Live Review: The Dead Tongues @ Jammin Java — 2/17/19

The Dead Tongues
The Dead Tongues perform at Jammin Java on Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)

I walked around Jammin Java on Sunday, its brick walls reflecting the stagelights, crowd slowly filling in. My wife asked if I wanted a beer; we went to the bar, where a gaggle of musicians ordered drinks, special opener Molly Sarlé holding a bouquet of white and yellow flowers. Ryan Gustafson, also known by his stage name The Dead Tongues, walked away last, but not before I could say, “I’m really looking forward to the show.” He stopped, turned, looked me in the eyes, telling me “Thanks so much,” with a hand on my shoulder.

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Live Review: Steve Earle @ City Winery — 2/13/19

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Steve Earle performs at City Winery in DC on Feb. 13, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Steve Earle is the godfather of Americana music. With his black vest, jeans, and long gray beard, he’s often said to look like an aging biker. But when I saw him at City Winery on Wednesday, I saw a bit of one of the main characters of one of his favorite novels, a sort of Texas Gandalf the Grey.

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Live Review: Lucinda Williams @ The Anthem — 2/8/19

Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams performs at The Anthem on Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)

By nearly all accounts, Lucinda Williams is the undisputed queen of Americana. Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, recently passing its 20th anniversary, is a desert island record for nearly anyone who’s had the privilege of settling down with its songs. Full of nearly interminable heartbreak, its characters somehow keep picking up the pieces to start again.

And so, Lucinda rolled into DC with the Drive-By Truckers and Erika Wennerstrom to play The Anthem on an unseasonably warm night recently.

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Live Review: Drive-By Truckers @ The Anthem — 2/8/19

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Drive-By Truckers perform at The Anthem on Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)

Full disclosure: The songs of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have guided me through some of the best and hardest years of my adulthood. From the first discovery of Southern Rock Opera during my college years to the most recent American Band, I can write with confidence that their songs hold persistent meaning to me.

So, I will not be objective about the recent performance of Drive-By Truckers at The Anthem. Consider this your warning.

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Live Review: Valerie June @ Sixth & I — 2/9/19

Valerie June
Valerie June performs at Eco Festival Cabaret Vert in France on Aug. 25, 2013. (Photo by Clement Caron)

On a cold Saturday evening, singer-songwriter Valerie June took the stage with a tiny banjo before a sold-out crowd at the District’s Historic Sixth & I Synagogue. Informing the crowd the that this banjo was “the baby,” Valerie played “Somebody to Love” to kick off an evening of soulful roots.

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Live Review: Hudson Taylor @ City Winery — 2/4/19

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Hudson Taylor performs at City Winery on Feb. 4, 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Hudson Taylor turned DC’s City Winery into a raucous Irish pub complete with hand-clapping, singalongs and rug cutting. Hudson Taylor’s folky (and folksy) but lively Irish pop lends itself well to this type of behavior and certainly brightened a recent weeknight.

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