Husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano of JOHNNYSWIM are bringing their hit songs “Home” and “Diamonds” to Jefferson Theater April 25.
The two met in Nashville initially at a coffee shop and then again at church.
“I remember showing up and seeing him across the room and thinking he was so cute,” Sudano said. “There were always girls around him, dressed up. If I managed to remember mascara and deodorant I was good.”
A sense of humor exudes from both Sudano and Ramirez.
Regarding the origin of the band’s name, Ramirez told a story about a life-changing ultimate frisbee game. “We were playing ultimate Frisbee at this little property by a lake,” he said. “A friend of ours who can’t really swim that well, named Johnny, was there. … He fell into the lake. Instead of helping him, Amanda yells, ‘Swim, Johnny, Swim!’”
Sudano’s plea, “Swim, Johnny, Swim,” became the original name of the band, and the two later shortened the name to JOHNNYSWIM.
While Ramirez and Sudano are bound by marriage, the two have completely different musical backgrounds. Sudano is the daughter of “Last Dance” disco singer, the late Donna Summer, and Ramirez was trained at the famed Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in Florida.
When asked if her mother’s music influenced her, Sudano responded, “Never. She was never pushy about anything except following your passion. What I did inherit from my mother would be working hard — loving what you do and who you’re with.”
That seems to be the couple’s motto, as evident in their concert videos. The two have a son together named Joaquin, who was involved in one of the band’s favorite on-stage moments at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
“We just had so much fun,” Sudano said. “There were thousands and thousands of people. We all seemed to be on the same page.”
Their other favorite moment was here at the Jefferson when their son came out on stage, which Sudano called “his debut in Charlottesville.”
The duo enthusiastically mentioned a forthcoming album they’re currently working on. Ramirez and Sudano’s previous songs have been called “anthemic.” Describing what word they would use to describe JOHNNYSWIM, Ramirez quickly offered, “Cuddly, definitely cuddly.” In a moment of seriousness, he rephrased. “I would say honest,” Ramirez said. “JOHNNYSWIM is honest.”
In both their music and demeanor, Ramirez and Sudano are honest. Their songs have strong messages to touch the listener’s soul. Folk, pop and blues undertones complement their raspy voices to the point of perfection. Their upcoming concert will be an experience like no other.