Curtis Harding (Photo courtesy ANTI- Records)
(Editor’s Note: This show is being postponed due to concerns related to COVID-19. Stay tuned for a new date!)
Atlanta psychedelic soul artist Curtis Harding recently released his new album If Words Were Flowers via ANTI- Records. On the heels of that release, Curtis performs at Black Cat on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Jacob Allen leads Puma Blue in a performance at the Miracle Theater in DC on Nov. 20, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Musicians have such an arsenal of effective ways to reach potential supporters these days that genres and categorization become afterthoughts. And today’s resources are empowering a tremendous wave of artists who set out with no intention of adhering to any sort of conventions in the pursuit of their own organic sound.
London-bred singer songwriter Jacob Allen found his through making recordings in his bedroom, and he didn’t even need to leave the comfortable space to create a following. Since cutting and sharing a track called “Only Trying 2 Tell U” on SoundCloud back in 2014, he’s been able to steadily build that fanbase via his musical vehicle known as Puma Blue.
Thundercat performs at 9:30 Club on Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo by Will Colbert)
On Tuesday, Thundercat’s red logo emblazoned a huge drape at the rear of DC’s 9:30 club stage. The repeating symbol recalled not only the ‘80s cartoon, and namesake of multi-grammy award-winning bassist/singer Stephen Bruner, but also an emblematic crest. An insignia representing a diverse family that loves music, Dragon Ball Z, and yes… cats.
Stepping into the legendary DC venue I was geeked for a night of funky synth-laced progressive R&B paired with Thundercat’s Bee Gees-like falsetto vocals. Yes, that box was checked, but the performance proved to be so much more.
Arlo Parks sings at Union Stage in DC on Oct. 26, 2021. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)
A good, general rule to live by is when a recent winner of the Mercury Music Prize comes to your town, go see them. This certainly held up well for Arlo Parks’ sold-out appearance at Union Stage recenlty. Fresh off of an appearance at the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta over the previous weekend, Parks displayed talent and charisma well beyond what I expected from this 20 year-old.
Her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, is a fun, airy vibe of trip-hop beats (supplied by producer Gianluca Buccellati) and Parks cooler-than-ice-cold vocals. She has an ear for a hook as well, I’m still trying to get the chorus of “Caroline” out of my head days after the show. I swear to God I tried.
H.E.R. performs at The Anthem on Oct 25, 2021. (Photos by Shedrick Pelt; Words by Emily Goodman)
Monday night saw the much-anticipated return of H.E.R. to the District for her October run of the “Back of My Mind Tour.”
On a drizzly autumn evening at The Wharf, a stylish crowd gathered in front of The Anthem in a long, winding line, excitedly awaiting entry to the sold-out show. The return of live music and the chance to see our favorite artists on tour once again (or for the first time) has been a humbling thrill. The Anthem and music venues across DC have made valiant efforts to protect live music goers and show that public health is possible – requiring that masks be worn indoors and that all patrons show proof of vaccination to attend shows.
With this reassurance in mind, H.E.R. fans from across the DMV packed The Anthem to the gills, ready to vibe with their favorite artist.
Mavis Staples performs at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Oct. 19, 2021. (Photos by Ari Strauss)
Amy Helm, perhaps, put it best Tuesday evening at the Lincoln Theatre when she said, “How deeply it moves me to stand on this stage before an American treasure” in Mavis Staples. Mavis headlined the evening, which was a fundraiser for JusticeAid.
JusticeAid is an umbrella progressive fundraising organization that raises money to support various grassroots organizations. The concert was a benefit for the Neighborhood Defender Service. The Neighborhood Defender Service is concerned with police violence, particularly against communities of color. In the evening’s opening remarks, we learned that, so far this year, JusticeAid has been able to give $300,000 to NDS and, following the successful concert, they plan to donate another $100,000 to the cause.
Arlo Parks (Photo courtesy United Talent Artists)
At the beginning of this year, UK singer-songwriter Arlo Parks released Collapsed in Sunbeams, her debut full-length album, via Beatnik and Transgressive Records. Arlo now brings her Collapsed in Sunbeams Tour to Union Stage on Tuesday, Oct. 26!
Jungle perform at The Anthem on Oct. 4, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
The most remarkable thing about Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland is that they seem like two very approachable and laidback — if more hip than most — guys who would be really cool to chat with over a few pints.
Their breezy demeanor, however, hides the fact that the two Brits are fine tunesmiths who have a keen ear for hooks and beats in their work as electronic duo Jungle. As evidence, Jungle pulled a host of those tunes from their three studio albums at The Anthem recently, spinning the crowded venue into dancefloor mania with their upbeat and funky music.
Erika Wennerstrom fronts Heartless Bastards at Union Stage on Oct. 2, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Erika Wennerstrom, lead singer and songwriter for the Austin-based band Heartless Bastards, may just have the perfect rock ‘n’ roll voice. It’s deep, powerful, and rich, with some similarity to another great singer originally from the Buckeye State, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. As one fan called out between songs, “I would listen to you read the phone book.” (I suppose this would require finding a phone book, which presents a challenge, as they’ve gone the way of the dodo.)
When Erika and the Bastards headlined at DC’s Union Stage recently, that incredible voice was on display for a meaty, two-hour set.
The Nth Power (Photo courtesy Margaret Willard)
Formed during an impromptu late-night jam during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Nth Power believes in music as a higher power. The trio performs at The Hamilton Live on Saturday, Sept. 18!