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Dec
14
Deaf Scene

all good news

 
Dopapod
Deaf Scene | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Dec
14

Dopapod

Deaf Scene


Thursday Dec 14|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Dopapod

official band site »

The Boston born, now generally Northeast based, but ever on-the-go Dopapod has come a long way from their college basement, DIY party roots. While maintaining to be as grassroots as their humble beginnings, the group has earned praise from taste making critics like Huffington Post, Jambase, and Relix, all the while tending to their ever expanding community of devoted listeners. The past 4 years have individually held the weight of about 150 shows, and included numerous festival appearances like Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, Peach Fest, & Gathering Of the Vibes.

All of this time on stage together has given the band the opportunity to explore the wide variety of influences that has impacted them to be the players they are today. But, don’t be quick to think that the no holds barred openness to experimenting is unguided. While the brush in their hand uses every color, it’s the stroke on the canvas that gives Dopapod a distinct voice in the way of crafty songwriting.

That calculated compositional mindset and restless nature to never sit too still is what has allowed Dopapod to fully realize their fourth studio release, Never Odd Or Even. Guitarist/vocalist Rob Compa giddily tells, “We really felt that the material this time around represented a big leap forward, not just in the way we’ve been interacting as a band, but in the way our focus has become sharper in paying attention to things like melody, theme, lyrical imagery, and structure – all the elements that make a great song.”

Determined to have that maturity translate in the studio, the band enlisted friend and producer Jason “Jocko” Randall to both engineer and produce the record. Keys/vocalist Eli Winderman couldn’t be happier about how things went. “We lived at his studio for about a month for these sessions and it just clicked right away. Jocko immediately became another member of band in many ways. With his attitude and approach to the recording process, we were able to really dial in the sounds we wanted, get those perfect takes we were aiming for, and have a blast the whole way through.”

Dropping on November 11, in the midst of an extensive Fall Tour, Never Odd Or Even is the spark that the band plans to ignite while in full stride of capping off an exciting year and launching them into the next.


Deaf Scene

official band site »

Baltimore's own Deaf Scene is quickly becoming recognized as a standout band on a regional and national level, bringing a powerful blend of Post-Rock, Grunge, Progressive Metal, and Jazz-Fusion to their songs and live shows. This ever-evolving instrumental power-trio has consciously embraced walking a musical road-less-traveled since their inception in 2010. Along the way they have cultivated a dedicated following with their sonically-expansive live performances and their solid studio work. Straddling a gray area between the progressive cacophonies of Tool, ethereal soundscapes of Explosions in the Sky, and the sludgy twinge of Primus, Deaf Scene has forged a sound that is uniquely their own. Dave Fullerton’s effects-laden guitar melodies cascade over thick layers of looped sounds, while Eric Courtney’s intricate bass runs and Brett Schatz’s precise whirlwind of drumming give structure and groove to the chaos. What they're able to accomplish on stage, as a three-piece band with no vocals, often surprises listeners who have never seen Deaf Scene in concert. The band works together beautifully through seamless sets of original songs, intersected by ambient samples and drones, generating “a sound that you would never imagine could come from three dudes” (89.7 WTMD).


 
Victor Wooten Trio
featuring Dennis Chambers & Bob Franceschini | @9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
16

Victor Wooten Trio

featuring Dennis Chambers & Bob Franceschini


Saturday Dec 16|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Victor Wooten Trio


featuring Dennis Chambers & Bob Franceschini

official band site »

Victor Wooten announces tour dates with an all-star lineup in the 2017-2018 season.  Featuring legendary drummer, Dennis Chambers; and renowned saxophonist Bob Franceschini.

Victor Wooten
Victor Lemonte Wooten is a unique human being. Born the youngest of five boys, he began learning to play music at the tender age of two. He started performing in nightclubs and theaters as the bassist with the family band at age five and at age six was on tour with The Wooten brothers opening shows for legendary soul artist Curtis Mayfield.

Fast forward a few decades, and we know Wooten as a 5-time Grammy Winner, a founding member of the Grammy award-winning band Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, the only multiple winner of Bass Player Magazine’s reader’s poll (3 times), voted one of the top ten bassists of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, and having won just about every award awarded to a bassist, but this only represents a portion of who Victor Wooten really is.

Many know Victor the musician, but it should also be known that, in his youth, Wooten organized a 2 year student run safety patrol to help rid his high school of violence, and upon graduation, expanded the organization to help the neighboring cities. He received a special award for being one of the top graduating African American students in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and was also offered a scholarship to play soccer at a local college.

Currently, Wooten is a published author, an acclaimed teacher, a naturalist who enjoys teaching about the world we live in, a sought after lecturer, runs a non-profit organization, and is an entrepreneur among other things. A few years ago, Victor and his wife purchased nearly 150 acres of land near Nashville, TN and built a retreat center with the sole purpose of helping kids and adults improve their lives. A few years later, in order to be in complete control of his own music, Wooten formed a record label called VIX Records. In addition to all of this, he continues to record and perform with artists such as Béla Fleck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, SMV (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten), and his brothers, as well as with his own band - The Victor Wooten Band.

Wooten, a loving husband and father of four, is a person dedicated to using what he has achieved to help those around him. He credits his parents and brothers with given him not only the skills to reach success but also the mindset necessary for successfully dealing with it, as well as the wisdom and aspiration to help others achieve their own successes.

In response to multiple requests for Victor to write a music instruction book, Wooten took a different approach by writing a story instead. His novel, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music (Berkley Publishing Group/Penguin USA Inc.), has quickly become a “must-read” book for musicians worldwide. Through this book, which shares his unique outlook on music and life, Wooten has helped educate and inspire thousands of people of all ages whether they are musicians or not, teachers or students, professionals or novices. The Music Lesson offers a natural path to music, life, and creativity and has been translated into four additional languages.

Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature (vixcamps.com) is a not-for- profit organization through which Wooten holds music, nature, and other educational programs throughout the year. Wooten Woods (wootenwoods.com), a retreat center near Nashville, TN, is the home for all of Victor’s camps. Wooten Woods contains nearly 150 lush picturesque acres and is situated alongside the scenic Duck River, one of the world’s most bio-diverse rivers.

As well as teaching and inspiring people through his books, camps, videos, and workshops, Victor was hired in 2015 by Berklee College of Music as a Performance Scholar in Residence. Now, as one of the newest faculty members, Wooten teaches at the school every month and is the co-director of the Victor Wooten/Berklee Summer Bass Program, which runs every summer.


Dennis Chambers
Chambers began drumming at the age of four years, and was gigging in Baltimore-area nightclubs by the age of six. He was recruited in 1981 by the Sugar Hill Label to be their "house drummer." Dennis plays on many Sugar Hill releases including, "Rapper's Delight." In 1978 (at 18 years old) he joined Parliament/Funkadelic, and stayed with them until 1985. In 1986 he joined the John Scofield band. Since then he has played with most of the major figures in jazz fusion music. 

Dennis Chambers is an American drummer who has recorded and performed with John Scofield, George Duke,Brecker Brothers, Santana, Parliament/Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, Niacin, Mike Stern, CAB, Greg Howe, and many others. Despite a lack of formal training, Chambers has become well known among drummers for his technique and speed.  Chambers is particularly regarded for his ability to play "in the pocket" but can also stretch very far out of the pocket which is also a hallmark of his technique. Chambers exhibits a powerful style that is technically proficient, yet highly musical and groove-oriented. He can play in a wide variety of musical genres, but is perhaps most notable for his jazz-fusion, funk, and Latin music playing. He is mostly known for his fast hands and triplets on the bass drum.  


Bob Franceschini
Saxophonist, songwriter, and arranger Bob Franceschini has appeared on more than 200 albums for artists of many idioms including Mike Stern, Paul Simon, Willie Colon, Celine Dion, Bebe Winans, Tito Puente, Tower of Power, Victor Wooten, and Tom Browne. In addition to composing and arranging, Bob has performed as a touring musician with Mike Stern, The Yellow Jackets, Chaka Khan, Victor Wooten, George Benson, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Tom Browne, Willie Colón, and many others.


 
SOJA
with special guests Twiddle | Footwerk | @The Anthem | view more info »
Dec
29

SOJA

with special guests Twiddle
Footwerk

Friday Dec 29|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


SOJA

official band site »

"I want to speak for people who don't have microphones," Jacob Hemphill says. "Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race. We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here."

This is the philosophy behind SOJA's music, a simple statement that has driven the D.C. area band, who blend reggae, go-go, D.C. hardcore, Latin, rock and hip-hop. Originally formed by a group of friends while still in middle school and has built a massive, dedicated fanbase around the world since. In the years following, SOJA has sold more than 200,000 albums, headlined shows in over 20 countries around the world, generated over three million Facebook fans, and 65 million YouTube views. The band has toured with Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, 311 and appeared at major festivals including Bonnaroo where they attract an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base along the way, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. After the release of their 2012 album "Strength To Survive," the musicians started writing material for what would become their fifth full-length album, "Amid the Noise and Haste."

For Hemphill, who pens the lyrics, chords and melody, each song starts with an experience: meeting someone, reading something, experiencing something that seems pertinent to the human condition. On this album, the songwriter is suggesting that "all of life's problems, and all of life's answers are within us. We've been conditioned to accumulate, compete and break others down around ourselves -- not inherent to the human condition, but rather taught. Those things can be untaught. The real us is in there, somewhere." All of this is translated into short, sweet packages of music.

The writing and recording process for "Amid the Noise and Haste" stretched out over a year and a half, mostly because the musicians kept finding new collaborators and new ideas along the way. The aim was to engage as many guest artists as possible, with each working on a song that had a legitimate connection to them. The album was produced by Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, John Legend) and recorded at Circle House Studios in Miami and Lion & Fox Studios in Washington D.C. throughout 2013. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley appears on "Your Song," a buoyant, hopeful number that asks fans to remind the band why they got into music by singing along, while "I Believe" brings Michael Franti and Nahko together to offer thoughts on how to control your own destiny. Collie Buddz, J Boog and Anuhea are also featured on various tracks. "We wanted to bring together people who would help demonstrate each song," Jacob says. "We wanted people who could either relate to or convey the message. The whole album is about the human race relating to itself and connecting with itself."

For SOJA, whose live show is an explosion of energy and positivity, music is a means of helping people relate in a more affirmative way. It also asks people to look inside themselves and really ask what it is they want to do with their life and how they can be happy. SOJA's music is about finding that happiness and peace we all deserve and helping others do the same, something "Amid the Noise and Haste" aptly conveys in its songs.

"I put words in my songs that I believe to be true," Jacob says. "The point of the album is reconnecting people to the power inside themselves, getting them to fall back in love with life again. Look around, take a deep breath. All the answers are there."


with special guests Twiddle

official band site »

With roots at Vermont’s Castleton State University, Twiddle began their extensive touring career in 2005. Over a decade later, the foursome has composed an eclectic catalogue spanning three studio albums of originals, in addition to many live releases. Currently the band is digging in at the studio composing PLUMP Chapter Two, the second half of their acclaimed third album. Having performed at a multitude of international festivals, Twiddle’s trajectory shows zero sign of slowing. Look for them to pack prominent theaters throughout 2017, as they truly break through to the next level.

Footwerk

official band site »


 
An Evening With
Lotus
@Rams Head Live | view more info »
Dec
29

An Evening With
Lotus



Friday Dec 29|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


An Evening With
Lotus

official band site »

Having built a massive fanbase over the years, Lotus tours heavily selling out headline shows across the county and playing festivals such as Electric Forest, Imagine Music Fest, Camp Bisco, and more. Whether you catch Lotus in outdoor amphitheaters, the country’s best theaters, intimate clubs or a variety of festivals, you can expect to have an experience of the senses. The band's new album, Eat the Light, is a first for Lotus - an album with vocals on every song. Guest singers appear throughout ranging from soulful to indie and electronic to rock. The tracks bubble with contagious dance energy and blast into orbit with sing-along choruses. The tightly produced yet raw grooves recall sounds of The Talking Heads, Jamiroquai, and LCD Soundsystem.



 
Turkuaz
Pimps Of Joytime | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Dec
31

Turkuaz

Pimps Of Joytime


Sunday Dec 31|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Turkuaz

official band site »

Turkuaz is a 9-piece “Powerfunk” outfit from Brooklyn, NY, whose modern take on the classic funk sound has established them as leaders in the funk revolution that’s currently taking place in the genre. Blending elements of Pop, R&B, and Soul with their distinct aggressive funk core, Turkuaz sounds like the musical love child of Sly & the Family Stone and Talking Heads.

With the release of their new album Digitonium, Turkuaz’s sound is more accessible than ever and poised to break out to a more mainstream audience. With a playful feel that evokes the best of 80s dance music, Turkuaz’s tightly arranged songs are built on thick grooves, driven by powerhouse rhythm and horn sections, as well as four distinct vocalists.

The group’s constant coast-to-coast touring since 2012 has earned them a passionate and dedicated national fan base that’s consistently growing. A dance band at their roots, Turkuaz’s live shows are high-energy, floor-shaking, visually appealing events filled with colorful clothing and choreographed dance moves that always leave attendees wanting more.

Turkuaz’s crossover appeal has never been more evident-- from a recent video performance going viral and receiving over 2 million Facebook views, to their music providing the soundtrack to New York Knicks games at Madison Square Garden, to constant rotation on Sirius XM Radio, Turkuaz is, as Relix Magazine says, “on the verge.”


Pimps Of Joytime

official band site »

When it comes to throwing a party, the Pimps of Joytime raise the bar with swagger to spare. Rhythms and textures drawn from New Orleans funk, 90s club house, 60s salsa and hip-hop all collide and fracture upon one another on their new LP, Jukestone Paradise. Dubbed “raucous and captivating” by Okayplayer, their album cuts play like the soundtrack for a ride through Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods, where the group’s sound materialized.

And the Pimps’ live experience only takes it higher.

Over the past decade, the group’s grassroots following mobilized from the underground club scene in New York to sell out historic venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco and earn top billings at music festivals across the US and Europe. Quite simply, the Pimps’ dancefloor is magnetic. But word spreads to the wise when you pair high-caliber musicianship with melodies and beats that are as universally enticing as they are unconventional.

The Pimps of Joytime’s first album High Steppin’ caught NPR off guard when it dropped in 2007, as its editors raved, “It has it all: soul, funk, punk, afrobeat, rap. I’ve not heard anything quite like it.” The group’s 2011 release Janxta Funk! extended their movement even further into the mainstream circuit, with the title track seeing more than 1 million plays on Spotify to date.

Guitarist and singer Brian J is the mastermind behind the Pimps’ evolving mosaic of mixes and remixes, producing all of the bands’ records as well as other solo records for New Orleans legend Cyril Neville and Corey Henry of Galactic. His genius is only elevated by bassist David Bailias, who doubles as DJ, subtly weaving EDM club beats and synth keys throughout the Pimps live show. Over top comes drummer John Staten’s funky break beats, which land in sync with the live percussion and siren-like vocals of Mayteanna Morales and Kim Dawson.

You might accurately call the them a ‘post-genre’ band; a group whose sound—even within a single song—mirrors the diversity of our generation’s musical tastes. It all goes into the Pimps’ soulful roux, built on a foundation of rhythm and groove.


 
Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)
Synchronicity (The Police Tribute) | @Union Stage | view more info »
Jan
6

Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)

Synchronicity (The Police Tribute)


Saturday Jan 6|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Psycho Killers (Talking Heads Tribute)

official band site »

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


Synchronicity (The Police Tribute)

official band site »

Synchronicity was born in the idea of paying homage to one of the world’s premier touring power trios from the late 1970's and early 1980's, The Police!

Emulating the original energy of this dynamic trio while also keeping an eye on the idea that creativity can also be the success to any live show, Synchronicity embodies the idea that there's more to reggae music than the one drop and more to punk rock than just what's on the surface.....


 
Yonder Mountain String Band
The Southern Belles | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Jan
11

Yonder Mountain String Band

The Southern Belles


Thursday Jan 11|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Yonder Mountain String Band

official band site »

Yonder Mountain String Band’s first new album in two years, LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is undeniably the Colorado-based progressive bluegrass outfit’s most surprising, creative, and yes, energetic studio excursion to date. Songs like “Chasing My Tail” and “Alison” are rooted in tradition but as current as tomorrow, animated by electrifying performance, vivid production, and the modernist power that has made Yonder one of the most popular live bands of their generation. Melding sophisticated songcraft, irrepressible spirit, and remarkable instrumental ability, LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is a testament to Yonder Mountain String Band’s organic, dynamic, and intensely personal brand of contemporary bluegrass-fueled Americana.

“I think this is our best album yet,” says Adam Aijala, guitarist.

Yonder founding members Aijala, banjo player Dave Johnston, and bassist Ben Kaufmann reconfigured Yonder Mountain String Band as a traditional bluegrass instrumental five-piece in 2014 with the recruitment of new players Allie Kral (violin) and Jacob Jolliff (mandolin). The reconstituted group debuted with 2015’s acclaimed BLACK SHEEP, but truly gelled as they toured, the new players’ personalities seamlessly blending and elevating the intrinsically tight Yonder sound. Yonder made certain to show off the current roster’s growing strength with the 2017 release of MOUNTAIN TRACKS: VOLUME 6, the first installment in their hugely popular live recording series since 2008.

“This lineup just keeps getting better,” Aijala says. “The more gigs you get under your belt, the better you get. Obviously. But the confidence I have in these individual musicians, I’m amazed at some of the places we go together on stage.”

LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is produced by Yonder Mountain String Band and longtime collaborator John McVey, with the majority of the album recorded at Coupe Studios in Yonder’s home base of Boulder, CO. Aijala and McVey handled all of the album’s mix and engineering at their respective home studios and while Yonder was on the road – the second time a Yonder member has taken on the technical task.

“John taught me a lot when we worked together on our last album,” Aijala says. “So this time around, I felt a lot more confident.”

Like virtually all aspects of Yonder Mountain String Band’s unlikely artistic methodology, LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is a fully collaborative effort, its original songs credited to the core founding trio of Aijala, Johnston, and Kaufmann, regardless of combination or specific input.

“I think it removes the jockeying for songs on a record,” says Aijala. “We’re all of the mind that even if one of us wrote a great song, if not for Yonder, would anyone get a chance to hear it? It works better this way. All three of us grew up playing team sports so we’re team players – everyone wants what’s best for the band.”

Laced with interstitial dialogue, music, sound effects, and other overlapping ephemera, LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is by design Yonder’s most ingenious studio collection thus far. Songs like “Take A Chance On Me” and the heavy metal-inspired breakdown, “Fall Outta Line,” see the quintet touching upon FM pop, country rock, funk, world music, and so much more; adopting traditional sonic and lyrical idioms to mask deeper and darker personal truths.

“It’s a little more eclectic,” Aijala says. “None of us grew up with bluegrass so there are always other influences in there. I think this record is a bit more reminiscent of our live show, with different genres and different types of songs.”

Indeed, “Last of the Railroad Men” plays like a lost narrative country classic while the unprecedented “Groovin’ Away” closes LOVE. AIN’T LOVE with a summery sense of joyous optimism. Yonder’s first-ever original reggae song, the track stands out as yet another shining example of the band’s lifelong commitment to anything-goes artistic freedom.

“There are no limits to what we do” says Aijala. “We’ll try anything, if it feels good, we’ll try it again.”

In addition to the founding trio’s songwriting efforts, Jolliff – who arrived to play on BLACK SHEEP sessions and never left – contributed a pair of fiery instrumentals and also lends vocals to a delightful cover of King Harvest’s eternal “Dancing In The Moonlight.”

“Allie sang a song that we wrote on BLACK SHEEP,” Aijala says, “so we wanted to showcase Jake’s vocals on this album. We’ve been playing ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ in our live shows and whenever we play it people just light up. We always enjoy playing it, the harmonies are really good and Jake sings the hell out of it so we thought, why not put it on the record?”

2017 will see Yonder continue its seemingly endless touring, leading towards next year’s 20th anniversary of their initial coming together, an irrefutably momentous occasion.

“When we were first starting, our creativity was rooted in rebelliousness. Now, there’s a greater conscious awareness and attention to detail that we’re bringing to our writing and recording. Our nature and instincts remain progressive. We’re just doing it in a way that’s sharper, more musical, and way more satisfying,” says Ben Kaufmann.

With its melodic flair, expert technique, and forward-thinking fervor, LOVE. AIN’T LOVE is a strikingly assured and well-crafted manifestation of Yonder’s matchless musical vision. Nearly two decades in, Yonder Mountain String Band is still utterly unto themselves, a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime combo whose inventiveness, versatility, and sheer imagination shows no sign of winding down.

“We’ve talked about this,” Aijala says, “and we all feel like we could play in Yonder until we can’t play anymore. As long we still have new ideas, as long as we’re still creating something that’s fresh to us, I don’t see any reason to stop.”


The Southern Belles

official band site »

The Southern Belles are Adrian Ciucci (guitar/vocals), Tommy Booker (keys/vocals), Aaron Zarrow (drums/vocals) and Michael Sallemi (bass/vocals). Playing a high-octane mix of funky southern psychedelic Rock & Roll, the Belles perform shows and festivals all over the county each year. The Southern Belles road-tested sound has earned them a devout following, with fans traveling far and wide to catch the show. With their upcoming album "In The Middle Of The Night," scheduled for August 2017, the Southern Belles are picking up steam and gaining national notoriety for their original compositions and song craft. Their songs are both fun and moving, with lyrical stories evoking familiar emotions and complex musical journeys.

The Southern Belles were formed in November of 2011 in Richmond, VA by Adrian Ciucci and Zach Hudgins. Early on Adrian and Zach added Raphael Katchnioff and Tommy Booker to their already eclectic sound. The Belles started playing monthly residencies in both their hometown of Richmond at Cary St. Cafe and The Camel, and in nearby Charlottesville, at Rapture. In 2012, they released their first album, "Sharp As A Knife," and took their show on the road.

In early winter of 2015, the Southern Belles recorded their second album, "Close To Sunrise," at Sound of Music, the same studio they recorded "Sharp As A Knife," and again worked with Bryan Walthall as the producer of the record. Both albums have a similar feel, but it's clear on "Close To Sunrise" that the band is taking strides in their musical composition as well as lyrical content. With critical acclaim for the new record, the band was featured at large festivals in the summer of 2015, including both Lockn' and Floyd Fest.

The story of the Southern Belles continues to evolve. In January of 2016, the band brought on Aaron Zarrow on the drums. Aaron, formerly of Philadelphia based jazz-funk outfit The Royal Noise, adds a new degree of precision to the band. The Southern Belles continue to tour nation-wide and have big goals for 2017 and years to come.

Cosmic highways and scenic byways. Peace be the journey.


 
"Good Life" East Coast Tour
Collie Buddz
Jo Mersa Marley | The Holdup | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
15

"Good Life" East Coast Tour
Collie Buddz

Jo Mersa Marley
The Holdup

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


"Good Life" East Coast Tour
Collie Buddz

official band site »

Buddz exploded onto the scene a few years ago when critics and tastemakers alike embraced him - Spin Magazine proclaiming, "Buddz proves the pop rule: Catchiness transcends color." From Vibe Magazine to Entertainment Weekly, Collie Buddz made quite an impression with music critics.

"As an artist, I want to expand musically. I'll always do Reggae. I did Reggae music because I was good at it and that's what I knew and loved growing up. But at the same time, when I put on my producer hat and I hear a riddim, it might not be in my comfort range, but whatever I hear on the track dictates what I'm going to make. I really only care about making good music. For that to happen, it can't live in a box."

Indeed growing up on the island of Bermuda, Reggae music was a formidable influence on a young Collie Buddz. Born Colin Harper in New Orleans, LA to a mother of Bermudian heritage with roots on the island dating back to the 1700s, his father passed away while Collie Buddz was at the tender age of four. At that time, his mother moved the family back home to Bermuda. It wasn't long before Buddz discovered more than his Bermudian heritage. Introduced to Reggae music by his older brother, Matthew, affectionately just known as "Smokey," by the tenderfoot age of 12, Colin Harper quickly learned his way around a music studio. It soon became apparent to everyone within earshot of the boy that his voice was unique in a way that lingers long after you've heard him. "Back then, I just used to plug headphones into the microphone jack of a tape deck. I'd sing into one of the earpieces and record it on cassette," Buddz recalls.

Eventually, Smokey relocated to Toronto to pursue an audio engineering degree. His baby brother, as always, tagged along. But Buddz had plans of his own. And, by the age of 19, he was attending Full Sail Academy in Orlando, FL pursuing his own audio engineering degree. Only 13 months later, Buddz had that degree. With dreams of becoming a major music producer, Buddz rejoined his brother in Canada.

As a producer, Buddz was the most comfortable in the studio. But he couldn't find any artists that could really pull off the sound he desired so Buddz far too often found himself just running back and forth from the vocal booth to the mixing booth as he layered his own vocals for his production work. After a while, it just became easier for him to just do it all by himself. At this juncture, Colin Harper became Collie Buddz.

With his independent spirit guiding his journey Buddz has toured the world. He's constantly creating new music and experimenting with it in front of live audiences almost immediately. He's honed his craft while in support of several tours with artists such as Cypress Hill, Rebelution and Matisyahu. He's performed in front of thousands at the largest music festivals such as Lollapalooza, Boomtown, Summer Jam and the California Roots Festival.

While touring, Buddz still found time to record new material and release original music independently on his own record label, Harper Digital. He's even managed to launch a new radio station back home in Bermuda (Vibe 103) and become a father.


Jo Mersa Marley

official band site »

As the eldest son of Stephen Marley and grandson of Bob Marley, Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley grew up surrounded by music. By the time he was four years old, Jo was appearing onstage alongside his father, his uncle Ziggy and aunts Cedella and Sharon (a.k.a. Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers) and their children as part of the group’s rousing concert finales with Jo often taking the mic and chanting the lyrics to the Melody Makers’ biggest songs, much to the delight of their audiences. Born in Kingston, Jamaica on March 12, 1991, Jo moved to Miami at age 11 where he keenly observed his father and his uncle Damian as they created music in Stephen’s Lion's Den studio. Back then school was the priority for Jo; traveling with Ziggy and the Melody Makers was reserved for school breaks and summer vacations, yet those experiences provided first hand opportunities for Jo to expand his musical aspirations beyond the performance stage.

The Holdup

official band site »

The Holdup is a California based Reggae band with heavy influences in the genres of Hip Hop and Pop. The group has released five full-length albums to date, all of which were written and produced by frontman Mike Garmany. Since releasing their debut album, Stay Gold, the band has garnered a great deal of commercial success and moved on to sell tens of thousands of records nationwide. Stay Gold debuted at #1 on the iTunes Reggae charts and the single “Good Times” was on rotation at a number of college radio programs and the coveted mainstream San Francisco station, Live 105. Every album from The Holdup since then has found the band reaching a new milestone. From 2010’s Confidence topping the iTunes Reggae chart and leading the band to receiving iTunes’ Best New Reggae Artist of 2010 award, to 2011’s Still Gold peaking at #2 on Billboard’s reggae chart. Their heavy urban appeal has even led to features on Mac Miller’s “MostDope” blog and 2 Chainz’ “Most Expensivest Shit” video series presented by GQ.


 
Circles Around The Sun
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
18

Circles Around The Sun



Thursday Jan 18|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Circles Around The Sun

official band site »

Few albums have the creation myth of Interludes For The Dead by Neal Casal's Circles Around The Sun. The 10 instrumental jams that encompass the release were commissioned by Justin Kreutzmann, the filmmaker son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, to accompany the biographical visuals he was compiling to be shown during set break at the "Fare Thee Well" concerts the living members of the Dead played in the summer of 2015.

As guitarist in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and a sometime participant in Dead bassist Phil Lesh's Phil & Friends jam sessions, Casal was a natural for the project; he, in turn, brought on Brotherhood keyboardist Adam MacDougall, bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy. At the shows, their music was a smash sensation: deeply familiar to the reunited Deadheads in how it tonally, rhythmically and melodically mimicked the Dead's songs, yet possessing its own weirdo majesty. Some pieces were explicit in their reverence, while others applied the Dead's freewheeling modus operandi and took their own course.

At more than 20 minutes, "Kasey's Bones" is most certainly one of the latter. From the opening electric-piano-plus-guitar squall/lurch, there's a Bitches Brew vibe to the proceedings. If most of the track's first 10 or so minutes clip along at a shuffling pace Deadheads will recognize (and haters will cite as primary evidence), the latter half is a unique explosion. It begins around the 10th minute, when MacDougall's switch to a spacey-sounding Juno synth serves as a prompt, and then they're off. MacDougall is on a clavinet creating stabbing funk patterns, while Casal weaves lines around him, the pair mimicking the early-'70s interplay between Jerry Garcia and his non-Dead keyboard partners, Merl Saunders and Howard Wales.

Soon, though, Casal hits a turbo-charge of pure lead-guitar shredding, and the rhythm section supports him with equally intense playing that crackles continually for three or four minutes with zero let-up. When it comes out the other side, everyone takes a breath: Levy keeps a steady pocket with Horne on dubby support, while MacDougall and Casal drift slowly toward an ambient space before devolving into an electronic-music black hole. If you know the Dead's trajectory, it's a perfect distillation of the group's fusion-filled 1973-74 jams. If you don't, it's a wonderfully evocative soundtrack for posterity, as it was for five thrilling summer nights.



 
BoomBox
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
19

BoomBox



Friday Jan 19|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


BoomBox

official band site »

BoomBox, the electronic work of songwriter, producer and multiinstrumentalist Zion Rock Godchaux, released their EP Bits & Pieces in 2016. The new record is a further exploration of the band’s signature sound; an electronic blend of soulful Rock and Blues based dance music incorporating Backbeat, Psychedelia and Funky House sounds, which Godchaux veraciously refers to as “Dirty Disco Blues.” Performing on stage with Zion is DJ Harry, who holds it down on the 1s and 2s.



 
The Infamous Stringdusters
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
20

The Infamous Stringdusters



Saturday Jan 20|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 »

Unlike rock 'n' roll, bluegrass music's boundaries are often defined in very narrow terms and that has caused some bands to carefully consider their place within the genre. But, in order to survive, everything must evolve... even bluegrass. Enter the Infamous Stringdusters, the very model of a major modern bluegrass band.

“At a certain point in our career, there was hesitation in calling us a bluegrass band,” guitarist Andy Falco admits. “These days, we’re much more comfortable with that label.” Banjo man Chris Pandolfi echoes the point: “We love bluegrass, but we have been influenced by other genres as much, if not more. When it comes to making music, we always try to be a blank slate and give new songs whatever they need to come to life. We just try to make something good, something that is true to who we are.”

On Laws of Gravity, that's exactly what the Infamous Stringdusters — Andy Hall (dobro), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), and Travis Book (double bass), in addition to Falco and Pandolfi — have done. Their seventh studio set further proves that the band's collective whole is far greater than the sum of its individual parts, as the song selection and pitch-perfect performances weighs the Stringdusters' appeal to traditional fans against their musical quest to attract new listeners. It's a balance that comes naturally to the band.

Here, trad-leaning tunes like “Freedom,” “A Hard Life Makes a Good Song,” “Maxwell,” and “1901: A Canyon Odyssey” pick hard and soar high, letting trade-off solos and layered vocal harmonies work their magic. As it continues on, Gravity reaches its roots deep and wide, but never sacrifices the wings of the band, as exemplified in tracks like “Back Home” and “This Ol' Building” which pull from the blues and R&B strands of the Stringdusters' musical DNA.

“The specific feelings in those songs lend themselves to a soulful sound,” Hall explains. “The longing of 'Back Home,' the passion of 'This Ol' Building.' Slowing things down a bit, but still having a real edge and passion is the essence of that. And probably a bit of maturity on our part brings out a more authentic soulful sound.”

Indeed, the Stringdusters have worked hard to become the band they are or, perhaps, the band they wanted and knew themselves to be — a self-discovery process to which Laws of Gravity bears witness. “Once you start to move out of that, a lot of good things happen,” Pandolfi says. “You know who you are, and how to do your thing with confidence and experience. This colors the songwriting process as much as anything. We work so hard on the music, but it's not hard work. It's really the payoff, and it comes more naturally with time.”

Letting the past inform and the present propel, the Stringdusters' style and substance are uniquely Infamous. Since 2007, the band's ever-evolving artistry and boldly creative collaborations — including Ryan Adams, Joss Stone, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne, and Lee Ann Womack — have pushed them past the edges of traditional acoustic music and carved out a musical niche all their own in the hearts of fans and critics, alike. Over the past couple of years, they released 2015's Undercover, a covers EP, followed by 2016's Ladies & Gentlemen, an album featuring multiple female guest vocalists. Those projects may have seemed like artistic tangents, but they actually proved to be a pretty direct route from there to Gravity.

“Being singers and songwriters, we were really ready to put some of our own songs out with us singing them,” Falco says. “In the same way solo projects can take you away to be able to come back and feel refreshed, the last two records have done that and we were ready to hit the studio with our songs sung by us.”

“We had much more of a vision for how we wanted this album to come together than we did with past projects,” Pandolfi adds. “We got the music, including all our individual parts, to a place where we knew we could go into the studio and just let it happen live. We are a band. We play live together and, more than any one song or achievement, this is what we do. Now we have an album that captures that.”

Part of Gravity's vision involved not road-testing and adapting the songs before taking them into the studio. That's a new step in the Stringdusters' process which starts with filtering through and whittling down a wealth of material to the best of the batch. “We take those 20 or so songs and take them to the next level as a band,” Pandolfi explains. “So much gets accomplished in this writing/arranging stage. It's where songs become Stringduster songs. In the end, we share the songwriting credit because of all the collective work that goes into this (and every other) aspect of being in a band.”

“We may try the song in a number of different feels before landing on something that works for the sound of the band. If a song is good, it usually comes together fairly quickly,” Halls says, adding, “But we’re writing more diverse stuff these days, so some experimentation is always welcome.” While the new record boasts a single instrumental track, “Sirens,” where the five fellas really cut loose on their respective strings, the vocals across the other dozen tracks tie this music to the bluegrass tradition in an even more profound way. “Singing is a big part of bluegrass music,” Falco says. “It’s an important part of the sound and I think that part of music gets overlooked a lot. The singing should convey the emotion of the song. That's what we aim to do. One could argue that it's more important than the playing.”

Out beyond Laws of Gravity, the Infamous Stringdusters have an even broader vision. “We just want to keep making original music, keep evolving as people and musicians, and continue to help our amazing community of fans grow and enjoy this experience together,” Pandolfi says. “When we hear from people that our music or the community around our music has helped them find joy in life, it makes everything seem very worthwhile.”

Falco adds, “We love playing together and that’s the reason we’ve been doing it for as long as we have. We want to able to do this until we’re old and grey. That’s really it — making music together and continuing to evolve our brand of bluegrass music.”



 
Spafford
@Union Stage | view more info »
Jan
25

Spafford



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

The Wood Brothers

The Stray Birds


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


The Wood Brothers

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Stray Birds

official band site »

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


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

The Wood Brothers

The Stray Birds


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


The Wood Brothers

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Stray Birds

official band site »

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


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

Greensky Bluegrass

Billy Strings


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


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Billy Strings

official band site »

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

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

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

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


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

Greensky Bluegrass

Billy Strings


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


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Billy Strings

official band site »

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

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

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

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


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

Kung Fu



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


Kung Fu

official band site »

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

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

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



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

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

with special guests Kung Fu


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


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

official band site »

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


with special guests Kung Fu

official band site »

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

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

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


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

The Lil Smokies



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


The Lil Smokies

official band site »

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

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



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

All Good and Frozen Harbor present
Keller Williams

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

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


All Good and Frozen Harbor present
Keller Williams

official band site »

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

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

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


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

Joey Harkum
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

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


Bond & Bentley
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

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


Fake Flowers Real Dirt
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

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


Loose Ties
OFFICIAL BAND SITE >>

Getting Down with the Get Down.

and more TBA


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

Railroad Earth



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


Railroad Earth

official band site »

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

“Rock & roll!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Railroad Earth



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


Railroad Earth

official band site »

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

“Rock & roll!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger



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


WOLF! feat. Scott Metzger

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

J Boog

Jesse Royal
Etana

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


J Boog

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jesse Royal

official band site »

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

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

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

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

Etana

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Anders Osborne Solo

Ryan Montbleau


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


Anders Osborne Solo

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ryan Montbleau

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Soul Rebels feat GZA & Talib Kweli



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


The Soul Rebels feat GZA & Talib Kweli

official band site »

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

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

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



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

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong



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


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong



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


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

The Motet



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


The Motet

official band site »

Music and escapism go hand-in-hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Keller Williams



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


Keller Williams

official band site »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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