Recently, Grammy-winner Aoife O’Donovan released two new, original songs — “More Than We Know” and “Captain’s Clock.” It’s the debut of a collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry (Rhiannon Giddens, Bonnie Raitt) that will yield more music in the coming months.
Watchhouse performs at Wolf Trap on July 7, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Watchhouse, the duo of singer-songwriter Andrew Marlin and multi-instrumentalist Emily Frantz, has been making roots music for over a decade, formerly under the moniker Mandolin Orange. They are sometimes called a “bluegrass duo,” but their music has also been characterized as folk and Americana. From North Carolina, Marlin and Frantz are clearly influenced the traditional Appalachian mountain music of their home state, but they’re not strictly acoustic traditionalists; their band includes an electric guitar and drums.
While other parts of the country deal with record-breaking heat and wildfires, the DMV has actually had a relatively moderate summer. As I sit here on Independence Day writing this review, my AC is off and my windows are open. This made for a perfect night for outdoor music yesterday evening at Bethesda’s Strathmore Music Center, where folk artist Dar Williams appeared.
Like many venues, the Strathmore is working through putting on shows in the (post-)pandemic world. They’ve moved the performances outdoors, under an awning, and artists are playing two shows — an early and a late set. Dar complimented the venue’s efforts, saying that concerts are a work in progress, and that she felt the Strathmore was doing as good a job with it as she’s seen.
Formerly known as Mandolin Orange, Watchhouse recently shared “Beautiful Flowers,” a slow-blooming elegy to a butterfly that takes an existential look at automotive expansion, the interconnectedness of nature, and the little-considered costs of industrialized society.
The Walkaways perform at Pearl Street Warehouse on June 26, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
The return to indoor live music continues to be an exhilarating experience! Last Saturday night at Pearl Street Warehouse with The Walkaways and Wicked Sycamore, a boisterous (and sweaty) crowd was showered with a musical deluge ending a long, and frustrating, drought.
Folk trio The Lone Bellow made their first appearance before a live crowd following the pandemic at Bethesda’s Strathmore recently. The venue is transitioning toward a past-pandemic world and, for now, they are holding socially-distanced shows on their outdoor patio.
The Lone Bellow played two shows that night. At the early show, the sun was still bright and clear, and it was an unusually temperate day for mid-June, making for a perfect night for live music. After the opening number, frontman Zach Williams said, “I love that the cicadas are out this evening;” later, guitarist Brian Elmquist commented on how perfect it was: “the cicadas, the birds, and a folk guitar melody.”
One thing you can say about The Wood Brothers, they sure know how to put on a show. And it was a celebration that seemed to signal good things to come.
It goes, really, without saying, but it’s been a tough year. For many in attendance at the Frederick Fairgrounds Sunday evening, this was the first time seeing a live performance since the winter of 2020 — a long thaw indeed! But as Oliver (guitar/vocals) and Chris Wood (bass/harmonica/vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix hit the stage things started heating up. That’s both figurative and literal as the summer heat kept drive-in attendees going back for some much needed refreshments from their cars.
The Wood Brothers released Kingdom in My Mind, the band’s eighth studio album, earlier this year, and the Nashville trio are hitting Frederick Fairgrounds in Maryland for Showtime at The Drive-In on Sunday, June 6. Only a few tickets remain for full cars of fans who would like to catch the show.
Hackensaw Boys perform at Stages Music Arts in Cockeysville on May 21, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock.)
As live performances mount a comeback, venues in the Charm City and Baltimore County are quickly helping music lovers jump back into the swing of things as more and more dates fill the calendar.
This past Friday night gave acoustic roots fans a special opportunity to celebrate the craft at the Charm City Bluegrass Festival, hosted at Stages Music Arts, a cozy outdoor venue and recording hub tucked away up on Stenerson Lane in Cockeysville, Maryland.