Erika Wennerstrom fronts Heartless Bastards at Union Stage on Oct. 2, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Erika Wennerstrom, lead singer and songwriter for the Austin-based band Heartless Bastards, may just have the perfect rock ‘n’ roll voice. It’s deep, powerful, and rich, with some similarity to another great singer originally from the Buckeye State, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. As one fan called out between songs, “I would listen to you read the phone book.” (I suppose this would require finding a phone book, which presents a challenge, as they’ve gone the way of the dodo.)
When Erika and the Bastards headlined at DC’s Union Stage recently, that incredible voice was on display for a meaty, two-hour set.
Asleep at the Wheel performs at The Birchmere on July 8, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
For five decades, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel has carried the torch for Western swing. Winners of 10 Grammys, they’ve collaborated with everyone from Willie Nelson to Jamey Johnson to Huey Lewis. to Old Crow Medicine Show.
Despite playing what is “hard-core country music,” the Wheel has long attracted fans who don’t normally feel drawn to country. Part of this is the great divide between country through the ’50s and the Nashville sound that succeeded it. As Tyler Mahan Coe has said on his podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones, there’s no real distinction between honky-tonk and early rock ‘n’ roll. Asleep at the Wheel may have fiddles, but they also have drums and sax, and they rock hard.
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead (Photo courtesy the band)
Following a successful global livestream kickoff event on July 31 and another on Aug. 7, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead now prepare for their next highly anticipated livestream event. The final show in this series of livestreams happens on Friday, Aug. 14.
Slaid Cleaves (Photo by Karen Cleaves)
Austin singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves played a delightful show to a packed house at Hill Country Live recently. He opened with “Horseshoe Lounge,” with his accompanist, Chojo Jacques, adding fiddle to the mix. Slaid told the crowd that he was born in DC, and that this was his fourth October show at Hill Country in DC.
Jesse Dayton (Photo by Ray Redding)
After releasing 11 studio albums and an EP as a solo artist, Jesse Dayton’s new album, Mixtape Volume 1, is a series of 10 cover songs that he reinterprets and revisits in a brand-new way. Jesse, of course, is a blues, country, *and* punk artist known for his work with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, X, and others as well as his soundtracks for Rob Zombie.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter emailed Jesse Dayton to ask him about the new album and his career prior to his show at City Winery DC on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Reckless Kelly (Photo by Carl Dunn)
Willy Braun, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of Reckless Kelly, strummed his guitar to open the band’s show at the AMP by Strathmore recently. As he got going on “Thelma,” the story of a faded country star, his brother Cody joined on him on fiddle.
Shakey Graves plays at The Anthem on Sept. 13, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his hallucinogenic-given stagename Shakey Graves, further cemented his status as a harbinger of modern rock and roll with his most recent album, Can’t Wake Up. Any fans of his know well that he can write a song with a heavy groove, the kind of tunes that stutter-step into beauty.
Hot Club of Cowtown performs in the Wine Garden at City Winery, Sept. 9, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss/ aristrauss.com)
Hot Club of Cowtown delighted DC fans recently with a twilight show at City Winery DC in the venue’s roof-top Wine Garden performance space. The Austin, Texas-based hot jazz/Western swing trio is set to release its new album, Wild Kingdom, on Sept. 27, and they used the show as an opportunity to preview its new material.
Jaimee Harris (Photo courtesy the artist)
If you’ve never been to a house concert, I’ll explain the concept: They’re hosted in a private home. Unlike at a venue, the host doesn’t take a cut of the cover. All of the proceeds go to the artist. House concerts are ideally intimate and wondrous experiences, and such was the case with a show by Austin singer-songwriter Jaimee Harris just outside DC metro on Saturday.
Black Pumas (Photo by Greg Giannukos)
Austin duo Black Pumas released their self-titled debut on ATO Records in June. Busker-turned-frontman Eric Burton and Grammy-winning guitarist/ producer Adrian Quesada continue their journey from local phenomenon to full touring force with a stop at U Street Music Hall on Thursday, Sept. 12.