Live Review: Chris Thile @ Wolf Trap — 7/24/21

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Chris Thile performs at Wolf Trap on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Chris Thile loves playing at Wolf Trap. On Saturday evening, he called it “the best outdoor ampitheater in the world.” Over the years, Chris has played Wolf Trap with his main band, the Punch Brothers, and as the host of the (tragically) canceled NPR variety show Live From Here.

A mandolin virtuoso, Thile first emerged on the the music scene as a member of the bluegrass trio Nickel Creek with siblings Sean and Sara Watkins, who won a Grammy for their 2002 album, This Side. During Saturday’s show, Chris performed “Rest of My Life,” from Nickel Creek’s 2014 reunion album, A Dotted Line.

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Live Review: RoseRiot @ Jammin’ Java – 7/23/21

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Rose Riot pose for the camera at Jammin’ Java on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Anyone who’s familiar with the DMV’s music scene knows Cathy DiToro, an incandescent ball of energy whose bands So Fetch (aughts covers), The Legwarmers (’80s covers), and Party Like It’s (ska/dance) clearly don’t occupy enough of her time.

A songwriter in her own right, Cathy has assembled a fresh quartet, the aptly named RoseRiot, to perform original songs, and the band made a long-awaited return to live performance with an outdoor appearance at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia this past Friday.

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Live Review: Jimbo Mathus and The Dial Back Sound @ The Hamilton Live — 7/22/21

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Jimbo Mathus and The Dial Back Sound perform at The Hamilton Live on July 22, 2021. (Photo by Rashad Polk)

Jimbo Mathus is best known as the guitarist, singer, and bandleader for the swing revival group Squirrel Nut Zippers. But Jimbo’s career is much broader than that, and when he performed with his band, The Dial Back Sound, at The Hamilton on Thursday, he promised to get to “all types of music,” starting with “a little bit of honky tonk, and bringing up some deep soul from the deep South.”

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Live Review: Too Free and Exotiq Int’l @ Black Cat — 7/16/21

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Gideon Jaguar performs with Exotiq Int’l at Black Cat on July 16, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

In a recent show at Black Cat, Sister Polygon Records flexed its indie dance muscles and revealed how it’s poised to keep our feet moving with the disco and funk of lablelmates Too Free and Exotiq Int’l respectively.

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Live Review: Japanese Breakfast @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 7/21/21

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Japanese Breakfast rocks a sold-out crowd at The Fillmore Silver Spring on July 21, 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)

If most of 2020 (and, let’s face it, most of 2021) was a pressure tank waiting to explode, then the packed house at The Fillmore Silver Spring was the symbolic release Wednesday night as Japanese Breakfast performed to an audience eager for live music. And they certainly got that rush of excitement when, straight off a New York Times bestseller, “Crying in H Mart,” and an acclaimed new album, Jubilee, Michelle Zauner, the creative force behind Japanese Breakfast, kicked off her US Tour with the first stop at The Fillmore.

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Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes @ The Birchmere — 7/20/21

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Steve Earle performs at The Birchmere on July 20, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Steve Earle has been playing The Birchmere regularly for decades, since even before his debut album, 1986’s Guitar Town. He first visited the famed northern Virginia venue when he was playing bass in his mentor’s, Guy Clark, band. (Steve’s other mentor was the brilliant but deeply troubled songwriter Townes Van Zandt.) On Tuesday evening, Earle and his band, The Dukes (get it? it’s a pun on the early rockabilly song “Duke of Earl”) played the first of two nights at the club.

In the three and a half decades since the release of Guitar Town,  Steve Earle has created a deeply respected and wide-ranging body of work. A self-described “cult artist,” his songwriting is held in the highest esteem by other writers, musicians, and artists. Although Steve may have left school after the eighth grade, his work is informed by a prodigious mind that delves incessantly into literature, history, and current politics. There’s a fearsome intelligence in his work, which has been noted by interviewers like Chris Shifflett, who has hosted Earle several times on his podcast, Walking the Floor

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Live Review: Sam Bush Band @ Stages Music Arts — 7/18/21

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Sam Bush performs at Stages Music Arts on July 18, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Though many musicians are admittedly brushing off rust as live performances return to order, you’d be hard-pressed to find any flaws in the skillset of the world’s most talented bluegrass musicians, a group as passionate about their craft as you’ll encounter.

One of the most critically acclaimed and seasoned bluegrass trendsetters, Sam Bush made his way to Cockeysville this past weekend for an early Sunday evening performance at Stages Music Arts, a venue that has hosted an impressive list of highly regarded musicians in just a short time.

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Live Review: Mac and Jim (Superchunk) @ Ottobar — 7/14/21

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Mac and Jim of Superchunk bring the music back to the Ottobar on July 14, 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)

Not to sound like a Doubting Thomas, but as recently just a few months ago, I don’t think I would have believed it. But Wednesday night, I found myself walking into the Ottobar for the first indoor club show I’ve experienced in nearly a year and a half. Definitely the longest time I’ve gone without stepping foot in the my home away from home in probably 20 years. But if there was a show that bring us all back home it was seeing Mac McCaughan and Jim Wilbur of Superchunk on that raised stage, playing to a rapt, and vaccinated, audience that night.

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Snapshots: Red Wing VIII Roots Music Festival @ Natural Chimneys Park (Mt. Solon, VA) — 7/9-7/11/21

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Sierra Ferrell performs at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival VIII last weekend. (Photo by Chester Simpson)

The Red Wing Roots Music Festival was held over three days, on July 9, 10, and 11, beneath the towering 500-million-year-old rock formations of Natural Chimneys Park and Campground located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

It was a breath of fresh air, to voyage out of our confined space for the first time to a music festival that’s near and dear to our hearts. COVID canceled all gatherings of this type last year, but gave us a new appreacation for what everyone had missed … sweet love of music.

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Live Review: Peter Rowan’s Free Mexican Airforce @ The Birchmere — 7/12/21

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Peter Rowan (Photo by Tim Benko)

Peter Rowan has played at The Birchmere many, many times. His career spans six decades, beginning in the early 1960s, when he was a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. During that time, he wrote the bluegrass classic “Walls of Time,” which he shared with the audience on Monday night in his latest turn at storied venue in Alexandria, Virginia.

Since his time in the Bluegrass Boys, Peter has played with a number of bands and artists that encompasses the range of roots music. He joined David ‘Dawg’ Grisman in Earth Opera, a band that was sort of an East Coast Grateful Dead, and he later joined up with the Dead’s Jerry Garcia in Old & In The Way. Somewhere in there, he was also a member of the eclectic group Seatrain.

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