Joe Ely of The Flatlanders (Photo by Barbara FG)
I could start by talking about the importance and influence of The Flatlanders. But I’d rather begin on a personal note. In 2004, I attended the Austin City Limits Festival. The third day of the festival, I think it was late afternoon, I was walking between stages when a performer grabbed my attention. That was Joe Ely, who makes up The Flatlanders with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.
North Mississippi Allstars (Photo by Tom Bejgrowicz)
“World boogie” came to the District recently. That’s the term the North Mississippi Allstars use for their Hill Country blues-based, hard-rocking, seriously funky style. For some three hours, the NMA jammed out in front of a packed house at The Hamilton. Based in tradition but looking to the future, the NMA showed the audience just what is possible when creative, forward-looking artists put their spin on roots music.
John Hiatt (Photo by Jim McGuire)
In a solo acoustic performance, John Hiatt used his substantial charm to engage the sold-out crowd at The Birchmere Tuesday. And, of course, the songs. John played songs that have been covered by Buddy Guy (“Feels Like Rain”), Bonnie Raitt (“Thing Called Love”), and I’m With Her (“Crossing Muddy Waters”).
Julia Jacklin (Photo by Nick McKinlay)
Australian indie folk-rocker Julia Jacklin has a rising profile. Her show in April was originally scheduled for DC9, but it was moved to the Rock and Roll Hotel to accommodate the demand for tickets. Julia sold out the larger venue, and when she returned to DC recently, she played the even larger Black Cat.
Chris Jacobs performs at Levon Helm Studios on Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Andrew Gardecki)
Baltimore’s own Cris Jacobs kicked off his set at The Hamilton Live recently with “Rooster Coop,” and there was indeed “something funky in the barnyard.” “Rooster Coop” perfectly captures the Cris Jacobs Band experience: it’s vaguely Americana, but with deep, funky R&B grooves. Cris is not the only artist to delve into “Americana soul,” as he calls it — Chris Stapleton’s style could be similarly characterized — but Cris also brings a jam band sensibility to the affair.
Sonny Landreth (Photo by Robley Dupleix)
Americana is often looked at as a singer-songwriters’ genre, but any number of fantastic instrumentalists have contributed to the field. Two of the best guitarists in Americana, Sonny Landreth and Cyndi Cashdollar, brought the audience at City Winery to a hushed reverie recently with a set of electric/acoustic duets. Sonny paired his electric guitar, as well as his vocals, with Cyndi’s dobro (a form of resonator) and lap steel guitars, for a performance that was, as Cyndi said, “just like in your living room.”
The Wailin’ Jennys (Photo by Morten Fog)
The Wailin’ Jennys opted to start Wednesday’s show — the second of three sold-out performances at The Birchmere — singing the traditional “Long Time Traveller” a capella. Over two sets, the trio, made up of Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta, and Heather Masse, cycled through a number of instruments and styles: folk, gospel, a little country.