When: Saturday, April 5th @ 8pm

Where: The Ark

Tickets: $20 General Admission

The married musical duo JOHNNYSWIM are bringing their mix of folk, soul, and pop to Ann Arbor on April 5th as they perform at The Ark in promotion of their new album, Diamonds, out April 29th.  Featured on 2014’s VH1 You Oughta Know, twosome Amanda Sudano-Ramirez and Abner Ramirez combine impeccable lyrics with powerful vocals and a captivating stage chemistry that you won’t want to miss.

For a little taste of their versatile sound, check out the music video for their 2013 single Heart Beats, their toe tapper Home, and Abner’s killer falsetto in a live performance of Pay Dearly, featured on the upcoming record.

REVIEW: The Head & the Heart

Last Tuesday, October 29th, The Head and The Heart performed at the Royal Oak Music Theatre with opening bands Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and The Quiet Life. The Royal Oak Music Theatre only offers general seating, which is bad news for anyone arriving minutes before the main act. However, for those willing to stand packed tightly right in front, this venue is for you! Unfortunately, those opting for this option (as my friend and I ultimately did) would have had to listen to almost three hours of openers before The Head and The Heart graced the stage.

Though the first band, The Quiet Life, only started around 7:30 pm, they fed the crowd what we all wanted: some good lively music. With a sound that I can only describe as upbeat country, members of The Quiet Life played like they weren’t performing for another venue on the tour, but as if they were playing in some practice room for fun. In other words, they were up on stage just having an experience with each other.

The second opening act, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, brought with them a completely different environment that definitely changed things up. What was most remarkable about this band was the ease at which they changed their vibe from song to song. With electric energy, leader singer Thao Nguyen danced about the stage singing passionately starting their performance off big…that is, until the mood drastically changed with the next song. Here, the melodies turned darker and the lyrics harsher. Instead of predictable, building tempos, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down would usually play consistently slow right up until the chorus. Here the music burst with palpable energy, lead singer whirling around the stage. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down had just one slow tempo song, but this one was my favorite because it didn’t have any harsh undertones and wasn’t startling. After the performance I looked up this band and it really seems to me that the quality of their music is significantly better off their album. I would definitely recommend buying their album off iTunes, but perhaps would not elect to see them live again.

By the time The Head and The Heart actually started to play, it was 10 pm. I’d gotten there on time, so it had been three hours at that point and I was tired, pretty thirsty, and getting impatient. However, what was truly impressive was that as soon as they got on stage, none of it mattered. They brought with them such an uplifting vibe that from the second they began playing, all pain from waiting was forgotten and the crowd was completely recharged.

What’s really great about this band is that unlike most other groups, the lead sound in each song comes from someone different, each as talented as the last. They switch singers from song to song, alternating between Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, and the only female band member Charity Rose Thielen.

Photo by Vik Santaprakash
Pictured: Josiah Johnson, photo by Vik Santaprakash
Pictured: Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson, photo by Vik Santaprakash

They highlight different instruments in each song as well, often the guitar is most prominent, sometimes only the piano, and even the harmonica. The Head and The Heart had an amazing performance, cutting through the audience with their genuine spirit and utter joy. This band is the epitome of the kind of sound you want to hear in person, they are no less impressive than in their music videos or straight off their iTunes album. The only difference is, live, you get to feel their energy with them. To add to their playful stage presence, their between-song commentary was witty and entertaining. To be at this concert, to be a member of the audience, to see these characters in person…it was just fun.

PREVIEW: Let’s Be Still

Who: The Head And The Heart

What: Let’s Be Still Tour 2013

Where: Royal Oak Music Theatre

When: Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 – 7:00PM

Starting Price: $25.00

Check out The Head And The Heart as they grace the stage with folky tunes and soulful singing. Come early to see performances by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and Quiet Life. Buy tickets here. Don’t miss out!

Still having doubts? Here’s a little taste: The Head and the Heart – Lost In My Mind (Live on KEXP) Read More

PREVIEW: The Avett Brothers at Hill Auditorium

The Avett Brothers are looking to conquer a college town, where folk music thrives just as well as hip-hop, and avid music fans search actively for gorgeous storytelling via guitars, pianos, and graceful lyrics.

So, it’s fitting that Hill Auditorium will showcase the four-piece band on February 12.

With brothers Scott and Seth Avett fronting the band holding a banjo and guitar, the passion for genuine, heartfelt music lies very visibly in its band make-up. A band of siblings hasn’t seemed particularly cool since the Jackson 5 or the Kinks, and the Avett Brothers present themselves with a similar sincerity and grassroots wholesomeness. Their songs are particularly hopeful and earnest, typically casting a balladic piano at the forefront, and guitar, banjo, cello, and drums accompanying vocals.

Leaving an outstanding 2012 including a Grammy nomination and a top-10 album, the band is touring until July 2013, playing alongside bands like Matt and Kim, Old Crow Medicine Show, Portugal. The Man, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Their show at Hill Auditorium will beautifully highlight the band’s sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the “heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of the Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones.” This is the Avett Brother’s third time performing in Ann Arbor after headlining the Ann Arbor Folk Festival last year and playing at the Michigan Theater in 2010.

The Avett Brothers will play at 7:30pm at Hill Auditorium on February 12, 2013. Tickets start at $33.