Let’s Jam Out

Amanda Lucas and Audrey Cecil of Bridge 19.

How Actors Theatre’s Louisville Sessions united the community through music and is transforming into a day-long music festival


By Emily Renco
Photos courtesy of Actors Theatre of Louisville


During the beginning of the pandemic, Actors Theatre’s mission was to find a way to keep creating the things they love and continue sharing their talent with the community. Known for the incredible plays they perform every year and their interactive audiences, Actors felt they needed to find a way to continue creating and connecting with their audiences, even if remotely. We spoke with the Artistic Producer for Actors Theatre, Emily Tarquin, about how their vision came to life through the form of music. Tarquin described it as, “Even though music might not be what first comes to mind when thinking about traditional theater, it easily is another form of storytelling. Louisville is very strongly a community that tells its stories and experiences through many ways, including songwriting.”

Chanson Calhoun.

After many conversations and support from the Louisville Metro Government, the team at Actors Theatre came up with the idea of Louisville Sessions: a series of 10 musicians throughout Kentucky who were commissioned to create a song of the moment and host an interview to share with a virtual audience. Songs created showcased a wide variety of topics, including Chanson Calhoun’s song titled “Love Yourself” which is both a message to herself and another significant person in her life in recognition that, in a relationship, it’s important that both people love themselves first. The team at Actors Theatre chose the first selection of artists they wanted to include and then continued the list through word of mouth. Since the first session in September 2020, participating artists included Tez of 2Deep, Chanson Calhoun, Rob Lee and Kiana & the Sun Kings to name a few. 

What made each artist unique is that their process of creating their song was different and personalized. Tarquin specifically mentioned the video from the band Bridge 19, in which viewers are only able to see the musicians’ feet as they hike through the woods and the hike is timed to come together in the end. The Sessions saw anywhere from 30 to 50 people watching live and would often generate thousands of views on Actors’ website. 

Phillip Bullock, Fiona Palensky and Harris Boyer of Kiana and The Sun Kings.

As for the “Full Jam” that will take place the weekend of August 26, attendees can expect artists performing throughout the day as well as food trucks, vendors and more. It will be held at the Paul Owen Production Studio, a place they have previously not held events in before, in honor of Owen’s legacy. 

Kiana Del, Will Breckinridge, Zach Longoria and Pinky Liberachi of Unusual Heat.

Tickets will be available for purchase on the Actors Theatre website. In hopes of making the Louisville Sessions and the Full Jam extend beyond 2020-2021, Tarquin and others at Actors Theatre believe that, “There’s a lot of excitement and encouragement about continuing and learning more about opportunities to find more artists and incorporate in-person, like pop-ups around Louisville or another larger concert in the future.” Stay tuned to see what else Actors Theatre has in store for the Louisville community and beyond.

Sasha Renee.

Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202

Rob Lee.