For someone as soft-spoken as North Carolina-based songwriter Darren Jessee, it might come as a surprise to learn that he has a gold record (in storage somewhere), a platinum record ("I never called them to get it"), and was part of a recent Grammy win ("someone told me they would mail me a certificate if I wanted…"). For years, though, he's managed that almost impossible feat of remaining both ubiquitous and out of the spotlight at once.
Since 2006, he's released four records under the name Hotel Lights, all while working as a drummer for a series of wildly acclaimed acts. He played drums for Sharon Van Etten in support of her celebrated 2014 release Are We There, and since 2016, he's been a member of the Durham-based band Hiss Golden Messenger, performing most recently on their 2017 Merge release Hallelujah Anyhow. In 2017 he contributed to The War on Drugs' A Deeper Understanding, which won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. Before any of that, Jessee made his name as a member of the band Ben Folds Five, for which he co-wrote their biggest hit, "Brick."
"I always felt like I needed to have a band," Jessee says. "There's something about being with a group of people that gives you confidence. But secretly I wanted to have the courage to be a solo troubadour."
With his new record, The Jane, Room 217 – Jessee's first as a solo artist – he's finally seen that through.
21+, 8pm doors