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Folk-inspired pair of singer/songwriters Jenny and Tyler return to Norman from Nashville



Jenny and Tyler with John Calvin
7 p.m. Saturday, Café Plaid
333 W. Boyd, Norman

Jenny and Tyler Somers' played their first Oklahoma show last fall, a small college campus gig organized by one of their biggest fans. Booked for an evening show in the social lounge of the Walker Tower dorms at the University of Oklahoma, Tyler said he was surprised when almost 50 people showed up for what he and his bandmate wife assumed would be an "informal," one-off concert for only a few.

"It was so much fun, and very intimate," Tyler, 25, recalled from his Nashville, Tenn., home last week as the couple prepared to pack up their Honda Element-turned-tourvan for a trek that winds its way through Arkansas, Texas and back to Norman for a free show at Café Plaid on Campus Corner. Despite its small setting, Tyler said the pair expects Saturday's show to be even bigger than their previous dorm concert.

Jenny and Tyler met on a church bus in 2004 and quickly began writing music together. The pair dated and married in 2007, the same year they released "A Prelude," the duo's 11-song debut. In 2008, the pair moved to Nashville from Delaware " "Have you ever been to Delaware? Not much of a singer/songwriter scene there," Tyler said with a laugh " and started writing and recording material for their second full-length release, last spring's "This Isn't a Dream."

The Somers' latest has more pop and more layers " a more upbeat offering that combines singer/songwriter storytelling with radio-rock instrumentation. Think Jack Johnson piped in one ear, Jason Mraz in the other. The pair harmonizes more, with Jenny taking most of the lead lyrical duties with her casually sweet, almost gospel-sounding voice.

In December, Jenny and Tyler released "Love Came Down," an eight-song Christmas EP that included seasonal hymns like "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" and a cheerfully picked "Angels We Have Heard on High," as well as carols, like the simple-but effectively harmonized version of "Love Came Down on Christmas."

Tyler has played guitar for 15 years and Jenny for two, and he said most of the new songs they're working on incorporate more double-duty work, both live and in the studio.

"Jenny's working much more on the two-instrument thing," he said, adding that his father-in-law's recent pastime has helped encourage his wife's practice sessions. "He just randomly got into the hobby of making these really fantastic instruments. He just made her a guitar, and he built the mandolin that we play."

When not on tour, the two are writing, rehearsing and recording new music, which Tyler said they plan to distribute through www., a subscription-music Web site that connects fans with performers who, instead of debuting an album's worth of material at a time, release songs on a monthly, ongoing basis.

The site shares a percentage of the $4.99 monthly subscription fee with participating musicians, who are handpicked by the staff.

The site also has a strong philanthropic mission, where a portion of the revenues are directed to a charity or cause chosen by the artist. Musicians retain complete ownership over the rights of their music, and the subscription model yields regular payments tied to the amount of fan visits the performers bring in, which Tyler said becomes "basically like getting a salary" to write and record songs and interact with audiences online.

"For us, it will primarily be a way to release new songs," he said. "I really think it will work out. There's a lot of back-and-forth with listeners. Hopefully, it'll attract fans who feel like they kind of have a stake in what we do, plus we're on there with other really great artists." "Joe Wertz

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