Secondhand Hearts Enchants Crowd at Acoustic Cafe

Duo harmonizes amidst crowd of Eau Claire community


Photo by Lara Bockenstedt

Zerr and Craemer of Secondhand Hearts perform in The Acoustic Cafe Friday, Oct. 30.

Ukuleles, guitars and harmonicas are not atypical to the usual live music performances in Eau Claire. However, when Secondhand Hearts performed at The Acoustic Cafe Friday evening, the sound captured the attention of community members of all ages.

The Acoustic Cafe, located on South Barstow Street, is evocative of a train station waiting room. Booths line the two walls decorated with classically cut dark wood. The ceiling is strikingly tall for the size of the space and a large clock dictates the time near the main doorway. People stop in for a brief coffee and head on their way.

The presence Secondhand Hearts brought to The Acoustic Cafe created a snapshot within this liminal space.

Overall, their music was folksy with a slightly quirky touch. Their aesthetic, with a classic Midwestern feel of home, can be seen through the title of their recent album, “Guacamole Macaroni & Cheese.”

Marjorie Craemer and Daniel Zerr played covers varying from Jason Mraz to First Aid Kit, lightening the original sounds.

A community of listeners, around 40 in total, gathered to hear the music. Older men in business suits sat within feet of adolescents donning flannels; kids ran giggling through the aisles. Senior members looked upon these children with discontent, which quickly melted into smiles.

Secondhand Hearts is comprised of two musicians: Craemer and Zerr. Both sang with frequent harmonizing. Zerr used the guitar while Craemer switched between a guitar and ukulele. Every once in awhile, a friend called “Duffy” hopped up on stage, harmonica in hand, joining his fellow musicians.

“This song is about the music heroes of art,” Zerr said before beginning a First Aid Kit song.

Music manager for The Acoustic Cafe, Blayne Bowell, said he booked Secondhand Hearts after seeing a performance from the band Eggplant Heroes, which Zerr is also plays with.

“Daniel mentioned he had a second band,” Bowell said. “And the rest is history.”

Live music is hosted each weekend at The Acoustic Cafe, and this duo, Bowell said, has played multiple times there.

Janice Roberts, a retired teacher at North High School enjoys how the duo performs together.

“I like the genre,” Roberts said. “Also how well they harmonize together.”

Roberts said Secondhand Hearts performs at four or five different places around Eau Claire.

A large portion of the listeners were high school-aged. This was explained when Craemer dedicated one of the group’s songs to them.

“I have a lot of students here,” she said. “This is for you when you’re feeling down; hopefully never in math class.”

During their 9 p.m. break, Craemer walked around and was greeted with assortments of balloons and flowers from smiling students. “Look what my students brought me!” she said to those sitting close by.

Secondhand Hearts is due to play again at The Acoustic Cafe Jan. 9, 7-10 p.m.