Ian Tongi – November 1, 2023
The Ludlow Garage – Cincinnati, OH
The first time that I heard Iam Tongi sing, I got goosebumps. Not on my arms or on the back of my neck, but in my ears. His voice coming through the television during the American Idol auditions stopped me in my tracks and stole my attention from anything else that may have been going on. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in and while there is a voice so special that it cuts through everything else. It’s the kind of voice that goes past the ears and goes directly to your soul. That is the kind of voice that Iam Tongi displayed during his championship run on American Idol.
Tongi hit me on many different layers. Obviously, as a music lover, I could not miss the talent that oozed from him as he humbly poured his heart out armed with only his guitar strapped around his shoulder. But his music hit me on even deeper levels. If you have ever spent time on the Hawaiian Islands, you know there is a part of you that is never the same after you return home. Hearing Iam Tongi brought the love of the Islands to the front of my heart. As he sang his songs, I could feel Hawaii in my blood as if I were sitting on top of Haleakala watching the sunset on the world all over again. And finally, as Iam sang about missing his father, the words cut through me, and found the grief that is always with me at the loss of my mother. I can remember my heart breaking with his when he broke a string on the guitar his father had given him just before he was set to perform. Here was this unknown, everyday guy who seemed to be singing songs directly to me.
But that was all on TV. Could Iam Tongi really sound that good in real life? I am here to tell you, he does. We had the pleasure to see Tongi and his band when they played at The Ludlow Garage here in Cincinnati, OH and what Iam did on that stage blew away anything that I saw on TV. He came out, seemingly the same humble guy that he was during his Idol run, and held the nearly sold-out crowd in the palm of his hand. Playing a mix of his own songs and a diverse batch of covers, Iam Tongi proved that he is much more than just a reality show champion. He is a superstar who sings songs of life that give the listener no other choice but to consume every note that he sings and plays and tuck them away somewhere deep inside of them. And he makes it look easy. He is just a real guy who feels like someone you could just hang out with and talk to like you have known him forever.
Iam Tongi is just getting started on a career that is sure to be a long and celebrated one. Do yourself a favor and check him out any time and every time you can!