HOMEGROWN TALENT: Songwriters take the stage at the Ricks, kicking off two-part concert series

Local music act Two Jasons is comprised of Jason Rodgers, left, and Jason Irwin. The two have been playing together just for fun but recently decided to start playing to live audiences. The group will perform at the Ricks this weekend in Greenfield. Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Two local dads who have been friends since middle school will take the stage at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts for a songwriters’ showcase this weekend.

Jason Irwin and Jason Rogers — also known as Two Jasons — will perform a number of original songs during an acoustic set, to the delight of fans Saturday night.

Two other local acts — Keller & Cole and Caleb McCoach and Band — will also take the stage for the event, called Hoosier Artist Series, Vol. 1.

It’s the first of two concerts in the series to be held at the Ricks Centre this spring.

The second concert — Hoosier Artist Series, Vol. 2, a rock and roll concert featuring local artists — will take the stage April 9.

The series is sponsored by Organic Robot Designs, a screen printing business located just across the street 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 stylings of local artists.

“There’s so many talented local artists,” said Vetters, who is donating all of the music series’ proceeds to local charities.

Both halves of the Two Jasons are excited about performing in their hometown theater.

“Playing at the Ricks is a really cool opportunity for us. We’re excited for another opportunity for live music in Greenfield,” said Rogers.

Although the musical duo has played at a number of regional venues, they said there’s something special about playing in your hometown.

Both men are thrilled to see more live music concerts coming to Greenfield, like the concerts series that will take place at the new Depot Street Park this summer.

“With the amphitheater coming and with Ricks scheduling more events, there’s lots of places for live music here now,” said Rogers. “To actually showcase writers in this way where they’re sharing original music and giving them a platform is really great.”

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,” said Cole, who manages the Talitha Koum House in Greenfield and also works at The Landing, a gathering place for teens.

“Just with the kids I work with at The Landing, there is so much talent in Greenfield, but not really a place to execute that. I’m hoping that turns around,” said Cole, 37, who was born in Greenfield and graduated from Mt. Vernon High School.

Playing on her hometown stage is special, she said, despite having played at venues in Chicago, New York and Nashville, Tenn. She and her partner, Landon Keller, have also played a number of regional venues, including the Conner Prairie amphitheatre, the Vogue and The Murat, and will soon play at The Palladium in Carmel.

Cole said she and Keller, 40, who lives in Danville, are an acoustic duo who sometimes performs with a full band.

“We’re 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 sang together until he called her up on stage that day, “and we’ve been doing music together ever since,” she said.

Cole said they both sing, play guitar and write their own songs, often collaborating on new music.

They’ve written between 50 and 60 songs together, she said, but both have been solo artists for more than 20 years.

“I’ve written 200 songs myself,” said Cole, who started playing guitar and song writing as a teen.

She sees her music as a cathartic form of self expression.

“Our original songs are real gut-wrenching. They’re meant to get you in the feels,” she said. “We try to be as real and vulnerable as we can.”

The Two Jasons, both 44, also pour a lot of themselves into their song writing, which they typically do on their own before perfecting the songs together.

The pair recorded an album at Rogers’ house called Two Jasons, Vol. 1, which can be heard on streaming services like Spotify and iTunes. Both men say their sound leans toward country, but it has a bit more range.

While Irwin’s grandpa taught him to play guitar when he was a young kid, Rogers started teaching himself to play after college. He didn’t get serious about song writing until he started getting better at guitar over the last five years or so.

Rogers got the urge to get serious about his craft while sitting around a campfire in Irwin’s backyard, where Irwin and other friends would pass around a guitar and sing.

“I was always envious of his skills and realized it was something I wanted to do, too,” said Rogers. “I think that was a big part of why I started song writing.”

He and Irwin’s friendship dates back to their days at Mt. Vernon Middle School. The two 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.

“We barely have time to practice, but we play gigs whenever our wives say we can,” said Irwin, who was born and raised in McCordsville.

“We’ve been best friends forever, and (music) has become a vessel for our friendship, an excuse to get together and play music whenever we can.”

The duo has played 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 dudes with guitars singing songs,” Irwin said.

More information

A two-part concert series kicks off Saturday, March 12 at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts in Greenfield.

The Hoosier Music Series features all Hoosier musicians, most of whom are from Hancock County.

The series is sponsored by downtown Greenfield business Organic Robot Designs, which will donate 100% of proceeds to local charities.

Singer Songwriter Night starts 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, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9, benefiting The Landing in Greenfield.

Featured bands include Wezgotsta, Exotic Species, and Leycia Eclipse.

Cover charge for each concert is $10, or $5 with a valid school ID.

Information: facebook.com/events/376719957616539