Husband-and-wife duo JOHNNYSWIM, known for their unique folksy songs and untouched chemistry on stage, visited the Jefferson Theater April 25, and the concert lived up to expectations.
Prior to the opening act, concertgoers enjoyed drinks from the bar and conversation with one another. When asked about their love for JOHNNYSWIM, several people replied with overwhelming excitement.
Local Charlottesville residents Katie Vaness and Meredith Newton were amongst the eager crowd.
“They are so real and personal, and I just want to hang out with them,” Vaness said.
“They are even better live than on their album,” Newton said. “The sound is like no other. I have always liked when they take the drummers and extras away. It’s dynamic when it’s just the two of them.”
Tonyette White, a Curry graduate student, also spoke of her positive concert-going experiences.
“So I’ve seen them two times before,” White said. “I am really excited to see the set because it’s going to be acoustic.”
Soft purple lighting draped the stage along with four acoustic guitars. When 8 p.m. hit, a man and a guitarist walked on stage. The singer introduced himself as Johnny P. The guitarist struck his sleek instrument, and the opening set began. Johnny P opened his mouth, and the crowd was in awe.
His voice and musical style mimicked some of the great R&B singers, such as Otis Redding and Ben E. King. In the opening song, Johnny P sang, “Stand by me, my love,” which seemed to pay homage to King’s 1961 hit “Stand By Me.” With just a guitar and a tambourine, Johnny P filled the room with soul and created an atmosphere of swooning and grooving.
Soon it was time for Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez of JOHNNYSWIM to take the stage. The two began with a harmonizing “oh,” and the crowd went wild. The crowd, having already identified the song, got ahead of themselves and sang, “Don’t let it get you down.” Regardless of the open space on the floor the concert felt incredibly intimate.
In their cover of “Hotline Bling,” Ramirez and Sudano showed the audience just how steamy their relationship is. The two sang Drake’s hit on one microphone, inching closer and closer toward each other’s faces, almost kissing, but instead keeping it a playful tease.
The couple was extremely vulnerable with the audience, sharing anecdotes about their engagement in Paris and bringing out their son Joaquin. The most endearing moment of the night was when the two musicians explained their inspiration for their next album. Sudano spoke of the loss of her mother, the late Donna Summer, and her unfulfilled dream of building a house near Georgica Pond, the namesake of the duo’s next album.
“Georgica Pond was where my mom would stay to visit her piece of land,” Sudano said.
Sudano then shared a piece of an untitled yet meaningful song about the difficulty of loss. She sang, “And I’ll be your lighthouse / you be one for me.”
Ramirez also shared a song about the anger within him regarding the unfair treatment of his now-deceased father. The couple surely didn’t hold back any of their emotions.
For the finale, Sudano and Ramirez stepped off the stage and stood on the floor with the audience, singing an unplugged version of their hit song “Home.” It was as if the crowd were all a part of JOHNNYSWIM, and as the voices from the floor, the bar and the balcony reverberated off of the walls, an irreplicable moment was created.
The couple left a mark on Charlottesville. Their tour, which subsequently hit Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri, will finally end in their home state of Tennessee.