On Saturday, I was really excited to see Rhiannon Giddens at Wolf Trap as the opening act for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Rhiannon and I both attended Oberlin College, a liberal arts college and music conservatory in smalltown Ohio, about 40 mins southwest of Cleveland. Rhiannon was classically trained at Oberlin as a opera singer. I, on the other hand, have exactly one musical bone in my body — my right tibia, which is not an especially useful bone for music — and was in the liberal arts college.
“Choke My Chicken.” So goes the refrain of “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel” from Lyle Lovett’s album Natural Forces (2009/Lost Highway). Lyle and His Large Band played the song early in their set Friday during their annual appearance at Wolf Trap. If anyone in the audience didn’t already know that Lyle is a bit, shall we say, unconventional, this song certainly tipped them off.
Americana singer-songwriter Hayes Carll was in rare form before a sold-out house at DC’s City Winery Saturday evening. Performing mostly solo, with just an acoustic guitar, Hayes had the crowd spellbound, playing favorite songs and freely breaking into story. Hayes’s trademark wry, sarcastic sense of humor was on fine display, as was his heartfelt sincerity.
Friday night’s Sons of Bill concert very nearly didn’t come to be. Last year, during the making of their sixth album, Oh God Ma’am, the youngest of the three brothers in the band, James Wilson, fell on a champagne flute, severing five tendons and his median nerve. Doctors feared that he might not be able to play the guitar again. The Sons of Bill had finally tasted some success in 2016 with their critically acclaimed fifth album, Love and Logic, playing sold-out shows in London, and they were thinking about breaking up the band.
Amanda Shires thrilled the crowd at The Birchmere on Thursday with selections from her new album, To The Sunset, and delighted them with her fun, quirky personality. Amanda is an absolutely lovely woman, and she could be really intimidating, but her fun, slightly goofy personality gave her a warm, endearing stage presence.
Part way through her set Wednesday at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Shelby Lynne, brought up the topic of her hair.
Amidst light rain, a dedicated crowd came to see four-time Grammy winner Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit perform at Wolf Trap on Tuesday. While the weather may have been a little wet, Jason and his band were on fire, going into their bag of tricks, bringing out the hits, and busting out some badass jamming. It was a rare mix of top-notch lyrics, singing, and instrumentals!