Live Review: Cris Jacobs’ A Very Jerry Christmas @ The 8×10 — 12/20/21

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Cris Jacobs performs at The 8×10 in Baltimore on Dec. 20, 2021, the first of A Very Jerry Christmas, his annual series of holiday shows paying tribute to Jerry Garcia. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Admirable and arguably underappreciated is the local musician who’s become known across the country but is so multi-talented, enthusiastic and flexible as to wear a variety of hats to connect with hometown concertgoers in so many different ways.

Cris Jacobs emerged on the Baltimore circuit 20 years ago in the bluegrass group Smooth Kentucky — a squad that still performs locally — and he cut his teeth at a time the city was earning its reputation for having one of the nation’s very best music scenes. The leader of The Bridge, a beloved jam band blending a world of different sounds, Jacobs was right in the thick of it for a decade at the front of this colorful outfit, forging relationships near and far and all the while expanding his own influences.

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Live Review: Dead Horses @ DC9 — 12/11/21

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Sarah Vos leads Dead Horses in a performance at DC9 on Dec. 11, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Dead Horses, an enlightening folk outfit from Milwaukee, is the musical vehicle for guitarist and singer-songwriter Sarah Vos and upright bassist Daniel Wolff. And the duo had seen its popularity rising in recent years, especially just before the pandemic — a few months prior to the shutdown saw Dead Horses making appearances in the Northwest with their friend, the great Charlie Parr, to help promote what was back in 2019 his new self-titled release.

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Live Review: Charlie Parr @ DC9 — 12/11/21

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Charlie Parr performs at DC9 on Dec. 11, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Redefining a career through a nationwide lockdown and its confusing wake hasn’t necessarily been a breeze for most musicians. But if any had experienced what one particular virtuoso guitarist from Minnesota went through in the years leading up to the pandemic, it would have likely given them strength to persevere the tougher-than-usual environs of 2020 and 2021.

An acclaimed Piedmont blues and folk blues master who grew up in a small city called Austin and never moved out of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Charlie Parr took the stage at DC9 recently as a remarkable story of perseverance and unwavering commitment to one’s craft.

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Live Review: Andrew Marlin @ City Winery — 12/10/21

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Christian Sedelmyer, Josh Oliver, Andrew Marlin and Clint Mullican peform at City Winery in Washington DC on Dec. 10, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Not all solo endeavors are created equal. When an artist can be so prolific as to release two full-length albums in short time, each strong enough stand on its own as an instrumental work of beauty born out of pandemic desolation, it’s a clear sign of a human harvesting a trove of musical possibilities.

Andrew Marlin, the world-class mandolinist who co-leads the folk outfit Watchhouse with his wife and partner — guitarist and singer Emily Frantz — has already earned the respect of fans and fellow musicians far and wide for his achievements over the course of a decade with the band that earlier this year changed its name from Mandolin Orange.

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Live Review: CAAMP @ The Anthem — 12/3/21

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Taylor Meier leads CAAMP in a performance at The Anthem on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

It’s not easy for any band to preserve its authentic sound and simultaneously grow its appeal to larger audiences, but for those that figure it out, the benefits can be substantial.

CAAMP, a bonfire folk outfit based in Athens, Ohio, has managed to keep its original sound intact while still experiencing rapid ascension in popularity thanks to consistent recordings and key appearances at festivals, including a noteworthy picnic table performance at Newport in 2019.

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Live Review: Jeff Rosenstock @ Black Cat — 12/1/21

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Jeff Rosenstock leads his band during a performance at Black Cat on Dec. 1, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

If a live performance is measured in collective caloric burn, then a Jeff Rosenstock show should be considered one of this country’s most effective and lasting workouts.

A widely respected hero among DIY mavens for his work as the leader of the ska band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and the punk outfit Bomb The Music Industry!, Rosenstock is an explosive, fetching multi-instrumentalist with astonishing talents and a bristling, assiduous spirit that erupts from his recorded work and, as he showed at last week in the nation’s capital at Black Cat, fuels his live performances too.

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Live Review: Yellow Days @ 9:30 Club — 11/29/21

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George van den Broek leads Yellow Days during a performance on Nov. 29 at 9:30 Club. (Photo by Casey Vock)

It’s historically been a struggle for budding musicians to rise to fame and still maintain control over their own vision and their connection to their fans. But one young man from Manchester, England, has probably already achieved more in his advanced stage than most artists could only hope to accomplish in an entire career.

Yellow Days is the vehicle driven by George van den Broek, and it has allowed him in a small window of time to vault himself into an incredible position for someone who’s just 22 years old — or any age, for that matter.

Making a stop at 9:30 Club on Nov. 29 for an anticipated show, and a sold-out one, van den Broek impressed as a confident, dexterous and deeply provocative conductor with few if any equals, at least not in his age bracket.

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Live Review: Hamilton Leithauser and Kevin Morby @ 9:30 Club — 11/23/21

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Hamilton Leithauser, who grew up in DC, performs at 9:30 Club on Nov. 23, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The pandemic has had a profound impact on the live music industry, unfortunately creating a dearth of opportunities for some artists, but concurrently providing inspiration and much-needed time for others to essentially hit the reset button.

A number of the tours assembled over the last few months, maybe more than usual, have been of the double-bill type, a benefit to cities along the way with venues considered must-stops.

One such an outfit to recently visit the area was the tantalizing duo of DC native Hamilton Leithauser and Kevin Morby — a pair of accomplished musicians who set out in mid-October on what was dubbed the Fall Mixer Tour, a quest through 29 different cities that wrapped up last week at 9:30 Club with an abundant, exhilarating night of entertainment.

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Live Review: Yasmin Williams @ Union Stage — 11/22/21

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Yasmin Williams performs at Union Stage in Washington DC on Nov. 22, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The hero the DMV might need is hanging out just across the Potomac, and she’s got a guitar in her hands.

And at just 25 years old, Yasmin Williams is on a trajectory to capture the attention of listeners far and wide as a multi-dimensional guitarist with an otherworldly skillset far beyond her years.

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Live Review: Puma Blue @ The Miracle Theater — 11/20/21

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Jacob Allen leads Puma Blue in a performance at the Miracle Theater in DC on Nov. 20, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Musicians have such an arsenal of effective ways to reach potential supporters these days that genres and categorization become afterthoughts. And today’s resources are empowering a tremendous wave of artists who set out with no intention of adhering to any sort of conventions in the pursuit of their own organic sound.

London-bred singer songwriter Jacob Allen found his through making recordings in his bedroom, and he didn’t even need to leave the comfortable space to create a following. Since cutting and sharing a track called “Only Trying 2 Tell U” on SoundCloud back in 2014, he’s been able to steadily build that fanbase via his musical vehicle known as Puma Blue.

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