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Investing in each other keeps The Head and the Heart going strong

At a time when the isolation and separation of the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to erode partnerships of all kinds, members of the Seattle band The Head and the Heart made a commitment, as drummer Tyler Williams put it, “to cherish our relationships.”

The Head and the Heart, which will headline Tuesday’s show at Ting Pavilion, established a weekly check-in Zoom call to help make sure hearts and heads were in the same space during a disruptive time in history.

Williams and his bandmates — vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Russell; violinist, guitarist and vocalist Charity Rose Thielen; pianist Kenny Hensley; bassist Chris Zasche and multi-instrumentalist Matt Gervais — invested extra time in checking in with each other during a time when shutdowns kept them from rehearsing and conversing in person.

“We started a weekly Zoom call that was just for the band to talk about our lives and stay together, and not grow apart,” Williams said. “Then, we were also doing therapy together. We’ve done band therapy since 2019,” which the drummer said is valued for helping the musicians stay committed to “understanding each other.”

“I think we realized we want to stay together as long as possible and cherish our relationships,” Williams said. He said that Metallica caught a lot of heat early on for devoting time to band therapy, but “now it’s not a joke anymore.”

The musicians’ hard work can be heard in “Every Shade of Blue,” a 16-track collection that explores the musical influences the individual band members bring to the song creation process and the creative energy of producers Jesse Shatkin, Andrew Sarlo, John Hill and Sammy Witte.

Work had just started on a new album in February 2020 when the pandemic arrived and a cascade of shutdowns began. Each band member started recording at home on his or her own equipment, sharing the results and savoring the versatility.

“We’re music,” Williams said. “We’re influenced by so many things. This one has a lot of variety.”

The musicians created so many songs that it made sense to include as many as possible on “Every Shade of Blue” and revel in the diverse influences that flow into a cohesive sound that’s unmistakably the band’s own.

“It was a learning process for two and a half years before we could see each other again,” Williams said. “We came up with so much stuff in that time that we had to use it, and not sit on it.”

One track is “Virginia (Wind in the Night),” penned by a grateful Russell after returning to his home state. Williams is happy to remind listeners “how great Virginia is.”

“Jon and I moved back to Richmond,” said Williams, who grew up in Fredericksburg. “We can’t stay away. We’re back for good.”

Quality time in the commonwealth includes Tuesday’s visit to Ting Pavilion. Williams fondly remembers the band’s first Charlottesville performance — a 2012 show opening for Dr. Dog at the Jefferson Theater. “My whole family was there,” he said.

He said the Charlottesville audience can expect to hear music from each of the band’s albums.

“We always hit every album and different eras,” Williams said. “We’ve always had a song or two that brought a different audience.”

The Head and the Heart will headline its own inaugural music festival at summer’s end. Down in the Valley Festival, scheduled for Sept. 2 and 3 at Oxbow Riverstage in Napa, California, reflects the founders’ ideas about what makes a successful festival.

“We got to curate the whole lineup,” Williams said. “Everybody we like to listen to. We look at it as really doing it right. It feels very much like a community.”

Also performing in Tuesday’s show at Ting Pavilion will be Illiterate Light, Landon Elliott and Deau Eyes.

General admission is $50. From each ticket purchased, $1 will go to The Head and the Heart’s The Rivers and Roads Foundation. Funds will go to work in the band’s home base of Seattle both by boosting local music programs, especially ones that help youths gain equitable access to music education, and mental health resources and support for musicians.

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