The Heat & the Heart (THATH) are known for their folksy, melodic music and their sentimental, nostalgic-laden lyrics since their first album back in 2009. During their two-night sold out Red Rocks performances last week they gave the audience a real display of their head (thoughts) and their hearts (emotions) onstage as well as some unexpected performances. It was a one of a kind show for a couple of reasons and we left feeling like we were all friends who had hung out with the band.
The two founding members, Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, met at an open mic night in Seattle over 10 years ago. At their show last week, each of them took time to pay homage to those early days and their friendship through individual songs the audience had never heard before. It was a very extra-special occurrence as Josiah hasn’t been with the band since March 2016 dealing with personal problems. The men displayed their feelings for their friendship and for the musical journey on which the band has taken them. Jonathan reminisced on this a bit, telling the audience you never know what’s going to happen when you start a band, “You just hope for the best and play music you think sounds good and hope other people like it too.” He said how fortunate he felt to have made it a success and to be playing two sold-out shows at Red Rocks. Then, he sat down at the keyboard and played a heartfelt song about his friendship with Josiah.
The two men hugged after and then Josiah played a special unheard song on the piano and expressed his gratitude. It’s rare to hear or to see a big performer getting personal onstage and it’s even more rare to see two men openly express their feelings about much of anything, let alone their love and friendship for each other. The crowd loved it, as you’d expect from a group of people who love the style of music and lyrics THATH are known for.
Overall, THATH played all our favorite songs and even inspired a proposal in the front row! Violinist Charity Rose invited the couple onstage for congratulatory hugs and they said they were huge fans and had attended both nights. Front man Jonathan delivered beautiful lyrics in a jean jacket embroidered with their new album name “Signs of Light”, a hat and cowboy boots which he shuffled around the stage like a dance floor.
The night was beautiful in every way and the band gave their audience what they came for; melodic music with songs describing the search for truth, love and meaning in the world and reminiscing on what has come before and is yet to transpire. They let us into their lives and their hearts a bit that night, just as we have been holding their music in ours.
Photos by Tegan Dunlop & Tiffany Candelaria