There’s Friday night music and Saturday night. Friday nights, I’m exhausted from a week at work. I need something low-key, not too aggressive. I got that last Friday with Rosanne Cash, who put on a wonderful evening of songs and stories. Saturday nights I can get rowdy, and Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones brought the party to Villain & Saint in Bethesda.
I met the Woodstock, NY-based roots rock’n’roll band when they opened for The Blasters in August at Hill Country Live. The band returned to the area in December to open for the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
On Saturday Night, Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones shared the bill with local soul performer Ray Apollo Allen. The concert was a fundraiser for the After Dark Fund, which local NBC reporter Mark Segraves started to support local musicians in need. Mark’s father wrote about the local music during the ’60s and ’70s in the “After Dark” column in the Washington Star.
Before playing “Floatin’ Down the River,” Lara told the audience that she hadn’t seen her house in six weeks, but that the band drives home the next night. They followed that the first of two covers they played in the set, Roy Orbison’s “You’re My Baby.” The band’s bassist Matt Goldpaugh sang the second cover, “Devil in Disguise,” made by famous by Elvis, a couple songs later. Between them, the band played a new song about running out of hot water in the shower.
Lara dedicated the next song to Parris and Heide, the bartenders. “Dr. Bartender,” she said is also, “for those of you get a little too drunk and treat your bartender like your therapist.” “I Believe You Liar,” the last song of the set, was “about a person who can’t tell you the truth.”
During the second set, the band played their most recent song, “Love You to Life.” Lara said they have t-shirts of some of the lyrics: “Yesterday You Kinda Pissed Me Off.” Another popular song, “Whiskey Pick,” described being too drunk to play one’s instrument, and I’ll let you figure out what’s really up with the title. “Big Black Bettie” was about “fast cars and fast women.” Before “I Drink to Your Health,” Lara asked the crowd raise their glasses in a toast. The boisterous crowd stopped, took notice, and joined Lara in a toast.
Stream Love to You Life by Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones on Bandcamp:
Lara Hope & the Ark Tones formed in 2012 out of Lara’s rockabilly band, The Champtones, and Matt’s psychobilly group, The Arkhams. In 2017, Lara won the Ameripolitan Award for Best Female Rockabilly Musician. Created by Austin-based musician Dale Watson, the Ameripolitan Awards celebrate rockabilly, honky-tonk, outlaw, and western swing. Lara and the band deserved that award, and they merit your attention the next time they are in your town.