Bill Frisell performs at Keystone Korner Baltimore on April 24, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
Sometimes it’s simply the spontaneity of live music that makes it such a special experience, not only for the fans — some of whom might loosely feel the weight of what they’re witnessing — but just as much for the musicians themselves. With lingering rules and protocols in place, any in-the-flesh performance down the backstretch of the pandemic should be cherished for the solace and bliss it might provide everyone involved.
Bill Frisell, the legendary guitar player of otherworldly talents and an unthinkably accomplished recording artist and composer, recently announced a handful of shows on fairly short notice. But it really wasn’t by chance that several of those shows were in Baltimore this past Saturday and Sunday at Keystone Korner, a Harbor East venue powering through the weirdest of times to approach its second anniversary.
moe. performs at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)
American flags were hoisted high in the air Saturday night at drive-in out at Frederick County Fairgrounds and music lovers from the DMV seemed to be, for the most part, celebrating a day that marked a shift to a new presidential administration — at least tentatively.
And who better to host such an ordeal than moe.? One of the country’s most seasoned touring jam bands of the last several decades, moe. scheduled the show just a few weeks back as their last of the year and arrived as the perfect candidate to celebrate what felt like an All-American kind of night at another “Showtime at the Drive In” presentation hosted by All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage.
Cris Jacobs performs at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on Oct. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Cris Jacobs, a Baltimore native and arguably one of the Charm City’s top songwriters and performers, took the stage recently in support of Grace Potter way out at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
His appearance was announced just a few weeks back as part of what has become the unexpected gift of the fall season — the Showtime at the Drive In series of performances hosted by All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage. It was Cris’ first time performing at a drive-in style concert and his first live gig since February.
Grace Potter performs at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on Oct. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)
While performing musicians painfully prepare for what could be a long winter with limited options for reaching their fans in the flesh, some have made the trip to Maryland as of late to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the newly dubbed Showtime at the Drive In series of concerts being held at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Last week, Grace Potter made the trip down from her current home in the mountains of Vermont to take the stage for a solo performance organized by All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performs at Showtime at the Drive-In in Frederick on Oct. 15, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
While the memories of live music as we once knew it slip more distant into our collective memories, it’s likely that no one will forget their first experience watching a drive-in style pandemic performance.
Originating in Europe and cropping up shortly thereafter throughout the United States, drive-in concerts have already become, for some, a norm in times of required or suggested social distancing. And thanks to the work of All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage, music fans in the DMV this fall are being offered a somewhat unexpected harvest of live music by way of the Showtime at the Drive-In series being held at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Bill Frisell Trio (Photo by Monica Jane Frisell)
Few musicians have demonstrated an eternal devotion to the exploration and discovery of sound like Bill Frisell. The 69-year-old made a name for himself as a studio guitarist for ECM Records in the 1980s and went on to become a tremendously influential presence on the New York City jazz scene working with John Zorn, Paul Motian, John Scofield, and many others on a long list of projects.
Guided by his life-long pursuit of melody, Bill left the City in 1988, intentionally breaking out of the walls of jazz he’d constructed around himself, and moved to the West Coast, but his desire to create new music would take him all over the globe.
The Del McCoury Band performs at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis in November 2017. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Ronnie McCoury, the eldest son of bluegrass legend Del McCoury and the longtime mandolin player for The Del McCoury Band, says he’s never had this much free time in the four decades he’s been performing music.
Ronnie was just a 13-year-old kid when he got his first glimpse of his father’s buddy Bill Monroe playing the mandolin, and, not long after, he was playing gigs alongside his dad. All these years later, Ronnie’s an eight-time International Bluegrass Music Association Mandolin Player of the Year and, just last year, produced the association’s Album of the Year — “Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass” — with his dad.
The Districts perform at 9:30 Club on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
Sometimes an album comes to life when a band needs it most, and the tour to support it is how the group actually reaps the spiritual, and financial, benefits of their work.
The Districts’ latest release — You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere — is said to have almost never happened: the band had nearly exhausted itself after an intense few years on the road and seemed to be searching for direction when founder and head singer Rob Grote isolated himself and put pen to pad to nurture the words that would comprise the newest LP.
Destroyer performs at Black Cat on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
Strange times are best scored with a bizarre and darkly complex soundtrack. We are clearly in such times, and thanks to the Black Cat’s eclectic schedule, including the occasional Canadian band, DC area fans were recently given a healthy dose of avant-garde rock, only a couple days before local venues started canceling shows.