Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie leads a performance at 9:30 Club in DC on Oct. 13, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
If you’re looking for an emotionally advanced live music experience, you might need to roll up your sleeves to actually enjoy it once you get there. Hell, you might need to just take your shirt right off.
And if you’ve been lucky enough to see the Philadelphia-based sensation Low Cut Connie in the flesh, you know you’ll witness sweaty clothes torn to shreds, scantily clad dancers, spilled drinks, middle fingers pointed at innocent bystanders and cuss words flung in all directions. Sex, drugs, rage, grief, pain, joy, lust, love, jealousy — no topic is off limits, no subject too risqué. That’s the mentality head singer and pianist Adam Weiner brings to the keyboard, and within that kind of environment is where his crew has been groomed to thrive.
Adam and Low Cut Connie brought their best to 9:30 Club recently, delivering a dripping set of music that was uncensored, remorseless, and lasting, even in a venue that hosts as much talent as this one.
Bahamas perform at 9:30 Club on Oct. 12, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Some recording artists deserve to be admired for their commitment to enhancing their songbook, continually challenging themselves to dive deeper into a creative process that the average person can’t even begin to imagine.
A gentleman out of Ontario named Afie Jurvanen has proven himself to be exceptionally dedicated to his craft, and he recently brought his musical vehicle, Bahamas, to the 9:30 Club for what was an impressive, charming weeknight reminder that he’s one of the best individual performers hailing from north of the border — some might argue on the whole darn continent, and his collection of Juno awards and nominations supports that notion.
Dave Grohl speaks at the Lincoln Theater during his The Storyteller – Live! appearance on Oct. 7, 2021. (Photo by Deanna Escobar, Sugar Shot Media)
No one better epitomizes the coming-of-age decade that was the 1990s in America music than Dave Grohl.
With his long black hair, innocent expression and his flailing arms, Grohl came to be known by the MTV generation as the reserved but hyper-talented drummer of the now legendary grunge band Nirvana, introduced to the mainstream in earnest by way of the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in September of 1992.
He’s now 52 years old, with a well-earned tinge of grey, and has achieved more in his career and lifetime than 100 musicians might in aggregate. Dave, who grew up in and around Alexandria, recently embarked on a mission to share his life in a way perhaps unaccustomed to most of his fans.
John Craigie performs at DC’s Union Stage on Oct. 6, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Standing on stage as a performing musician is likely daunting enough for anyone who is brave enough to put themselves out there. Imagine also tasking yourself with trying to earnestly engage and entertain an audience in between each and every song?
It’s a lesser-embraced style these days, but there’s one gentleman who has built his reputation and his career on the same kind of performances as those that defined the careers of the most famous proponents of the talking blues, men like Woodie Guthrie decades ago, and maybe someone like a Todd Snyder these days. That man is John Craigie, and he brought that style to Union Stage recently.
Liz Cooper leads her band during a performance at Black Cat in Washington DC on Oct. 4, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Who’s the most badass person in music these days? It’s certainly hard to gauge, but a recent show at the Black Cat in DC might have strengthened the case that there’s no one sassier than Liz Cooper, a recording/touring artist who in just a few years’ time earned a great deal of respect in both rock and folk circles.
The Lone Bellow performs a matinee show at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Oct. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
When a group of musicians bond to write and share songs born out of struggle and the battle to overcome those challenges, the result can clearly be a special one.
Remarkably demonstrating this exact kind of provenance with a recent matinee show at Rams Head On Stage, The Lone Bellow out of Brooklyn is now in its 10th year after forming in 2011 during the wake of what was essentially a tragedy impacting its founding member.
Trey Anastasio leads his band during a performance at The Anthem on Oct. 1, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
The pandemic and the impacts of COVID have been seen across the music industry since it began and especially hard hit has been the live music segment, with it being a challenge for both touring acts and venues to get all this right in an uncertain environment.
Maybe nowhere has that been more obvious lately than the Trey Anastasio Band tour, an outfit that, just a few weeks ago, would have looked entirely different. Then came a couple positive tests, and trumpet player Jen Hartswick and drummer Russ Lawton were sidelined, putting the back half of the tour in jeopardy.
Katie Toupin performs at Club 603 in Baltimore on Sept. 28, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
House shows saw a bit of a surge during these strange times and sensibly so, as musicians and fans try to find a way to connect in small, safe, sterile environments. And for all anyone knows, this is a common manner by which music goers will be engaging with artists moving forward.
Well, there’s a local “house show venue” that has already built an impressive list of artists it’s hosted for intimate, in-home performances that should be considered special treats for those who’ve been in attendance. And this week, Club 603 — situated just off the Northern Parkway — hosted what was its 107th show, a number that even the hosts — Scott and Jean Vieth — admitted is quite extraordinary.
A singer-songwriter, keyboardist and guitar player working out of Los Angeles but with connections in music far and wide, Katie Toupin made a stop in Baltimore Tuesday night at Club 603 for what turned out to be an explosive and emotional full-band house performance.
Old Crow Medicine Show performs at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Every once in a while, a community — heck, maybe even an entire town or city — needs a reminder to loosen up, that life is too short to avoid good times, and that sometimes simply making the effort to have fun can actually be a reward itself.
Whether it knew it or not, the City of Annapolis has been in need of a dose of laughs, song, and dance, and that is what it was gifted this past weekend in the form of a phenomenally entertaining performance put on by Old Crow Medicine Show, the string-heavy posse that has become famous for its rapid-fire old-time melodies and through 23-plus year has never skipped a beat in overcoming changes in personnel, evolving in sound and appearance to give a contemporary twist to its live shows and recordings.
The Bones of JR Jones performs at Songbyrd Music House on Sept. 22, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that musicians are best served not so much by pivoting but by adapting and blending their influences, old and new, together as they move along in their career and accumulate critical life experiences on that path.
Though his pursuits in his younger days angled toward punk, Jonathan Linaberry has unabashedly and enthusiastically embraced the direction of musicians whom he happened to hear while finding his way as a self-taught, college-age guitar and banjo player.
When his ears discovered the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, and other blues-belting guitarists from places like Texas and the Mississippi Delta, Linaberry — who hails from Central New York, near Syracuse — began to genuinely mold those sounds from the first half of the century, as well as the spirit and character of the music, into his own song writing style.