Institution. If there’s any word to describe The Nighthawks, it’s one that connotes longevity, durability, strength, maturity, and endurance. And of all Washington DC’s institutions, none has the grace, consistency and joy that The Nighthawks delivered on a recent Friday night at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia.
Originally planned as a free outdoor show, the threat of rain moved the performance indoors. With the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, for many of us the concert became an impromptu, and welcome, return to indoor live music.
Sam C. Jones performs at Jammin’ Java on May 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Sam C. Jones is a threat. Or better said, a triple threat. After experiencing his two-set performance at Jammin’ Java this past Sunday evening, I was blown away by his singing and guitar chops, his dance moves, and the ease with which he commands a stage.
The year started out typically enough. But the way it began and how it’s ending are startlingly different. By the end of March, so many plans and hopes were dashed that now, as we race toward 2020’s conclusion, many of us feel they may never be realized.
Like so many others in this Year of Covid, I’ve had a chance to reflect, reassess, and reset for the coming year, sorting out what is, and isn’t, important. I enjoy photographing people, whether it be portraiture, cultural documentation, or musical performance. As a photographer, I strive to become invisible and capture moments as they are, not as I or the subject, would like them to be. Although photographing live music has been challenging as of late, I’ve been afforded the luxury of time to go through my archives and, as a result, have made a belated but important discovery: the final image must also render the photographer invisible.
Bobby Thompson performs at Jammin’ Java on Sept. 20, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Famed American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter David Bromberg wrote, “you gotta suffer if you wanna sing the blues.” The irony, of course, is that when the bluesman (or woman) sings, everybody else feels good. So it was when local blues musician Bobby Thompson performed recently on a brilliant late afternoon show at Jammin’ Java.
Cat Janice performs at Jammin’ Java on Sept. 18, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
Cat Janice’s simultaneously powerful and subtle voice took center stage at Jammin’ Java on a recent crisp fall day and it figuratively blew the roof off the place. In a single word, it was indeed “fierce!”
Cat won the 2019 and 2020 Washington Area Music Award (Wammie) for Best Rock Artist/Group. Clearly, audiences are taking note of her songwriting, performing, and vocal talents.
Guitarist Bobby Thompson has been keeping the blues alive during these DC-area pandemic days, and he continues to do so with a performance by the Bobby Thompson Trio in an outdoor show at Jammin’ Java on Sunday, Sept. 20.
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).
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.