The HawtThorns

Johnny (left) and K.P. Hawthorn will play twice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, in downtown Knoxville.

As most committed couples will attest, finding harmony is the key to a successful relationship. And when that harmony is achieved by making music together, it’s all the better.

If that’s the yardstick by which a bond is measured, then consider K.P. (formerly Kristen Profitt) and Johnny Hawthorn an ideal match. The husband-wife duo that call themselves The HawtThorns recently released their debut album “Morning Sun,” a set of songs that finds the two veteran musicians perfectly in sync in both theory and execution. An idyllic reminder of the West Coast sounds that once cascaded through Laurel Canyon during the halcyon days of the late ’60s and early ’70s (think the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, et al.), “Morning Sun” radiates with a gentle glow and feel-good vibe that serve as a refreshing anecdote for these troublesome times.

Both Johnny and K.P. were well established in previous careers when they first started dating in June 2014. (“On our first date, all we did was play guitars all night long,” K.P. recalls fondly.) Johnny had three solo albums to his credit and a wellspring of recognition as an exceptional guitarist and reliable sideman who was always on call. K.P. played in a group called CALICO, a female trio whose fondness for that warm DayGlo haze illuminated both of their albums.

When CALICO opted to go on hiatus, the pair, who now reside in Venice, California, connected after K.P. spotted Johnny playing a gig with visiting Nashville singer Amelia White. White was in L.A. for a gig and had recruited Johnny for her band.

“A little later, we became a couple,” K.P. said. “The musical thing was destined to happen after that. We waited for the right time, when things were winding down with our other projects.”

The pair began writing songs together early last year and subsequently started recording “Morning Sun” in June of last year.

“The beauty of our combination is that Johnny is an exceptional guitar player,” K.P. said. “He plays for the song, and he’s also a songwriter and producer. So when he brings his fiery, beautiful, jangly sound to the music, he tunes it specifically for the sound. He’s constantly thinking how it’s going to fit within the context of the melody. It’s a unique gift, and I really appreciate that. For my part, I’ve always been a singer and melody person. Johnny never really sang harmony before, but now we’ve become a harmony band.”

That’s evident in more than simply the style. It’s reflected in their upbeat view of one another.

“One thing I didn’t want was simply to join her solo project,” Johnny said. “We went into it with the idea that I’d contribute the way I play guitar and way I write songs, and we’d be a real band. If it had been any less than that, it wouldn’t feel like a band.”

The two contributed equally to the original material, a decision that ensured that The HawtThorns would emerge as a true partnership.

“What makes it a band is the fact that when we were in the studio and in our songwriting sessions, we were each considering one another’s input 100%,” K.P. said. “We both had to agree for something to actually go on the record. I had learned from my previous group that it’s important that everybody’s happy, and I knew that in this instance, that would be the case. I want him to be happy and he wants me to be happy. We both want to love this music equally.”

Johnny concurs. “Once the songs are done, they’re done. If it’s not done the way you wanted, you won’t enjoy playing them.”

Of course any time a duo is connected both personally and professionally, there’s always a chance that they’ll take their work home with them. That opens the door to the possibility that personal disagreements could interfere with creative intents.

“To be quite honest with you, we’re navigating these waters for the first time, because neither of us have been in that situation before,” Johnny said. “But we’re pretty upbeat kind of people and we’re not into the drama so much. If there’s something we feel we need to change, we’ll discuss it, and then sit down to eat dinner and let it go. We’ll touch base about it the next day. That’s a small example, but so far it’s never been ‘I’m leaving until we get this thing resolved.’”

K.P. said it’s their mutual admiration for what each of them contribute that makes their bond so cohesive. “It’s the level of respect that helps everything,” she said. “It makes you listen to each other.”

Johnny stressed the need to avoid conflict whenever possible. “You’re not going to get your way all the time,” he said. “But like anything else, you have to decide when not to go to war.”

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