Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Photo by Alysse Gafkjen)
Gathered around a single mic at The Birchmere recently, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives played an all-acoustic cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Kenny Vaughan, a winner of the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year, played acoustic guitar. Harry Stinson was on snare drum, and Chris Scruggs, grandson of bluegrass scion Earl Scruggs, was on upright bass.
The cover encapsulated a lot of what this band does: They honor country traditions, but their sonic palette extends well into rock & roll.
Sam Doores performs with The Deslondes at Metro Gallery in Baltimore on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
A five-piece band from New Orleans: That’s about as far as one might get in solving the formula yielding The Deslondes, a group that got its start under a different identity in 2010 and in 2013 changed its name to one paying tribute to a street in the Lower Ninth Ward where the group originated.
And by blending their collective vision with allure and character, there’s no question that this group of pals and extraordinary songwriters is honing its own Big Easy neighborhood sound into some of the most intoxicating and mystifying music you might hear today.
Billy Strings leads his band during a sold-out performance at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore on July 3, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
It takes an exceptional and fearless musician to emerge as a sensation at a time when entertainment is consumed rapidly and tastes can evolve by the moment.
But at just 29 years old, William Apostol — who’s widely known by his stage name Billy Strings — is blending bluegrass music with other genres and improvising it in the ways of only the most pioneering artists before him.
In doing so, this thrilling guitar player is helping create new fans of bluegrass music and expanding its boundaries, and he’s achieving that by both taking risks and paying respects to the influences that have helped shape and color his sound and that have inspired his undertakings.
Molly Tuttle (Photo courtesy the artist)
Guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle’s “San Francisco Blues” is about how, to cite a cliche, you can’t go home again. When the Bay Area native returned to the area where she’d grown up, she found that it felt different, and she told us about it at The Birchmere recently. Her friends had moved away because they couldn’t afford it. That’s happening in major cities across the United States.
Bruce Hornsby (second from left) and his band (Photo by Jeff Fasano)
Editor’s Note: Bruce Hornsby has canceled this show due to a case of COVID-19 in his band or crew.
Bruce Hornsby mines his vast catalog, performing beloved songs alongside tracks from his latest album, ‘Flicted. Catch him and his band the Noisemakers at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap on Thursday, June 30!
Molly Tuttle (Photo by Samantha Muljat)
Back in April, singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle released Crooked Tree via Nonesuch Records, exploring her love of bluegrass, which she discovered through her father, a music teacher and multi-instrumentalist, and her grandfather, a banjo player.
See Molly perform those songs and more at The Birchmere on Monday, June 27!
Bluegrass legend Del McCoury performs with his band during DelFest 2022 held over Memorial Day weekend at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, Maryland. (Photo by Casey Vock)
How much vibrancy can one artist bring to their music? And how big of a community can one individual cultivate around that music?
If DelFest 2022 was any indication, bluegrass legend Del McCoury — at the ripe age of 83 years old — has done as much if not more for his craft than any of the fine musicians who came before him and made this particular breed of roots music their life’s work.
Allie Kral of Yonder Mountain String Band plays the fiddle at the Charm City Bluegrass Festival in Baltimore on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
For all of the challenges Baltimore might face as a city, a deficiency of live music is not one of them.
A thoroughfare for musicians making their way up and down the East Coast, and one rich with its own dynamic scene and culture, Baltimore has quietly maintained if not improved its reputation as one of the country’s leading music cities since being propped up by media in 2000s.
The Charm City Bluegrass Festival, held April 29 and 30 at Druid Hill Park, provided two days and nights of delightful live performances, sun-baked revelry and choice local food and beverage options for more than 1,000 attendees Friday and 3,000-plus on Saturday, only reaffirming Baltimore as an important and potentially underappreciated hub for influential and busy musicians.
Sierra Ferrell leads her band in a performance at The 8×10 in Baltimore on April 19, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
An extraordinary blend of voice and presentation can whisk a live audience to another place and day, but few musicians wield that kind of magic.
Sierra Ferrell, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from West Virginia, has been sanctified with an uncommon, enrapturing old-time vocal ability and outstanding picking skills that are helping her blaze a trail within a unique realm that’s been aptly referred to as gypsy bluegrass.
At a recent stop at The 8×10 in Baltimore, Sierra showed herself to be an evolving and illustrious stage presence in leading an ageless set of music.
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway perform at Baltimore Soundstage on April 10, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Making a life as a musician requires enough courage that any success should be considered, by all accounts, an admirable achievement.
But Molly Tuttle has shown herself to be brave both on the stage and off of it. The qualities that empower her to thrive in both worlds was on display in her recent show at Baltimore Soundstage.