Live Review: Heartless Bastards @ Union Stage — 10/2/21

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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.

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Live Review: Robert Cray @ The Birchmere — 9/28/21

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Robert Cray (Photo by James L. Bass)

Robert Cray is the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful blues artist of his generation. He demonstrated exactly why that is when the Columbus, Georgia native appeared with his band — Richard Cousins on the bass, Les Falconer on drums, and Dover Whitecliffe-Swinbourne on keys — at The Birchmere recently.  In front of a hot, packed crowd, and backed by a tight band, Cray showed off his considerable skill on the guitar and his incredible voice.

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Live Review: The Bones of JR Jones @ Songbyrd Music House — 9/22/21

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The Bones of JR Jones performs at Songbyrd Music House on Sept. 22, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that musicians are best served not so much by pivoting but by adapting and blending their influences, old and new, together as they move along in their career and accumulate critical life experiences on that path.

Though his pursuits in his younger days angled toward punk, Jonathan Linaberry has unabashedly and enthusiastically embraced the direction of musicians whom he happened to hear while finding his way as a self-taught, college-age guitar and banjo player.

When his ears discovered the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, and other blues-belting guitarists from places like Texas and the Mississippi Delta, Linaberry — who hails from Central New York, near Syracuse — began to genuinely mold those sounds from the first half of the century, as well as the spirit and character of the music, into his own song writing style.

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Live Review: Jonny Grave w/ Elizabeth II @ Pearl Street Warehouse – 9/10/21

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Jonny Grave performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on Sept. 10, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Two of the finest DC area musicians performed this past Friday evening at Pearl Street Warehouse. Elizabeth II opened with a subdued but nonetheless passionate solo acoustic performance while Jonny Grave’s blues rock provided a raucous counterpoint.

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Live Review: Lindsey Buckingham @ Warner Theatre — 9/14/21

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Lindsey Buckingham performs at the Warner Theatre on Sept. 14, 2021. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)

Lindsey Buckingham took to the stage at the historic Warner Theater in DC yesterday, with his four-piece band covering great ground with six songs from his expansive solo career works from four different albums: Under The Skin, Seeds We Sow, Out of the Cradle, and Go Insane.

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Live Review: Sunny War @ City Winery — 9/9/21

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Sunny War performs at City Winery DC on Sept. 9, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Creatively illustrating heartbreak and other crucial, even if paralyzing, human emotions is the sign of a masterful musician. And there’s no way to fabricate any level of that understanding — only persevering through hardships can empower someone with such an apprised view of this world.

Sunny War, a 30-year-old rising star out of Los Angeles, casually strolled into City Winery DC the night of Sept. 9 to deliver an inspirative and inventive set of music crafted from sounds of blues, folk and punk and built from the challenges she’s overcome along her path.

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Live Review: Hot August Music Festival @ Oregon Ridge Park — 8/28/21

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Shakey Graves performs at the Hot August Music Festival at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md., on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

If ever there was an appetite for an outdoor music festival in the region, the time is surely now, and you could feel that in the thick, muggy air all day and night this past Saturday at the Hot August Music Festival held at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Maryland.

Featuring a head-turning lineup of musicians performing throughout the day and into the evening, the event drew several thousand people who filled the Baltimore County-operated park and many of whom took a seat or popped up a shade shelter on the main hill that was once used for skiing.

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Preview: Hot August Music Festival @ Oregon Ridge Park (Cockeysville, Md), 8/28/21

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Shakey Graves (Photo by Magen Buse)

The long-running Hot August Music Festival hits Cockeysville, Maryland, with an exciting summer lineup that includes Greensky Bluegrass, Shakey Graves, Dumpstaphunk, Andy Frasco and The UN, and more at Oregon Ridge Park on Saturday, Aug. 28!

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Live Review: The War and Treaty @ Wolf Trap — 7/29/21

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The War and Treaty perform at Wolf Trap on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

For the War and Treaty — the duo of Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter — last week’s appearance at Wolf Trap was a homecoming. Tanya is a DC native, and friends and family of both Michael and Tanya appeared throughout the show. Tanya’s eighth grade band teacher played the trombone in their horn section, Michael’s mother came on stage for a song, and Tanya’s brother sang, too.

The War and Treaty has a Motown spirit, a country soul, and a classic rock ‘n’ roll heart. On July 29, their performance was full of high energy and infectious joy, and it got loud. There was plenty of crowd engagement, with Michael getting the crowd to sing and clap along. He formally greeted the audience by saying, “Welcome to the Church of the War and Treaty, formerly known as Wolf Trap.”

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Preview: The War and Treaty @ Wolf Trap, 7/29/21

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The War and Treaty (Photo courtesy Red Light Management)

Since forming in 2014, The War and Treaty have amassed a following as eclectic as their sound itself, a bluesy but joyful fusion of Southern soul, gospel, country, and rock-and-roll.

Known for a live show nearly revival-like in intensity, the husband-and-wife team of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter bring that exhilarating energy to Wolf Trap on Thursday, July 29!

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