Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

WorkPlay welcomes folk rockers Penny & Sparrow


Two college roommates at the University of Texas Austin once fumbled around with a handful of guitar strings and a variety of vocal covers in an effort to blow off steam after classes. Now, they confidently take stages nationwide as thousands of fans crowd venue after venue for an evening of musical therapy and simply honest lyrics. Tomorrow at WorkPlay, it’s Birmingham’s turn to experience Penny & Sparrow.

Originally, however, college friends and roommates Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke never anticipated a full career in music. 

“We lived in a house full of 11 guys who loved music, so initially we just messed around with vocals and instruments covering songs as a hobby to pass the time,” Baxter said. “I was an undergrad studying film while Kyle was completing his master’s in public health.”

Introduced through Andy’s girlfriend at the time and current wife, the two friends immediately hit it off and decided to live together. Little did they know their laid-back evening jam sessions would later lead to real tours and albums. 

“I needed a place to stay and along came Kyle,” Baxter said. “It’s simple with guys, we both loved sports and music, so we became friends and started living together with a bunch of other guys. Of course we never thought a music career was in the future, yet here we are, and it’s incredible how things kick started all of a sudden.”

The band name, however, was coined rather untraditionally as Baxter and Jahnke figured the musical route would remain a relatively low-key endeavor. 

“One of our roommates asked us to play at this benefit concert but we needed a name to do so,” Baxter said. “So we borrowed a buddy of ours’ blog name who wrote various short stories and screenplays under ‘Penny and Sparrow’ because we liked it and honestly didn’t think we’d be using it for long. Six and a half years later, we still haven’t given it back.”

After performing at the benefit concert and receiving positive feedback after releasing their 2011 self-funded album “Creature,” Baxter and Jahnke decided to keep a good thing going while they could.

“It was surreal for a couple of years because we just thought it was luck or random community connections throwing us a charity bone, but we quickly realized it was way bigger than we anticipated,” Baxter said. “So there were a lot of tears, a lot of thankfulness, and a lot of surprise. It went on for a while until we realized we should be more confident in what we were doing.”

After past performances alongside Drew Holcomb in the Bama Theatre, a few UA students look forward to Penny & Sparrow’s trip to Birmingham this week.

“I’ve been incredibly excited about their return,” said Rachel O’Brien, a sophomore majoring in economics and finance. “It’ll be nice to take a break from a busy week of classes with some of my friends and enjoy the folky, therapeutic and refreshingly honest show Penny & Sparrow puts on.”

When Baxter and Jahnke aren’t on the road or performing, they’re spending time with friends and family, hiking, playing volleyball at the YMCA, collecting first editions of novels and comic books, and discovering good movies, all of which contribute to the relaxation portrayed throughout their music and upcoming shows.

“For those who are going to come out for the show, we really just want you to embrace the therapeutic and thought-provoking nature of our music,” Baxter said. “Feel hopeful, perhaps a little confused, somewhat sexy, and overall, incredibly relaxed because it’s going to be a great time.”

Penny & Sparrow’s show tomorrow night at WorkPlay is at 8 p.m. with doors at 6:30. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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