Live Review: Ohio Players @ The Birchmere — 5/28/22

The Ohio Players perform at The Birchmere on May 28, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)

“Gem City” is an unusual nickname for Dayton, Ohio. Perhaps, it’s a nod to a time when the city churned out the who’s who of funk. Artists like Zapp, Roger Troutman, Heatwave, and Slave, to name a few. This past Memorial Day Weekend, The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, welcomed Dayton’s crown jewel of funk and R&B — the Ohio Players.

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Live Review: EarthGang @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 5/20/22

Olu of EarthGang performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring on May 20, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transferred. I’m no Einstein, but I’m confident that principle was proven during EarthGang’s recent performance at The Fillmore Silver Spring.

The Atlanta hip-hop duo, consisting of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (born Eian Parker), engaged fans in call-and-response — “when I say earth, you say, gang” — doused them with water guns and enthusiastically rhymed verses from their catalog. The charged-up audience returned their energy at every opportunity.

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Live Review: Sampa the Great @ 9:30 Club — 3/29/22

Sampa the Great performs at 9:30 Club on March 29, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)

Freedom is a concept that has bent nearly to its breaking point in recent years — the freedom of movement, financial security, and sovereignty. During a recent show at DC’s 9:30 Club, Zambian rapper/singer Sampa Tembo, better known as Sampa the Great, had one rule — be free!

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Live Review: Jazmine Sullivan @ The Anthem — 3/20/22

Jazmne Sullivan performs at The Anthem in DC on March 20, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)

Jazmine Sullivan has never been one to mince words. In 2008, the multi-Grammy nominated R&B singer-songwriter voiced the fury of jilted lovers — and possibly inspired a few felonies — on the revenge anthem “Bust Your Windows.” Sullivan’s latest release is titled “Heaux Tales.” The conceptual project is a collection of perspectives on sex, insecurity, loss, and the power of the P — which doesn’t stand for prude. The Philadelphia soul singer shared these provocative stories during a recent sold-out show at The Anthem in DC.

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Live Review: Action Bronson + Earl Sweatshirt @ The Anthem — 2/19/22

Action Bronson performs at The Anthem on Feb. 19, 2022 (photos by Will Colbert).

It’s early in adulthood that many of us realize the value of a crew. The kindred spirits who lifted us up while down. The family who kept us in or out of trouble. As you read this, your mind may race back to a cohort who made an indelible mark on your life.

On Saturday, basketball’s elite gathered in Cleveland for the NBA All-Star Game, but the night’s highlight wasn’t a dunk contest if you were in the nation’s capital. The Anthem auditorium at DC’s Southwest Waterfront hosted the ÑBA Leather World Tour, which featured a collection of musicians as talented and unique as the championship-winning ‘89 Bad Boy Pistons — The Alchemist, Boldly James, Earl Sweatshirt, and Action Bronson.

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Live Review: D Smoke @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 2/7/22

D Smoke performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Feb. 7, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)

“Boxing’s got styles like music got style…some styles are slick and creative…and others aren’t,” Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography — “Miles.” Like the iconic trumpeter, D Smoke is a student of music and boxing. During a recent show at The Fillmore Silver Spring, the Inglewood, California, rapper stepped onto the stage with the enthusiasm of a welterweight contender. 

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Live Review: Karol G @ The Anthem — 12/12/21

Karol G performs at The Anthem on Dec. 12, 2021. (Photo by Will Colbert)

Thanks in part to a new generation hailing from Medellín, Colombia, reggaeton has not only evolved with the times but also regained a foothold in popular culture. It’s easy to say Carolina Giraldo Navarro, better known as Karol G, is the genre’s current reina (queen). A truthful statement, but an oversimplification. Navarro is certainly representative of the reggaeton renaissance, but during a recent show, she performed a range of music that points to something bigger.

On Dec. 12, award-winning vocalist Karol G made a stop at The Anthem in DC for the final leg of her Bichota Tour.

What’s bichota? We’ll get to that later.

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Live Review: Rubén Blades @ EagleBank Arena — 12/3/21

Rubén Blades performs at EagleBank Arena on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photos by Will Colbert)

“You’re the most popular unknown person that I know,” Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once told Rubén Blades. True, Blades may not be a household name in the US but the Panamanian musician, actor, activist, and politician is one of the most emblematic figures in salsa music.

On Dec. 3, Rubén Blades performed hits from his illustrious career for fans at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a journey through a discography beginning in the ‘70s and continuing with “Salswing,” this year’s Latin Grammy album of the year

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Live Review: Thundercat @ 9:30 Club — 11/2/21

Thundercat performs at 9:30 Club on Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo by Will Colbert)

On Tuesday, Thundercat’s red logo emblazoned a huge drape at the rear of DC’s 9:30 club stage. The repeating symbol recalled not only the ‘80s cartoon, and namesake of multi-grammy award-winning bassist/singer Stephen Bruner, but also an emblematic crest. An insignia representing a diverse family that loves music, Dragon Ball Z, and yes… cats.

Stepping into the legendary DC venue I was geeked for a night of funky synth-laced progressive R&B paired with Thundercat’s Bee Gees-like falsetto vocals. Yes, that box was checked, but the performance proved to be so much more.

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Live Review: iLe @ The Howard Theatre — 10/1/21

iLe performs at the Howard Theatre on Oct. 1, 2021. (Photo by Will Colbert)

Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar, better known as iLe, recently took to the Howard Theatre stage to perform her unique style of Latin American music. The songs were a combination of classic boleros, rhumbas, and percussive bomba rooted in the history of her native Puerto Rico. Over a century ago, The Howard Theatre was billed as the “theatre of the people.” On Oct. 1, the Boricua singer-songwriter honored that credo.

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