Best of the Year: Top 10 Concerts of 2021 by Mickey

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CHVRCHES delivered a top show of the year at The Anthem. (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Parklife DC invites our staff to list their Top 10 concerts of every year. Although this was a different kind of year, our love of music remained strong, and we definitely caught our share of shows once pandemic lockdowns eased. Some homegrown shows began popping up indoors around May, and events really made a remarkable return by August. Although we live with additional requirements, such as vaccinations, to attend live shows, we happily rise to the moment to do what we love to do — experience live music.

Here are my Top 10 concerts of 2021.

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Live Review: Buffalo Nichols @ Songbyrd Music House — 11/9/21

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Carl “Buffalo” Nichols performs at Songbyrd Music House in Washington DC on Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

There’s admiration to be had for anyone who sets out to prove a point or to tell an important story with their music.

On a mission that is most certainly catching the ears of astute listeners and those who care about celebrating the history and sounds of traditional music, Buffalo Nichols should be applauded for the progress he’s making and the sound he’s creating. And, making an appearance last week in the nation’s capital at the newly relocated Songbyrd Music House, he showed that he’s emboldened by a workingman’s conviction and possesses a vision for how his songs can make an impact.

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Preview: Buffalo Nichols @ Songbyrd Music House, 11/9/21

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Buffalo Nichols (Photo by Merrick Ales)

Buffalo Nichols, Fat Possum’s first blues signing in nearly 20 years, is set to play a *free* headlining show at Songbyrd Music House on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

In the midst of a run supporting Drive-By Truckers, Buffalo celebrates the release of his self-titled debut album, which is out now, with this solo show.

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Live Review: Nation of Language w/ The Wants @ Songbyrd Music House — 10/31/21

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Nation of Language perform at Songbyrd Music House on Oct. 31, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Perhaps Halloween shows should be spooky but the audience at a sold-out show at Songbyrd Music House was nothing but smiles for synthpoppers Nation of Language and their openers The Wants Sunday. While the performance may have dealt in its share of angst as musical inspiration, the 200+ folks gathered could only dance in delight as the young New York City bands also took a page from classic new wave and post-punk acts that would have made MTV’s 120 Minutes proud.

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Live Review: Boldy James @ Songbyrd Music House — 10/6/21

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Boldy James in his element at Songbyrd Music House on Oct 6, 2021. (Photo by Shedrick Pelt)

Bo knows football and baseball but Boldy knows rap. Boldy knows the “Drug Zone” in Detroit and James Jones aka Boldy James knows exactly what his diehard fans want when he stops through a venue like Songbyrd Music House in Washington DC Wednesday night. 

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Live Review: The Bones of JR Jones @ Songbyrd Music House — 9/22/21

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The Bones of JR Jones performs at Songbyrd Music House on Sept. 22, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that musicians are best served not so much by pivoting but by adapting and blending their influences, old and new, together as they move along in their career and accumulate critical life experiences on that path.

Though his pursuits in his younger days angled toward punk, Jonathan Linaberry has unabashedly and enthusiastically embraced the direction of musicians whom he happened to hear while finding his way as a self-taught, college-age guitar and banjo player.

When his ears discovered the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, and other blues-belting guitarists from places like Texas and the Mississippi Delta, Linaberry — who hails from Central New York, near Syracuse — began to genuinely mold those sounds from the first half of the century, as well as the spirit and character of the music, into his own song writing style.

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Live Review: Ratboys and Wild Pink @ Songbyrd Music House — 9/14/21

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Ratboys perform at the new location of Songbyrd Music House  on Sept. 14, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Not often does a double bill work to evenly showcase the best of two bands, but on occasion, there can be a symbiotic relationship between two touring musical acts that is so wholesome that each can get the most out of valuable, even if in some ways taxing, time on the road.

It does appear as though the current tour co-headlined by Ratboys and Wild Pink is so far a success, the local evidence being a highly enjoyable show put on Sept. 14 by this pair of bands at the newly launched Songbyrd Music House on Penn Street NE, near Union Market.

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Around Town: DC’s Empty Stages by Ben Eisendrath

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The Lincoln Theatre stands in silence in this stark photo by Ben Eisendrath. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/ Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/ GrillworksBen)

Ben Eisendrath has one of the greatest assets of a photographer: a persistent curiosity.

When Ben carries a lens, he is intently searching for something to capture. You can see it in his eyes: What’s that guy’s story? What’s happening here? Or in this case, what’s behind those closed doors?

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Livestream Preview: Joe Ciccarello @ Songbyrd Music House, 2/19/21

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Joe Ciccarello (Photo courtesy Eventbrite)

DC musician Joe Ciccarello writes and performs songs with voice, guitar, bass, drums, violin, mandolin, saxophone, and more! He recently released his debut album, New Life, available on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Songbyrd Presents Joe in a livestream from Songbyrd Music House on Friday, Feb. 19!

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Poll: What Is the Best Music Venue in DC for 2020?

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A band on stage! (Photo by Montecruz Foto)

Welcome to the 2020 Thrushie Awards!

Parklife DC will name the DC best local music venue of the year with your input. The Thrushie Awards are open to DC-area music venues that host touring bands. These venues must be occupied by its owner-operator and not a “for-rent” concert hall operated by an independent agent.

Learn more about each nominee by clicking on their name in keywords. Or name your own candidate!

Vote for the best music local music venue in the DC metro area now through Dec. 11.