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If you go

› What: The War & Treaty

› Where: Riverbend Festival, Bud Light Stage, Ross’s Landing

› When: 7:45 p.m. Saturday, June 1

› Admission: $60 one-day wristband

› For more information: riverbendfestival.com

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Tanya, left, and Michael Trotter are the singing duo War & Treaty. / Contributed Photo by David McClister

You can expect several things at a War & Treaty show like the one set for Saturday, June 1, on the Bud Light Stage at Riverbend.

You can count on being struck by the real love on display by husband and wife Michael and Tanya Trotter. You can expect to be taken to church by their emotional and powerful blend of soul, gospel and Americana music. Yes, Americana. They are up for two Americana Music Awards for their Buddy Miller-produced album, "Healing Tide."

And you can expect to hug your neighbor at some point. There might even be real tears if Michael decides to share his difficulties dealing with PTSD, which he suffers from after two tours of military duty overseas.

"Our fans expect a hug," he says.

"When we don't do that, our fans go, 'Hey, man, you didn't tell us to hug each other.'"

You can also expect a lot of emotion from the stage. During their Moon River show at Coolidge Park last fall, Michael fell to his knees during one song.

"None of it is rehearsed, therefore you can't duplicate it. We don't plan stuff like that. You can't. But, really, if you see me on my knees in front of Tanya, I probably did something wrong that morning," he says with a laugh.

Earlier this month, they joined an all-star lineup that performed for Mavis Staples' 80th birthday party.

"Oh my goodness, it was a blast. Ben Harper was there, Jason Isbell, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of the band Dawes, Trombone Shorty. We did 'Freedom Highway' with Grace Potter. And, as quiet as the event was kept, sitting up in the balcony was the all-powerful and great Joni Mitchell. She don't come out for nothing, but there she was."

That's the kind of year that the Michigan-based duo has had. Their afternoon performance last year at Bonnaroo preceded sets by Staples and Nile Rodgers and introduced them to scores of new fans who chanted "We love you" in response to Michael's emotional testimonial.

Earlier this year, they opened for Al Green and will do the same for Brandi Carlile. They also headlined for the first time at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. It's pretty heady stuff.

"You know, we are still catching up in our minds to all of this. We are very grateful and thankful and happy. We feel so undeserving at times because there are several musicians and singers out there who have visions and dreams and talent, but the light is on us right now. It's an awesome responsibility. Fortunately, we are a band that focuses on unity."

Michael says the band is preparing a new album, and fans can expect it to contain plenty of pleas for unity and love.

"With the president up for re-election, I believe our country's gonna go through an even deeper rift. We'll go on a campaign of our own asking everyone to remember that we are all human beings. We need to stay together as much as possible and stand up for the human race."

And remember, "Everybody needs a hug."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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