By SHANISE HARRIS
With his guitar tucked away in a black case on the ground by his side, Jason Johnson sat alone on a bench as he cautiously watched the sky. The threat of rain was present, so much so that Emory Point’s Live and Local Showcase had to be moved from outside in the park to indoors at Tin Lizzy’s, a restaurant located in the development’s shopping district. To make matters even worse and uncertain, more than half of the scheduled performers were unable to attend the showcase. This meant the lineup of musicians had to be cut from five to two.
“Three of the people that were supposed to perform ended up cancelling I guess so now Kara, the girl who’s hosting the event, has to perform now so it’ll be three of us,” Johnson said. “It sucks they couldn’t make it, but I guess the bright side is we’ll all get to play a little longer now.”
The fourth week of the six-week showcase was off to a rocky start, but those who were in attendance were still determined to salvage the evening.
The showcase, the first of its kind for the newly developed Emory area, hosts five local artists each week. Each set is 25 minutes long, and all artists must perform a “stripped down” and acoustic version of their songs. At the end of the night, audience members are able to vote for the artist who they felt gave the best performance. At the finale showcase, each winner from the previous five weeks will compete against each other. For this week in particular, there would only be two artists to choose from.
No stranger to the local music scene in Atlanta, Johnson plays at various bars and venues across the city. From Star Bar to Flatiron, if there’s an open microphone somewhere in the city, there’s a good chance Jason Johnson has played it at least once. Despite such an extensive resume, Live and Local was a new experience for him.
“Kara ended up messaging me on Facebook about it a few days ago, and I just said sure why not,” Johnson said. “That was my first time hearing about Live and Local.”
After about 30 minutes of setting up the stage, fine-tuning her guitar, and making sure the sound was loud enough to be heard throughout the restaurant, the night began with Kara Claudy. As the host of the showcase, Claudy was not eligible for voting and only performed to take the place of the artists that could not make it. Her set included several cover songs including Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” and OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.”
Claudy explained how she was approached by Megan Jurkovic, the senior property manager for Emory point, and was asked to perform at the event.
“She asked me to collaborate with her on a way to bring local music to Emory Point,” Claudy said.
Together, the two created Live and Local and have taken a very do-it-yourself approach to putting the event together.
“I wish I could take credit for the originality of the voting aspect,” said Claudy. “I actually got the idea from other showcases I’ve played outside of the perimeter and I wanted to be able to bring something like that back into the city.”
Music has been a part of Claudy’s life since she was a child. At 10 years old, she began to play the guitar, and she was writing her own music by 14. Throughout her childhood, she played wherever she was able to, including the church she and her family attended. No stranger to open microphones and artist showcases, Claudy has a passion for not only her own music but also the city’s local music scene as a whole.
“There have been some difficulties trying to get this thing up and running,” she said. “It’s been hard trying to nail down the right location within Emory Point and negotiating with the tenants has also been pretty tough. Most places around here don’t want you to play too loudly or too late. Audience turnout has been a little up and down, but overall I’m very pleased with how things have been going so far.
After Claudy concluded her set, it was Jason Johnson’s turn to take the stage.
Johnson’s set contained all original material and halfway through his set, Johnson’s childhood friend, Charity McDaniels, came on stage to perform a couple of songs with him.
By this point in the evening, the bar area where the stage was located had finally filled up. Sharon Ross and Keith Hunter were two of the patrons who came to Tin Lizzy’s for a date night. They were pleasantly surprised when they realized there would also be live entertainment.
“We had no idea about this,” Hunter said.
As an Atlanta native, Hunter has seen many local artists over the years while they were still starting out including Kings of Leon and Childish Gambino. Hunter and Ross had never been to Emory Point or any of the other Tin Lizzy’s locations before and were looking to try something new for the evening.
“She just suggested that we should finally try this place, and this location was the closest to us so that’s why we’re here,” said Hunter.
To conclude the evening, Alex Young performed an acoustic set on behalf of his band, Bridges. Similar to Claudy, his set had a couple of cover songs as well, including Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” and Lorde’s “Royals.”
Young received the largest amount of crowd participation out of the three artists
After all of the ballots had been returned to Claudy, she counted them up and announced Young as the winner for the evening.
“I voted for him because he sounded good, and because he looked like he was having the most fun while he played,” Ross said.