By Will Broaddus
A beautiful concert hall deserves music to match.
That’s why the Ames Hall Concert Series was started and will bring The Dejas and other local bands to the renovated space at Salem’s YMCA on Saturday.
“Ames Hall is a such a beautiful room; we wanted to utilize this space,” said Aaron Katz, who plays for The Dejas and booked the program with help from Charity Lezma. “This is the first step in that direction.”
Saturday’s performance will include Soul Rebel Project, a reggae band from Boston, and Kevin William.
“Kevin William is one of the lead singers of Exiting the Fall, John Miller’s band — he’s Angie Miller’s brother,” Katz said. “This is his acoustic project; he’ll be singing songs with acoustic guitars.”
Soul Rebel Project, which has appeared on stage with Grammy winners Toots and the Maytalls, features Berklee College of Music professor John Funkhouser on piano and performs regularly at Opus Underground in Salem.
“Qwill, who lives in Salem, is going to be doing one of his DJ sets throughout,” Katz said.
The soulful indie-pop of The Dejas features Katz on keyboards and drums, and Callie Lipton on guitar and lead vocals. The pair met at the University of New Hampshire in 2005, recorded the album “Speeding Softly” in 2010, and have played at the Hard Rock Cafe, the Rochester Opera House and the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport.
They sometimes appear as a duo, but for this performance, they will add saxophonist Conor Jenks and bass player Jeff Lafontant.
“We’ll do our normal, original music set for this gig, with dance and ambient music,” Katz said.
All the performers on the program are playing for free, so ticket revenue can be used to fund the YMCA’s Youth Music Program.
Katz teaches music at Plummer Home for Boys, the Salem Boys & Girls Club, and the On-Point Program for troubled teens. He also teaches youngsters how to record music in the Y’s new recording studio at Ames Hall.
“We’re there every Monday night,” he said. “It’s an incredible resource for the entire community.”
Katz has also arranged the series’ second concert, which will be held Tuesday, June 10, and will feature three accomplished drummers.
“I used to play with Josh Groban’s drummer, Dave DiCenso,” Katz said. “He played on my first solo album. We became close friends and toured a bit together, then he hooked in with Groban. Dave is also a professor at Berklee College of Music, for drums.”
The other drummers, each of whom will play a solo set before appearing with the others in a finale, are James Murphy of Blue Man Group in Boston and Rich Redmond, who plays for country star Jason Aldean.
“It will be exciting to have drummers of this level,” Katz said.
Katz said the drummers’ concert will also be educational, with time for questions and answers.
“They’ll answer questions for kids, families, whoever can come,” he said. “Any questions about what it’s like on the road, any questions about professional drumming, how cymbals and woods and different compositions of woods make different sounds.”
AMES HALL CONCERT SERIES
Saturday, May 17, 7 p.m.
The Dejas, Soul Rebel Project, Qwill and Kevin Williams
Tuesday, June 10
Drums for Funds, with James Murphy, Dave DiCenso and Rich Redmond.
Where: Ames Hall, Salem YMCA, 1 Sewall St., Salem
Tickets: $20 at the door, with cash bar