The Felice Brothers (Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records)
Hailing from upstate New York’s Hudson River Valley, The Felice Brothers began in the mid-2000s as the musical project of brothers Ian, James, and Simone Felice. They began their career as buskers, and have referred to themselves (who knows how jokingly) as “scumbags.”
Their career got a boost from another area resident, legendary Band drummer and vocalist Levon Helm, who invited them to perform at one of his Midnight Rambles in Woodstock. It’s fitting that the Brothers got a break from him, as their music owes obvious debts to The Band and Bob Dylan, in its mix of humor, surrealistic imagery, and ironic gloss on classic Americana. Their early recordings were rough — one was made in a chicken coop — but have grown more refined over the course of their career. As they toured with acts ranging from Justin Townes Earle to Old Crow Medicine Show to the Dave Matthews Band, the Brothers became more sophisticated artists.
That sophistication was on display in their unique brand of folk country-rock/ Americana in a packed house at DC9 recently.
Asheville-based group Town Mountain will perform in DC at The Hamilton Live on Oct. 23. Since their inception over a decade ago, Town Mountain has built a reputation for their rowdy, energetic performances, a testament to each member’s refined musicianship. They’ve continued to make waves in both the studio and the live music circuit; from holding spots on the Billboard Bluegrass and Americana Radio charts for weeks to appearing on the legendary Grand Ole Opry stage multiple times.
Courtney Marie Andrews performs at The Miracle Theatre in DC on Oct. 8, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
The Miracle Theatre hosted a night of intimate, classic folk and Americana on Friday evening with singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews and duo The Brother Brothers. Andrews’s songwriting and vocals are clearly influenced most strongly by Joni Mitchell, but you can also hear elements of Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, and Carole King. The Brother Brothers’ style have been compared to Simon & Garfunkel, both for their close harmonies and their gentle, soothing melodies.
Waxahatchee, the musical face of Birmingham native Katie Crutchfield, has been going strong for over a decade, but last year’s Saint Cloud may be Crutchfield’s masterpiece.
She has always been a strong songwriter, but these last couple of records have really showcased Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting talents comparable to the best in the business, especially in Waxahatchee’s most recent LP, Saint Cloud, which came out last year on Merge Records. It’s a ride from beginning to the ending “St. Cloud,” which sounds like it was strummed out on the front porch while the sun sinks behind the trees.
Lori McKenna is one of country music’s hit making songwriters, with songs covered by artists like Tim McGraw and Little Big Town. But she’s also an accomplished performer and recording artist in her own right, as she demonstrated recently at The Birchmere.
John Craigie performs at DC’s Union Stage on Oct. 6, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Standing on stage as a performing musician is likely daunting enough for anyone who is brave enough to put themselves out there. Imagine also tasking yourself with trying to earnestly engage and entertain an audience in between each and every song?
It’s a lesser-embraced style these days, but there’s one gentleman who has built his reputation and his career on the same kind of performances as those that defined the careers of the most famous proponents of the talking blues, men like Woodie Guthrie decades ago, and maybe someone like a Todd Snyder these days. That man is John Craigie, and he brought that style to Union Stage recently.
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.
Old Crow Medicine Show performs at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Every once in a while, a community — heck, maybe even an entire town or city — needs a reminder to loosen up, that life is too short to avoid good times, and that sometimes simply making the effort to have fun can actually be a reward itself.
Whether it knew it or not, the City of Annapolis has been in need of a dose of laughs, song, and dance, and that is what it was gifted this past weekend in the form of a phenomenally entertaining performance put on by Old Crow Medicine Show, the string-heavy posse that has become famous for its rapid-fire old-time melodies and through 23-plus year has never skipped a beat in overcoming changes in personnel, evolving in sound and appearance to give a contemporary twist to its live shows and recordings.
Red Wanting Blue frontman Scott Terry performing at The Hamilton Live, Sept. 17, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Red Wanting Blue, the heartland rock band from Columbus, OH, kicked off its “25 and Still Alive,” tour on September 17th with a stop at DC’s Hamilton Live. Parklife DC’s Ari Strauss had an opportunity to interview RWB lead singer, Scott Terry prior to the tour opener.