Evan and Jaron
Evan and Jaron
Identical twin brothers Evan and Jaron Lowenstein have attracted popular and critical attention since the middle and late 1990s for their well-crafted popular songs and vocal harmonies, as well as for their adherence to their Orthodox Jewish faith. Their observance of Jewish tradition has prevented them from performing on the Jewish Sabbath—from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday—as well as on such religious holidays as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. This diligence resulted in their rejection of an offer to open for British band Oasis on Rosh Hashanah in 1996 as well as opting out of a 2001 tour with Stevie Nicks, performances that could have brought them tremendous exposure to wider audiences. The brothers ensure that their recording and performing contracts acknowledge their religious faith, specifying that they will not perform on the Sabbath or holidays and that they must be served kosher food while touring. The brothers’ music exhibits influences from Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys, relying on the strength of Jaron Lowenstein’s guitar playing and the duo’s vocal harmonies.
The Lowenstein brothers became interested in music after both received portable compact disc players for their bar mitzvahs. Jaron began playing guitar, and the
Members include Evan Lowenstcin (born on March 18, 1974, in Atlanta, GA; married to Kassini Cohen), guitar, vocals; Jaron Lowenstein (born on March 18, 1974, in Atlanta, GA), guitar, vocals.
Recorded four-song tape as band Durable Phig Leaf, 1993; released Durable Phig Leaf live album, Live at KaLo’s Coffeehouse, 1995; toured as supporting act for Hootie and the Blowfish, 1996; released major label debut, We’ve Never Heard of You Either, 1998; released Evan and Jaron, 2001.
Awards: Gibson Guitar Award for Best Acoustic Guitarist (Jaron Lowenstein), 2002.
two brothers began writing songs. Rather than working together, however, the two emphasize that they write their songs separately. They told MTV.com writer David Basham: “It’s a misnomer [that we’re a songwriting duo]. People think, because we’re brothers, that we write together.” Jaron sometimes works with songwriting partner Jeff Cohen, while Evan writes alone or with several different collaborators. On such occasions when they have worked with each other on a song, they have relied on outside arbiters to resolve disagreements.
Evan and Jaron began their recording careers as a band named Durable Phig Leaf. In 1993 the duo recorded a four-song tape of tracks they had written and performed. The brothers had 400 copies of the tape made and sold all of them within the first month. Durable Phig Leaf played a standing Tuesday-night performance each week at Atlanta’s KaLo’s Coffeehouse, a gig that gradually increased their local popularity. They recorded their performances there to a digital audiotape and released the tape as the album Live at KaLo’s Coffeehouse, renaming the act Evan and Jaron. The album eventually sold 15,000 copies. The brothers formed a band and recorded their EP release, Not from Concentrate, which was issued in March of 1996 on the band’s humorously named A Major Label. Not from Concentrate prompted the interest of several major record labels, but the duo resisted many offers.
In June of 1996 recording artist Jimmy Buffett contacted the group and expressed interest in seeing them perform. After finishing a performance at the Lakewood Ampitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia, Buffet attended a showcase the Evan and Jaron Band performed for him at Smith’s Olde Bar club. Buffett offered them a contract on his own Margaritaville Records, named after the singer’s 1977 hit single “Margaritaville.” The deal expanded, however, after Buffett told Island Records founder Chris Blackwell about the group, and Blackwell acquired the group for Island in an amicable agreement with Buffett. Jaron Lowenstein told RollingStone.com critic Kevin Raub: “The first time we met with Chris Blackwell, our Manáger called him and said, ‘Listen, the guys would love to meet with you, but they have dietary laws. They eat kosher only.’ Chris said ‘Absolutely’ and sat down and told us about how he grew up Jewish and his family founded the first synagogue in Jamaica.”
Blackwell enlisted veteran guitarist Danny Korchmar—who had previously worked with Carole King, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor as a guitarist and had produced albums for Don Henley, Rod Stewart, and Billy Joel—to work with the brothers. The resulting album, We’ve Never Heard of You Either, released in 1998, prompted favorable comparisons from critic Raub to Simon & Garfunkel, the Rembrandts, and Ben Folds Five. Raub praised the album as containing well-crafted songs—particularly “Andy Warhol,” “And Then She Says,” and “Could’ve Been James Dean.” Explaining the musical direction and influences on their songwriting, Jaron told Raub, “Back in the early 1970s, people liked the music because it was just a damn good song. No acrobats, no jugglers, no twins, no tight leather pants—just a damn good song.” Lowenstein also discredited the notion that the brothers attempted to use the fact that they are twins as a marketing gimmick, stating to Raub: “We don’t like to promote the fact that we’re twins. We’re not running away from it, we just want the music to speak for itself. We’re not out there saying, ‘Hey, it’s Doublemint gum, it’s Evan and Jaron, have a stick!’” Following the release of the album, Island Records was subsumed by another record company.
The band’s second major release, Evan and Jaron, on the Sony Columbia label, features such guests as Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s band the Heartbreakers, and keyboardist John Medeski from the jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. The Lowensteins also collaborated with songwriter Dan Wilson from the band Semisonic for the song “Crazy for This Girl,” which was featured on the television series Dawson’s Creek and became a top-20 single. Glen Ballard, perhaps most famous for his songwriting collaborations with Alanis Morrisette, also contributed songwriting to the album. The album was executive produced by T-Bone Burnett, producer of the 2001 Grammy Award-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, as well as albums by Elvis Costello, the Wallflowers, and Counting Crows. Jaron Lowenstein subsequently won a Gibson Guitar Award for Best Acoustic Guitarist for his work on the album.
The success of the “Crazy for This Girl” single led to the group appearing on MTV’s afternoon television program Total Request Live (TRL), which may have prompted a backlash against the band by some critics who began to label the group a prefabricated boy band. Jaron explained to USA Weekend.corn’s Michele Hatty, “In a lot of ways, MTV put us a step backward. Don’t get me wrong—we appreciate the exposure—but we are not a boy band. We play our own instruments. We write our own songs. Before TRL, most of our fans were more or less our age.” Their exposure to younger audiences also brought increased awareness of the brothers’ physical attractiveness, resulting in both of them being added to media lists of the entertainment industry’s most attractive people, including People magazine’s 2001 issue of “The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.”
(As Durable Phig Leaf) Live at KaLo’s Coffeehouse, 1995. Not from Concentrate, A Major Label, 1996.
We’ve Never Heard of You Either, Island, 1998.
(Contributor) Songs from Dawson’s Creek, Vol. 2 (soundtrack), Sony/Columbia, 2000.
(Contributor) Runaway Bride (soundtrack), 2000.
Evan and Jaron, Columbia, 2001.
People, May 14, 2001, p. 139.
“Evan & Jaron,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 30, 2002).
“Evan & Jaron,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/evanjaron/artist.jhtml (May 1, 2002).
“Evan & Jaron,” VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/spotlight/inside_track/evan_and_Jaron (July 10, 2002).
“Two for One,” RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=3997 (May 1, 2002).
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