The duo Two by Two will perform Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. as part of the Acoustic Showcase series in the Front Room Coffeehouse in Baker University Center.
Two by Two member Nathan Zangmeister spoke with The Post on the phone about his musical background and his current career.
The Post: How did you and your co-artist first become a duo, and for how long?
Zangmeister: We’ve been performing together for about four years. Carrie Vansickle came to several of my performances with my old band. We got to talking after shows and quickly realized that we both shared the same love for writing, making and listening to music. We actually both attended Ohio University. We really do have an appreciation for Athens.
P: Tell me about the first time you and Carrie performed together and how you each felt.
Zangmeister: One night, we were in the kitchen together and decided to cook some food. While it was cooking, we decided to break open some song books and try singing and playing together. It just felt right, like we fit so well together. Our first public gig was a small music community night at a church. We were nervous because we had only practiced a few times prior to this, however, we felt pretty confident. One thing about us is that we both like to get the crowd involved, and we realized early on how successful we were at convincing the audience to participate and have a good time.
P: So after hearing about your first performance, I would like to hear a little about your favorite performance so far as a duo.
Zangmeister: Ah, that’s a hard question. All of our performances are different. But I think one of the most memorable performances was at a correctional facility. Neither of us knew what exactly to expect. We walked into a room full of 120 male inmates and three to four guards, in complete silence. But once we began playing, all of the inmates stood up and truly got into the music. We gave them something and they gave us something memorable. We felt lifted. No matter where the venue may be, seeing people smile or just participate by tapping their foot makes us happy.
P: So I hear that the two of you work very well together when it comes to getting the crowd involved. What genre of music are you playing that is so fun for the audience?
Zangmeister: We play quite a mixture, but for the most part, we play traditional, folk and gospel music. Carrie is actually a music teacher, so she is very experienced when it comes to getting the crowd excited.
P: Do you play mostly original content or do you prefer covering?
Zangmeister: We started out just playing gospel music from song books, but over time, we branched out to include originals because Carrie and I are both songwriters at heart. I’d say we play about 50/50. It’s good to play covers because if the audience knows the song, they’re more likely to join in and sing along.
P: Have any other musicians influenced you?
Zangmeister: Wow, I could name my inspirations forever, but one in particular is definitely Bruce Dalzell. He is actually in charge of Friday night open nights at the Front Room here in Athens. I really like that he supports the local music scene. He was a big influence during my college years. Both Carrie and I have separate artists who inspired each of us. I guess you could say we both brought a bunch of ingredients to the table.
P: What sparked the start of your career?
Zangmeister: My parents had always been supportive of creative endeavors. I started playing piano around the age of 8. Carrie actually began playing piano around the age of just 4 years old. I guess I just feel connected to music; it’s my creative outlet.
P: You mentioned that your parents support creativity. Do you have any other musically-inclined family members?
Zangmeister: For sure. My mother plays piano and has always had a musical talent. My sister plays the piano and harp. My sister and I have actually played together at weddings and churches. My brother plays the drums.
P: Thank you for the chance to talk with you. Do you have any advice for people with the same aspirations as yourself?
Zangmeister: That’s a good question. My main advice is to immerse yourself in whatever it is that you’re passionate about, whether it’s singing, writing, playing sports, anything. Keep your mind on the prize. Essentially, become obsessed with what you do.