Known for their unique blend of alt-country and Memphis soul, Lucero was met with an enthusiastic response at 9:30 Club recently from fans, whom they thanked for coming out late on a Sunday night. Led by frontman Ben Nichols, the band delivered a stacked set, playing for over two hours.
Growing up in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio, I would listen at night to Kent State Public Radio WKSU. On the weekends, that station would broadcast folk music. Saturday evening’s concert by The Milk Carton Kids thus was something of a return to my personal roots.
Normally, the 9:30 Club has the latest shows in town. On weekends, those shows go even later. Headliners regularly go on after 10. It was a lucky thing that I checked the showtime, because it turned that the Murder by Death concert was an early show!
The myth of “Minnesota nice” got a little verification on Thursday night at The Birchmere. Before alt-country legends the Jayhawks started playing, keyboardist Karen Grotberg turned to our table, which was next to the stage, and apologize that she would be turning her back to us at times. She also said she hoped we wouldn’t get blown out by the monitors and, fortunately, we didn’t.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Will Oldham, who has also released music under the Palace moniker (Palace Brothers, Palace Music, and Palace Songs), is something of a cult figure. He also has a varied acting career, with appearances in films ranging from Jackass 3D to 2006’s Junebug to last year’s A Ghost Story. On Tuesday, he made an appearance at The Birchmere, and I was there to figure him out.
Knoxville Americana band The Black Lillies play a unique mix of genres of styles: country, bluegrass, blues, and jazz. You might say that The Black Lillies are a CBGB+ band. Touring in support of a new album, Stranger to Me, The Lillies put on a compelling show at The Hamilton on Saturday that saw the audience fill the pit, dancing to the infectious rhythms.
Making their first appearance at the venue in nine years, The SteelDrives filled The Birchmere with the soulful sounds of their lauded Nashville bluegrass on Thursday night, the first of a two-night engagement. In the finest traditions of bluegrass music, The SteelDrivers emphasized that their songs tell terrible stories — and there were lots of murder ballads.