The myth of “Minnesota nice” got a little verification on Thursday night at The Birchmere. Before alt-country legends the Jayhawks started playing, keyboardist Karen Grotberg turned to our table, which was next to the stage, and apologize that she would be turning her back to us at times. She also said she hoped we wouldn’t get blown out by the monitors and, fortunately, we didn’t.
Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer released Together, her most recent solo album, in 2017, and followed that up with an autobiography, Sax, Candy & Rock-’n’-Roll (in Dutch only, but with an English version expected soon). Candy, who also was a frequent collaborator of Prince, will perform at The Birchmere on Thursday, Oct. 18.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Will Oldham, who has also released music under the Palace moniker (Palace Brothers, Palace Music, and Palace Songs), is something of a cult figure. He also has a varied acting career, with appearances in films ranging from Jackass 3D to 2006’s Junebug to last year’s A Ghost Story. On Tuesday, he made an appearance at The Birchmere, and I was there to figure him out.
Making their first appearance at the venue in nine years, The SteelDrives filled The Birchmere with the soulful sounds of their lauded Nashville bluegrass on Thursday night, the first of a two-night engagement. In the finest traditions of bluegrass music, The SteelDrivers emphasized that their songs tell terrible stories — and there were lots of murder ballads.
By turns funky, salty, entertaining, and educational, legendary bluesman Buddy Guy brought the party to The Birchmere on Monday. Showing off an arsenal of guitar tricks, playing blues classics, both his own and other artists’, Buddy brought the house down. This show was dirty blues with the fervor of a religious tent revival.