Interview: Ronnie McCoury (of The Del McCoury Band and The Travelin’ McCourys)

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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.

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Live Review: The Districts @ 9:30 Club — 3/10/20

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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.

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Live Review: Destroyer @ Black Cat — 3/9/20

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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.

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Live Review: Todd Snider @ Rams Head on Stage — 3/1/20

Todd Snider - Ram’s Head On Stage - 03.01.20 1Todd Snider performs at Rams Head On Stage on March 1, 2020. (Photos by Casey Vock)

Cautiously emerging from the dressing room, stepping wide-eyed onto the stage at the Rams Head on Stage recently, he seemed unsure if he was even supposed to be there. Or maybe he was given pause by the full venue, either way, the audience might have wondered for a second what was going on.

But as he settled into a couple notes on the guitar and began to blow the harmonica, if tears hadn’t already started to well in their eyes, attentive onlookers were already able to decipher the genius that is Todd Snider.

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Live Review: Tank & The Bangas @ The Anthem — 2/29/20

Tank and the Bangas - The Anthem DC - 02.29.20 3Tank and the Bangas performs at The Anthem on Feb. 29, 2020. (Photos by Casey Vock.)

There’s something invincible and miraculous about a musical act that never really fit into a specific genre and probably never will.

But it’s tough to understand where a record store clerk might slot albums from the Grammy-nominated Tank and the Bangas, an inexplicably fascinated posse of musicians who about eight years ago in the birthplace of jazz — the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans — and have become one of the hottest acts on tour today.

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Live Review: Circles Around The Sun @ The 8×10 — 2/27/20

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Circles Around the Sun performs at The 8X10 in Baltimore on Feb. 27, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)

What’s the best way to pay respects to a friend who left too early? There’s probably no perfect answer to that question, but it’s an admirable deed to carry out the last known wishes of a beloved one you’ve lost.

That’s the density of the mission that recently brought Circles Around the Sun to Baltimore for a performance at The 8×10 to kick off the band’s first multi-state tour since the death of the group’s shepherd, Neal Casal.

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Live Review: Trampled by Turtles @ Baltimore Soundstage — 2/22/20

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Trampled by Turtles performs at Baltimore Soundstage on Feb. 22, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)

What separates one band from the next might be the degree to which it challenges itself within the confines of whatever genre it is pigeonholed — and exercising creativity while respecting particular forms and traditions of your craft isn’t always easy.

For going on two decades, Duluth, Minnesota-based Trampled by Turtles has earned a reputation in the studio and on the road for testing the upper limits of bluegrass power and tempo while simultaneously honing the sweetest harmonies to ever come out of the Zenith City.

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Live Review: Stephane Wrembel @ Creative Alliance — 2/21/20

Stephane Wrembel - Creative Alliance Baltimore - 02.21.20 3Stephane Wrembel performs at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore on Feb. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)

If Django Reinhardt could somehow return to this planet, he very well might blush to see so many music festivals taking place in his name. There’s little doubt, however, that he’d be pleased by the simple fact that gypsy jazz — a style that he’s credited with creating — lives on in the form of musicians who celebrate the craft and teach it in a communal fashion.

And if the late Mr. Reinhardt was to identify a leader among those carrying his torch, it would likely be Stephane Wrembel, a French guitarist of otherworldly talent who recently performed in Baltimore as part of the Creative Alliance’s fifth annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest.

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