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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Live Review: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy @ Lincoln Theatre — 3/7/20

BonniePrinceBilly4 Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy with Emmett Kelly perform at the Lincoln Theatre on March 7, 2020. (Photo by David LaMason)

When I think of Will Oldham, whether it’s by his stage name, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, or the number of other names he’s recorded under (Palace Brothers, Palace Music), I think of a musical force that I’ve known for years but always seems to be around. What’s distinct about Will’s music is in the poetry of his words; the pastoral tones of his music; and that distinctive voice that sounds much older than its owner.

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Interview: Will Oldham aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy (@ Lincoln Theatre, 3/7/20)

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Photo courtesy The Billions Corporation)

Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, released I Made a Place, his latest studio album, last November via Drag City. He made the album with his wife while they were artists in residence in Hawaii, and the results are engrossing but also amazingly tranquil.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy performs with Jonathan Richman at the Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, March 7. Prior to the show, Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Will about making the record and touring with Jonathan.

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Live Review: Sammy Brue @ Lincoln Theatre — 2/12/20

SammyBrue18bw Sammy Brue performs at the Lincoln Theatre on Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo by David LaMason)

Sammy Brue has been called an “American prodigy” by Rolling Stone and, well, that feels like an understatement. The 18-year-old Utah-based artist put out two EPs before he was 14, his first LP, I Am Nice, by 16 and is on the edge of releasing a new album on venerable New West Records, home to many artists whom he has performed with and who call themselves fans, including Justin Townes Earle.

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Live Review: Michael Kiwanuka @ Lincoln Theatre — 2/12/20

MichaelKiwanuka23 Michael Kiwanuka performs at the Lincoln Theatre on Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo by David LaMason)

To say that the music of Michael Kiwanuka is cinematic isn’t a stretch. The British songwriter and performer has been building on his song craft since his debut LP in 2012. Often compared to Bill Withers, Kiwanuka takes pop songs and creates layers, motifs, and repetition to build mood. Listening to the popular “Cold Little Heart” or “Solid Ground” or “Hero” and it’s hard to pull yourself away.

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Around Town: Wammie Awards Voting Thru 1/31/20

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The MusicianShip Executive Director Jeffery Tribble Jr. speaks at the 2019 Wammie Awards ceremony at the Lincoln Theatre on March 31, 2019. (Photo by Shaughn Cooper)

Do you live in the National Capital Region? Do you have a favorite local band? That band may be up for a Wammie Award! Vote now through Jan. 31.

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Best of the Year: Top 10 Concerts of 2019 by Mark E.

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Rosanne Cash placed as one of Mark Engleson’s top shows of the year. Read on to see who else made the cut. (Photo by David LaMason)

Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2019 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.

Editor (again): After much consideration, the prolific Mark Engleson chose his top 10 shows for 2019.

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Best of the Year: Top 10 Concerts of 2019 by David

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LP was one of David LaMason’s best concerts of the year. See where she ranked below. (Photo by David LaMason)

Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2019 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.

It’s hard to think we’re nearing the end of 2019. I don’t realize how much has happened throughout the year until I look back and get that “Holy Cow! That was this year?” feeling. And I’ve been experiencing a lot of those lately.

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