Live Review: Bill Kirchen’s Honky-Tonk Holiday Revue @ The Birchmere — 12/12/21

Bill-Kirchen-2_sepia
Bill Kirchen (Photo courtesy the artist)

Known as “The King of Dieselbilly” and “The Titan of the Telecaster,” Bill Kirchen has a distinctive, powerful style as a guitarist. There’s twang, but it rocks hard, and it grooves. When he plays “Hot Rod Lincoln,” the top-10 hit he had as a member of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in the ’70s, Bill shows off the range of his influences as a player. He spent several minutes playing a few bars in the style of many different artists during a set at The Birchmere recently.

Continue Reading

Live Review: Robert Earl Keen’s “The Road to Christmas” w/ Waylon Payne @ Lincoln Theatre — 12/6/21

10159306g
Robert Earl Keen (Photo by EMG/Shutterstock)

Legendary Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ear Keen’s annual Christmas tour is highlight of the holiday season. Built around his fan-favorite “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee,” every year REK and his band design a show around a theme.

Past themes have included “Country Gold” and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. This year, the theme was “The Road to Christmas.” Each year’s show presents a collection of REK originals and cover songs fitted to theme, and his recent performance at the historic Lincoln Theatre in DC was no different. Costumes were a part of the deal, too; this year, all involved wore white jumpsuits, meant to suggest mechanics. It was truly a collective performance, as REK let his band members sing cover songs of their choice.

Continue Reading

Live Review: Buck Meek @ Jammin’ Java — 11/5/21

Buck Meek - Jammin Java Vienna - 11.05.21 CVock 9 
Buck Meek performs at Jammin’ Java on Nov. 5, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Buck Meek is best known as the guitarist and harmony vocalist for the band Big Thief, but he also makes excellent records of his own. On Friday evening, he appeared with his band at Vienna’s Jammin’ Java for an intimate performance.

A native Texan, Buck was raised in Houston and Wimberley, a small town in the Austin hill country that’s currently home to musicians like Ray Wylie Hubbard and recent Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz. By the age of 6, he was already playing guitar, having learned the instrument from his mother, and, in his teens, he was playing outlaw country and jazz manouche. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating in the late 2000s.

Continue Reading

Live Review: Hayes Carll @ The Birchmere — 10/30/21

Hayes_050121_DavidMcClisterPhoto1_0793_bw-scaled
Hayes Carll (Photo by David McClister)

Over the course of more than 20 years, singer-songwriter Hayes Carll has gradually built his career to the point that he has become of the central figures in the Americana genre. After releasing his first album, Flowers & Liquor, in 2002, he was voted “Best New Act” by the Houston Press. His second album, 2004’s Little Rock, became the first self-released album to reach number 1 on the Americana chart. In 2010, he won the Americana Music Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year. The next two years, he was nominated for Artist of the Year. He’s currently touring behind his eighth album, You Get It All, and he headlined at The Birchmere on Saturday evening.

Continue Reading

Preview: The Quebe Sisters @ The Hamilton Live — 11/21/21

quebe_promo_3
The Quebe Sisters (Photo courtesy Michael J. Media)

Trailblazing Trio The Quebe Sisters Serve as Modern-Day Beacons for Country and Western Swing
By Mario Tarradell

Three women – modern, creative, and talented – are stretching the boundaries of old-time country and western swing music. The best part? They are doing it steadfastly, free of frivolous fanfare. We’re talking about neo-traditionalist western swing trio the Quebe Sisters – siblings Grace, Sophia, and Hulda.

The Quebe Sisters are hardly newcomers, though. Their modern musical sensibilities coalesced as seasoned performers. Dallas-based Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe spent the last 15 years merging three-part harmony and triple fiddles to put a youthful, jubilant spin on Bob Wills’ classic genre. They have recorded four studio albums and toured North America, Europe, and Russia.

The Quebe Sisters are ready to perform western swing classics as well as inspired originals in concert Nov. 21 at 8 pm at The Hamilton Live, 600 14th St. NW,  DC. Tickets are $25-$50 per person; all ages are welcome. To purchase tickets, click here.

Continue Reading

Live Review: Heartless Bastards @ Union Stage — 10/2/21

Heartless Bastards - Union Stage DC - 10.02.21 CVock 19
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.

Continue Reading

Live Review: Asleep at the Wheel @ The Birchmere — 7/8/21

Asleep At The Wheel - The Birchmere - 07.08.21 CVock 19
Asleep at the Wheel performs at The Birchmere on July 8, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

For five decades, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel has carried the torch for Western swing. Winners of 10 Grammys, they’ve collaborated with everyone from Willie Nelson to Jamey Johnson to Huey Lewis. to Old Crow Medicine Show.

Despite playing what is “hard-core country music,” the Wheel has long attracted fans who don’t normally feel drawn to country. Part of this is the great divide between country through the ’50s and the Nashville sound that succeeded it. As Tyler Mahan Coe has said on his podcast Cocaine & Rhinestones, there’s no real distinction between honky-tonk and early rock ‘n’ roll. Asleep at the Wheel may have fiddles, but they also have drums and sax, and they rock hard.

Continue Reading

Snapshots: Robert Earl Keen @ The Birchmere — 1/28/21

REK Robert Earl Keen performs at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 28, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen recently put on two performances at legendary Alexandria, Virginia, music venue, The Birchmere, on Jan. 27 and 28. Traveling with a scaled down version of his usual road band, Robert performed as an acoustic trio which included himself on lead vocals and guitar, Kym Warner on mandolin and backing vocals, and Tom Van Schaik on drums and percussion.

Continue Reading