Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Kim Richey travelled the world even before she launched her music career. That journey led her to Jammin’ Java recently.
Don’t let her diminutive stature and disarming, bubbly personality fool you. Alice Phoebe Lou is no girl. When she takes the stage, she is a woman in complete control — an experienced presence whose voice soars and whispers, spanning several octaves and which, on a recent night at Jammin’ Java, never hit a bum note.
Arlington native Pete Kennedy and his wife and musical partner Maura played an early set at Jammin’ Java on Saturday evening. The duo, known and beloved as The Kennedys, were every bit of charming and talented as you could imagine.
The Dead Tongues perform at Jammin Java on Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
I walked around Jammin Java on Sunday, its brick walls reflecting the stagelights, crowd slowly filling in. My wife asked if I wanted a beer; we went to the bar, where a gaggle of musicians ordered drinks, special opener Molly Sarlé holding a bouquet of white and yellow flowers. Ryan Gustafson, also known by his stage name The Dead Tongues, walked away last, but not before I could say, “I’m really looking forward to the show.” He stopped, turned, looked me in the eyes, telling me “Thanks so much,” with a hand on my shoulder.
HC McEntire at Jammin Java on Feb. 2, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
I remember when I first saw HC McEntire play on a stage with Mount Moriah, knees shivering with the music, her voice echoing off the tin ceiling and walls of Boot and Saddle in Philly. Cavernous, passionate, and ultimately transformative, in many ways. I read my journal from around that show and it has a quote I think is worth sharing – “Shimmying, we are alive,” which is a reference to the song, “Hail, Lightning” from their eponymous album.
Her recent show at Jammin’ Java was equally transformative.
Sarah Borges’ third appearance in the DC Metro area in as many months is a clear indication of her thriving (some might say, rabid) fanbase in the region. Recently, Sarah tore through two one-hour sets consisting of tunes from throughout her career in a packed house at Jammin’ Java.
As a musical descriptor, “Americana” has lost its meaning, its context, slowly bastardized by the easy metamorphosis of a sound into something bigger, like a mouse birthing all other mammals over time.
The same is true of the descriptor “roots”, which is a catchall for anything predisposed towards a folky sound with tones inspired by the more-distant past. Without context, they are nearly meaningless terms. These genres were giving their proper context in a powerful show by Caitlin Canty at Jammin’ Java on Friday.