Putting on shows is nothing new to Sunday Gravy Show founders Traci Jackson and husband Wammo. Both grew up in musical households and have years of experience staging musical events: Wammo as a performer, Traci as presenter.
Wammo has been performing nationally and internationally for over 25 years both on his own as a poet and musician and as a lead member of The Asylum Street Spankers. Traci was a founder of Green Mannequin Productions which staged house concerts at her former home in Highland Park and larger performances in non-traditional venues around Pittsburgh. She also co-founded FLUX, a highly successful traveling cultural event that took place in transitional spaces all over Pittsburgh. (Green Mannequin’s Backporch Ballroom Series was among Sprout’s early backed projects.)
The Sunday Gravy Show originated four years ago in Austin, Texas. Why the name?
“A Sunday Gravy is a once-a-week event in Italian culture where friends and family join together for a great meal,” says Wammo. “It fit perfectly, except for the fact that neither of us is Italian… We’re calling the show Sunday Gravy because that’s what we want the show to feel like: a gathering of friends and family where everyone eats well, drinks well, stories are told, songs are sung and everyone leaves happy.”
Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Ceci, Traci was looking to get back into promoting shows as she had done back in Pittsburgh for much of the previous decade. Wammo was looking to play more music. So they started hosting musicians at friends houses around Austin.
With Wammo emceeing, interviewing, and collaborating with each musician, the show quickly established itself as something different than the typical house concert. The semi-accidental format drew on Wammo’s talents as front-man, interviewer, soloist, and storyteller and created a new kind of friendly, interactive event for show-goers and performers alike.
The series went on hiatus when Traci and Wammo moved back to Pittsburgh two years ago, but is back up and running thanks in part to a Sprout grant and a partnership with Calliope, The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society. The newly revamped, revived version is looking to build on and formalize all the strengths developed when the series was in Austin.
While the primary focus of the series is on presenting versatile, nationally touring musicians many of whom don’t typically appear solo, other key details figure prominently into the show. First, there is a commitment to finding unique homes that show off the incredible housing stock throughout the city as well as the creative effort Pittsburghers put into reviving, maintaining and making those places their own. The houses aren’t just convenient boxes for the show. They impact the performance in many subtle ways that can’t be duplicated in a formal venue setting. Procuring refreshments is also done intentionally. The series is looking to highlight unique food and/or drink from neighboring locales for each event and will be developing other ways to showcase each specific neighborhood each time out. The intent is not to just put on a one-time show, but a unique cultural experience that could only happen in that particular spot in that particular time.
The series kicks off Sunday, November 24th at 4pm featuring Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering and Thievery Corporation at a former dry goods store in Lower Lawrenceville. Get tickets on Calliope’s website before they sell out!