Live Review: Adia Victoria w/ Lizzie No @ The Miracle Theater — 4/21/22

Adia Victoria (Photo courtesy Grandstand Media)

 “When I fell in love with the blues,” Adia Victoria told the audience at The Miracle Theatre during her recent performance there, “I was a 22-year-old high school dropout, living in Atlanta, working as a telemarketer.” The blues has been a source of salvation for her, as she has lived through tough times and worked hard jobs. 

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Live Review: Sierra Ferrell @ The 8×10 — 4/19/22

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Sierra Ferrell leads her band in a performance at The 8×10 in Baltimore on April 19, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

An extraordinary blend of voice and presentation can whisk a live audience to another place and day, but few musicians wield that kind of magic.

Sierra Ferrell, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from West Virginia, has been sanctified with an uncommon, enrapturing old-time vocal ability and outstanding picking skills that are helping her blaze a trail within a unique realm that’s been aptly referred to as gypsy bluegrass.

At a recent stop at The 8×10 in Baltimore, Sierra showed herself to be an evolving and illustrious stage presence in leading an ageless set of music.

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Live Review: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway @ Baltimore Soundstage — 4/10/22

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Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway perform at Baltimore Soundstage on April 10, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Making a life as a musician requires enough courage that any success should be considered, by all accounts, an admirable achievement.

But Molly Tuttle has shown herself to be brave both on the stage and off of it. The qualities that empower her to thrive in both worlds was on display in her recent show at Baltimore Soundstage.

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Live Review: Sierra Ferrell @ The Hamilton Live — 4/6/22

Sierra Ferrell (Photo courtesy Fantasy Records)

West Virginia native and current Nashville resident Sierra Ferrell says she’s listens to everything and, when you hear her music, you’re inclined to believe her. The singer-songwriter, who recently released her label debut, Long Time Coming, on Rounder Records, combines bluegrass and the Appalachian mountain folk music of her home state with not only swing and jazz, but even strands of Latin music. All of this is brought together by her unique, distinctive voice, which sounds as though it is out of time.

I caught her just in time to experience that powerful sound at The Hamilton Live in DC recently.

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Live Review: Pokey LaFarge @ The Birchmere — 3/30/22

Pokey LaFarge (Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel)

Having a hook for story is important. Sometimes, the hook is so good, it’s worth stretching things to make it work. The truth is, Bloomington, Illinois, where singer/songwriter Pokey LaFarge was born, and neighboring Normal, where he grew are nowhere near the Mississippi River. They’re right in the middle of central Illinois. But the hook involving the Mississippi is just too good to pass up, because so much of what he does combines the many distinctive sounds of the Big River, jazz and blues, with an Americana brand of country and retro rock.

For the first time in eight years, and his first return to the DC area following the tour hiatus imposed by the pandemic, Pokey performed The Birchmere recently.

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Live Review: Soccer Mommy @ Rams Head Live — 3/23/22

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Sophia Regina Allison leads Soccer Mommy in a performance at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on March 23, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Growing up in one of this country’s hotbeds of music and culture with a guitar in hand would seem a natural pathway for a young artist to chart their own course and some day, maybe earlier than might be expected, advance their sounds to the right kind of listeners.

Sophia Regina Allison was just a little kid when she began playing music, having relocated to Nashville of all places after being born thousands of miles away in Switzerland. A story that almost reads as storybook but yet is so freakishly modern, Allison would go on to study guitar as a student at the Nashville School of the Arts and not long after she graduated was recording music that she’d post to Bandcamp under the artist name Soccer Mommy.

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Preview: Sierra Ferrell @ The Hamilton Live, 4/6/22

Sierra Ferrell (Photo courtesy Rounder Records)

Not long ago, rising country star Sierra Ferrell wrapped her inaugural US tour in support of her captivating Rounder debut, Long Time Coming. The tour was an unquestionable success, and so Sierra has embarked on a second US tour, and she’s performing in DC at The Hamilton Live on Wednesday, April 6.

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Live Review: The Wood Brothers @ 9:30 Club — 1/26/22

Chris Wood performs at 9:30 Club on Jan. 26, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

At one point during The Wood Brother’s set at 9:30 Club recently, I pointed out bassist Oliver Woods’s unusual technique on the electric bass. Rather than the standard overhand overhand method of playing the instrument, he was using the hand positioning that is standard for the guitar. That wasn’t the only thing that was unusual about Chris’s playing: When he plays the upright bass, he typically uses a bow.

This versatility and use of unusual techniques in Chris playing comes from his background prior to the formation of The Wood Brothers, He studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, after which he cofounded the jazz fusion group Medeski, Martin & Wood. 

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Live Review: Keb’ Mo’ @ The Birchmere — 1/20/22

Keb’ Mo’ performs at The Birchmere on Jan. 20, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Normally, when I can get a hold of a setlist before the start of a show, it makes my life as a reviewer that much easier. So I eased up a little when our photographer, Ari Strauss, sent a me shot of it just before Keb’ Mo’ started playing at The Birchmere recently. As I was to learn, however, for Keb’ Mo’, a setlist isn’t a firm plan.

An award-winning blues artist, Keb’ Mo’ is influenced by legendary figures like Son House and Robert Johnson, the latter of whom he’s played onscreen. Keb’ is a true raconteur, an entertainer who engages with his audience, exchanging banter and taking requests. He’s a warm, charming presence, and his shows have a comfortable intimacy between performer and audience.

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