Chris Isaak performs at Wolf Trap on Aug. 6, 2022. (Photos by Marc Shea)
I didn’t have any any idea of the Easter egg that Chris Isaak was going to include in his recent 90-minute set at the Wolf Trap, when he and Lyle Lovett appeared as co-headliners.
Playing bass for Chris was Rowland Salley, who wrote “Killing The Blues,” a song that has been covered by John Prine and Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, to name just a few. The audience got to watch Salley perform his song, after which Chris said some lovely words about seeing a song performed by the writer.
Chris Knight (Photo courtesy Michael J. Media Group)
Acclaimed Americana Singer-Songwriter Chris Knight Performs in Concert
By Mario Tarradell
After 23 years as a recording artist, singer-songwriter Chris Knight remains boldly empowered to make music that always delivers the unflinching truth. In fact, the man raised in Slaughters, Kentucky uses a simple, direct barometer to regularly check his muse: “If I can’t believe myself, I won’t sing the song.”
That brutally honest, no-frills philosophy fits his Americana-fueled, backwoods-grown merger of folk, country, and rock. It’s been at the backbone of nine studio albums, beginning with 1998’s acclaimed self-titled debut and traveling through scorchers such as the one-two punch of 2001’s A Pretty Good Guy and 2003’s The Jealous Kind, two demo-styled discs (2007’s The Trailer Tapes and 2009’s Trailer II), and the recent, electric guitar-fortified opus, 2019’s Almost Daylight.
Knight will hit the sonic highlights of his career in concert Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8pm (doors @ 6pm) at City Winery, 1350 Okie Street in Washington, DC. Tickets are $25-$38; all ages are welcome. Click here for tickets.
Joan Osborne achieved breakthrough fame and success in the ’90s with “One Of Us.” It didn’t come overnight, though; she had been playing small clubs for years. And while she still sings that song, her career arc has gone back to mining much of the interpretive work in roots music she came up doing. Along the way, she’s received a Grammy nomination (for Best Blues album for Breakfast in Bed), recorded the songs of Bob Dylan and others, and still found time for her own original songs along the way.
Joan’s influences are eclectic, but she probably draws most heavily from the blues, so it’s fitting that she began her performance at The Birchmere recently with a cover of Muddy Waters’s classic “I Want To Be Love,” which she recorded on Bring It On Home.
Known as “The King of Dieselbilly” and “The Titan of the Telecaster,” Bill Kirchen has a distinctive, powerful style as a guitarist. There’s twang, but it rocks hard, and it grooves. When he plays “Hot Rod Lincoln,” the top-10 hit he had as a member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in the ’70s, Bill shows off the range of his influences as a player. He spent several minutes playing a few bars in the style of many different artists during a set at The Birchmere recently.
Joanne Shaw Taylor performs at the Allman Family Revival at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Dec. 10, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
So, let’s drop all pretense of objectivity: I adore the music of the Allman Brothers Band. The ensemble formed in 1969 by brothers Duane and Gregg took the blues and infused it with rock, soul, and jazz, and invented what would eventually be called “southern rock.” That legendary band enjoyed a career that stretched to 2014, albeit with several personnel changes and multi-year long breaks. Nonetheless, the band were and still are a huge influence on the American musical landscape.
Friday night at The Fillmore Silver Spring, Devon Allman and Duane Betts brought The Allman Betts Band to town to celebrate the Allman Brothers’ music with a who’s who list of guest performers: Eric Gales, G. Love, Robert Randolph, Donavon Frankenreiter, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Alex Orbison, Lilly Hiatt, Lamar Williams Jr., Jimmy Hall, among others. The three plus hour show was much more than a concert, though. For many of us, it was a beautiful reminder of music we grew up with and have cherished for decades.
Iconic country outlaw Willie Nelson has a lot of kids, and a lot of those kids have followed their father into the music business. His daughter Amy plays in a comedy folk duo, Folk Uke, with Arlo Guthrie’s daughter. His son Micah, also known as the Particle Kid, makes his own music, and he recently played guitar in his father’s band on the Outlaw Music Festival tour. But the most successful of Willie’s children is his son, Lukas, who played the Lincoln Theatre recently with his band, Promise of the Real.
The Felice Brothers (Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records)
Hailing from upstate New York’s Hudson River Valley, The Felice Brothers began in the mid-2000s as the musical project of brothers Ian, James, and Simone Felice. They began their career as buskers, and have referred to themselves (who knows how jokingly) as “scumbags.”
Their career got a boost from another area resident, legendary Band drummer and vocalist Levon Helm, who invited them to perform at one of his Midnight Rambles in Woodstock. It’s fitting that the Brothers got a break from him, as their music owes obvious debts to The Band and Bob Dylan, in its mix of humor, surrealistic imagery, and ironic gloss on classic Americana. Their early recordings were rough — one was made in a chicken coop — but have grown more refined over the course of their career. As they toured with acts ranging from Justin Townes Earle to Old Crow Medicine Show to the Dave Matthews Band, the Brothers became more sophisticated artists.
That sophistication was on display in their unique brand of folk country-rock/ Americana in a packed house at DC9 recently.