A couple and their Corolla

Percussionist and keyboardist Kali Giaritta and guitarist Matt Harmon will break away from their quartet, The Ascetic Junkies, and tour as an acoustic duo this summer.

"It's easier to go as a duo and feel an area out, meet people and, hopefully, make some fans ... so next time there is a little more of a reason to bring the whole band," Harmon says.

The Portland-based couple in their Toyota Corolla will stop off in Ashland on a short Oregon and California tour before embarking on a larger Northwest tour in July and a national tour in August. They'll play at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

Without the electronic contributions of their bandmates, the pair relies on its sweet harmonies, playful lyrics and a variety of percussion (shakers, tambourines, etc.) to keep toes tapping and listeners interested.

"We call it weird pop," Harmon says.

Really, the duo's sound is Americana with a peppy, pop bent. As a full band, The Ascetic Junkies play louder, psychedelic rock and pop.

Giaritta and Harmon met in college. At the time, Giaritta was a freshman at Boston University, and Harmon was a sophomore at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 2007, they assumed the moniker The Ascetic Junkies and released a folksy album, "One Shoe Over the Cuckoo's Nest," about love, politics and coming of age.

In 2008, they decided to move across the country to Portland, a place they had never been but which appealed to them for its fine hiking trails, vegetarian restaurants, yoga clubs and "open" people.

The band released "This Cage Has No Bottom" in 2010 with current members bassist Cole Huiskamp and drummer Stephen Colvin.

Giaritta and Harmon, who married in 2011, continue to write silly and sarcastic songs as well as more abstract and poetic ones. Some of their favorites are "I'm Not Convinced," which Harmon wrote from the point of view of an "invincible" 16-year-old, and "Nail Salon," a "twisted, pop nursery rhyme" about going to a salon and breathing the toxic fumes.

Robbie DaCosta will close the show at Alex's. The cover to the show is $5. Call 541-482-8818.

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