SELBYVILLE — The Freeman Arts Pavilion might be the happiest place on earth Tuesday night as pop singer Andy Grammer co-headlines a show with Los Angeles-based indie pop band Fitz & The Tantrums.
Mr. Grammer, known for such uplifting songs as “Honey I’m Good,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Don’t Give Up On Me,” joins the group renowned for feel-good songs, including “MoneyGrabber,” “HandClap” and “Out of My League” on their “The Wrong Party Tour.”
“We’ve been friends for a while, but we’ve never been on tour together. It’s really a fun mix. He’s an L.A. guy,” Mr. Grammer said of Fitz & The Tantrums lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick.
“We’ve been kind of circling each other for a while. So it’s fun. It seemed like our music would go well together.”
Mr. Grammer, 38, was born in Los Angeles but raised in Chester, New York. The two have a song coming out soon called “The Wrong Party,” which is where the name of the tour, which started last week in Florida, springs.
Mr. Grammer has been headlining his own “The Art of Joy” tour for the better part of this year, coming out of the COVID pandemic.
“It’s been definitely an extra stress to figure out how to do it and to do it as safely as possible. There’s a lot of work that goes into that. I think that it pays off when you play the show because everybody so desperately needs it. We just really need the group singing stuff. I think it touches the soul like other things just don’t. So it’s still totally worth all the headaches to make sure that everything feels safe and get out there and then have these moments together,” Mr. Grammer said.
He says music can act as a “spiritual chiropractor.”
“You didn’t even know you were out of alignment. And then you have this sense that you’re back in alignment after you leave an incredible show. That’s my main goal when people come see me,” he said.
“It was a long couple of years to not get that. It’s just these moments that pull you out of the day-to-day stuff. It’s been a hard couple years for everybody. And there are these moments where you kind of get a bird’s eye view on things. For me personally, music can make me feel something bigger than my day to day. It’s what I feel when I’m on stage. And when everybody’s singing together, you have these moments where you remember that we’re bigger than we are. That’s what music can do for you. It can broaden your view a little bit.”
Mr. Grammer, known for his positivity and unbridled optimism, said being away from the stage during the pandemic took a toll as he reached out for therapy.
“After two years of none of that (performing), it took a little while to realize I kind of really had a need for that, which I wasn’t even really aware of. So when that all dropped away, there were some withdrawals from feeling special, which I think were really good for me personally. I don’t know if anybody else felt that in their respective jobs. But I definitely had some deep work to do around what I needed to feel special in this specific, shiny way as opposed to just like you are inherently special. You don’t need everybody else to tell you that,” he admitted.
“A lot of my music that has been coming out has been based around those ideas. With The Art of Joy Tour, I really dove into the idea of what joy is. It kept bringing me back to my favorite quote about what joy is — gladness not based on circumstance.”
In June, Mr. Grammer got a chance to speak at a mental health forum about his journey as well as to perform in Washington, D.C.
“It was really, really fun. And the challenge was awesome. I’ve been doing a lot of poetry in my shows as well. So it’s kind of like mixing together a way of expressing myself. We tell you stories using poetry and maybe a couple songs. It was hopefully powerful. It seemed like a really cool thing. I’d love to do more,” he said.
Mr. Grammer said he realizes that his virtual trademark on joy can come off as superficial or innocuous and it’s a line he tries to walk.
“(Jerry) Seinfeld had a quote where someone asked him, ‘Why don’t you curse?’ And he’s like, ‘It doesn’t work for me. I just want to make you laugh.’ So I have got to go in the way that I found to do that and it’s to be the most myself that I can be. I love the challenge of the art of joy.”
“You can sense how bad that could go. But the truth is that my purpose is to bring joy and go at all the different sides of it and try to figure out how to get that across in a way that you actually understand.
“I know in my heart, and in a lot of people’s hearts, the word ‘joy’ at its core is not cheesy. And a lot of times it’s grounded in pain and how do you be joyful in these really hard situations? And if you do the deep hard work on how do I make this actually authentic, I think people can feel that. It just takes a lot of work.”
Mr. Grammer’s first hit song “Keep Your Head Up,” which was released in 2011, was written during a difficult time in his life. He was struggling as a musician and his mother, Kathy, had just died of breast cancer.
The two shared a love of the music of Billy Joel. Before she died, Mrs. Grammer told him that whenever he heard a song by Mr. Joel, it was a sign that she loved him. Mr. Grammer said he continually hears Billy Joel songs today in unexpected places.
He said he is most gratified that people come up to him and tell him similar stories about his own music now.
“I’ve been on the other end of it, which is so cool. When I hear Billy Joel, I think of my mom and it’s so sweet. And then I’ll get a bunch of people that come up to me and say, ‘My song with my mom,’ ‘My song with my dad,’ ‘My song with my brother who passed away was this of yours.’ And it’s just so cool to be in this kind of soup where we’re so connected with each other and to hear people using my songs for their weddings or with a really important moment in their life and having the memories. I feel sometimes I’m not just writing songs. I’m writing these weird magical little things that go out and have these deep effects on people,” he said.
“I love it. It’s my favorite part of this mystical game of what songs can be. It’s so fun to be a part of it.”
Tuesday night’s show at Freeman starts at 6 p.m., where they will be joined by singer Maggie Rose. For tickets and more information, visit here.