Julia Mallord tuned her guitar as she sat on a stoop in the darkness. Kevin Valle readjusted the height of the microphone as Luke Aronson hung up colorful tie-dye tapestries on the back wall.
Aronson took the guitar from Mallord, a second-year sociology student, and began playing “Calling Out to You,” the song he performed for Mallord when they first met. Eyes closed, she enjoyed the music as Valle looked up the chords for the song they would perform next.
The three students perform for partygoers passing by every Thursday night at 500 Midvale Ave. in a concert series called “The Stoop Series.” Aronson, a UCLA Extension student, has a parking spot that is raised up off of the ground, which he uses as his own private stage right outside of his Midvale Avenue home.
Small groups of college students who are tired of the loud noise and monotonous party music often come across “The Stoop Series”, said Valle, a fourth-year political science student and ukulele player. Spectators often stop to listen to covers of bands like the Beatles or Gorillaz, along with their own original music before making their way home.
“Having a drunk chorus is the funniest thing ever,” Valle said. “(The spectators) sing completely off beat and out of tune, but they make for an amazing audience.”
This past Halloween weekend, as a group of girls dressed up as lifeguards, mermaids and Harry Potter characters walked by, one of them grabbed a guitar as her friends chimed in with Mallord, singing Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
Later that night, JJ Ross, a fourth-year ethnomusicology student and Aronson’s upstairs neighbor, joined the jam session, bringing along his cajón, an Afro-Cuban box-shaped percussion instrument.
“I hear them perform and always think of joining them for a night, for us to jam together,” Ross said.
Back in September, as Aronson sat playing guitar on his stoop late at night as he often did, he met Mallord, who was heading home from a party. Disappointed by the party she had left and ready to go to bed, Mallord said she heard Aronson’s guitar from afar and went to see what was happening.
A couple of hours later, Valle said he felt just as intrigued as he walked over to the duo already jamming together.
As they began playing, two guitars and a ukulele in hand until 4 a.m., Mallord said that they all got along right away. The idea of the series seemed obvious to them and immediately came to mind, she said.
“The creative energy was there right from the beginning,” Valle said.
The band’s original music comes from their different musical styles that intertwine, Mallord said. She defines her style as moody and reminiscent of Norah Jones, while Aronson defines his style as finger-picking acoustic.
Aronson, who has been making his own music since he was 15 years old, said “The Stoop Series” gives him the opportunity to share his work with his new friends and audience.
After their first jam session on Midvale Avenue during Zero Week, Mallord and Aronson have been in a romantic relationship – one that enhances their musical compatibility, according to Valle.
For Valle, third-wheeling Aronson and Mallord helps boost his own creativity as well.
“(Mallord and I) started writing music together,” Valle said. “(Aronson’s) experience with the technical side has helped (me), and (Mallord has) been helping me find the flow of words.“
Mallord and Aronson often perform together at open mikes, under the stage names of Julia Rose and Luke Aaron. Aronson and Mallord said they want to pursue music as a career in the future.
“It’s a tricky plan A, but it’s definitely a dream that I have,” Mallord said.
Valle, on the other hand, sees music as more of a creative outlet and pastime. His political science career is his number one priority, he said.
Aronson said the collaboration has already evolved in the past month as the trio has gotten to know each other better and become more organized in regards to practicing and putting on their weekly shows.
“I have very big dreams for these series,” Valle said. “You’re witnessing the birth of ‘The Stoop.’”