Baton Rouge musicians Clay Parker and Jodi James will perform at the Hammond Regional Arts Center on July 27.
Hammond, LA, April 20, 2018 – The Hammond Regional Arts Center is pleased to announce the launch of its original listening room series, “Playing the Staircase.” This exciting new concept to Hammond, Louisiana will see the Hammond Regional Arts Center transform into an intimate listening room for original, acoustic music designed to expand the Arts Center’s mission into the audio arts.
“Playing the Staircase” will feature local and regional musicians playing on the landing of the HRAC staircase and give audiences an intimate listening room to enjoy original lyrics and music. Each session of “Playing the Staircase” will occur the last Friday of the month with musicians performing from 6-8 p.m. These events are B.Y.O.B.
Hammond songwriter and musician Jess Kerber will open the “Playing the Staircase” Series on June 29.
The HRAC is pleased to announce the first round of dates for “Playing the Staircase” shows: Jess Kerber (June 29), Clay Parker and Jodi James (July 27), Ameal Cameron (August 31), Denton Hatcher and Kristen Foster (September 28), Peter Simon (October 26), and Bill Robinson (November 30). Admission to each listening room is $5, and the entirety of the cover will go to the musicians.
The HRAC has had a long history of promoting and presenting original art, theatre, and storytelling. HRAC Executive Director Maureen Joyce is pleased to add original music and songwriting to that impressive list. She believes this will allow the Arts Center to be more versatile and open the door to new opportunities.
Local songwriter Ameal Cameron.
“Similar to the visual journey an artist takes us on, the musical journey, when we are truly present and listening takes us to those shared, connected memories and experiences that speak deeply into our joy, being and greater humanity,” Joyce said.
HRAC Media Coordinator Tara Bennett agrees. “The City of Hammond needs outlets for original, live music. People don’t just watch bands – they share an experience, and it’s our job to create the best possible environment to let such experiences happen. Our listening series is our attempt at doing just that.”
To have a taste of what “Playing the Staircase” will offer, visit the HRAC website at hammondarts.org/playing-the-staircase to listen to samples of music from the scheduled artists.
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ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
Jess Kerber Biography (Show on June 29)
Jess Kerber is a singer/songwriter taking influences from the 60s/70s era of folk. She has played at multiple local events and venues including the Three Rivers Art Festival in Covington, LA and The Ghost Light Theater, located in Hammond. This past summer, Jess was chosen to play at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston as part of the Top Ten Singer/Songwriter Showcase at Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program. With both parents being musicians, from an early age she was exposed to artists such as Joni Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones. Born in New Orleans, Jess has lived in Hammond for most of her life and will soon be attending Berklee College of Music on a three-quarter scholarship in the Fall of 2018.
Clay Parker and Jodi James Biography (Show on July 27)
Clay Parker and Jodi James are an acoustic duo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The pair’s use of dense harmony-singing and subtle musical arrangements indelibly binds them to the tradition of singer-songwriters and positions them well in the folk roots and Americana strains of country music.
As solo performers, both Clay Parker and Jodi James have long been staples in the burgeoning capital area songwriter scene. With Parker’s releases “The Wind and The Warble” (2011), “Any Old Time” (2013), and “Queen City Blues” (2017), there surfaces a home-spun array of familiar melodies, blues, and folk-style picking matched with phrase turning poetics and old-timey wit. James’ recordings “This Fire” (2009), “Far Between and Fleeting” (2012), and “Things I Leave Behind” (2015) are a deep and weighted collection of personal stories, vulnerable feelings, hopeful beginnings, and tragic endings – sometimes set against a quiet, breathy guitar – sometimes joined with the whole force of rock and roll.
In late 2014, Parker and James began writing together and hit a prolific stride that yielded about a dozen songs in just a couple of weeks. “When we started arranging and singing these songs,” says Clay, “there was an immediate appreciation for how easily everything sort of melted together.” Already being enamored with the old, family-style way of singing, it became clear that they should embrace these duet songs in the purest sense of the word. Jodi remarks, “There wasn’t ever a lead or background vocal – it just became one thing. We began experimenting with that idea a lot.”
The duo released a self-titled EP in December 2015 to great local and international acclaim. Among the reviews, John Apice of No Depression wrote: “This is an album that will need to be listened to and not just played in the background. It has to marinate in your musical soul–It is for select tastes and for discriminating ears. It will make an impression…it will.” Similarly, Rob Dickens of Australia’s Addicted To Noise commented: “Clay Parker and Jodi James have put together a gentle, loving and alluring collection, all songs both sincere and sublime.”
Parker and James have since been tirelessly touring the U. S. in support of the EP. Just in the last year they have played cafes, theaters, house shows, pubs, etc. in 28 states and show no signs of stopping. “It’s a fast way of living trying to do something so slow,” Parker snarks. “We’ve always [independently and together] been interested in operating at a slow and steady pace. We want the stuff we make to last a while.” James confers, “We’re not the kind of people who live and rely on social media and such. But we are constantly working and building and framing what we do… and driving.” Independently and as a duo, Clay Parker and Jodi James have shared stages with the likes of John Fullbright, Slaid Cleaves, Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson, Chris Hillman, John Moreland, Carlene Carter, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Robert Ellis, Jimmy Webb, and many more. They also played a musical role in the upcoming Ethan Hawke film Blaze, a glaring look into the life of the late singer-songwriter Blaze Foley.
On the horizon, the pair are planning an early 2018 full-length album release. Clay notes, “We’re looking forward to putting out these songs that have resided on our live setlists for quite a while now. And we’ve got some of our favorite Baton Rouge musicians helping us fill out some of the sonic spaces.” Jodi continues the thought, “We are really proud of our music scene down here in Baton Rouge – some of the best songs here – and we feel fortunate to take a little piece of that with us everywhere we go.”
The Hammond Regional Arts Center (HRAC) supports, promotes, and coordinates visual, performing, and literary arts in Tangipahoa Parish and surrounding parishes. Our primary mission is to enrich lives through quality arts education, develop an appreciation of the arts within individuals, and introduce the public to professional exhibitions, performances and literature.
The Hammond Regional Arts Center is supported in part by a Decentralized Arts Funding Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge in cooperation with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Louisiana State Arts Council.