Get Intimate at The Carriage House Sessions with Steph Clotele
In the daylight, the carriage house behind Ellerbeck Bed and Breakfast serves as Cafe 140B, welcoming Avenues residents with warm morning light filtering through sheer curtains to sip coffee at picnic tables or in small nooks. It feels close and cozy; the floor-to-ceiling wood paneling gives the space a light and airy warmth. When The Carriage House Sessions are on, however, that heat is turned up to eleven—all that coziness becomes a bejeweled sense of intimacy. The coffee-shop-turned-music-venue lights up with red bulbs and sparse lamplight and the picnic benches are arranged like church pews. A bright spotlight on the barn doors provides most of the room’s lighting and lights up the performer like the rapture is nigh.
The Carriage House Sessions, created by Steph Clotele, Victoriya Baskin and Chase Gillins, hosts a series of local-focused performances each month, including open mics, concerts and recording sessions. At the album release party for local folk artist Molly Mars of The Godfrey Daniels on January 5, the venue’s spiritual feeling was in full swing—all that wood allowed her angelic voice to reverberate around the room. Mars says she’s been coming to The Carriage House Sessions since their first open mic, and says “I’ve always felt comfortable, warm and professional here. I love the feeling and the group of people that coalesce here.”
“It’s so hard in those early stages. We record video and audio for artists if they need it, and our goal overall is to create a place for people to get together and practice and have a good time.”
Clotele and Baskin are the innkeepers at Ellerbeck. Gillins has extensive experience working in the music industry and is a musician himself, along with Clotele. This combination of expertise in hospitality, industry knowledge and creativity has allowed them to establish a venue in SLC unlike any other. They began The Carriage House Sessions in 2022 to raise money to benefit Ukraine, where Baskin is from, and have been hosting regular events with a focus on community-building ever since. Baskin says, “My family would always have gatherings where there was a food aspect, a drink aspect and a music aspect. We’re very inspired by incorporating all three into this music venue.” Some events feature a home-cooked meal made by Baskin; others feature local bakery pop-ups.
Clotele, Baskin, Gillins and their videographers Jeffrey Flowers and Nick Chase endow performers with the opportunity to build their careers. “We aim to promote up-and-coming artists,” says Clotele. “It’s so hard in those early stages. We record video and audio for artists if they need it, and our goal overall is to create a place for people to get together and practice and have a good time.” A good time is essentially a guarantee at these sessions—at Mars’ event, donation-based snacks and drinks were available to guests, and the small space combined with a limited guest list demanded mingling. Gillins says that his past experience promoting large shows “felt pretty impersonal, like you’re trying to get everyone taken care of and you’re not watching or enjoying the music. This is the antithesis of that.”
“It feels like a living room. It feels personal, and everybody is here to share an experience. This is a space that I think artists thrive in.”
The creators take inspiration from the pioneer ancestry of the inn, which was built in 1892 for Henrietta Ellerbeck, a plural wife who was one of the first to sue for divorce and win. Owners Kara and Tyler Alden work faithfully to restore and maintain the manor’s original Victorian aesthetic, and Clotele says that their leadership and trust has allowed her and her co-creators to flourish. Working closely with artists in this space has deepened the passion for music making of Clotele and Gillins, who perform as the folk duo Little Lonesome. Baskin says “Nothing is quite like watching [Little Lonesome] perform in a place like this. It feels like a living room. It feels personal, and everybody is here to share an experience. This is a space that I think artists thrive in.”
Forthcoming from The Carriage House Sessions is a recording session with Andrew Wiscombe, which will be available on The Carriage House Sessions Youtube February 23. Open mics resume March 4. Learn about upcoming events at carriagehousesessions.com.
Read more local music interviews:
The Reincarnation of Lilly E. Gray: Evolving into Yourself
From 14-Piece Band to Nonprofit: Hot House West’s Collective Dream