Heart Hunters brings social justice lyrics and world music influences to the Trumpet Blossom

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Heart Hunters w/ Mace Hathaway

Trumpet Blossom Café — Saturday, June 15 at 9 p.m.

Heart Hunters return to Iowa City June 15. — courtesy of the artist

On Saturday, June 15 at 9 p.m., the Atlanta band Heart Hunters will be returning to Iowa City for the third time to perform an intimate, acoustic set at Trumpet Blossom Café. Tickets are $7 for this stop on their first behind-the-record, through-the-Midwest tour celebrating their last album, American Eclipse.

Brianna Blackbird and Drew de Man are the brainpower behind Heart Hunters. The husband and wife are both songwriters and have both studied music abroad: De Man studied in South America and Blackbird in Africa; they draw inspiration from these places to make their own music.

Listeners can also expect Americana and folk roots in Heart Hunters’ music, along with an emphasis on harmonies and social justice-driven lyrics.

“I just think we sound like ourselves,” Blackbird said in a recent conversation, though she also drew comparisons to First Aid Kit. “The most recent album is the most rockin’.”

Blackbird sees herself as a political artist, singing about the thought-provoking issues she and de Man find most important but don’t see people talking about. If listeners are already talking about the issue, she wants people to know they are not alone, and they are validated.

“We sing about how Jesus is brown … and I want people to be like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, let’s have a conversation about that,’” Blackbird said, adding, “Even if the song I’m writing seems like a love song, it may be about capitalism for me.”

Honesty is a value Blackbird wants to leave people with when a Heart Hunters show is over, whether it be her own vulnerability with her audience or a permission for them to be honest with themselves. Something she and de Man say to each other often is to “take people home,” as a way of nourishing the audience through their music and hoping they will take some of these values with them when they leave the show.

Heart Hunters has performed in Iowa City twice before, once on Blackbird’s birthday a couple years ago, also at Trumpet Blossom Café. “[A friend] said, ‘Don’t you want to go to Hawaii for your birthday,’ and I said, ‘No, I really just want to go to Iowa City,’” said Blackbird.

“I think it’s just the people … everyone we’ve met there,” Blackbird said, on what draws her and her husband back to Iowa City.

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When Heart Hunters plays at home in Atlanta, they have three other musicians playing with them, transforming the shows into rock concerts with the addition of guitars and drums. When they are on the road, it’s just the two of them on stage, with a quieter focus. This time when they planned their tour, they made it a point to return to Iowa.

“The first show we played there … we ended up hanging out and walking all over the city with people I’d just met and they adopted us for the evening,” Blackbird said. “I was sold.”

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