Live Review: Robert Earl Keen’s “The Road to Christmas” w/ Waylon Payne @ Lincoln Theatre — 12/6/21

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Robert Earl Keen (Photo by EMG/Shutterstock)

Legendary Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ear Keen’s annual Christmas tour is highlight of the holiday season. Built around his fan-favorite “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee,” every year REK and his band design a show around a theme.

Past themes have included “Country Gold” and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. This year, the theme was “The Road to Christmas.” Each year’s show presents a collection of REK originals and cover songs fitted to theme, and his recent performance at the historic Lincoln Theatre in DC was no different. Costumes were a part of the deal, too; this year, all involved wore white jumpsuits, meant to suggest mechanics. It was truly a collective performance, as REK let his band members sing cover songs of their choice.

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Live Review: Adrianne Lenker @ Lincoln Theater — 11/13/21

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Adrianne Lenker performs at Lincoln Theater in Washington DC on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Adrianne Lenker must have been sent to this planet to share her music, a gift from the universe or whatever Creator might be conducting this whole thing.

The hallowed singer-songwriter has emerged as one of the most profound, indelible voices of our time, a pioneer at the front of the Brooklyn-based indie rock outfit Big Thief.

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Live Review: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real @ Lincoln Theatre — 10/23/21

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Lukas Nelson performs at the Lincoln Theatre on Oct. 23, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Iconic country outlaw Willie Nelson has a lot of kids, and a lot of those kids have followed their father into the music business. His daughter Amy plays in a comedy folk duo, Folk Uke, with Arlo Guthrie’s daughter. His son Micah, also known as the Particle Kid, makes his own music, and he recently played guitar in his father’s band on the Outlaw Music Festival tour. But the most successful of Willie’s children is his son, Lukas, who played the Lincoln Theatre recently with his band, Promise of the Real.

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Live Review: Mavis Staples w/ Amy Helm @ Lincoln Theatre — 10/19/21

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Mavis Staples performs at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Oct. 19, 2021. (Photos by Ari Strauss)

Amy Helm, perhaps, put it best Tuesday evening at the Lincoln Theatre when she said, “How deeply it moves me to stand on this stage before an American treasure” in Mavis Staples. Mavis headlined the evening, which was a fundraiser for JusticeAid.

JusticeAid is an umbrella progressive fundraising organization that raises money to support various grassroots organizations. The concert was a benefit for the Neighborhood Defender Service. The Neighborhood Defender Service is concerned with police violence, particularly against communities of color. In the evening’s opening remarks, we learned that, so far this year, JusticeAid has been able to give $300,000 to NDS and, following the successful concert, they plan to donate another $100,000 to the cause.

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Live Review: Dave Grohl in “The Storyteller – Live!” @ Lincoln Theater — 10/7/21

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Dave Grohl speaks at the Lincoln Theater during his The Storyteller – Live! appearance on Oct. 7, 2021. (Photo by Deanna Escobar, Sugar Shot Media)

No one better epitomizes the coming-of-age decade that was the 1990s in America music than Dave Grohl.

With his long black hair, innocent expression and his flailing arms, Grohl came to be known by the MTV generation as the reserved but hyper-talented drummer of the now legendary grunge band Nirvana, introduced to the mainstream in earnest by way of the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in September of 1992.

He’s now 52 years old, with a well-earned tinge of grey, and has achieved more in his career and lifetime than 100 musicians might in aggregate. Dave, who grew up in and around Alexandria, recently embarked on a mission to share his life in a way perhaps unaccustomed to most of his fans.

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Live Review: Waxahatchee @ The Lincoln Theatre — 10/8/21

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Waxahatchee plays a sold out Lincoln Theatre on Oct. 8, 2021 (Photo by David LaMason)

Waxahatchee, the musical face of Birmingham native Katie Crutchfield, has been going strong for over a decade, but last year’s Saint Cloud may be Crutchfield’s masterpiece.

She has always been a strong songwriter, but these last couple of records have really showcased Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting talents comparable to the best in the business, especially in Waxahatchee’s most recent LP, Saint Cloud, which came out last year on Merge Records. It’s a ride from beginning to the ending “St. Cloud,” which sounds like it was strummed out on the front porch while the sun sinks behind the trees.

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Around Town: DC’s Empty Stages by Ben Eisendrath

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The Lincoln Theatre stands in silence in this stark photo by Ben Eisendrath. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/ Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/ GrillworksBen)

Ben Eisendrath has one of the greatest assets of a photographer: a persistent curiosity.

When Ben carries a lens, he is intently searching for something to capture. You can see it in his eyes: What’s that guy’s story? What’s happening here? Or in this case, what’s behind those closed doors?

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Best of Year: Top 12 Musical Moments of 2020 by David

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Grace Potter performs at The Anthem (Photo by David LaMason)

What can be said for a year that began with so much promise but ends, well, like we are all feeling stuck in an alternate dimension.  Looking back on my calendar which went so off the rails after two and a half months in, it really does look like a glimpse into a world that should have been but one that’s now alternate history. 

But even in this bizarro world of COVID-19 there was some great music created at homes, online, socially distanced, and even on the streets!  There is nothing that can beat the feel of a crowded show, the thrill of being there, and the joyous exhaustion that follows, but this past year we saw people pulling together – giving what they could – to keep live music alive despite every roadblock tossed in its way.

Since these lists are often limited by “best of” or Top 10, I want to include, well, all of those performances I caught this past year.  There weren’t many, but each one I relive when I hear a song from a brilliant artist I’ve seen or go through photos from the past year. Here are my Top 12 Musical Moments of 2020 in chronological order.

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Stars and Bars: Welcome to the Lincoln Theatre

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The Lincoln Theatre (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

The Lincoln Theatre in DC is a grand old facility first opened in 1922. It was shuttered after the 1968 race riots and reopened in 1994.

It’s owned by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which awarded a contract to IMP, the promotions company that operates 9:30 Club and The Anthem, to book its concert schedule in recent years.

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