The Dead Tongues perform at Jammin Java on Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
I walked around Jammin Java on Sunday, its brick walls reflecting the stagelights, crowd slowly filling in. My wife asked if I wanted a beer; we went to the bar, where a gaggle of musicians ordered drinks, special opener Molly Sarlé holding a bouquet of white and yellow flowers. Ryan Gustafson, also known by his stage name The Dead Tongues, walked away last, but not before I could say, “I’m really looking forward to the show.” He stopped, turned, looked me in the eyes, telling me “Thanks so much,” with a hand on my shoulder.
HC McEntire at Jammin Java on Feb. 2, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
I remember when I first saw HC McEntire play on a stage with Mount Moriah, knees shivering with the music, her voice echoing off the tin ceiling and walls of Boot and Saddle in Philly. Cavernous, passionate, and ultimately transformative, in many ways. I read my journal from around that show and it has a quote I think is worth sharing – “Shimmying, we are alive,” which is a reference to the song, “Hail, Lightning” from their eponymous album.
Her recent show at Jammin’ Java was equally transformative.
Steep Canyon Rangers perform at Merlefest on April 28, 2016. (Photo by CP Thornton)
The Steep Canyon Rangers nodded to DC’s strong bluegrass history in a lively concert that showcased their unusual configuration and a few pleasant surprises at The Hamilton Live on Friday.
Steep Canyon Rangers (Photo by Sandlin Gaither)
Steep Canyon Rangers released Out in the Open, their most recent album, in 2018 via Ramseur Records. The North Carolina bluegrass band is on tour with a stop at The Hamilton Live on Friday, Jan. 25.
Town Mountain performs at The Hamilton Live on Jan. 18, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
[Editor’s note: This piece has been updated on Jan. 22, 2019, to reflect details of the show.]
In August, Rolling Stone listed Town Mountain in its 10 Country Artists You Need to Know. Although the band has been around for a more than a decade, and it has won International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, it’s reaching a new level on the back of its latest album, 2018’s New Freedom Blues, released last year, which casts a sonic bridge between bluegrass and Americana. Town Mountain justified that new level of respect in a show at The Hamilton Live on Friday.
Hiss Golden Messenger performs at Pickathon 2014 on Aug. 1, 2014. (Photo by Eli Duke)
“Who knows, maybe James Mattis is here tonight. He’s looking for something to do,” said MC Taylor, frontman and founder of Hiss Golden Messenger, referring to the Secretary of Defense’s resignation earlier that day. at 9:30 Club recently, MC fit a friend’s description as “an introvert” and “kind of engaging,” contrasting with guitarist Phil Cook, “the most extroverted human being I’ve ever met, and it’s not even close.”
But then leaving the stage after their encore, Phil looked right up at us on the balcony, making eye contact.
Midnight North performs at Gypsy Sally’s on Dec. 15, 2018. (Photo by Nathan Payne)
Midnight North recently rocked Gypsy Sally’s with the help of the Doobie Decibel System Trio and Travers Brothership. The San Francisco band is composed of lead guitarists and vocalists Grahame Lesh (yep, Phil’s son!) and Elliott Peck with Alex Jordan on keys, guitar, and vocals, and finally, Connor O’Sullivan on bass.