I first saw Amythyst Kiah perform when she opened for Valerie June at The Birchmere in 2017. Since then, I’ve also seen her open for Yola, just before the pandemic hit, and for Brandi Carlile at Wolf Trap last month.
Her performance Thursday evening at Strathmore Music Center’s patio stage series was my first opportunity to see her headline a show, and it was also the first time I’ve gotten to see her play with a band. Here, she was backed up by a bassist and a drummer in a spare but effective format.
Katie Toupin performs at Club 603 in Baltimore on Sept. 28, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
House shows saw a bit of a surge during these strange times and sensibly so, as musicians and fans try to find a way to connect in small, safe, sterile environments. And for all anyone knows, this is a common manner by which music goers will be engaging with artists moving forward.
Well, there’s a local “house show venue” that has already built an impressive list of artists it’s hosted for intimate, in-home performances that should be considered special treats for those who’ve been in attendance. And this week, Club 603 — situated just off the Northern Parkway — hosted what was its 107th show, a number that even the hosts — Scott and Jean Vieth — admitted is quite extraordinary.
A singer-songwriter, keyboardist and guitar player working out of Los Angeles but with connections in music far and wide, Katie Toupin made a stop in Baltimore Tuesday night at Club 603 for what turned out to be an explosive and emotional full-band house performance.
Ratboys perform at the new location of Songbyrd Music House on Sept. 14, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Not often does a double bill work to evenly showcase the best of two bands, but on occasion, there can be a symbiotic relationship between two touring musical acts that is so wholesome that each can get the most out of valuable, even if in some ways taxing, time on the road.
It does appear as though the current tour co-headlined by Ratboys and Wild Pink is so far a success, the local evidence being a highly enjoyable show put on Sept. 14 by this pair of bands at the newly launched Songbyrd Music House on Penn Street NE, near Union Market.
Two of the most unique singer-songwriters working today graced the stage of The Birchmere recently — Todd Snider and Aaron Lee Tasjan. Both, in some sense, are part of the alt-country/Americana scene, though putting them into this genre box is far too reductive.
While both draw on classic songwriting traditions, they put a modern — perhaps even a postmodern — twist on them. They share a delightfully warped, witty sense of humor, perhaps connected to their fondness for psychedelics.
Just before things started closing down, just before 2020 was the last time I saw Wilco perform at The Anthem and hot on the heels of the release of their last LP, Ode to Joy. Since the nearly two years since I’d seen them last, Jeff Tweedy and the band have kept fans engaged with things like the Instagram show (there has to be a better word for this) “The Tweedy Show,” broadcast from Jeff’s home with his family and sometimes guests like the other members of Wilco — a homemade variety show with Jeff, Sammy, and Spencer Tweedy often singing / guitar playing / drumming to Tweedy and Wilco songs along with some fantastic covers.
And just in the past month, Jeff has even started a weekly substack which is like a personal newsletter / inspirational / confessional, maybe called “Starship Casual” where the songwriter shares musings and even rough bits of new songs (or songs-to-be). Basically, the band has been keeping things fresh and us fans fed, so to speak. So, after the announcement that Wilco would be touring again this summer, I couldn’t wait to see the guys — Jeff, John, Mikael, Nels, Pat, and Glenn — back again in the DC area. This time at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
The Walkaways perform at Pearl Street Warehouse on June 26, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
The return to indoor live music continues to be an exhilarating experience! Last Saturday night at Pearl Street Warehouse with The Walkaways and Wicked Sycamore, a boisterous (and sweaty) crowd was showered with a musical deluge ending a long, and frustrating, drought.
Grace Potter performs at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on Oct. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)
While performing musicians painfully prepare for what could be a long winter with limited options for reaching their fans in the flesh, some have made the trip to Maryland as of late to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the newly dubbed Showtime at the Drive In series of concerts being held at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Last week, Grace Potter made the trip down from her current home in the mountains of Vermont to take the stage for a solo performance organized by All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage.
Last year, Grace Potter released her latest studio album, Daylight, and she toured the country earlier this year with a stop at The Anthem in DC. Soon after, COVID-19 shut the country down, and live touring stopped.