Live Review: Willie Nile @ The Hamilton Live — 7/8/22

Willie NileWillie Nile (Photo courtesy Madison House)

Midway through his set at The Hamilton Live recently, Willie Nile sat down and performed “The Crossing.” The song appears on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York. As Willie explained, it’s “about the Irish crossing the ocean.”

When he was writing, he was “thinking about my own relatives” who came over from the Emerald Isle, settling in Buffalo, where he we would eventually grow up one of eight kids in a Catholic family. That Willie’s song would be chosen by Scorsese, who is known for making strong picks in rock tracks to set the mood for his movies, isn’t surprising: while he has he achieved limited commercial success, Nile is a critical darling who’s been at the center of the New York music scene for 50 years.

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Preview: Nicole Atkins @ The Hamilton Live, 7/10/22

Nicole Atkins
Nicole Atkins (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)

New Jersey-bred singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins performs at The Hamilton Live in DC on Sunday, July 10, with support from Levi. On her latest album Italian Ice, Atkins conjures the romance and danger and wild magic of a place especially close to her heart: the Jersey Shore in all its scrappy beauty.

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Interview: Willie Nile (@ The Hamilton Live, 7/8/22)

WillieNile_Cristina Arrigoni
Willie Nile (Photo by Cristina Arrigoni)

Willie Nile is a New York City-based singer-songwriter whose recording career span reaches back to 1980. He’s hard to place in an a precise genre, as his influences range from Bob Dylan to Lou Reed, and he’s also covered The Clash. He’s a rock ‘n’ roller who, even into his 70s, is still the same  guy who wasn’t afraid to fight the record companies in a legal case that set a precedent.

But he’s also a trained pianist who can just as easily do a ballad as he might just rock out. His work finds a great balance between raw musculature and cerebral refinement, managing to thread in literary and cultural references without pretension. It’s rock with brains — it sounds great, and there’s steak to go with the sizzle.

Willie released a new album, The Day the Earth Stood Still, last year, and now he’s on tour. Willie and his band perform at DC’s The Hamilton Live on Friday, July 8, and Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson talked to him in advance of that show.

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Live Review: Jesse Malin @ The Hamilton Live — 6/11/22

Jesse Malin (Photo courtesy Partisan Arts PR)

Punk was a reaction to the increasingly sophisticated nature of rock music, especially the rise of progressive rock in the early ’70s. Punk stripped rock music backed down to its bare essentials, to a fast, hard-charging, guitar-based attack.

It’s not surprising then, that Jesse Malin, who grew up in the NYC hardcore band Heart Attack and later fronted D Generation, later turned to roots rock, becoming widely respected figure and working with luminaries like Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen. Even though Jesse is in his early 50s, he’s still full of fire, and he put a ton of energy into his performance at The Hamilton Live recently, even climbing on tables and chairs to work up the crowd.

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Live Review: Anders Osborne and Jackie Greene @ The Hamilton Live — 5/27/22

Anders Osborne (Photo by Brandt Vicknair)

Anders Osborne cuts a unique figure on the musical scene. A native of Sweden, the longtime resident of New Orleans has become a fixture and even an elder statesman of that city’s music scene. As a performer, his own musical stylings hew strongly to the blues and R&B of his adopted city, with connections to the related jam band scene. (He often plays with Luther and Cody Dickinson’s Hill Country blues-meets-band jam band, The North Mississippi Allstars, as North Mississippi Osborne.)

As a songwriter — which has been, throughout his career, his principal employment — his greatest success has come through the Nashville country music establishment, where he was employed for decades as a staff songwriter, and commuted between the cities. In 2003, Tim McGraw’s cover of his “Watch The Wind Go By” reached number on the country charts.

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Live Review: Chris Smither and Eilen Jewell @ The Hamilton Live — 5/15/22

Chris Smither (Photo by Jeff Fasano)

On the 2014 album A Link of Chain: A Songwriters’ Tribute To Chris Smither, a number of artists who have been influenced by Chris’s music cover his songs. Among them was folk-blues enchantress Eilen Jewell. It only made sense for the two of them to appear together on a double bill at The Hamilton Live recently, giving the audience a wonderfully intimate evening of songs and stories.

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Live Review: Eli “Paperboy” Reed @ The Hamilton Live — 5/6/22

Eli “Paperboy” Reed performs at The Hamilton Live in DC on May 6, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

If you go back in the history of roots music, you’ll find that genres that are harshly separated today were not so clearly distinct in an earlier time. Up to the ’50s and ’60s, country and folk were closely tied to blues, and the word often appeared in the title of country songs. In the late ’60s and ’70s, there was a distinct overlap between country and the burgeoning genre of soul music, centered on Memphis and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. (For a fascinating, book-length study of this, see Charles Hughes’ excellent Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South.)

Eli “Paperboy” Reed has dedicated his career to vintage soul sounds, but as he showed in his performance at The Hamilton Live recently, he’s a fan of old-school country, too.

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Preview: Eilen Jewell @ The Hamilton Live, 5/15/22

Eilen Jewell (Photo courtesy the artist)

American Songwriter describes Eilen Jewell as “one of America’s most intriguing, creative and idiosyncratic voices.” That singular voice springs forth from a woman of more than one mind, and she taps into many of them on 2019’s Gypsy on Signature Sounds.

Eilen hits the road to share her voice with a show at The Hamilton Live on Sunday, May 15.

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Live Review: Sierra Ferrell @ The Hamilton Live — 4/6/22

Sierra Ferrell (Photo courtesy Fantasy Records)

West Virginia native and current Nashville resident Sierra Ferrell says she’s listens to everything and, when you hear her music, you’re inclined to believe her. The singer-songwriter, who recently released her label debut, Long Time Coming, on Rounder Records, combines bluegrass and the Appalachian mountain folk music of her home state with not only swing and jazz, but even strands of Latin music. All of this is brought together by her unique, distinctive voice, which sounds as though it is out of time.

I caught her just in time to experience that powerful sound at The Hamilton Live in DC recently.

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