Live Review: Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak @ Wolf Trap — 8/6/22

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Chris Isaak performs at Wolf Trap on Aug. 6, 2022. (Photos by Marc Shea)

I didn’t have any any idea of the Easter egg that Chris Isaak was going to include in his recent 90-minute set at the Wolf Trap, when he and Lyle Lovett appeared as co-headliners.

Playing bass for Chris was Rowland Salley, who wrote “Killing The Blues,” a song that has been covered by John Prine and Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, to name just a few. The audience got to watch Salley perform his song, after which Chris said some lovely words about seeing a song performed by the writer.

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Live Review: Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives @ The Birchmere — 8/4/22

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Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Photo by Alysse Gafkjen)

Gathered around a single mic at The Birchmere recently, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives played an all-acoustic cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Kenny Vaughan, a winner of the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year, played acoustic guitar. Harry Stinson was on snare drum, and Chris Scruggs, grandson of bluegrass scion Earl Scruggs, was on upright bass.

The cover encapsulated a lot of what this band does: They honor country traditions, but their sonic palette extends well into rock & roll.

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Live Review: Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers @ Jammin’ Java — 7/30/22

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Joe Grushecky (Photo courtesy Randex PR)

Joe Grushecky is “the first one on either side of the family out of the coal mines,” he told his audience recently at Jammin’ Java. A lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, his career has had its ups and downs, but he’s stayed faithful to the place he comes from.

“Grushecky,” he explained is a Ukrainian name. And while that might not be unusual in his hometown, record executives wanted him to change it. “They will never get that name in Alabama,” they said — and, as Joe conceded, “They didn’t.”

Joe never did change his name, nor did he ever leave his hometown, which appears in songs like “East Carson Street.”

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Live Review: Ray Wylie Hubbard @ City Winery — 7/29/22

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Ray Wylie Hubbard performs at City Winery in DC on July 29, 2022. (Photo by Rashad Polk)

 “I found out you get more attention burning down the barn than you do taking out the trash,” Americana singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard told a sold-out audience at City Winery recently.

In his autobiography, A Life Well…Lived, Hubbard writes appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon — his first national TV appearance — in 2010. When Ray Wylie how he should be introduced, he asked to be described as an Americana singer-songwriter, rather than as a Texas singer-songwriter.

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Live Review: Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine @ Wolf Trap — 7/28/22

Sam Beam and Andrew BirdSam Beam and Andrew Bird (Photo by Jess Wasson)

When he introduced “Evening On The Ground” at Wolf Trap recently, Sam Beam, who performs under the moniker Iron & Wine, went off on a tangent about the mythical figure Lilith. She was, he explained, Adam’s first wife, but “he kicked her to the curb because she wanted to fuck on top.” And it only got weirder from there.

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Live Review: Laura Veirs @ Union Stage — 7/27/22

Laura Veirs
Laura Veirs (Photo by Shelby Brakken)

When Laura Veirs played at Union State recently, it was the second to last date on a tour of the northeast with supporting act Andy Jenkins. Before that, she’d spent four weeks in the UK. Despite receiving critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, she has developed a larger following overseas. That’s a shame, because she makes fantastic music, and she deserves a larger audience here at home.

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Live Review: Wild Hearts Tour: Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker w/ Quinn Christopherson @ Wolf Trap — 7/21/22

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Sharon Van Etten performs at Wolf Trap on July 21, 2022. (Photos by Ari Strauss)

Toward the beginning of her set at Wolf Trap Thursday evening, Angel Olsen told the audience, “I know it’s hot, but we love you.”

Later, she remarked, “This heat makes me feel out of tune.” Even though it had rained earlier, the evening of July 21 was still uncomfortably warm at Wolf Trap even as the sun was setting. For those of us in the audience, it wasn’t so bad — though you definitely needed a good amount of water to make it through the show — but I can only imagine what it was like on stage, underneath the bright, intense lights.

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Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes w/ The Whitmore Sisters @ The Birchmere — 7/20/22

Steve Earle & The Dukes

Steve Earle & The Dukes (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

When legendary singer-songwriter Steve Earle got to the “chick song portion of the show” recently, he told his audience at The Birchmere, “I’m not above repurposing a song.” Having had seven marriages to six different women, as well as various other relationships over the years, I can see why he’s had to do that. Everyone wants to know for whom these songs were written, but as he told the audience Wednesday night (and he has said on many other occasions), “They’re all about me.”

He’s also remarked, quite humorously — though he didn’t say it on July 20, “We used to make music for girls. Now we make it for nerds.”

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Live Review: Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Los Lobos @ Wolf Trap — 7/19/22

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Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi perform at Wolf Trap on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Tedeschi Trucks Band is all about family: It’s fronted by the married duo of guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks and vocalist-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. Their annual Wheels of Soul Tour is a highlight of the summer season every year at Wolf Trap, and this year’s event, which also featured East LA rockers Los Lobos and Tedeschi Trucks keyboardist Gabe Dixon in an opening slot was all about family. Over the course of three sets and four hours, fans got to see these first-class musicians play with each other in a joyous, celebratory atmosphere.

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Live Review: Michaela Anne @ 9:30 Club — 7/17/22

Michaela Anne
Michaela Anne (Photo by Natia Cinco)

When she opened for Watchouse at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, Michaela Anne performed at the legendary venue for the first time. But it was also a homecoming of sorts. She comes from a military family — her father was a submarine captain, and her uncle was commandant of the Marine Corps during the Obama Administration — and she lived in Fairfax County while her father was stationed at the Pentagon.

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