The Baltimore-Washington region has been the incubator for so many bands over the years that concertgoers can experience a sense of pride when those artists return to the area in an evolved, more seasoned form and with exciting new music in the works.
J. Roddy Walston earned a reputation in the Charm City after moving there from Tennessee with his previous band back in 2004. Fronting the rousing rock outfit known as J. Roddy Walston & The Business — and working at the Ottobar in his time there, a true devotee of the Baltimore music scene — he rose to prominence and eventually left the area, settling not far off in Richmond.
And it’s there, another bustline scene, where Walston has concocted a fresh creation that’s quickly becoming a must-see not just for fans of the Southern-fried sounds that spun from each of the four studio albums of his last project, but lovers of any rock music that beams a celebratory light.
Palm Palm, his new four-piece endeavor with only one digital EP to its name so far, is already creating buzz as a must-see live music experience, and the night of May 17 at Songbyrd Music House in DC, Walston lived up to the hype with a wildly entertaining, high-flying display of tantalizing songwriting and outstanding players who’ve been around the block.
Stream the self-titled 2021 EP from Palm Palm via Spotify:
Joined by electric guitarist Charlie Glenn (formerly of The Trillions) and bass player Andrew Carper and drummer Raphael Katchinoff, both members of the group Southern Belles, Walston howled from the seat of his electric piano and danced about the Songbyrd Music House stage last week to lift and inspirit an intimate audience well familiar with his resume.
Still, with only three Palm Palm songs available to listeners, the set might have been a bit mysterious to those packed into the venue. But, as Walston pointed out, matter that should not.
“You don’t know the names of most of these songs, but that’s ok,” he said. “You enjoy music because you enjoy music.”
Scattered last Wednesday among the songs in the works — winners, all of them — were the striking tracks comprising the 2021 self-titled EP, including the unmistakable throwback party starter “Cut The White.”
Watch the official music video for Palm Palm’s single “Cut The White” via YouTube:
Walston wore a white flat-brim fedora and long braids in his hair. Together, he and his mates made all the troubles of the outside world disappear. Glenn — a graceful and dazzling shredder — and Carper — funky and potent in every tune — would meet over J. Roddy’s piano to add theatrics to every jam. In the back, Katchinoff wore mirroring goggles of his own, his hair flicking and his sticks chopping as he helped add punch to each track.
As the band mentioned, a full studio album is on the way. And giving these tunes a thorough test run appeared as gratifying to its members as it was to an audience hooting and hollering like longtime fans of the group.
“That feels good right?” Walston implored. “I’m not crazy right?”
With so much promise in both the songs and the live presentation, Palm Palm has all the makings of a powerful second coming for Walston as a songwriter and band leader. Gleaming gypsy rock destined for glory, Palm Palm showed itself last week in the nation’s capital to be a band swiftly on the rise with a knack for initiating a good time.
Here are images of Palm Palm along with the night’s opening act, Super City out of Baltimore, performing at Songbyrd Music House on May 17, 2023. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.