Matt Wertz

What began with a homemade drum groove on Matt’s front porch in Nashville sprang into a varied ten-song album that is equal parts a dip in the electric blue waters of the 80s and a testament to the artistic breadth Wertz has developed at this point in his career.

It was 1987, and Matt Wertz was an eight-year-old kid in Liberty, Missouri. He went to Louis and Clark Elementary, he took piano once a week from his Nana, he rode shotgun in his mom’s Oldsmobile station wagon. And on those lucky afternoons when he could tune in to Casey’s Top 40, Wertz listened to songs that would become the soundtrack of an era – Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” Steve Winwood’s “The Finer Things,” Lionel Richie, Peter Cetera – classics set to drum machine and Stratocaster.

Heatwave bridges a lifetime of musical history. Wertz uses the melodies of his Missouri childhood as a springboard into an exciting new realm of modern musical possibilities, interpreting his influences in a striking, singular way. As Wertz himself would say, these are the songs he’d want stuck in his head. And that’s a good thing for everyone.

It's called 'chemistry', an elusive quality that can be part history, part mystery and all intangible until the moment that you feel it. It's a meant-to-be melding of the emotional and creative that can happen between songwriters, performers, best friends or life partners. For Josh and Nicole Johnson – the duo Elenowen – that connection is all of the above and much more. And on their self-titled EP, the chemistry they share is as rare – and real – as it gets.

Though emerging from the same Nashville-based Americana-folk scene as The Civil Wars, Elenowen deliver a sonic glow all their own. Amidst haunting harmonies and elegiac lyrics, their songs flow with an undercurrent of yearning, surrender and unexpectedly sharp edges. "We strive to maintain a certain vulnerability in our music," Josh says. "We write a lot about our own lives as well as the truths about relationships that we relate to. We think it creates an intimacy that's totally connected to the music." The sound itself is roots-driven, with accents of cello and pedal steel cutting a deeply evocative facet. Even the name Elenowen is an authentic nod to heritage, with Ellen being Josh's mom's middle name and Owen being the middle name of Nicole's dad. "They're the sides of the family we each got our music from," explains Josh. "What's in our hearts will always come out in what we do."

The singular power of Elenowen comes from the bond that can only exist between two people who've known – and loved – each other for most of their lives. "We were 15 and 16 when we met," explains Nicole. "We dated for a year, broke up for a year and a half, then got back together and have been together ever since. After that first breakup, I think we both still knew that we were meant for each other, but we also knew that we weren't what each other needed at that point in our lives." At 18, Josh moved from Knoxville to Nashville to be with Nicole, writing songs and pursuing a music degree at Belmont University while Nicole worked as a homecare attendant, back-up singer and barista. Within a year of Josh's graduation, the starkly candid debut album Pulling Back The Veil chronicled their first year of marriage with songs that were subsequently showcased on TV shows like 'One Tree Hill' and MTV's 'World Of Jenks'. Josh and Nicole began filming impromptu performances in their small basement apartment, with the resulting clips – called 'The Basement Sessions' – quickly garnering a following on YouTube and the No Depression website. In 2011, Elenowen made their national television debut on the top-rated premiere season of NBC's 'The Voice'. But it's the five tracks on their new EP that now mean the most to the couple and convey what's most real to audiences.

But what about that thing called chemistry? For Elenowen, it's a one-of-a-kind formula that is about to become bigger than the both of them. "I think our chemistry is what keeps us going," says Nicole. "We fight for it in our marriage, in our friendship and our music. These songs are so much a part of us and the emotion is so real, that every time we sing them its almost as if we're feeling them for the first time. What Josh and I ultimately want is for people to get inspired and connected by what we do." And for Elenowen, it's a promise you can take to heart.

$18.00 - $20.00

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Matt Wertz with Elenowen

Thursday, September 12 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Bootleg Theater

Off Sale