James McMurtry performs at The Birchmere on April 16, 2022. (Photo by Rashad Polk)
Popularity and respect are two entirely different things. Some artists — and I won’t name names here — are well known but may not be highly esteemed. Other artists command less name recognition, but, amongst those who are aware of them they are held in the highest regard.
James McMurtry is an artist who falls in the latter category: He’s far from a household name, but people who know James McMurtry think the world of him. Those people include his peers in the singer-songwriter community, like Jason Isbell, as well as literary figures like the bestselling author Stephen King and rock critics like Robert Christgau.
James has been making records since the ’80s, and his recent set at The Birchmere covered four decades of material.
Bedouine performs with Gus Seyffert at The Miracle Theatre in DC on April 3, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
When I seriously got into music criticism about five years ago, I went about it in a predictably autistic way: I went to Metacritic, pulled up their list of all-time high scores, and started working my down. That was around the time the folk artist Bedouine released her self-titled debut album, and man, did she ever knock it out of the park on her first try. It’s one of the best debut albums released last decade, and it’s one of my favorites. As impressive as it was, the follow-up effort, 2019’s Birds of a Killjoy, is an even better album. Last year’s Waysides, a collection of older material, is pretty damn impressive too.
Bedouine was every bit as impressive in a recent appearance at The Miracle Theatre, the small Barracks Row venue booked by Union Stage, in DC.
Tom Odell (Photo by Netti Hurley)
English singer-songwriter Tom Odell overcame some personal darkness to publish his fourth studio album, Monsters, last year via Columbia Records. He hits the road again and performs in DC at the Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, April 20.
Parklife DC is giving away a pair of tickets for you to see the show!
Joshua Radin (Photo by Catie Laffoon)
Joshua Radin is a singer-songwriter, originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who has been writing songs, performing, and recording music for the last 17 years. He’s appearing at The Birchmere on Friday, March 18. Josh and talked to Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson about their shared Ohio roots, finding your creative heart, and life on the road.
Trapper Schoepp (Photo by Mitch Keller)
Trapper Schoepp explores themes of ghosts and rebirth, springtime and renewal on his latest album, May Day. You can explore those themes with Trapper yourself in a show at Jammin’ Java on Sunday, March 13.
Parklife DC is giving away up to 10 tickets to the show! To get on the list, leave a comment on this blog post below!
Indigo De Souza (Photo by Charlie Boss)
Last year, Indigo De Souza released Any Shape You Take, her sophomore album, via Saddle Creek receiving acclaim from outlets such as Pitchfork, New York Times, NPR, Stereogum, The FADER, Consequence, Paste and more.
Indigo tours her new music at Black Cat on Wednesday, April 20.
KT Tunstall performs at Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Va., Dec. 18, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Attending KT Tunstall’s recent performance at Tally Ho Theater in historic Leesburg — a genuine treat, indeed — was the culmination of my three-year quest to photograph the artist in a live performance. The show was magnificent; well worth the three years I waited to see it.
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.
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!
John Craigie performs at DC’s Union Stage on Oct. 6, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Standing on stage as a performing musician is likely daunting enough for anyone who is brave enough to put themselves out there. Imagine also tasking yourself with trying to earnestly engage and entertain an audience in between each and every song?
It’s a lesser-embraced style these days, but there’s one gentleman who has built his reputation and his career on the same kind of performances as those that defined the careers of the most famous proponents of the talking blues, men like Woodie Guthrie decades ago, and maybe someone like a Todd Snyder these days. That man is John Craigie, and he brought that style to Union Stage recently.