With a history going back more than 50 years, The Birchmere enjoys an unparalleled prestige with both artists and fans among DMV venues. Known as the region’s center for roots music, the venue has hosted a staggering number of legendary artists.
Editor’s Note: Parklife DC asked its contributors to write essays about their favorite bands. These essays appear in an occasional series, My Favorite Artist, and provide our readers with insights into our bloggers, their motivations, and their approach to covering concerts.
In 1994, Lucinda Williams won her first Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Passionate Kisses,” a track from her self-titled 1988 turn to Americana. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s cover of the song also won for Best Country Vocal Performance.
While Mary may have taken away the hardware for her performance of the song, Lucinda’s hardcore fans — like me — will always prefer her performance of the song.
For over 40 years, Wire has been one of the most innovative bands to come out of the United Kingdom, if not the world. Since their 1977 debut, Pink Flag, they’ve shifted their musical style with almost every album. Beginning as a stripped-down, breakneck-paced punk affair, Wire has embraced new textures and sounds, including electronic music.
The band’s recent show at DC’s Union Stage began with a 45-minute DJ set of electronic music, with one notable composition that sounded like a fusion of Ennio Morricone and ambient electronics.
The droning guitars and eerie pipes of the Irish folk band Lankum have led some to describe their music as apocalyptic. On the evening before the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic as a US national emergency, the band darkly joked, “Thanks a million for taking your lives into your own hands.”
Frontman Ian Lynch added, “We kind of feel like the band on The Titanic.”
(Editor’s note: This show was rescheduled from March 25 due to the coronavirus threat.)
Raul Malo is best known as the frontman of critically acclaimed band The Mavericks, who uniquely fuse classic honky tonk, rockabilly, Tejano, and pop, as well as his own Cuban background. He also released a number of well-received solo albums, mainly during a period of hiatus for the band.
Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson interviewed Raul in advance of his solo date at The Birchmere on Monday, July 13. They talked about his projects, his approach to production and songwriting, his musical background and influences, and the upcoming concert.
The Yawpers live (Photo by Michael Passman)
Led by Nate Cook, Denver garage-punk band The Yawpers played it loud in their recent appearance at the Pearl Street Warehouse.
The band is on tour supporting their most recent album, last year’s critically acclaimed Human Question, and they got to the title track early in their set at Pearl Street Warehouse recently.
Laaaaadies and geeeentleemen, if you missed it, you missed the most carnivalistic display of vaudeville performance on The Birchmere stage in recent memory. Those undeterrable rascals, those curious geeks, barkers, and showgirls, the Squirrel Nut Zippers put on an antiquarian revival show of towering proportions.
SNZ’s tour is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album, The Inevitable Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they played it through on a recent evening. Playing in order, they began with “Lovers’ Lane.” For “Danny Diamond,” female vocalist Cella Blue came out wearing a feather boa and waving a fan.