Live Review: Annapolis Songwriters Festival — 9/15-9/17/22


Amos Lee performs at City Dock on the Sept. 16, 2022, the second night of the inaugural Annapolis Songwriters Festival. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Though it might not be the first city musicians think of when booking their stops in the DMV, Naptown has undoubtedly carved out its own space in the prosperous local music scene as a laid back and amenable destination with so many concertgoers within a short drive.

With the presentation of the inaugural Annapolis Songwriters Festival, a city-wide event hosted by The Rams Head Group from Sept. 15 to 17, this pleasant and historic place welcomed an impressive and dynamic lineup of musicians from all over the country for performances —  of them free of charge — at more than a dozen different spots along West Street, downtown and elsewhere.

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Live Review: Amanda Shires @ 9:30 Club — 9/9/22

Amanda Shires performs at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by David LaMason)

There are those nights, that I know I’ve written about before but it bears repeating, where luck or fate or divine providence gives you the opportunity to witness something powerful. Maybe I’m being a bit histrionic here, but hearing Amanda Shires for the first time at the 9:30 Club Friday night was something I feel required my presence. I’ve known Shires’ music, but outside of her records and her work with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit I hadn’t seen her perform before — and I am now kicking myself for missing those opportunities.

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Live Review: Appaloosa Festival @ Skyline Ranch Resort — 9/3-9/4/22

Alex and Dan Fedoryka with Molly Tuttle

Alex and Dan Fedoryka of Scythian with Molly Tuttle (Photos by Chester Simpson)

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

Two days of Music at the Appaloosa Roots Music Festival was “Music Among Friends,” held on Labor Day weekend at Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal, Virginia.

Alex and Dan Fedoryka, founding members of the band Scythian, created the festival that brings in musicians and fans from all over the country. You are surprised to hear and see bluegrass, Celtic, folk, rap, soul, and country Music all in one festival.

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Live Review: Melissa Carper @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 8/21/222

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Melissa Carper (Photo by Aisha Golliher)

I can relate to Melissa Carper. My partner lives out in Rockville, Maryland, and her apartment is among much green space, and there are many animals around. We often stop to watch rabbits or dear. On Sunday, when we came back from brunch at Silver Diner, a fawn was just off to the side of parking lot, munching on leaves, displaying no fear or anxiety of us humans. For all the craziness and the edge in our personalities, we are soft, gentle souls; on her dating site profile, my partner said the job she would do for no pay was taking care of an orphaned elephant.

Melissa Carper is another weirdo with a heart of gold — and a thoroughly wonderful one, judging from her recent appearance at Pearl Street Warehouse. “Would You Like To Get Some Goats,” a song that appeared in the setlist, wasn’t actually about her dream — it’s about a ex-girlfriends’ dream. Goats, Melissa said during the show, are “a little high maintenance.” She does want to live on a farm of her own some day. For now, she lives on someone else’s farm, which she says is “okay.”

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Live Review: Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak @ Wolf Trap — 8/6/22

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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.

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Live Review: Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives @ The Birchmere — 8/4/22

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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.

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Live Review: Ray Wylie Hubbard @ City Winery — 7/29/22

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Ray Wylie Hubbard performs at City Winery in DC on July 29, 2022. (Photo by Rashad Polk)

 “I found out you get more attention burning down the barn than you do taking out the trash,” Americana singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard told a sold-out audience at City Winery recently.

In his autobiography, A Life Well…Lived, Hubbard writes appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon — his first national TV appearance — in 2010. When Ray Wylie how he should be introduced, he asked to be described as an Americana singer-songwriter, rather than as a Texas singer-songwriter.

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Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes w/ The Whitmore Sisters @ The Birchmere — 7/20/22

Steve Earle & The Dukes

Steve Earle & The Dukes (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

When legendary singer-songwriter Steve Earle got to the “chick song portion of the show” recently, he told his audience at The Birchmere, “I’m not above repurposing a song.” Having had seven marriages to six different women, as well as various other relationships over the years, I can see why he’s had to do that. Everyone wants to know for whom these songs were written, but as he told the audience Wednesday night (and he has said on many other occasions), “They’re all about me.”

He’s also remarked, quite humorously — though he didn’t say it on July 20, “We used to make music for girls. Now we make it for nerds.”

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