"Steeped in the sounds of all-American country and folk, the duo’s music delivers delivers rich harmonics and delicious texture" - The Dayton Philharmonic
“As a duo, they make remarkably intimate folk-pop with heavy doses of Americana and Country. Their collaboration has proven fruitful for both, as they have toured the country together and are working on a debut album for release this spring.” - Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay Times
"A two-piece folk pop duo featuring deeply drawling singer-songwriter AJ Swearingen and husky-sweet crooning songstress Jayne Kelli, their vocals gorgeously balanced against dual acoustic guitar arrangements. (Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg) ” - Creative Loafing
The stage is set with Swearingen & Kelli belting out the songs of the '70s folk artists in their symphonic pops show for thousands of people. Even with the power of an 80-piece orchestra, the chemistry and vocal blend comes barreling out, authentic and true.
Equally captivating: the two of them with one guitar, maybe throw in the swampy David Lindley-meets-Jerry Douglas-inspired lap steel by the skilled Swearingen. Now you’re listening to their alt-country, moody, and lyric-driven folk originals.
Swearingen & Kelli was inevitable. They never set out to form a duo, but when they heard each other perform at a writer's night in the heart of St. Pete at The Hideaway Cafe, their musical course changed. The connection was magnetic, and by late 2013, they were ready to release their debut self-titled album.
They were dangerously close to changing their name, but it didn't feel like an authentic move. "One thing's for sure, we can't be mistaken for another artist. Maybe a law firm," Kelli jokes.
Songwriting is the most important thing to them. Much to their surprise, they have been able to co-write together seamlessly. Their songs feel like Lucinda Williams, The Eagles, and Alison Krauss all got together for a session.
AJ Swearingen, born in Bethlehem PA, grew up in a house where the classic country records of Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were always spinning. "I love that music, but the folk records of the early '70s like Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel are what really fueled my desire to pursue a life in music." He began playing at thirteen and started performing professionally in his late teens. His acoustic guitar finger style echoes his influences: James Taylor, Paul Simon and Lindsay Buckingham, but his silky, soulful baritone voice is definitely his own. He performed a Simon & Garfunkel Retrospective for many years with his first singing partner, Jonathon Beedle. In 2015, Swearingen & Kelli had an opportunity to reform the show and turn it into the successful Greenwich Village coffee-house style show, "The Music of Simon & Garfunkel," which they perform around the country. It was an easy fit with Kelli's love for Art Garfunkel and her innate ability for intricate harmony.
Jayne Kelli's voice is both husky and sweet, tender and bluesy. When she takes the stage, she's more down-home than diva. Kelli was born in the small country town of Lapeer, MI. She grew up listening to her parents perform songs by John Denver, Jim Croce, and Glen Campbell around the campfire. Jayne began writing and recording her own songs at the age of fifteen. Her first release garnered praise from critics, calling her “a formidable talent with elegantly poetic and emotionally charged songs." Jayne’s song "Sweetness" was chosen as an anthem song for the domestic violence foundations, Victim Services International and Angel Wings International in 2015.
AJ and Jayne have shared the stage with Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Livingston Taylor, John McCutcheon, and Dave Mason among others. Their song "You're Not Here with Me," from their debut album, was recorded by folk icon Tom Rush and included on his album What I Know. "Give Everything Up," also on that album, was licensed by DMX. Swearingen & Kelli’s alt-country sophomore album will be released in early 2017.
Tickets are $15 and are available in advance at the link below or at the door the day of the show. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A MATINEE PERFORMANCE. Show time is 2pm, doors open at 1:30pm. The Back Room is an all-ages, BYOB (for those 21+) space, dedicated to (mostly) acoustic music of all kinds. If you have any questions or need more information, please call us at #510-654-3808.