The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Photo courtesy of the band)
Kim Wilson, the face of Austin-based Texas blues outfit The Fabulous Thunderbirds, made his way into the crowd at The Birchmere recently carrying a mic. Kim has spent a lifetime in bars, juke joints, and music halls, and he’s seen and done it all. When he realized the mic wasn’t live, there was only the slightest moment as he made the mental adjustment to sing with his unaided voice, wading through the crowd, placing a hand on a shoulder here and there, connecting with fans, many of whom have followed the band for decades.
Lazy July and August afternoons are traditionally called the dog days of summer. The fresh buds and flowers of spring have faded as the relentless heat causes trees, people, and dogs to wilt under an unforgiving sun. Thankfully, the only withering from the last Sunday in June came from Duane Betts and his two musical pals, Berry Duane Oakley (bass) and Johnny Stachela (guitars), blazing musicianship when they played City Winery DC on the 3rd stop of their Dog Daze Tour.
Originally released in 1990, The Black Crowes debut album Shake Your Money Maker was an out of the blue hit rock record in an era of Vanilla Ice, Wilson Phillips, and Mariah Carey. It’s also the band’s strongest album and the band would tour the world on the back of these songs for decades. Last week’s show at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap was a part of a Covid-delayed 30th anniversary tour of that album.
This version of the band only features two original members, the brothers Robinson, but they’re the ones that count. Flanked by lead singer Chris and guitarist Rich were drummer Brian Griffin, keyboardist Joel Robinow, guitarists Isaiah Mitchell and Charlie Starr, and bassist Sven Pipien, who has been in and out of the band since 1997.
Guitarist Duane Betts, son of the famed Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers, has been making his own name in recent years, and he’s appeared quite a few times in the DC area with the Allman Betts Band in recent years.
Joanne Shaw Taylor performs at the Allman Family Revival at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Dec. 10, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
So, let’s drop all pretense of objectivity: I adore the music of the Allman Brothers Band. The ensemble formed in 1969 by brothers Duane and Gregg took the blues and infused it with rock, soul, and jazz, and invented what would eventually be called “southern rock.” That legendary band enjoyed a career that stretched to 2014, albeit with several personnel changes and multi-year long breaks. Nonetheless, the band were and still are a huge influence on the American musical landscape.
Friday night at The Fillmore Silver Spring, Devon Allman and Duane Betts brought The Allman Betts Band to town to celebrate the Allman Brothers’ music with a who’s who list of guest performers: Eric Gales, G. Love, Robert Randolph, Donavon Frankenreiter, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Alex Orbison, Lilly Hiatt, Lamar Williams Jr., Jimmy Hall, among others. The three plus hour show was much more than a concert, though. For many of us, it was a beautiful reminder of music we grew up with and have cherished for decades.
The tour is also excited to announce the artist additions of Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke) and Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce) who will join the star-studded event in select markets. Previously announced performers include The Allman Betts Band, Robert Randolph, Donavon Frankenreiter, Lilly Hiatt, Cody and Luther Dickinson, Eric Gales, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimmy Hall, Lamar Williams Jr. The Allman Family Revival will also feature Kenny Wayne Shepherd, G. Love, George Porter, Karl Denson, Marc Ford, Ivan Neville, Art Edmaiston, Beth Hart, J.D. Simo, Jessica Lynn, and Ally Venable, Samantha Fish, Alex Orbison, and Kenny Aronoff.
The Allman Family Revival is a celebration of the life, spirit, and music of Gregg Allman, hosted by his son, Blues Music Award-winning Devon Allman, and anchored by his group, The Allman Betts Band.
Jim James of My Morning Jacket performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sept. 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)
One of my favorite summer traditions in DC is the seemingly annual My Morning Jacket show at Merriweather. Tuesday’s show with opener Brittany Howard was the band’s 8th show in Columbia since they graduated to amphitheaters in 2010. I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve been to all of those shows, but I’ve seen most of them and the 2011 and 2015 shows still stand out to me. The Circuitual tour show in 2011 might be the best show I’ve seen the band do locally.
Merriweather was a little over half full on Sept. 7, which was actually a wonderful thing. If you wanted to experience the show in a crowd, there were plenty of people around to remind you how that felt, pre-COVID. If you were still a little freaked out by maskless people singing and shouting along to the music, there were plenty of empty spaces to claim and still have a great vantage point for the show.
Paul Thorn performs live. (Photo courtesy the artist)
When Paul Thorn plays The Birchmere, it’s always a party and a celebration.
Even in these times, when he couldn’t, as per his usual practice, wade into the crowd at the end of show to shake hands and give hugs, it’s still an evening of joy and uplift. The Renaissance man from Tupelo, Mississippi — Paul is a former pro middleweight fighter who once fought world champ Roberto Duran, and, in addition to his music, he’s a visual artist — is all heart, except where’s he also pure rock and grooving soul.