GREENFIELD — Two local dads who have been friends since college will take the stage at the HJ Ricks Center for the Arts for a songwriter showcase this weekend.
Jason Irwin and Jason Rogers – also known as the Two Jasons – will perform several original songs during an acoustic set, much to the delight of fans on Saturday night.
Two other local artists – Keller & Cole and Caleb McCoach and Band – will also take the stage for the event, called Hoosier Artist Series, Vol. 1.
This is the first of two concerts in the series to be held at the Ricks Center this spring.
The Second Concert — Hoosier Artist Series, Vol. 2, a rock and roll concert featuring local artists — will take place on April 9.
The series is sponsored by Organic Robot Designs, a screen printing company located directly across from the historic theater.
Owner Charlie Vetters thought sponsoring the concert series would be a great way to bring people to downtown Greenfield while celebrating the musical styles of local artists.
“There are so many talented local artists,” said Vetters, who donates all proceeds from the musical series to local charities.
Both halves of The Two Jasons are excited to perform in their hometown theater.
“Playing the Ricks is a really cool opportunity for us. We’re excited for another opportunity for live music in Greenfield,” Rogers said.
Although the musical duo played in several regional venues, they said there was something special playing in your hometown.
Both men are excited to see more live music concerts coming to Greenfield, such as the concert series taking place at the new Depot Street Park this summer.
“With the amphitheater coming in and Ricks scheduling more events, there are plenty of places for live music here now,” Rogers said. “To actually showcase writers in this way where they share original music and give them a platform is really awesome.”
Fellow musician Kara Cole of Keller & Cole agrees.
“When Charlie approached us about this concert series, I thought it was such a great idea. We need more local music venues,” Cole, who runs the Talitha Koum House, told Greenfield and also works at The Landing, a gathering place for teenagers.
“Just with the kids I work with at The Landing, there’s so much talent in Greenfield, but not really a place to execute it. Hopefully that changes,” said Greenfield-born Cole, 37. and graduated from Mt. Vernon High School.
Performing on her hometown stage is special, she said, although she has performed at venues in Chicago, New York and Nashville, Tennessee. She and her partner, Landon Keller, have also performed at several regional venues, including the Conner Prairie Amphitheatre, Vogue and The Murat, and will soon perform at the Palladium in Carmel.
Cole said she and Keller, 40, who lives in Danville, are an acoustic duo who sometimes perform with a full band.
“We are best friends. We’ve known each other in the music community for years,” she said of Cole, who years ago invited Keller to headline a music festival she ran for The Landing.
The two had never sung together until he called her on stage that day, “and we’ve been making music together ever since,” she said.
Cole said they sing, play guitar and write their own songs, often collaborating on new music.
They wrote between 50 and 60 songs together, she says, but both have been solo artists for more than 20 years.
“I’ve written 200 songs myself,” said Cole, who started playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager.
She sees her music as a cathartic form of self-expression.
“Our original songs are really heartbreaking. They’re meant to get you in the mood,” she said. “We try to be as real and vulnerable as possible.”
The Two Jasons, both 44, also devote a lot of themselves to writing their songs, which they usually do on their own before perfecting the songs together.
The couple recorded an album at Rogers titled Two Jasons, Vol. 1, which can be heard on streaming services like Spotify and iTunes. Both men say their sound leans towards country, but it has a bit more range.
While Irwin’s grandfather taught him to play the guitar when he was young, Rogers started learning to play after college. He didn’t take songwriting seriously until he started improving on the guitar over the past five years or so.
Rogers felt like taking his craft seriously as he sat around a campfire in Irwin’s backyard, where Irwin and other friends passed around a guitar and sang.
“I was always jealous of his skills and realized that was something I wanted to do too,” Rogers said. “I think that’s a big part of why I started writing songs.”
He and Irwin’s friendship dates back to their days at Mt. Vernon Middle School. Both graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1995 and are now raising families on the outskirts of Greenfield.
Rogers, who lives in Fortville, has three young sons, while Irwin, who lives on the fast east side of Greenfield, has three teenage daughters.
The two get together as often as they can to play a few songs and sing along.
“We barely have time to practice, but we play gigs whenever our wives say so,” said Irwin, who was born and raised in McCordsville.
“We’ve been best friends forever, and (music) has become a vehicle for our friendship, an excuse to get together and play music whenever we can.”
The duo performed at local venues like Griggsby’s in Greenfield and the Melody Inn in Indianapolis, as well as a number of local music festivals, always playing acoustic sets.
“We’re just two guys with guitars singing songs,” Irwin said.
A two-part concert series will begin Saturday, March 12 at the HJ Ricks Center for the Arts in Greenfield.
The Hoosier Music Series features all Hoosier musicians, most of whom hail from Hancock County.
The series is sponsored by Organic Robot Designs, a company in downtown Greenfield, who will donate 100% of profits to local charities.
Singer Songwriter Night kicks off at 7 p.m. this Saturday, benefiting the Talitha Koum Women’s Recovery House in Greenfield.
Featured bands include Keller & Cole, Caleb McCoach and Band and The Two Jasons.
The second concert in the series, Rock’n’Roll Night, begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 to benefit The Landing in Greenfield.
Bands featured include Wezgotsta, Exotic Species and Leycia Eclipse.
Entrance fees for each concert are $10 or $5 with a valid school ID.