Telluride Bluegrass: Johnnyswim

Telluride Bluegrass: Johnnyswim

“I’m predicting Johnnyswim will be your favorite new discovery of the 42nd annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The married couple (with new baby!) of Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez are irresistible onstage. They played our Folks Festival in 2013 and completely owned the audience. It was all about an intoxicating cocktail comprised of the chemistry between Amanda and Abner; a catchy set of songs; exceptional voices; and their compelling presence as soon as they walk on a stage,” Brian Eyster, vice-president, communications, Planet Bluegrass.



Their story is the stuff of Hallmark cards. Or the treacly happily-ever-after riffs featured weekly in the Style section of the New York Times. Sugar and spice and everything nice, it is nonetheless true.

Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez met in Nashville, started writing songs together and then decided they would make nice music together as a couple. When the duo performs, it is hard to tell where one voice ends and the other begins. And when asked if all that time on the road gets to be to be too much, Amanda told NPR’s Melissa Block on “All Things Considered,” the facts are just the opposite of what people expect.

“Instead of the longer you’re out on the road it gets more claustrophobic, the longer you’re out on the road it gets nicer to have [Ramirez] there, because he’s the closest thing to home I have. Home is where he is. The farther away I get from being at home, the more I cling to being near him, because he gives me that sense of, ‘OK, everything’s all right,’ and he brings me back to home.”

The folk-soul-blues-pop duo known as Johnnyswim perform Friday, June 19, 11 a.m. – noon, on the Main Stage of the 42nd annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. (And following Telluride, the pair will be in Boulder, June 21, The Fox Theater and Denver, June 22, Botanic Gardens.)


Even before they met, music played a starring role in Amanda’s and Abner’s lives.

Amanda was exposed to music at a young age with musicians as parents: mom was late disco and R & B superstar Donna Summer. Abner studied music at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in his native Jacksonville, Florida. The couple met in 2006 and started collaborating after discovering folk, soul and rock were shared influences.

“She is full of fervor, and he is the soothing counterforce. They are a pairing of equals, a key finding its lock,” The New York Times

“Impossibly telegenic and charming, husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano have the booming voices of great street buskers, but also the polished sparkle of natural-born stage performers,” NPR

“…an intimate interplay their marriage of pop and folk…,” People

“We fell in love with them musically, personally, everything,” Billboard

Several singles and EPs later and a move to Tinseltown, a baby, Sudano and Ramirez are now touring in support of Diamonds, Johnnyswim’s first LP.

“‘Diamonds’ is a song about the realization that even the hardest times can somehow make life more beautiful, just like the years of pressure that turns coal into a diamond.” said Ramirez.


Wondering about the name of the band? Curious to know more about these rising stars? Click the play button and listen to my chat with Amanda and Abner.

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