A retirement-age couple buy a quaint music club and move to rural Virginia only to discover that, until their former house sells, they'll be living in a campground trailer while running the club.
It's not the latest quirky HBO series pitched as “Waitress” meets “Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore” — this is everyday life for Moya and Truman Parmele, transplants from Reston who recently purchased Ashland Coffee & Tea.
The respected folkie venue at 100 N. Railroad Ave. offers not only a window view of the train running through Ashland, but also the opportunity to enjoy a meal and perhaps a fat bottle of Tusker beer from Kenya, supposedly Hemingway's favorite suds.
Moya Parmele, a retired computer security engineer, and her husband, a government contractor, are longtime music fans who'd been holding their own concerts, the Truman shows, at a small restaurant in Herndon. She says they often traveled to see similar acts at Ashland Coffee & Tea. When they heard it was for sale, the couple pounced.
“We want to keep everything pretty much the way it is,” Moya Parmele says. She notes that the 150-seat club is known among East Coast musicians for its sound and the high quality of acts it books.
“One of my favorite performers, Fred Eaglesmith, plays his train songs here and times them for when the train runs by,” she says.
Former co-owners Jim and Mary Leffler opened the cozy neighborhood venue in 1996 and recently left a notice wishing the “lovely couple” their best.
In terms of music, Parmele says they'll bring “a little different flavor” because they are big fans of Texas music, in particular — which means trying groups that don't frequent the East Coast, such as Sisters Morales and Larry Joe Taylor.
Kay Landry, also a former co-owner of the venue, will remain as a promoter at the club. Landry says the club recently had been backing away from shows because of the economy, but the Parmeles are likely to increase bookings.
“Truman and Moya bring with them a dedication to continuing a good music venue and a community gathering place,” Landry says. “They're going to be hands-on owner-operators. … and they have the musical knowledge to really expand things.”
Because their Reston house has yet to sell, the Parmeles have temporarily parked their RV in the nearby Americamps campground while waiting for the market to improve.
For them, a lot of the reasoning behind the move came down to intuition. “We like the spirit of the town, it has a different, small-town, friendly feel,” Parmele says. “Everyone has been so welcoming.” S