Local singer-songwriter Brent Kirby models 10 x 3, the weekly singer-songwriter showcase he hosts at Brothers Lounge, after off-night jam sessions he would attend when he lived in Nashville just over a decade ago. One such event was called 12 on 12th, and it featured 12 bands playing the club 12th and Porter. Bands would play two tunes, and acts coming through town would sometimes sit in.
As its title implies, 10 x 3 features ten singer-songwriters playing three songs each. The restrictions: Two songs have to be original, and one can be a cover tune. Bands must sign up ahead of time at brentkirby.com
or email THE10X3@GMAIL.COM, and then Kirby gives them a specific time slot. The event has been going strong for four years at Brothers Lounge. Now, Kirby is slated to take the event to Musica in Akron where it’ll debut on Jan. 6. Kirby and Musica booking agent Jay Minkin have collaborated to make the Summit County version of the weekly event into a reality.
"Over the years [at Brothers Lounge], I have presented well over 1500 performers from Northeast Ohio, and regional and national touring artists," Kirby says. "The goal is to promote homegrown artists, networking and collaboration."
While the event is ostensibly a showcase for singer-songwriters, Kirby doesn't exclude artists that don't fit that exact mold.
“It’s important for everyone to feel accepted, and I try to create a welcoming stage for people to come and play,” he says. “The other night, we had a poet. He was a guy who works at Walgreens. He dropped off his poetry, and I did a poetry reading of his stuff. He then came in the bar and did his own reading. That’s the kind of stuff that 10 x 3 Encourages. I like the collaboration and spontaneity of things. I try to make it a show too because I think it’s important to make it into a show.”
A Wisconsin native, Kirby, who also fronts the alt-country act Brent Kirby and his Luck, leads a Gram Parsons tribute act, and plays in the local roots rock act the Jack Fords, has become the face of alt-country in Cleveland since moving to town a decade ago and issuing his local debut, The Mean Days
, in 2005. He's also part of the Ohio City Singers, the local group that plays original Christmas music during the holiday season. Kirby issued his latest solo album, Patience Worth
, just this year and he continues to work with the Cleveland Heights-based non-profit Roots of American Music to teach young kids the ins and outs of songwriting.
While he's most readily identified with local bar bands that play places like the Beachland and the Happy Dog, Kirby has tried to extend 10 x 3 to a broad range of local musicians. Come January, when 10 x 3 launches at Musica, he’ll host the Akron version of the series while Jason Meyers, a songwriter and host of WJCU’s NEO Rocks radio show will host the Cleveland 10 x 3 at Brothers. On the fourth Wednesday of the month, they’ll swap hosting duties with Kirby back in Cleveland and Meyers in Akron. Kirby says the plan is to create a bridge between Akron and Cleveland.
“I think there are a lot of great musicians in Akron who could come to Cleveland and great musicians from Cleveland who could come to Akron,” Kirby says. “There seems to be a separation scene-wise. I’m just trying to do the community part of playing music and trying to be cool to people and create something. Who knows what will come of it. I hope there’s a good reaction, and the Akron people show up to play.”
Both events will take place on Wednesday nights, something Kirby doesn’t foresee as becoming a conflict.
““It’s a day I can do, so it works," says Kirby. "I don’t think it’ll compete. I believe if there’s two 10 x 3s happening in two different cities on the same night, that’s a great thing. If someone wants to play the 10 x 3, I can give them the choice of playing Cleveland or Akron. I think I can get more people together just by looking at the numbers. Since I live in Cleveland, I've just made my life a bit more complicated, and I'll have a longer drive home at the end of the night. But I really want this to work.”