of the audience and share with them the meaning behind a song. At intermission the musicians mingle with the audience and people get to talk with them about their music and their instruments.

Roger: When I do the booking I don’t just think about the performer. I think about the show – how is my audience going to react to two hours of this music? When I do a split bill, how are the two sets of musicians going to interact? Four years ago we solved the reverberation and noise [problems] and outfitted the room with acoustic baffles. It has made a huge difference. In September, the day after the group Gathering Time played, I was looking at their Facebook page. They had posted, “Three standing ovations, two encores, zero empty seats, made for one happy trio.”

Donna: We offer a night out for people who don’t want to leave town. We have regulars, including groups who take tables, and we also get people who travel in to see their favorite group. It’s BYOB. People can bring a picnic supper or buy refreshments. We can fit 92 people comfortably around the tables. We like to make it a friendly, intimate experience.

Roger: Growing up in Bristol there are certain traditions you love and the only way for those traditions to continue is when it’s your turn you get involved or else the traditions are going to die. When our kids were playing little league, Donna was a team mother, and I was the league treasurer. When they aged out [of little league] I got involved with the Fourth of July Committee. We now want to put a structure in place so the Stone Church Coffeehouse continues. If you don’t get involved in the traditions you love, they won’t continue.