Creative Spaces: At Home with the Parker Urban Band

Jazz-Small

EVENT: Parker Urban Band at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival
WHEN: Friday, May 26 from 8:30 to 9:30pm
WHERE: Jacksonville Landing Breezin’ Stage
MORE INFORMATION: jacksonvillejazzfest.com 

In the same room where the Parkerurban family watches television, the Parker Urban Band rehearses for the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. With Myrna Stallworth (vocals), Rick Alessi (keys), Chris Poland (saxophone), James Holloway (drums), John Mortensen (bass), and Krishna Achath (percussion), the Parkerurbans—John (guitar and vocals) and his wife, Juanita (vocals)—make up the Parker Urban Band. It’s no easy task to form an eight-piece act, especially in an enormous city like Jacksonville. Yet the Parker Urban Band manages to practice at least once a week, and more often when they’re preparing for a gig. In the living room, where the band has rehearsed since they formed in 2012, the audience consists of a sofa, a coffee table, and a wall of family photos.

Watching the band rehearse, it’s clear that they all get along. The setting of the home is not only pragmatic from financial and familial standpoints. “Sometimes at practice, I may have to run off and cook dinner or change a diaper,” says Juanita. But the band agrees that practicing in the Parkerurban home promotes a positive feeling. “It’s good vibes in here,” says John. “And the neighbors are cool,” adds Juanita. “They don’t complain. Actually, they compliment our music.”

With eight different perspectives and backgrounds, various musical influences bubble up in the band’s performance, from strains of Fela Kuti to The Postal Service. Parker Urban Band’s songs are dynamic, with quick changes and leaps between genres. According to Juanita, the band is “writing new material all the time.” When I visit their home, she and Myrna, fellow backup vocalist, step into the next room to develop lyrics for a brand new song. “We want to have at least 50 percent new material the Jazz Festival,” says John.

The Parkerurbans are parents to 13-year-old and nine-month-old sons. Band practice booms, and over a wailing saxophone, I can hear the baby cry from his room. Growing up in a house filled with music, I presume the baby’s fussing comes from a desire to join in. Give him a few years, and he’ll replace his rattle with a tambourine.

The Parker Urban Band takes the Jacksonville Jazz Festival stage on Friday, May 26 at 8:30pm at the Jacksonville Landing’s Breezin’ Stage. For more information on the Parker Urban Band, visit parkerurbanband.com.

About Hurley Winkler

october, 2021

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