Live Review: Shovels & Rope @ Rams Head on Stage — 11/3/21

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Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent perform as Shovels & Rope at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Nov. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

So much of the best music has been the result of human relationships gone wrong, gone right or our infinite quest to understand our own needs and desires.

Still, it’s rare to actually behold a successfully intimate relationship through music, one put on display for the sake of the songs and emotions that it can yield.

But at a recent stop in Annapolis at Rams Head on Stage, Shovels & Rope showed that it is indeed that kind of outfit, the result of a man — Michael Trent — and a woman — Cary Ann Hearst — who met almost 20 years ago and ignited a flame for one another and for making music together.

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Live Review: The Lone Bellow @ Rams Head On Stage — 10/3/21

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The Lone Bellow performs a matinee show at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Oct. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

When a group of musicians bond to write and share songs born out of struggle and the battle to overcome those challenges, the result can clearly be a special one.

Remarkably demonstrating this exact kind of provenance with a recent matinee show at Rams Head On Stage, The Lone Bellow out of Brooklyn is now in its 10th year after forming in 2011 during the wake of what was essentially a tragedy impacting its founding member.

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Live Review: Hawktail @ Rams Head on Stage — 7/26/21

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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.

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Live Review: Todd Snider @ Rams Head on Stage — 3/1/20

Todd Snider - Ram’s Head On Stage - 03.01.20 1Todd Snider performs at Rams Head On Stage on March 1, 2020. (Photos by Casey Vock)

Cautiously emerging from the dressing room, stepping wide-eyed onto the stage at the Rams Head on Stage recently, he seemed unsure if he was even supposed to be there. Or maybe he was given pause by the full venue, either way, the audience might have wondered for a second what was going on.

But as he settled into a couple notes on the guitar and began to blow the harmonica, if tears hadn’t already started to well in their eyes, attentive onlookers were already able to decipher the genius that is Todd Snider.

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Preview: Todd Snider @ Rams Head on Stage, 3/1/20

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Todd Snider (Photo courtesy Absolute Publicity)

Folk singer Todd Snider had a busy year in 2019! Early in the year, he released Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3, a new album, and later in the year, he published East Nashville Skyline (the “wittiest and feistiest album of his career,” Pitchfork says) on vinyl.

What’s to do no except the touring? And tour Todd does with a show at Rams Head on Stage on Sunday, March 1.

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Live Review: Masters of the Telecaster @ Rams Head on Stage — 7/26/19

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L-R: G.E. Smith, Tom Principato, and Jim Weider; The Masters of the Telecaster perform at Rams Head on Stage, July 26, 2019. (Photos by Ari Strauss/ aristrauss.com)

Jim Weider and G.E. Smith, the Masters of the Telecaster, came to town recently to join with local guitar legend Tom Principato for a pair of back-to-back weekend gigs at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis and City Winery in Ivy City DC. The performances were billed as a tribute to Roy Buchanan, another DC guitar legend and pioneer of the Telecaster sound.

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Preview: Masters of the Telecaster @ Rams Head on Stage, 7/26/19, @ City Winery, 7/27/19

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The Masters of the Telecaster perform at City Winery DC on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Known collectively as the Masters of the Telecaster, Jim Weider, Tom Principato, and GE Smith celebrate the Fender Telecaster in two shows in the greater DC area this weekend — at Rams Head on Stage on Friday, July 26, and City Winery DC on Saturday, July 27. Each of the two shows will pay special tribute to a DC-area musician who owed their musical legacy to the Telecaster guitar.

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Live Review: The Dimmer Twins @ Rams Head on Stage — 4/15/19

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The The Dimmer Twins play at Rams Head on Stage. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)

A little more than two months after Drive-By Truckers blew down the walls of the Anthem with Lucinda Williams, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood recently rolled into the Rams Head in Annapolis with nothing more than a few guitars, stories, songs, and their humorous nom de guerre as a duo. The Dimmer Twins, a play on The Glimmer Twins of Rolling Stones fame (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), without an opener or a setlist.

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Interview: Martin Barre (@ The Birchmere, 4/22/19)

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Martin Barre performs at Jammin’ Java on Oct. 14, 2018. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

“I just want to be a good musician, I want to be a good songwriter, I want to get better.”

Refreshing words coming from a musician who’s been at the top of his game for over 50 years. Martin Barre is well-known as the long-time lead guitarist (1969-2012) for Jethro Tull. I spoke with Martin in anticipation of his “Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull Tour,” which will come to the DC Metro area for two shows on April 22 at The Birchmere and April 23 at Rams Head on Stage. (This interview has been edited for clarity and flow.)

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