Live Review: Cody Canada & The Departed w/ Them Dirty Roses @ City Winery — 4/17/22

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Cody Canada & The Departed (Photo courtesy the artist)

The red dirt subgenre of country music is defined more by its geography — Oklahoma and Texas — than by a particular sound. It includes folkier singer-songwriters like Robert Earl Keen and the late Jimmy LaFave, neo-outlaws like Cody Jinks, and bands like Cody Canada & The Departed, who rock as hard as they twang. As the audience could see at City Winery in DC recently, Cody plays loud and lives the hard, rock-n-roll lifestyle.

In a particularly harrowing story Cody recounted at City Winery before playing “Easy,” he recalled how he was robbed in West Memphis, Arkansas. Cody suggested the audience avoid this city, as it is bad news; my only other familiarity with it is from the sad tale of the wrongly-convicted West Memphis Three, the subject of Lucinda Williams’s “West Memphis.” 

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Live Review: John Moreland w/ Will Johnson @ Union Stage — 2/20/22

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John Moreland performs at Union Stage on Feb. 20, 2022. (Photo by David LaMason)

 “Play a sad one!” someone called out to John Moreland during his recent set at Union Stage. The irony here is that they are almost all “sad ones.” The Oklahoma resident’s songbook is filled with electric guitar-driven, minor choir-filled melodies and tales of hardscrabble, working class folks in America’s heartland. Moreland’s voice is gruff but tender, and he’s not afraid to bare his heart. Through his narrators, he reveals scars and vulnerability.

Though he plays a mixture of roots rock and Americana, Moreland didn’t follow the most straightforward path to this point. The foundation was there, in that his father introduced to the music of Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival. But as he learned to play guitar and entered his teens, he followed a different route, playing in punk and metalcore bands. It was only when he was in his 20s that he began to gravitate toward the musical style he now favors.

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Live Review: The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem — 11/16/21

The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem on Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

Loved by audiences across the country, equally loathed (I assume) by a large number of venue cleaning staffs, The Flaming Lips brought their blow up robots and confetti canons to The Anthem recently.

Wayne Coyne and Co. have long been a concert photographers dream (certainly no mid-2000s concert portfolio was complete without a shot of Wayne crowd surfing in his plastic bubble) and the tour behind their 2020 album American Head was no different. The first four songs featured confetti blasts, a blow up rainbow as wide as The Anthem’s stage width and a huge blow up pink robot (for obvious reasons). Not many bands can get away with playing an all-out anthem like “Do You Realize” second in the set but the Lips do things their own way.

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Live Review: John Moreland @ The Birchmere — 10/1/19

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John Moreland, right, performs at The Birchmere on Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

With talented sideman and fellow Tulsa resident John Calvin Abney accompanying him, Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Moreland delivered his trademark Americana ballads at The Birchmere recently. Opener Darrin Bradbury remarked that the previous night in Baltimore, he’d seen a grown man on the edge of tears during John’s set. “I’ve got to write me some of those,” he joked.

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Live Review: The Flaming Lips @ The Stone Pony Summer Stage — 7/28/19

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The Flaming Lips perform at The Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on July 28, 2019. (Photo by Andy Jillson)

The Flaming Lips have embarked on a short psychedelic summer tour with The Claypool Lennon Delirium, and I was able to obtain a photo pass and attend their show at The Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, New Jersey, recently. A long drive, but well worth it! This band never disappoints.

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Live Review: Turnpike Troubadours @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 12/15/18

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The Turnpike Troubadours perform at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic on July 4, 2017. (Photo by Do512)

Hard-rocking country band the Turnpike Troubadours played to a sold-out house at The Fillmore Silver Spring recently. The East Oklahoma quintet had the fans, packed up into the rafters, singing along, stomping, and hollering with their Red Dirt music.

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Preview: Turnpike Troubadours @ The Fillmore Silver Spring, 12/15/18

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Turnpike Troubadours (Photo by David McClister)

The Turnpike Troubadours released A Long Way from Your Heart, their fourth studio album, on Bossier City Records last year. The country sextet are on tour with a stop at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Saturday, Dec. 15.

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Music Park: Ray Wylie Hubbard @ City Winery — 7/21/18

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Ray Wylie Hubbard performs at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic on July 4, 2017. (Photo by Maggie Boyd)

Outlaw country musician Ray Wylie Hubbard delivered an evening of great music and stories to a full house at DC’s City Winery on Saturday. “I was not expecting this,” the Oklahoma-born, Texas-based singer-songwriter told the crowd, seeming genuinely pleased at the turnout. Playing mostly crowd-pleasing favorites spiced up with delightful stories and anecdotes from a life on the road, Ray had the crowd at rapt attention.

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