Live Review: Sierra Hull @ Strathmore Music Center — 2/13/20

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Sierra Hull (Photo by Gina Binkley)

In her second appearance at the Strathmore Music Center, mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull and her ultra-talented band recently opened for ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. The former child prodigy, who recorded her first album at the age of 11, packed a lot of variety into her set, with vocal and instrumental numbers, as well as solo pieces where she accompanied herself on the acoustic guitar.

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Live Review: Jake Shimabukuro @ Strathmore Music Center — 2/13/20

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Jake Shimabukuro (Photo coutesy Jensen Communications)

With a hearty “Aloha!” ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro greeted the crowd at Strathmore Music Center last night. “This hall sounds amazing,” he said. “It’s such an honor playing in this hall. You can’t play a bad note in this hall or, if you do, you hear it for a long time.”

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Live Review: Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt (of Leftover Salmon) @ City Winery — 2/11/20

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Vince Herman of Leftover Salman performs at MerleFest 2017 on April 28, 2017. (Photo by cp_thornton)

Before Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt took the stage at City Winery, they were preceded by a brief reading from Tim Newby’s book, Leftover Salmon: 30 Years of Festival. The reading detailed the earliest origins of America’s premier “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass band,” (a term which, Vince joked, “has really pigeonholed us”), when Vince and Drew met in 1985. Over the next few years, Vince would play guitar in the Left Hand String Band, and Drew played several instruments, especially the mandolin, in the Salmon Heads.

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Live Review: Rhett Miller @ Black Cat — 2/9/20

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Rhett Miller (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)

Two things are immediately striking about Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller. First, his youthful appearance: Despite being, at 49, my senior by 10 years, Rhett looks younger than me. The second is his energy: Rhett has a heart-on-his-sleeve, sincere exuberance. He plays vigorously and sings with power, and, both times I’ve seen him live, he really seemed to be having a good time.

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Live Review: Fruition @ Union Stage — 2/6/20

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Fruition performs live (Photo courtesy Partisan Arts)

For 13 years, Portland band Fruition has been playing Americana that looks back to great bands of the ’60s and ’70s while being wholly contemporary. Influenced by the Beatles and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Fruition splits its lead vocals amongst Jay Cobb, Kellen Asebroek, and Mimi Naja, and they feature fantastic three-part harmonies. Their remarkable chemistry was on display at Union Stage in DC recently.

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Live Review: Hawktail @ Songbyrd Music House — 2/7/20

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Hawktail (Photo by Jody March)

String band music is often equated, at least in contemporary America, with bluegrass, but this is far from the whole story. Bluegrass only emerged in the 1930s (at the earliest), while string music is much, much older. The term “old-time” is used to describe music with even deeper roots in the 19th century (and sometimes even further back in history). It is old-time music, with its connection to the more distant past and world folk music, that the instrumental quartet Hawktail plays.

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Live Review: Bonny Light Horseman @ Songbyrd Music House — 2/4/20

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Bonny Light Horseman performs at Songbyrd Music House on Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)

A sold-out crowd gave its full attention to the “supergroup” Bonny Light Horseman during their recent performance at the Songbyrd. An acoustic guitar intro led into their first song of the evening, “10,000 Miles.” Singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, whose musical Hadestown cleaned house at this year’s Tony Awards, led off on vocals. Eric D. Johnson, frontman for the Fruit Bats, came in next, with multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman on the electric guitar.

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