The non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms has taken their annual event, HEAVY AND LIGHT, to cities across America. HEAVY AND LIGHT is a special evening of songs, conversation, and hope. Throughout the tour, there has been intimate, acoustic performances from the likes of Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) & Fiction Family, Christina Perri, Now, Now, Will Anderson (of Parachute), Aaron Gillespie (of The Almost), Bryce Avary (of The Rocket Summer), Anthony Raneri (of Bayside), Noah Gundersen, The Lone Bellow, Satellite and award-winning spoken word poet Anis Mojgani. Joonbug checked out Heavy and Light in New York City last week. The concert was much more than music - the bigger message at this event was about dealing with hardships such as depression and addiction. As good as the music was, the main focus were the speakers at the show. Audience members didn't take their eyes off the stage and listened to moving speeches. We got to chat with To Write Love on Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski about the show and it is clear to see how important it is, both to him and the people it effects.
How did you come up with the idea for a concert series?
I think it just grew out of the idea that there's moments at concerts where nothing happens on stage and feeling like what if you could fill those moments by communicating messages you believe in? Originally, To Write Love on Her Arms was introduced to a lot of people by me coming on and speaking before a show at concerts, so it was expanding on that idea. It's become a part of our story - nights with music, relationships with artists. So now tonight's a three hour show and there's not a single moment when nothing is happening on stage. It's either music or a poet or a speaker and it's constantly evolving.
How did you pick the performers for the show?
We've been supported by some amazing people that have become friends, or some were friends before it started, so more than anything, it's just grown out of relationships. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, who is also with FictionFamily, and one of my dear friends is performing, so I think more than anything it's been very relational.
Do you find that there's a certain demographic that comes to the shows?
We definitely see and hear from a lot of younger people, but I think we are also really careful to point out that these are also issues that affect people of all ages. Naturally, younger people tend to be fans of these musicians and are the ones who have time and make time to attend shows. I think it's really something that people in their 20s and 30s and up will appreciate and get something out of it. For our last show in Orlando, people of all ages are there and our families are there.
How did you come up with the name for the concert?
Heavy and Light was taken from something I wrote when a musician who supported us passed away from an accidental overdose. I didn't know him but I wanted to do something to support him and help raise money for the funeral costs. I used the phrase 'heavy and light' because I felt like it summed up his life and the people mourning and remembering him. It was just a phrase that stuck and it represents contrast and the idea that life is a lot of things at once and it's really hard and yet it's really hopeful. There are terrible things that happen and amazing things that happen and just trying to be honest about all of that. So that's where the name came from.
Has there been a favorite destination so far?
There's been a couple shows that were really special - Nashville sold out, which was our first ever sell-out, so that was really exciting. LA was really cool at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. There was a really big turnout a couple of days ago in Chicago. And I think the case could be made that New York is the best city in the world. I actually used to live two blocks from here so it's a treat to be in my old neighborhood and be back. Any of the nights that we have friends or family around is really great. And Orlando will be really special because it's our hometown and there's a lot wrapped up in that one.
Any plans for after the tour?
We would love to make it an annual thing, it's just a matter of funding. We will definitely get a breather after this and then roll up our sleeves and figure out how to keep it alive or what it could look like next year.