Live Review: Kathleen Edwards @ The Birchmere — 9/20/22

Kathleen Edwards (Photo courtesy High Road Touring)

At The Birchmere recently, Kathleen Edwards struggled to deny that one gig can make a career. Twenty years ago this month, she released her debut album, Failer, in her native Canada. That was six months prior to its American release on an independent label based in Austin, Rounder Records. A few months after that release in 2003, she appeared on Letterman, with his bandleader, Paul Schafer sitting in with her and her crew as they played “Six O’ Clock News.”

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Live Review: Daði Freyr @ 9:30 Club — 9/18/22

Daði Freyr performs at 9:30 Club on Sept. 18, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Two things you grasp about Icelandic musician Daði Freyr right away — he’s very tall, and he enjoys being something of a lovable goof.

Those two aspects of him were very easy to spot at 9:30 Club recently when Daði dropped in for The Fabulous, Wonderful, & Nice Tour, his first *major* headlining journey around the United States. At about a third of the way through the set, for example, Daði warned his audience to steel themselves for the most serious song he would play, but then he and his band broke out into an electronic version of the famed “Chicken Dance,” the ubiquitous German beer hall dance adopted by weddings all over the world.

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Live Review: Annapolis Songwriters Festival — 9/15-9/17/22

Amos Lee performs at City Dock on the Sept. 16, 2022, the second night of the inaugural Annapolis Songwriters Festival. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Though it might not be the first city musicians think of when booking their stops in the DMV, Naptown has undoubtedly carved out its own space in the prosperous local music scene as a laid back and amenable destination with so many concertgoers within a short drive.

With the presentation of the inaugural Annapolis Songwriters Festival, a city-wide event hosted by The Rams Head Group from Sept. 15 to 17, this pleasant and historic place welcomed an impressive and dynamic lineup of musicians from all over the country for performances —  of them free of charge — at more than a dozen different spots along West Street, downtown and elsewhere.

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Live Review: Echo & the Bunnymen @ Lincoln Theatre — 9/17/22

Echo & the Bunnymen perform at the Lincoln Theatre on Sept. 17, 2022. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

Echo & the Bunnymen were inevitable.

By the late ’70s, electronic instruments had become more widely available, fueling a rise of experimentation in UK cities like London, Manchester, and Liverpool. Inspired by the DIY ethos of the Sex Pistols, many bands picked up these instruments and started creating.

But in Liverpool, Ian McCuloch and Will Sergeant were admirers of The Velvet Underground and the Doors, two psychedelic bands fronted by Americans. Once those bands had recorded, Echo & the Bunnymen were going to happen regardless of flashy keyboards or electronic drum machines. Their American musical roots perhaps explain why the duo still today gets the earnest rock star treatment from packed houses and eager audiences.

Ian, Will, and their touring bandmates once again received a recent hero’s welcome in DC in a sold-out performance at the Lincoln Theatre.

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Live Review: Alejandro Escovedo @ The Hamilton Live — 9/17/22

Alejandro Escovedo (Photo courtesy Prevent Cancer Foundation)

Alejando Escovedo has been playing music for a long time — longer than I’ve been alive. He recently told the audience at The Hamilton Live that he first came to DC in 1978 as part of the punk band The Nuns. They played the Atlantis with The Fleshtones. The club had an apartment — which he emphasized was terrible — and, after the show, Patti Smith came to visit.

When a veteran performer knows an intimate venue and comes with a plan, an audience can get an incredible show. That was the case Saturday evening, as Alejandro performed songs and delved into the stories behind them. The highlight of the show came when he and his band left the stage and went into the crowd to perform “I Wish I Was Your Mother” and “I Was Drunk” totally acoustic, no mics, just instruments and voices. It was Alejandro on guitar, with his bandmates on fiddle and tambourine. The former song, he mentioned, was one he wrote to take part in Austin song swaps.

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Live Review: Dawes and Bahamas @ Baltimore Soundstage — 9/13/22

Dawes and Bahamas perform together at Baltimore Soundstage on Sept. 13. 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The USA and Canada have shared in arts and entertainment for just about as long as the two countries have existed, but this late summer the fruitful relationship between these two countries has yielded one of the most fascinating international collaborations live music has seen in some time.

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Live Review: Modern English @ The Birchmere — 9/14/22

Modern English performs at The Birchmere on Sept. 14, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Modern English visited The Birchmere recently to play through their album After the Snow in its entirety, in tracklist order.

Well, they didn’t play *the one song* everyone wanted to hear in the tracklist, saving it for the end of the show. “Half of you would bugger off home” after Modern English performed “Melt With You,” in the estimation of frontman Robbie Grey.

As it turned out, no one in the very full concert hall wanted to be anywhere else other than fully immersed in the atmospheric brilliance of a very sharp collection of pop songs. Dancing broke out in front of the stage and in the aisles.

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Live Review: Arlo Parks @ 9:30 Club — 9/12/22

Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks performs at 9:30 Club on Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo by Katie Child)

Arlo Parks is an idol to many. Her tendency to inspire, in combination with her often painfully relatable lyricism, Parks is the spitting image of what many of us aim to “grow up” to become.

A ray of sunshine through and through, Parks’ tour was not one to pass up. Coupled with the lovable crowd of DMV natives that she brought out for her show, Arlo lit up the 9:30 Club for two nights last week with a sense of warmth and comfort that we already miss.

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Live Review: Julia Jacklin @ 9:30 Club — 9/15/22

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Julia Jacklin (Photo by Nick Mcck)

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin walked onstage at the 9:30 Club recently to Celine Dion singing “My Heart Will Go On.” “Just having a bit of fun,” she told the audience, who had come to see the native of the Blue Mountains’ first North American tour since before the Covid pandemic hit. The joke, of course, is that deep emotional conflicts and introspection in Jacklin’s lyrics contrast so powerfully with the cheap emotional string-pulling of a love theme engineered for the blockbuster Titanic

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