Tommy Stinson performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
When Tommy Stinson came to town to play some tunes at Pearl Street Warehouse recently, he probably didn’t expect to do so with a ribbing from his former manager, seated squarely in front of him in the audience.
But there he was on stage, playing solo songs and selections from his group Bash & Pop, and there she was at a table, serving him drinks to the stage, shouting requests, and affectionately goading him throughout the show.
Gogol Bordello perform at Rams Head Live! on Dec. 31, 2021. (Photo by Rashad Polk)
It can sometimes be a struggle to decide on what to do for New Years Eve. Many people choose the ring in the new year in a variety of ways. In the DMV there’s no shortage when it comes to venues for the most common styles of New Year’s celebrations – places of worship, raucous parties, or gathering to take in live music. At a Gogol Bordello show music is religion, their live show is always a party, and Rams Head Live was understandably the ideal place to welcome the magnificent year of 2022.
CHVRCHES delivered a top show of the year at The Anthem. (Photo by Katherine Gaines)
Parklife DC invites our staff to list their Top 10 concerts of every year. Although this was a different kind of year, our love of music remained strong, and we definitely caught our share of shows once pandemic lockdowns eased. Some homegrown shows began popping up indoors around May, and events really made a remarkable return by August. Although we live with additional requirements, such as vaccinations, to attend live shows, we happily rise to the moment to do what we love to do — experience live music.
The Allman Betts Band performs at The Birchmere in June. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
2021 saw a gradual return to live music as venues and musicians did their best to return to “normalcy” and keep everybody safe. Things didn’t always go according to plan: People still got sick, tours were canceled or postponed, and attendance to indoor shows still sometimes lagged.
Bob Mould’s return to 9:30 Club in September ranked among David LaMason’s Best Shows of 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)
If you would have told me around this time last year that I would have had the opportunity to see concerts again, let alone in indoor venues -– some that I hadn’t stepped foot inside in over a year and half –- I would have thought you were crazy. But not only did I have that opportunity –- in large part to vaccines, mask mandates, and the venues and artists who did everything in their power to make sure it was safe to experience live music again –- but I saw some of the best shows I’ve seen in years!
Cris Jacobs performs at The 8×10 in Baltimore on Dec. 20, 2021, the first of A Very Jerry Christmas, his annual series of holiday shows paying tribute to Jerry Garcia. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Admirable and arguably underappreciated is the local musician who’s become known across the country but is so multi-talented, enthusiastic and flexible as to wear a variety of hats to connect with hometown concertgoers in so many different ways.
Cris Jacobs emerged on the Baltimore circuit 20 years ago in the bluegrass group Smooth Kentucky — a squad that still performs locally — and he cut his teeth at a time the city was earning its reputation for having one of the nation’s very best music scenes. The leader of The Bridge, a beloved jam band blending a world of different sounds, Jacobs was right in the thick of it for a decade at the front of this colorful outfit, forging relationships near and far and all the while expanding his own influences.
KT Tunstall performs at Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Va., Dec. 18, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Attending KT Tunstall’s recent performance at Tally Ho Theater in historic Leesburg — a genuine treat, indeed — was the culmination of my three-year quest to photograph the artist in a live performance. The show was magnificent; well worth the three years I waited to see it.
In the nearly two years of no live music, the act of witnessing someone who has a mastery of the stage puts everything into perspective. The importance of live music and the strength of what an artist can make you feel in that moment which makes what could be lost all the more tangible. Watching David Shaw, singer for the band The Revivalists, performing the final show of his debut solo album release at the Union Stage Saturday night I couldn’t help but think how vital live music is to -– if anything -– the emotional strength of so many.
Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, Solange, Valerie June, St Paul and the Broken Bones), Shaw’s self-titled debut is filled with personal songs but ones that can make you move. And on a chilly Saturday night, David Shaw and his band did just that — got things moving — at Union Stage in DC.
Preoccupations perform at Union Stage on Dec. 13, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
In my chosen listening experiences, synths usually deliver bright treble to a pleasing harmony. Canadian post-punks Preoccupations sought to expand my horizons a bit in a recent concert at Union Stage, where the quartet wielded their synths in a tight rumble that augmented the urgency of their music.
Sarah Vos leads Dead Horses in a performance at DC9 on Dec. 11, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Dead Horses, an enlightening folk outfit from Milwaukee, is the musical vehicle for guitarist and singer-songwriter Sarah Vos and upright bassist Daniel Wolff. And the duo had seen its popularity rising in recent years, especially just before the pandemic — a few months prior to the shutdown saw Dead Horses making appearances in the Northwest with their friend, the great Charlie Parr, to help promote what was back in 2019 his new self-titled release.