Live Review: Squirrel Nut Zippers @ The Birchmere — 3/5/20

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Jimbo Mathus fronts the Squirrel Nut Zippers at The Birchmere on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Rashad Polk)

Laaaaadies and geeeentleemen, if you missed it, you missed the most carnivalistic display of vaudeville performance on The Birchmere stage in recent memory. Those undeterrable rascals, those curious geeks, barkers, and showgirls, the Squirrel Nut Zippers put on an antiquarian revival show of towering proportions.

SNZ’s tour is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album, The Inevitable Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they played it through on a recent evening. Playing in order, they began with “Lovers’ Lane.” For “Danny Diamond,” female vocalist Cella Blue came out wearing a feather boa and waving a fan.

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Live Review: Stephane Wrembel @ Creative Alliance — 2/21/20

Stephane Wrembel - Creative Alliance Baltimore - 02.21.20 3Stephane Wrembel performs at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore on Feb. 21, 2020. (Photo by Casey Vock)

If Django Reinhardt could somehow return to this planet, he very well might blush to see so many music festivals taking place in his name. There’s little doubt, however, that he’d be pleased by the simple fact that gypsy jazz — a style that he’s credited with creating — lives on in the form of musicians who celebrate the craft and teach it in a communal fashion.

And if the late Mr. Reinhardt was to identify a leader among those carrying his torch, it would likely be Stephane Wrembel, a French guitarist of otherworldly talent who recently performed in Baltimore as part of the Creative Alliance’s fifth annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest.

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Live Review: Jake Shimabukuro @ Strathmore Music Center — 2/13/20

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Jake Shimabukuro (Photo coutesy Jensen Communications)

With a hearty “Aloha!” ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro greeted the crowd at Strathmore Music Center last night. “This hall sounds amazing,” he said. “It’s such an honor playing in this hall. You can’t play a bad note in this hall or, if you do, you hear it for a long time.”

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Preview: Rachael & Vilray @ Sixth and I, 12/12/19

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Rachael & Vilray (Photo by Jonno Rattman)

Lake Street Dive singer-songwriter Rachael Price and composer, singer, and guitarist Vilray teamed up as the duo Rachael & Vilray. Rachael & Vilray released a self-titled debut album on Nonesuch Records recently, and they perform at Sixth & I in DC on Thursday, Dec. 12.

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Live Review: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones @ Strathmore Music Center — 12/2/19

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Bela Fleck performs at MerleFest on April 27, 2018. (Photo by cp_thornton)

We all have ideas and preconceptions about different kinds of music. We can’t help it; we’re exposed to something, and it fixes our notion of what it is. For years, whenever I thought of jazz, I pictured a saxophone in my mind’s eye, and I heard a particular sound. While that sound is representative of some jazz, it’s certainly not representative of all it.

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, an all-star lineup of progressive jazz musicians, demolished and rebuilt my ideas of what jazz is and can be at the Strathmore Music Center recently.

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Preview: Béla Fleck and The Flecktones @ Strathmore Music Center, 12/2/19

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Béla Fleck and The Flecktones (Photo courtesy the artist)

In 1988, groundbreaking banjoist Béla Fleck was asked to put together his “dream band” for the Lonesome Pine Specials television series. The resulting band was The Flecktones, and they launched their first official tour a year later. Now, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones mark their 30th anniversary at the Strathmore Music Center on Monday, Dec. 2.

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