The Midnight North perform at The Hamilton Live on Oct. 7, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
After a two-year absence, Midnight North recently made a much-anticipated return to the DC area, even briefly renaming The Hamilton on the strength of the two “Graham(e)” bandmembers. The show featured an appearance by Phil Lesh, beloved Grateful Dead bassist and father of Midnight North guitarist and founder, Grahame Lesh. For two-plus hours, the “Gramilton” felt like an extended family reunion with fans from differing generations and bands reuniting after a too-long pandemic hiatus.
Oh He Dead perform at 9:30 Club on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photos by Mark Caicedo)
“Poppy enough for ya…bitch?”
Those words, spoken in jest years ago between Oh He Dead’s CJ Johnson and Andy Valenti, actually signaled a dogged determination to never compromise on their dream. Saturday night, during their headlining 9:30 Club debut, the two Oh He Dead (OHD) founders related the story of demoing one of their new songs, only to be told that it wasn’t “pop” enough. That long ago, unnamed producer might be a little humbled to find that OHD has amassed an exhaustive repertoire of original and cover songs, has legions of fans around the world, and this past Saturday played to a packed 9:30 Club (only the first, no doubt, of many such appearances to come).
And judging by the crowd of swaying, dancing, and singing fans, not a single one would accuse OHD of not being “poppy” enough.
Two of the finest DC area musicians performed this past Friday evening at Pearl Street Warehouse. Elizabeth II opened with a subdued but nonetheless passionate solo acoustic performance while Jonny Grave’s blues rock provided a raucous counterpoint.
Hayley Fahey, surrounded by family, friends, and fans, performed her new EP, Good Old Days, at Pearl Street Warehouse (PSW) last Sunday evening. Arriving to the venue shortly before showtime, I was struck by the level of anticipation and excitement in the air. Although one might think the recently reinstated mask mandate in DC might have dampened the celebratory mood, I detected no drop in enthusiasm or support for the hometown multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter.
Julian Lage and Jorge Roader perform at Jammin’ Java on Aug. 13, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
The evening threatened to be a major disappointment. Crawling along the beltway under ominous skies, dodging felled trees from the day’s earlier storms, a late arrival seemed inevitable. Pulling up to Jammin’ Java just before showtime, we were greeted by a gloomy, darkened venue — apparently the power had gone out! Although prospects for the show actually happening remained in doubt, we entered the venue with hopes checked.
Despite glum prospects, harried servers scurried about, attending to the chatty sold-out crowd, who nonetheless remained in high spirits.
Then, as if by divine intervention, the lights popped back on 10 minutes before showtime. And they stayed on. Friday the 13th turned out lucky after all and for the next two and a half hours we enjoyed expert, soothing, and truly mind-blowing guitar performances from opener Luke Brindley and headliner Julian Lage.
This Sunday, Aug. 15, DC native Hayley Fahey’s return to Pearl Street Warehouse promises to be a celebration in all respects: a return to her old stomping grounds, the joy of live, in-person music, and most significantly, the release of Hayley’s new EP.
Anyone who’s familiar with the DMV’s music scene knows Cathy DiToro, an incandescent ball of energy whose bands So Fetch (aughts covers), The Legwarmers (’80s covers), and Party Like It’s (ska/dance) clearly don’t occupy enough of her time.
A songwriter in her own right, Cathy has assembled a fresh quartet, the aptly named RoseRiot, to perform original songs, and the band made a long-awaited return to live performance with an outdoor appearance at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia this past Friday.
Dominique Bianco performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
There is a unique joy to experiencing emerging musical artists. You can see their determination, feel their ambition, and hear the purity of their performance. Or as music critic David Ackert says, “[giving their] lives to a moment – to that melody, that lyric, that chord or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be.” No matter the genre, or level of talent, new artists have an utter lack of cynicism, almost naivete, that embodies the drive and desire to be acknowledged and accepted on their own terms-an attitude that virtually guarantees a pure, energetic performance.
This past Sunday, an enthusiastic Pearl Street Warehouse crowd watched and heard Dominique Bianco exemplify that passion and determination. Backed by an equally talented quartet of local DC musicians, Dominique reminded us that training, hard work, overcoming setbacks, and “serving the song” are the ingredients of a successful artist.
The Walkaways perform at Pearl Street Warehouse on June 26, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
The return to indoor live music continues to be an exhilarating experience! Last Saturday night at Pearl Street Warehouse with The Walkaways and Wicked Sycamore, a boisterous (and sweaty) crowd was showered with a musical deluge ending a long, and frustrating, drought.