New York-based artist performed at the Cabin on Friday night

John Splithoff performed self-written pieces and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in his set

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Photo by Gabbie Henn

“It’s inexplicable what music can make you feel,” Splithoff said.

The Cabin was full of the aroma of fresh coffee, and a warm purplish light was trained on the piano and guitar resting comfortably against the walls of the quaint UW-Eau Claire coffee shop Friday night, as students gathered on a music-filled weekend to listen to New York-based singer John Splithoff. Between Splithoff and the Jazz Festival downtown, there was no shortage of music to go around.

“Well, this isn’t Jazz Fest, this is The Cabin,” Splithoff said as he took the stage, joking with his audience as he asked about the other musical events going on during the weekend.

He planned to attend the 2018 Jazz Festival after his own performance, adding that he attended the University of Miami and studied jazz when he was a student.

“I don’t know anything about jazz,” he said with a grin.

Splithoff, wearing a denim jacket and a pair of dark lace-up boots, charmed the audience with his masterful manipulation of piano and guitar, with a musical style that reminded first-year psychology student Ashlyn Travers of a hybrid of Sam Smith, Adam Levine and John Mayer.

“Neither of us have seen him,” she said, sitting next to first-year nursing student Megan Weise.

She added before the performance that he reminded her of Imagine Dragons.

Splithoff performed a few newer self-written pieces including “Make It Happen,” which will be the title track of his new EP coming out in May; “Torture;” “What if She Wants You?” and a cover of the Disney-Pixar favorite,“What a Wonderful World,” originally performed by Louis Armstrong. He even included Armstrong’s signature trumpet solo using sound effects.

“It is just so cozy,” Travers said. “I love when they play music just like that.”Sitting next to her, with a notebook out and ready to take notes for her music appreciation class and coffee in her hand, Weise agreed.

“I like calmer music,” she said.

One of the songs Splithoff performed, entitled “Show Me” has already received 20 million streams on Spotify, and it digs into how, in relationships, it is important to show feelings rather than just explain them.

Splithoff, who is originally from the suburbs of Chicago, bounced to the University of Miami in Florida and now lives in New York, has a down-to-earth vibe and easily connected to his audience, getting everyone listening to snap along to one of his songs.

During his performance, he got personal with one of his newest songs — he just released it last week — that discussed the death of one of his close friends. Splithoff said music is important to him because it is key to those emotions, both good and bad.

“I think it’s just really key to feeling human and connecting to other people,” Splithoff said. “It also serves as a soundtrack to your life and you capture memories in a song. When I think back on really great memories in my life I more often than not remember what I was listening to at the time.”

He thought for a moment and then added, “Songs are kind of like a photograph.”