Live Review: Buffalo Nichols @ Songbyrd Music House — 11/9/21

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Carl “Buffalo” Nichols performs at Songbyrd Music House in Washington DC on Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

There’s admiration to be had for anyone who sets out to prove a point or to tell an important story with their music.

On a mission that is most certainly catching the ears of astute listeners and those who care about celebrating the history and sounds of traditional music, Buffalo Nichols should be applauded for the progress he’s making and the sound he’s creating. And, making an appearance last week in the nation’s capital at the newly relocated Songbyrd Music House, he showed that he’s emboldened by a workingman’s conviction and possesses a vision for how his songs can make an impact.

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Live Review: The Districts @ Ottobar — 11/7/21

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Rob Grote leads The Districts in a performance at Ottobar in Baltimore on Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

With so many talented, creative indie rock bands offering music to a world that’s hungry for the best of it, it’s not easy to stand out and to keep fans coming back to shows.

The Districts seams to make it look easy though, seemingly always on tour, playing one of the last shows Parklife DC covered in early 2020 before the shutdown, and then as of late playing a couple of shows in the DC/Baltimore region as part of recent tours.

That’s been the way for this group that got its start when its members were just high schoolers up in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Touring relentlessly and honing their sound, The Districts have made a name for themselves around Philly, where they’ve lived for the better part of the last decade and where they received crucial support from local media and music lovers as they strived to find their way.

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Live Review: Sam Evian @ DC9 — 11/6/21

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Sam Evian performs at DC9 nightclub on Nov. 6, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Imagine the predicament — you’re one of indie rock’s very best voices, but you’re also a uniquely skilled multi-instrumentalist and a rising star of a producer.

What do you do with all of that? Sam Evian finds himself in that rare position as a wildly talented guitarist and saxophonist in his early 30s with one of the most distinguishable, enticing voices to speak up in the past five years. And he’s also helped some of his friends bring important music to the world through his gift engineering sound.

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Snapshots: The Psychedelic Furs @ Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center — 11/6/21

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Richard Butler fronts The Psychedelic Furs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6, 2021. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)

In 2020, The Psychedelic Furs released Made of Rain, the band’s first album of new material in nearly 30 years! To the delight of the DMV, frontman Richard Butler and company have dedicated much of their setlist to the new record on their current tour, and they played new songs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Jason Nicholson was there to photograph the Furs’ extraordinary return.

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Live Review: Shovels & Rope @ Rams Head on Stage — 11/3/21

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Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent perform as Shovels & Rope at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Nov. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

So much of the best music has been the result of human relationships gone wrong, gone right or our infinite quest to understand our own needs and desires.

Still, it’s rare to actually behold a successfully intimate relationship through music, one put on display for the sake of the songs and emotions that it can yield.

But at a recent stop in Annapolis at Rams Head on Stage, Shovels & Rope showed that it is indeed that kind of outfit, the result of a man — Michael Trent — and a woman — Cary Ann Hearst — who met almost 20 years ago and ignited a flame for one another and for making music together.

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Live Review: Buck Meek @ Jammin’ Java — 11/5/21

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Buck Meek performs at Jammin’ Java on Nov. 5, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Buck Meek is best known as the guitarist and harmony vocalist for the band Big Thief, but he also makes excellent records of his own. On Friday evening, he appeared with his band at Vienna’s Jammin’ Java for an intimate performance.

A native Texan, Buck was raised in Houston and Wimberley, a small town in the Austin hill country that’s currently home to musicians like Ray Wylie Hubbard and recent Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz. By the age of 6, he was already playing guitar, having learned the instrument from his mother, and, in his teens, he was playing outlaw country and jazz manouche. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating in the late 2000s.

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Live Review: Parquet Courts @ Ottobar — 10/30/21

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Andrew Savage leads Parquet Courts during a performance at Ottobar in Baltimore on Oct. 30, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

These days there really aren’t too many bands that can flourish or even survive without a social media presence, as platforms like Instagram and Twitter are undeniably essential platforms for connecting with fans and promoting material.

Try to convey that to Parquet Courts — an indie band based in Brooklyn that has barely lifted a finger on social media since forming back in 2010. Without a single Tweet, and only two IG feed posts of questionable authenticity — is that even an official handle? — Parquet Courts has dismissed the importance or even any practical use for the apps that countless humans spend hours engaging on their smartphones.

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Live Review: Suzy Bogguss, Terri Clark, and Pam Tillis @ The Birchmere — 11/3/21

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Terri Clark, Pam Tillis, and Suzy Bogguss (Photo courtesy Eventbrite)

Packaged as “Chicks With Hits,” country singer-songwriters Suzy Bogguss, Terri Clark, and Pam Tillis took the stage together at The Birchmere on Wednesday evening.

Throughout the evening, the women sang harmony for each other. There was a relaxed, laidback atmosphere of close friends sharing great songs. The Birchmere was packed, but the evening had an intimate feel. With just acoustic accompaniment, all three ladies really showed off their chops as superb vocalists. The evening was a great reminder of how, in many ways, the ’90s, for all that was wrong with them, were a real high-water mark for women in country music (and in the music business more broadly).

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Live Review: Midge Ure @ City Winery — 11/2/21

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Midge Ure performs at City Winery DC on Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Brimming with bonhomie, Midge Ure reflected upon the 2012 reunion of powerhouse quartet Ultravox and the resulting album Brilliant during his recent performance at City Winery DC.

Midge recalled reconnecting with his old bandmates for a series of performances, and the surprise offer of a record deal that was offered promptly to them.

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Live Review: Thundercat @ 9:30 Club — 11/2/21

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Thundercat performs at 9:30 Club on Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo by Will Colbert)

On Tuesday, Thundercat’s red logo emblazoned a huge drape at the rear of DC’s 9:30 club stage. The repeating symbol recalled not only the ‘80s cartoon, and namesake of multi-grammy award-winning bassist/singer Stephen Bruner, but also an emblematic crest. An insignia representing a diverse family that loves music, Dragon Ball Z, and yes… cats.

Stepping into the legendary DC venue I was geeked for a night of funky synth-laced progressive R&B paired with Thundercat’s Bee Gees-like falsetto vocals. Yes, that box was checked, but the performance proved to be so much more.

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