When Tommy Stinson came to town to play some tunes at Pearl Street Warehouse recently, he probably didn’t expect to do so with a ribbing from his former manager, seated squarely in front of him in the audience.
But there he was on stage, playing solo songs and selections from his group Bash & Pop, and there she was at a table, serving him drinks to the stage, shouting requests, and affectionately goading him throughout the show.
On Jan. 5, Tommy began the show somberly with an acknowledgment of the times in which he performs, expressing pity for children who are forced to miss school or suffer disruption in their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His own 13-year old daughter has endured such upheaval, he said.
But Tommy also declared that the show must go on — at least in his case. “I’m going to do what I’m going to do,” Tommy said.
The sentiment was very much appreciated by the attentive audience that maybe half filled the lower level of Pearl Street Warehouse. The grateful music enthusiasts hung on every chord of Tommy’s guitar as he strummed through more than a dozen songs, happy for the opportunity to hear live music from a legendary musician on a night when many in DC stayed home due to recovery from New Years revelry, cold weather, or misgivings over the coronavirus. Tommy, after all, was a founding member of The Replacements and longtime bassist for Guns N’ Roses.
Tommy charmed the gathering early in his set with a few Bash & Pop tunes, opening with “Not This Time” and soon playing fan-fave “On the Rocks.” As the evening progressed, Tommy revealed that he and collaborator Chip Roberts would release an album this spring as Cowboys in the Campfire. And he performed a few selections from that upcoming album, including “Fall Apart Together” and “The Man Who Drank Himself to Death.”
Watch Tommy Stinson perform “On the Rocks” with Bash & Pop live for KEXP in 2017 on YouTube:
Eventually in response to his former manager’s invitation — Tommy sympathetically expressed mock surprise she survived her previous job working for him at the end of the day — Tommy took to the floor of the venue to intimately perform a few songs including “Nothing” by Bash & Pop face to face with the audience.
Throughout the show, Tommy was an absolute pleasure — easygoing, astute, and pitch perfect while pacing through a set of jangly songs that landed all of the right notes in a punk meets Americana ethos. To the audience’s delight, he closed his set with Bash & Pop’s “Friday Night (Is Killing Me).”
Let’s not forget that Tommy brought along an opening act from New York who was just as accessible and pleasant as he — guitarist Diane Gentile, who is best known for performing in a band named Diane and the Gentle Men. Throughout her opening set, Diane was very chill and cool. While more a folkie than a punk, she definitely seemed to exude a hushed energy that fits nicely within a punk ethos.
Diane began the night with “Beautiful” and followed it up with “a song she wrote last night”… ! During her matter-of-fact yet laidback conversation to the audience, Diane revealed she wrote about 30 songs over the past year but that not all them make the cut; she throws many of them away. Personally, I’ve talked to a lot of singer-songwriters who would envy that level of output.
In her set, Diane played a few songs she “hadn’t played in a while,” including “Motorcycle” and “Winter Girl.”
Watch the official music video for “Motorcycle” by Diane and The Gentle Men on YouTube:
My personal favorite of Diane’s songs that night was “The Last Train,” which came with an explanation about how it was inspired by spending childhood time in a small place owned by her father in The Hamptons. The reflective song was evocative and nostalgic without being maudlin, striking a warm tone for those of us who came out on a cold night in what seemed to be an empty city.
Tommy Stinson is on tour most of this month. Catch him if you can!
Here are some photos of Tommy Stinson performing at Pearl Street Warehouse on Jan. 5, 2022.
Here are some photos of Diane Gentile performing at Pearl Street Warehouse to open for Tommy.