Interview: Near Northeast (@ Songbyrd Music House, 7/1/22)

Near Northeast performs live. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Near Northeast (NNE), one of Washington, DC’s most fascinating, unique, and talented bands will perform for the last time in a farewell show at Songbyrd Music House on Friday, July 1. NNE has been making music for the past eight years, produced four albums, and toured throughout the USA and Europe.

The band’s four members each brought a unique musical resume that resulted in songs with influences from Appalachia, blues-based rock, Bosnian folk songs, and Eno-like electronics. They are Austin Blanton: vocals, electric and stand-up bass, pocket operator, volca keys, organelle; Avy M: vocals, guitars, banjo, mandolin; Kelly Servick: vocals, violin, cello, theremin; and Antonio Skarica: percussion.

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Live Review: Fantastic Negrito w/ Mike Montali @ 9:30 Club — 6/22/22

Fantastic Negrito
Fantastic Negrito performs at 9:30 Club on June 22, 2022. (Photos by Rashad Polk; Words by Mark Engleson)

Fantastic Negrito’s latest album, White Jesus, Black Problems, is deeply personal. It delves into family history, into the story of his seventh-generation great-grandparents, an enslaved Black man and indentured Scottish servant woman, who came together in Virginia in 1759. That’s not to say his other albums aren’t personal as well: The Last Days of Oakland is very much about the city where he was raised as one of 14 children. But the focus in his recent performance at the 9:30 Club was on telling the story of that interracial union.

“I wasn’t who I thought I was,” Fantastic Negrito explained. “But I’m exactly who I need to be.”

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Live Review: Sheryl Crow and Jason Isbell w/ Waxahatchee @ Wolf Trap — 6/16/22

Jason IsbellJason Isbell performs at Wolf Trap on June 16, 2022. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mark Engelson)

In the new documentary about Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell credits the singer-songwriter as an inspiration, not only as a musician, but as a person. The two shared a bill in twin nights at Wolf Trap recently in a celebration of generations of rock and roots music.

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Live Review: The Bros. Landreth w/ Mariel Buckley @ City Winery — 6/15/22

The Bros. Landreth
The Bros. Landreth (Photo by BnB Studios)

One of my favorite singer-songwriters, Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, likes to say, “The problem with irony is that not everybody gets it.” That’s a damn shame, because irony is all around us. Star Wars posited an invisible Force that surrounds all life and binds it together. Maybe it’s some Ashkenazic connection to Kafka motivating this statement, but I’m partial to the notion that the driving force of the universe might be irony.

One of those ironies surrounds the term “Americana” as a genre of music. You might think, given the word, that it’s specifically to, well, America. But that’s, at the very least, an oversimplification. The Band, who were, with the exception of Arkansas’s Levon Helm, all Canadian, are often considered the founders of Americana. That conversation could also include, reasonably, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, and Neil Young, who is also Canadian. 

Canada has a thriving Americana scene, and when the roots-rock duo The Bros. Landreth appeared at City Winery in DC recently, we get to see some of that in the states.

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Live Review: Mandy Moore @ 9:30 Club — 6/14/22

Mandy Moore performs at 9:30 Club on June 14, 2022. (Photo by Rashad Polk)

When Mandy Moore took to the stage this week for her show at 9:30 Club she faced a daunting task. After an 11-year hiatus between releasing albums (and 15 years between tours), Moore was due for a DC area performance back in 2020 to promote her new Silver Landings album. As the world shut down and the tour was forced into postponement, Mandy Moore hunkered down to write and record yet another new album, In Real Life.

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Live Review: John Doe @ Jammin’ Java — 6/14/22

John Doe
John Doe (Photo by Jim Herrington)

In its review of his new album, Fables in a Foreign Land, the site Allmusic praised John Doe for having one of the finest voices in roots music. John’s fine singing voice was on full display when he appeared on Tuesday night at Jammin’ Java with his folk trio, playing songs from that new album, along with old favorites from his solo catalog, hits from his band X, and an eclectic collection of covers that absolutely worked even if you might not have pictured a stalwart of the punk scene performing them.

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Live Review: Aldous Harding @ The Miracle Theater — 6/11/22

Aldous Harding performs at The Miracle Theater on June 11, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The rare presentation of unparalleled conviction and determined peculiarity can almost certainly enlighten an audience to the motive and thrust of compelling songwriting.

Honing a wholly original and mystifying stage demeanor, New Zealand’s innovative folk pioneer Hannah Sian Topp, who’s commonly known to music listeners as Aldous Harding, delivered a riveting and alluring performance recently at The Miracle Theater in the nation’s capital, solidifying herself — if she hadn’t already — as one of today’s most stunning and extraordinary performers.

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Live Review: Phoebe Bridgers @ The Anthem — 6/11/22

Phoebe Bridgers performs at The Anthem on June 11, 2022. (Photo by Katie Child)

Phoebe Bridgers has become Generation Z’s favorite emotional and musical translator.

L.A.-based indie-pop singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers mended the gap between indescribable, depersonalizing thoughts and a beautifully crafted blend of lyrics and melody, joining the two in her immaculate discography, in a thrilling performance at The Anthem in DC recently.

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Preview: Jack Johnson @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, 7/15/22


Jack Johnson (Photo courtesy Partisan Arts PR)

(EDITOR’S NOTE): Jack Johnson has caught COVID, and he has rescheduled this show to July 15, 2022. Get well soon, Jack!

Jack Johnson and his band hit the road this summer for The Meet The Moonlight Tour, which takes them across the continental US and Canada, including an early date at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Friday, July 15.

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