Live Review: Oliver Wood & Friends @ Rams Head On Stage — 4/20/22

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Oliver Wood leads his trio in a performance at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on April 20, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Solo endeavors for some musicians might almost seem predestined, and in some cases the effort can elucidate just how much a certain individual has meant to the success of the outfits they’ve represented.

And while no one would ever want him to stop making music with his brother, Chris, it comes as no surprise to see Oliver Wood — one half of the siblings comprising The Wood Brothers — embarking on his own this spring in support of his debut album, Always Smilin’.

Performing with his trio as Oliver Wood & Friends at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis recently, Wood proved himself to be every bit the diverting, charismatic lead vocalist and the spirited, organically talented guitar player who’s helped make The Wood Brothers a pillar of alternative folk and roots music for almost 18 years.

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Live Review: PEARS @ Pie Shop — 4/23/22

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PEARS (Photo courtesy Fat Wreck Chords)

“Well, this is a blasty blast.”

For the past couple rotations around the Sun, that thing got in the way of live music for me. It had been over two years since I had seen a band perform in the flesh…to be more specific, 773 days have come and gone since I saw Dead Kennedys rock the shit out of 9:30 Club. So I don’t need to tell you just how goddam excited I was that one of my favorite Fat Wreck Chords bands, PEARS, was gonna be playing at one of my favorite (and crustiest) venues the District has to offer, the Pie Shop.

Not to paint too crass a picture, but like, we’re talking full-on, pre-pubescent hormones excitement level. And boy oh boy, PEARS did not disappoint.

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Live Review: Fontaines DC @ 9:30 Club — 4/21/22

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Fontaines DC amazes at the 9:30 Club on April 21, 2022. (Photo by David LaMason)

You can almost feel the pull, like the power of a 10,000-ton train, moving the very Irish band Fontaines DC from the smaller clubs of just a handful of years ago to selling out big venues like the 9:30 Club Thursday night. And to top it off, the eve of the release of the quintet’s third full-length LP, Skinty Fia, saw the band not only selling out the 9:30 Club but also venues throughout the United States.

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Live Review: Adia Victoria w/ Lizzie No @ The Miracle Theater — 4/21/22

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Adia Victoria (Photo courtesy Grandstand Media)

 “When I fell in love with the blues,” Adia Victoria told the audience at The Miracle Theatre during her recent performance there, “I was a 22-year-old high school dropout, living in Atlanta, working as a telemarketer.” The blues has been a source of salvation for her, as she has lived through tough times and worked hard jobs. 

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Live Review: Sierra Ferrell @ The 8×10 — 4/19/22

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Sierra Ferrell leads her band in a performance at The 8×10 in Baltimore on April 19, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

An extraordinary blend of voice and presentation can whisk a live audience to another place and day, but few musicians wield that kind of magic.

Sierra Ferrell, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from West Virginia, has been sanctified with an uncommon, enrapturing old-time vocal ability and outstanding picking skills that are helping her blaze a trail within a unique realm that’s been aptly referred to as gypsy bluegrass.

At a recent stop at The 8×10 in Baltimore, Sierra showed herself to be an evolving and illustrious stage presence in leading an ageless set of music.

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Live Review: El Ten Eleven @ Union Stage — 4/15/22

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Tim Fogarty and Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven perform at Union Stage on April 15, 2022. (Photo by Marc Shea)

“We love it when you guys sing along” was the quote of the night from Kristian Dunn, the bassist and one half of the duo El Ten Eleven. That’s typical of the humor the instrumental band displays, not just in their occasional between song banter with the audience, but also within the songs titles like “Adam And Nathan Totally Kick Ass.” And every bit of it was on display at Union Stage recently.

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Live Review: Daryl Hall w/ Todd Rundgren @ MGM National Harbor — 4/16/22

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Daryl Hall performs at The Theater at MGM National Harbor on April 16, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Daryl Hall finished a rousing performance of his solo hit “Dreamtime.” And from the center of the stage, he looked to his monitors to leap into his second number during his recent DC-area concert performance.

But the monitors were out, and they stayed out a long minute before Daryl took matters into his own hands. He moved slightly to stage left, where a keyboard sat alone, monitors fully functional, and he went off-script for a soulful delivery of “Rich Girl” by Daryl Hall and John Oates.

The bustling Theatre at MGM National Harbor went wild.

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Live Review: Cody Canada & The Departed w/ Them Dirty Roses @ City Winery — 4/17/22

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Cody Canada & The Departed (Photo courtesy the artist)

The red dirt subgenre of country music is defined more by its geography — Oklahoma and Texas — than by a particular sound. It includes folkier singer-songwriters like Robert Earl Keen and the late Jimmy LaFave, neo-outlaws like Cody Jinks, and bands like Cody Canada & The Departed, who rock as hard as they twang. As the audience could see at City Winery in DC recently, Cody plays loud and lives the hard, rock-n-roll lifestyle.

In a particularly harrowing story Cody recounted at City Winery before playing “Easy,” he recalled how he was robbed in West Memphis, Arkansas. Cody suggested the audience avoid this city, as it is bad news; my only other familiarity with it is from the sad tale of the wrongly-convicted West Memphis Three, the subject of Lucinda Williams’s “West Memphis.” 

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