Known for their unique blend of alt-country and Memphis soul, Lucero was met with an enthusiastic response at 9:30 Club recently from fans, whom they thanked for coming out late on a Sunday night. Led by frontman Ben Nichols, the band delivered a stacked set, playing for over two hours.
Making their first appearance at the venue in nine years, The SteelDrives filled The Birchmere with the soulful sounds of their lauded Nashville bluegrass on Thursday night, the first of a two-night engagement. In the finest traditions of bluegrass music, The SteelDrivers emphasized that their songs tell terrible stories — and there were lots of murder ballads.
The Jamie McLean Band rocked the Wharf Friday night with a 90-minute, gritty soul performance at Pearl Street Warehouse. Frontman Jamie McLean, backed by bassist Chris Anderson and drummer Brian Griffin, took the stage with a pair of Memphis-style hollow-body electric guitars (cherry-color 1969 Gibson ES-335 and natural-color Heritage H-535), and he had the crowd on its feet dancing and reveling on the venue’s checkerboard dance floor from the very first note.
Sol Roots and his band gave a hot performance recently at The Soundry in Columbia, Maryland, putting in a 45-miute opening set before New Orleans-great Jon Cleary took the stage.
Fresh off a European tour with Bonnie Raitt’s band, Grammy Award winner and New Orleans funkmaster Jon Cleary paid a visit to The Soundry in Columbia, Maryland, recently to deliver a smokin’ hot, 90-minute R&B/funk/soul performance. Jon is currently touring in support his newest album, Dyna-Mite, published by Thirty Tigers in July.
On Saturday, I was really excited to see Rhiannon Giddens at Wolf Trap as the opening act for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Rhiannon and I both attended Oberlin College, a liberal arts college and music conservatory in smalltown Ohio, about 40 mins southwest of Cleveland. Rhiannon was classically trained at Oberlin as a opera singer. I, on the other hand, have exactly one musical bone in my body — my right tibia, which is not an especially useful bone for music — and was in the liberal arts college.
“Choke My Chicken.” So goes the refrain of “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel” from Lyle Lovett’s album Natural Forces (2009/Lost Highway). Lyle and His Large Band played the song early in their set Friday during their annual appearance at Wolf Trap. If anyone in the audience didn’t already know that Lyle is a bit, shall we say, unconventional, this song certainly tipped them off.