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Heartthrob rockers keep the faith

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BOSTON, Aug. 8 (JTA) — With their boy-band good looks and intelligent songwriting, the pop duo of Evan and Jaron Lowenstein are making it big and are poised to make it even bigger.

The talented identical twins from Atlanta’s Yeshiva High School have lived together since they were, well, embryos, and have been playing together since 1993. In that time they’ve performed with Burt Bachrach, Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy Buffett, Bonnie Raitt and Vice President Al Gore.

The 27-year-old brothers, who once toured the country as semi-pro baseball players, now harmonize on hits such as “Crazy for This Girl” and “From My Head to My Heart” before audiences of screaming girls.

“It’s been quite a ride,” says Evan, speaking to JTA from a hotel sauna in Denver.

Rugged individualists, the singer-songwriters keep a close eye on every part of their careers.

“We used to do it all for ourselves,” Evan says, recalling the days when the brothers handled their own writing, arranging, booking, performing and publicity. “We’ve always felt it was important to understand the whole package. The more you understand the business, the more you can protect the art.”

Fortunately, they now have some help. Recently back from a tour sponsored by Chanel, the folk-rock duo signed with Columbia Records last year.

Evan and Jaron say their fans make it all worthwhile.

“We love to play for them,” Evan says. “That’s what makes it fun.”

But couldn’t one say there’s an even higher authority at work? As observant Jews — they’re careful about using the word Orthodox — Evan and Jaron are closely involved with their religion, but say they’re not overly so.

“It serves as a great blueprint for my life and I have found success in it,” Evan says, “but I do not find religion handcuffing.”

The two keep kosher on tour and never play on the Sabbath.

The Lowensteins demonstrate their faith with a publishing company called “Tzitzis What We Do,” which Evan claims took its name from a friend’s misunderstanding of Hebrew. In addition, their hit single, “From My Head to My Heart” subtly traces the path of phylacteries.

Still, the duo prefer to focus on their music.

“I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, but I do wear it in my heart,” Evan says.

As a result, the brothers have been very careful about how they handle their fame, fans and philosophies.

“We held off from doing Jewish press for a long time,” Evan says. “We didn’t want everything to be focused on that part of our lives.”

In fact, the boys say they much prefer to tell their own story by sending out e-mail accounts from the road.

“We try to get something on our site as often as we can to let our fans keep in touch and let them see what life on the road is really like,” Evan says, citing the duo’s website at www.evanandjaron.com. In addition to letters from the road, fans can check out the brothers’ personal histories, tour dates and photos.

“It’s a great way to keep in touch with our fans,” Evan says.

In considering his religion and his art, Evan sees an interesting dichotomy.

“Religion is about structure,” he suggests, “and rock is about lack of structure.”

Labeling themselves as “musicians who are Jewish” rather than “Jewish musicians,” Evan and Jaron say they’ve been influenced by the beautiful sounds of their tradition, but no more than any other style of music.

“We grew up listening to everything from Hebrew to Jimi Hendrix,” Evan recalls. “Religious music is beautiful — but right now, we want to rock!”

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