Best of the Year: Top 10 Musical Moments of 2021 by David

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Bob Mould’s return to 9:30 Club in September ranked among David LaMason’s Best Shows of 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)

If you would have told me around this time last year that I would have had the opportunity to see concerts again, let alone in indoor venues -– some that I hadn’t stepped foot inside in over a year and half –- I would have thought you were crazy. But not only did I have that opportunity –- in large part to vaccines, mask mandates, and the venues and artists who did everything in their power to make sure it was safe to experience live music again –- but I saw some of the best shows I’ve seen in years!

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Live Review: Katie Toupin @ Club 603 — 9/28/21

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Katie Toupin performs at Club 603 in Baltimore on Sept. 28, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

House shows saw a bit of a surge during these strange times and sensibly so, as musicians and fans try to find a way to connect in small, safe, sterile environments. And for all anyone knows, this is a common manner by which music goers will be engaging with artists moving forward.

Well, there’s a local “house show venue” that has already built an impressive list of artists it’s hosted for intimate, in-home performances that should be considered special treats for those who’ve been in attendance. And this week, Club 603 — situated just off the Northern Parkway — hosted what was its 107th show, a number that even the hosts — Scott and Jean Vieth — admitted is quite extraordinary.

A singer-songwriter, keyboardist and guitar player working out of Los Angeles but with connections in music far and wide, Katie Toupin made a stop in Baltimore Tuesday night at Club 603 for what turned out to be an explosive and emotional full-band house performance.

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Best of Year: Top 12 Musical Moments of 2020 by David

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Grace Potter performs at The Anthem (Photo by David LaMason)

What can be said for a year that began with so much promise but ends, well, like we are all feeling stuck in an alternate dimension.  Looking back on my calendar which went so off the rails after two and a half months in, it really does look like a glimpse into a world that should have been but one that’s now alternate history. 

But even in this bizarro world of COVID-19 there was some great music created at homes, online, socially distanced, and even on the streets!  There is nothing that can beat the feel of a crowded show, the thrill of being there, and the joyous exhaustion that follows, but this past year we saw people pulling together – giving what they could – to keep live music alive despite every roadblock tossed in its way.

Since these lists are often limited by “best of” or Top 10, I want to include, well, all of those performances I caught this past year.  There weren’t many, but each one I relive when I hear a song from a brilliant artist I’ve seen or go through photos from the past year. Here are my Top 12 Musical Moments of 2020 in chronological order.

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