The band, led by husband/wife duo Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez played a sold-out show to a mesmerized crowd at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, just after selling out the fabled Ryman Auditorium in their home base of Nashville, and also have an upcoming appearance atop a float in New York City, for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Fellow Nashville artist Jonny P warmed up the crowd, dressed dapper (influenced by his own fashion design career) and crooning his take on retro-modern soul, with several cuts from his ‘Right To You’ EP, including ‘Drive’ and ‘Good to You’.
What a difference a couple years of hard work makes for Johnnyswim – when we saw the duo for the first time locally, the band played in the middle of a bill to a sparse but interested crowd, and Sudano was not pregnant, then was on the next time in town, then had their son Joaquin, then brought him onstage again, to show everyone how much he’s grown. When the band calls their fans family, it rings true as you see how their own family has developed.
Their Let It Matter Tour finds the duo and their regular backing band on a stage with four spot stage lights behind them, with Abner sporting a new dark crushed velvet jacket on this night. The duo is still clearly in love, obvious not only by the longing each has for the other in their eyes, but in the verses they sing both separately and together. The band is in support of their recently released Georgica Pond (on Big Picnic Records), inspired by a regular vacation spot in New York near Shelter Island.
“It may be cold outside… but it’s hot in here!” Abner said before ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’, a song dating back to 2013’s Heart Beats EP, “this is what it looks like when your dreams come true”, he said scanning the sold-out room.
After ‘Let It Matter’, the duo dedicated the few songs in the set, a series of love songs, to a couple they met pre-show, spending their 16th wedding anniversary at the concert, including ‘First Try’, one that showcases their gospel-esque folk soul, and is the song they plan to sing at the holiday parade.
Hushed silence let Amanda’s vocals echo crisply for the new album’s title track and ‘Diamonds’, no longer quite as confrontational sounding as when it was originally written, but still delivers a powerful punch in concert and had the crowd singing along. Main set closer ‘Home’ found the band leaving the stage and going into the middle of the crowd to finish the song surrounded by fans and off-mic.
The most intimate moments were when the duo played huddled around a single mic, with Abner’s acoustic guitar and the crowd’s vocals on the choruses, the only accompaniment. The three-song quiet encore was built around that, with the crowd’s rapt attention keeping the sound clear and the duo focused.
As ‘Annie’ morphed into the last part of a Willie Nelson cover, the crowd was patient then roared in applause as Johnnyswim thanked the audience and said goodnight, bringing back out the band and the opener, with everyone smiling and bowing. You could say things went swimmingly.
Remaining Tour Dates:
03/2—Des Moines, IA—Wooly’s
03/3—Madison, WI—Majestic Theatre
03/4—St. Louis, MO—Ready Room
03/8—Indianapolis, IN—The Deluxe
03/10—Columbus, OH—Newport Music
03/14—Detroit, MI—St. Andrews
03/15—Toronto, ON—Velvet Underground
03/17—Burlington, VT—Higher Ground
03/18—Portland, ME—Port City Music Hall
03/21—Pawtucket, RI—The Met
03/22—Fairfield, CT—The Warehouse
03/23—Charlottesville, VA—The Jefferson
03/24—Chapel Hill, NC—Cat’s Cradle
03/25—Charlotte, NC—Neighborhood Theatre
03/28—Asheville, NC—The Grey Eagle
03/29—Charleston, SC—Music Farm
03/31—Memphis, TN—Minglewood Hall
04/1—New Orleans, LA—House of Blues
Johnnyswim at Varsity Theater, Minneapolis (11 Nov 2016)