Live Review: Daryl Davis @ The Birchmere — 7/11/20

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Daryl Davis and his band entertain music fans with a high-energy blues and rock & roll performance at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, July 11, 2020. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

A sight for sore eyes appeared on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, Virginia, this past weekend as the iconic Birchmere sign light up with news that it is once again open for business.

After a four-month hiatus since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the legendary Northern Virginia music venue reopened recently at a limited capacity using enhanced health and safety measures set forth by the CDC and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Parklife DC’s Ari Strauss went to see the Daryl Davis Band perform on July 11 and reviews his experience with photos of the performance.

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Required Reading: Welcome Back, Kathleen Edwards

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Kathleen Edwards performs at The Birchmere in 2013. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

“The next time Kathleen plays here, we’ll be opening for her.”

Eric Brace of Last Train Home uttered those prophetic words at Arlington, Virginia’s Iota Club back in summer 2003. One of those NPR drive-way moments had put Kathleen Edwards on my radar when I heard one of her first interviews.

Her first album, Failer (Zoë Records), had just been released and when I heard its first single, “Six O’Clock News,” I was hooked.

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Live Review: Eze Jackson @ Creative Alliance Sidewalk Serenades — 7/4/20

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Eze Jackson performs as part of the Creative Alliance’s Sidewalk Serenades on July 4, 2020. (Photo by David LaMason)

On a hot afternoon recently, right outside of my house in East Baltimore, the amazing Eze Jackson gave a spirited Sidewalk Serenade.

Sidewalk Serenades is a program through the Creative Alliance in Baltimore that helps local musicians provide socially distanced performances as a way to provide a vital line from artists to audience in the age of COVID-19. But it has the added benefit of highlighting the best musical artistry in and around Baltimore. And Eze Jackson is certainly one of the best.

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Live Review: Oh He Dead @ Jammin’ Java — 7/3/2020

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Oh He Dead performs at Jammin’ Java on July 3, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

More than once it’s been said that, despite our differences, music’s greatest gift is its ability to break down barriers, bring people together, and unite us in common cause. In this age of pandemic lockdowns, economic uncertainty, and just plain fear of the future, that those in need, particularly struggling local musicians, would work to support causes larger than themselves, is a beautiful testament to the power of song.

Oh He Dead recently performed for a packed, but socially distanced, crowd as part of Jammin’ Java’s “A Song & A Slice: A Socially Distanced Outdoor Concert Series.”

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Live Review: Elizabeth II @ Jammin’ Java — 6/20/20

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Beth Cannon fronts Elizabeth II at Jammin’ Java on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Normally, summer has been in full swing for weeks by this point each year. Concerts, festivals, parades, baseball, road trips and, of course, late evenings out with friends. But as we all know, this summer ain’t normal.

So when Jammin’ Java announced its “A Song & A Slice: A Socially Distanced Outdoor Concert Series” to celebrate the opening of Union Pie (Jammin’ Java’s new pizza shop), a glimmer of hope sprang up that maybe summer had actually returned. And that maybe things could feel a little more normal.

Recently, Elizabeth II turned in a 90-minute, stripped-down, acoustic set to kick off the series.

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Required Reading: Why I Support #SaveOurStages

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River Whyless perform at DC9 in 2017. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

“Just as we talked about the community, I think it’s one thing to see an artist or a song in a one dimensional way, but what’s really inspiring is when you see an actual human being onstage with an instrument made of wood and wires, and one microphone, do something so moving that it conjures emotion and you fall into like a romantic state of loving life because people do great things.” — Dave Grohl, Alternative Nation, October 2019

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Preview: Vinyl Nation @ Brown Paper Tickets, 4/18 + 4/19/20

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Songbyrd Music House (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/ Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/ GrillworksBen)

To help record stores during these challenging times and closures due to COVID-19, the documentary Vinyl Nation presents a one-time special online screening of the film in association with Record Store Day on Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19.

All ticket proceeds go to local record stores, including Songbyrd Music House in DC, participating in this special screening.

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Required Reading: Parallels in the Development of Country Music and Genre Fiction

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A peek inside the Country Music Museum (Photo by Adinda Uneputty)

Required Reading is Parklife DC’s essay series on music appreciation.

Country music and genre fiction (specifically science-fiction and fantasy, hereafter just “sff”) might not seem like they have much in common. In fact, they have developed along strikingly similar lines. Both are popular art forms subject to a certain devaluation, especially by cultural elites. And in both cases, there is a divide between a more conservative mainstream that appeals to the masses and more political progressive, artistically ambitious element.

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My Favorite Albums: 2019 Records for the Lockdown by Chris

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Duff McKagan (second from left) and Shooter Jennings (center) with their band (Photo courtesy BWR)

It’s difficult being stuck inside, unable to interact with others face to face. We here at Parklife DC are feeling that along with everyone else. I am regularly looking at my calendar, trying to guess when I’ll be able to get back in a club or arena and do what I love, photograph concerts.

I certainly don’t have the answer to when we’ll all be back to our normal lives, but one thing that is helping me get through this time is listening to music. We are fortunate that so much great music is still being created. Even in these trying times, bands and artists are finding ways to entertain us with live streams and basic recordings from their homes.

But it can be difficult to keep track of who will be performing and when. And if you’re like me, you may just want to throw on an album and let it play. So I have put together a list of some of my favorite albums that came out in 2019.

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My Favorite Concert: Failure @ 9:30 Club — 3/28/19

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Failure playing during their tour with Swervedriver in March of 2019. (Photo by Marc Shea)

Editor’s note: Parklife asked our contributors to revisit some of the best shows they’ve ever seen in a series titled My Favorite Concert.

One of the best concerts I ever saw took place almost a year ago. Failure was co-headlining a bill with Swervedriver at 9:30 Club. I’ve been a fan of both bands since the mid-90’s and this was a chance to see two bands that I had never been able to see.

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