Live Review: Elizabeth Cook with Waylon Payne @ Union Stage — 8/14/21

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Elizabeth Cook (Photo courtesy the artist)

Elizabeth Cook and Waylon Payne had two of my favorite albums released last year — Aftermath and The Queer, The Harlot, the Pusher and Me — so I was extremely excited about Saturday evening’s show at the Union Stage. Payne opened the show with a 45-minute solo acoustic set, and Cook headlined with her full band, Gravy.

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Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes @ The Birchmere — 7/20/21

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Steve Earle performs at The Birchmere on July 20, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Steve Earle has been playing The Birchmere regularly for decades, since even before his debut album, 1986’s Guitar Town. He first visited the famed northern Virginia venue when he was playing bass in his mentor’s, Guy Clark, band. (Steve’s other mentor was the brilliant but deeply troubled songwriter Townes Van Zandt.) On Tuesday evening, Earle and his band, The Dukes (get it? it’s a pun on the early rockabilly song “Duke of Earl”) played the first of two nights at the club.

In the three and a half decades since the release of Guitar Town,  Steve Earle has created a deeply respected and wide-ranging body of work. A self-described “cult artist,” his songwriting is held in the highest esteem by other writers, musicians, and artists. Although Steve may have left school after the eighth grade, his work is informed by a prodigious mind that delves incessantly into literature, history, and current politics. There’s a fearsome intelligence in his work, which has been noted by interviewers like Chris Shifflett, who has hosted Earle several times on his podcast, Walking the Floor

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Preview: Steve Earle & The Dukes @ The Birchmere, 7/20 + 7/21/21

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Steve Earle (Photo courtesy New West Records)

Steve Earle & The Dukes pay tribute to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle (J.T.), who passed away on Aug. 20, 2020, in Nashville with their new album J.T. The album was released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday on Jan. 4, via New West Records.

On July 20 and 21, Steve Earle & The Dukes perform two nights of shows at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. (Buy tix for the first night OR buy tix for second night.)

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Live Review: Asleep at the Wheel @ The Birchmere — 7/8/21

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Asleep at the Wheel performs at The Birchmere on July 8, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

For five decades, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel has carried the torch for Western swing. Winners of 10 Grammys, they’ve collaborated with everyone from Willie Nelson to Jamey Johnson to Huey Lewis. to Old Crow Medicine Show.

Despite playing what is “hard-core country music,” the Wheel has long attracted fans who don’t normally feel drawn to country. Part of this is the great divide between country through the ’50s and the Nashville sound that succeeded it. As Tyler Mahan Coe has said on his podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones, there’s no real distinction between honky-tonk and early rock ‘n’ roll. Asleep at the Wheel may have fiddles, but they also have drums and sax, and they rock hard.

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Around Town: Congrats to the 2021 Wammie Award Winners

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Karen Jonas one the 2021 Wammie Award for Best Country/Americana Artist/Group. (Photo by Jim Williams)

The MusicianShip recognized winners of the 2021 Washington Area Music Awards, or Wammies in a virtual awards ceremony on Sunday.

Parklife DC salutes the 2021 Wammie Award winners!

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Song of the Day: “American Pie” by Home Free featuring Don McLean

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Home Free and Don McLean (Home Free Photo by Ford Fairchild, Don McLean Photo by David Abbott)

On Feb. 3, 62 years ago, rock and roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson took a fateful flight. Singer-songwriter Don McLean first immortalized their loss with “American Pie” in 1971.

Today, all-vocal country entertainers Home Free teamed with Don for a special rendition of “American Pie” in a collaboration on the time-tested anthem.

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Song of the Day: “I Wonder What You Got for Me” by Leah Belle Faser

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Leah Belle Faser (Photo courtesy Michael J. Media Group)

Back in October, Atlanta singer-songwriter Leah Belle Faser impressed with her debut EP, Crossing Hermi’s Bridge. She now returns with “I Wonder What You Got for Me,” a charming country pop slice of Christmas wrapped neatly for your listening pleasure.

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Livestream Preview: Lucinda Williams @ Mandolin, 12/3/20

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Lucinda Williams (Photo courtesy All Eyes Media)

Join award-winning, revered singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams on an unprecedented musical journey spanning time and multiple genres with her latest endeavor, Lu’s Jukebox! This six-episode series of mostly full-band, in-studio performances will feature a themed set of songs, curated by the multi-Grammy award winner. As a bonus, she’ll introduce an occasional Lu-rarity or new song that fits each episode’s theme.

Catch the next edition of the streaming concert series, Funny How Time Slips Away: A Night of ’60s Country Classics, via Mandolin on Thursday, Dec. 3.

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Live Review: Karen Jonas @ Jammin’ Java — 9/10/20

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Karen Jonas performs at Jammin’ Java on Sept. 10, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Playing a parking lot is not exactly the dream of every working musician but in the age of Covid it may be the best gig in the world. The cool evening, the sweet scent of recent rain, and the soft city lights helped make Karen Jonas’ album release show on a recent night at Jammin’ Java if not a dream, a lovely end of summer outdoor show.

If one’s imagination was allowed to wander, even the fading daylight on the western horizon transported us to fiery desert sunsets as Karen and her band performed songs from her new album, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams (Yellow Brick Road).

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Interview: Karen Jonas (New Album: The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams)

KarenJonas1Karen Jonas (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)

The voice of country music in the DMV is a big, bright voice that belongs to Virginia native Karen Jonas. A regular sight on DC concert stages, Karen releases her fifth album, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams, on Friday, Aug. 28 via Yellow Brick Records.

On past tours, Karen has visited Texas, New Mexico, California, and their neighbors, scribbling notes while on the road. She drew upon those memories to animate the characters of The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams. The results are a little bit peppy and a little bit sad but always full of life.

Prior to the new album’s release, Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Karen about the record, her band, and her desire to get back on the road. And Karen plays a free outdoor album release show with her full band at Jammin’ Java on Thursday, Sept. 10.

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