Live Review: Curtis Harding @ Black Cat — 5/2/22

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Curtis Harding leads his band in a performance at Black Cat on May 2, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

A unique path with a full spectrum of influences can lead to refreshing, innovative artistic ideas, especially in music.

By the time he released his first album in 2014, Curtis Harding had gained a wide perspective both with his ears and his eyes thanks to an uncommon upbringing and an early run of success as a member of various outfits, including working alongside some of the country’s most noteworthy rap and hip-hop artists.

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Live Review: Charm City Bluegrass Festival @ Druid Hill Park — 4/29 + 4/30/22

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Allie Kral of Yonder Mountain String Band plays the fiddle at the Charm City Bluegrass Festival in Baltimore on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

For all of the challenges Baltimore might face as a city, a deficiency of live music is not one of them.

A thoroughfare for musicians making their way up and down the East Coast, and one rich with its own dynamic scene and culture, Baltimore has quietly maintained if not improved its reputation as one of the country’s leading music cities since being propped up by media in 2000s.

The Charm City Bluegrass Festival, held April 29 and 30 at Druid Hill Park, provided two days and nights of delightful live performances, sun-baked revelry and choice local food and beverage options for more than 1,000 attendees Friday and 3,000-plus on Saturday, only reaffirming Baltimore as an important and potentially underappreciated hub for influential and busy musicians.

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Snapshots: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark @ Brooklyn Steel — 4/30/22

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OMD perform at Brooklyn Steel on April 30, 2022. (Photos by Ben Eisendrath; Thoughts by Mickey McCarter)

UK new wavers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are touring the United States to celebrate their storied 40-year career, and they have built the perfect setlist for the series of anniversary performances.

The quartet knocked it out of the park with their 23-song set for two highly energetic nights at Brooklyn Steel recently. Ben Eisendrath captured the action in photos!

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Snapshots: Pabllo Vittar @ 9:30 Club — 4/30/22

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Pabllo Vittar performs at 9:30 Club on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Brazilan drag queen Pabllo Vittar launched an international tour this year after the release of her wildly successful fourth album, Batidão Tropical, which debuted as the No. 6 most streamed album globally on Spotify in 2021.

Pabllo Vittar recently visited 9:30 Club as a guest of the regular LGBTQ party Bent, and Katherine Gaines was there to capture the action!

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Live Review: Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer @ The Birchmere — 4/27/22

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Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne perform at The Birchmere on April 27, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer are two of the most accomplished singer-songwriters in the contemporary country and Americana scene. The Alabama natives both possess remarkable gifts as writers and are among the finest vocalists working today. Each possesses a distinctive style: Shelby leans more toward soul and gospel (she noted her favorite singer is Mahalia Jackson), while Allison often inclines toward folk, but has had an eclectic career that’s also seen her work in more rock-oriented directions as well.

With their remarkable voices, they don’t need much support to put on an incredible show as they did at The Birchmere recently.

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Live Review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark @ Lincoln Theatre — 4/26/22

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Andy McCluskey fronts OMD at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on April 26, 2022. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

The most extraordinary musical acts in modern pop history have emerged from groundbreaking scenes that imbue them with mythic powers. And so it was wholly satisfying to witness Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, one of the very finest UK bands, fully embrace their own mythology in a pandemic-delayed 40th-anniversary celebration of hits at DC’s Lincoln Theatre this week, when frontman Andy McCluskey and company smartly acknowledged the creative ground that forged OMD in late ’70s England.

In the concert’s most extraordinary moment, OMD reset their positions during the show’s midpoint to place the four band members at the lip of the stage in a Kraftwerk formation, whereupon Andy dedicated the live rarity “Statues” to the group’s long-departed friend Ian Curtis.

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Live Review: Fruit Bats @ 9:30 Club — 4/23/22

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Eric D. Johnson leads Fruit Bats in a performance at 9:30 Club on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The transformation of a songwriting vehicle from an individual endeavor into a full-fledged outfit is one of the more remarkable progressions to behold.

Especially so when the person driving the operation is a genuine, gifted soul with a penchant for crafting songs that can captivate in an intimate setting, but yet can be expanded and embellished into prosperous compositions at the group level to engage a much more active audience in larger venues.

Fruit Bats, the musical motorhome of singer and guitarist Eric D. Johnson, used a red-letter, late-night appearance at 9:30 Club recently to demonstrate the entity’s continued evolution as a sophisticated, dynamic folk rock troupe and, now in its second life, possessing a rare wisdom and imparting spirit.

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Snapshots: National Cannabis Festival @ RFK Stadium Festival Grounds — 4/23/22

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Wiz Khalifa smokes a joint while performing at the National Cannabis Festival on April 23, 2022. (Photos by Shedrick Pelt)

The National Cannabis Festival returned to RFK Stadium Festival Grounds recently to celebrate the leaps and bounds the cannabis community has made in the name of cannabis advocacy. Vendors, food trucks, local merchants, and of course smokers gathered to fellowship around the love for their favorite pastime.

A crowd estimated at 20,000+, throughout the day of April 23, showed up early to take advantage of the beautiful weather in the DMV. Carts and coolers in tow, the amazing musical lineup had everyone excited as they claimed their spot for the evening. Pro Cannabis organizations Legacy DC & Gifted Curators provided an educational element with a panel of speakers featuring Dead Prez’s M-1 and adult film star Sara Jay.

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Live Review: Big Thief @ The Anthem — 4/21/22

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Adrianne Lenker leads Big Thief in a performance at The Anthem on April 21, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

How do the very best musicians keep their creative focus amid skyrocketing popularity and success? Aiming to reduce external noise and interruption might very well help a band or a group preserve and even hone its identity in the same direction and with a similar rationale that inspired the endeavor to begin with.

Big Thief, the beloved and inexplicably bewitching indie rock group out of Brooklyn, has somehow adhered to what appears to be a fundamental set of guiding principles while managing meteoric growth since its inception less than seven years ago.

At a highly anticipated appearance at The Anthem in DC recently, Big Thief was able to shrink the ultramodern venue, effectively diffusing any potential distraction presented by its large size and cutting through its deep space to reach the audience clear and to emotional effect.

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