The husband-and-wife team of Johnny Janiga (guitar) and Heather Marie Janiga (vocals) released their first alt-country album as Podunk Nowhere in 2007. Their 2008 album is called Based on a True Story.
The duo found out about Songwriters Acoustic Nights at a Gregory Page show. The Janigas were promptly invited to take seats at the monthly musicians’ gathering, which features the “Writers Round” format at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights.
One of their inspirations is Eric Taylor, for whom they once opened at an Oasis house concert. “He’s a character to say the least,” says Heather Marie. “We had just gotten back from playing Austin, Texas for the first time and were pretty happy with the way things unfolded. He snarled at the mention of Austin and said it’s over-saturated and full of indie Asian bands that all sound the same. Then he said someone should shoot Brad Paisley. It wasn’t long before we he hung on his every word! He’s a maniac genius who had us scared for our lives and laughing like hell the whole time.”
She cites their worst show as “Flagstaff, Arizona, in some random teahouse. After driving eleven hours and having a tire blow out on remote highway, we arrived at a ramshackle place that didn’t even look like it should have a health department permit. There was one person in the crowd, who had actually opened for us. Then, we were indulging in our drive-thru dinner, when suddenly the door began to get beat in. We were being invaded by cheap motel druggies, and all we had to defend ourselves was a little pocket knife. We got lucky, and they retreated before the door was fully busted in. We quickly escaped with gear in tow and never looked back.”
In 2010, members of this band and Heavy Guilt merged to form the Black Sands, which Heather Marie Janiga describes as “a band which embodies the brooding poetry of love and its opposite, and a soundscape that takes ambient new roads through Americana.”