Live Review: Alejandro Escovedo @ The Hamilton Live — 9/17/22

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Alejandro Escovedo (Photo courtesy Prevent Cancer Foundation)

Alejando Escovedo has been playing music for a long time — longer than I’ve been alive. He recently told the audience at The Hamilton Live that he first came to DC in 1978 as part of the punk band The Nuns. They played the Atlantis with The Fleshtones. The club had an apartment — which he emphasized was terrible — and, after the show, Patti Smith came to visit.

When a veteran performer knows an intimate venue and comes with a plan, an audience can get an incredible show. That was the case Saturday evening, as Alejandro performed songs and delved into the stories behind them. The highlight of the show came when he and his band left the stage and went into the crowd to perform “I Wish I Was Your Mother” and “I Was Drunk” totally acoustic, no mics, just instruments and voices. It was Alejandro on guitar, with his bandmates on fiddle and tambourine. The former song, he mentioned, was one he wrote to take part in Austin song swaps.

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Live Review: Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers @ Jammin’ Java — 7/30/22

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Joe Grushecky (Photo courtesy Randex PR)

Joe Grushecky is “the first one on either side of the family out of the coal mines,” he told his audience recently at Jammin’ Java. A lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, his career has had its ups and downs, but he’s stayed faithful to the place he comes from.

“Grushecky,” he explained is a Ukrainian name. And while that might not be unusual in his hometown, record executives wanted him to change it. “They will never get that name in Alabama,” they said — and, as Joe conceded, “They didn’t.”

Joe never did change his name, nor did he ever leave his hometown, which appears in songs like “East Carson Street.”

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Preview: Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers @ Wolf Trap, 6/30/22

Bruce HornsbyBruce Hornsby (second from left) and his band (Photo by Jeff Fasano)

Editor’s Note: Bruce Hornsby has canceled this show due to a case of COVID-19 in his band or crew.

Bruce Hornsby mines his vast catalog, performing beloved songs alongside tracks from his latest album, ‘Flicted. Catch him and his band the Noisemakers at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap on Thursday, June 30!

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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: Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs @ The Birchmere — 3/28/22

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Mike Campbell performs at The Birchmere on March 28, 2022. (Photo by Marc Caicedo)

“I was born to play guitar and I sure do love my job!”

One might think that a Monday night is a time for quiet reflection and preparation for the week ahead: planning dinners, work schedules, going to bed early. But this time was a little different. Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs recently rolled into town and delivered a performance that, for nearly three hours, rocked from beginning to end at The Birchmere. No quiet reflection or getting to bed early this night!

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Live Review: The War on Drugs @ The Anthem — 2/2/22

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The Ward on Drugs performs at The Anthem on Feb. 2, 2022. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath for IMP)

From the late ’70s into the ’80s, two of the most vibrant strands of American popular music were heartland rock and the American underground. These two traditions were very distinct, and there was no overlap. The former, the more mainstream of the two, was the domain of rock gods like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, as well as acts like Bruce Hornsby. These artists and bands often employed keys and the saxophone, although they were primarily guitar-driven.

The American Underground evolved from the fast, aggressive, stripped-down attack of punk into the no-wave sound of bands like Sonic Youth and the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. Distortion was a key feature of their sound, and they tended to eschew large arrangements, often sticking to guitar, bass, and drums.

Formed in Philadelphia in the early ‘oughts by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs combines these two disparate traditions, with a heavily guitar-based sound that uses lots of distortion.

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Live Review: Red Wanting Blue @ Tally Ho Theater — 1/27/22

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Red Wanting Blue frontman, Scott Terry performs at Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, VA, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Red Wanting Blue’s “Hey 22!” tour rolled through Leesburg, Virginia, recently for a performance at Tally Ho Theater. Remarkably, for the band who recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and regularly plays over 200 shows a year, it was their first ever visit to Leesburg and the Tally Ho.

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