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Spafford
@Union Stage | view more info »
Jan
25

Spafford



Thursday Jan 25|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487
 
The Wood Brothers
The Stray Birds | @Lincoln Theatre | view more info »
Jan
26

The Wood Brothers

The Stray Birds


Friday Jan 26|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
Lincoln Theatre|get directions »
1215 U St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 888-0050


The Wood Brothers

official band site »

“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” says Oliver Wood. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.”

Indeed, The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.

“Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diver-se sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”

Building off the success of their previous studio album, 2015’s ‘Paradise,’ which was dubbed “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet,” by American Songwriter, the band found themselves at a fortuitous crossroads. Following a tour with Tedeschi Trucks Band, high profile festival dates and sold out headline shows, the band felt free from the cyclical album release, tour, write, record and do-it-all-over-again pressures of the traditional music business. With all three members living in Nashville affording easy access to each other and a wealth of local independent studios at their disposal, they started work in January of 2017 with a new approach.

“Instead of going into one studio and recording it all at the same time, we picked a couple studios, and started to experiment,” says Chris Wood. “Sometimes we’d just make demos of songs to see if we got anything we liked. There was no pressure, and that really freed us up. We just did one or two songs a day, put it aside, let the songs simmer, and then we’d have a fresh perspective on what was working or not working. You need time to go by to gain objectivity.”

The band extended this approach to the mixing process, sending tracks to four different mixing engineers, each selected based on what the song demanded. Scotty Hard (who’s worked extensively with Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) was recruited for the “edgier, funkier tunes,” “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole (who worked on The Wood Brothers album ‘The Muse’) mixed “Sparkling Wine” and “Strange As It Seems.” Their old friend Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio Southern Ground took on “Laughin’ Or Crying.” The remainder of the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, especially sought after by The Wood Brothers for her work with Brandi Carlile.

While the songs on ‘One Drop of Truth’ achieve the goal of standing on their own, a few common themes did, inevitably, emerge. Water—whether in a teardrop, a storm, a river or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Chris Wood’s “Seasick Emotion,” one of two songs he sings on the collection serves as a prime example: “All the blue sky is gone / How can I get out of bed / This hurricane in my head / I’m just a boat in a storm / How can I know where to go / When everything that I know / Is already lost in the wind.”

“That one was written last fall during a hurricane, while at the same time the election was coming up, and there was all this crazy energy in the world,” Chris reveals. “I definitely got swept away emotionally by everything that was going on.”

Album opener, “River Takes the Town,” takes on both figurative and literal meaning. It was completed just as a series of hurricanes were decimating parts of the U.S.: “It's been a few days since I heard any word from you / and I don't sleep easy, I don't sleep easy / and the rain keeps comin’, the rain keeps comin’ / nothin's ever for certain / 'til the levee breaks down / the water comes in and the river / the river takes the town.”

“I remember hearing a news story about a flood in Shreveport, and I wrote the line ‘I hope the levee in Shreveport does what it's supposed to do,’” explains Oliver. “I was writing literally, at first, about how scary it must be when people lose power and communication with those they love. But then the lyrics became a metaphor for something more interpersonal. And by the end of this summer, it seemed to take on new meaning yet again.”

Though emotional struggle is a recurring thread, so is the comforting truth of how much wisdom comes from the hard times. The song “Happiness Jones”, was based on a news article Oliver read about how our society is addicted to happiness, antidepressants, and the distorted “happy” reality social media can depict. As a result, people feel like it’s unnatural to be sad, yet. sadness can be a gift: “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days / I never learned a thing bein’ happy / all of my sufferin’ came / I didn’t appreciate it / I never learned a thing being happy.”

While the majority of ‘One Drop of Truth’ was written and recorded as a group, the standout track “Strange As It Seems,” described by Chris as, “a classic Oliver song,” was an exception.

“I had recorded it a couple months before Chris and Jano added their parts, so I was excited to see what they would do with it. We talked a lot about it having a dreamlike quality to it. Chris has all these cool sound effects that he can make with the bowed bass, and then Jano played the melodica and the piano on it, and they added exactly the atmosphere that it needed,” explains Oliver. “Conceptually, I almost think of it like a Tim Burton movie, where you go to sleep, and you go into this dream world, to meet your lover, but you do so with purpose. You bring your wallet, you get dressed up, you’re going on a date. The idea being, that you rendezvous in the dream. One of my favorite things about any song is ambiguity, leaving it open to interpretation. Maybe the man and woman in this song are already married, and they’re on separate sides of the bed, and they’re disconnected, so they’re hoping to find a better version of a partner in their dreams. Or, maybe they are two lonely people, in separate places, finding each other in this dreamworld. But at the end of the song, the guy wakes up, and he goes down to the kitchen, and he’s with his wife and it’s a beautiful thing, and they dance in the light. So perhaps there’s also an element of hope, whether they’re lonely, or they’re disconnected, there’s still a connection there, sometimes you have to go to that other level to realize it.”

Fittingly titled, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ the latest entry in The Wood Brothers evolution finds three musicians being true to themselves. At a point in their career where most artists would be looking to strategically position themselves for even greater commercial success, they instead turned to artistic expression in service of the muse. In chaotic times when honesty is in short supply and ulterior motives seem to always be at play, The Wood Brothers put faith in themselves and ultimately their audience by writing and recording a collection of songs that is honest and pure. As they sing on the album’s title track: “Rather die hungry / than feasting on lies / Give me one drop of truth / I cannot deny.”


The Stray Birds

official band site »

All originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The Stray Birds started as a duo of acoustic buskers in early 2010 when Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven met with their instruments, their voices, and their songs. It didn't take much convincing to get bassist Charlie Muench on board, and with the addition of a third unique and powerful voice, the group began to define its captivating sound. Seven years, three original records, and some six hundred performances later, the band is best known today for its songwriting, its tight and forthcoming vocal harmony blend and its commitment to an impassioned delivery of original material, both on stage and in the studio. They've been seen from LA to London, sung songs from Dallas to Denmark, and played tunes from New York to New Orleans. Their 2016 Yep Roc Records release Magic Fire was produced by Grammy-winner Larry Campbell and earned much praise, including being named by NPR as one of Folk Alley's Top Ten Records of 2016. With time, their sound has evolved to a palate broader than what it first was on the street corners and in the markets, but this much remains true: The Stray Birds is a band of musicians as subtle and nuanced as they are energetic, a band of writers as blatant and bold as they are coy, and perhaps most importantly, a band of people as friendly and compassionate as they are talented. It's safe to imagine that most who hear their music come back for another listen, time and again.


 
The Wood Brothers
The Stray Birds | @Lincoln Theatre | view more info »
Jan
27

The Wood Brothers

The Stray Birds


Saturday Jan 27|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
Lincoln Theatre|get directions »
1215 U St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 888-0050


The Wood Brothers

official band site »

“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” says Oliver Wood. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.”

Indeed, The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.

“Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diver-se sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”

Building off the success of their previous studio album, 2015’s ‘Paradise,’ which was dubbed “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet,” by American Songwriter, the band found themselves at a fortuitous crossroads. Following a tour with Tedeschi Trucks Band, high profile festival dates and sold out headline shows, the band felt free from the cyclical album release, tour, write, record and do-it-all-over-again pressures of the traditional music business. With all three members living in Nashville affording easy access to each other and a wealth of local independent studios at their disposal, they started work in January of 2017 with a new approach.

“Instead of going into one studio and recording it all at the same time, we picked a couple studios, and started to experiment,” says Chris Wood. “Sometimes we’d just make demos of songs to see if we got anything we liked. There was no pressure, and that really freed us up. We just did one or two songs a day, put it aside, let the songs simmer, and then we’d have a fresh perspective on what was working or not working. You need time to go by to gain objectivity.”

The band extended this approach to the mixing process, sending tracks to four different mixing engineers, each selected based on what the song demanded. Scotty Hard (who’s worked extensively with Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) was recruited for the “edgier, funkier tunes,” “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole (who worked on The Wood Brothers album ‘The Muse’) mixed “Sparkling Wine” and “Strange As It Seems.” Their old friend Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio Southern Ground took on “Laughin’ Or Crying.” The remainder of the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, especially sought after by The Wood Brothers for her work with Brandi Carlile.

While the songs on ‘One Drop of Truth’ achieve the goal of standing on their own, a few common themes did, inevitably, emerge. Water—whether in a teardrop, a storm, a river or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Chris Wood’s “Seasick Emotion,” one of two songs he sings on the collection serves as a prime example: “All the blue sky is gone / How can I get out of bed / This hurricane in my head / I’m just a boat in a storm / How can I know where to go / When everything that I know / Is already lost in the wind.”

“That one was written last fall during a hurricane, while at the same time the election was coming up, and there was all this crazy energy in the world,” Chris reveals. “I definitely got swept away emotionally by everything that was going on.”

Album opener, “River Takes the Town,” takes on both figurative and literal meaning. It was completed just as a series of hurricanes were decimating parts of the U.S.: “It's been a few days since I heard any word from you / and I don't sleep easy, I don't sleep easy / and the rain keeps comin’, the rain keeps comin’ / nothin's ever for certain / 'til the levee breaks down / the water comes in and the river / the river takes the town.”

“I remember hearing a news story about a flood in Shreveport, and I wrote the line ‘I hope the levee in Shreveport does what it's supposed to do,’” explains Oliver. “I was writing literally, at first, about how scary it must be when people lose power and communication with those they love. But then the lyrics became a metaphor for something more interpersonal. And by the end of this summer, it seemed to take on new meaning yet again.”

Though emotional struggle is a recurring thread, so is the comforting truth of how much wisdom comes from the hard times. The song “Happiness Jones”, was based on a news article Oliver read about how our society is addicted to happiness, antidepressants, and the distorted “happy” reality social media can depict. As a result, people feel like it’s unnatural to be sad, yet. sadness can be a gift: “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days / I never learned a thing bein’ happy / all of my sufferin’ came / I didn’t appreciate it / I never learned a thing being happy.”

While the majority of ‘One Drop of Truth’ was written and recorded as a group, the standout track “Strange As It Seems,” described by Chris as, “a classic Oliver song,” was an exception.

“I had recorded it a couple months before Chris and Jano added their parts, so I was excited to see what they would do with it. We talked a lot about it having a dreamlike quality to it. Chris has all these cool sound effects that he can make with the bowed bass, and then Jano played the melodica and the piano on it, and they added exactly the atmosphere that it needed,” explains Oliver. “Conceptually, I almost think of it like a Tim Burton movie, where you go to sleep, and you go into this dream world, to meet your lover, but you do so with purpose. You bring your wallet, you get dressed up, you’re going on a date. The idea being, that you rendezvous in the dream. One of my favorite things about any song is ambiguity, leaving it open to interpretation. Maybe the man and woman in this song are already married, and they’re on separate sides of the bed, and they’re disconnected, so they’re hoping to find a better version of a partner in their dreams. Or, maybe they are two lonely people, in separate places, finding each other in this dreamworld. But at the end of the song, the guy wakes up, and he goes down to the kitchen, and he’s with his wife and it’s a beautiful thing, and they dance in the light. So perhaps there’s also an element of hope, whether they’re lonely, or they’re disconnected, there’s still a connection there, sometimes you have to go to that other level to realize it.”

Fittingly titled, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ the latest entry in The Wood Brothers evolution finds three musicians being true to themselves. At a point in their career where most artists would be looking to strategically position themselves for even greater commercial success, they instead turned to artistic expression in service of the muse. In chaotic times when honesty is in short supply and ulterior motives seem to always be at play, The Wood Brothers put faith in themselves and ultimately their audience by writing and recording a collection of songs that is honest and pure. As they sing on the album’s title track: “Rather die hungry / than feasting on lies / Give me one drop of truth / I cannot deny.”


The Stray Birds

official band site »

All originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The Stray Birds started as a duo of acoustic buskers in early 2010 when Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven met with their instruments, their voices, and their songs. It didn't take much convincing to get bassist Charlie Muench on board, and with the addition of a third unique and powerful voice, the group began to define its captivating sound. Seven years, three original records, and some six hundred performances later, the band is best known today for its songwriting, its tight and forthcoming vocal harmony blend and its commitment to an impassioned delivery of original material, both on stage and in the studio. They've been seen from LA to London, sung songs from Dallas to Denmark, and played tunes from New York to New Orleans. Their 2016 Yep Roc Records release Magic Fire was produced by Grammy-winner Larry Campbell and earned much praise, including being named by NPR as one of Folk Alley's Top Ten Records of 2016. With time, their sound has evolved to a palate broader than what it first was on the street corners and in the markets, but this much remains true: The Stray Birds is a band of musicians as subtle and nuanced as they are energetic, a band of writers as blatant and bold as they are coy, and perhaps most importantly, a band of people as friendly and compassionate as they are talented. It's safe to imagine that most who hear their music come back for another listen, time and again.


 
Greensky Bluegrass
Billy Strings | @9:30 club | view more info »
sold out
Feb
2

Greensky Bluegrass

Billy Strings


Friday Feb 2|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930
Sold Out


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

Available only as 2 day pass with 2/3 show at The Anthem


Greensky Bluegrass is Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).

For more than a decade and a half, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll. They redefine that sound once again with their sixth album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted.

Like the band's own name, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is a collection of opposites, full of dark psychedelic swirls, bright bursts of acoustic guitar, soundscapes, solos, freethinking improvisation, and plenty of sharp, focused songwriting. It's wild and wide-ranging, showing off the diversity Greensky Bluegrass brings to every live show. At the same time, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is unmistakably a studio album, recorded during two different sessions — one at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, North Carolina; the other at the Mountain House Recording Studio in Nedarland, Colorado — that comprise the band's longest block of recording time ever. The result is an 11-track album whose songs cast a wide net, mixing the full-throttle energy of a Greensky Bluegrass concert with the nuanced approach of a band that's still eager to explore.

"You can call us an acoustic ensemble, or a drum-less rock band, or a rock & roll bluegrass band," says mandolin player Paul Hoffman, who, along with guitarist Dave Bruzza, handles most of the album's writing duties. "All of that shifting identity has taught us to cover a lot of ground. There's a flow to this album, just like there's a flow to our setlists. There are some aggressive, rocking moments. Some bouncy, funky moments. An acoustic think piece or two. It's a balance of moods and textures that we create as a band, almost like a mix tape."

Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off their career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, they were touring nationally, and by 2006, they were playing the first in a long series of appearances at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Bandmates Hoffman, Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, and upright bassist Mike Devol spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but the full-on spectacle of rock.

"We play two sets of music every night with a big light show, and really care about creating a large scale production," notes Bruzza, adding that, "the goal isn't just to play important music. We want to cultivate an experience, where people can escape from their everyday lives for a minute and put their worries aside."

Playing as many as 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass have graduated to headlining status at some of the country's most iconic venues, selling out amphitheaters like Red Rocks and world-class auditoriums like the Ryman. They've become a regular name on the festival circuit, too, adding Bonnaroo, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits, Forecastle, and Outside Lands to their touring schedule. Supported by a grassroots audience whose members often travel for hours to see the band, Greensky Bluegrass are still a proudly independent act, enjoying the success of a major-label act — including a Number One debut on the Billboard Bluegrass chart for their fifth album, 2014's If Sorrows Swim — without giving up complete control of their own business.

Released on the band's label, Big Blue Zoo, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted kicks off with "Miss September," a song that splits its focus between Hoffman's mid-tempo melodies and the band's instrumental solos. Most of the album's tracks strike a similar balance, showcasing a group whose vocal hooks and flat-picking skills share the spotlight equally. Meanwhile, the guys stretch their legs on "Living Over" — an improvised, seven-minute knockout that's already become a live staple — and show surprising restraint with "While Waiting," a slower song whose ebb-and-flow arrangement often finds no more than two bandmates playing at once. "Room Without a Roof" features some of the group's most layered production to date, with electric instruments adding some thick sonic padding, while "More of Me" cranks up the drama, with Hoffman singing about heartache over a bed of minor-key guitar arpeggios.

"We tend to have a darker sense to ours songs than most acoustic bands," Bruzza adds, "but we still have light moments, too. We're trying to explore the textures and sounds we can make, while still having the instrumentation of a bluegrass band. There aren't many rules. We'll run a dobro though an amp on a song like 'Past My Prime.' We can get pretty epic. This album is a crazy carnival one minute, and it's a psychedelic Pink Floyd jam the next."

Equal parts dark, driving, and dynamic, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is Greensky Bluegrass at their best, fusing the fiery fretwork of their live shows with the focus of a true songwriting outfit.


Billy Strings

official band site »

Whether sharing stages with acoustic music royalty, crisscrossing the nation playing as a solo artist or performing high-energy, jaw-dropping sets at festivals, the reaction to Billy Strings tends to come in two varieties: “Who is this guy?” and “That kid can play!”

Raised in Michigan and based in Nashville, Strings — real name William Apostol — learned music from his father, who had learned it from his father, and his father before him. Maybe that’s why at 24, Strings’ songs, his articulation, his entire approach, sounds so authentic and steeped in tradition. Consider him the next in line of an Americana thread, not some upstart or bandwagon jumper.

While Strings’ profile as a guitarist and singer in the acoustic/bluegrass scene continues to grow, he has already earned some landmark achievements. He has performed with Del McCoury, David Grisman and Larry Keel. He’s landed coveted slots at festivals like Pickathon, and he’s shared bills with popular touring acts Yonder Mountain Stringband, Leftover Salmon and Cabinet. And the industry has taken notice: He just won IBMA 2016 Momentum Awards Instrumentalist of the Year (for guitar, banjo and mandolin) and was voted #1 in The Bluegrass Situation’s Top 16 of 16.

While the Billy Strings phenomenon is best experienced live and in person — if you’re in Nashville, check him out during his weekly residency at The 5 Spot — if he’s not coming to your town anytime soon, there’s a self-titled EP he released in June of 2016 to dig into, a full-length debut on the way, and a slew of sessions for taste-making outlets like KEXP, The Bluegrass Situation and Second Story Garage available online.


 
Greensky Bluegrass
Billy Strings | @The Anthem | view more info »
Feb
3

Greensky Bluegrass

Billy Strings


Saturday Feb 3|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

Greensky Bluegrass is Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).

For more than a decade and a half, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll. They redefine that sound once again with their sixth album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted.

Like the band's own name, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is a collection of opposites, full of dark psychedelic swirls, bright bursts of acoustic guitar, soundscapes, solos, freethinking improvisation, and plenty of sharp, focused songwriting. It's wild and wide-ranging, showing off the diversity Greensky Bluegrass brings to every live show. At the same time, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is unmistakably a studio album, recorded during two different sessions — one at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, North Carolina; the other at the Mountain House Recording Studio in Nedarland, Colorado — that comprise the band's longest block of recording time ever. The result is an 11-track album whose songs cast a wide net, mixing the full-throttle energy of a Greensky Bluegrass concert with the nuanced approach of a band that's still eager to explore.

"You can call us an acoustic ensemble, or a drum-less rock band, or a rock & roll bluegrass band," says mandolin player Paul Hoffman, who, along with guitarist Dave Bruzza, handles most of the album's writing duties. "All of that shifting identity has taught us to cover a lot of ground. There's a flow to this album, just like there's a flow to our setlists. There are some aggressive, rocking moments. Some bouncy, funky moments. An acoustic think piece or two. It's a balance of moods and textures that we create as a band, almost like a mix tape."

Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off their career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, they were touring nationally, and by 2006, they were playing the first in a long series of appearances at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Bandmates Hoffman, Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, and upright bassist Mike Devol spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but the full-on spectacle of rock.

"We play two sets of music every night with a big light show, and really care about creating a large scale production," notes Bruzza, adding that, "the goal isn't just to play important music. We want to cultivate an experience, where people can escape from their everyday lives for a minute and put their worries aside."

Playing as many as 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass have graduated to headlining status at some of the country's most iconic venues, selling out amphitheaters like Red Rocks and world-class auditoriums like the Ryman. They've become a regular name on the festival circuit, too, adding Bonnaroo, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits, Forecastle, and Outside Lands to their touring schedule. Supported by a grassroots audience whose members often travel for hours to see the band, Greensky Bluegrass are still a proudly independent act, enjoying the success of a major-label act — including a Number One debut on the Billboard Bluegrass chart for their fifth album, 2014's If Sorrows Swim — without giving up complete control of their own business.

Released on the band's label, Big Blue Zoo, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted kicks off with "Miss September," a song that splits its focus between Hoffman's mid-tempo melodies and the band's instrumental solos. Most of the album's tracks strike a similar balance, showcasing a group whose vocal hooks and flat-picking skills share the spotlight equally. Meanwhile, the guys stretch their legs on "Living Over" — an improvised, seven-minute knockout that's already become a live staple — and show surprising restraint with "While Waiting," a slower song whose ebb-and-flow arrangement often finds no more than two bandmates playing at once. "Room Without a Roof" features some of the group's most layered production to date, with electric instruments adding some thick sonic padding, while "More of Me" cranks up the drama, with Hoffman singing about heartache over a bed of minor-key guitar arpeggios.

"We tend to have a darker sense to ours songs than most acoustic bands," Bruzza adds, "but we still have light moments, too. We're trying to explore the textures and sounds we can make, while still having the instrumentation of a bluegrass band. There aren't many rules. We'll run a dobro though an amp on a song like 'Past My Prime.' We can get pretty epic. This album is a crazy carnival one minute, and it's a psychedelic Pink Floyd jam the next."

Equal parts dark, driving, and dynamic, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted is Greensky Bluegrass at their best, fusing the fiery fretwork of their live shows with the focus of a true songwriting outfit.


Billy Strings

official band site »

Whether sharing stages with acoustic music royalty, crisscrossing the nation playing as a solo artist or performing high-energy, jaw-dropping sets at festivals, the reaction to Billy Strings tends to come in two varieties: “Who is this guy?” and “That kid can play!”

Raised in Michigan and based in Nashville, Strings — real name William Apostol — learned music from his father, who had learned it from his father, and his father before him. Maybe that’s why at 24, Strings’ songs, his articulation, his entire approach, sounds so authentic and steeped in tradition. Consider him the next in line of an Americana thread, not some upstart or bandwagon jumper.

While Strings’ profile as a guitarist and singer in the acoustic/bluegrass scene continues to grow, he has already earned some landmark achievements. He has performed with Del McCoury, David Grisman and Larry Keel. He’s landed coveted slots at festivals like Pickathon, and he’s shared bills with popular touring acts Yonder Mountain Stringband, Leftover Salmon and Cabinet. And the industry has taken notice: He just won IBMA 2016 Momentum Awards Instrumentalist of the Year (for guitar, banjo and mandolin) and was voted #1 in The Bluegrass Situation’s Top 16 of 16.

While the Billy Strings phenomenon is best experienced live and in person — if you’re in Nashville, check him out during his weekly residency at The 5 Spot — if he’s not coming to your town anytime soon, there’s a self-titled EP he released in June of 2016 to dig into, a full-length debut on the way, and a slew of sessions for taste-making outlets like KEXP, The Bluegrass Situation and Second Story Garage available online.


 
Kung Fu
Huntertones | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Feb
9

Kung Fu

Huntertones


Friday Feb 9|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Kung Fu

official band site »

Proud to be firmly installed in the new-funk movement, KUNG FU is quickly popularizing their unique sonic contribution, blurring the line between intense electro-fusion, and blistering dance arrangements. Making fusion music "cool" again, the band draws on influences such as early Headhunters and Weather Report, and merges those ideas with a contemporary EDM informed sensibility. Imagine 70's funk-fusion meets a modern dance party!

Although the ensemble cast enjoys a seasoned pedigree that reads like a late-night summer festival all-star jam, this fledgling "nu-sion" project is growing a unique and rabid following by commanding audiences at theaters, clubs, and major national festivals since 2012. ?

Kung Fu features Tim Palmieri (guitar & vocals), Robert Somerville (tenor sax & vocals), Beau Sasser (keyboards & vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar & vocals), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion). The powerhouse quintet's live show has been described by critics and fans alike as "lethal funk", "explosive", "jaw dropping", and "musically mesmerizing". For the uninitiated, the experience is typically shocking yet the focus is simple: just sit back and enjoy the ride!


Huntertones

official band site »

Huntertones brings people together around the globe with fun, imaginative and fearless music. Their high energy, horn-driven sound fuses inspired improvisation and adventurous composition melding jazz, funk, rock, and soul. Adding depth and contrast to their live set, Huntertones shift from a dynamic six-piece ensemble to a trio featuring saxophone, sousaphone, and beat-boxing, keeping their listeners’ eyes and ears open at every turn.

Huntertones formed in Columbus, Ohio at The Ohio State University and hosted their first shows at a house on Hunter Avenue. They have since relocated to New York City, released two albums, and toured North and South America, Europe and Africa -- experiences which have pushed the band to expand even further, stylistically. What started as a group of classmates finding a voice has developed into a highly collaborative group of musicians traveling, sharing, and growing together.


 
Another evening of Talking Heads + Assorted Love Songs featuring...
Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)
with special guests Kung Fu | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Feb
10

Another evening of Talking Heads + Assorted Love Songs featuring...
Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)

with special guests Kung Fu


Saturday Feb 10|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Another evening of Talking Heads + Assorted Love Songs featuring...
Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)

official band site »

Psycho Killers are a group of die-hard Talking Heads fans that were Born Under Punches in Baltimore, MD. Once in a Lifetime (not during wartime), they will take you to the river with Nothing But Flowers, and you'll think, This Must Be The Place. They'll set the Houses in Motion (and then burn them down) with a Listening Wind that will make you Crosseyed and Painless.


with special guests Kung Fu

official band site »

Proud to be firmly installed in the new-funk movement, KUNG FU is quickly popularizing their unique sonic contribution, blurring the line between intense electro-fusion, and blistering dance arrangements. Making fusion music "cool" again, the band draws on influences such as early Headhunters and Weather Report, and merges those ideas with a contemporary EDM informed sensibility. Imagine 70's funk-fusion meets a modern dance party!

Although the ensemble cast enjoys a seasoned pedigree that reads like a late-night summer festival all-star jam, this fledgling "nu-sion" project is growing a unique and rabid following by commanding audiences at theaters, clubs, and major national festivals since 2012. ?

Kung Fu features Tim Palmieri (guitar & vocals), Robert Somerville (tenor sax & vocals), Beau Sasser (keyboards & vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar & vocals), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion). The powerhouse quintet's live show has been described by critics and fans alike as "lethal funk", "explosive", "jaw dropping", and "musically mesmerizing". For the uninitiated, the experience is typically shocking yet the focus is simple: just sit back and enjoy the ride!


 
The Lil Smokies
@Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
Feb
10

The Lil Smokies



Saturday Feb 10|doors 8:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


The Lil Smokies

official band site »

With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor.

The Lil Smokies have no problem captivating large audiences. Sharing the stage with heavyweights like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass, The Emmit-Nershi Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travellin’ McCourys, Sam Bush Band, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, Bradford Lee Folk and The Bluegrass Playboys, and dozens of others. The Lil Smokies have become festival favorites coast to coast with highlights including Delfest (MD), Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass (CO), ROMP Fest (KY), Hangtown Halloween (CA), Telluride Bluegrass Festival (CO), Roseberry Music Festival (ID), Northwest String Summit (OR), Targhee Bluegrass Festival (WY), River City Roots (MT) and more! This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).



 
Funk vs. Bluegrass featuring Of Tomorrow & The Dirty Grass Players
@Union Stage | view more info »
Feb
15

Funk vs. Bluegrass featuring Of Tomorrow & The Dirty Grass Players



Thursday Feb 15|doors 11:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Funk vs. Bluegrass featuring Of Tomorrow

official band site »

As history has proven, anything can change in a day. The future happens as you live it. We’re existing in a time when the basics of tomorrow are up in the air; the politics of tomorrow are anything but predictable; the communication of tomorrow is not cut and dry; the music of tomorrow is not stagnant players reciting the same melodies, and therefore the band Of Tomorrow should embrace these unknowns as well. Of Tomorrow is a band growing out of DC who is redefining what it means to make music in this time and bringing audiences to new highs at festivals and venues across the eastern seaboard, including DC’s venerated 9:30 Club. Anchored by three pillars of diverse but precise musicianship, they invite the best virtuosos they know to create a unique experience for the audience every time, tying strong melodies, harmonies, and lyrics together with improvisational antics. No matter who accompanies the band of Tomorrow, and you’re bound to be enthralled.


The Dirty Grass Players

official band site »

The Dirty Grass Players are an up and coming band with their own spin on bluegrass. They use traditional style vocal harmonies and mix it with a jammy improvisational feel to keep listeners on their toes. They have been playing regionally in Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.



 
All Good and Frozen Harbor present
Keller Williams
Joey Harkum - Bond & Bentley - Fake Flowers Real Dirt - Loose Ties | and more TBA | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Feb
17

All Good and Frozen Harbor present
Keller Williams

Joey Harkum - Bond & Bentley - Fake Flowers Real Dirt - Loose Ties
and more TBA

Saturday Feb 17|doors 4:30 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


All Good and Frozen Harbor present
Keller Williams

official band site »

Definition: ADM (Acoustic Dance Music), solo acoustic guitar and voice with every other song walking the line of electronica. If you need a title to file under try electro-hippie acoustic downtempo.

“What kind of definition is that? It’s the kind of definition that will take you actually going to a show to decide for yourself and put it to your own words. This element of my life is what I refer to as my day job. Which is essentially me finding new ways to entertain myself on stage in front of an audience. Using technology and a technique, described by Dr. Didg, as live phrase sampling or looping, I am able to entertain myself for two sets. Nothing is prerecorded and all sounds and beats are created live by layering loops on top of one another and then singing or soloing over top if all if it.

See what I mean? Only being there can explain it. The thousands of hours on YouTube cannot describe the feeling and vibe of one of my solo shows…..at least the feeling that I get. Drawing from almost 2 dozen releases as well as a ridiculous amount of covers, hours are spent on set lists that often get abandoned for requests from the audience. So much fun, it should be illegal and in some counties it is.” –Kw


Joey Harkum - Bond & Bentley - Fake Flowers Real Dirt - Loose Ties

Joey Harkum
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

Singer songwriter from the state of Maryland. New album "Love and Labor" now streaming everywhere!


Bond & Bentley
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

Bond & Bentley began in 2006 in Baltimore, MD. This quartet has the ability to dabble in many genres as they spin the listener through different ebbs and flows of soul, funk, and blues. The band's more recent efforts have taken them into more of a jam-band direction. The four members create a stirring soul funk that implores the listener to dance the funk out.


Fake Flowers Real Dirt
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

In the steamy basement of an otherwise unremarkable house in Baltimore, "Fake Flowers Real Dirt" forges their mix of genres from the funk/dope characteristic (e.g. funk, hip-hop): driving skank reggae moves to frenetic breakbeat/jungle, joined together with a series of quick jazz changes. Simple melodic lines and hooks give way to solos, with space.


Loose Ties
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

Getting Down with the Get Down.

and more TBA


 
Railroad Earth
Roosevelt Collier | @9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
23

Railroad Earth

Roosevelt Collier


Friday Feb 23|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Railroad Earth

official band site »

There’s a great scene in The Last Waltz – the documentary about The Band’s final concert – where director Martin Scorsese is discussing music with drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. Helm says, “If it mixes with rhythm, and if it dances, then you’ve got a great combination of all those different kinds of music: country, bluegrass, blues music, show music…” To which Scorsese, the inquisitive interviewer, asks, “What’s it called, then?”

“Rock & roll!”

Clearly looking for a more specific answer, but realizing that he isn’t going to get one, Marty laughs. “Rock & roll…” Well, that’s the way it is sometimes: musicians play music, and don’t necessarily worry about where it gets filed. It’s the writers, record labels, managers, etc., who tend to fret about what “kind” of music it is.

And like The Band, the members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what “kind” of music they play – they just play it. When they started out in 2001, they were a bunch of guys interested in playing acoustic instruments together. As Railroad Earth violin/vocalist Tim Carbone recalls, “All of us had been playing in various projects for years, and many of us had played together in different projects. But this time, we found ourselves all available at the same time.”

Songwriter/lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer continues, “When we started, we only loosely had the idea of getting together and playing some music. It started that informally; just getting together and doing some picking and playing. Over a couple of month period, we started working on some original songs, as well as playing some covers that we thought would be fun to play.”

Shortly thereafter, they took five songs from their budding repertoire into a studio and knocked out a demo in just two days. Their soon-to-be manager sent that demo to a few festivals, and – to the band’s surprise – they were booked at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they’d even played their first gig. This prompted them to quickly go in and record five more songs; the ten combined tracks of which made up their debut album, “The Black Bear Sessions.”

That was the beginning of Railroad Earth’s journey: since those early days, they’ve gone on to release five more critically acclaimed studio albums and one hugely popular live one called, “Elko.” They’ve also amassed a huge and loyal fanbase who turn up to support them in every corner of the country, and often take advantage of the band’s liberal taping and photo policy. But Railroad Earth bristle at the notion of being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. As Carbone points out, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass or country band, which sometimes leaves music writers confused as to how to categorize us. We’re essentially playing rock on acoustic instruments.”

Ultimately, Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, “Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.” Sheaffer continues: “The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about.”

So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: “I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums.” Tim Carbone takes a swing: “We’re a Country & Eastern band! ” Todd Sheaffer offers “A souped-up string band? I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: “Rock & roll!”


Roosevelt Collier

official band site »

Soft-spoken by nature, south Florida-bred Roosevelt Collier does his hollering on the sacred steel guitar. Brought up in the tradition of the House of God Church, Roosevelt built his reputation alongside his uncles and cousins in The Lee Boys, known for their spirited, soul-shaking live performances. Seated front and center, "The Dr." leaves an indelible mark on listeners, flooring audiences with his lightning-fast slide work on the pedal steel. At festivals, he is a regular "Artist at Large," performing alongside many of music's most prestigious acts, from the Allman Brothers, to the Funky Meters, to Los Lobos to the Del McCoury Band. Whether on tour with the Lee Boys, bouncing from stage to stage at festivals, or hosting an allstar get down in Miami, when Roosevelt takes the stage, the ear-to-ear grins can’t help but be contagious.


 
Railroad Earth
Roosevelt Collier | @9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
24

Railroad Earth

Roosevelt Collier


Saturday Feb 24|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Railroad Earth

official band site »

There’s a great scene in The Last Waltz – the documentary about The Band’s final concert – where director Martin Scorsese is discussing music with drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. Helm says, “If it mixes with rhythm, and if it dances, then you’ve got a great combination of all those different kinds of music: country, bluegrass, blues music, show music…” To which Scorsese, the inquisitive interviewer, asks, “What’s it called, then?”

“Rock & roll!”

Clearly looking for a more specific answer, but realizing that he isn’t going to get one, Marty laughs. “Rock & roll…” Well, that’s the way it is sometimes: musicians play music, and don’t necessarily worry about where it gets filed. It’s the writers, record labels, managers, etc., who tend to fret about what “kind” of music it is.

And like The Band, the members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what “kind” of music they play – they just play it. When they started out in 2001, they were a bunch of guys interested in playing acoustic instruments together. As Railroad Earth violin/vocalist Tim Carbone recalls, “All of us had been playing in various projects for years, and many of us had played together in different projects. But this time, we found ourselves all available at the same time.”

Songwriter/lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer continues, “When we started, we only loosely had the idea of getting together and playing some music. It started that informally; just getting together and doing some picking and playing. Over a couple of month period, we started working on some original songs, as well as playing some covers that we thought would be fun to play.”

Shortly thereafter, they took five songs from their budding repertoire into a studio and knocked out a demo in just two days. Their soon-to-be manager sent that demo to a few festivals, and – to the band’s surprise – they were booked at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they’d even played their first gig. This prompted them to quickly go in and record five more songs; the ten combined tracks of which made up their debut album, “The Black Bear Sessions.”

That was the beginning of Railroad Earth’s journey: since those early days, they’ve gone on to release five more critically acclaimed studio albums and one hugely popular live one called, “Elko.” They’ve also amassed a huge and loyal fanbase who turn up to support them in every corner of the country, and often take advantage of the band’s liberal taping and photo policy. But Railroad Earth bristle at the notion of being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. As Carbone points out, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass or country band, which sometimes leaves music writers confused as to how to categorize us. We’re essentially playing rock on acoustic instruments.”

Ultimately, Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, “Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.” Sheaffer continues: “The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about.”

So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: “I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums.” Tim Carbone takes a swing: “We’re a Country & Eastern band! ” Todd Sheaffer offers “A souped-up string band? I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: “Rock & roll!”


Roosevelt Collier

official band site »

Soft-spoken by nature, south Florida-bred Roosevelt Collier does his hollering on the sacred steel guitar. Brought up in the tradition of the House of God Church, Roosevelt built his reputation alongside his uncles and cousins in The Lee Boys, known for their spirited, soul-shaking live performances. Seated front and center, "The Dr." leaves an indelible mark on listeners, flooring audiences with his lightning-fast slide work on the pedal steel. At festivals, he is a regular "Artist at Large," performing alongside many of music's most prestigious acts, from the Allman Brothers, to the Funky Meters, to Los Lobos to the Del McCoury Band. Whether on tour with the Lee Boys, bouncing from stage to stage at festivals, or hosting an allstar get down in Miami, when Roosevelt takes the stage, the ear-to-ear grins can’t help but be contagious.


 
WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger
@Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Mar
2

WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger



Friday Mar 2|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger

official band site »

You’re at a nightclub one night a few years ago—the Lovin’ Cup in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, to be exact. Your favorite local singer is on the bill, so you got there early and grabbed the best table. You wait for the gig to start…You wait a little longer…

The the singer’s backup band—guitarist Scott Metzger, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth—file onto the stage. Then comes the announcement: The singer never showed up, so tonight it’s going to be instrumental music only. Oh, and all of it’s going to be made up on the spot, since none of these guys thought they’d be performing on their own. In fact, they never even thought of themselves as a band at all.

What do you do? Well, you might get annoyed, give up you seat and stomp out into the night — which would have been a big mistake. Or you might stay where you are, curious about what could happen, and witness the birth of one of the most innovative ensembles in music today.

This trio is known now as WOLF! In some ways, they’re still doing what they did that night at the Lovin’ Cup—creating music on the spot, though now in front of audiences that stay put because they know they’re in for a few hours of daring, evocative and unpredictable performance. And, yes, they’re still working without singers.

What has changed over these past few years is that their telepathy with each other has strengthened, their horizons have dramatically stretched…and they’re about to release one of the most compelling albums by any band in recent times.

1-800-WOLF! represents everything that eludes chest-thumping power trios and even many small jazz ensembles. Nobody shows off. There are no fireworks, no screaming solos. In their place, the music of WOLF! overflows with atmosphere—a wisp of Parisian swing in “Oaxaca Ox,” a dreamy seaside mist in “Bohemian Grove,” a Tarantino moonlight spell on “Furry Freedom,” a creamy, gorgeous texture on “Denim Love Affair,” where Metzger’s solo, as always unadorned by effects, is so spare it’s almost not there. And on every track, silences speak as eloquently as the notes they surround.

Clearly, the guys in WOLF! feel they have nothing to prove. “And that’s why WOLF! doesn’t sound like anything else,” Metzger agrees. “Some guys get up onstage and just play what they’ve been practicing. We’re the complete opposite of that. We play what serves the song.”

Who exactly are the well-matched members of WOLF!? First of all, they’re all Brooklyn natives, an important point by Metzger’s measure. “In Brooklyn, you’ve got some of the best in the world playing pretty much any genre you can imagine,” he says. “The bar is high here. Nobody wants to hear your flashiest shit. Nobody’s going to be impressed. If you’re going to play a solo, you’d better really say something. Otherwise, nobody cares because everybody here has heard it all.”

Just as important, all three broke into music as sidemen — professional musicians rather than wannabe stars. Metzger has performed countless sessions and shows with artists as diverse as Trixie Whitley, Phil Lesh & Friends, Moby and Nicole Atkins, while also holding down lead guitar duties for summer festival favorites, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Shaw has anchored the bottom end for Cass McCombs, Shakey Graves and Sharon van Etten among many others. Floreth emerged from New York’s Collective School of Music and has since played shows with blues innovator Bill Sims Jr., guitarists Jim Campilongo and Avi Bortnickand singer/songwriter Kelli Scarr.

As they established themselves as go-to backup players for New York artists, Metzger, Shaw and Floreth inevitably crossed and recrossed paths. As their instincts for playing together grew, they began getting booked as a unit. Still, it never crossed their minds to step out on their own until that fateful night in Williamsburg. At the end of that initial gig, when the club owner offered them a weekly booking as an instrumental three-piece, they finally realized they were onto something good.

Branded with the name WOLF!, they evolved into a unique musical entity — and then kept evolving. “Our early stuff was kind of contained,” Metzger says. “As the years have gone by, we’ve learned to represent more influences. We can introduce a noise aspect or free jazz elements. We’ve become a lot less about guitar solos. In the beginning, we saw the guitar as the voice that was leading us. Now we’re more about creating arrangements on the spot as opposed to melody/solo/melody. I’m not thinking, ‘OK, I’m gonna solo now.’ It’s more like, ‘Let me compose a cool part for where a solo would traditionally go.’”

In 2015, Royal Potato Family released WOLF!’s self-titled debut. This year they follow with 1-800-WOLF!, featuring tracks recorded in one afternoon at Marco Benevento’s studio in Woodstock and the rest over three days at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn. Each song was written in true WOLF! fashion, before audiences at gigs, with the exceptions of “Furry Freedom,” was was improvised and recorded in one take at the studio, and “You’re No Longer My Friend, My Friend,” a Buddy-Holly-Meets-Pulp-Fiction composition that Metzger admits to writing after watching an old kung-fu film titled Lady Snowblood.

The point here is that WOLF! is not afraid to acknowledge its influences, from an echo of The Ventures on “Furry Freedom” to old-school electric blues with an actual guitar solo on “All Dressed Up (Nowhere to Go).” Yet there isn’t a derivative moment on the record. Instead, the trio’s antecedents enhance the distinctive sound they continue to build together.

“To be honest, we’re trying to sound more like our influences than what actually ends up coming out,” Metzger says. “It just always comes out sounding like the three of us.”

As 1-800-WOLF! proves and as the band’s upcoming plans to tour will demonstrate in venues throughout America, WOLF! stands alone even among innovative artists in its dedication to conjuring moments of unique and edgy beauty.

“It takes a lot of guts to get up each night and not know what’s going to happen,” Metzger concludes. “Each night we play is completely different from every other night. I think it comes down to musical confidence and trust. The fact is, we can do whatever we want with this thing. And we’re just getting started.”



 
JJ Grey & Mofro
@Rams Head Live | view more info »
Mar
7

JJ Grey & Mofro



Wednesday Mar 7|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


JJ Grey & Mofro

official band site »

From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see JJ Grey and his band Mofro live—and you truly, absolutely must—the man is fearless.

Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty, but perhaps not until Ol’ Glory has a studio record captured the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Grey live performance. “I wanted that crucial lived-in feel,” Grey says of Ol’ Glory, and here he hits his mark. On the new album, Grey and his current Mofro lineup offer grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality to the production that makes those beautiful muscular drum-breaks sound as though the band has set up in your living room.

Despite a redoubtable stage presence, Grey does get performance anxiety—specifically, when he's suspended 50 feet above the soil of his pecan grove, clearing moss from the upper trees. “The tops of the trees are even worse,” he laughs, “say closer to 70, maybe even 80 feet. I'm not phobic about heights, but I don't think anyone's crazy about getting up in a bucket and swinging all around. I wanted to fertilize this year but didn't get a chance. This February I will, about two tons—to feed the trees.”

When he isn't touring, Grey exerts his prodigious energies on the family land, a former chicken-farm that was run by his maternal grandmother and grandfather. The farm boasts a recording studio, a warehouse that doubles as Grey's gym, an open-air barn, and of course those 50-odd pecan trees that occasionally require Grey to go airborne with his sprayer.

For devoted listeners, there is something fitting, even affirmative in Grey's commitment to the land of his north Florida home. The farms and eddying swamps of his youth are as much a part of Grey's music as the Louisiana swamp-blues tradition, or the singer's collection of old Stax records.

As a boy, Grey was drawn to country-rockers, including Jerry Reed, and to Otis Redding and the other luminaries of Memphis soul; Run-D.M.C., meanwhile, played on repeat in the parking lot of his high school (note the hip-hop inflections on “A Night to Remember”). Merging these traditions, and working with a blue-collar ethic that brooked no bullshit, Grey began touring as Mofro in the late '90s, with backbeats that crossed Steve Cropper with George Clinton and a lyrical directness that made his debut LP Blackwater (2001) a calling-card among roots-rock aficionados. Soon, he was expanding his tours beyond America and the U.K., playing ever-larger clubs and eventually massive festivals, as his fan base grew from a modest group of loyal initiates into something resembling a national coalition.

Grey takes no shortcuts on the homestead, and he certainly takes no shortcuts in his music. While he has metaphorically speaking “drawn blood” making all his albums, his latest effort, Ol’ Glory, found him spending more time than ever working over the new material. A hip-shooting, off-the-cuff performer (often his first vocal takes end up pleasing him best), Grey was able to stretch his legs a bit while constructing the lyrics and vocal lines to Ol’ Glory.

“I would visit it much more often in my mind, visit it more often on the guitar in my house,” Grey says.
“I like an album to have a balance, like a novel or like a film. A triumph, a dark brooding moment, or a moment of peace—that's the only thing I consistently try to achieve with a record.”

Grey has been living this balance throughout his career, and Ol’ Glory is a beautifully paced little film. On “The Island,” Grey sounds like Coleridge on a happy day: “All beneath the canopy / of ageless oaks whose secrets keep / Forever in her beauty / This island is my home.” “A Night to Remember” finds the singer in first-rate swagger: “I flipped up my collar ah man / I went ahead and put on my best James Dean / and you'd a thought I was Clark Gable squinting through that smoke.” And “Turn Loose” has Grey in fast-rhyme mode in keeping with the song's title: “You work a stride / curbside thumbing a ride / on Lane Avenue / While your kids be on their knees / praying Jesus please.” From the profane to the sacred, the sly to the sublime, Grey feels out his range as a songwriter with ever-greater assurance.

The mood and drive of Ol’ Glory are testament to this achievement. The album ranks with Grey’s very best work; among other things, the secret spirituality of his music is perhaps more accessible here than ever before. On “Everything Is a Song,” he sings of “the joy with no opposite,” a sacred state that Grey describes to me:

“It can happen to anybody: you sit still and you feel things tingling around you, everything's alive around you, and in that a smile comes on your face involuntarily, and in that I felt no opposite. It has no part of the play of good and bad or of comedy or tragedy. I know it’s just a play on words but it feels like more than just being happy because you got what you wanted — this is a joy. A joy that doesn’t get involved one way or the next; it just is.”

Grey's most treasured albums include Otis Redding's In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and Jerry Reed's greatest hits, and the singer once told me that he grew up “wanting to be Jerry Reed but with less of a country, more of a soul thing.” With Ol’ Glory, Grey does his idols proud. It's a country record where the stories are all part of one great mystery; it's a blues record with one foot in the church; it's a Memphis soul record that takes place in the country.

In short, Ol’ Glory is that most singular thing, a record by JJ Grey—the north Florida sage and soulbent swamp rocker.



 
Toubab Krewe
@The 8x10 | view more info »
Mar
8

Toubab Krewe



Thursday Mar 8|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Toubab Krewe

official band site »

Some music cannot be found on a map or within iTunes categories. Some music is so original it seems snatched from the great, invisible substrata that runs below all human activity, a sound aching to be born without a flag or fixed allegiance – free, questing, overflowing with immediate, tangible life. This is the music of Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea that lustily swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more. While nearly impossible to put into any box, it takes only a few moments to realize in a very palpable way that one is face-to-face with a true original who recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.

This is a band that actively draws inspiration from whatever source floats into their purview, something they’ve exhibited in their half decade of heavy gigging, including regular appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Rothbury and Wakarusa, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as Festival In The Desert in Mali. Their globe-hopping propensity has made them an emerging headliner at their hometown’s famous Orange Peel and a familiar face as similar venues throughout the country. Whether on their own or collaborating with luminaries like the Last Poets’ Umar Bin Hassan or Uncle Earl’s Rayna Gellert, Toubab Krewe has already earned the attention and respect of a broad musical community.

Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, no doubt picked up during the group’s travels to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. But what truly differentiates Toubab Krewe from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate on what they’ve learned instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary.



 
Toubab Krewe
@Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Mar
10

Toubab Krewe



Saturday Mar 10|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Toubab Krewe

official band site »

Some music cannot be found on a map or within iTunes categories. Some music is so original it seems snatched from the great, invisible substrata that runs below all human activity, a sound aching to be born without a flag or fixed allegiance – free, questing, overflowing with immediate, tangible life. This is the music of Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea that lustily swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more. While nearly impossible to put into any box, it takes only a few moments to realize in a very palpable way that one is face-to-face with a true original who recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.

This is a band that actively draws inspiration from whatever source floats into their purview, something they’ve exhibited in their half decade of heavy gigging, including regular appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Rothbury and Wakarusa, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as Festival In The Desert in Mali. Their globe-hopping propensity has made them an emerging headliner at their hometown’s famous Orange Peel and a familiar face as similar venues throughout the country. Whether on their own or collaborating with luminaries like the Last Poets’ Umar Bin Hassan or Uncle Earl’s Rayna Gellert, Toubab Krewe has already earned the attention and respect of a broad musical community.

Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, no doubt picked up during the group’s travels to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. But what truly differentiates Toubab Krewe from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate on what they’ve learned instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary.



 
J Boog
Jesse Royal | Etana | @9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
11

J Boog

Jesse Royal
Etana

Sunday Mar 11|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


J Boog

official band site »

J Boog (Jerry Afemata), a reggae singer of Samoan descent was born in Long Beach and raised in Compton, CA. He is the youngest of seven brothers and one sister who come from hard working parents that relentlessly instilled a strong cultured household.

Currently residing back and forth between Hawaii and California, J Boog has been working incessantly since the release of his debut album "Hear Me Roar" (2007). He followed that up with his sophomore album "Backyard Boogie" (2011) which topped the US Billboard Charts and iTunes charts in numerous countries.

J Boog has shared his craft & has toured around the world: Europe, Africa, Dubai, New Zealand, Australia, The US & Japan all have felt the authenticity of J Boog.

Jerry helped pave the way for many Polynesian artists with the help of island music pioneer George "Fiji" Veikoso. The two met in 2005. They immediately clicked and created a sound that opened many doors for the Polynesian community. In 2008, J Boog joined Hawaii/San Francisco based recording & record label, Wash House Music Group Inc. Together they've been on a journey thats most promising with endless limits.

Shortly after that, J Boog teamed up with Yami Bolo & Gramps Morgan of reggae?s royal family, Morgan Heritage. They embarked on a journey to have J Boog witness the culture of Jamaican music & history. This being Jerry’s first visit to Jamaica, he was completely overwhelmed & found himself working in historic studios: Bob Marley's "Tuff Gong Studio", Don Corlean's "Hit Maker Studio", Bobby Digitals "Digital B Studio", Shaggy’s "Big Yard Studio" & Sugar Minotts "Youth Man Promotions". All very prestigious recording artists & compounds. He was constantly surrounded by several artists he had been influenced by and many of these artists where featured on his 2011 release Backyard Boogie. Backyard Boogie entertained a wide spectrum of reggae fans, old & new. It gave a variety of roots, r&b, lovers rock and good vibes. Hits included: Let’s Do It Again produced by Don Corleon and Sunshine Girl produced by Gramps Morgan featuring Morgan Heritage front man Peetah Morgan.

The success of Backyard Boogie earned J Boog Best Entertainer Award at the 2012 Irawma Awards held in Chicago, IL. A year later, he dropped a 5 song EP called "Live Up" & a mix-tape collaboration with fashionista powerhouse Diamond Supply Co. His most recent EP "Rose Petals" (2016) peaked the US Billboards & iTunes Charts at #1 & was nominated for Best Reggae Album of the Year at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It featured hip hop mogul Snoop Dog & six time Grammy Award winner Stephen "Ragga" Marley. The Rose Petals EP was just a little foreplay to what would become his next full length album called "Wash House Ting".

A true student of music; you can catch J Boog on worldwide tours across the globe, on radio interviews or in the studio working on new material. His humility has gained him true fans everywhere he goes while exercising, MUSIC IS THE ONLY UNIVERSAL TONGUE. Stay tuned....


Jesse Royal

official band site »

With popular mixtapes, hit singles and now his debut album, Jesse Royal is establishing himself as one of the next reggae superstars to emerge from Jamaica. Jesse's reputation has been steadily building over the past half-decade. His versatile singjay style recalls some of the giants of reggae history, but Jesse’s diverse musical taste and restless artistic spirit have set him on a unique path that is helping propel the genre into new territory. Focusing on what has worked in recent years in the reggae scene – from the heavy touring, DIY-aesthetics of the U.S. reggae movement to the Sound System and bass culture influences of the U.K. scene – he’s ready to apply all his experiences along the way to his own journey. Jesse Royal’s time is now.

Jesse’s official debut album, Lily Of Da Valley, drops October 6, 2017, in partnership with the New York-based tastemaker label Easy Star Records. Written largely in conjunction with producer and mastermind Llamar “Riff Raff” Brown, who has contributed to a number of Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated projects, the album represents where Jamaican music is right now, a seamless blending of classic roots with contemporary production and superb musicianship. New songs like “400 Years,” “Generation,” “Life’s Sweet,” and “Always Be Around,” will become staples of Jesse’s catalog, which includes earlier megahits like “Modern Day Judas” and “Finally.” These two gems have garnered a combined 10 million listens on streaming services worldwide so far and are included on the album along with the new songs.

With Easy Star, he joins an international family of bands that includes The Skints, Rebelution, The Black Seeds, The Green, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Easy Star All-Stars, The Expanders, John Brown’s Body, and other artists that are evolving reggae from New York to London to New Zealand to Hawaii and beyond. The rest of the team Jesse has assembled puts him in good company: he is managed by Lukes Morgan, of the Grammy-award winning reggae family Morgan Heritage, who in the past year helped break Raging Fyah on the scene en route to a Grammy nomination themselves. Cristy Barber, a trailblazer in reggae music who has helped the careers of Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Stephen Marley, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, SOJA and many others, is overseeing the marketing campaign. And his team in Jamaica includes his longtime friend Kareem “Remus” Burrell, the son of Fatis Burrell, of Xterminator, one of the most important producers/labels of the dancehall era, and an early mentor of Jesse’s.

In the lead up to Jesse’s first full length release, he has already been covered by major media outlets such as Vogue and Vice. He has worked closely with the Major Lazer team, releasing a popular mixtape with Walshy Fire, which resulted in his song “If I Give You My Love” being featured on their cartoon TV series via FXX Network. He has made music with Bad Brains and performed alongside the pioneering punk/reggae band at the Afropunk Festival. He has already toured extensively in the US, UK, and Europe, playing major festivals like Cali Roots, Boomtown Fair, Reggae On The River, and Rototom Sunsplash. He obviously thrives on the unconventional approach, while still keeping grounded in the history of reggae. That’s why he often bristles at being grouped into a movement being called “Reggae Revival” – because to Jesse, he is not reviving the past; he is firmly rooted in the here and now, with an eye on the future.

Etana

official band site »

Etana’s name means “The Strong One” in Swahili, and it’s a title she more than lives up to with her music and presence. Since debuting in 2006 with the thought provoking single “Wrong Address,” the Jamaican-born singer has established herself as one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in reggae, blazing a new trail in a genre that has long been male-dominated.

Etana’s story begins in August Town, a treacherous but culturally rich garrison community in eastern Kingston that has produced such musical talents as Sizzla and Israel Vibration. Growing up, Etana’s home was filled with music, but it was country and western that she recalls leaving the biggest impression. “Every Sunday was country music day,” saysEtana. “A lot of people in Jamaica play gospel music on a Sunday, or old rub-a-dub. In my house it was country, like Dolly Parton. Tammy Wynette was my favorite of all the artists my mom used to play.” Etana discovered her talent at the age of 6 while singing at home in the backyard for her aunt. Her charming voice beaconed an huge audience of neighbors who gathered to here “little Shauna” sing. Etana’s backyard singing led to microphones of local sound systems playing in the neighborhood and thats where he love of music began.

Etana’s family relocated to South Florida when she was nine where she started middle and sang on the school choir, she was chosen to sing the “Star Spangle banner” at school functions but never thought much of having a career in music at that time. Etana began her music career, almost by accident, while studying nursing at a local community college. “I had no interest in being an artist,” Etana declares. “I was just bored and a friend of mine told me that there was a request for a black female to join a girl group in Miami. He brought me to the audition, and that was it.”

It wasn’t long before the proud and independent-minded singer realized that being in a prefabricated group wasn’t for her. Objecting to the group’s presentation during a music video shoot involving skimpy clothes and invasive camera angles, she quit on the spot. It was at this time that she decided to return home to Jamaica with plans of opening an Internet cafe. However, music would find her there as well, when she was recommended by a friend to fill in as a backup singer for reggae star Richie Spice.

“Being on the road with Richie Spice, I was very comfortable being myself, wearing what I wanted to wear,” Etana recalls of her time touring with the “Earth A Run Red” singer. “Nobody had a problem with my afro.” The gig turned into an unexpected opportunity when Etana was asked to warm up the crowd at a show where Spice was running late. “It was nothing rehearsed, just covers,” statesEtana. “But people started to ask: ‘Who was the girl?’ Management for Richie Spice kept asking me to do a song, and ‘Wrong Address’ was the first song that I wrote.”

Inspired by a true story experienced by her own aunt, “Wrong Address” detailed job discrimination as faced by residents of poor communities such as August Town. The song resonated deeply in Jamaica, establishingEtana as a powerful new voice with a distinct point of view rooted in the realities of working-class life.

VP Records, recognizedEtana’s talents. In 2008, the label released her debut LP, The Strong One. The album, which combinedEtana’s reggae sound with aspects of R&B and world music, was embraced by fans as well as the music industry, landing the singer a nomination in the “best reggae” category at the MOBO Awards in England.

After several years touring around the world, Etana returned in 2011 with her second album Free Expressions. The set included the hit “People Talk,” which detailedEtana’s own experiences facing skepticism as a woman in the music industry, as well as favorites like “Free,” an emotional tear-jerker written from Etana’s personal experience of the violent, horrific nature of her community, having to endure days of no sleep unable to go home because of a turf war and fears of being killed in the cross fire. “August Town” a track written in hopes of reuniting her community and “Heart Broken.” The latter song topped Natty B ' s chart in the UK for three consecutive weeks. 2011 also sawEtana return to her country roots with a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” on the VP Records compilation Reggae Gone Country. Her rendition of Cline’s country classic was praised as one of the standout tracks on an LP that featured such reggae luminaries as Beres Hammond and Luciano.

In 2013, Etana partnered with producer Shane Brown for her third LP, A Better Tomorrow, recorded at Kingston’s legendary Tuff Gong Studios. The album broughtEtana back to reggae’s foundation via vintage sounds and one-drop rhythms, earning praise from the Associated Press for its “mature and confident sound,” “top-notch lyrical content” and “unique vocals.” The same year, Etana held her own at the IRAWMA (International Reggae and World Music Awards) in Coral Springs, Florida. She hosted the annual ceremony and took home the award for Best Female Vocalist. Marcia Griffiths, Queen Ifrica, Allison Hinds, Patrice Roberts and Nkulee Dube were also nominated in this category.

Etana continues her forward movement becoming the first female to achieve a Reggae Billboard #1 in seventeen years with I Rise, album produced by Jamaican luminary Clive Hunt (Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff). The album reflects the singer’s ongoing maturity while maintaining the R&B-inflected take on reggae that she’s come to be known for, showcasing the diversity of a true musical Renaissance woman. “Trigger,” which tells the story of an educated but underemployed young man driven to desperate measures in order to take care of his cancer-stricken mother, is the album’s lead single and a follow up of sorts to “Wrong Address.” On the complete opposite spectrum is the album’s second single “Richest Girl,” a reggae love ballad with sweeping strings and jazzy horns over a classic one-drop riddim. "I RISE" is classified as Etana's best album to date by many and listed as the number one album of 2014 and also in the top five of thirty albums that were released in said year.

Inspiring others is nothing new forEtana. From the outset of her career with “Wrong Address”—a track which led many to re-evaluate how they look at others from different socio-economic backgrounds—she has been instigating change. Four albums into her career, Etana has become a role model in Jamaica with her message and action. Etana has used her success in music to create a charity organization in Jamaica “Strong One Foundation” where she helps teenage mother’s and girls who's been abused to receive counseling, regain strength and financial support to continue their education. Etana has also continued touring since the release of her I Rise album and is currently in studio recording her fifth studio album.


 
Random Rab
Plantrae | @Union Stage | view more info »
Mar
15

Random Rab

Plantrae


Thursday Mar 15|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Random Rab

official band site »

Emerging from his own distinct corner of the West Coast electronic music scene, Random Rab offers a powerful and unique contribution to sonic exploration. Often referred to as “The Master of Emotion” his music is patently beautiful and melodic. With diverse influences ranging from trip-hop, classical and Arabic to bass driven compositions, his songs are considered anthemic and timeless. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer, his tracks are organic, uplifting and stand on their own as a distinct genre. Listeners of all types of music can find something they can relate to in his sound. He has toured extensively across North America, including tours with Bassnectar, Shpongle, Emancipator, Beats Antique, and has headlined dozens festivals across the U.S. and internationally.

There is no doubt that Rab understands a multitude of musical styles. He has been the front man of a heavy metal band, toured as a classical trumpet player, played bass in a country music band, was a scratch DJ for a jazz fusion project, was the singer for a rock band in Mexico and has collaborated with countless musicians of all styles. From acoustic performances in the Himalayas to rocking packed clubs in New York, Random Rab has found a way to connect with people of all kinds.

With a dedicated fanbase born from the San Francisco underground, Random Rab has become known world wide for his sunrise sets that have now become one of his most sought after performances. Having played before 3 solar eclipses and at the Pyramids of Giza, Random Rab has created a unique niche for his equally danceable, yet thought-provoking compositions. His current popularity can often be traced to his breakout album, The Elucidation of Sorrow and in particular his first hit, The Riddle and followed up by hits such as Release, Falling Tao, For My Corpse and Apparently. His critically acclaimed current and 10th album Formless Edge, catapulted him into the state of momentum that is now taking hold internationally.


Plantrae

official band site »

Plantrae roams the forests and detritus of modernity, crafting earthy beats music clearly evocative of its NW origin. Energetic and serenely beautiful, Plantrae’s sound threads a distinctive path between acoustic instrumentation, and exhilarating electronic production. Crisp beats and graceful melodies are effortlessly woven together, with live viola bringing an undercurrent of indelible warmth to an already lush palette.


 
Matador! Soul Sounds
Muscle Tough | @Union Stage | view more info »
Mar
16

Matador! Soul Sounds

Muscle Tough


Friday Mar 16|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Matador! Soul Sounds

official band site »

Matador! Soul Sounds is a band loosely based on the concept of Spanish bullfighting. A common misconception in America is that bullfighting is a feat of one man versus one bull—in reality, bullfighting is largely a team effort by a matador and his cuadrilla.

Born from the vision of Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds) and Alan Evans (Soulive) their fierce cuadrilla consists of keyboardist Chris Spies and bassist Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring) as the band’s “banderilleros". Adding a feminine energy to the band are Adryon de León and Kimberly Dawson (Pimps of Joytime) on vocals. Combining the dynamism of each band leader, the music they have created is brand new, hard hitting and drenched with their shared musical passions - jazz, funk & soul.

The band made their official World Debut at Live for Live Music’s Brooklyn Comes Alive 2017 and will be touring in the spring of 2018 behind their first full length EP.


Muscle Tough

official band site »

Muscle Tough is Philadelphia’s premier Futuristic Funk Fusion trio. Formed in 2014 at TIME, the band has developed a sound that is a heavily improvised blend of modal jazz, funk, and psychedelia. Drawing from a widely diverse set of influences and a common love of sonic texture, their unique use of sound design and group-minded improvisation allows them to create eclectic original compositions, as well as stretch classic pop hits to new depths. In 2016 they released their first EP, “Greasin’ Up The Mediocrity Wheel”, and shared noteworthy live collaborations with members of Phish, Medeski Martin & Wood and Dopapod. The band recently released their first full length, Magical Achievements, on 12/01/2017 which is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all major streaming platforms, and can also be purchased through muscletough.bandcamp.com.


 
Anders Osborne Solo
Ryan Montbleau | @The Hamilton | view more info »
Mar
16

Anders Osborne Solo

Ryan Montbleau


Friday Mar 16|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Anders Osborne Solo

official band site »

Between the potency of his richly detailed songwriting, his intensely emotional, soulful vocals and his piercing, expert guitar work, New Orleans’ Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure. He is among the most original and visionary musicians writing and performing today. Guitar Player calls him “the poet laureate of Louisiana’s fertile roots music scene.” New Orleans' Gambit Weekly has honored Osborne as the Entertainer Of The Year. OffBeat named him the Crescent City’s Best Guitarist for the third year in a row, and the Best Songwriter for the second straight year. Osborne also won Song Of The Year for his composition, Louisiana Gold.

Osborne’s latest released Flower Box, his second full-length album of 2016, recorded in his hometown of New Orleans late last year, Flowerbox is a heavier, guitar-driven follow-up to the acclaimed Spacedust & Ocean Views.

"I love the way this record comes out stout and determined right out the gate, a four-piece rock & roll band making beautiful and conquering noise," says Osborne. "The producer, Mark Howard, has a way of making you play in the moment and being confident. His sounds and engineering style is that of classic records, with his own special sauce of 'haunting' on top of it. The musicians on here are undoubtedly some of my absolute favorites in the world, both as players and as people. Their contributions are invaluable. Scott Metzger, Brady Blade, Carl Dufrene, Chad Cromwell, Marc Broussard, David LaBruyere, Rob McNelley & Justin Tocket. Bad boys! I've been wanting to make this record for several years and I am stoked it's finally here."

A powerful live performer, the musician has won over fans through non-stop touring as well as a heralded collaboration with the North Mississippi Allstars & Southern Soul Assembly.

Jambands.com said, "Osborne finds a striking balance of muscle and grace that allows for the smaller moments of quiet to be just as resounding as the sonic booms." And USA Today has praised his music, saying "The relentless approach amplifies the anguished lyrics, which appear to be about the death of a loved one or a relationship torn asunder or perhaps a spiritual crisis." In a review of Spacedust & Ocean Views, Boulder Weekly said the album "finds the guitarist in a (largely) reflective mood, an extended meditation on place and moments in time, memory, passages through and exits from paragraphs in the non-fiction docudrama of life. Through languid, gently formed figures, Osborne coaxes odes of gratitude and compelling imagery in what seems a little like a travelogue — like watching his kid chasing seabirds on the beach..."

Osborne has earned hordes of new fans. He has toured virtually non-stop, either with his own band, as a solo artist, or as a guest with his countless musical admirers, including Toots and The Maytals, Stanton Moore, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, Jackie Greene and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He’s produced and played on critically acclaimed albums by Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone and Mike Zito.

Since his recording debut in 1989, Osborne has written virtually all of his own material and contributed memorable songs to a wide variety of artists. Two tunes co-written by Osborne appear on Keb Mo’s Grammy-winning 1999 release Slow Down. Country superstar Tim McGraw scored a #1 hit with Anders’ song Watch The Wind Blow By. Osborne’s compositions have been covered by artists as diverse as Brad Paisley, Tab Benoit, Jonny Lang, Edwin McCain, Sam Bush, Trombone Shorty and Aaron Neville and Kim Carnes. His songs have appeared in multiple feature films. He can also be seen performing in an episode of HBO’s New Orleans-based drama, Treme.


Ryan Montbleau

official band site »

Ryan Montbleau has been an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and bandleader for more than a decade, but with his new album I Was Just Leaving the New England-based artist has truly arrived. Contemplative and richly emotive, the album offers a glimpse into the often-lonesome life of the relentlessly traveling troubadour, a strikingly single-minded existence too often clouded by the blur of constant motion. Recorded at New Orleans’ Esplanade Studios over four days in January 2016 with producer Anders Osborne and engineer/mixer Mark Howard (known for his work with such icons as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and U2), the album marks Montbleau’s first full length release in the wake of a series of seismic personal shifts. Songs like “Bright Side” and the touching title track reveal a uniquely blessed artist who has truly found his voice, his gift for melody and a remarkably open-armed approach.

“There’s no part of this record that I am unsure of,” Montbleau says. “All the juice of the last fifteen years is in there. My humanity and my heart are on this record.”

Montbleau has been among America’s finest songwriters and performers, earning national attention and a fervent fan following with songs like “75 and Sunny” and his breakthrough cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” the latter a Spotify smash with total streams now in excess of 14 million.

After twelve years on the road Montbleau found himself at a crossroads in 2016. “Within a very short time, my world got flipped around. My partner was gone, my band of ten years was gone, my friends were all far away. The one thing I had was a career, because it turns out that was all I had worked on. When the dust settled, I realized I didn’t really have much of a home life.”

“I thought all along that I had been building a home but it turned out I was just leaving. That’s where the title of the song and the record came from. So many raw feelings were just aching through me at that point. Eventually they vibrated out through the guitar, through singing. I had to sing these songs.”

An artist’s artist, Montbleau has collaborated with such diverse performers as Martin Sexton, Trombone Shorty, and Galactic. His association with Anders Osborne extends back to 2012 when the New Orleans-based singer/songwriter/guitarist played on Ryan’s Ben Ellman-produced FOR HIGHER alongside such fellow Big Easy icons as Ivan Neville and The Meters’ George Porter, Jr. Two years later, Anders and Ryan reconnected on the road backstage at a festival. The seeds were planted for a collaboration.

Montbleau’s guitar playing and vocals are both front and center on I Was Just Leaving, with Osborne accompanying on drums, percussion, bass, guitar, and harmonica, each used simply and sparsely for maximum effect. Osborne and Howard built upon that same goal, creating space and capturing rawness by utilizing as many early takes as possible.

“Bright Side,” the album’s first single, is perhaps the song most emblematic of Montbleau’s growth as both a human being and artist. At once finely etched and strikingly direct, “Bright Side” is an ideal distillation of his approach to songwriting, balancing multiple shades of emotional nuance with a fearless, unfettered sentimentality that ultimately leads to a greater truth.

I Was Just Leaving marks a singular milestone for Ryan Montbleau, the moment in which this exceptional singer, songwriter, and performer has blossomed into a fully matured artist.

“I’ve been planting these seeds for so long and it has all led up to this moment. It feels like finally the fruits of all my efforts are coming out. I’m still working hard but there’s an ease to what’s happening. I have a career that I’ve built, that I’ve earned. Now what’s fun is putting out the best music I can and seeing what happens.”


 
Zion I & Lespecial
@Union Stage | view more info »
Mar
17

Zion I & Lespecial



Saturday Mar 17|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Zion I

official band site »

Since the release of the debut album, Mind Over Matter in 2000, Zion I has risen up the ranks of independent hip-hop to solidify their standing as one of the most prolific conscious rap groups of the past 2 decades. Boasting a catalog that consists of over two-dozen albums, EPs, mixtapes and collaborations, Zion I (currently consisting solely of MC/producer Zumbi) continues to create inspired music influenced by social & political woes, personal challenges & triumphs as well as family, spirituality and a raw perspective on the world at large.??

Cited by A.V. Club as “remarkable”, Zumbi continues to showcase his talents as a unique, diverse and skilled MC while maintaining his place as one of the most recognizable voices in Hip-Hop.?The latest release, The Labyrinth was cited by PopMatters as “a timely new album of politically engaged hip-hop”. Fueled by his own personal losses as well as the current political and social climate of the world-at-large, Zumbi has created a record that, as the Huffington Post put it; “is as heartfelt as it is badass”.??

Being one of the most energetic and engaging live acts out there, Zion I continues to bring the music to the masses at festivals, events and venues across the planet. With a sound and style that bends musical genres, Zion I is able to perform alongside a diverse range of artists ranging from rap, rock and reggae to jam band and EDM.??

With an 11th studio album on the horizon, Zion I continues to make music that while left-of-center is still relevant, fresh and exciting as ever. As Okayplayer put it; “At the end of the day, Zion I’s strength lies in the same areas where many artists falter – evolving without abandoning tried and tested methods.”


Lespecial

official band site »

lespecial carves their own path in contemporary rock music with the release of their second album, cheen, on October 31, 2017. Pole vaulting over traditional genres, cheen is a snapshot of a band finding a remarkable creative stride, fearless in their pursuit of a synthesis of the diverse musical idioms that have inspired them as listeners and artists.

These three childhood friends from Connecticut—now based in Boston and New York—play off of a lifetime of shared experience in their writing and performance. In a power trio, it's essential that each of the players can utterly captivate you at any given time. Each individual has a lot of weight to carry and is only as strong as the weakest link. In the studio, as on stage, it seems at first blush that Jon Grusauskas—delivering lyrics that call for your attention and seamlessly moving from guitar to keys to samples—is handling the entire upper end of the spectrum... until you consider how broad the melodic embrace of rhythmatist Rory Dolan and low end wizard Luke Bemand. Injecting splashes of color and wicked chops into their heavy groove foundations or driving assaults, this dynamic battery simultaneously eases and propels lespecial through the fractious changes of cheen’s mood and tempo.

In a traditional sense, cheen is a risky album: it asks the listener to suspend a categorical approach and dig into their own eclectic unconsciousness, to adapt a phrase, and appreciate the flow of the record from start to finish, as it moves guided by an unseen plan. If there is an underlying thematic structure, it is one that is anchored—musically and lyrically—by horror flicks, 1980s video games and lespecial’s indictment of the current cultural state of affairs. Not overtly political, angry or morose, by any means, cheen seems to observe the zeitgeist and respond to it in songs like “Stolen Land”, “American Apocalypse” and “Sound That We Do”, the last of which features the celebrated Bay Area hip hop wordsmith Zion I. Meanwhile, the band winks at Mario Brothers in the J Dilla inspired “Donut Ghost House” tracks that bookend the album. In between can be heard pensive indie rock that evokes Flaming Lips and Radiohead, down-tempo apocalyptic dub trances tinged with hints of Tool, polyrhythmic technicality a la Belew-era King Crimson and a penchant for all things Nine Inch Nails.

This from a band that released an exclusive single through The Untz—one of the premier outlets for “EDM” producers—a month before announcing cheen, then did an interview with a metal mag a week later, and that can get weirdly funky with a nod to Primus. To further underscore the broad net they cast, lespecial is rounding out 2017 with a Halloween weekend opener for Disco Biscuits and December dates with Dopapod.

lespecial’s willingness to take this risk of presenting an album full of flavors and feels is a reflection of the respect they have for their fans, present and future: they simply don't underestimate the listener, and that itself is refreshing, bringing about comparisons to The Clash, who destroyed every boundary they came across, working reggae, dub, funk and folk ballads into the socially and politically relevant punk rock they had come to personify. Here at another turning point in music and culture, lespecial has taken a huge step towards that goal of synthesizing their own varied and divergent influences, regardless of the seeming incongruity of the elements, and provides a perspective on their generation, the cultural climate, and what that all sounds like...



 
Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno
Space Bacon | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Mar
23

Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno

Space Bacon


Friday Mar 23|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno

official band site »

Jesse Miller (Lotus/Beard-o-Bees), Eli Winderman (Dopapod) and Charlie Patierno join forces to write, record and perform Jazz-Funk-Synth-Dance music.


Space Bacon

official band site »

Brooklyn based jamtronica quartet that weaves composition and improvisation through an ever-changing landscape of segues, inversions, and palindromes.


 
Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno
Box Era | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Mar
24

Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno

Box Era


Saturday Mar 24|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Octave Cat feat. Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), Charlie Patierno

official band site »

Jesse Miller (Lotus/Beard-o-Bees), Eli Winderman (Dopapod) and Charlie Patierno join forces to write, record and perform Jazz-Funk-Synth-Dance music.


Box Era

official band site »

Risen from the ashes of keg-fueled house parties and sweaty bars of College Park, MD, Box Era has planted itself as a staple in the up-and-coming DMV music scene. Creating a jam-inspired electro-pop and funk blend, Box Era’s music arms you with every tool necessary to go talk to that special someone you’ve been eyeing up. You’ll find yourself dancing the night away, shaking hands with CEOs, and experiencing the juiciest sweet-and-sour jamwich of your life.

With a debut EP right round the corner, Box Era is gearing up for an explosive 2017. From word of mouth alone, the band has already supported national headliners and conquered renowned venues across the region. The party is only going to grow. There’s a saxophone, a talkbox, and two pairs of glasses. There’s magic, youth, and the most unique sound you’ve heard since The Bangles. Box Era is the story of five boys wandering the halls of Xanadu, forever in search of sweet cream.


 
The Soul Rebels feat GZA & Talib Kweli
@9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
29

The Soul Rebels feat GZA & Talib Kweli



Thursday Mar 29|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Soul Rebels feat GZA & Talib Kweli

official band site »

Eight piece brass ensemble THE SOUL REBELS are riding high in 2017 after touring four continents including Europe, Australia, debuting in China and Japan, selling out shows, collaborating live with artists spanning from Nas, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Marilyn Manson, G-Eazy, Joey Bada$$, Curren$y, Talib Kweli, Trombone Shorty, Pretty Lights and Big Freedia among many others, and opening for Lauryn Hill.

The Soul Rebels started with an idea – to expand upon the pop music they loved on the radio and the New Orleans brass tradition they grew up on. They took that tradition and blended funk and soul with elements of hip hop, jazz and rock. The band has settled on an eight-piece all-brass lineup and have built a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in a deep pocket funk party-like atmosphere. When not touring, The Soul Rebels’ weekly show at New Orleans’ Le Bon Temps Roulé is known to erupt with the kind of contagious, shout-along musical mayhem that The Rebels bring with them wherever they perform.

The Soul Rebels continue to chart new territory as they combine topnotch musicianship and songs with grooves that celebrate dancing, life, funk and soul.



 
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
@9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
30

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong



Friday Mar 30|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

"We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live,” says Pigeons Playing Ping Pong singer/guitarist Greg Ormont. “When we’re recording in the studio, we try to maintain that euphoria while finding a way to pack it into a tight, focused vessel. Each song becomes like a spring-loaded can of worms: there’s all this energy boxed up in a neat little package, and then when you come see us live, the cap comes off and the contents fly out in every direction like fireworks.” It’s a whimsically apt metaphor for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a band whose very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy. Blending infectious funk grooves, psychedelic jams, and experimental electronics, the Baltimore four-piece’s new album, ‘Pizazz,’ is a buoyant, blissful reminder of just how much fun music can be. Eschewing the traditional funk band lineup that typically includes keyboards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong constructs effervescent soundscapes with just two guitars, bass, and drums, crafting their music with a sophisticated ear for both open space and dense layering.

While ‘Pizazz’ is, in many ways, a familiar continuation of the journey that’s earned the band its rapidly expanding and rabidly devoted following (known as The Flock), it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The album’s eleven tracks are the group’s first recorded with new drummer Alex Petropulos, whose airtight grooves and explosive power push the band’s sound to new heights.

“We’ve had some of these songs in our live catalog for a while,” says Ormont, “but playing them with Alex has breathed new life into everything. His style and energy have revealed nooks and crannies that we didn’t even realize existed in the tracks. All music boils down to having a good drummer, especially in our dance-oriented jam world, and we’ve got the best drummer I’ve ever heard right now.”

It’s a bold claim, but Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has the live show to back it up. Glide Magazine called them “a band that melts faces and pulls no punches,” while C-Ville Weekly praised the growing “cult around [their] high-energy music, goofy stage antics, and all around good vibes,” and JamBase raved that guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Schon is “destined to become one of our generation’s finest guitarists.” Since the group’s inception nearly a decade ago at the University of Maryland (where the band’s name came to Ormont and Schon during a moment of transcendence in Psych 100), they’ve built up a reputation as one of the most engaging and life-affirming acts on the road, maintaining a relentless tour schedule that has them performing up to 200 shows a year and hitting festivals from coast to coast. The band even founded their own gathering, Domefest, which recently celebrated its eighth year and attracted nearly 2,000 members of The Flock for an immersive weekend of love, music, and community.

“It’s really important that our live show puts out as much energy as possible and promotes lightheartedness and positivity,” says Schon. “All that matters in the moment at a concert is what’s going on onstage and in the room around you, and we try to put on a show where people can really lose themselves in those moments and use our music as an outlet to feel good.” The band chased those same ideals when they headed into producer Steve Wright’s WrightWay Studios in Baltimore to record ‘Pizazz,’ the follow-up to their 2016 fan-favorite ‘Pleasure.’ Tracking live on the floor, the foursome channeled all the rapture of their live shows into tight, crisp packages. Songs that may unfold onstage over the course of 20 minutes were reimagined for the studio, where they’d need to reach the same frenzied, emotional heights, in less than half that time. “I think this album really shows attention to detail when it comes to choosing our moments and the way we’ve been able to make parts more concise without losing their natural feel,” says Ormont. “Having a strong drummer is a big part of that. Alex is able to convey so much feeling and bring us to those peaks and valleys really quickly and efficiently when we need him to.”

‘Pizazz’ opens up with the bouncing, carefree “Fun In Funk,” which finds the band proclaiming, “We put the fun in funk” over wah-wah guitars and an infectious rhythm section driven both by Petropulos’s drums and Ben Carrey’s fat, slinky bass lines. “Funk is very fun, upbeat, happy music to begin with,” says Ormont. “It’s our mission to put that fun into everything we do.” It’s a mission that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was born for. The visceral sense of joy in their music acts as a sort of glue here, binding the band’s wildly versatile sounds into a cohesive and distinctive whole on the album. On “Somethin For Ya,” they channel 70’s disco and pair it with a wicked prog-rock solo, while tracks like “Offshoot” and “Too Long” embrace the group’s darker, more bass-and-electronics-influenced dance side. “Poseidon” and frequent show-closer “Ocean Flows,” on the other hand, showcase Pigeons’ bright, sparkling, melodic soul, as ‘Pizazz’ rises and falls with the same inimitable mix of precision and frenzy that defines the band’s one-of-a-kind live show.

Each Pigeon is a virtuosic musician and improviser in his own right, and the band’s songs are frequently born out of impromptu grooves and riffs. The swirling, trippy “Porcupine,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes in all its jamming glory, taps into the uninhibited, open-ended nature of the band’s rehearsal sessions, while the driving “Henrietta” grew out of one of Schon’s soundcheck guitar loops. The island vibes of “Fox and Toad” are pure stream of consciousness written in the car after band practice, and “Doc” is a gritty, horn-fueled sing-along inspired by a Baltimore legend.

“There’s a homeless man named Doc who would always spend his time outside of the 8×10 in Federal Hill, where we learned to push our limits as a band,” says Ormont. “Doc always supported us. Even though he was sleeping under a bridge, he’d always ask you how you were doing. We really wanted to commemorate his toughness and positivity.”

It’s difficult to think of a more fitting match for a band like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, who radiate positivity wherever they go. Whether it’s Doc or The Flock, the band wants to elevate each and every member of their audience to the kind of blissful place that only the most ecstatic live music can take you. It’s a place filled with beauty and light, joy and power, love and community, all delivered with a heaping dose of pizazz.



 
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
@9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
31

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong



Saturday Mar 31|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

"We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live,” says Pigeons Playing Ping Pong singer/guitarist Greg Ormont. “When we’re recording in the studio, we try to maintain that euphoria while finding a way to pack it into a tight, focused vessel. Each song becomes like a spring-loaded can of worms: there’s all this energy boxed up in a neat little package, and then when you come see us live, the cap comes off and the contents fly out in every direction like fireworks.” It’s a whimsically apt metaphor for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a band whose very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy. Blending infectious funk grooves, psychedelic jams, and experimental electronics, the Baltimore four-piece’s new album, ‘Pizazz,’ is a buoyant, blissful reminder of just how much fun music can be. Eschewing the traditional funk band lineup that typically includes keyboards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong constructs effervescent soundscapes with just two guitars, bass, and drums, crafting their music with a sophisticated ear for both open space and dense layering.

While ‘Pizazz’ is, in many ways, a familiar continuation of the journey that’s earned the band its rapidly expanding and rabidly devoted following (known as The Flock), it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The album’s eleven tracks are the group’s first recorded with new drummer Alex Petropulos, whose airtight grooves and explosive power push the band’s sound to new heights.

“We’ve had some of these songs in our live catalog for a while,” says Ormont, “but playing them with Alex has breathed new life into everything. His style and energy have revealed nooks and crannies that we didn’t even realize existed in the tracks. All music boils down to having a good drummer, especially in our dance-oriented jam world, and we’ve got the best drummer I’ve ever heard right now.”

It’s a bold claim, but Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has the live show to back it up. Glide Magazine called them “a band that melts faces and pulls no punches,” while C-Ville Weekly praised the growing “cult around [their] high-energy music, goofy stage antics, and all around good vibes,” and JamBase raved that guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Schon is “destined to become one of our generation’s finest guitarists.” Since the group’s inception nearly a decade ago at the University of Maryland (where the band’s name came to Ormont and Schon during a moment of transcendence in Psych 100), they’ve built up a reputation as one of the most engaging and life-affirming acts on the road, maintaining a relentless tour schedule that has them performing up to 200 shows a year and hitting festivals from coast to coast. The band even founded their own gathering, Domefest, which recently celebrated its eighth year and attracted nearly 2,000 members of The Flock for an immersive weekend of love, music, and community.

“It’s really important that our live show puts out as much energy as possible and promotes lightheartedness and positivity,” says Schon. “All that matters in the moment at a concert is what’s going on onstage and in the room around you, and we try to put on a show where people can really lose themselves in those moments and use our music as an outlet to feel good.” The band chased those same ideals when they headed into producer Steve Wright’s WrightWay Studios in Baltimore to record ‘Pizazz,’ the follow-up to their 2016 fan-favorite ‘Pleasure.’ Tracking live on the floor, the foursome channeled all the rapture of their live shows into tight, crisp packages. Songs that may unfold onstage over the course of 20 minutes were reimagined for the studio, where they’d need to reach the same frenzied, emotional heights, in less than half that time. “I think this album really shows attention to detail when it comes to choosing our moments and the way we’ve been able to make parts more concise without losing their natural feel,” says Ormont. “Having a strong drummer is a big part of that. Alex is able to convey so much feeling and bring us to those peaks and valleys really quickly and efficiently when we need him to.”

‘Pizazz’ opens up with the bouncing, carefree “Fun In Funk,” which finds the band proclaiming, “We put the fun in funk” over wah-wah guitars and an infectious rhythm section driven both by Petropulos’s drums and Ben Carrey’s fat, slinky bass lines. “Funk is very fun, upbeat, happy music to begin with,” says Ormont. “It’s our mission to put that fun into everything we do.” It’s a mission that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was born for. The visceral sense of joy in their music acts as a sort of glue here, binding the band’s wildly versatile sounds into a cohesive and distinctive whole on the album. On “Somethin For Ya,” they channel 70’s disco and pair it with a wicked prog-rock solo, while tracks like “Offshoot” and “Too Long” embrace the group’s darker, more bass-and-electronics-influenced dance side. “Poseidon” and frequent show-closer “Ocean Flows,” on the other hand, showcase Pigeons’ bright, sparkling, melodic soul, as ‘Pizazz’ rises and falls with the same inimitable mix of precision and frenzy that defines the band’s one-of-a-kind live show.

Each Pigeon is a virtuosic musician and improviser in his own right, and the band’s songs are frequently born out of impromptu grooves and riffs. The swirling, trippy “Porcupine,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes in all its jamming glory, taps into the uninhibited, open-ended nature of the band’s rehearsal sessions, while the driving “Henrietta” grew out of one of Schon’s soundcheck guitar loops. The island vibes of “Fox and Toad” are pure stream of consciousness written in the car after band practice, and “Doc” is a gritty, horn-fueled sing-along inspired by a Baltimore legend.

“There’s a homeless man named Doc who would always spend his time outside of the 8×10 in Federal Hill, where we learned to push our limits as a band,” says Ormont. “Doc always supported us. Even though he was sleeping under a bridge, he’d always ask you how you were doing. We really wanted to commemorate his toughness and positivity.”

It’s difficult to think of a more fitting match for a band like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, who radiate positivity wherever they go. Whether it’s Doc or The Flock, the band wants to elevate each and every member of their audience to the kind of blissful place that only the most ecstatic live music can take you. It’s a place filled with beauty and light, joy and power, love and community, all delivered with a heaping dose of pizazz.



 
Dark Star Orchestra
@Rams Head Live | view more info »
Mar
31

Dark Star Orchestra



Saturday Mar 31|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Dark Star Orchestra

official band site »

Performing to critical acclaim celebrating their 20th anniversary year in 2017 and over 2600 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead’s extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night, the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra’s members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations.

Dark Star Orchestra offers much more than the sound of the Grateful Dead, they truly encapsulate the energy and the experience. It's about a sense of familiarity. It's about a feeling that grabs listeners and takes over. It's about that contagious energy... in short, it's about the complete experience and consistent quality show that the fan receives when attending a Dark Star Orchestra show.

Dark Star Orchestra has performed throughout the entire United States, plus Europe & the Caribbean touching down in seven different countries. DSO continues to grow its fan base by playing at larger venues for two and even three night stands as well as performing at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, Milwaukee’s SummerFest, The Peach Music Festival, All Good Festival, Gathering of the Vibes, Mountain Jam, and many more.

In addition to appearing at some of the nation’s top festival, Dark Star Orchestra hosts its own annual music festival and campaign gathering, titled the ‘Dark Star Jubilee’, currently in its sixth year where DSO headline all three nights and are joined by a mix of established and up and coming national touring acts. Beyond the shores of the United States, DSO has taken its internationally-acclaimed Grateful Dead tribute to the beaches of Jamaica in the dead of winter for the past five years, with their event appropriately titled ‘Jam in the Sand’. Featuring an ocean-side stage, DSO sets up camp to perform shows for four nights along the tropical sands of an all-inclusive resort, selling out the event each year for hundreds of lucky attendees.

Fans and critics haven’t been the only people caught up in the spirit of a Dark Star show. The band has featured guest performances from six original Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Donna Jean Godchaux- MacKay, Vince Welnick, Tom Constanten and even toured with longtime Dead soundman, Dan Healy. Other notable guests have included Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman of Phish, Keller Williams, Warren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Peter Rowan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and many more.

"For us it's a chance to recreate some of the magic that was created for us over the years," rhythm guitarist and vocalist Rob Eaton explains. "We offer a sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978 or whenever. Even for Deadheads who can say they've been to a hundred shows in the 90s, we offer something they never got to see live."



 
The Motet
@9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
5

The Motet



Thursday Apr 5|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Motet

official band site »

Music and escapism go hand-in-hand.

A concert or an album can unlock another world, if you let it. The Motet respect and revere this time-honored phenomenon. Fusing fiery funk, simmering soul, and improvisational inventiveness, the Denver, CO seven-piece—Lyle Divinsky [vocals], Dave Watts [drums], Joey Porter [keyboards], Garrett Sayers [bass], Ryan Jalbert [guitar], Gabriel Mervine [trumpet], and Drew Sayers [saxophone]—have continually provided an escape for listeners over the course of seven full-length albums since 1998, including their latest release Totem and with an upcoming 2018 release. That extends to countless sold out shows and festivals everywhere from Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Summer Camp to All Good Music Festival and High Sierra Music Festival as well as 16 consecutive years of themed Halloween concerts.

“When you’re listening to us, I want your mind to be taken away from wherever you are during the day and into some other place,” states Dave. “It’s all about that.”

After quietly building a diehard and devoted following, 2016 represented a watershed year for the musicians. They welcomed Lyle and Drew into the fold and released Totem, which drew acclaim from Relix, AXS, 303 Magazine, and many others. For the first time, The Motet sold out the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater—the holy grail venue of their hometown—cataloged on Live at Red Rocks. Sell-outs followed everywhere from The Fillmore (San Francisco) and Tipitina’s (New Orleans) to Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn), Park West (Chicago), and Crystal Ballroom (Portland). The group locked into an unbreakable groove.

“We’ve never been a band that just blew up overnight,” Dave goes on. “We’ve been very tenacious about our movement forward. We’ve been through many different iterations throughout the years. Right now, it feels like we’ve got the lineup that’s making an impression on our scene. Lyle is the perfect match for us. He’s got musicality and this raw energy we all resonate with. He ignited this spark to put work in and write inspiring music.”

That spark lit again in 2017. Following Jam Cruise and a second Red Rocks gig, the band fired up the new single “Supernova.” Strutting between hypnotic horns and swaggering guitars, the track sees The Motet blast off to another galaxy. Quickly racking up over 150k Spotify streams in a month’s time, it instantly excited fans.

“‘Supernova’ is the first song that I was involved with from start to finish,” explains Lyle. “Joey brought in the initial musical idea. We expanded upon it and worked everything out. The word ‘Supernova’ kept jumping out to me. We decided to roll with that and give it an interstellar romantic dance theme.”

“Supernova” kicks off a series of upcoming singles that leads back to a third Red Rocks gig set for summer 2018. However, everything comes back to the escape that The Motet deliver.

“We want to take people on a journey,” Lyle leaves off. “In order to go on a journey, you have to participate. You can’t just simply let it happen around you. You have to give yourself into that journey. Everything is open. You’re free to be yourself. You’re free to go on that adventure and journey. We want to be the catalyst for listeners to understand themselves and the world around them.”

“This is a family,” concludes Dave. “We’ve got each other’s backs. We’re doing this, because we love to be around each other and create together. We’re committed to working together because we appreciate and respect what we have to say and provide the music world and our community.”



 
Perpetual Groove
CBDB | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
13

Perpetual Groove

CBDB


Friday Apr 13|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Perpetual Groove

official band site »

Based in Athens, GA, Perpetual Groove is a long time well established touring act with an enthusiastic fan base and international critical acclaim. PGroove’s music has been described by their fans as anthemic arena rock. Their large catalog of original music offers something for everyone. The addition of an intense, retina burning, intelligent light show creates an atmosphere unlike any other, assuring fans they’ll get a highly polished, yet different show each night.


CBDB

official band site »

CBDB is a progressive rock n roll jam-band from Alabama and their music is spreading from the southeast across the nation like wildfire. Defining a newfound, southern blend of joyous and progressive funk-rock n roll, dubbed Joyfunk, they channel a sonic mix of soulful vocals and virtuosic musicianship with smart, tasteful songwriting. On stage, each member of CBDB fluidly plays between complex composition and loose exploratory improvisation creating an incredible and unique live experience.


 
Keller Williams
@The Hamilton | view more info »
Apr
13

Keller Williams



Friday Apr 13|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Keller Williams

official band site »

Keller Williams Keller Williams released his first album in 1994, FREEK, and has since given each of his albums a single syllable title: BUZZ, SPUN, BREATHE, LOOP, LAUGH, HOME, DANCE, STAGE, GRASS, DREAM, TWELVE, LIVE, ODD, THIEF, KIDS, BASS, PICK, FUNK, VAPE, SYNC and RAW, those who have followed his career will know this. Each title serves as a concise summation of the concept guiding each project. GRASS, for example, is a bluegrass recording cut with the husband- wife duo The Keels. STAGE is a live album, and DREAM is the realization of Keller’s wish to collaborate with some of his musical heroes. THIEF is a set of unexpected cover songs, KIDS offers Keller’s first children’s record, PICK presents Keller’s collaboration with royal bluegrass family The Travelin’ McCoury’s, and RAW is a solo acoustic album. Each album showcases Keller’s comprehensive and diverse musical endeavors and functions to provide another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Keller Williams. Keller’s collaborative and solo albums reflect his pursuit to create music that sounds like nothing else. Unbeholden to conventionalism, he seamlessly crosses genre boundaries. The end product is astounding and novel music that encompasses rock, jazz, funk and bluegrass, and always keeps the audience on their feet.

Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his recordings tell only half the story. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. For most of his career he has performed solo. His stage shows are rooted around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, with nothing pre-recorded. The end result often leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica, a genre Keller jokingly calls “acoustic dance music” or ADM.”

That approach, Williams explains, was derived from “hours of playing solo with just a guitar and a microphone, and then wanting to go down different avenues musically. I couldn’t afford humans and didn’t want to step into the cheesy world of automated sequencers where you hit a button and the whole band starts to play, then you’ve got to solo along or sing on top of it. I wanted something more organic yet with a dance groove that I could create myself.”

Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Once he began releasing recordings, starting with 1994’s FREEK, Williams was embraced by an even wider community of music fans, particularly the jam band crowd. While his live gigs have largely been solo affairs, Williams has nearly always used his albums as a forum for collaborations with fellow musicians. An alliance with The String Cheese Incident on 1999’s BREATHE marked Williams’ first release on the band’s label SCI Fidelity Records, DREAM, Keller’s 2007 release, found him in the company of such iconic musicians as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, banjo master Be?la Fleck, bass great Victor Wooten, American musician/poet Michael Franti and many others.

“That album took, from start to release time,” says Williams, “about three years. The object was to get people that I admire musically to play my stuff, so when I’m old I can crank this album in my pimped-out golf cart and have something that I’m really proud of. I was going for the historical effect for my own personal listening pleasure.

“Each record,” he continues, “is a little snapshot of history. I like to think of it as a period piece for an artist. Each record is a little bit different but all of them have some kind of common thread, which is my musical ability as far as I can take it. I enjoy making records. In some people’s eyes, they’re a dying breed, but I’m very passionate about it. They document where my head is at that time in my career and where I am in my songwriting.”

Williams’ story begins in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C. There he was exposed to a wide variety of music at an early age, starting with country and bluegrass and working his way up through hip-hop and go-go, a brand of funk particular to that part of the country. Once he began playing guitar, Williams’ sphere expanded to what he calls “the post-pseudo- skateboarder punk-rock rebellious type of thing, Black Flag and Sex Pistols and Ramones, Dead Kennedys, things like that. That slid into the more melodic college rock, like the Cure and the Cult, the Smiths, R.E.M.’s first five or six records.”

Then came the Grateful Dead, a seminal influence on Williams’ own music. “I studied and learned their music and went to the shows,” he says, adding that the impact of Jerry Garcia on his attitude toward music remains incalculable. Another major influence was Michael Hedges, the late virtuoso acoustic guitarist. “He was really excelling in a whole different world from what I knew,” says Williams.

After relocating to Colorado, further exposure to bluegrass music and progressive acoustic artists such as Be?la Fleck and the Flecktones also had a major impression on Williams. As he began to develop his own distinctive compositional and performing style, Williams incorporated all of the lessons he’d learned from the long list of artists who’d found their way into his world, then filtered their music through his own experiences until something wholly unique emerged. The list of artists whose music he has covered either in concert or on his recordings constitutes a mind-blowing spread: songs originally performed by everyone from Pink Floyd and Ozzy Osbourne to Ani DiFranco and old-school rappers the Sugar Hill Gang!

When he first started out, Williams played in regional bands but also performed as a solo artist, “me sitting on a stool playing covers, like a happy hour situation,” he says. “I’d get dinner and maybe tips. There were bands in high school and in college. But it turned out I could get the same money playing solo that I was getting with the band. Around that time I was also doing temporary jobs and I was making the same amount playing music as I was scraping mortar out of the cracks of cinder block walls for eight hours in the summertime at minimum wage. So it seemed like the obvious choice was to play music. I started to work and over the years I incorporated more technology. The looping thing started to happen and tickets were sold and people came to shows, so there wasn’t any reason to fix something that wasn’t broken.”

What Williams calls “the looping thing” is actually a big part of what has made him such a compelling live performer. “Basically, I have these machines that are essentially delay units,” he explains. “What I do is step on a button and sing or play something. Then I step on the same button in time and it repeats what I just played or sang. Once that initial loop is created, I can layer on a bass line or a drum line and then have this layer that I just created in front of an audience that I could sing over and solo over. Nothing is pre-recorded. Everything is created onstage in front of the audience.”

If it sounds complicated, it is: but the basic thrust is that the technology has allowed Williams to go out on tour week after week, year after year, and play music by himself—without limiting his sound to what we most often associate with the solo singer-songwriter: a guy strumming a guitar and singing. With his arsenal of tech toys, Williams can expand his reach onstage by, in essence, jamming with himself.

As years have gone by and Keller has continued to evolve he has created more and more unique projects and collaborations with fellow musicians. In 2007 Keller formed a band of his own, Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe which featured Keller on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jeff Sipe on drums, Keith Moseley on bass and Gibb Droll on lead guitar. After touring throughout 2007 - 2008, they subsequently released a double live record with a companion DVD. In true Keller Williams fashion, it’s called LIVE.

The summer of 2010 found Keller sharing a bus with two of his biggest heroes, former Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, as a member of their powerhouse assemblage the Rhythm Devils. “That was a very surreal experience,” Williams says. “We rehearsed for a few days and then we were on a bus with 12 people, two of them being the original drummers from the Grateful Dead.” On that tour, Williams was put in the enviable position of singing many songs from the Grateful Dead catalog for audiences that loved every minute of it. Inspired by this experience and his admiration for the Grateful Dead, Keller added two Grateful Dead projects to his repertoire: Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel. With an ever-revolving cast of jam, bluegrass, and gospel musicians, Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel have become fan favorites and festival staples. Keller’s Grateful Grass tunes can be heard on two live digital releases, REX and DOS. Keller’s guests on these recordings include: Jeff Austin (Jeff Austin Band), Keith Moseley (String Cheese Incident), Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green), The Keels and many more. Following the Grateful Dead theme, Keller also released KEYS, a digital only release on which Keller is at the piano singing a collection of Dead tunes. All three of these releases donate proceeds to the Grateful Dead’s Rex Foundatn.

Williams has also toured as part of a string trio with fellow Virginians, singer/guitarist Larry Keel and his wife, singer/bassist Jenny Keel, dubbed Keller and the Keels. You can find them hitting key stops on the bluegrass festival circuit playing songs from their two releases GRASS and THIEF.

If it seems as if this is a man who never stops, that would be about right. Keller released the amusingly titled THIEF—his all-covers project with the Keels—early in 2010, and KIDS, his sixteenth album, in the fall of that same year. A father of two himself, Williams was, of course, inspired by his own offspring but, he says, some of the songs were written before his children were born. “When Not For Kids Only by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman came out, I knew that there was hope for me with kids music,” he says. “I was really attached to that record.” The songwriting for KIDS, Keller says, “was not necessarily singing to the kids. A lot of it was me singing from the perspective of the kids. That was my plan, to get on their wavelength, on their level, and be one of them, so it’s kind of like one of their friends singing to them.”

In 2011, BASS found the multi-instrumentalist only playing bass guitar. BASS was also the first album to be recorded with Keller’s live reggae-funk band Kdubalicious, which in addition to Keller on bass and vocals, features Jay Starling on keyboards and Mark D on drums. On the other end of the spectrum – but just as tasty – is Keller’s 2012 release PICK. This collaboration featuring Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts—although the parts are rather massive on their own, to be sure. “Performing with The Travelin’ McCourys is one of my favorite things to do in the world,” Keller explains. “This project has struck a special chord with me [pun intended]. It is very addictive.”

Indeed, Keller always enjoys working with a band. For 2013 he stepped out with a new muse, a 6- piece funk band dubbed More Than A Little. Williams drew from the Richmond, VA R&B/gospel scene including a pair of show stealing female singers. FUNK – a sexy live recording that pays deep homage to the genre’s roots, Keller style – hit the streets in November 2013 and More Than A Little made its way around the country becoming a festival staple all their own.

Early 2015 found Keller back in the studio working on his 20th release, VAPE. While mainly a solo endeavor, it does feature a few special guests such as Sampson Grisman, John Kadlecik and a track with the Travelin’ McCourys. In Keller’s own words “Imagine taking these songs and blowing high pressured life through them in a low pressured atmosphere. Out comes highly concentrated music that can be heated up and inhaled through your ears...Vape”.

In 2016, Keller assembled yet another band, Keller Williams’ KWahtro. KWahtro, featuring Gibb Droll, Danton Boller and Rodney Holmes, toured the country throughout the winter and fall of 2016. The first KWahtro album, SYNC will be released in January of 2017. According to Keller, SYNC began as acoustic dance music but with the help of Droll, Boller and Holmes and special guests Mike Dillon and The Accidentals, the album “morphed into a type of acoustic acid jazz that draws on imagery in both the lyrics and the music.”

As if one album release wasn’t enough for 2017, Keller’s first all solo acoustic album, RAW, will also be released in January of 2017. Keller started working on RAW in 2011, but got sidetracked by a number of other projects that began to take form. It was when Keller’s 2017 winter tour, Shut the Folk Up and Listen with Leo Kottke started to take form, that he jumped back into it and completed the album. For Keller this album and tour represent his roots; all solo acoustic guitar and vocals, no looping, pedals or bands.

Two albums at once, why not! Something different. That, we can assume, is how it will always be with Keller Williams.



 
Hurray For The Riff Raff & Waxahatchee
Bedouine | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
15

Hurray For The Riff Raff & Waxahatchee

Bedouine


Sunday Apr 15|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Hurray For The Riff Raff

official band site »

It had been a successful, if tumultuous, ride for Alynda Segarra, who's been spreading a new kind of roots-conscious folk music across the country from her adopted hometown of New Orleans. But as far as the Bronx native had come with her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, there was still a missing link to her story. "The more I toured, ending up in the middle of nowhere bars from Texas to Tennessee," said Segarra, "I just started feeling more and more like, I don't belong here, I gotta get back to my people, you know?"

After many years in New Orleans, Segarra found herself getting antsy. Hurray for the Riff Raff had four albums under its belt, with the last one, Small Town Heroes, featuring "The Body Electric," a song that NPR's Ann Powers called "The Political Song of the Year" in 2014. Yet even though her musical career had begun by running away from home at 17, busking for survival and honing her craft through dreams of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, and Woody Guthrie, Segarra realized she is a Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx with a different story to tell.

To find her way back home, Segarra became the willing vessel for a character she calls "The Navigator," from which her new album takes its name. She describes The Navigator, a/k/a Navita Milagros Negrón, as "this girl who grows up in a city that's like New York, who's a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people." Through The Navigator, the listener hears an ambitiously interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul that finally realized she needed to connect with and honor her ancestors.

Segarra quickly went to work with producer Paul Butler, whose work with British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka she deeply admired, to capture the cinematic, old but new quality she wanted. It also meant assembling a core group of percussionists like Kansas City-based Juan-Carlos Chaurand and Devendra Banhart's drummer Gregory Rogove to play everything from Cuban to Puerto Rican to Brazilian backing beats. The result is an interconnected set of introspective songs, grounded in Segarra's eclectic rustic root style, yet adorned by elements of son montuno, plena, and a kind of Mink De Ville retro-doowop rock.

Segarra drew early inspiration from cult favorite Rodriguez, a Mexican-American who translated working-class stories from Detroit into powerful rock ballads, and the Ghetto Brothers, an underground band from the 1970s South Bronx who stitched Puerto Rican nationalist messages into a rough-hewn fabric of Santana and Sly and the Family Stone Afro-Caribbean funk. She reached back to her cultural ancestors in the form of the radical political group the Young Lords and the salsa singer Héctor Lavoe. "I would just try to have the rhythm in my head and write the lyrics," said Segarra. "Then I went back and added everything else, it was like poetry"

"Poetry permeates The Navigator, like when Segarra juxtaposes the feeling of growing up in a box in the sky on the 14th floor of an apartment building with the feeling her father had flying for what seemed like an eternity in a propeller plane from Puerto Rico to New York in the song "14th Floor." Or when, in the elegiac piano-driven ballad "Pa'lante," named after the Young Lords newspaper that showed the way forward, she inserts the sampled voice of legendary poet Pedro Pietri reading from his seminal opus "The Puerto Rican Obituary." The Navigator is a restless observer, perched at the nexus of Allen Ginsberg's East Village and the Nuyorican Poets Café, confessing the blues and dancing the punky salsa steps of a lonely girl, a hungry ghost.

Like a song-cycle from an imaginary Off-Broadway musical, The Navigator rises from the ashes of loneliness and striving, honky tonks and long walks by the river of urban dreams. From the wistful melancholy of "Life to Save," to the stubborn resignation of "Nothing's Gonna Change That Girl," Segarra's voice speaks with a husky weariness that coexists with a naïve curiosity. It's the voice of a rebel who wanted everyone to think she was so tough, and nobody could take her down, but at the same time was yearning for love and magic, some kind of an awakening. Long-time Riff Raff fans should feel at home in The Navigator's World. There's always been a little bit of syncopated Caribbean strut to down home rock and roll, Appalachian rags share a similar root with Spanish troubadours and the blues is the same in any language. On The Navigator, Segarra's voice has never been more soulful, whether she's decrying urban gentrification on "Rican Beach" or mourning the lies people tell on "Halfway There." Like the moment we're living in, The Navigator is as much about the past as it is the future.

With its 12 tracks and its Travelers, Sages, and Sirens, The Navigator comes straight at you from the intersection of apocalypse and hope. This album rides Patti Smith's high horse while straddling a thin line between love and hate. Segarra may lament the Trumpsters who want to "build a wall and keep them out," but she knows that, like the outcasts she embraces, "Any day now/I will come along." There'll be no more hiding at the dimly lit intersections of class, race, and sexual identity -- now we will all come into the light.

"I feel like my generation, through groups like Black Lives Matter, is really focusing on that type of intersectionality -- if one of us is not free, then none of us are free," said Segarra. "The Navigator's role is to tell the story, tell it to the people who don't know their own story, so they can be free."


Waxahatchee

official band site »

Out in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as \ and her second release with Merge, is the blazing result of a woman reawakened. Her most autobiographical and honest album to date, Out in the Storm is a self-reflective anchor in the story of both her songwriting and her life. As Crutchfield prepared for the release of her Merge debut Ivy Tripp, she found herself depleted emotionally and professionally amidst the dissolution of a noxious relationship. “Ivy Tripp doesn’t really have any resolution. It’s a lot of beating around the bush, and superficially trying to see my life clearly, but just barely scratching the surface. Out in the Storm digs into what I was going through without blinking. It’s a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself.”

The album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, a producer, recording engineer, and mixer known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. At Agnello’s suggestion, the group recorded most of the music live to enhance their unity in a way that gives the album a fuller sound compared to past releases, resulting in one of Waxahatchee’s most guitar-driven releases to date.


Bedouine

official band site »

Like her name implies, Bedouine's music has a nomadic heart. Sweeping, hypnotic. Esoteric yet familiar. It is untethered to place because its home is everywhere.

Bedouine's sound is for the modern cyber gypsy, dipping a curious toe in the swaying Mediterranean before caravaning for weeks across the deserts of the Middle East, and finally catching a redeye back to L.A. for a pre-dawn Southern California stroll.

"It's in my roots," Bedouine says over a tenuous Skype connection from Saudi Arabia. "I love exploring different places and sounds. My childhood was this amalgamation of different cultures, so I've never really belonged to a particular place. But being nomadic can be a beautiful thing if you're accepting of it -- not knowing exactly what you're doing or where you're going, but with conviction. Being experimental, even with your intentions."

An outsider and an introvert, Bedouine prefers anonymity but loves making music enough to share hers with anyone willing to listen -- even if it means confronting her fears. An aversion to the spotlight led her away from the stage for several years, where she worked from the shadows, composing music for independent films and art installations until something unexpected happened -- she wound up in Los Angeles and experienced the opposite of the cliché.

"The joy I get from making music has nothing to do with any kind of recognition," Bedouine says, "so when I moved to L.A., I had no intention of pursuing music as a career. But then I started meeting so many inspiring people -- talented musicians who were living these double lives, going out on the road with successful bands and playing stadiums, and then coming home to this amazing scene and playing all these great little clubs and bars. It made the idea of starting over with my music less intimidating, and it made me more comfortable with the idea of performing. L.A. actually made me less jaded."

She soon fell in with the tight-knit community of performers in her Echo Park neighborhood, spending nights trading songs and listening to records with some of L.A.'s best underground artists. "One of my favorite ways to hang out with people," Bedouine says, "is to take turns listening to each other's music, bouncing ideas back and forth." It was on just such a night that she met collaborator Jake Blanton (The Killers, Father John Misty, Jenny O.), with whom she would record the songs for her new self-titled EP.

The two co-wrote "The City," and put together a short yet memorable set of songs propelled by insistent, mesmerizing beats, and anchored by chiming guitar, daydreamy piano and above all, Bedouine's unforgettable voice. Impressionistic, her languid vocals swirl into the ether, another color in the palette, another instrument in the band. Her words roll soft off the tongue, careful brushstrokes, oil paint swept across a canvas. The music is beautiful and striking, always revelling quietly in its search for some enigmatic unknown just out of reach. There is no ego here, no filter between Bedouine's heart and her songs.


 
Runaway Gin A Tribute to Phish
@Union Stage | view more info »
May
11

Runaway Gin A Tribute to Phish



Friday May 11|doors 9:30 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Runaway Gin A Tribute to Phish

official band site »

With over 185 shows under their belt, Runaway Gin is the World's Most Active Phish Tribute Band. They play every Sunday at the Charleston Pour House and tour often. On July 4th, 2015, after the second show of the Grateful Dead GD50 run, Runaway Gin sold out the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago - a 650 capacity venue - and catapulted themselves onto the national scene.

The members of Runaway Gin are long time Phish fans who have united with the goal of creating musical moments inspired by Phish. The band's song list is constantly growing and their improvisational and communication skills are constantly developing independently and together. Like Phish, Runaway Gin will never play the same show or jam the same way twice making every show a unique experience and every moment pure artistic creation.