Brandi Carlile welcomes Joni Mitchell to the stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 2022, her first time back at Fort Adams since 1969. (Photo by Casey Vock)
When musicians themselves hold a place and event so close to their hearts that it becomes sacred, the experience for fans is that much more lasting and remarkable.
The Newport Folk Festival, long considered one of the country’s most influential gatherings of songwriters, artists, and performers, proved to be that and so much more this year — three full days of celebrating music as a communal power and a change agent at a time when the nation feels fragmented by political turmoil and the lingering struggles of the pandemic.
Bob Mould’s return to 9:30 Club in September ranked among David LaMason’s Best Shows of 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)
If you would have told me around this time last year that I would have had the opportunity to see concerts again, let alone in indoor venues -– some that I hadn’t stepped foot inside in over a year and half –- I would have thought you were crazy. But not only did I have that opportunity –- in large part to vaccines, mask mandates, and the venues and artists who did everything in their power to make sure it was safe to experience live music again –- but I saw some of the best shows I’ve seen in years!
Sylvan Esso has unveiled “Rooftop Dancing,” the second single from their forthcoming album Free Love (Sept. 25/Loma Vista Recordings). “Rooftop Dancing” captures the duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn in a minimalist moment of intimacy.
LP performs at the 9:30 Club, one of the best concerts of the year, on March 5, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)
Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2018 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.
As we are nearing 2018’s finale, I have to say that this past year brought with it some of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. From the big production shows in large theaters to completely packed club shows, there was an intensity to most of the performances this past year that I’ll remember for years to come! Here are my 10 best shows of the year.
Mountain Man performs at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue on Oct. 22, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)
Six years between tours and eight between albums seems like a long time, but for the North Carolina-based Mountain Man, it certainly doesn’t sound like years apart on their second full-length LP, Magic Ship (Nonesuch / Bella Union). Part of that reason is that recipe of rhythm and harmony that Amelia Meath, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Molly Sarlé each add to the pot. Part traditional Appalachian folk songs and part post-modern Americana, the music created by this trio was both pleasant and off-center, an often transcendent stew that was totally engrossing at Sixth & I on Monday.
Traditional Appalachian folk band Mountain Man released Magic Ship, the band’s second studio album, on Partisan Records earlier this year. The indie folk trio performs at Sixth & I in DC on Monday, Oct. 22.
Sylvan Esso dazzles a packed The Anthem on July 26, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)
There’s a magic that Amelia Meath (vocals) and Nick Sanborn (producer/sound engineer) create. It’s an infectious feeling generated by Amelia’s compelling voice and energetic dance moves — itself buoyed by the soundscapes formed and molded by Nick’s panel of sounds. Over the past two LPs (2014’s self-titled Sylvan Esso and last year’s What Now), the North Carolina-based Sylvan Esso created beat-soaked tunes that stick in your head. But it’s their live show that’s a force to behold.
On Thursday night at The Anthem, the duo pulled no punches.
Sylvan Esso, the electropop duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, released What Now, their second studio album in 2017, and this year the band released a new single — “PARAD(w/m)E.” Sylvan Esso soon start a summer tour, and they will perform at The Anthem on Thursday, July 26.
Amelia Meath sings with Sylvan Esso at All Things Go Fall Classic in DC on Oct. 8, 2016.
The music of Durham, North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso was introduced to me last year by my friend and Spotify buddy Jenny, in the form of a YouTube video for their song “Hey Mami.” Straightaway, I admired singer Amelia Meath’s energy and extro-expressiveness, both on display in a sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Saturday.