Tuesday night entertainment is often a casualty in the war of daily life. But for the choice few that put work and responsibility on hold and made it to Parlor City Pub, they were treated to the musical styling of a local blues legend: Bryce Janey.
Janey took the stage as the special guest for the Parlor City Jam – a regular Tuesday night jam session that provides local artists with a place to hone their craft in front of a live crowd.
Janey led off the night. His hands moved effortlessly up the neck of a weathered pine Fender Telecaster. He stepped towards the mic, and let out a deep,
“Mmmmm yeah yeahhhh.”
The Marion native has been playing shows across the country since he was 13, but recently found himself focusing on local gigs.
“Lately, just the economy and gas, it is just not that easy to travel,” he said, his sandy hair pulled tight in a ponytail. “And I am just getting to the point where it is harder. The older you get, the harder it is to go out and play for no money.”
But local venue managers, like Parlor City’s Steph Jelinek, are not complaining.
“He brings a lot of excitement,” she said. “He is well known, and people enjoy hearing him.”
Parlor City itself is just more than two years old, but the guts of the place would have you believe it has been a Cedar Rapids hotspot for half a century.
Every wall is plastered with old movie posters and signage. Hanging from the ceiling is a dark wooden sled. Barrels, boxes, and a red metal truck balanced on the rough slats.
And while Parlor City’s decor is eclectic and abundant, it makes for an inviting and casual setting, one that Jelinek hopes the music reflects.
“It really is just a relaxed atmosphere. We have people who sit down with just a drink and food and enjoy the show, or maybe get up and dance a bit. It is really welcoming and all inclusive,” she said.
Parlor City is situated in the New Bohemia district, directly across the street from two other local music venues competing for business. Jelinek’s commitment to getting as many people to their shows as possible has kept her from charging cover.
“We just want [music] to be available to everybody,” she said. “We are excited about the artists we are bringing in, and don’t want a five dollar charge at the door to be a deterrent.”
And that sociable vibe was out in full force last night.
By 10 p.m., Janey was jamming with local artists, stepping aside to let them lay down soulful solos on the guitar and keyboard.
He was there to entertain, but also to enjoy the local musicians that have been a part of his life.
“Fortunately we have a good music scene around here. Always the local clubs and blues society, they have been pretty good with keeping stuff going,” he said before taking the stage for the first time that night.
While Janey said he hopes his upcoming album will launch a national tour, he summed up why he will always come back to play local shows in three words.
“Home is home.”