Mar
23
Lindsay Lou

all good news

 
Railroad Earth
Lindsay Lou | @9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
23

Railroad Earth

Lindsay Lou


Saturday Mar 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!”


Lindsay Lou

official band site »

Over the past two years, Lindsay Lou has toured internationally following the release of "Ionia" in 2015, NPR named Lindsay Lou as one of the 12 best live performances in 2015. Guided by life experiences, Lindsay Lou's sound and songwriting continues to evolve and intertwine her sturdy Bluegrass roots with progressive Americana and Folk that is shares similarities with the likes of Lake Street Dive, Shovels & Rope, and Civil Wars.

Her brand new CD titled “Southland” is a collection of songs examining the range of emotions and complex themes of our changing times; delivered with soulfully fierce intensity and tender intimacy that demands your attention. Backed by drums, bass, electric & acoustic guitars and mandolin, the sound is rich, expansive and Lindsay's vocals & lyrics are captivating and hit deep. Landing on the Top 50 AMA/CDX Americana Radio Chart, Top 10 Roots Music Report Folk Album Chart, and Top 30 Folk DJ Chart. It’s strong statement and a big step toward the sound of some of the great female voices in Roots/Rock like, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels & Rope) Gillian Welch and Bonnie Raitt.

 
Matador! Soul Sounds
Backbeat Underground | @Union Stage | view more info »
Mar
24

Matador! Soul Sounds

Backbeat Underground


Sunday Mar 24|doors 7:30 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.


Backbeat Underground

official band site »

Born in the depths of subterranean groove gatherings, Backbeat Underground is a Washington, DC based instrumental funk group with soul jazz influences. Bringingtheir years of collective experience in the DC and NYC music scenes, the band delivers tight, energetic sets steeped in fresh improvisation and head-bopping, booty-shaking pockets. Backbeat Underground was proud to serve as stewards of the funk in DC’s first, second, and third annual Funk Parade, and the band is quickly gaining notoriety for their organic and smoldering blend of soulful funk and jazz.

 
Sunsquabi
Defunk | @Union Stage | view more info »
Apr
5

Sunsquabi

Defunk


Friday Apr 5|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Sunsquabi

official band site »

There’s a place, deep in the cosmos, where jam bands and electronic dance music intersect with rhythm-driven funk. You’ll feel like you’re floating here but not lost completely to the atmospheric elements. Instead, you’re tethered to an avant-garde spaceship with Colorado-based SunSquabi on the frequency. This cosmic wonderland is a melting pot of a variety of musical genres and it represents the future of music.

A three-piece suit - SunSquabi has been catching the eyes and ears of music fans around the world with their ever-evolving sound in the studio and on the live stage. SunSquabi has gained national attention for their unique way of producing music. The band’s live show can be described as an ‘Electronic Hydro Funk Experience’ that is different every single time out. SunSquabi continues to break down and analyze the expectations of what a “Live-Electronic” band should be. The band unveiled their newest album ‘Instinct’ in January of 2019. The 10 track LP finds the band at their highest peak as they have been dedicated to the metamorphosis of capturing elements in their live performances in the studio as improvisational jams have been fleshed out into full-blown songs and staples in their repertoire.

Combining the talents of Kevin Donohue (guitars/keys/production) Josh Fairman (bassist/synth) and Chris Anderson (drums). This project is a disciplined and structured group. It takes a seasoned musician to stay in the pocket for the sake of building well-developed lines and climaxes. To do that seamlessly requires patience and skill. “It’s kinda like breathing, honestly. We can communicate directly with each other both verbally and non-verbally, onstage and off.” That connection will take the music collectively where we all want to go.” – Kevin Donohue


Defunk

official band site »

Hailing from Calgary, Canada, Defunk has taken bass music to a whole new level. Most popularly known for his attention of bringing elements of funk, jazz and blues into heavy bass music, he constantly strives to develop sounds within dance music. Armed with a keyboard and drumkit, he brings live instruments into his performance, ensuring every show is a beautiful blend of well orchestrated track selection and improvisation.

 
The Infamous Stringdusters
Jon Stickley Trio | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
5

The Infamous Stringdusters

Jon Stickley Trio


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


The Infamous Stringdusters

official band site »

"With a nod to the past and a firm foot down on the gas toward the future, the 'Dusters... don't leave bluegrass behind; they're stretching it from within." - New York Times

"...these stellar bluegrass players are pushing the music forward." - David Dye/World Cafe

The Infamous Stringdusters rise to new heights on their ninth full-length record Rise Sun. For the album, the GRAMMY® Award-winning quintet—Andy Falco [guitar], Chris Pandolfi [banjo], Andy Hall [dobro], Jeremy Garrett [fiddle], and Travis Book [double bass]—expanded their signature sound by perfecting their seamless fusion of All-American-bluegrass and rock.

Once again sail into uncharted territory moored only by their expressive patchwork of All-American bluegrass threaded together with strands of rock, jazz, funk, country, old-time, and more.

As they approached this latest body of work, the group’s ambition matched their outsized creative curiosity. “Rise Sun was sparked by the feeling of wanting something better for the world—more love, more awareness, and more compassion,” says Hall. “It’s a message of taking care of each other, our planet, and ourselves. We all shared this feeling as evidenced by the songs we brought to the project. It’s the feeling of a rising sun as opposed to a dark night. Sometimes a message of hope is less popular than one of despair, but it’s much-needed nevertheless.”

It’s also a message that 13 years, eight studio projects, and nearly 1,000 shows prepared the boys to properly present. The Infamous Stringdusters stand out as the rare group who whose dynamic musicianship can be showcased with contemporary artists on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert one night and jamming on the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre alongside The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh the next.

Engendering a sense of impassioned fandom, they band have attracted a faithful audience that continues to grow. Moreover, their powerful music and performances paved the way for a GRAMMY® Award win in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for 2017’s Laws of Gravity.

When it came time to record what would become Rise Sun, they pushed themselves to evolve once more. “Rise Sun is the latest chapter in the progression of our sound,” says Pandolfi. “It’s been a long arc that includes evolution on all fronts—writing, arranging, performing, and maybe most importantly, growing as humans who have more to say as the journey rolls on. New albums are the time when we write and introduce our strongest original material. On our last release Laws of Gravity, we really started to hit our stride with recording live in the studio. Rise Sun is another big step in that direction.”

For the first time, the band chose the song order before actually recording. Additionally, they maintained that order throughout the process, recording the songs in sequence which resulted in a natural flow. This choice, “gives it the feeling of a story as you listen down,” says Hall. It represented a moment of collective confidence.

“We self-produced the last album, so we felt validated in a sense that our instincts were sound,” adds Book. “We came into this one with some confidence. Any doubts about our band or our mission had dissipated. What remained was a deep sense of purpose and love.”

“The GRAMMY® put some high-octane gas in our tanks as well,” grins Garrett. “We also wanted to rise to the challenge of making a follow-up project worthy of what we had done in the past.”

The Infamous Stringdusters introduce the album with the handclap-driven gallop of the title track “Rise Sun.” High energy banjo powers an uplifting and undeniable refrain that immediately shines.

“It’s a hopeful anthem,” Book elaborates. “The sun is rising, and the light is overtaking the darkness. The idea for the melody, inspired by Southern gospel music, came to me driving out of the mountains into Georgia from my home in North Carolina. When we wrote it, I was feeling a deep sense of hope for humanity that the sun will rise again.”

Then, there’s the hummable instrumental “Cloud Valley,” which exudes a sci-fi spirit of wonder via sonic intricacy.

“Science fiction can transport you to a place of deep imagination,” says Pandolfi. “We wanted to generate a soundscape for an imaginary mystical setting. It really came alive when we all got together.”

Everything culminates on a heartfelt send-off with “Truth and Love.” Its delicate musical backdrop transmits an important statement for The Infamous Stringdusters.

“I wrote that a few years ago and brought it back now, because I feel like the message has become more relevant today,” Falco states. “The world is polarized. Everything is so extreme, and partisan politics have become a culture war. The song is a reminder of what’s truly important in life—seek the truth, find your love, look up high, and aim above. Life is short, so keep your eye on what’s important while you’re here.”

In the end, that’s precisely what The Infamous Stringdusters do on Rise Sun as they boldly welcome yet another new day, new phase, and new chapter.

“We’re a brotherhood, but that family extends beyond the band even,” Falco leaves off. “Our music gives us an opportunity to bring some light in a world that can be dark sometimes.”


Jon Stickley Trio

official band site »

Jon Stickley Trio is a genre-defying and cinematic instrumental trio, who’s deep grooves, innovative flatpicking, and sultry-spacy violin moves the listener’s head, heart, and feet. “It’s not your father’s acoustic-guitar music—although Stickley’s pop showed him his first chords when he was 12 years old. Instead, Stickley’s Martin churns out a mixture of bluegrass, Chuck Berry, metal, prog, grunge, and assorted other genres—all thoroughly integrated into a personal style,” writes Guitar Player Magazine.

Premier Guitar says, “Stickley’s trio… is not a traditional bluegrass group by any means… they are just nimble and ambitious enough to navigate EDM-style breakbeats as effortlessly as the old timey standard ‘Blackberry Blossom.’” “Stickley is a super-resourceful acoustic guitarist who uses the instrument in many surprising ways and whose timing is just flawless. Fiddler Lyndsay Pruettputs deep thought into her flowing solos, plus she adds little flourishes and sudden stops that elevate the music,” proclaims Nashville’s Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst.

Jon Stickley Trio announces a change in lineup beginning in January 2018 with new drummer, Hunter Deacon, who is both classically trained and boasts heavy jazz influences. Hailing from the ever-hip Knoxville, Tennessee, Hunter studied with drummer Keith Brown and received a BM in Studio Music and Jazz from the University of Tennessee. Deacon then went on to complete a six month residency at a jazz club in Hangzhou, China where he performed seven nights a week. Since his return, he’s played with Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, toured the country with Sam Lewis, and performs with guitarist Mike Baggetta.

Stickley says about the seemingly sudden lineup change, “we’re really excited to add Hunter’s vibe to the mix, his creativity and willingness to experiment were two things that drew us to him, and Lyndsay and I were quickly surprised and inspired by what he’ll bring to the table.”

With inspiration ranging from from Green Day to Duran Duran to Tony Rice to Nirvana, Grateful Dead, David Grisman and beyond, the Trio is making waves with their unique sound. Along with releasing two full length albums and one EP in the past few years, the Trio has zig-zagged the nation, playing over 120 dates in 2017 alone. They are road tested and band geek approved!

Dave King (of The Bad Plus) joined forces with Jon Stickley Trio to produce 2017’s Maybe Believe and 2015’s Lost At Last (which The New York Times called “both respectful and free”) in the band’s hometown of Asheville, NC at the esteemed Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The Trio slipped a self-produced 5-track EP, Triangular, into the mix in December of 2016.

“In a time when a lot of instrumental music feels more like math than art, Jon Stickley Trio reminds us of the pure joy that can be created and shared through music,” says Greensky Bluegrass’ Anders Beck. Stickley says, “The Trio feels fresher and hotter than ever, we’ve hit our stride in terms of creating tunes that are uniquely us and that’s a really exciting place to be musically. Not to mention we are so stoked to get back to many of our favorite festivals and clubs, and even more excited to play some the ones we’ve always dreamed of. 2018 will, without a doubt, be our best year yet!”

 
Beats Antique
Axel Thesleff | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
6

Beats Antique

Axel Thesleff


Saturday Apr 6|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Beats Antique

official band site »

It’s impossible to describe Beats Antique using just a single genre. One listen to their forthcoming album, Shadowbox (released on their own Beats Antique Records imprint), and their unique hybrid of sound makes perfect sense; their ability to blend so many different kinds of music in to an incredibly vibrant, distinctive and peerless album is what this band has been doing for the past ten years.

Based in Oakland, California, Sidecar Tommy, David Satori and Zoe Jakes make up Beats Antique, who released their 10th album on October 5th 2016 to commemorate their tenth year as a band. They’ve mounted a larger-than-life cross-country tour that will take their vision to theaters across America. “Shadowbox is both the title of our new album, the theme of our tour, and our new store front in Berkeley CA. We decided to bring it all together on this release.“ Mostly recorded at their studio in Oakland (which has been around since the 50s), the Bay Area band also recorded in Russia and Israel. “We were lucky to record in both Moscow and Tel Aviv, because we had shows there and wanted to connect with the local artists. We had amazing sessions in both locations; In Moscow we recorded on the outskirts of the city in a wild Industrial complex. We ended up going through strange corridors into this plush bamboo-floored-Hare-Krishna-owned recording studio with state of the art gear. When we were in Tel Aviv, we gave a call to a local legend Yossi Fine and he helped us get time at Pluto Studios, which is one of the best in the city. We recorded with Talya Solan and her amazing group of musicians. We used elements of the Tel Aviv session to create our track “Bdna Salam,” which is raising money for Syrian refugees.” Along with Talya other features on Shadowbox include Lafa Taylor, Alam Khan, Tatiana Kalmykova, brasshouse trio Too Many Zooz (who are touring with Beats Antique), Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dana Elle, Madoline Tasquin and Medium Troy Orchestra.

Shadowbox is a retrospective of sorts, with Beats Antique pulling from all of their previous work as almost a homage to the first ten years of their career. “This will be our first full album produced in Beats Antique’s recording studio/dance performance space. We feel like Shadowbox touches on all our styles from down-temp Middle Eastern influences to cinematic orchestral arrangements. The songwriting process is also different for every song. Sometimes David will come in with a melody and Sidecar will add the bass and beats, and vise versa. One thing that always makes the songwriting process unique is that Zoe creates and arranges music based around stories she wants to tell though dance, so sometimes the performance aspect influences the creation of the music.”

In June, the group premiered the first single, “Killer Bee,” featuring Lafa Taylor, on Billboard.com. The track is “about standing up to prejudices. Just because someone calls you a killer bee, doesn’t mean you need to kill. We want people to define themselves and not be defined by what people think they should be.” In addition to being a ‘killer’ track, with a compelling music video directed by Kyrian Bobeerian, Beats Antique donated a percentage of the proceeds from their July 1st show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to The Honeybee Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of bees.

An enthusiastic touring band, a new album also means a new tour, and since Beats Antique is all about the ‘concept,’ Shadowbox (the album and the idea) is another opportunity for them to get the creative juices flowing for the live shows. The band plan to use shadows, light, Indonesian shadow puppetry, custom-created lanterns, dance, story telling, crowd participation and more to make sure this is an unforgettable visual spectacle for their audience. Shadowbox, an album that is an amalgamation of the history of Beats Antique, merged with a tour that will both tease and excite the senses, shows off what this band does best – transform, innovate and revolutionize what you think you know about music.


Axel Thesleff

official band site »

Axel Thesleff is an electronic musician and producer based in Helsinki, Finland. His style is very diverse, ranging from bass-heavy bangers to more relaxed and deep tracks, never forgetting about the emotion and story behind each piece of music. His tunes will make subwoofers purr, but also deliver an emotional impact which resonates with your soul.

Axel’s popularity has been paced up by his 2014 release, Bad Karma. Which has been streamed more than 300 million times on Youtube and millions more on Spotify and Soundcloud. Also, his other releases have been noticed by BBC Asian Network, Kiss Fm Romania, Ylex Finland and lots of other radio channels around the world. Several club gigs, festival performances, and interesting collaborations are just a beginning of this skilled, but humble musicians career.

 
Phoam (A Tribute To Phish)
@Union Stage | view more info »
Apr
6

Phoam (A Tribute To Phish)



Saturday Apr 6|doors 11:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Phoam (A Tribute To Phish)

official band site »

It all would be so crystal clear, if it wasn’t for the Phoam! Pheaturing members of Psycho Killers, Electric Love Machine and Weekapug Orchestra, Phoam takes their love for Phish (over 300 shows combined) and pours it into their live performances. Spanning the prolific catalog, the band brings fans on a high energy, jam filled journey into the world of Phish.


 
The Dirty Grass Players
Colebrook Road | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Apr
12

The Dirty Grass Players

Colebrook Road


Friday Apr 12|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


The Dirty Grass Players

official band site »

Turning heads while showcasing original bluegrass and newgrass tunes such as “Backwards Drifting”. The Dirty Grass Players bring a solid performance from a group of musicians that come from diverse backgrounds, but have one similar interest in playing for the love of music.


Colebrook Road

official band site »

Winners of the 2016 D.C. Bluegrass Union’s Mid Atlantic Bluegrass band contest in Washington D.C., winners of the 2015 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band contest in Hebron, CT, winners of the 2014 Watermelon Park Fest band contest in Berryville, VA, and winners of the 2011 Pickin’ In The Panhandle Bluegrass Festival band contest in Martinsburg, WV, Colebrook Road has become a standout string band, a bluegrass powerhouse made up of five individuals whose sum is more than the total of their talents.

From modest beginnings as a four-piece band, Colebrook Road now plays as a five-piece ensemble and has become a familiar name throughout the Mid Atlantic region. The band is composed of lead singer, guitar player, and songwriter Jesse Eisenbise, mandolinist and winner of the 2014 Watermelon Park Fest mandolin contest Wade Yankey, upright bassist and tenor vocalist Jeff Campbell, banjoist, bass vocalist, dobro player, and winner of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival banjo contest Mark Rast, and fiddler, baritone vocalist, and winner of the 2015 Deer Creek Fiddler’s Convention bluegrass fiddle contest Joe McAnulty.

In addition to award-winning members from an array of backgrounds, the songs performed are almost exclusively original compositions with varying themes. The band writes intricate and dynamic arrangements filled with both vocal and instrumental harmony that creates an interestingly modern, complex, and varied sound while still adhering to the larger bluegrass genre. Colebrook Road is a standout string band.

Following the 2012 release of their eponymous first effort, the group released their sophomore album, “Halfway Between,” on May 7, 2016. Like their first, the album features all-original vocal and instrumental songs- ten studio tracks, plus a bonus live recording from their contest win at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival.

 
Turkuaz
Aqueous | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
12

Turkuaz

Aqueous


Friday Apr 12|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Turkuaz

official band site »

Drip painting entails actively splashing myriad colors on canvas.

Popularized by Jackson Pollock, Janet Sobel, Max Ernst, and other 20th century luminaries, the artform itself relies on action and motion. In similar fashion, energetic splashes of funk, alternative, rock, R&B, and psychedelia color the music of Turkuaz. Balancing male-female harmonies, strutting guitars, wild horn arrangements, and interminable grooves, this spirit takes shape in the color donned by each respective member on stage nightly via larger-than-life performances. The Brooklyn-based nonet—Dave Brandwein [guitar, vocals], Taylor Shell [bass], Craig Brodhead [guitar, keys], Michelangelo Carubba [drums], Chris Brouwers [trumpet, keys], Greg Sanderson [tenor sax], Josh Schwartz [baritone sax, vocals], Sammi Garett [vocals], and Shira Elias [vocals]—ignite an explosion of energy punctuated by neon hues, deft musicality, and show-stopping singalongs on their fifth full-length album, Life In The City.

“Turkuaz is made up of individuals, each their own shade of the color spectrum,” explains Dave. “Each person brings a signature style and embodies his or her own color. The respective auras come together to create our sound. The name itself implies that vibrancy, but it’s a different spin on turquoise. In the same way, we put a different spin on groove-oriented music by telling stories that you wouldn’t normally associate with funk.”

Since emerging in 2011 with their self-titled debut, the group have quietly animated a movement.

Touring incessantly in support of four full-length studio albums and three official live releases, they’ve lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee, Electric Forest, and Mountain Jam to Telluride Jazz, High Sierra, and Lock’n, in between gracing stages at legendary spots such as Red Rocks, Terminal 5, and The Fillmore, to name a few. Among numerous critical plaudits, The New Yorker claimed, “This Brooklyn-based nine-piece delivers horn-filled funk incorporating elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.”

Most recently, 2015’s Digitonium yielded fan favorites such as “Nightswimming” and “European Festivity Nightmare” and generated over 1 million-plus cumulative streams. When it came time to commence work on Life In The City, the musicians switched up the flow and took a different approach.

“We did Digitonium in a short period of time and created a concept based on The Sword in the Stone,” says Dave. “We sifted through a lot more material for Life In The City. We threw all of the paint on the canvas. There was more collaboration in the writing. Some members who hadn’t participated before brought ideas to the table. We didn’t have anything road-mapped. In that respect, it was exploratory as far as who we are sonically. The same goes for the lyrics. Beyond the turmoil in current events and the world, I was going through some difficult challenges in my personal life. So, Life In The City is more based in reality and the experience I’ve lived in the past few years than a fantasy like the last record. The city is representative of modern life and all of these distractions we face day to day.”

In order to capture that vision, they first recorded at More Sound in Upstate New York before moving to Dave’s own newly relocated Galaxy Smith Studios in Brooklyn. Avowed fans of the Stop Making Sense film, they tapped Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to produce standalone single “On The Run” and album track “If I Ever Fall Asleep” at The Bunker Studios.

“I’m extremely hands-on, so it was a growth experience to see someone else’s take on the band,” adds Dave. “Overall, Jerry made us as a band think about things we wouldn’t have otherwise. It was really beneficial.”

The group officially introduce the album with the first single and title track “Life In The City.” Funkified guitars wrap around otherworldly synths and rapturous horns as the words “Blind in the spotlight” glare.

“That line stands out to me,” Dave continues. “There’s so much stimulus in the city and in modern life in general. So much is going on. Light is constantly shined on what we do, how we act, social media, and the urban hustle and bustle that we’re blind to what’s really going on underneath. That line sums up what the song is about. We’re not able to take a breath and experience the simplicity of reality anymore. We forget to be who we really are.”

A collaborative effort with several band members, the swaggering cry of “Lady Lovely” tells an intergalactic horror story disguised as cross-species romance, complete with “creature” giggles from the song’s vocalist Josh Schwartz. Schwartz also co-wrote “If I ever Fall Asleep,” portraying the “paranoid ramblings of an insomniac holed up in his apartment.” Punctuated by robust horns, “Superstatic” illuminates another side of Turkuaz as it touts lyrics “about letting go and having fun for a minute.” Meanwhile, on the more personal side, upbeat delivery and synth squeals underscore a poignant admission for Dave on “The One and Lonely.”

“It’s about kicking a lot of habits and stepping away from vices,” he admits. “The song highlights the struggle I had with substances and alcohol as well as the process I went through trying to shed the struggle. Drinking and drug use is a huge part of the road for most bands. It got to a point where it was too much for me though. This album documents me taking a step back and saying, ‘I want to live for a long time. I want to stop and take in what’s actually happening to me—not just party all the time.’”

It’s that honesty that has reinvigorated how far down the line the band has its sights set. And even in the midst of serious subject matter creeping in on this album, the musicianship of all nine band members and the group’s upbeat, fun-loving sensibility still shines through to give Turkuaz fans the joyous sound they’ve come to know over the last several years. “I would love for our music to be a bright spot in an otherwise dark world,” he leaves off. “You can come to our shows, let go, exist, and have a good time in spite of what may be going on outside. That’s what music does for us. We want to share that.”


Aqueous

official band site »

After forming in Buffalo in 2006, Aqueous (pronounced “ay-kwee-us”) has earned a reputation as one of the most promising improvisational rock acts in the country. Best known for their “groove rock” stylings, guitarist Mike Gantzer, guitarist/keyboardist David Loss, bassist Evan McPhaden, and drummer Rob Houk have developed a unique sound characterized by meticulous compositions and rich exploratory jams that easily transition from laidback, in-the-pocket grooves to furious, high-intensity peaks. Composed of longtime friends, over the years, Aqueous’ members have developed near-psychic abilities with one another, enabling them to stretch each song while maintaining a staggering degree of precision. In a live setting, the group’s undeniable technical prowess truly shines, making for dynamic performances that bring fans back night after night.

Whether they’re headlining and selling out venues across the U.S. or performing stand-out sets at notable events like Summer Camp, The Peach Music Festival, Jam Cruise, and Suwannee Hulaween, it’s clear that fans across the country are clamoring to hear more from the Buffalo-based four-piece. With the hype around the group growing, Aqueous is making a huge breakout as the project enters its second decade of existence. Do yourself a favor, and discover firsthand what the buzz is all about.

 
Cris Jacobs Band
Adam Wakefield | @Union Craft Brewing | view more info »
Apr
12

Cris Jacobs Band

Adam Wakefield


Friday Apr 12|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Union Craft Brewing|get directions »
1700 West 41st Street
Baltimore, MD


Cris Jacobs Band

official band site »

When Cris Jacobs began dreaming about a follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2016 album Dust to Gold, he realized early on he'd have to do things differently this time around. His life had changed drastically since writing those songs: he'd toured extensively and attracted a legion of new, devoted fans; he'd come off the road into a world, with its divisive rhetoric and troubling headlines, he no longer recognized; and, most importantly, he'd gotten married and had his first child. Things had changed, and Jacobs had, too.

Color Where You Are is the work of an artist at an exciting new stage in his life and career, ready to use his talents to share a little beauty with the loved ones and fans who have already given so much to him. The title nods to Jacobs' experience writing the album, which, as he puts it, he had to do "between tours, coming home, changing diapers, fixing things around the house.... You name it." He no longer had the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike, so he colored where he was. "It was a new discipline for me and a new level of focus that I think brought out the best work," he explains. "I feel like I grew up a little bit. There are people in my life who I truly care about and things in the world I feel deeply about. That really pushed me in a stronger direction and forced me to feel things on an honest level."

Opening track "Painted Roads," with its soulful groove and clever arrangement, is the perfect encapsulation of just how far Jacobs has come since releasing Dust to Gold. Jacobs is self- assured and confident in his soulful, infectious vocal, while his lyrical craftsmanship shows Jacobs to be a thoughtful songwriter who continuously strives to grow and evolve. "It's about choosing to live in the present, and see the everyday details of the world, rather than postponing living or paying attention in hopes of some distant prize or destination," Jacobs says of "Painted Roads." "We get so caught up in 'success' and ambition, and are so goal-oriented, that we sometimes lose sight of the beauty in the everyday. 'Color where you are' is the notion of creating beauty now, no matter the circumstance."

"Painted Roads" was one of the first songs Jacobs and the band (who co-produced the album together) recorded for Color Where You Are, with his band mates taking Jacobs' original Tom Petty-inspired arrangement and giving it an off-kilter, syncopated groove. For the first time, Jacobs wrote the bulk of the album's songs in the studio, camping out at Richmond's Montrose Studios to flesh out "germs and ideas that had been floating around" with band members Todd Herrington (bass), Dusty Ray Simmons (drums/percussion) and Jonathan Sloane (guitar).

"I booked the studio time and put a gun to my head and that sometimes works," Jacobs says. "In this case it did. It feels like a specific time period and specific vibe and emotional space that came through in all of these songs. It was a really organic process."

While life as a family man changed Jacobs' perspective (and schedule), current events also had a profound impact on Jacobs' songwriting, with commentary on social and political issues finding its way into tracks like "Afterglow" and "Under the Big Top." Color Where You Are is a hopeful affair, though, with Jacobs employing thoughtful criticism and messages of empowerment instead of wallowing or ruminating.

"The political climate is causing a different sort of energy and angst in me that’s never been there before," he explains. "It’s not a political album by any means, but those forces out there certainly dictated a lot of the writing on this record." On "Afterglow," Jacobs searches for optimism and healing in trying times. His emotional vocal is buoyed by a passionate, swelling performance from the band, making the track one of Color Where You Are's most poignant moments. "It's about the hope that after the storm we are currently trying to survive in, we will see true light like never before," Jacobs says. "That the constant threats to our foundations will cause us to examine and strengthen them, and come out the other side with stronger hearts and clearer vision. 'There will come horses, there will come voices' -- that we will be forced to show our true hand like never before because of our dire need to defend it."

Elsewhere, on "Under the Big Top," Jacobs channels swampy, gritty Southern rock influences to shine a light on narrow-mindedness and lazy thinking. Crunchy riffs and a fat bass groove make the track, despite its heady message, one of the album's many songs you can't help but move to.

"'Under the Big Top' is commentary on society’s evolution into gullible, easily distracted, lazy- mindedness," Jacobs says. “'Pretty lights junkie like a moth to candle,' always distracted by the brightest, loudest, biggest, rather than remembering how to seek for ourselves and find truth and love. We instead over-consume and are given every opportunity to do so. What we end up with is a circus of sorts, with tricksters and hucksters and loud mouths with no real value taking up all of our attention and ruling us, because we are too easily manipulated."

Grooves abound on Color Where You Are, as on standout track "Rooster Coop," which finds Jacobs and the band sniffing around the henhouse over greasy slide guitar, a deep, deep pocket and a truly funky bass line. "All I knew was that I wanted to write a song that merged country and funk," Jacobs says of "Rooster Coop." "We started out with the main groove of the tune and the first line that popped into my head was, 'There’s something funky in the barnyard.' So naturally, I wrote a song about a scandalous love tryst amongst farm animals."

Spanning rock, folk, soul and funk and drawing from inspiration that runs the gamut from the henhouse to the White House, Color Where You Are is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Cris Jacobs as a songwriter, musician and bandleader. It's the work of a devoted father and an empathetic member of the human race. More than that, it's a reminder that there's beauty to be found everywhere, if you just take a moment to color where you are.

"What am I trying to do with my music?" Jacobs muses. "The simple answer is this: I’m trying to connect with people. To express real-life human emotions and make people feel things. To connect my love of music with my love of writing and conjure up all of the joy and emotions that those things bring to me. To hopefully have people walk away feeling lighter or happier or more inspired to go be a better person somehow after listening... I want to create a body of work that my family will be proud of one day, and to show that I had compassion to the human condition and wasn’t just a self-indulgent show off."


Adam Wakefield

official band site »

Think “New Hampshire” and let the images flow. Cozy inns. Fireplaces. Vivid colors of fall. Crisp, clean air. Deep blue lakes. Searingly honest songs, laced now and then by irony or heartache or weighted by weary wisdom. Vocals that jolt these lyrics to life with a unique immediacy and intensity…

Wait a minute. You won’t find that last part in any travel brochure. But on his upcoming debut album for Average Joes, Gods and Ghosts, Adam Wakefield proves it’s not where you come from that counts. It’s where you’re going and how you get there — which, in his case, is on the wings of undeniable talent.

What makes Wakefield different? First, it’s his varied roots: Memphis soul, rock ’n’ roll, New Orleans funk, even jazz and classical, pre-bro country — pretty much all music that speaks from the heart. In terms of genre, he follows no rules, though one resolution does govern what Wakefield wants to achieve: If it doesn’t have a conscience, if it’s afraid of risk or candor, then he’s not interested.

You can feel this throughout Gods and Ghosts, scheduled to release November 30, 2018. On the down-home, blues-steeped “Breaking Strings,” he writes and sings with wry, hangdog humor: “I found the meaning of life but I got no one to tell … I’m down on my luck, or luck’s down on me. I’m looking over my shoulder but there’s nothing to see.”

A similar rumination unfolds over a classic country waltz time in “Cheap Whiskey & Bad Cocaine,” sung from the bottom of a glass or the end of a line: “I ain’t ever been on radio, barely got a dime to my name. Never walked down no red carpet, never had my 15 minutes of fame. But I know in my heart I could be a star. ’Til everyone else feels the same, I’ll be riding high as a Georgia pine on cheap whiskey and bad cocaine.” “Dry Days” continues the story, this time over a bubbling acoustic guitar hook. “Back to the powder when the milk runs out,” Wakefield begins as he faces another one of his “too tired to try days.”

But there’s light ahead, as Wakefield awakens with a strangely clear head on “Good Morning Sunday.” To a woozy slow beat, steadied by a little accordion and steel, he notices with a touch of wonder the unfamiliar warmth of sunshine on his face and the cheery chirp of birds. He wishes he could claim credit for the experience but admits that the night before “I just tripped over the dog and the bottle fell from my hand. Now it’s in pieces on the floor .. here I am!”

The title track speaks to his loved one over an intimate acoustic guitar. This is a song about secrets too painful for even this most candid of songwriters to reveal — although in admitting to this, he reveals more than most of his peers dare to do. And on “Prairie Lullaby,” he sings for anyone whose mistakes have left them far from the ones who most matter: “I drive all night just to bring her home. We’d pick up where we left off long ago,” he imagines. But then, “I wake up … and put myself to sleep.”

Wakefield is that rare singer and songwriter who can bridge the personal and the universal, who can sadly laugh and softly ache through an uncommonly poetic lyric and performance. What accounts for his achievement? Maybe we should start at the place where he grew up, a small college town in the care of parents whose example encouraged him to imagine and explore.

“Even though they were poor, they were very educated and liberal. My mom worked for labor unions, helping coal miners and stuff like that. And she was a strong feminist, which is one reason I don’t write bro-country songs — she would disown me,” Wakefield says, with a laugh.

Instead, he absorbed deeper lessons, through frequent travels with his family as well as the lure of expressing himself through music. “Pretty much all we had were records and a piano and a crappy Chevy van,” he says. “I started playing the piano because I thought I could do it better than the girls who did it in show-and-tell.”

Turns out he could, to the extent that after high school he earned admission to the Jazz and Contemporary Arts program at New School in New York City. But as he sharpened his technique and deepened his understanding of music theory, Wakefield began to feel restless. As he recalls, “All I wanted to do was to be in a band, play piano and get high.”

So he dropped out and moved with his brother John to Baltimore. They started their own band, Old Man Brown, and over the next several years toured up and down the East Coast as well as twice in United Kingdom. They released two albums, the first settling into a Southern rock vibe with Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers producing. The second veered more toward soul and even a bro-soul focus, complete with horn section and backup singers.

As their popularity grew, Wakefield stepped up his output of original songs, not so much to pursue excellence as a writer, more to simply have something the band could play other than covers.“But I got better at it, the writing as well as the singing,” he says. “I attribute that to this routine we had in our band house. Everybody had to put five hours a week into individual practicing. We’d keep track of what we did with this schedule on the fridge. Band rehearsals were every night, Monday through Friday, with Monday night reserved for showing everybody what we had been working on. For young kids, we were strangely responsible.”

Wakefield’s approach to bettering himself as a singer involved addressing specific issues each night. “If I wanted to get better at singing runs and complicated stuff, I’d learn some Stevie Wonder stuff. To work on tone, I might learn some Gregg Allman. For range, it might be Donny Hathaway or Marvin Gaye.”

After his run with Old Man Brown, though, Wakefield decided to try his luck in Nashville. He and his girlfriend, an aspiring country singer, drove into town in their van. He formed a bluegrass group, started writing more seriously and made ends meet by painting houses. Opportunity struck when a scout for The Voice heard him play at Soulshine Pizza and invited him to audition. By the time he made it to the finals of Season 10, America had gotten the word about who Adam Wakefield is and what he has to offer.

Working independently, he hit the top of the iTunes chart with “Lonesome, Broken and Blue,” the original song he performed during the season finale for The Voice. He also aced one of Nashville’s most challenging gigs when the SteelDrivers asked him to sit in for their lead singer Gary Nichols, who was taking some time off. “Honestly, it made me a better singer,” he insists. “And it helped me write better too. A few of songs on Gods and Ghosts come from that period. One of their songs, ‘Peacemaker,’ specifically inspired the droning lick I put at the beginning of ‘Shoot Me Where I Stand.’”

All of these experiences — on the road, in the studio, in writing rooms and on national TV — play into Wakefield’s artistry. “I’m not saying I’ve had a hard life,” he says. “But when I write songs about somebody dying or trying to get sober, these are experiences I’ve had. The more you wear your heart on your sleeve as a writer, the better the tunes seem to turn out. That’s what John Prine, Jamey Johnson and people in that vein do. That’s where I want to go with what I do.”

 
Cris Jacobs Band
Justin Trawick and The Common Good | @Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
Apr
13

Cris Jacobs Band

Justin Trawick and The Common Good


Saturday Apr 13|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


Cris Jacobs Band

official band site »

When Cris Jacobs began dreaming about a follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2016 album Dust to Gold, he realized early on he'd have to do things differently this time around. His life had changed drastically since writing those songs: he'd toured extensively and attracted a legion of new, devoted fans; he'd come off the road into a world, with its divisive rhetoric and troubling headlines, he no longer recognized; and, most importantly, he'd gotten married and had his first child. Things had changed, and Jacobs had, too.

Color Where You Are is the work of an artist at an exciting new stage in his life and career, ready to use his talents to share a little beauty with the loved ones and fans who have already given so much to him. The title nods to Jacobs' experience writing the album, which, as he puts it, he had to do "between tours, coming home, changing diapers, fixing things around the house.... You name it." He no longer had the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike, so he colored where he was. "It was a new discipline for me and a new level of focus that I think brought out the best work," he explains. "I feel like I grew up a little bit. There are people in my life who I truly care about and things in the world I feel deeply about. That really pushed me in a stronger direction and forced me to feel things on an honest level."

Opening track "Painted Roads," with its soulful groove and clever arrangement, is the perfect encapsulation of just how far Jacobs has come since releasing Dust to Gold. Jacobs is self- assured and confident in his soulful, infectious vocal, while his lyrical craftsmanship shows Jacobs to be a thoughtful songwriter who continuously strives to grow and evolve. "It's about choosing to live in the present, and see the everyday details of the world, rather than postponing living or paying attention in hopes of some distant prize or destination," Jacobs says of "Painted Roads." "We get so caught up in 'success' and ambition, and are so goal-oriented, that we sometimes lose sight of the beauty in the everyday. 'Color where you are' is the notion of creating beauty now, no matter the circumstance."

"Painted Roads" was one of the first songs Jacobs and the band (who co-produced the album together) recorded for Color Where You Are, with his band mates taking Jacobs' original Tom Petty-inspired arrangement and giving it an off-kilter, syncopated groove. For the first time, Jacobs wrote the bulk of the album's songs in the studio, camping out at Richmond's Montrose Studios to flesh out "germs and ideas that had been floating around" with band members Todd Herrington (bass), Dusty Ray Simmons (drums/percussion) and Jonathan Sloane (guitar).

"I booked the studio time and put a gun to my head and that sometimes works," Jacobs says. "In this case it did. It feels like a specific time period and specific vibe and emotional space that came through in all of these songs. It was a really organic process."

While life as a family man changed Jacobs' perspective (and schedule), current events also had a profound impact on Jacobs' songwriting, with commentary on social and political issues finding its way into tracks like "Afterglow" and "Under the Big Top." Color Where You Are is a hopeful affair, though, with Jacobs employing thoughtful criticism and messages of empowerment instead of wallowing or ruminating.

"The political climate is causing a different sort of energy and angst in me that’s never been there before," he explains. "It’s not a political album by any means, but those forces out there certainly dictated a lot of the writing on this record." On "Afterglow," Jacobs searches for optimism and healing in trying times. His emotional vocal is buoyed by a passionate, swelling performance from the band, making the track one of Color Where You Are's most poignant moments. "It's about the hope that after the storm we are currently trying to survive in, we will see true light like never before," Jacobs says. "That the constant threats to our foundations will cause us to examine and strengthen them, and come out the other side with stronger hearts and clearer vision. 'There will come horses, there will come voices' -- that we will be forced to show our true hand like never before because of our dire need to defend it."

Elsewhere, on "Under the Big Top," Jacobs channels swampy, gritty Southern rock influences to shine a light on narrow-mindedness and lazy thinking. Crunchy riffs and a fat bass groove make the track, despite its heady message, one of the album's many songs you can't help but move to.

"'Under the Big Top' is commentary on society’s evolution into gullible, easily distracted, lazy- mindedness," Jacobs says. “'Pretty lights junkie like a moth to candle,' always distracted by the brightest, loudest, biggest, rather than remembering how to seek for ourselves and find truth and love. We instead over-consume and are given every opportunity to do so. What we end up with is a circus of sorts, with tricksters and hucksters and loud mouths with no real value taking up all of our attention and ruling us, because we are too easily manipulated."

Grooves abound on Color Where You Are, as on standout track "Rooster Coop," which finds Jacobs and the band sniffing around the henhouse over greasy slide guitar, a deep, deep pocket and a truly funky bass line. "All I knew was that I wanted to write a song that merged country and funk," Jacobs says of "Rooster Coop." "We started out with the main groove of the tune and the first line that popped into my head was, 'There’s something funky in the barnyard.' So naturally, I wrote a song about a scandalous love tryst amongst farm animals."

Spanning rock, folk, soul and funk and drawing from inspiration that runs the gamut from the henhouse to the White House, Color Where You Are is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Cris Jacobs as a songwriter, musician and bandleader. It's the work of a devoted father and an empathetic member of the human race. More than that, it's a reminder that there's beauty to be found everywhere, if you just take a moment to color where you are.

"What am I trying to do with my music?" Jacobs muses. "The simple answer is this: I’m trying to connect with people. To express real-life human emotions and make people feel things. To connect my love of music with my love of writing and conjure up all of the joy and emotions that those things bring to me. To hopefully have people walk away feeling lighter or happier or more inspired to go be a better person somehow after listening... I want to create a body of work that my family will be proud of one day, and to show that I had compassion to the human condition and wasn’t just a self-indulgent show off."


Justin Trawick and The Common Good

official band site »

Justin Trawick and The Common Good’s debut record, “The Riverwash EP”, exemplifies the raw emotional live sound Trawick and the band have cultivated over the years playing in clubs and festivals up and down the East Coast. With instrumentation consisting of acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, mandolin, and pedal steel, the band’s live performance plays fast and loose with the “Americana” genre, performing heartfelt ballads followed by raucous bluegrass melodies and even moments of hip hop verses.

Written by DC based songwriter Justin Trawick, “The Riverwash EP” introduces the listener to Trawick’s unique brand storytelling with five original songs about love, loss, longing, resilience, and time pulling heartstrings of listeners young and old. Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman) guest performs on guitar during “All the Places That I’ve Been”, a song inspired by Trawick’s ninety-seven year old grandmother and her stories of the World War II generation. Finally, the album closes with the band’s unique take on “Wonderwall” by Oasis, a track sure to trick the audience into thinking they’re listening to another Trawick original.

Justin Trawick has been performing in the Washington DC area and along the East Coast since 2006, citing musical influences like Bob Schneider, The Tallest Man on Earth, G. Love, Old Crow Medicine Show, and David Gray. In June of 2015, Trawick released his first single, “Goodbye”, under the band name "Justin Trawick and the Common Good”; written about the search for direction and belonging in a world that constantly feels one step ahead of you. Trawick has performed for TedxEast in NYC at the City Winery, TedxPennsylvaniaAvenue in DC at the Newseum, and has opened for over 30 national acts including Suzanne Vega, Wyclef Jean, Brett Dennen, Blues Traveler, Enter The Haggis, Bob Schneider, and Edwin McCain, and shared bills with Dr. Dogg and The Avett Brothers. In February of 2014, Trawick won “Song of the Year” at the Washington Area Music Awards for his song “All the Places That I’ve Been," which can be downloaded on iTunes as a single along with his five other solo records and EPs. Founder of the nationally touring show “The 9 Songwriter Series” and co-founder of “The Circus Life Podcast" with guests such as Kevin Eubanks, Chris Thomas King, Ernie Halter, Yarn, and Snuffy Walden, Trawick has built a brand that extends far beyond his home base in DC. For more information, please visit http://justintrawick.com.

 
SOJA
Passafire | Iya Terra | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Apr
13

SOJA

Passafire
Iya Terra

Saturday Apr 13|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


SOJA

official band site »

Nearly two decades ago, SOJA began as high school friends in a D.C. area basement teaching each other to be musicians and play roots reggae music. Today, the 2x GRAMMY-nominated eight-piece band, with over 7 million online followers and over 300 million Youtube views, headlines concerts all over the world for their massive dedicated fanbase. Even with their continued success, SOJA always wants to remember their time together in that basement inspired by each other’s contributions and ideas.

The feeling of true magic, collaboration and brotherhood that started it all is still evident today in their music and each night at their live concerts. For their latest studio album, Poetry In Motion (Oct 27 2017), it was essential for SOJA to consciously go back to the beginning and recapture that same sincere, collaborative magic sparked 20 years ago.

“For your whole life money is the thing you’re scarce on,” frontman Jacob Hemphill says. “Then once you get busy enough time becomes the thing you’re most scarce on. So spending time at home becomes your most valuable commodity and then the collaborative process starts taking place over the phone and email instead of in person. For Poetry In Motion we asked ourselves, ‘What if we went back to the beginning and wrote, arranged, recorded and produced the entire thing together?’ All eight guys in one room to create something special. That was the approach to this record – to make something we truly love and did all together.”

The band set up at Haunted Hollow Studios, Dave Matthews Band’s studio, near Charlottesville, VA. The idea was to live and work together in one place, investing all their energy into the process. They spent three months in the studio over several sessions in late 2016 and early 2017, spending hours sitting on the back porch discussing music and life. Everyone showed up with new ideas, new instruments and new gear. The band enlisted Rob Evans, Ivan Guitierrez and Mariano Aponte to co- produce the songs, and there was an open-minded sentiment throughout. “It was a learning and experimenting process,” Jacobs notes. “We got the exact thing we wanted from it.”

The album’s 11 tracks embrace reggae completely, focusing on what the genre does best. They referred often to their 2009 album, Born In Babylon, to remind them of where they came from and how they’d like to go forward. Poetry In Motion is the beginning of a chapter, but it’s also a return to the past. It’s a revitalization of what made SOJA so special to begin with. It’s about eight guys in one room making reggae music that truly means something.

“We’re going back to our roots and what we do best,” Jacob says. “We’re remembering why we started this band and the magic of what we’ve built. We were lucky enough to create our own family and we picked every brother by hand. This album feels like we’ve had an amazing family reunion. It’s a blueprint for our future.”

Poetry In Motion continues the band’s belief that music should speak for people and uplift them. The album looks at the world today and asks why it feels like something is wrong when so much exists around us. "Fire In the Sky,” propulsive and upbeat, takes the positive outlook on humanity while “Life Support,” a more introspective song, tackles the negative outlook. All the other tracks fall somewhere in the middle, as Jacob and the band grapple with the human condition, unafraid of big topics and essential life queries.

“The definition of the title is three-fold,” Jacob says. “I’m poetry, the band’s motion. The human race and the animals and plants that are spinning around on this Earth are beautiful – it’s poetry flying through the universe in motion. And then, thirdly, we are this beautiful poetry but we keep moving away from it. Right now it feels like we’re moving in the wrong direction and it’s scary.”

The album poses questions but never takes on a definitive reply. SOJA isn’t offering an answer. Instead, the answers are out there for each listener to find on their own. "There’s no periods on anything,” Jacob notes. “I give hints and glimpses, but my own opinions on the human condition change every year. Sometimes I’m climbing, sometimes I’m sliding. So maybe I’m not the right guy to be answering questions. But I can ask all these questions that matter and help people. I’m out there fishing for the next person.”

His ultimate goal with each song is simple. “How do I make the human condition come into this song?” he says. “How do I relate to the biggest family of all time? That’s all I’m ever really trying to do.”

SOJA’s energetic, impassioned live performances have a similar effect. Averaging around 120 shows a year for the last decade, SOJA has toured with acts that include Dave Matthews Band, 311 and Incubus, and engaged a massive international fan base of die-hard followers at festivals that include Bonnaroo, Hangout Festival, Wakarusa, Cali Roots, Summerjam Germany, Woodstock Poland, Personal Festival Argentina, Ziget Festival Hungry and many more. Their live shows offer people a chance to look both inward and outward, and feel part of a global community, particularly since SOJA has headlined shows in over 30 countries. For SOJA, everything is about connection, whether it's with the world around them or within the band. “Nothing worth doing in life can you do by yourself,” Jacob notes. “We’re in this together.”


Passafire

official band site »

“It’s all in our minds / Planted over time / Grew into a vine / That became intertwined” – from “All In Our Minds”On Passafire’s sixth studio release, Longshot, the Savannah, GA based rock outfit gives a testimony to following dreams, inspired by people, places, and experiences Passafire has shared since forming as a band. The group’s four members continue chasing their passion despite being told many times that “Making it as a musician is a long-shot,” a piece of advice that inspired this album and its title. Longshot takes its listeners through a full spectrum of emotions, telling stories of heartbreak, new beginnings, overcoming personal struggles, finding truths, discovering new places, and getting older, all weaved into Passafire’s genre-defying mix of reggae, hard rock, hip hop, and anything else that turns the group on musically.

Passafire was formed in Savannah, GA, in 2003 by Ted Bowne and Nick Kubley, and have built a strong reputation within the U.S. reggae scene through relentless touring with fellow band members Mike DeGuzman and Will Kubley. Bowne doesn’t mind the grueling schedule and adds, “Touring is the best way to keep the buzz about the band going. What keeps it fun and exciting is the people we meet and places we get to see. We are in a new city every day so there’s always something to go see or do.” They continue to be a larger part of the U.S. reggae scene, even though musically they are often far apart from many of their peers in the genre, with a growing emphasis on alternative and progressive rock elements within their songs.

Iya Terra

official band site »

As the genre of Reggae music is continuously evolving, Los Angeles, California, based Iya Terra has found a way to take the messages of traditional Roots-Reggae and seamlessly mash them up in a today version. The young group of musicians have chosen the name Iya Terra, meaning “Higher Ground,” as the launching pad to create positive, conscious music while spreading messages of anti-establishment, simple living, and a healthy lifestyle. Their modern approach to the music, high-energy performances and full sound add a new dimension to traditional Reggae that appeals to an audience of all ages, opening the doors for them to be labeled as one of today’s leaders in the “New Roots” movement.

 
The Claypool Lennon Delirium
Uni | @9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
17

The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Uni


Wednesday Apr 17|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Claypool Lennon Delirium

official band site »


Uni

official band site »

The course of history often seems wayward and chaotic. It’s the gum on the heel of your shoe that a homeless saint picks off and plops in his mouth to chew again. Uni grows underneath your fingernails when you sit next to your parents in Church, digging them into the soft flesh above your knee. Uni dribbles from the mouths of sidewalk sleeping drunks and slithers into the throat of a politician to make him cough and loosen his tie. Uni was there during your first masturbation and first confession. Uni wakes you up in the middle of the night.

Parents of America. A new phenomenon has taken over our youth. Uni wages war on the apathy and digital narcissism of 1st world ignorance. It is a cult of one, a cult of infinity. Jack James is the voice, a slender boy from Texas with a penchant for lipstick and Oscar Wilde, who came down from another planet to be the rock star of the future. David Strange is the sword, a gristled poet and carpenter who can build anything, writing sonnets and summoning demons on his guitar. Kemp is the brain, a crazed scientist who composes prog riffs and surrealist visuals, leading the three into the great abyss. But you are the hands. Go spread the message

 
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Barika | @The Hamilton | view more info »
Apr
18

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Barika


Thursday Apr 18|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

official band site »

Formed in 2001 in Rochester, New York, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad first received praise for their live show, which combined world beats and reggae rhythms within jamband aesthetics. In recent years the band’s studio recordings, which showcase their songwriting and musicianship across all genres of roots music, have further cemented their legend as master innovators and artists. Their sixth studio album MAKE IT BETTER was released September 16, 2016 on Rootfire Cooperative, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. “There is a lot of intention in this release. We had a purpose to prove to ourselves recording this album [MAKE IT BETTER]. We wanted to know that we could put our heads down and do good work fast. It was a great release artistically. It uniquely sounds the most progressive of anything we have ever done while also sounding the most like our first album.” -James Searl, Bassist/Vocalist


Barika

official band site »

Barika is a 6 piece funky, dubbed out, psychedelic West African flavored band from Burlington, Vermont. The group is led by Craig Myers who, in addition to leading Barika on the N'Goni, is also a current member of Mike Gordon's band, and was one of the original founding members of Rubblebucket. He has performed alongside many artists and bands including Midnight, Toubab Krewe, Djeneba Seck, and John Brown's Body.

 
An evening with
Lotus
@9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
19

An evening with
Lotus



Friday Apr 19|doors 10:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


An evening with
Lotus

official band site »

Lotus has always been difficult to define musically; an instrumental jamband that has favored groove-based improvisation instead of gaudy solos and noodling. Influences of classic electronic dance music, funk, post-rock and dance-rock have all made their way into the Lotus sound. Over the years, their unique musical blend of electronica with jam music has helped forge a new path in the jamband landscape, influencing many younger bands in the scene. Their latest studio effort, Frames Per Second (December 2018), aims to showcase Lotus in a pure, raw form performing live in the studio. Tracked live at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia with cameras rolling, the all-instrumental result is both an audio and video project. Instrumental jazz-funk, Norwegian space-disco and other sounds make their way into the expansive 19-song album and documentary. For Frames Per Second, Lotus aimed to incorporate pyschedelia into the album’s sound by combining hypnotic beats with unexpected harmonic or timbral turns. Approaching two decades together, Lotus has toured actively throughout the US working their way up from dingy basement clubs to world-class venues such as Red Rocks. They've become festival favorites, playing everything from Bonnaroo, Camp Bisco and Outside Lands to Ultra Music Festival and Electric Forest, building a hyper-loyal following along the way. A Lotus live show is an experience, a uniquely crafted and improvised set taking everyone, the crowd and band, on a journey.


 
An evening with
Lotus
@9:30 club | view more info »
Apr
20

An evening with
Lotus



Saturday Apr 20|doors 10:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


An evening with
Lotus

official band site »

Lotus has always been difficult to define musically; an instrumental jamband that has favored groove-based improvisation instead of gaudy solos and noodling. Influences of classic electronic dance music, funk, post-rock and dance-rock have all made their way into the Lotus sound. Over the years, their unique musical blend of electronica with jam music has helped forge a new path in the jamband landscape, influencing many younger bands in the scene. Their latest studio effort, Frames Per Second (December 2018), aims to showcase Lotus in a pure, raw form performing live in the studio. Tracked live at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia with cameras rolling, the all-instrumental result is both an audio and video project. Instrumental jazz-funk, Norwegian space-disco and other sounds make their way into the expansive 19-song album and documentary. For Frames Per Second, Lotus aimed to incorporate pyschedelia into the album’s sound by combining hypnotic beats with unexpected harmonic or timbral turns. Approaching two decades together, Lotus has toured actively throughout the US working their way up from dingy basement clubs to world-class venues such as Red Rocks. They've become festival favorites, playing everything from Bonnaroo, Camp Bisco and Outside Lands to Ultra Music Festival and Electric Forest, building a hyper-loyal following along the way. A Lotus live show is an experience, a uniquely crafted and improvised set taking everyone, the crowd and band, on a journey.


 
Papadosio
The Werks | lespecial | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Apr
27

Papadosio

The Werks
lespecial

Saturday Apr 27|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


Papadosio

official band site »

FALLING SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ROCK, JAZZ AND ELECTRONIC MAYHEM WE FIND SPACE ROCK. PAPADOSIO STRIVES TO CREATE MUSIC THAT IS STRANGELY FAMILIAR, AND CALLS ALL WALKS OF HUMANITY TO BASK IN A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE CELEBRATING THE ONE CONSTANT IN AN EVER CHANGING WORLD: MUSIC.


The Werks

official band site »

On their latest LP Magic, melodic visionaries The Werks transcend their funk rock roots while never losing their identity. Poignant songwriting and engaging improvisation come together on a record that showcases their maturation as a multidimensional group of uniquely creative musicians.

The virtuosic rhythm junkies of The Werks have released four highly acclaimed studio albums over the past ten years - Synapse (2009), The Werks (2012), Mr. Smalls Sessions EP (2014), and Inside a Dream (2015) - performed well over one thousand shows (including launching their own multi-day music festival The Werk Out), and released countless live recordings including last year’s Live at The Werk Out live album. In that time they’ve earned a devoted fan base across the world and reputation as one of the most energetic, compelling, and downright entertaining live acts in the business. They’ve developed a hard won confidence, and a willingness to fearlessly chart new sonic territory on Magic.

“This is our first truly multi-genre album” says Chris Houser. “Each track has its own unique vibe and sound. We didn’t write these songs to please people, we wrote them because this is what we hear when we turn off the outside and let the creativity flow.”

The songs on Magic started as sketches the band members crafted independently. Coming together in their sonic dojo The Werkspace, those seeds of groove were nurtured by the group, growing into fully wrought songs. “Our writing is collaborative,” explains Dan Shaw, “but starting with demos written individually gives each band member a chance to leave their fingerprint on a tune.”

The songwriting finished, the band decamped to Sonic Lounge in Grove City, Ohio. There lead engineer and producer Joe Viers (Blues Traveler, Twenty One Pilots) settled down to work with the studio’s legendary Amek/Neve 9098i mixing console. One of only thirteen in the world, Sonic Lounge’s was originally installed in Olympic Studios in London, England, where it served to document the unique creative mojo of Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, and more.

Joining Viers were assistant engineers and producers Aaron Oakley and B.J. Davis, and the unstoppable horns of Columbus’ own Hoodoo Soul Band - Chris Young (trumpet), Kevin O’Neil (tenor), and Phil Clark (Baritone) – while Kenny Holmes, tour manager and right hand man, was the gaff tape that held it all together. Finally Columbus native and current Los Angeles, CA resident Brian Lucey (Train, Dr. Dog) mastered the record.

From those sessions emerged a rare jewel of a record; Magic is muse put to tape, a direct download of the creative spark. “This is a recording of the music that’s in our souls” explains Rob Chafin. “In a way, the past decade has been leading to this moment. We play and write together so seamlessly now, we’re able to channel the inspiration in our hearts out into our instruments, and come at this from a pure place.” Together, they have crafted a record where melodies take flight, dancing and twisting around the sonorous main of the tune itself. By fusing their spirited inventiveness to a core of immediately engaging songwriting, The Werks have truly performed a feat of modern musical Magic.

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...

 
Satsang
Conor & The Wild Hunt | @Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
May
1

Satsang

Conor & The Wild Hunt


Wednesday May 1|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


Satsang

official band site »

Satsang is a power trio creating a unique blend of soul, folk-rock, and hip-hop. Satsang delivers lyrics that come from and are rooted in change, growth, awareness, and imperfection. The live show is everything that the band name suggests: a gathering of people to assimilate and share their truths. The rhythms put forth by the band keep everyone on their feet, and the lyrics leave them craving active and positive change. Satsang has toured all over the country and has shared the stage with the likes of Michael Franti & Spearhead, Steel Pulse, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Trevor Hall, Chris Berry, Mike Love, Jon Wayne and the Pain, Tubby Love, and many more.

Lead singer and songwriter Drew McManus creates music for his soul, fueled by the ever present task of personal growth and the beautiful life that he found in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Commenting on his difficult upbringing in Des Moines and residency in Chicago, McManus says, “I grew up in an environment where aggression, violence, abuse, and addiction were always present. It made me a lot of things; angry, sad, and ashamed. I hated my story and I was a slave to addiction. I tried for so long to hide from the reality of my story and the reality of how beautiful life could be.” It wasn’t until an intense spiritual experience lead Drew to break his cycle of addiction. “I had changed my entire outlook on everything” say McManus, “I began to realize that had everything not happened to me exactly like it did, I would not be exactly who/where/what I am right now.” In an effort to share his revelation with others who may be in the same predicament, Drew began to write every day. “I was flooded with the urge to write down the lessons that kept revealing themselves in this surrender. And the connections I began making with other people by making this music vulnerable and open, began to change everything.” These songs are a statement of lessons learned and a further understanding of self. “The whole story is what makes it beautiful, not just the good bits.”

Satsang released their sophomore album Pyramid(s) in March of 2017 and saw it quickly rise to #1 on the Billboard Reggae charts and #2 on the iTunes charts. The band also surprise-released a new EP, In Between Another Blink at the end of 2017 and had it crack the top 20 on the iTunes Singer/ Songwriter chart with no advance promotion. The band spent 2018 selling out two-thirds of their shows on headline tours in the Midwest, Northeast, and on the Pacific Coast. This success shows the proof of concept in creating legions of fans from coast to coast on support tours with Michael Franti, Trevor Hall, Wookiefoot and Nahko and Medicine for the People.


Conor & The Wild Hunt

official band site »

Conor & The Wild Hunt is a Progressive Indie Folk band intent on inspiring positive change in a troubled world. With artful and driving instrumentation, impassioned duets, blooming three part harmonies, and a compelling stage presence, Conor & The Wild Hunt animates soulful original songs with modern takes on Americana traditions.

 
Driftwood
@The 8x10 | view more info »
May
2

Driftwood



Thursday May 2|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Driftwood

official band site »

Anyone familiar with the Americana music scene knows this Upstate, New York-based band has cut their teeth on a killer live show. With a never ending tour schedule and a steady buzz they have built a very solid underground fan base. "The game has been live shows and nose to the ground since the beginning.", says guitarist/songwriter Dan Forsyth.

As well as a devout following and a sizable discography, the band's hard work has also been a huge part of the inspiration for their music. The songs and arrangements have grown out of time spent on the road, growing closer, learning with and from each other and weathering the up's and down's of the journey together. "We have a truly special bond creatively and personally. It's the driving force behind the music.", violinist/songwriter Claire Byrne adds.

It is with this bond, patience, determination and an undying, mutual love and respect for music, the road, and their friendship, they have approached their latest offering, Tree of Shade.

"I'm struck by the gratitude that making music with my best friends/my other family brings", says guitarist/songwriter Joe Kollar. "Even our producer (Simone Felice) and the engineer (Pete Hanlon) became brothers in this process. Laying out some of your most intimate moments and showing the rawest version of yourself is both scary and exhilarating but more importantly it reminds you why you chose music as the vehicle. It's the '66 Corvette that will always take me back to the beauty and power of a group of people setting out to make something together".

Their first album with a major producer, Tree of Shade is a testament to the essence of a song. Working along side Felice, The band found themselves stripping things back way more than they normally would.

"Simone was all about finding the essence of the song and doing our best to bring it out without distorting it or taking the arrangement too far".

The album is slated to be released on April 5. The first single, “Lay Like You Do,” will be released February 22. “This was one of those songs that came out faster than I could write it down and seemed sort of like plucking an apple off a tree,” songwriter and guitarist Dan Forsyth says of the song. “The melody and chorus came out of a dream and when I woke up, I wrote the rest real fast".

The band has also announced new tour dates throughout the Midwest and West Coast in support. Additional tour dates on the East Coast will be announced shortly, including album release shows in the band’s native upstate New York.


 
Several Species
The Pink Floyd Experience | @Union Stage | view more info »
May
4

Several Species

The Pink Floyd Experience


Saturday May 4|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Several Species


The Pink Floyd Experience

official band site »

11-member band dedicated to recreating the Pink Floyd concert experience since 1996.

 
Etana
@Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
May
5

Etana



Sunday May 5|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


Etana

official band site »

Reggae music has birthed yet another rarity- A spirited and soulful singer/songwriter in the eloquent and enchanted empress Etana. Since recognizing the power of music and widespread influence, singer/songwriter Shauna McKenzie returned to her birthplace Jamaica, after being left with a negative pop industry experience. Adopting the moniker of Etana for it’s powerful meaning “The Strong One” in Swahili; Her strength was manifested this time around by pursuing a musical career on her own terms.

Etana’s elegantly modest Rasta-chic sartorial style is as distinctive as her sound: An audacious fusion of folk, soul, jazz and reggae supporting a powerful vocal range suggestive of the ancestral spirit of South Africa’s Miriam Makeba. The Regality of reggae queen Marcia Griffiths and the soulful verve of Etta James. “I looked at how women were being represented in Jamaican music and how little girls were being influenced negatively by tinder surroundings, I wanted to be a positive influence and change some of the way things that were being taught” Etana Reflected.


 
The New Mastersounds
@Union Craft Brewing | view more info »
May
8

The New Mastersounds



Wednesday May 8|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Union Craft Brewing|get directions »
1700 West 41st Street
Baltimore, MD


The New Mastersounds

official band site »

In the late 1990’s, guitarist and producer Eddie Roberts was promoting a club night in Leeds called “The Cooker.” When The Cooker moved into a new venue with a second floor in 1999, there was space and the opportunity to put a live band together to complement the DJ sets. Simon Allen and Eddie had previously played together as The Mastersounds, though with a different bassist and no organ. Through friends and the inmate nature of the Leeds music scene, Pete Shand and Bob Birch were added on bass and Hammond respectively, and The New Mastersounds were born. Though it was raw, and more of a boogaloo sound at first, it was powerful from the start. Their first rehearsal was hot enough for Blow it Hard Records to release on two limited-edition 7” singles in 2000.

Fast-forward 19 years, and the band’s recorded catalogue boasts 24 more 7” singles, 13 studio albums, 3 live albums, 1 remix album and 3 compilation albums, released variously in UK, Japan, and USA - where they continue to tour extensively. Joe Ta on, another veteran of the Leeds scene, joined back in 2007, replacing Bob Birch on organ and piano. As a band, and as individuals, they have collaborated with an impressive array of musicians, DJs and producers, including: Lou Donaldson, Corinne Bailey Rae, Quantic, Carleen Anderson, Keb Darge, Kenny Dope, Mr Scruff, LSK, Lack of Afro, Page McConnell, Grace Po er, Karl Denson, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Fred Wesley, Pee-Wee Ellis, Maceo Parker, Bernard Purdie, George Porter Jr, Zigaboo Modeliste, Art Neville, Ernest Ranglin.

During a 2018 US tour, a sit-in by Atlanta-based vocalist Lamar Williams Jr turned heads, and the fit with NMS was so right that they pledged to make a record together. The resulting album was written and recorded in Denver, CO in December of that year and will be released in Fall 2019 on Eddie Roberts’ own Color Red label.

As an example of the respect this band commands, Peter Wermelinger - DJ, collector, and author of the crate-diggers’ bible The Funky & Groovy Music Lexicon - places the 2001 NMS track ‘Turn This Thing Around’ in his all-time top-ten tunes, along with the likes of Eddie Harris, Funkadelic, and Herbie Hancock. The New Mastersounds are at the very top of an elite selection of acts that bring the true soul out of funk.


 
Southern Avenue
Travers Brothership | @The 8x10 | view more info »
May
9

Southern Avenue

Travers Brothership


Thursday May 9|doors 7:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Southern Avenue

official band site »

Southern Avenue is a Memphis street that runs from the easternmost part of the city limits all the way to Soulsville, the original home of Stax Records. Southern Avenue is also the name of a fiery young Memphis quintet that embodies its home city's soul, blues and gospel traditions, while adding a youthful spirit and dynamic energy all their own. “If Memphis is a genre, this is it!” proclaims American Blues Scene and Rock 103FM calls Southern Avenue - “The most talked about band in Memphis.”

Their self-titled debut album is a breath of fresh air with its own unique blend of gospel- tinged R&B vocals, roots/blues-based guitar work and soul-inspired songwriting. And Southern Avenue’s upcoming release on the fabled Stax label is a testament to the young combo's talent and vision.

Southern Avenue features five young but seasoned musicians who came from diverse musical and personal backgrounds to create music that spans their wide-ranging musical interests, while showcasing the powerful chemistry that the group has honed through stage and studio experience. Southern Avenue encompasses Memphis-born, church-bred sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson, respectively a soulful, charismatic singer and a subtle powerful drummer; guitarist Ori Naftaly, an Israeli-born blues disciple who first came to America as an acclaimed solo artist; versatile jazz-inspired bassist Daniel McKee; and the band's newest addition, keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax's legendary music academy.

The band members' diverse skills come together organically on Southern Avenue, scheduled for release on February 24, 2017 via Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group. Produced by Kevin Houston (North Mississippi Allstars, Lucero, Patty Griffin), the 10-song album features guest appearances from Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and trumpeter Marc Franklin of the Bo-Keys. But it's Southern Avenue's own potent musical chemistry that drives such sublimely soulful originals as "Don't Give Up," "What Did I Do," "It's Gonna Be Alright," "Love Me Right" and "Wildflower." The band also pays tribute to its roots with an incandescent reading of Ann Peebles' Memphis soul classic "Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love."

The seeds for Southern Avenue's birth were planted when Ori Naftaly, who'd grown up in Israel with a deep-rooted passion for American blues and funk, came to Memphis in 2013 to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge. That experience led to Naftaly moving permanently to Memphis and successfully touring the United States with his own band.

Although his talents were embraced by American audiences, Naftaly felt constrained in his own band, feeling the need to include a more expansive, collaborative musical vision. That opportunity arrived when he met Memphis native Tierinii Jackson, who'd gotten her start singing in church, before performing in a series of cover bands and theatrical projects. According to Ori, "When I saw Tierinii perform, I thought, 'This is why I came to America.' I met her and we clicked. At our first rehearsal, she told me that her sister was a drummer, and she thought it would be great to have her in the band. We had such a good vibe, and suddenly I didn't care so much about my solo thing."

"I initially clicked with Ori really well, but it was his project," Tierinii remembers. "Then he came to me and said 'I want this band to be a collaboration, I want this to be our vision and our music.' So we started writing together, and that's when I realized that we were really the same musically."

"We started over," Naftaly continues. "We threw out most of the songs I'd been playing in my solo band, and Tierinii and I wrote a whole new set, and we became Southern Avenue. The more we played together, the closer we got, and the more we became a family. We started getting a different kind of crowd, and from there things escalated quickly."

"Ori said, 'My band is done, this is y'all's band,'" Tierinii recalls. "We all quit our other gigs and started focusing on this, working and writing and living together in a way that you don't experience when you're playing somebody else's music. Now we're playing songs that we wrote ourselves and we're playing them from our hearts. That is when I realized that we had something special."

Despite not having a record deal, Southern Avenue quickly found success touring in America and Europe. They won additional attention playing some prestigious festivals and competing in the International Blues Challenge, in which they represented Memphis. Less than a year after the band's formation, they were signed to the resurgent Stax label. "I feel like being on Stax is a responsibility," says Tierinii. "I grew up in Memphis, seeing the name Stax everywhere. It was a constant presence, and now it's up to us to live up that. I feel like this band can be a platform to do a lot of positive things for the city of Memphis. I want to change the world, but Memphis is home."

Tierinii views Southern Avenue as "a perfect soundtrack to our first year together. We wrote these songs in our first nine months of being a band. We'd all done so many things and come from so many different places, but the music represents all of us. "It's been a real crash course," she continues. "We've haven't been a band for very long, but what we have feels very special, and it's made us a strong unit. I think that we represent something that people need to see right now."

"This band has already made our dreams come true," Ori concludes. "I've waited all my life to be in a band like this, and it's amazing to me that I get to play with these people every night. Our goal is to keep doing this for a long time and leave our mark. We're trying to build a legacy."


Travers Brothership

official band site »

Twin brothers Eric and Kyle Travers have been making music and stunning audiences since they started playing music together at 7 years old.

In 2012 the brothers formed their latest project, Travers Brothership, a Soul/Funk/Rock/Jam ensemble based out of Asheville, NC with Ian McIsaac on keys and percussion.

There is a reason Travers Brothership stands out among most acts on the scene today, they care to make each concert a unique and unforgettable experience. Utilizing the band's unmatched live energy, instrumental prowess, and 3-part harmonies; they create a live atmosphere that transforms an audience into a community. A Travers Brothership concert is best described as a wild block party, and this is a party you don't wanna miss. ?

Following the success of the "I Don't Mind EP" the band began touring nationally in 2013 and has since performed 400+ concerts across the United States. The band has shared the stage with many accomplished acts such as: Charles Bradley, Taj Mahal, Moe, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Blues Traveler, Robert Randolph, Leftover Salmon, Trombone Shorty, The Marcus King Band, Dr. John, and many more.

In 2014, Josh Clark (Bass & Vocals) climbed aboard Travers Brothership. This lineup change finalized the current roster of the band, enabling them to perform the 3-part harmonies that define their current sound. ?

Over the course of two national tours the band began work with Grammy award winning producer, Juan "Pericles" Covaz, and Grammy nominated engineer, Matt Williams. Following recording sessions at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL and The Eagle Room in Asheville, NC the band's first album "A Way To Survive" was complete.

"A Way To Survive" was released in 2016 to critical acclaim and outstanding reviews. The album has won numerous awards including "Best Studio Album of 2016" at Homegrown Music Network, and has received airplay on radio stations throughout the U.S. and beyond. The band has won numerous other awards including: Winner in Raleigh NC’s Band Together Competition in 2017 and placing runner up in Floydfest’s On-The Rise Competition in 2018. Travers Brothership just completed work on their sophomore LP, “Let The World Decide” at Echo Mountain Recording Studio’s and The Eagle Room in Asheville, NC. The album is due out on December 8th 2018.

In January of 2019 the band will embark on their first tour of Europe, and then return to the US to tour in support of “Let The World Decide” for the remainder of 2019.

 
Marco Benevento
@Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
May
10

Marco Benevento



Friday May 10|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


Marco Benevento

official band site »

For more than a decade pianist Marco Benevento has been amassing an extensive body of work. His studio albums and live performances set forth a vision that connects the dots in the vast space between LCD Soundsystem and Leon Russell, pulsating with dance rock energy, but with smart, earthy songwriting to match. It has led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall to Pickathon, Mountain Jam to Treefort Festival, while headlining shows coast to coast.

Marco Benevento’s latest studio LP, The Story of Fred Short, and its companion live re-lease, The Woodstock Sessions, is some of his finest and most adventurous work to date—a maestro making “bold indie rock” says Brooklyn Vegan, while the LA Times raves, “Benevento continues to straighten his twisted sound into the guise of an indie-rock singer-songwriter, harnessing his inventive sonic palette into rewardingly bite-size pop songs that touch on disco and soul.” Honing his psych rock and late night dance party sensibilities, the recordings find the pianist citing everything from Harry Nilsson, Manu Chau and Gorillaz as inspiration.

As anybody who’s seen Marco Benevento perform can attest, with eyes closed, smile wide across his face and fingers free-flowing across the keys, he’s a satellite to the muse. With a devout and growing fan-base, Benevento is an artist whose story is only beginning to unfold.


 
Bumpin Uglies
Edjacated Phools | The Harbor Boys | @Union Stage | view more info »
May
10

Bumpin Uglies

Edjacated Phools
The Harbor Boys

Friday May 10|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Bumpin Uglies

official band site »

For nearly a decade now, Bumpin Uglies have been playing their brand of groove-heavy jams – a curiously fun mix of ska, Reggae and good ole’ punk rock – all while putting strong lyrics at the forefront of the music. It’s a formula that quickly took them from local favorites, playing around Annapolis, to a national stage. With a wildly infectious sound, tattoo-worthy lyrics and an itch to take their music to the masses, the band piled into the van years ago and have rarely seen home since.

When they aren’t on the road, they’ve been camped in the studio, churning out four full-length albums, two acoustic albums, three EP’s and a Live record. Their latest, 2018’s Beast From The East came out on Space Duck Records and is proof that the band has found their groove. The album consists of a dozen stand-out tracks, any one of which could be considered instant classics for the band. The album also features some big names in the East Coast reggae-rock community including Ballyhoo!’s Howi Spangler, the Movement’s Gary Dread, Passafire’s Ted Bowne, Tropidelic’s Derek McBryde, Matthew Roads & Young James, Zach Fowler of Sun Dried Vibes and Oogee Wawa’s Jesse Lee. Buzz magazine raves “Beast From The East IS A CAREFULLY CRAFTED PUNK-REGGAE GEM.”

The Bumpin Uglies’ origin story begins with singer/guitarist Brandon Hardesty playing open mics around Maryland. He met bassist Dave Wolf not too long after and Bumpin Uglies was born. With a proper set of wheels and TJ Haslett on drums, they went off to spread their music across the country like modern day Johnny Appleseeds. The group recently added Chad Wright on keyboards, expanding on their sound.

Raised on everything from Bad Religion and The Beach Boys to Sublime and Reel Big Fish, Bumpin Uglies have managed to take inspiration from some of the best out there, run it through their own distinctive filter and end up with a truly original take on the various genres creating an original hybrid. With a unique sound that’s nearly impossible to ignore, the band has gotten everyone from dreadlocked kids to PBR-fueled tattooed punks moving their heads to their music at festivals and on headlining tours across the country.


Edjacated Phools

official band site »

The Edjacated Phools are a 6-piece fusion band based in Baltimore, MD. Comprised of Devin Barone (drums), Tyler Garrison (bass), Nick Hatzis, (vocals) Kyle Sappington (vocals), Logan Sappington (guitar, vocals), and Ben Yancheski (keys), they combine an energetic blend of rock, reggae, hip-hop, ska and alternative influences into a unique sound.

The band played its first show in January of 2015, and since then have had the privilege of playing alongside several accomplished national artists, including: Wyclef Jean, The Expendables, Badfish, Jesse Royal, Coolio, The Green, The Movement, Cappadonna (of Wu-Tang Clan), Big Something, Bumpin Uglies, RDGLDGRN, Roots Of Creation, Tropidelic, People’s Blues of Richmond, and Passafire.

In April 2016, Edjacated Phools recorded and released their debut EP under legendary reggae producer Jim Fox (Inner Circle, Rebelution, SOJA, The Wailers, Don Carlos) at Lion and Fox Studios in College Park, MD.

The band organized and curated the very first Hightopps Backstage Bash music festival in Baltimore County in September 2016. The band recently presented the third annual Hightopps Backstage Bash along with headliners The Movement, RDGLDGRN, Sun-Dried Vibes, and Electric Love Machine.

The band had an exciting 2017, signing with Raised Fist Records in August and releasing their debut album, Check The Vibes, in September.

The Phools continued building their presence in 2018, having played their second supporting slot for Badfish at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on April 20th. The band also opened for Coolio at Baltimore Soundstage on May 2nd, played with Cappadonna of Wu-Tang Clan in New York City on July 26th, and directly supported the legendary Wyclef Jean at Power Plant Live in Baltimore on August 17th.

Edjacated Phools were recently nominated in the Best Reggae Artist for the 2018 Maryland Music Awards, and are looking forward to more new music and success in 2019.

The Harbor Boys

official band site »

The Harbor Boys are a Ska/reggae band based out of Pasadena, MD.

 
The Devil Makes Three
@9:30 club | view more info »
May
11

The Devil Makes Three



Saturday May 11|doors 10:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Devil Makes Three

official band site »

The power of words isn’t lost on longstanding Americana triumvirate The Devil Makes Three— Pete Bernhard, Lucia Turino, and Cooper McBean. For as much as they remain rooted in troubadour traditions of wandering folk, Delta blues, whiskey-soaked ragtime, and reckless rock ‘n’ roll, the band nods to the revolutionary unrest of author James Baldwin, the no-holds barred disillusionment of Ernest Hemingway, and Southern Gothic malaise of Flannery O’Connor. In that respect, their sixth full-length and first of original material since 2013, Chains Are Broken [New West], resembles a dusty leather bound book of short stories from some bygone era.

“I always want our songs to unfold like short stories,” affirms Bernhard. “You could think of them like the chapters of a book. Of course, they’re shorter and maybe more poetic. This was a much more personal album about what it takes to be an artist or writer of any kind—and what you have to do to make your dream possible. It was really the headspace I was in. It might have something to do with getting older. You start reflecting on life and the people around you. I was doing that in these songs. That’s what makes the record more personal. I’m pulling from these things. Some of it is about drug addiction. Some of it is about the things you sacrifice. Some of it is about the detrimental things we do for inspiration. Nevertheless, they all have some sort of narrative.”

The Devil Makes Three’s journey up to this point could be deemed worthy of a novel. Their self- titled 2002 debut yielded the now-classic “Old Number Seven,” “Graveyard,” “The Plank,” and more as they organically attracted a diehard following through constant touring. Longjohns, Boots and a Belt arrived in 2003 followed by 2009’s Do Wrong Write between a pair of live recordings, namely A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse and Stomp and Smash. 2014’s I’m a Stranger Here marked their first debut on the Billboard Top 200 as the 2016 “hero worship homage” Redemption & Ruin heralded the group’s second #1 bow on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and fourth consecutive top five debut on the respective chart. The latter garnered widespread acclaim from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter, The Boston Globe, and more. Over the years, they casted an unbreakable spell on audiences everywhere from Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Hangout Fest, and Shaky Knees.

As the band began writing ideas for Chains Are Broken, they veered off the proverbial path creatively. Instead of their typical revolving cast of collaborators, The Devil Makes Three stuck to its signature power trio—with one addition. This time, they invited touring drummer Stefan Amidon to power the bulk of the percussion. The presence of a drummer remains most amplified as the band seamlessly translated the spirit of the live show into a studio recording and busted the rules even more. And for the first time, they retreated to Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, TX a stone’s throw from the Mexican border to record with producer Ted Hutt [Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys].

“We broke a lot of rules in making this record,” smiles Bernhard. “We’ve always done whatever we wanted to, but there were still some things we wouldn’t try. Those fears went out the window. Ted was a big part of that. He stayed with us throughout the whole process from pre-production until the final moment of recording. He pushed us outside of our comfort zone. We’ve never had this experience. So, we got really creative under pressure, which ended up being super fun.”

These songs harness a spirit of freedom. “Pray For Rain” gallops along on a propulsive beat punctuated by a bluesy twang, before a chorus that’s akin to a spiritual uprising singing “I’m praying for some rain tonight.”

“It’s a song about the state of the world now,” says the frontman. “It hopes for some sort of positive change, which I think is totally possible. At the same time, it considers the past and how we got here. You want to wash away what’s there.”

Elsewhere, “Deep In My Heart” hinges on a menacingly melodic admission, “Deep in my heart, I know I’m a terrible man.” “We see it in the news all the time,” he continues. “People’s public personae fall apart, and everybody sees who they really are. We have an ability to choose to be good and evil at any time.”

The simmering groove and hummable hook of “Bad Idea” recounts how “sometimes we know we’re doing something stupid, but we just can’t control ourselves.” Elsewhere, “I Can’t Stop” offers up an elegiac memoriam to a handful of friends who left too soon.

Nodding to a favorite author James Baldwin, “I Can’t Stop” represents an emotional climax for the album. The author’s quote—"Ultimately, the artist and the revolutionary function as they function, and pay whatever dues they must pay behind it because they are both possessed by a vision, and they do not so much follow this vision as find themselves driven by it. Otherwise, they could never endure, much less embrace, the lives they are compelled to lead”—hangs heavy over it.

The tune itself centers on a heart-wrenching plea to on old buddy, “I don’t know why you would do what you were doing…”

“It’s mostly about a friend of mine who overdosed and died,” sighs Bernhard. “When we were teenagers, we’d get together, get high, and play guitar. I learned so much from him, because he was naturally talented, but he got so deep into doing all kinds of drugs and died. In some ways, it’s what he ultimately wanted, but I miss him so much. He was the primary motivation. It’s also dedicated to our friend Dave from Brown Bird who died of cancer. He and his wife were among our closest touring companions. It’s strange how we all don’t make it or survive to meet up in old age. People die. We keep going. There’s nothing else to do.”

Fitting snug like a ceremonial death mask, the cinematic expanse of “Paint My Face” underscores an oddly uplifting message—there may be something after all of this.

“‘Paint My Face’ talks reincarnation and unlived lives,” he states. “It partially discusses being a musician or an artist. It’s like a letter written to a child I don’t know saying death is not the end, as I believe, it’s the beginning of another life.” In the end, the words and music on the album leave a long-lasting imprint.

“I’d love for people to feel inspired,” Bernard leaves off. “Some of the songs might be sad, down, or depressing, but they inspire me. I feel better through the process. I hope you do too.”


 
Ghost Light
@The Hamilton | view more info »
May
18

Ghost Light



Saturday May 18|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Ghost Light

official band site »

“I think of this album like a bunch of abstract paintings,” says Ghost Light’s Tom Hamilton. “We present the songs as a series meant to be experienced in a certain order, but at the end of the day, whatever that series makes you feel is totally up to you.”

In that sense, Ghost Light’s brilliant debut album, ‘Best Kept Secrets,’ functions much like the band itself, drawing beauty and strength from both its complementary pairings and its unexpected juxtapositions. Formed in 2017, the group brings together five consummately talented artists from across the musical spectrum—guitarists/singers Tom Hamilton and Raina Mullen, pianist Holly Bowling, and drummer Scotty Zwang—and thrusts them into a wholly new context. The result is a record that transcends the sonic contributions and background of any single member, a collection that’s at once gritty and refined, sprawling and restrained, straightforward and psychedelic.

Though the performances on the album are laser focused, the group’s live shows are a far looser affair, with tracks frequently blossoming into extended improvisational journeys dictated by the emotional temperature of the room on any given night. Songs turn into wordless conversations between all five members, a tide-like give-and-take that makes each show wholly engrossing and utterly unique.

“An album is…a document and snapshot of a particular moment in time,” Hamilton told Live For Live Music in a recent interview, “but when it comes to taking that album and bringing it into the live arena, that’s when we turn ourselves back into the improvisers that we all are. We get to really see what these songs can do and where they can go.”

With a formidable live reputation already preceding them, the band sold out the opening night of their inaugural tour and they haven’t looked back since, playing a slew of headline dates around the country in addition to entrancing festival crowds from Lock’n to High Sierra, Peach Music Festival, Electric Forest, and beyond.


 
Kendall Street Company
Moogatu | @The 8x10 | view more info »
May
30

Kendall Street Company

Moogatu


Thursday May 30|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Kendall Street Company

official band site »

From late night jam sessions at the University of Virginia to the main stages of venues throughout the East Coast, the Company has broken out of the college bubble and into a world that loves to groove to a great live show. The band was founded in the early months of 2013 by guitarist/vocalist Louis Smith and saxophonist Andrew Drehoff. The duo had been playing together for some time in the greater Virginia Beach area, joined by a rotation of talented musicians who performed behind Louis as the Louis Smith Band. After moving to Charlottesville in late 2012 to attend the University of Virginia, the pair began putting together a group of student musicians, adding Brian Roy on bass/vocals and Ryan Wood on drums/percussion in early 2013. Since then, the band has added Andrew King on keyboards, Ben Laderberg on the electric guitar, and Jake Vanaman on saxophone.

Kendall Street Company performs regularly along the East Coast, maintaining a central presence around the state of Virginia. While the Company's music is influenced by a variety of musicians and styles, the group has been described as "psychedelic," "alternative," "jammy," "rock," "indie," and "ska". Their recent performance at the 2017 Lockn Music Festival was praised by Relix magazine as having "[raised] the crowd's energy with frontman Louis Smith and guitarist Ben Laderberg's acoustic/electric interplay and lively, technical breakdowns". It is not uncommon for guest performers to join the group on stage for extended jams.


Moogatu

official band site »

In late 2010, Moogatu planted the first seeds for its unique blend of funky, wompy prog rock just outside of the nation's capital in bucolic northern Virginia. Soaring dual lead guitars and a pulsing rhythm section bring the quintet's inviting songcraft and creative improvisations to an audience that grows at every club and festival. Moogatu is carving its niche with high energy sets that keep people grooving long into the night.

 
Circles Around The Sun
@Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
May
30

Circles Around The Sun



Thursday May 30|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Circles Around The Sun

official band site »

Let It Wander is the second album from Circles Around the Sun, but the quartet agrees that in many ways it feels more like their first.

By now, the band’s unconventional origin story is well known. Three years ago, guitarist Neal Casal formed the band with keyboardist Adam MacDougall (his bandmate in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood), bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy to record some Grateful Dead-influenced instrumentals to be played during the set breaks at the Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” concerts. “That was supposed to be the end of it,” Casal says.

Instead, there was an album, Interludes for the Dead, followed by several acclaimed live performances. The response was so positive, and the band was having so much fun making music together, that they agreed to keep it going, MacDougall says. “The chemistry the four of us had was instant and undeniable. It felt like we’d barely scratched the surface of what we could do, which is why we wanted to get back in the studio.”

It took nearly three years, but Circles Around the Sun – usually shortened to CATS – finally returned to Castaway 7 Studios in Ventura, California earlier this year. After the long wait, they made the most of their two weeks together, recording and mixing seven new instrumentals, enough to make Let It Wander a double album.

The players and the studio were the same, but Horne says the band’s approach to the music was completely different. “We were chasing a particular sound the first time around, so the process was slightly more structured. For this record, that map was gone, and we were on our own.”

Embracing their newfound freedom, CATS responded with seven focused performances filled with imaginative musical turns. Horne and Levy form a veritable groove machine that knows intuitively when to tighten up and when to stretch out. They expand and collapse the rhythmic pocket around Casal and MacDougall, who pass melodies back and forth in an elaborate game of musical tag as they take turns adding color and shade from a seemingly endless kaleidoscope of cosmic sounds.

Unlike the first album, Levy says there was enough time to go back and add some overdubs to the basic tracks. “We tried not to get too crazy building up the sound, but we experimented with different things, like Neal doubling up his guitars on ‘One For Chuck,’ and Adam creating a Minimoog symphony on ‘Immovable Object.’ We also had my friend Jeff Franca add percussion to ‘On My Mind’ and ‘Electric Chair (Don’t Sit There),’ which really added another dimension to those songs.” One of the highlights from Let It Wander has to be “One For Chuck,” which was the first track the band finished. While they were in the studio playing back the song, Casal says Chuck D – the charismatic leader of the legendary rap group Public Enemy – unexpectedly stopped by. “When the track was over, he said: ‘You guys are real, organic musicians. You can’t be replaced. Don’t ever forget that.’ It was amazing to get that kind of encouragement from an artist we all love. We asked him to record an intro for the song and he was kind enough to do it. That’s how the song got its name.”

The other song titles are more enigmatic, but according to the band they do have their own internal logic and sense of humor. “Tacoma Narrows” started out as the bridge in a different song, so they named it after the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. “Immovable Object” is a reference to the melody that MacDougall plays on the Rhodes electric piano at the start of the song. Even as the chords change around it, the melody line stays the same for the entire song. The ancient city of Halicarnassus was home to a beautiful mausoleum that was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The song “Halicarnassus” is played in 7/8 time, which means there are seven beats in every measure. “A little time signature humor to make the music nerds smile,” MacDougall jokes.

Even if you’re not a music nerd, there’s plenty to smile about on the new record, from the easy-going groove that keeps “On My Mind” grounded, to the celestial symphony that sends “Ticket To Helix” into orbit. “More than anything, what you hear on this album is a band growing into its own sound,” Casal says.


 
Sinkane
@U Street Music Hall | view more info »
Jun
12

Sinkane



Wednesday Jun 12|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
U Street Music Hall|get directions »
1115 U Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 588-1880


Sinkane

official band site »

Sinkane music -- every note of it -- comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album Life & Livin' It. This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.

By the time they finished touring for their acclaimed Mean Love album in late 2015, Ahmed Gallab and the band had spread the gospel of Sinkane to the world, playing 166 shows in 20 countries. During the same period, he had also led The Atomic Bomb Band -- the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Jamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. "Those 14 months really changed my life," Ahmed says. "Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band."

As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for Life & Livin' It, he had a clear goal; to conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. "I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young, and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it."

Ahmed soon brought the band in to help with the material, testing the songs at a four-show residency of sold-out shows at Union Pool in Brooklyn where the audience's reception fed the creative process. They toured throughout the summer before setting up shop at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. Once again produced by Ahmed with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, the album draws from the best elements of Sinkane's previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane's live show is a central feeling of the recordings. Each one of the four members of Sinkane -- bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam and Ahmed -- sing and contribute additional parts on the album, with Trammell contributing lyrics to "Theme from Life & Livin' It," and Lam helping with arrangements. Jas Walton and Jordan MacLean of Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.

In making a record that feels like this, Ahmed's primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. The songs "U'Huh" and "Theme from Life & Livin' It" conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, "I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more."

"Favorite Song" came about from Ahmed's experiences DJ'ing in New York. "As a DJ you're always paying attention to the collective energy in the club. When you play a song that everyone knows, everybody is connected, lost in the music." That song, along with "U'Huh," has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed's native tongue. "Kulu shi tamaam!" means "everything is great!" while "ya zol ya zain!" is a Sudanese term of endearment meaning "my beautiful friend." "It's really easy to understand the tone of those words," Ahmed adds. "They just feel good, you don't have to know what they mean. It's kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben -- you don't have to know Portuguese to feel what they're saying."

True to its name, Life & Livin' It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He's no longer searching for his home -- he has created a home for himself. There's a party there, and Life & Livin' It is playing on the stereo. You are invited.


 
Joe Russo's Almost Dead
@The Anthem | view more info »
Sep
28

Joe Russo's Almost Dead



Saturday Sep 28|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Joe Russo's Almost Dead

official band site »

Joe Russo's Almost Dead is Scott Metzger, Tommy Hamilton, Dave Dreiwitz, Marco Benevento & Joe Russo.

"Not only does this quintet play tight and vicious versions of some of the most complex songs in the Grateful Dead's repertoire, but they play them with a rawness & energy absent from the stage since the 'Live' Dead era. More importantly, all of the jams are wild and incredibly adventurous. Russo's a beast behind the kit who's in the peak of his career. Metzger is a criminally underrated guitarist who has a chameleon-like ability to alter his sound to compliment any situation. Dreiwitz's intensity is unmatched by anyone, while Benevento spouts these crazy tones and layers of sound that mix the best of what each keyboardist in GD history brought to the band. Finally, add Hamilton, whose voice and biting leads help push this ensemble over the top." - Scott Bernstein, Jambase 9.12.13