By Heather Lusk
Heavenly notes from a harp float through the aisles of the Carmel Kroger as a Metallica song gives way to “Hotel California” for the lunch crowd at the store’s Carmel Bistro Cafe.
Harpist Jan Aldridge-Clark and guitarist Casey Harshbarger, who lived in Zionsville as a child, form a duet of stringed music that catches many Kroger customers off-guard.
“People are so surprised when they hear the harp played in a funky way,” said Aldridge-Clark.
Harshbarger and Aldridge-Clark met five years ago through an audition. They liked the way the guitar and harp sounded together and began to experiment with different arrangements. Harshbarger influenced her to move into classic rock, which is a substantial portion of what they play to the Kroger lunch crowd, along with more recent artists like Adele and other styles like Blues.
Two years ago the duo was performing a private party at which a Kroger vice president was attending.
“He said ‘you guys would be perfect for Kroger,’” said Aldridge-Clark.
When the opportunity came to fruition Aldridge-Clark was pleasantly surprised.
“No musician imagines playing in a grocery store,” she said.
But regulars come to hear them play each week and they frequently perform to big crowds.
“We’re riding the wave,” she said. “We’ll just do it as long as they want us to be there. It’s been really great because we get a lot of positive response from people.”
They will play several days each week in May and hope to continue through the summer.
Aldridge-Clark earned her masters of education in classical music and was trained on the piano, but discovered the harp her freshman year and “fell in love with it.” As a harpist she had the opportunity to travel the world through her work with a cruise line and perform at private parties for the rich and famous while living in Los Angeles.