Bill Frisell performs at Keystone Korner Baltimore on April 24, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
Sometimes it’s simply the spontaneity of live music that makes it such a special experience, not only for the fans — some of whom might loosely feel the weight of what they’re witnessing — but just as much for the musicians themselves. With lingering rules and protocols in place, any in-the-flesh performance down the backstretch of the pandemic should be cherished for the solace and bliss it might provide everyone involved.
Bill Frisell, the legendary guitar player of otherworldly talents and an unthinkably accomplished recording artist and composer, recently announced a handful of shows on fairly short notice. But it really wasn’t by chance that several of those shows were in Baltimore this past Saturday and Sunday at Keystone Korner, a Harbor East venue powering through the weirdest of times to approach its second anniversary.
Bill Frisell Trio (Photo by Monica Jane Frisell)
Not too long before the pandemic struck, 2-star Michelin Chef Robert Wiedmaier and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Todd Barkan opened Keystone Korner in Baltimore, taking inspiration from the original venue of the same name in San Francisco.
Keystone Korner is getting back into the swing of things by hosting live music, and it has an extraordinary weekend planned with four shows by the Bill Frisell Trio over two days on Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25.
The Adrien Moignard Trio and Christophe Cravero (Photo courtesy Charm City Django Jazz Fest)
The 6th Annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest returns this Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, with a tuned-in lineup from around the globe celebrating the music and legacy Django Reinhardt. Although the Creative Alliance is hosting this year’s Djangofest virtually, the talent, energy, and music promise to be just as powerful as previous years.
Cris Jacobs performs at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on Oct. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Cris Jacobs, a Baltimore native and arguably one of the Charm City’s top songwriters and performers, took the stage recently in support of Grace Potter way out at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
His appearance was announced just a few weeks back as part of what has become the unexpected gift of the fall season — the Showtime at the Drive In series of performances hosted by All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage. It was Cris’ first time performing at a drive-in style concert and his first live gig since February.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performs at Showtime at the Drive-In in Frederick on Oct. 15, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
While the memories of live music as we once knew it slip more distant into our collective memories, it’s likely that no one will forget their first experience watching a drive-in style pandemic performance.
Originating in Europe and cropping up shortly thereafter throughout the United States, drive-in concerts have already become, for some, a norm in times of required or suggested social distancing. And thanks to the work of All Good Presents and Baltimore Soundstage, music fans in the DMV this fall are being offered a somewhat unexpected harvest of live music by way of the Showtime at the Drive-In series being held at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Future Islands (Photo by Justin Flythe)
Baltimore new wavers Future Islands release As Long As You Are, the band’s sixth studio album, this week via 4AD. That same day, Future Islands livestreams a special concert performance, titled “A Stream of You and Me” via Noon Chorus on Friday, Oct. 9.
Eze Jackson performs as part of the Creative Alliance’s Sidewalk Serenades on July 4, 2020. (Photo by David LaMason)
On a hot afternoon recently, right outside of my house in East Baltimore, the amazing Eze Jackson gave a spirited Sidewalk Serenade.
Sidewalk Serenades is a program through the Creative Alliance in Baltimore that helps local musicians provide socially distanced performances as a way to provide a vital line from artists to audience in the age of COVID-19. But it has the added benefit of highlighting the best musical artistry in and around Baltimore. And Eze Jackson is certainly one of the best.
Billy Price (Photo by Christopher Myers)
DMV concert venues in Virginia continue to lead the way in reopening as The Birchmere in Alexandria returns after its COVID-19 closure with the Billy Price Charm City Band on Friday, July 10.
Bill Frisell Trio (Photo by Monica Jane Frisell)
Acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell has announced his newest project Valentine — the debut recording of his trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston — for release Aug. 14 on Blue Note Records.
Bill has also released the album’s closing track “We Shall Overcome,” the Civil Rights anthem that he holds dear as a message of hope in all dark times. “I’ve been playing the song for years, and I’m going to keep playing it till there is no need anymore,” he said. “I can’t help but hope that day will come.”
The Creative Alliance (Photo by David LaMason)
There is such a rich variety of music throughout both Baltimore and DC, but it’s a rare thing to find places that are so in love with the arts that the place itself becomes part of that artistic experience.
Baltimore’s Creative Alliance, which formed back in 1995, has become a vital force in East Baltimore, expanding into the old Patterson Theater (itself over 100 years old) back in 2003 right when I, myself, moved into the neighborhood.