On a random weekday evening, as I was flipping through the channels, I came across a showing of Austin City Limits, a grand performance series on PBS showcasing some of the finest musicians in the country. The episode featured a Seattle ensemble named The Head and the Heart, and with their stunning ACL studio performance, I was instantly a fan. Formed in 2009 thanks to an open-mic night at a local bar, the folky, heartfelt tunes from Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, and Charity Rose Thielen are touching but not overwrought, detailing the universal struggles between the head and the heart.
Backed by Kenny Hensley on piano, Tyler Williams on drums, and Chris Zasche on bass, the band headlined Saturday’s MusicfestNW performance in downtown Portland. Packed with an all-ages crowd, fans lined the red brick Pioneer Courthouse Square for openers Deep Sea Diver and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, with The Head and the Heart taking the stage just after sunset. The set was heavy with favorite songs from their self-titled debut album, including “Down in the Valley”, “Winter Song”, “Rivers and Roads”, and “Lost in my Mind”. A handful of melodies from their new album, Let’s Be Still, set to be released on October 15, were performed as well, with an encore of acoustic round-robin solos from each of the three vocalists.
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender