Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles perform at Jammin’ Java on Jan. 25, 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Sarah Borges’ third appearance in the DC Metro area in as many months is a clear indication of her thriving (some might say, rabid) fanbase in the region. Recently, Sarah tore through two one-hour sets consisting of tunes from throughout her career in a packed house at Jammin’ Java.
The Smithereens perform at State Theatre on Jan. 18, 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Much has been written about the redemptive power of rock and roll; its ability to transport us to another place and time or to a cherished memory — as well as its power of community and the way a widely disparate audience can revel in a shared moment of unparalleled spontaneous joy. Those moments repeated themselves over and over at the State Theatre recently when The Smithereens featuring Robin Wilson dropped into town for their 19th performance at the historic Falls Church music venue.
Leyla McCalla performs at The Hamilton Live on Jan. 11, 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
I was looking forward to a good show to kick off 2019 — and Leyla McCalla’s scheduled performance at The Hamilton Live seemed like just the ticket. What I experienced though was far from merely “good.” Instead, Leyla’s performance was mesmerizing, sensual, joyous, and exquisite… adjectives that describe far more accurately her unique blend of traditional Creole, Cajun, and Haitian music (with American folk and gospel thrown into the mix as well).
The Smithereens for the State Theatre show, left to right: Jim Babjak (guitar), Robin Wilson (lead vocals), Dennis Diken (drums), and Mark Mesaros (bass) (Photo courtesy Lappen Enterprises)
Power pop aficionados think of the ’70s and ’80s as the genre’s heyday — an era that included performers like Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, years that saw the emergence of bands like Big Star and Cheap Trick, and a time that culminated with the Gin Blossoms and Matthew Sweet.
For many music lovers (myself included), The Smithereens captured all the salient characteristics of a classic power pop band: the jangly ringing Byrds-like guitars, the Beach Boys’ high harmonies, the Beatles melodic lyricism… and perhaps the crunching heaviness of Black Sabbath? But The Smithereens added an East-Coast, Jersey Shore roots-rock sensibility.
Mark Caicedo of Parklife DC recently chatted with Jim Babjak, guitarist of The Smithereens, in anticipation of the band’s show at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, on Jan. 18.
Sarah Shook fronts The Disarmers at Pearl Street Warehouse on Sept. 12, 2018. Mark Caicedo chose a picture from this show (but not this one) as one of his Top 10 of 2018. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2018 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.
Women have long been major influences in music history, going back to the jazz greats like Nina Simone Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald; through country legends Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly; pop icons like Bette Midler, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper; and the rock and blues greats Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Deborah Harry and Chrissie Hynde.
Today, while female musicians like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Pink, and Adele continue to break boundaries, local and regional bands feature women whose talent, drive and influence is just as powerful as the superstars.
My Top 10 concert photos of the year salute 2018 as the Year of Women.
Soccer Mommy performs at Black Cat on Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Soccer Mommy is on fire. With a debut full length album, Clean (Fat Possum Records), on several best of 2018 lists, a string of sold-out tour dates through next year, and loads of positive press coverage, Sophie Allison’s band showed up at the Black Cat on Saturday night ready to set the sold-out house ablaze.
The Julian Lage Trio performs at Union Stage on Nov. 28, 2018. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Julian Lage bounded onstage wearing a huge grin that never left his face the entire evening in his recent appearance at Union Stage. And for good reason — his trio thrilled on many levels: technically, musically, and emotionally. Along with his two companions, Jorge Roeder on standup bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, Julian’s set hit all the right notes, flowing like one long beautiful song, and it kept us all smiling along with him.