Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Photo by Alysse Gafkjen)
Gathered around a single mic at The Birchmere recently, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives played an all-acoustic cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” Kenny Vaughan, a winner of the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year, played acoustic guitar. Harry Stinson was on snare drum, and Chris Scruggs, grandson of bluegrass scion Earl Scruggs, was on upright bass.
The cover encapsulated a lot of what this band does: They honor country traditions, but their sonic palette extends well into rock & roll.
Ray Wylie Hubbard performs at City Winery in DC on July 29, 2022. (Photo by Rashad Polk)
“I found out you get more attention burning down the barn than you do taking out the trash,” Americana singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard told a sold-out audience at City Winery recently.
In his autobiography, A Life Well…Lived, Hubbard writes appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon — his first national TV appearance — in 2010. When Ray Wylie how he should be introduced, he asked to be described as an Americana singer-songwriter, rather than as a Texas singer-songwriter.
The life of a touring musician can’t be easy. During a career that spans nearly 20 years, it’s probably safe to say that The Black Keys have logged a considerable amount of travel miles. They’ve laid their heads in unfamiliar beds and digested food unfit for rock gods — nonetheless, they’re back on the road. The duo, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, made a recent stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion for their Dropout Boogie Tour.
Steve Earle & The Dukes (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)
When legendary singer-songwriter Steve Earle got to the “chick song portion of the show” recently, he told his audience at The Birchmere, “I’m not above repurposing a song.” Having had seven marriages to six different women, as well as various other relationships over the years, I can see why he’s had to do that. Everyone wants to know for whom these songs were written, but as he told the audience Wednesday night (and he has said on many other occasions), “They’re all about me.”
He’s also remarked, quite humorously — though he didn’t say it on July 20, “We used to make music for girls. Now we make it for nerds.”
In 2020, Ray Wylie Hubbard made his major label debut with C-Starring, released by Big Machine Records. The legendary country singer returned to the well in 2022, releasing Co-Starring Too. Now, he’s on tour with a show at City Winery DC on Friday, July 29.
When she opened for Watchouse at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, Michaela Anne performed at the legendary venue for the first time. But it was also a homecoming of sorts. She comes from a military family — her father was a submarine captain, and her uncle was commandant of the Marine Corps during the Obama Administration — and she lived in Fairfax County while her father was stationed at the Pentagon.
Billy Strings leads his band during a sold-out performance at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore on July 3, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
It takes an exceptional and fearless musician to emerge as a sensation at a time when entertainment is consumed rapidly and tastes can evolve by the moment.
But at just 29 years old, William Apostol — who’s widely known by his stage name Billy Strings — is blending bluegrass music with other genres and improvising it in the ways of only the most pioneering artists before him.
In doing so, this thrilling guitar player is helping create new fans of bluegrass music and expanding its boundaries, and he’s achieving that by both taking risks and paying respects to the influences that have helped shape and color his sound and that have inspired his undertakings.