Chris Smither (Photo courtesy the artist)
It’s amazing what one man, with one acoustic guitar, sitting in a chair onstage, can do. What his facial expressions and gestures can add to his songs. How he can intoxicate you with just a glass of the dry wine of his wit. Seasoned musician Chris Smither injects so much life and so much humor into his live performance, yet with such understated taste. He did so much at The Hamilton Live recently.
Chris Smither (Photo by Jeff Fasano)
Singer-songwriter Chris Smither performs at The Hamilton Live on Friday, May 17. Chris released Call Me Lucky, his latest record, last year via Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert with distribution by Redeye. Recorded at Blue Rock Studio in the Texas foothills and packed with Smither trademark songs that offer commentary on the human condition with a wink of an eye, the album pulls from deep in the soul and a couple of surprise covers that remind us of Chris’ deftness as a song interpreter as he makes the songs his own.
Prior to his DC concert, Chris took a phone call from Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson, who asked him about his relationship with New Orleans and the blues, meeting your heroes, and his advice for the younger generation. [This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Eli “Paperboy” Reed performs at The Soundry on May 5, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Eli “Paperboy” Reed headlined a pair of shows over last weekend at DC’s The Hamilton and its sister venue, The Soundry in Columbia, Maryland. The Brooklyn-based artist recently released a new album, 99 Cent Dreams on April 19 via Yep Roc Records, and he is on tour to promote it.
Joe Pug (Photo by Dustin Condren)
After many years living in Austin, Greenbelt native Joe Pug has returned to “gorgeous Prince George’s.” Now married and a father, the veteran troubadour came back home to rejuvenate himself after experiencing burnout. Appearing solo at The Hamilton recently, he appeared refreshed and vigorous.
Becky Warren performs at The Hamilton Live on May 1, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
After recent set at The Hamilton Live, I told Becky Warren that her opening act for Della Mae ranked as one of the very best I’d ever seen. The widespread critical acclaim — from Rolling Stone Country, NPR — is deserved, and the comparisons to revered figures like Lucinda Williams are apt.
Della Mae performs at The Hamilton Live on May 1, 2019. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Della Mae puts a fresh spin on bluegrass. In a genre traditionally characterized by a “high lonesome” sound, this Grammy-nominated lineup of all female dynamos is unlike anyone else. At The Hamilton Live recently, the band covered rock songs, like the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” with a boiling stew of strings, and they played string band music with the fervor and soul of blues rock.
Willie Nile performs at The Hamilton Live on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/GrillworksBen)
Willie Nile bridges the chasm that lies between Bob Dylan and The Clash. He ties intelligent, literate lyrics to frenetic melodies and crashing rhythms. Talk to Willie, and the F-bomb may pop out of his craggy face. Willie turns 71 in June, and he’s still active and creative — maybe more than ever. His creativity was on display at The Hamilton Live recently.