Kirk Joseph plays Sousaphone for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Ottawa Jazzfest on June 23, 2015. (Photo by Mike Bouchard)
The last week of 2017 will be remembered as a cold one. I’m not very fond of winter and I spend most of it grousing. So I found myself, somewhat sullen in mood, entering the State Theatre on the last Saturday before the New Year to encounter — warmth!
I’m not just talking about the toasty temperature of the State Theatre itself; I’m referring to the mood being set by the band on the stage. Dirty Dozen Brass Band (DDBB) had come to Falls Church this evening as part of their 40th Anniversary tour, and they were throwing down a piping hot musical stew of New Orleans Jazz over a bed of sizzling funk that turned this otherwise icy patch of Northern Virginia into summertime on the Bayou.
Reverend Horton Heat performs at 9:30 Club on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by Neal Keller)
I don’t consider myself to be a Christmas Curmudgeon; I’m not a hipster Grinch. While I often rise to a level of pretentiousness that rejects many forms of sentimentality, I do embrace the spirit of the holiday season.
Having said that, I will go out of my way to avoid most Christmas music. I’ve got a few faves, but most of it inspires in me the same negative reaction that I feel toward showtunes. But the Reverend Horton Heat very much changed my attitude toward Christmas music at 9:30 Club on Sunday.
Brian Setzer Orchestra performs on their Christmas Rocks! Tour at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andrzej Liguz)
I vividly remember the friend who put me on to the music of the Stray Cats 30+ years ago, as he was living the zeitgeist of the ’80s rockabilly revival. I was in Rochester, New York, attending RIT, and he’d come up from Jersey to attend school there as well. He had the greaser haircut, the leather jacket, rolled up cuffs on his jeans, cigarettes under his T-shirt sleeve, and designs on marrying his still virginal high school sweetheart once he got his degree.
The Stray Cats were in constant rotation in his dorm room, and he said to me once, “Y’know, even if this whole rockabilly scene fades away tomorrow, this guy Setzer’s still got a job for life.” He was referring to Stray Cats frontman Brian Setzer’s formidable talent as a guitarist. It was clearly evident back then, even if Setzer’s stylistic trappings were a little different from rock hero contemporaries like Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen.
Lucinda Williams (Photo by David McClister)
I suspect the inclusion of Lucinda Williams among my favorite artists stood out a little on my (now deleted) dating profile, buried as it was among a list that heavily favored new wave, electronic, and industrial artists.
The contrast in genres was apparently notable enough that visitors commented on it more than once. But then my appreciation for Lucinda’s music did in fact arise out of a specific set of circumstances, absent which I might not have discovered her at all.
Amelia Meath sings with Sylvan Esso at All Things Go Fall Classic in DC on Oct. 8, 2016.
The music of Durham, North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso was introduced to me last year by my friend and Spotify buddy Jenny, in the form of a YouTube video for their song “Hey Mami.” Straightaway, I admired singer Amelia Meath’s energy and extro-expressiveness, both on display in a sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Saturday.
James McMurtry performs at the American Music Festival on July 5, 2013. (Photo by seanbirm)
James McMurtry steps on to an unadorned stage at The Birchmere Tuesday night, appropriately understated in his style and unpretentious in his presentation.
Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave sings at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Jan. 25, 2017. (Photo by Paivi)
Cold Cave open their show Wednesday night at DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel with “Love Comes Close,” coincidentally the song that first initiated my interest in the band. For the duration of their opener, the look of the stage is appropriately understated.