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Live Review: Drugdealer @ Union Stage — 11/23/22

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Drugdealer - Union Stage Washington DC Nov. 23, 2022 Photo by Casey Ryan Vock

Michael Collins leads his band Drugdealer in a performance at Union Stage on Nov. 23, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Listeners really would be best served to avoid judging group or solo artist names by their titles, even if they might sound a tad crooked.

Michael Collins, who got his start making music in Baltimore in the late 2000s, has assumed a few different handles in his time, and all of them have rang with a bold and blatant shadiness — he first recorded as Run DMT and, later, as Salvia Plath. Of all of them, his latest project, while his most sophisticated, was named in the most outright slovenly fashion: Drugdealer.

Around Town: Vote in the 2022 Thrushie Awards @ Parklife DC, Thru 12/9/22

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Wood Thrush

Welcome to the 2022 Thrushie Awards!

Please take this opportunity to vote for your favorite DC-area band, DC-area music venue, and DC-area music festival for the year. We have named choices in our polls below, but write-in candidates are welcome!

Voting for Thrushies runs through Friday, Dec. 9 at midnight.

Live Review: The Smile @ The Anthem — 11/23/22

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The Smile

The Smile perform at The Anthem on Nov. 23, 2022. (Photo by David LaMason)

Don’t call this a side project. I mean, there’ve been “side projects” before, but UK band The Smile is really more than the sum of its parts. 

Of course, there’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood — famously of Radiohead — and Tom Skinner of the Sons Of Kemet, but listening to the band’s debut A Light for Attracting Attention, you get the sense that this isn’t some stop along the way sort of thing; it’s a record that’s been on repeat in this house (or mostly in the car) to the point of delirium. With frequent Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich, at the helm, A Light for Attracting Attention is an eclectic mix of some of the best parts of what you might find from the aforementioned band – poignantly poetic lyrics, polyrhythmic lines of guitar — but with an sense of exploration, improvisation, and space that Skinner brings from his work with Sons Of Kemet.

It’s a record that can, in one moment, be a wall of cascading sound and in the next moment open and breathy.

Live Review: Della Mae and Sister Sadie @ The Birchmere — 11/20/22

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Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie (Photo by Jon Roncolato)

At the end of a recent show at The Birchmere, everyone on stage — except for mandolin player Tristan Scroggins, who his bandmates call “Mr. Sadie” (playing on the band’s name, Sister Sadie) — was a woman. It was proclaimed to be “as many women as you’ve seen on stage at a bluegrass show.”

In a male-dominated genre, Sister Sadie and Della Mae have consistently proven they belong in the top ranks. Della Mae has received Grammy nominations, and fiddler Kimber Ludiker is a two-time national champion. For their part, the oft-shifting lineup of Sister Sadie has won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s award for best vocal harmony group three times. It was the first time for both bands at this venue, but founding member and fiddler for Sister Sadie, Deanie Richardson, has performed there with major country stars like Vince Gill and Patty Loveless.

Live Review: Bartees Strange @ 9:30 Club — 11/19/22

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Bartees Strange - 9:30 Club Washington DC November 19, 2022 Photo by Casey Ryan Vock

Bartees Strange performs during his first ever headlining appearance at 9:30 Club on Nov. 19, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

It takes an unconventional, cutting-edge artist — a risk-taker and a visionary — to refresh listeners’ tastes and guide them in new directions.

And in a music scene celebrated not just for its scope and bustle but for its diversity, Bartees Strange might currently stand as the capital’s leading innovator, a stimulant who explores and marries disparate sounds in conjuring his own trademark essence.

In the process of establishing himself and achieving so much in such a short time, Bartees is furthermore making great strides in connecting those who might normally be disparate music listeners.

Live Review: Rayland Baxter @ The Hamilton Live — 11/19/22

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Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter (Photo courtesy Red Light Management)

Second-generation musician Rayland Baxter had a band booked to open for him recently at The Hamilton Live in DC, where he was touring behind his new album, If I Were A Butterfly. However, the drummer’s wife went into labor, so, naturally, he went to be with her, and the band without a drummer, bowed out of the gig.

Instead, Rayland opened the show himself with a solo acoustic set.

Live Review: The London Suede and Manic Street Preachers @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 11/18/22

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the london suede, fillmore silver spring, katherine gaines, ambienteye photography

Brett Anderson fronts Suede at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Nov. 18, 2022. (Photos by Katherine Gaines; Words by Mickey McCarter)

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that?” — Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Brett Anderson of Suede marched to the center of stage at The Fillmore Silver Spring recently, and he began grooving. His voice was strong — he sounded great! He was very much alive, vital, and he poured his body and soul into “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell,” a new song from Suede’s 2022 album, Autofiction (released by BMG at the very end of summer).

Live Review: Omar Apollo @ The Anthem — 11/17/22

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Omar Apollo

Omar Apollo performs at The Anthem on Nov. 17, 2022. (Photo by Katie Child)

Professionally known as Omar Apollo, Omar Apolonio Velasco hit DC’s The Anthem on last week’s chilly Thursday night. 

Just two days after being nominated for the Grammy’s Best New Artist Award, Apollo sold-out the 6,000-person capacity venue, and more than validated his impressive nomination.

Poll: What Is the Best Music Festival in the DC Area for 2022?

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Wood Thrush

Welcome to the 2022 Thrushie Awards!

Parklife DC will name the DC best music festival of the year with your input. The Thrushie Awards are open to DC-area music festivals. These festivals are in the National Capital Region, and often they occur annually.

Live Review: Tenci @ DC9 — 11/15/22

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Tenci at DC9 Washington DC November 15, 2022 Photo by Casey Ryan Vock

Jess Shoman leads the Chicago-based band Tenci in a performance at DC9 on Nov. 15, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Those who themselves never try can only imagine how daunting it must be for a musician to find their sound, especially when they set out at a young age.

Thankfully, some of the most important voices have been honed by artists who courageously began recording music at a time when those around them might have just begun to enjoy it.

Jess Shoman is one of those brave souls who began making music in their early teens, and now, performing and recording as Tenci, is a demonstrably talented singer-songwriter steadily growing their reputation with a style and tone that is difficult to place a finger on but refreshing and mesmerizing, nonetheless.