This is an article on Godfrey’s from the son of my former drummer, Jeff Biro. Zack’s going to Lehigh now, and he captures some of my delusions about Lehigh students coming down to Godfrey’s.
Growing Up Godfrey
By: Zack Biro
March 1st, 2009
Since I’ve grown up in Bethlehem, I’ve come to understand that Lehigh University has always been on the back burner as far as the city is concerned. Now that I go to school at Lehigh, I can fully appreciate how disconnected it is from the city of Bethlehem. Over the years, it seems that the city and the university are growing as separate entities, but this was not always the intention. Some places in Bethlehem, especially on the south side, were designed to be integrated into Lehigh life. Godfrey Daniels is a prime example of a place that was designed for Lehigh students to interact with the community.
Godfrey Daniels was first opened in 1976 by local folk musician Dave Fry. Fry attended Lehigh University and graduated in the class of 1973. He earned a degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy, but I think it’s fair to say that his real passion is music. Fry was a member of several musical groups over the years including the Shimersville Sheiks, Steppin’ Out!, and Out on a Limb. Among his many accomplishments as a musician, one of the crown jewels of his career has to be the founding of Godfrey Daniels. With the help of Cindy Dinsmore, Dave Fry opened Godfrey Daniels in an old donut shop on Fourth Street on Bethlehem’s south side.
The name originates from the comedian W.C. Fields. Fields would say, “Godfrey Daniels!” instead of using expletives in his shows. Fry used this phrase from Fields as the name for his listening club. Fry created this 100-seat club and coffee shop with the intention that it would gain popularity and be frequently visited by Lehigh students. Unfortunately, Godfrey Daniels has joined the ranks of the many great spots in Bethlehem that have been successfully neglected and ignored by Lehigh students over the years. Even though Godfrey Daniels is not as popular among Lehigh students as Fry intended, the music club has enjoyed great success in other circles.
Over the years, Godfrey Daniels has grown enormously in popularity on the international folk music circuit. What initially started out as a small folk music listening club has grown into a place frequented by some of the most well known folk music artists. Initially, Godfrey Daniels relied heavily on friends and family to spread the word. While it still relies greatly on its 250 volunteers, it has achieved fame well outside the bounds of Bethlehem’s south side.
Going to Godfrey Daniels and listening to the various types of music they play host to is nothing short of an extraordinary experience. The warm and welcoming environment found there, combined with the unique music, surely creates a place the likes of which can hardly be found elsewhere. As great as Godfrey Daniels is, it’s unfortunate that a place intended to integrate Lehigh students into the Bethlehem community never caught on. Hopefully, in the future, Lehigh students will discover not only the great music and atmosphere that can be found at Godfrey Daniels but also the other venues that Bethlehem has to offer. Many Lehigh students are missing out on a great community that is right outside their door.
Godfrey Daniels is always looking for new visitors and volunteers. Visit their website at www.godfreydaniels.org or give them a call at 610-867-2390 for their schedule of events.