Finding Fun at the Java Barn | St. Lawrence University

Finding Fun at the Java Barn

Kate Angus
2020

At the end of one of my first weeks on campus, my friend convinced me to go to the Java Barn. Before I had a chance to change my mind or even ask what Java was, I was dragged across campus to an unassuming building with nothing but a neon sign reading “Java Barn” in psychedelic letters marking the entrance. Soon, I was whisked through the dark front entrance into the glowing venue, funk music pulsing through the dancing crowd, and a breathless “Woah” escaped my lips, in awe of the mystical, magical, glittering Java Barn. 

So, what is this strange barn, presumably named after coffee beans, you ask? It’s only the premiere student-run live-music venue in St. Lawrence County! Opened in the '80s as a coffee-shop with mellow folk shows, the Java Barn is one of the only fully-functional concert venue that is completely run and operated by college students in the country. 

Almost every week, the members of the Java Theme House work day and night to bring live music to campus, completely free for students. While it started as a folk venue, Java now brings funk, jam, reggae, hip-hop, indie, and rock bands. Some notable past performers have been Dave Matthews, Blues Traveller, and Grace Potter! Granted, these artists visited campus before they reached the level of fame they have now, but it’s still a pretty great list, is it not? 

Since it’s free and it’s right on campus, Java quickly became, and remains, one of my favorite things to do to relax, have fun, and dance with my friends. I grew up around music and love to dance, so without fail, I look forward to going to Java week after week.  

A question I often get on tours is, “What is there to even do up here?” Usually, they ask this question with a tone of apprehension or cynicism, believing that so small a campus in so rural an area could never have anything fun to do. 

I get it. I had similar worries when I first drove up to campus to visit as an accepted student, and even as I arrived to move in as a first-year. But, my response to this question is always the same: we don’t search for fun, the fun comes to us. And the Java Barn is a perfect example of that. Rain or shine, and even in the dead of winter, snow falling hard, students still come out to the Java Barn week after week to enjoy live music and dance with their friends. 

Whenever I get that apprehensive question, I remind students to keep an eye out for all of the exciting opportunities for fun on campus and to never forget to bring their dancing shoes.