Love of music leads to relationship and a band
For musicians Cody Claridge and Anna Jessick, it only made sense that the two would form a band after meeting and falling in love.
The college students formed the band C&A just a few months after they started dating in March 2014. Jessick remembers seeing a lot of guitars in Claridge’s dorm room at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the time.
“Music is a big part of both of our lives,” Jessick said. “Our relationship is very musically based.”
The duo started out performing cover songs because they wanted to become “Vine famous.” You can still find some of the videos from their first year dating and playing together on YouTube and Vine.
“It’s just kind of fun to look back at those and see how much we’ve grown musically,” Jessick said.
Then, they played at a few local gigs, just the two of them. But audience members urged them to add drums for more sound. After that, a few people joined to play drums and sing every once in awhile.
Today, C&A consists of Claridge as the lead guitarist or bass; Chris Bennett on drums; and Jessick as vocalist and pianist. Bennett, who played in Jessick’s brother’s Ska band in high school, lives in Omaha and is a part of another band, which makes it harder to find time for all of them to practice together, Claridge said.
C&A is considered a cover band, playing songs such as “Too Close,” by Alex Clare and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. C&A has performed at benefit concerts and philanthropies. They’ve also played at the Bourbon in Downtown Lincoln and the Slowdown in Omaha.
The band has one original song, titled “Anna’s Song.” Bennett describes the song as First Wave Ska, a genre that includes a lead guitarist, drummer, vocalist, bass player, two brass players and a woodwind. Claridge and Jessick described “Ska” as a mix between alternative, jazz and reggae.
“The covers are just the best way I think to start because you play songs people love,” Claridge said. “And then they might like the way you do it and then by that they kind of like you. Maybe sprinkle some of your own songs in between them and then they might like those too.”
To make the original song, Claridge came up with different riffs on the guitar while Jessick came up with keyboard riffs. From there, band members added lyrics and drums.
The path to music
Claridge started playing guitar during high school after he hurt his shoulder. He still played in a few sports, but he said he “needed something to keep his mind occupied,” so he picked up a bass, which he described as his “pretty blue thing.” After playing bass for a year, he started playing guitar, but he never took formal lessons.
“My friend showed me how to hold a pick and that was about as much of a lesson I got and after that I just learned the rest myself,” he said.
Claridge has “pedal obsession,” according to Jessick, referring to his collection of guitar pedals that change the sound of an electric guitar. Claridge said the pedals are useful when they’re playing live because it changes their sound.
Jessick has been playing music for a bit longer. She’s played the piano for 12 years and the alto saxophone for about five. Claridge taught her how to play guitar and also helped pick out her first one, a Taylor GS Mini. Claridge later bought Jessick her first electric guitar, which is a pink Stratton.
The couple has big plans for C&A after college graduation — Jessick from UNL and Claridge from Southeast Community College. Jessick said she wants to have gigs all around the Midwest, create more original songs and also develop their own website. They are excited to start their professional careers after college — Jessick in music teaching and Claridge in respiratory therapy — so they’ll be able to spend more money on guitars and pedals and make more original songs.
“It’s really fun to make other people happy and as long as were making them happy, that makes me happy,” Jessick said. “That’s the whole reason why we perform.”
Claridge and Jessick talk about what it’s like to be dating and in a band together: