You are here:  / Gallery / National Music Coverage / Show Review / An Intimate Evening With Johnnyswim

An Intimate Evening With Johnnyswim

The “Moonlight” tour brings Johnnyswim back to Raleigh for an intimate night at The Ritz

Photos and words by: Darren Hohl

Johnnyswim is made up of Amanda Sudano Ramirez (daughter of Donna Summer) and Abner Ramirez. They began writing in 2005 after working alongside each other at a songwriting workshop held by Ramirez. Johnnyswim went on to release their first EP, “Johnnyswim”, independently on June 30th, 2008. After two more EP’s, “Home, Vol. 1” (2012), and “Heart Beats” (2013) and with some backing from brands such as, Tommy Hilfiger, Apple, and Louis Vuitton, they were signed to Big Picnic Records and released their first full-length album “Diamonds” in 2014. In December of the same year, their song “Home” would be chosen as the theme song for the future hit TV show Fixer Upper.


Fans lined up outside The Ritz on a beautiful spring evening were in high spirits waiting for this much anticipated show. Entering the venue with the sun still shining through the front doors, the PA was playing the sounds of tropical birds and soothing rain. This was only the calm before the storm. The sounds intensified as people were filing in, leading to a full-on downpour, setting the mood for the opening act, Beoga.

An Irish word which translates to “vivid”, this 5 piece folk band from Northern Ireland, got the show started. They began their set with a couple songs from their 2016 release, “Before We Change Our Minds”. Beoga combines elements of traditional Irish music with catchy melodies and calming vocals.


After a breaking to interact with the crowd, drummer, Eamon Murray, had a confession to make. He had mentioned that when they come to the States to tour, his favorite place to eat is Taco Bell, which I find hard to argue with. He also said that he had tried Chik-Fil-A for the first time before the show. The audience erupted, rightfully so, I might add.


Before closing out their set, singer and violinist, Niamh Dunne, told the crowd that they would likely recognize a part of their last song, “Minute 5”. She explained that they co-wrote Ed Sheeran’s song “Galway Girl” using parts of “Minute 5” from their album How To Tune A Fish.


I was impressed with Beoga’s crowd interaction and pure musicianship. Close your eyes at one of their shows and you’ll feel like you’re walking down the streets of Ireland.


After short break, the lights went down and it was time for Johnnyswim. Having never been to one of their shows or really listening to much of their music I wasn’t sure what to expect. Both Amanda and Abner can onto the stage in complete darkness.


As Amanda began to sing the first line of “Flowers” from their latest album “Moonlight”, an overwhelming blue light covered the venue, revealing only their silhouettes. Her voice immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and chills run down my arms. While they both sound incredible on their records, there is absolutely no comparison to hearing them in person. The power and passion in their voices is like nothing I have ever experienced in person in over 200 shows I’ve been to.


About a third of the way through the set, while Amanda was having a sip of her tea, Abner turned his microphone  to face her at center stage. As he performed “Amanda”, and ode to their relationship and marriage, she sat there just looking at him like it was the first time she had heard it. Being to a lot of shows, I can tell you that when bands tour a lot over the years it can be hard to keep up the same energy and enthusiasm that there was in the beginning. These two don’t have this issue, not in the slightest.


Towards the end of the evening, the couple hopped into the middle of the crowd to perform one of their most known songs, “Home”. Their fan interaction throughout the show was great. They made it seem like everyone in the crowd was just apart of the family.


Telling stories about their family and friends, laughing, and joking. I was extremely impressed with every aspect of this band and their live performance. You couldn’t pay me an amount of money to say one negative thing about them.

See full gallery of the night here!

Catch this tour:

Today 7 PM369 guests
Tomorrow 7 PM785 guests
New York, NY
Wed 8 PM101 guests
Brooklyn, New York
Columbus, OH
Sat 7:30 PM CDT412 guests
Chicago, IL
Tue 7 PM CDT374 guests
Austin, TX
Wed 7 PM UTC-051,389 guests
Houston, TX
Sat 8 PM CDT887 guests
Dallas, TX
Tue 8 PM MDT287 guests
Denver, CO
Wed 7:30 PM MDT62 guests
Salt Lake City, UT
Fri 8 PM PDT732 guests
Seattle, WA
Fri 8 PM PDT286 guests
Seattle, WA
Sat 9 PM PDT686 guests
Portland, OR
Mon 8 PM PDT227 guests
San Francisco, CA
Wed 7:30 PM PDT172 guests
Thu 8 PM MST311 guests
Phoenix, AZ
Fri 8 PM PDT349 guests
Sep 7 – Sep 811,923 guests
Chattanooga, TN

Music journalism and sharing the best of the best artists is our thing.

Shutter 16 Magazine:

Tune In To Our Podcast: