I first saw Amythyst Kiah perform when she opened for Valerie June at The Birchmere in 2017. Since then, I’ve also seen her open for Yola, just before the pandemic hit, and for Brandi Carlile at Wolf Trap last month.
Her performance Thursday evening at Strathmore Music Center’s patio stage series was my first opportunity to see her headline a show, and it was also the first time I’ve gotten to see her play with a band. Here, she was backed up by a bassist and a drummer in a spare but effective format.
Old Crow Medicine Show performs at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Every once in a while, a community — heck, maybe even an entire town or city — needs a reminder to loosen up, that life is too short to avoid good times, and that sometimes simply making the effort to have fun can actually be a reward itself.
Whether it knew it or not, the City of Annapolis has been in need of a dose of laughs, song, and dance, and that is what it was gifted this past weekend in the form of a phenomenally entertaining performance put on by Old Crow Medicine Show, the string-heavy posse that has become famous for its rapid-fire old-time melodies and through 23-plus year has never skipped a beat in overcoming changes in personnel, evolving in sound and appearance to give a contemporary twist to its live shows and recordings.
If you didn’t know better, Soccer Mommy, the stage name for singer-songwriter Sophia (Sophie) Allison, may bring about visions of minivans, orange slices, and participation trophies. Suburban tedium at its best. That couldn’t be further from the truth. During a recent show at 9:30 Club, Sophie and her indie rock band performed a set that was far from pedestrian.
Hayley Fahey, surrounded by family, friends, and fans, performed her new EP, Good Old Days, at Pearl Street Warehouse (PSW) last Sunday evening. Arriving to the venue shortly before showtime, I was struck by the level of anticipation and excitement in the air. Although one might think the recently reinstated mask mandate in DC might have dampened the celebratory mood, I detected no drop in enthusiasm or support for the hometown multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter.
Elizabeth Cook and Waylon Payne had two of my favorite albums released last year — Aftermath and The Queer, The Harlot, the Pusher and Me — so I was extremely excited about Saturday evening’s show at the Union Stage. Payne opened the show with a 45-minute solo acoustic set, and Cook headlined with her full band, Gravy.
This Sunday, Aug. 15, DC native Hayley Fahey’s return to Pearl Street Warehouse promises to be a celebration in all respects: a return to her old stomping grounds, the joy of live, in-person music, and most significantly, the release of Hayley’s new EP.
For the War and Treaty — the duo of Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter — last week’s appearance at Wolf Trap was a homecoming. Tanya is a DC native, and friends and family of both Michael and Tanya appeared throughout the show. Tanya’s eighth grade band teacher played the trombone in their horn section, Michael’s mother came on stage for a song, and Tanya’s brother sang, too.
The War and Treaty has a Motown spirit, a country soul, and a classic rock ‘n’ roll heart. On July 29, their performance was full of high energy and infectious joy, and it got loud. There was plenty of crowd engagement, with Michael getting the crowd to sing and clap along. He formally greeted the audience by saying, “Welcome to the Church of the War and Treaty, formerly known as Wolf Trap.”
Hawktail performs at Rams Head on Stage on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
While the pandemic might have been a blockade to the life and career of many musicians, it could very well have provided opportunity and inspiration for others to dig in with their colleagues to create special music that might provide an appropriate backdrop to these weirdest of times.
An instrumental outfit featuring Brittany Haas on violin, Paul Kowert on bass, Jordan Tice on guitar, and Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Hawktail visited Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis the evening of July 26 to deliver two captivating sets of powerful, intricately composed music that speaks to the group’s increasingly strong connection despite the challenges of the past year and half.
Steve Earle & The Dukes pay tribute to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle (J.T.), who passed away on Aug. 20, 2020, in Nashville with their new album J.T. The album was released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday on Jan. 4, via New West Records.