JUNE 2017 - MR. JIMIJAM AT THE NEWSEUM

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VINTAGE #18 - December 31, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



RUN COME SEE - December 27, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




THE OBSESSED, REZIN, and THE MESSTHETICS - December 23, 2017
Black Cat - Washington, DC

I decided that seeing some local “heavy metal” would be the perfect way to celebrate Christmas or as the ancient pagans called it...Saturnalia...so I wandered downtown to the Black Cat to catch a long-time local favorite, The Obsessed with my old pal Wino, and Rezin from Maryland who are promoting a new album, plus a local supergroup of sorts, The Messthetics, who consist of the rhythm section from Fugazi and hot-shot guitarist Anthony Pirog, and so it should be a fun and noisy night. As I headed to the Black Cat on this wet and dreary Christmas Eve eve night and it seemed so appropiate for the doom metal of The Obsessed and so I arrived at the club and I went in and sat at my regular stool at the end of the bar and ordered a Stella Artois and got comfortable for tonight's festivities and my old pal DJ Tom Berard stopped by and said hello and we exchanged a few pleasantries because it is always a good thing to see someone from the old days still rocking and then I waited for the show to start. The Messthetics opened the evening with their moody and frenetically progressive instrumental music that just carried me away with their hard-charging groove that guitarist Anthony Pirog made sparkle and shine with his lightning flash riffs and licks that he played with a laidback precision as he fused many styles from hard rock to jazz fusion to progressive metal that made them sound like an amped-up Dixie Dregs as the music flowed all over the place. Anthony Pirog is an absolutely phenomenal guitarist as he made it sound as if he was playing a dozen guitarists at once and one would never have guessed that the rhythm section of bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty came from Fugazi. I found them to be pretty enjoyable for an all-instrumental band but as usual I got bored towards the end of their seven-song set but the band showed some incredible musicianship and songwriting that really impressed me. The Messthetics left the stage and the crew rushed around readying it for Rezin who are a quartet from Maryland who are supporting their first new album in seven years along their new bassist Daniel “Pogs” Pegnato who replaced their longtime bassist Jon Blank who unexpectedly died shortly after recording their “Stop Laughing And Come Home” album. The band took the stage with guitars a'blazing as they opened with their testotorone-fueled rock and roll as vocalist/guitarist Pete Swindler sang about the problems of life as guitarist Andy Hughes and the rest of the band careened through their songs without being too annoying or full of themselves, but their new bassist Daniel Pegnato had the bottom nailed down as he propelled the rock-solid drumming of Matt Collazo with some powerful bass lines. Their new songs sounded a lot more modern and melodious than their older songs, but they kept reminding me of Soundgarden but with less forceful guitars, however nothing really grabbed the attention of my ears. They performed a song called “One Shoe Off” that I really enjoyed as the vocalist/guitarist Pete Swindler cried out the sage words as he strummed a cool guitar line as bassist Daniel made the sound quiver behind it. They seemed to plod on and on without not much variation in song structures or tempo, but thankfully their ten-song set came to an dischordant end and The Obsessed will perk me right up when they hit the stage. The crew changed the stage over to The Obsessed's wall of gear and the lights went down and Wino and The Obsessed took the stage and opened with a blistering “Tombstone Highway” from their 1990 self-titled debut album on Hellhound Records and vocalist/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich bellowed the succinct words, “Timeless carriage, of ebony, distant marriage, dark symphony, midnight steed, of destiny, carry me...”, as his fiery guitar wound in and out of the dense groove provided by his rhythm section of bassist Reid Raley and drummer Brian Costantino. The band went right into the ominous “Brother Blue Steel” from their 1991 album “Lunar Womb” and Wino just scorched my ears with his guitar pyrotechnics and Reid and Brian's playing just chugged along with subtle ease. They crashed into “Streetside” from their 1994 album “The Church Within” with a fury as the song pounded along like a Black Sabbath tune and then they went into the manic groove of “Sacred” which is the title-track to their 2017 album and it bounced along like a runaway freight train and Wino made his guitar scream and howl like it was in a torture chamber as he growled, “Through dimension's mists we fly, chrome fang diamond eye, in the full moon's light we prowl, our devotions love we howl, darkness dawns the time is now, we're gonna live forever...”, and the super-hyped audience was just loving it as they joyously headbanged in unison. Next the trio went into the sludgy groove of “Be The Night”, also from “Sacred”, with its drilling guitar riff that danced spasmodicily on the tight percussion and with such conviction and Wino played the most brilliant guitar solo that just exploded everywhere in kaliedascopic electric glory. They moved into the uptempo crunch of “To Protect And To Serve” from the “The Church Within” album that he sang with such emotion as his fingers flew like lightning up and down his fretboard and then the band segued into a bristling “Streamlined” from “The Church Within” that bitched about the evils of the government and religious hypocrisy and their effects on regular people on the street. They continued with a thunderous “Endless Circles” from “Lunar Womb” that just charged ahead with breakneck speed that almost gave me whiplash and Wino played another exquisite solo that gave me goosebumps as they flowed into the menacing “Skybone” from “The Church Within” and he just lit up his guitar as he made all kinds of noises as he croaked, “You are, then what is me, inner vision forest from a seed, fortune smiles to the sane depraved, the tortured miles to an immortal grave, I want to say, but I can't say, it no more...”, and the crowd went crazy. Then out of the cacophony, the band erupted into “The Way She Fly” from their 1990 album and the song rumbled and growled like an unearthly beast as Reid and Brian made the rhythm swirl round and round with yet another amazing guitar solo from Wino. Next the three of them performed an ode to juvenile delinquincy with a song called “Freedom” also from their debut and it sounded like a jet taking off as Wino made his guitar scream and howl with unnatural noises as the rhythm section rocketed forward like a lumbering monster. The band went into the crunchy intro to “Neatz Brigade” from “The Church Within” and it just rolled right over the audience like a steamroller as they roared into the doom and gloom of “Hiding Mask“ from their 1991 album “Lunar Womb” that just rattled the rafters. The band finished their fourteen-song set with an electrifying “Sodden Jackal“ which was their very first single in 1983 on Invictus Records and Wino commandingly growled the deep words, “A soul claimed was not won, so revealed the prophecy, has the likeness of a man, it bears the mark of numbers, now with the faith and sacred knives, the time is right, the beast is destroyed and the light commands, triumphant trial...”, and then he played a head-splitting guitar solo that just leveled my ears with its shocking beauty as his precision rhythm section laid down a thunderous groove that rattled my bones. Overall tonight was a fantastic selection of metal music from the DMV and it was my best present to celebrate Christmas and Wino just proved he is an one-of-a-kind original and his brilliant songs will rock your fucking world. Cheers Wino!



CINDY WILSON (THE B-52s), YIP DECEIVER, and MATERIAL GIRLS - December 4, 2017
Capitol One Arena - Washington, DC




THE 40th ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS AWARDS - December 3, 2017
Kennedy Center Concert Hall - Washington, DC



SARA CURTIN FIVE - November 22, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




DEAD & COMPANY - November 21, 2017
Capitol One Arena - Washington, DC


“Feels Like A Stranger” “Bertha” “Black-Throated Wind” Bob Weir “Tennessee Jed” “Ship Of Fools” “Cassidy” Bob Weir “Deal” Jerry Garcia “Help On The Way” “Slipknot!” “Franklin's Tower” “Looks Like Rain” Bob Weir “Terrapin Station” “Drums” “Space” “Days Between” “Throwing Stones” “Touch Of Grey”



LADY GAGA - November 19, 2017
Capitol One Arena - Washington, DC


“The Cure” AMA Act.1 “Countdown Intro video” “Diamond Heart” “A-Yo” “Pokerface” “Perfect Illusion” Act.2 band interlude “Car Film” video interlude “John Wayne” “Scheibe” Coachella version “Alejandro” band interlude Act.3 “Rhino” video interlude “Just Dance” shortened for AMA award receipt “Love Game” “Telephone” band interlude Act.4 “Transformation video” “Applause” “Come To Mama” an acoustic version of “The Edge Of Glory” “Born This Way” band interlude Act.5 “Trapped Film” video interlude “Bloody Mary” “Dancin' In Circles” “Paparazzi” Act.6 “Ambulance” band interlude “Angel Down” “Joanna” “Drippy Face Film” video interlude “Bad Romance” “Million Reasons”



JANET JACKSON - November 16, 2017
Capitol One Arena - Washington, DC


“The Knowledge” “State Of The World” “BURNITUP!” “Nasty/Feedback/Miss You Much/Alright/You Want This” “Control/What Have You Done For Me Lately/The Pleasure Principle” “Escapade/When I Think Of You/All For You” “All Nite (Don't Stop)” “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” Interlude video “Again” “Twenty Foreplay” “Where Are You Now/Come Back To Me/The Body That Loves You” “Spending Time With You” “No Sleep” “Got 'Til It's Gone” “That's The Way Love Goes” “Island Life” “Throb” “Together Again” Interlude with “Idle” by Spooky Black “What About” “If” “Rhythm Nation” Interlude with “Livin' In A World (They Didn't Make)” encores “Black Eagle” “New Agenda” “Damn Baby/I Get Lonely” “Well-Traveled” twenty-four-song set



PERE UBU and JOHNNY DOWD - November 9, 2017
Hill Country Live - Washington, DC


“Slow Walking Daddy” “Breath” “Goodnite Irene” “Monkey Bizness” “Carnival” “Funk 49” “Howl” “Prison Of The Senses” “Bus Station” “Road To Utah” “Red Eye Blues” “Worlds In Collision” “We Have The Technology” “Cold Sweat” “Love Love Love” “Final Solution” “Toe To Toe” seventeen-song set



FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY and CUBANATE - November 7, 2017
The State Theater - Falls Church, VA


“Lord Of The Flies” “Barbarossa” “Hatesong” “Autonomy” “Junky” “Body Burn” “Kill Or Cure” “It” “Oxyacetylene” nine-song set “The Chair” “Resist” “Killing Grounds” “Neologic Spasm” “Blood” “Plasticity” “Remorse” “Prophecy” “Mindphaser” “Iceolate”




GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC - November 3, 2017
The Howard Theater - Washington, DC


It was a lovely autumn evening as I got ready to head to the Howard Theatre to meet up with my friend DK Phoenix to see one of my favorite bands ever, the beyond legendary George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic rock the house and they have become the band I have seen the most times. I arrived at the theatre and found my friend and got a good place in the line to get a great seat...front and center in the balcony. The place filled up pretty quickly as we anxiously awaited the funk and a spectacular musical performance, but to start the evening someone called DJ Rock took to the stage and hit the decks and spun a wide variety of songs by some of the groups that were influenced by George over the years...but let's say...his DJ skills were not up to par as he had plenty of bad disjointed segues and he had trouble synching up the songs as he laid down his messy groove but I could not wait for him to finish his set. But alas, there was an opening band called Miss Velvet And Blue Wolf and they were an eight-piece horn-driven band that reminded me of the Muscle Shoals house band with a Janis Joplin meets Ruth Copeland lead vocalist and they rocked out with a ten-song set that pulsed and throbbed with a heartfelt passion that was propelled forward with bassist James Jones' impeccable groove and Miss Velvet's booming voice, but the band's music seemed to lack edge but they were enjoyable and then they quickly left the stage. By now the venue was packed as we waited for George and company and finally the lights went down and him and his fifteen-piece band took the stage and opened with a stuttering “I Wanna Go There” which was a brand new song and proved that the band was still at full-operating power as they made the groove flow with a vicious passion as George goaded the crowd into jumping and waving their arms in the air like they just don't care as the band segued into a manic “I'm Gon Make U Sick O'Me” from their 2014 album “Shake The Gate” with its muscular and slinky “Get Off Your Ass And Jam” from their 197 “Get Low” from “Shake The Gate” “Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard On You?” also from “Shake The Gate” “Super Stupid” “Funk Gettin' Ready To Roll” “P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” “One Nation Under A Groove” “Flash Light” “Freak Of The Week” “Presence Of A Brain” “Maggot Brain” “Dirty Queen” from their 2014 album “Shake The Gate” “Up For The Down Stroke” “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)”/”Night Of The Thumpasorus People” “Space Children” “Cosmic Slop” “Atomic Dog”




CYPRESS HILL - November 1, 2017
The Fillmore - Silver Spring, MD


It was pretty dreary and wet evening as I rode the long metro up to The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, to see the legendary Latino hip-hoppers Cypress Hill bring the noise on their “comeback” tour of sorts. I used really to love Cypress Hill for their sometimes disturbing and violent lyrical imagery and the bombastic beats that they made famous, plus I worked for them a couple of times in the nineties during their “insane in the membrane” period and their peak with an appearance on Fox's “The Simpsons” in 1995 and the time I had to help push a giant smoking bong onto the stage a couple of times at the 9:30 Club and the 1995 Lollapalooza Tour on the “Temples Of Boom” tour and then they just faded away and worked on other projects. So when I heard that they were going to do three shows as part of the “Haunted Hill Tour 2017” and they were hitting The Fillmore, so I knew I had to be there. My friend Artie and I arrived at the venue and it was not as crowded as I thought it would be which I found oddly surprising. The opener Rahzel hit the stage with eerie Halloween music that segued into a Black Sabbath riff as Rahzel's rapid-fire fleet-fingered DJ-style fired up the audience as he danced all over the musical spectrum and then he got wild on the mic as he beat-boxed and spit lyrics on the old school NYC tip and his flow was quite enjoyable and he kept my attention as he whipped through the twists and turns of the beat. It was a total musical journey through various hip-hop genres and styles, but he never really completed a full song just bits and pieces and I became very bored with the music and its presentation and I was glad when he was finished with his set and thanked the audience and left the stage. The lights and Cypress Hill took the stage with a bang as they launched into the rapid-fire of “Shoot'Em Up” from the 1991 “Juice” film soundtrack and immediately got the crowd fired up as Louis “B-Real” Freese angrily spit the words, “I've had it up to here, with all the bullshit, finger's on the trigger, and I'm about to pull it, gank hard rock, up the block, you know I rule it, to the punks around the corner, someone's gonna catch a bullet...”, and the fragrant smoke began to rise and the band went straight into the crunchy groove of “Real Estate” from their 1991 self-titled debut album with ferocity as they pretended to shoot off their guns while dancing to that bass-bap boom as they went into a dark “Hand On The Pump” from their 1991 self-titled debut album with a sense of glee as Senen “Sen Dog” Reyes urged the crowd to get wild. The band kept the ruckus going with a jumpy “When The Shit Goes Down” from their 1993 album “Black Sunday” and it had the house bouncing to Lawrence “DJ Muggs” Muggerud's skillful turntable action as they went into the old-school funk of “The Phuncky Feel One” from their debut album and it had the place going manic with some wild dancing. The band kept the “hip-hop shit” going with a super-charged “How I Could Just Kill A Man” also from their debut and Eric “Bobo” Correa's percussion percolated like a hurricane as B-Real roared, “It's another one of them ol' funky Cypress Hill things, you know what I'm sayin', and it goes like this, hey don't miss out on what you're passing, you're missing the hoota of the funky Buddha, eluder or the fucked up styles to get wicked, so come on as Cypress Hill starts to kicked it...”, and they plowed on non-stop with a furious beat that was pumped up by their drummer Bobo, B-Real and Sen Dog paused and took a few moments to smoke a joint together onstage as they went into their classic marijuana medley of “Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up”/”I Wanna Get High”/”Dr. Greenthumb”/”Hits From The Bong” and I was impressed that they still commanded the stage with ease and charm as they skillfully rhymed about the joy of smoking marijuana which they were doing quite blatantly and it did not seem to bother the club because people were smoking up everywhere as B-Real and Sen-Dog cajoled the audience with some playful teasing and then they led the crowd in some excitable back and forth as they screamed “Fuck your side!” at each other DJ Solo “Insane In The Brain” from their 1993 album “Black Sunday” “Who you tryin' ta mess with ese, don't you know I'm loco, to da one on da flam, boy, it's tough, I just toss that ham in the fryin' pan, like spam, it's done when I come in, slam, damn, I feel like the Son of Sam...” “Latin Thugs” from their 2004 album “Till Death Do Us Part” “Latin Lingo” from their debut album “Tequila Sunrise” from their 1998 album “Cypress Hill IV” DJ Solo “Throw Your Set In The Air” from their 1995 album “Cypress Hill III: Temples Of Boom” “Firin' up that heater, when I'm throwin' up a set, I got my nina millimeter, la scandalous, killafornia, where I'm from, dumb ditty dumb ditty ditty dumb dumb, I'm buckin' ya on ya ass now ya know where I'm from, dumb ditty dumb ditty ditty dumb dumb, throw ya set in the air, and wave it around like ya just don't care...” “Cock The Hammer” from their 1993 album “Black Sunday” “Everybody Must Get Stoned” from their 1995 album “Cypress Hill III: Temples Of Boom” “Boom Biddy Bye Bye” from their 1995 album “Cypress Hill III: Temples Of Boom” “Illusions”from their 1995 album “Cypress Hill III: Temples Of Boom” “I Ain't Goin' Out Like That” from their 1993 album “Black Sunday” “(Rock) Superstar” from their 2000 album “Skull & Bones” “People see rock stars, you know what I'm sayin', but you still try to get out, more like everybody else, you know, its a fun job, but its still a job, there's gonna be another cat comin' out, looking like me, sounding like me next year, I know this, it'll be a flipside, tell what you did, someone trying to spin off like some circus...” twenty-song set



DAWG YAWP - October 30, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a lovely autumn afternoon as I slowly trekked down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see Cincinnati, Ohio's favorite duo Dawg Yawp play their eclectic brand of sitar-based folk music with a synth-rock edge to get us on our feet. The two of them, Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan, hit the stage at 6PM and their music was an interesting mix of rock, country, and folk but with a sitar and some deep and emotional lyrics about love, loss, and becoming a better person. On their opening number “I Wanna Be A Dog” and Rob Keenan played the sitar like it was a lead guitar and he really could make those notes bend and hang in the air like fireworks. They kept their unusual groove going with intertwining guitar and sitar riffs that reminded me of The Byrds as the rhythm swayed ever so gently as they segued into their next song that buzzed and zoomed to their electronic accompaniment and their pretty decent vocal harmonies that followed the melodies that they created. The song “Not So Sure” was accented by several vocal snippets and synthesizer samples as Tyler played a sparse percussive groove on his guitar as Rob sang the sorrowful lyrics and made his sitar produce some interesting melody lines as the song lurched and shuddered along like a lumbering mammoth. Sometimes their sound had a real country-feel to their delivery as the music slithered through the air as Rob made his sitar howl and wail, but must say their songs sounded incomplete as they seemed to start and stop at random because most of their songs were very short. Sometimes Tyler would play the synthesizer and its sounds would clash with Rob's sitar as he intoned the words of the song “Can't Think About You No More” over and over just like the synth riff that oozed out of the speakers. The best song of the evening was a languid “She Made Me This Way” with its twiddly sitar riffs and synthesizer beats but the song ended way too quick. The band dedicated the next song, the traditional “East Virginia Blues”, to Bob Boilen and NPR's “Tiny Desk Concert Series” that released their wonderful performance back in September and they sounded like bluegrass legend Bill Monroe raga-style as Rob used a homemade capo on his instrument that gave it a more traditional feel that sounded almost like a mandolin and the tune sounded great and very authentic and I could see why Bob Boilen liked them and it was their best performance of their set. Tyler had to take a minute to change chips in his synthesizer and then they jumped into a new song called “So Much More” and it reminded me of a sixties AM radio pop tune as Rob went crazy on his sitar but I really liked the tune and the way it bubbled and pulsed so laconically as they went into an unreleased song that reminded me of Can and other progressive rock bands as Tyler's synthesizer gurgled and trilled and the sitar moaned these long extended notes. They finished their eleven-song set with a rock-influenced song called “Lost At Sea” that swirled like an eddy into my ears and backed with a groove that almost made me want to dance. The best thing about them was that their sitar-driven music did not remind me of Ravi Shankar or The Beatles' songs that were influenced by the instrument, but their music was rather traditionally structured and it was a great and uplifting ending to their set.




AN EVENING WITH KING CRIMSON - October 29, 2017
The Howard Theater - Washington, DC


It was a pretty dreary autumn day as I got ready to go to the Lisner Auditorium to see the legendary guitarist Robert Fripp and King Crimson take me on a magical musical journey, and I am so lucky that I saw that this show was happening and for two nights because I saw not one single piece of advertisement for the show until I saw a brief mention of it in this week's City Paper so I rushed on down to the venue and my editor had got me an excellent ticket for a seat in the middle of the room. Their set-up consisted of three drummers who were positioned out front and a well-lit sign that said “No Pictures” to be taken until the end of their set, so I sat in my seat and watched people trickle in to their seats as we listened to the ambient percussion that played in the background as I sat writing my piece. The lights dimmed and Robert Fripp's voice welcomed us to the show “Hell Hounds Of Krim” from their 2016 album “Live In Toronto” “Pictures Of A City” from their May 1970 album “In The Wake Of Poseidon” “Neurotica” from their 1982 album “Beat” “Cirkus” from their December 1970 album “Lizard” “The Lizard Suite” x “Epitaph” from their 1969 album “In The Court Of The Crimson King” “Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)” the title-track from their 2016 album “Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)” “Meltdown”x “Radical Action II”x “Level Five”x “Islands” the title-track from their 1971 album “Islands” “Devil Dogs Of Tessellation” from their 2016 album “Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)” “Discipline” from their 1981 album “Discipline” “Fallen Angel” from their 1974 album “Red” “The Letters” from their 1971 album “Islands” “Breathless” from Robert Fripp's 1979 solo album “Exposure” “Easy Money” from their 1973 album “Lark's Tongues In Aspic” “Indiscipline” from their 1981 album “Discipline” “Moonchild” from their 1969 album “In The Court Of The Crimson King” “The Court Of The Crimson King”x “21st Century Schizoid Man”x “Starless” from their 1974 album “Red” twenty-two song-set




GUNS'N'ROSES - October 19, 2017
Capital One Arena - Washington, DC


I woke up early today feeling rather excited to see the legendary re-united Guns'n'Roses on their “Once In A Lifetime Tour” albeit without guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler from the original line-up, but I feel it is still worth seeing the show and hopefully Axl Rose will take the stage on time unlike in the past when he was notoriously late, but it seems that they have no opening act and they are playing a thirty-two-song set so he should be on time. Way back in the eighties when they rose to the top of the hard rock pile with their landmark game-changing album “Appetite For Destruction” and the original band became the 'most dangerous band in the world' as they left a trail of drug-induced destruction across the planet, and from one drama to another they changed the course of music as they fought, OD'ed, cursed, caused riots, and became fodder for the tabloids until the band imploded and the members went their own separate ways. Axl Rose kept the band's name alive with assorted line-ups and attempts at releasing new albums to varying degrees of success and then Axl joined AC/DC to fulfill their tour obligations due to the departure of singer Brian Johnson and he was applauded for his better than expected performance, and then Slash and Duff McKagan decided to reunite with Axl and tour the world but I will really miss Steven and Izzy, who were the reason I even listened to them for the first time in the first place. I arrived at the arena among the overwhelmingly aged crowd all dressed in their best G'n'R finery and ready to party to dawn even if it hurts. I made my way to my rather excellent seat with the tremendous view and I sat and took it all in, from the band's oversized stage set to the state-of-the-art sound system and I knew I was ready to rock and roll. And with the roar of a motorcycle engine the band launched into a pounding “It's So Easy” from their 1987 debut major label album “Appetite For Destruction”, and bassist Duff McKagan rocked the song with a rip-roaring bass line as Axl Rose yelped, “Ya get nothin' for nothin', if that's what ya do, turn around bitch I got an use for you, besides you ain't got nothin' better to do, and I'm so bored, it's so easy, easy, when everybody's tryin' to please me baby, it's so easy, easy...”, and they were off like a rocket. The band went into a jittery “Mr. Brownstone”, also from their debut album, that Slash lit up with a fabulous guitar solo that gave me the goosebumps as they segued into a majestic “Chinese Democracy” that was the title-track from their 2008 album and Slash played a sensational intro on his guitar as drummer Frank Ferrer gave the song some real crunch with a sneer. Next a spotlight shown on Slash as he displayed some remarkable dexterity on the fretboard as he intro-ed a spectacular “Welcome To The Jungle” from their debut and even though the vocal mix sucked, I got excited as Axl wailed, “I wanna see ya bleed...”, and I liked the new arrangement the band gave the song as the melody twisted and turned its way through the sonic pummeling of the band. They went right into the gut-bucket funk of “Double Talkin' Jive” from their 1991 album “Use Your Illusion I” that was oddly poppy as the beat chugged along with its strange percussive groove and Axl warbled, “Back in town an'a all new friends, they sayin' how ya been, fucked up and out of place, that's how I felt back then, double talkin' jive, get the money motherfucker, cause I got no more patience, double talkin', I got lies, no more patience man, you dig what I'm sayin'...”, and Slash let loose with another exquisite guitar solo and I found it funny that so far tonight he has not even looked Axl's way once. He kept it up with the hard driving pace of “Better” from their 2008 album “Chinese Democracy” and it was one of the better songs from that album that Slash and Duff did not play on as the muscular groove pulsed and throbbed in an almost detached kind of way as the band segued into keyboardist Dizzy Reed's exquisite piano-playing on the introduction to “Estranged” from their 1991 album “Use Your Illusion II” and they made the song soar with its genre-mixing beauty that was propelled by guitarist Richard Fortus' solid rhythm playing. Next they went into their first cover of the night with a very symphonic “Live And Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings from “Use Your Illusion I” and they turned into a very powerful anti-war screed as Slash and Richard Fortus played these great intertwining guitar riffs that seared the song on my brain as they moved into a raucous and hypnotic rendition “Rocket Queen” from “Appetite For Destruction” with a bit of swagger as Axl cackled, “Here I am, and you're a rocket queen, I might be a little young, but honey I ain't naïve, here I am, and you're a rocket queen oh yeah, I might be too much, but honey you're a bit obscene...”, and I liked the new slower arrangement of the song that was driven by Duff's omniscient bass that kept the groove tight and taut as guitarist Richard Fortus blazed on an electrifying solo that rocked the audience. Next the band launched into the grunge-y power pop of “You Could Be Mine” from “Use Your Illusion II” and they played it with great aplomb as they strolled around the huge stage and never really getting near each other as they crashed into a sprightly “New Rose” with Duff on vocals and was The Damned cover from their 1993 covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?” and it was a whirl of colorful graphics that flooded the video screens and into my eyes. Axl babbled nonsensically into the microphone for a few minutes as he introduced “This I Love” from “Chinese Democracy” and the band was hitting their stride as they made the song a nugget of metal-punk fury that just electrified me. Axl became really introspective and thoughtful as he started singing a masterful rendition of “Civil War” from “Use Your Illusion II”, and I listened as he sang, “Look at the shoes you're filling, look at the blood we're spilling, look at the world we're killing, the way we're always done before, look in the doubt we've wallowed, look at the leaders we've followed, look at the lies we've swallowed,and I don't want to hear no more, I don't need your civil war...”, and then Slash played his best solo of the night as his fingers flew at lightning speed over his fretboard and he just looked so intense as he stood there with his eyes closed and his guitar a'wailing like a raging hurricane...it was just amazing! The band moved into “Yesterdays” from “Use Your Illusion II” “Coma” from “Use Your Illusion I” and Axl introduces the band Slash guitar solo with “Johnny B. Goode” jam “Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From 'The Godfather')” Nino Rota cover “Sweet Child O' Mine” from their 1987 album “She's got a smile that it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories, where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky, now and then when I see her face, she takes me away to that special place, and if I stared too long, I'd probably break down and cry, sweet child o' mine...” “Wichita Lineman” Jimmy Webb cover in tribute to Glen Campbell “Used To Love Her” from their 1988 album “Lies” “My Michelle” from their 1987 album “Your daddy works in porno, now that mommy's not around, she used to love her heroin, but now she's underground, so you stay out late at night, and you do your coke for free, drivin' your friends crazy, with your life's insanity...” “Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd cover “November Rain” from “Use Your Illusion I” “Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden cover tribute to Chris Cornell “Knockin' On Heaven's Door” Dylan cover from “Use Your Illusion II” “Nightrain” from their 1987 album “Loaded like a freight train, flyin' like an aeroplane, feelin' like a space brain, one more time tonight...” “Catcher In The Rye” from their 2008 album “Chinese Democracy” “Patience” from their 1988 album “Lies” “Said, woman, take it slow, and things will be just fine, you and I'll just use a little patience, said, sugar, take the time, cause the lights are shining bright, you and I've got what it takes, to make it, we won't fake it, I'll never break it, cause I can't take it...” “Madagascar” from their 2008 album “Chinese Democracy” “Don't Cry” from “Use Your Illusion I” “The Seeker” The Who cover from their 2014 live album “Live At The Hard Rock” “Paradise City” from their 1987 album “Appetite For Destruction” “Take me down, to the paradise city, where the grass is green, and the girls are pretty, take me home, so far away, so far away, so far away, so far away...” thirty-two song set vocalist Axl Rose guitarist Slash bassist Duff McKagan guitarist Richard Fortus keyboardist Dizzy Reed synthesizerist Melissa Reese drummer Frank Ferrer


LADY MARY AND THE INDAHOUSE BAND - October 19, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




THE FOO FIGHTERS and THE STRUTS - October 12, 2017
Anthem @ The Wharf - Washington, DC



HUMBLE FIRE - October 6, 2017
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

I was hurrying as fast as I could to get to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in time to catch this month's Hometown Sounds show with locals Humble Fire and somehow I arrived just in time, but I could not get my favorite seat because it was taken by some tourist toads however I am looking forward to seeing the band. The band is a combination of sounds and styles that are propelled by a D.Y.I. spirit that drives their diverse music that is based on DC Hardcore but with so much more to it. The quartet are supporting their new album “Builder” and as they walked onstage and the Hometown Sounds rep told us about them and what services they provide for the local music community and then Humble Fire launched into their lush dream-pop that flowed in an ambient kind of way with the intricate guitar riffs of Dave Epley and muted drums of new member Jason Arrol as the vocalist Nefra Faltas gently crooned the song's words to their opening number with her quirky voice in a way that reminded me of Elizabeth Fraser of The Cocteau Twins. The guitarist Dave made some real cool noises and licks with his instruments as Nefra played these cool washes on the keyboards as the band chugged along behind her as they morphed through several genres of music with a big fuzzy guitar sound that was almost danceable. They followed with a song called “Taliesin” from their new album that was the real stand-out of the set with some interesting parts as the groove slithered along with the serpentine bass line and terse percussion that the guitarist danced all over with quirky little riffs and licks. I liked how their songs seemed to ebb and flow from dark to light to heavy to ethereal while the guitarist Dave showed-off his inventive playing style. They followed that with another cool song called “Scout” and it had a jumpy new wave feel to it as it rushed forward over the clever guitar and percolating rhythm with a gentle ease as the vocalist Nefra sang so lovely like a songbird but she was so hard to understand and I wished the band were a little more forward and outgoing towards the audience but the singer tried really hard to reach the audience. They played an amazing version of xx's “” where they totally deconstructed the song as they stripped it down its melody and I was quite impressed by their musical prowess as they slid into their next song and it was barely there but it had a beautiful melody that was accented by Nefra's achingly wonderful voice that kept reminding me again and again of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser as the music swirled around her like a slow-motion sandstorm. I liked how you could hear little snippets of so many musical genres in their sound as the band weaved their way through their set and particularly the guitarist Dave who seemed to loved playing fuzzed-out riffs over Nefra's haunting vocals. The band played a well-paced set that was a melange of styles and genres that held my attention despite their lack of stage presence as the vocalist gently crooned, “I'll make it all up to you...”, which I must say was one of their better songs and it segued into an upbeat and driving “Gone” and it had the band riding a fierce groove with some jagged riffs from the guitarist that he complimented with these little floating riffs that propelled the song forward over the drummer Jason Arrol's chaotic beat. They finished their twelve-song set with the title-track from their new album “Builder” and it was a really beautiful example of “dream-pop” that I could almost melt in with its fluttery guitar riffs and pulsing and plodding bass and I really enjoyed their set and Nefra Faltas' lovely vocal delivery that I got lost in its hypnotic flow. Go check this band out!


CORCORAN HOLT - September 17, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



COMBO CHIMBITA and DARK WATER RISING - September 14, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



THE CAMBODIAN SPACE PROJECT - September 12, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a lovely post-hurricane afternoon as I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the Cambodian Space Project play their unique version of sixties rock and roll meets Khmer psychedelic soul with exquisite chanteuse Kak Channthy whose voice is quite charming and engaging to the ears. The thing I really love about the Millennium Stage is that they have such a wide diversity of bands that are really difficult to see anywhere else, particularly rock bands from lesser-known countries but luckily they usually play here because their embassies are here and so they only play here and a handful of other places in this country and that is all. So tonight at 6PM the Cambodian Space Project are playing live in conjunction with Ken Burns and his new documentary on the Vietnam War that is debuting this month on PBS and the band took the stage and began playing some hard-driving rock and roll and their diva Channthy dressed in a neon pink outfit as she wailed away in her native tongue and it went surprisingly well with their music and the bassist Bun Sophea was absolutely killer as he propelled their music forward and even though I could not understand a word of the lyrics and it was very soothing even when the guitarist J.M. Poulson wailed away on his axe like he was the legendary Scotty Moore. Their songs had a nice groove that kept my foot tapping as their joyous music flowed over the terse rhythm section of drummer Yus “Bong” Sak and bassist Bun Sophea. I really liked the cool Southeast Asia film clips they played on the video screen as Channthy's voice soared as she sang the high notes of the raucous “A Go Go” that just made me want to frug wildly. On other numbers the band reminded me of the more esoteric songs of The Doors because one of their songs actually reminded me of “The End”, complete with references to whiskey and life and death and sex and it was beautiful to see and hear. The guitarists J.M. Poulson and Jason Shaw played some wonderful dueling riffs that were full of swirling melodies and intertwining licks that were impressive to my ears. The song “Here Comes The Rain” was full of slashing riffs driven by Bun Sophea's booming bass as they sang about the ignorance of climate-deniers in a very truthful and succinct way. Channthy's vocal style reminded me of Dusty Springfield in the way she sang with a full-throttle voice that made you feel every word even though I could not understand them. Next the band got a little wild with a song that reminded me of the surf sounds of The Ventures with a female singer as the band worked that beat with some solid playing and once again the bassist lit things up with his exceptional playing and then they segued into a song that reminded me of Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty-penned “Proud Mary” that was made famous by Ike & Tina and they rocked it and in their native tongue as Channthy danced and shook like Tina Turner and it was really cool as they laid down some swinging sixties grooves like Sam The Sham's “Wooley Bully” with pizzazz and these great searing guitar riffs. The band finished their twelve-song set with an explosion of riffs and throbbing bass and her spectacular voice and they took turns showcasing their individual skills on their instruments and I must say I was impressed. This was a fantastic show and I was glad I came to see the Cambodian Space Project.



ALISON MOYET - September 11, 2017
Sixth & I Street Synagogue - Washington, DC


“I Germinate” from her latest album “Other” “Until the fire is humbled in the grate, this cup in its forgotten state, that measured tides, high tides, photographs the words, unspoken, as a crocus offering saffron token, until the dew evaporates, and while the clay bakes, I gestate, I'm here, I germinate...” “When I Was Your Girl” from her 2013 album “The Minutes” “Wishing You Were Here” from her 1991 album “Hoodoo” “Only You” from Yazoo's 1982 album “Upstairs At Eric's” “Ski” from her 2002 album “Hometime” “Nobody's Diary” from Yazoo's 1983 album “You And Me Both” “For the times we've had I don't want to be, a page in your diary babe, for the good, the bad I don't want to see, a page in your diary babe, for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be another page in your diary...” “The English U” from her latest album “Other” “Getting Into Something” from her 1994 album “Essex” “Changeling” from her 2013 album “The Minutes” “Beautiful Gun” from her latest album “Other” “The Man In The Wings” from her 2007 album “The Turn” It's my song and I sing for the man in the wings, is it strange when we never have shared anything, I don't ache for some tender exchange in the dark, that will pass, but the purest refrain will haunt us again, and he has that with me, when I've nothing to bring, I sing for the man in the wings...” “This House” from her 1991 album “Hoodoo” “Lover, Go” from her latest album “Other” “Right As Rain” from her 2013 album “The Minutes” “Other” from her latest album “Other” “Is This Love?” from her 1987 album “Raindancing” co-written with The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart “I choose never to forget, I want our lips to kiss and our limbs to entwine, let our bodies be twisted but never our minds, is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love...” “Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)” Yazoo “All Cried Out” from her 1984 album “Alf” “Happy Giddy” from her latest album “Other” “Love Resurrection” from her 1984 album “Alf” “Show me one direction, I will not question again, for a warm injection, is all I need to calm the pain, we all need a love, resurrection, just a little divine intervention, we all need a love, resurrection, just a little divine intervention...” “Don't Go” from Yazoo's 1982 album “Upstairs At Eric's” “Alive” from her latest album “Other” “The Rarest Birds” from her latest album “Other” “Situation” from Yazoo's 1982 album “Upstairs At Eric's” “Blue eyed dressed for every situation, moving through the doorway of a nation, pick me up and shake the doubt, baby I can't do without, move out, don't mess around, move out, you bring me down, move out, how you get around, don't make a sound just move out...” guitarist/synth player John Garden Scissor Sisters synth player Sean McGhee twenty-four song set


THE 27th ANNUAL ROSSLYN JAZZFEST 2017 - September 9, 2017
Gateway Park - Rosslyn, VA

It was a wonderfully gorgeous day for the annual jazz festival in Rosslyn so I rode the metro there and when I reached my destination and I went above ground and into the glorious sunshine and joined the bustling crowd of people headed towards the stage area where I got lucky and found a place to stand with a good view of the stage where Hartford, Connecticut-born Brooklyn-based Xenia Rubinos was rocking the stage with her longtime drummer/collaborator Marco Buccelli who was recently nominated for Best Italian Drummer in Europe and a synth player/bassist whose name I did not catch but they had a lovely urban indie-rock groove to their music that made me want to dance. They played several songs from her last album “Black Terry Cat” that bubbled and pulsed with a neo-soul feel as she sang her brilliantly written lyrics with a gracious ease as the three of them exchanged instruments so effortlessly as the beat just flowed everywhere. They played a great song called “Mexican Chef” that had a nice jaunty groove to it that was full of these soaring flourishes of the synthesizer and some really intriguing words about economic inequality and its effects on society all to the driving drums of Marco that really made the song come alive. They left the stage and some event manager made a speech about the importance of the festival and supporting it and she finished and soul man Lee Fields And The Expressions from North Carolina took the stage with panache and jumped into his bone-shaking southern rockin' R&B soul music that immediately lit the crowd up as he worked that stage like James Brown hence his nickname “Little JB” for his physical and vocal resemblance to JB and he got on his good foot as his six-piece band rocked like they were the Stax Records' house band and they were fantastic particularly the Leslie organ player who was pumping that thing as he carried the melody and the drummer who kept the beat sharp and crisp as the horn players pushed that funky groove. The band had the crowd going with the songs “Special Night”, “Make The World”, “Faithful Man”, and “Just Can't Win”, and Lee Fields squealed and moaned and yelped his way through them as something more than just another JB clone, and I really liked his message of love and unity in these dangerous times and how he expressed it with phenomenal skill and vocal prowess. The Expressions were quite a band also, they were a modern-day soul music-making machine on the same level as The Dap-tones, who I just adore their sound and the production of the music they make for so many people like Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones. I would love to see them again in a club setting, but the sound was awfully good at Rosslyn, so glad I went to the show, but I did find it funny that there were no straight-up jazz bands on the bill since this was a “jazz” festival.



DEPECHE MODE - September 7, 2017
Capital One Arena - Washington, DC


So as I was saying before, I had two shows to attend tonight and now I am at the recently renamed Capitol One Arena formerly the Verizon Center and I found my way to my rather excellent seat in Row A of Section 216 and it was like being in a balcony as I watched the very diverse crowd slowly fill the arena. The opening band was the female quartet Warpaint from Los Angeles and they took the stage and launched into the moody and dense groove of “Heads Up” the title-track from their new album that was somewhere between The Runaways and The Bangles and they had these wonderful harmonies that was driven by the terse percussion of drummer Stella Mozgawa that rode Jenny Lee Lindberg's succinct bass lines while vocalist/guitarist Emily Kokal and guitarist Theresa Wayman traded meaty riffs while they sang of their lives as they plowed through “Krimson” from their 2008 EP “Exquisite Corpse” re-issue, then a muscular “No Way Out” from their new album “Heads Up”, and they followed that with a percussive “Elephants”, also from “Exquisite Corpse”, and I was just blown away by them and their music as the band careened through a heavy “Intro” from their 2014 self-titled album and a feedback-laden “Whiteout” from their new album, and then they played my favorite song of theirs called “Love Is To Die” from their 2014 album and it was bouncy and catchy and Stella's funky drumming got the crowd moving for a vigorous “Disco//Very” also from their 2014 album, and they finished their brisk nine-song set with a slamming “New Song” from their new album and they gave it all they got and the audience actually loved them. Warpaint finished and the house lights went up and the crew set to work setting up Depeche Mode's austere set and then a huge video screen began to show a short film called “Charity: Water” about the need for clean water around the world so everyone please give to make things better for everyone and it was nice to see the band promote important social causes The Beatles anthem “Revolution” “Going Backwards” from their 2016 album “Spirit” “We are not there yet, we have not evolved, we have no respect, we have lost control, we're going backwards, ignoring the realities, going backwards, are you counting all the causalities...” “So Much Love” from their 2016 album “Spirit” “Barrel Of A Gun” from their 1997 album “Ultra” “A Pain That I'm Used To” from their 2005 album “Playing The Angel” “Corrupt” from their 2009 album “Sounds Of The Universe” “I could corrupt you, in a heart beat, you think you're so special, think you're so sweet, what are you trying, don't even tempt me, soon you'll be crying and wishing you'd dreamt me, you'll be calling out my name, when you need someone to blame...” “In Your Room” from their 1993 album “Songs Of Faith and Devotion” “World In My Eyes” from their 1990 album “Violator” “Cover Me” from their 2016 album “Spirit” “A Question Of Lust” from their 1986 album “Black Celebration” “It's a question of lust, it's a question of trust, it's a question of not letting what we've built up, crumble to dust, it is all of these things and more, that keep us together...” “Home” from their 1997 album “Ultra” “Poison Heart” from their 2016 album “Spirit” “Where's The Revolution” from their 2016 album “Spirit” “You're been kept down, you've been pushed 'round, you've been lied to, you've been fed truths, who's making your decisions, you or your religion, your government, your countries, you patriotic junkies, where's the revolution, come on people, you're letting me down...” “Wrong” from their 2009 album “Sounds Of The Universe” “Everything Counts” from their 1983 album “Construction Time Again” “It's a competitive world, everything counts in large amounts...” “Stripped” from their 1986 album “Black Celebration” “Enjoy The Silence” from their 1990 album “Violator” “All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms, words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm...” “Never Let Me Down Again” from their 1987 album “Music For The Masses” “Somebody” from their 1984 album “Some Great Reward” “I want somebody to share, share the rest of my life, share my innermost thoughts, know my intimate details, someone who'll stand by my side, and give me support, and in return...” “Walking In My Shoes” from their 1993 album “Songs Of Faith and Devotion” “Heroes” David Bowie cover “I Feel You” from their 1993 album “Songs Of Faith and Devotion” “Personal Jesus” from their 1990 album “Violator” “I will deliver, you know I'm a forgiver, reach out and touch faith, your own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares, your own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone who's there...” Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore keyboardist Andy Fletcher keyboardist/bassist Peter Gordeno drummer Christian Eigner


BRNDA - September 7, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a sunny and glorious late-summer afternoon as I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the latest Hometown Sounds presentation with DC's own “serious” band BRNDA doing their thing before I headed to the Capitol One Arena (formerly Verizon Center) to see the marvelous Depeche Mode on their worldwide “Global Spirit Tour”. I arrived at the the Kennedy Center early so I could prepare myself and start writing of today's proceedings...so I went back to the matter at hand, quartet BRNDA and their “serious” music, so to begin I sat in my regular seat with the perfect view of the stage and I got ready for the Hometown Sounds DC reps to give their spiel on their mission and then BRNDA took the stage and with a rat-a-tat on the drums and the ring of chiming guitars they launched into their first song and their sound reminded me of a lot of bands and at the same time they sounded like no one else as the groove got a little off-kilter as the incoherent vocals of drummer Leah Gage and guitarist Dave Lesser just swirled in the intricate rhythms and the beat flowed on by in a way that reminded me of a lot of mid-eighties SST Records bands like Opal and Green On Red, especially on the song “Take Me Up”. The band were very random in their playing with snatches of melody appearing seemingly out of nowhere and fragments of lyrics like in the song “We're A Serious Band From Washington, DC” as they took turns singing their odd lyrics and lovely harmonies as they moved into “Cool Night” and it had a wonderful groove to it as the band made the music ebb and flow as new bassist Christian Whittle pumped his instrument and made the beat jump into the jaunty rhythms of “Some People” that seemed to have a Velvet Underground influence without sounding all snotty like Lou Reed. I really liked the song “Neighbor Hood” which had a B-52s feel to it and just as obtuse with the words but the song rocked as guitarist Dave Lesser sang it so seriously given the lyrics but he played a real cool guitar solo while guitarist Alex Kozen slashed away behind him. Leah Gage was phenomenal on the drums as she seemed to lead the band as they burst into a sarcastic “Who Cares About The NY Jets” which was quite funny and catchy with its bubbly percussion and booming bass that provided a deep bottom for their slashing guitars to dance on as the band went into the surf guitar-driven “Touch Me” that also reminded me of The B-52s with their abstract lyrics, almost surreal in fact, as Dave Kozen made his guitar squeal. The four of them got into the chaotic and frenetic beat of my favorite song of the night, the potent and fiery “Hates You” and Dave Lesser played a really terse solo on his guitar. They finished their ten-song set with a perky rendition of “What She Said” with the sardonically catchy chorus, “I hate my mom, and I hate my dad...”, and the sarcastic words got stuck in my head as I walked out of the Kennedy Center thinking that I would like to see BRNDA again.



THE AMBASSADOR: JIMI HENDRIX TRIBUTE with FISHBONE & GUESTS - September 1, 2017
Wolf Trap Filene Center - Vienna, VA

Even though the sky was looking quite ugly with these huge fiery-looking swirling clouds from Hurricane Harvey down south but the evening seemed alright for a concert to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jimi Hendrix playing The Ambassador Theatre in Adams-Morgan at 18th and Columbia Road during the fabled “Summer of Love” in 1967, and also his 75th birthday this month with Fishbone and their special guests, Nona Hendryx, Ernie Isley, Liv Warfield, Vernon Reid, Judith Hill, and teenaged guitar wunderkind Brandon “Taz” Niederaurer of Broadway's “School Of Rock”, and so it should be quite interesting to see them play some Hendrix songs. First up tonight was the show's emcee Danny Capillin and he made a few opening remarks about Jimi Hendrix and his rise to superstardom and beyond to musical immortality, then he told about the time the Jimi Hendrix Experience had just quit the ill-fated The Monkees tour August 9th through the 13th of 1967, and Jimi Hendrix was booked into the Ambassador Theatre for a week and he blew Washington's collective mind including members of The Who who were in town for a gig at D.A.R. Constitution Hall. Fishbone took the stage and roared to life with a horn-driven rendition of “Fire” from Jimi's classic 1967 debut album “Are You Experienced” and the band blew it up and made it just as invigorating as Jimi's original version and guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederaurer just exploded with riffs and hooks as Fishbone vocalist Angelo Moore howled the words, “Oh, move over Rover, and let Jimi take over, yeah, you know what I'm talking 'bout, yeah, get on with it, baby, that's what I'm talking 'bout, now dig this, ha, now listen baby...”, and then they segued right into a psychedelic “Manic Depression” from Jimi's classic 1967 debut album “Are You Experienced” with vocalist Liv Warfield bringing a touch of femininity to soften the song's hard edge. The band brought vocalist Judith Hill to the stage along with Taz to deliver a raw and driving version of “Hey Joe” which was the first single from Jimi in 1966 after he went to England and Taz was fantastic as he played these clean leads that were just magic as the notes floated out into the crowd as Judith sang the hell out of the song as Angelo joined her to duet on a funky “Testify” which was the 1963 Hendrix-penned single by The Isley Brothers, and the rhythm section of bassist John Norwood Fisher and drummer Philip Fisher were just phenomenal as they rocked like they were the Stax house band as they made the song groove and the horns of trumpeter Walter Kibby and trombonist Jay Armant got a work-out as they danced with the spectacular bass of John that he made swell with rhythm and dexterity. Then Angelo brought the divine Miss Nona Hendryx to the stage and she rocked “Move Over And Let Me Dance” which was another 1963 single by The Isley Brothers that was penned by Hendrix and her voice sounded great and she made the song shake, rattle, and roll with an intensity only matched by a few and that is why she is one of my favorite singers ever. Ernie Isley and Liv came to the stage and delivered an electrifying version of “Foxy Lady” from Jimi's classic 1967 debut album “Are You Experienced” that just turned the place out and Fishbone's guitarist John Bigham made his guitar come alive with some spectacular guitar pyrotechnics that made my jaw drop. The band called Taz back to play his guitar on a sensational “Spanish Castle Magic” from Jimi's 1967 album “Axis: Bold As Love” and Liz Warfield brought a touch of grit to the song as she warbled, “Hang on, my darling, yeah, hang on if you want to go, it puts everything else on the shelf, with just a little bit of Spanish castle magic, just a little bit of daydream here and there...”, as the rest of the ever-changing band stomped their way through the pulsing rhythm and swirling melodies and Taz delivered the most brilliantly concise guitar solo that I have ever heard...truly awe-inspiring! Then they performed the electric blues of “Red House” from Jimi's classic 1967 debut album “Are You Experienced” and Taz sang it with such soul and depth that I could not believe he was just a kid as he made those notes bend and squeal in a way that would have made B.B. King sit up in his grave and go 'damn'! It was sensational and rocked me to my very soul and then the band wound it up for a molten version of “Voodoo Chile” from Jimi's 1968 masterpiece “Electric Ladyland” that gave me the chills as Taz's fleet fingers flew up and down his fretboard with such ease as he brought an odd youthfulness to the song as he played so crisp and clean until he smashed his guitar to pieces. Next the band grinded out a hook-laden “Love Or Confusion” also from Jimi's debut album with laidback ease as they flowed into a gentle “May This Be Love” from “Are You Experienced” that was a little lacking next to Jimi's version even though Angelo rocked the theremin which you do not see much these days. Judith Hill came back to the stage and delivered a soulful rendition of “Angel” from the posthumous 1971 album “The Cry Of Love” that just brought the house down with its complexities and intricate melodies and her incredibly high notes as she crooned, “Angel came down from heaven yesterday, she stayed with me just long enough to rescue me, and she told me a story yesterday, about the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea, and then she spread her wings high over me, she said she's gonna come back tomorrow...”, and the band was just musically exquisite as they backed her up so skillfully on their instruments. They followed with a lit up and crunchy rendition of “Freedom” also from the same album and the song marched right over me with soaring guitars and keyboardist Paul Hampton's stuttering melody line that led the way and then Living Colour's Vernon Reid and his guitar joined them for a rather lovely “The Wind Cries Mary” from “Are You Experienced” that he livened up with his crystal-clear tone and it was marvelous to watch in amazement and awe. They dedicated the next number “Third Stone From The Sun” also from the same album to the planet and the group launched into a psychedelic miasma of notes and melodies and hooks and Vernon Reid was just stunning as he made his guitar howl like a banshee and so much more as he devastated the song in his own Hendrix-ian way as the band turned it out on the down-stroke as they turned it into an extended space jam as it morphed into a wonderful and lyrical “Are You Experience?”, which was the title-track to Jimi's classic 1967 debut album, and it shimmied and swayed as Angelo Moore leapt off the stage and danced and sang his way through the crowd as the band lumbered through the song until it collapsed into a noisy pile. Judith Hill came back to the stage to diva-fy a glorious version of “Stone Free” which was the 1966 B-side to his first single “Hey Joe” and it rocked me to my very soul as Judith let her voice explode with the words, “Hey, yeah, I said, stone free to ride on the breeze, stone free do what I please, stone free I can't stay, stone free I got to I got to get away, hey, stone free go on down the highway, stone free don't try to hold me back baby, stone free stone free, stone free got to baby, stone free got get on...”, and the audience erupted in joyous applause. The band brought out Liv Warfield to sing a real heartfelt version of “Who Knows” from Jimi's 1970 posthumous live album “Band Of Gypsys” and Liv made it real sassy and funkily upbeat with a groove that was full of soul and then finally they brought Nona Hendryx back to close their nineteen-song set with an abstractly raucous rendition of “If 6 Was 9” from Jimi's 1967 album “Axis: Bold As Love” and Nona really shined on her vocal delivery as she led the audience in singing along, “Now if 6 turned out to be 9, I don't mind, I don't mind...”, and the band had one last instrumental blow-out before they left the stage and the lights went up and my friend and I rushed out to our car and on to my home with a smile on my face and images of Jimi Hendrix swirling in my head, and I really hoped that I get to go see Fishbone play Fishbone in the near future, however the show tonight rocked.


ROB CHEATHAM AND COMPANY - August 22, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



THE LUCKY SO & SOS - August 18, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another hot and humid overcast day as I started on my way to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see local upstarts The Lucky So And Sos play their adventurous hip-hop and jazz amalgamation that has been making some big noise on the local music scene and I love their unusual name which sounds like something an old jazz cat would say about some snotty upstart. They are a nine-piece band or a nonet for you educated folks that was founded in 2014 and they have been establishing themselves as a woken hi-energy act that brings it to the audience when they perform, and tonight they are being presented by Hometown Sounds podcast as part of the “Summertime Madness” concert series and the band took the stage at 6PM right after hosts Tony and Paul did their spiel about Hometown Sounds and their purpose and goals and local rapper Ardamus got the party started with a piano/percussion-driven groove that had nice sway as the guitarists Ian Taronji and Kwesi Lee traded jazz licks and the flautist Amber Walson made her instrument dance so beautifully with melody over the syncopated beats of drummers Mitchell Bass and Isabella De Leon and then Ardamus performed a rap about the joys of summertime as vocalist Mundy Spears let her voice soar so melodiously but in key as opposed to Ardamus' off-key ramblings. Next they went into the ominous beat of “Car 54” which was about police brutality and the underclasses and the beat swirled all around the terse percussion as Ardamus rapped his prescient words to the rather responsive audience as they moved into their next song which was about killers as he spit his rapid-fire lyrics and the pianist Oren Levine tinkled away like an old jazz master and the guitarist Kwesi Lee wailed on a reverb-drenched fuzzed-out solo that was just electric and it was the best part of the song. Next the vocalist Mundy Spears sang the song “WDC (The Nation's Capital)” and she almost scatted about the area over a nice and crisp groove that just stomped along to the great flute-playing of Amber Wilson and it was awesome to experience. Oren Levine tinkled away ever so gently on the piano like Thelonius Monk on a song called “The Straight Live” as the drummers kicked in with a Latin groove with an Afro-Caribbean edge and the singer sounded like Astrud Gilberto as the band let the rhythm flow at a nice and gentle tempo with Amber's delicate flute fluttering above the pastoral beat as they moved into the sweet jazz groove of “Two Steps To The Right”, but then the normally entertaining Ardamus started rapping off-key and made my ears cringe...dear god can you please rap in key with the band...so I got lost in the wonderful flute-work of Amber as she intro-ed the next song that had a bossa nova feel to it as the intricate percussion ebbed and surged with some cool melodies from the rest of the band. I liked Ardamus' well-spoken words but I just did not like his off-key delivery and atonal voice, but the band delivered a wonderful tight groove with every musician playing their instruments in total sync that just moved the audience to express themselves to the free-flowing music. The band finished their boisterous eight-song set with a slamming number called “Rock Creek Park” and it was upbeat and frenetic and full of surging rhythms and manic guitar riffs and Ardamus' voice was almost bearable as all the musicians joined in singing, “Doing it in the park, doing it after dark, doing it in Rock Creek Park...”, and the band was just phenomenal as they laid down the DC go-go groove with exuberant fun and summertime happiness. It was a really great show full of energy and I had a wonderful time grooving to some great music played by musicians who care...cheers people!



BLONDIE and GARBAGE - August 3, 2017
Wolf Trap Filene Center - Vienna, VA



MARIA POMIANOWSKA AND REBORN - August 2, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



KOMINAS - July 24, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



BITTER MEDICINE, THE SOUTHERN OCEAN, and DATA RECOVERY PROJECT - July 20, 2017
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was yet another mercilessly hot and steamy summer day as I made my way uptown to Fort Reno Park for my bi-weekly dose of local music with Bitter Medicine, The Southern Ocean, and Data Recovery Project and it seemed to be 'arty' night at the park. First up tonight was the trio Bitter Medicine from DC and they play...oh I don't know...post-post hardcore with a touch of The Replacements in their songwriting style as they crooned, “I got a drinkin' problem...”, and with such insouciant charm. The vocalist/guitarist Remi Ichwantoro played some sharp and angular riffs that sounded really cool as he punctuated the sound over the muscular and serpentine bass lines of Tony Giardino and I really liked his style and he made their songs catchy and hooky and made me want to dance as they traded vocals back and forth and I liked their lyrics and what they said and it was all driven by drummer Thomas Quispe's very succinct and well-paced percussion. I found their twelve-song set to be quite enjoyable with thought-provoking lyrics and catchy uptempo rhythms and melodies that caught my ears just right in the evening heat. The second group of the evening was The Southern Ocean in their debut gig and they are a quartet made up of vocalist/guitarist Jeremiah Prevatte, guitarist Ian Stanford, bassist Lee Bellamy, drummer Fred Ashworth, and they play rather arty music in a post-punk kind of way but I found their music meandered too much like they were just doing scales over and over much to my chagrin. But several of their songs had lovely but brisk tempos that kept them moving in a nineties kind of way, but I found the singer's voice was grating on my nerves a bit with his caterwauling and obtuse lyrics that reminded me of Kitchens Of Distinction, but I still found them kind of plodding and repetitive even though the drummer was pretty decent and played some clever fills in-between the clashing guitars. Thankfully they only played a six-song set that I quickly forgot...in one ear and out the other...since this was their first gig hopefully they will tighten things up and get better. The third and final band of the evening Data Recovery Project and they are an electro-duo featuring vocalists/synth players Christopher P. Kush and Daniel Warren Hill and they had some cheesy light projections and lame electro-beats and left-leaning political sloganeering but I could barely understand what they were singing about over the New Order-ish rhythms and melodies that never seemed to go anywhere and I normally really love this kind of disco-beats driven music but it seemed that they let me down. So I just left and rode the metro back home to my air-conditioned bedroom.



STRANGERS IN THE ALPS - July 18, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



TEEN MORTGAGE, DISSONANCE, and THE TUBEFREEKS - July 17, 2017
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

After a stormy afternoon the evening sky cleared up and it got quite beautiful so my filmmaker friend Adrian Salsgiver and I headed to Fort Reno Park to catch the latest show in the beloved concert series and tonight it featured Teen Mortgage, Dissonance, and The Tubefreeks for our listening pleasure. First up tonight was Teen Mortgage who are a guitar/drums duo in the vein of The White Stripes and it had them raging with big riffs and pounding drums with some screamed raspy lyrics that were indecipherable to my ears and their songs all seemed to come in short bursts and the drummer Ed Barakauskas did keep a nice beat that propelled them forward as the vocalist/guitarist James Guile made some fuzzy and distorted noise but there was a sense of melody albeit hidden in the noise and feedback. The band has a single coming out in August on Weiner Records and they performed it with pride and it was very reminiscent of early Nirvana but they did add some interesting textures and grooves to the mix. They played an eight-song set that was loud and chaotic but each song seemed to have a point and a melody however distorted it was. The second band tonight was Dissonance from Takoma Park and I saw and liked them when I saw them last summer here, but they have changed line-ups a bit by adding a new drummer and bassist and the band kicked things off with waves and layers of music that swirled and throbbed like a 'shoegazer' band, but the songs seemed to collapse on themselves on the underpinnings of Nathaniel Jones' doomy bass as vocalist/guitarist Declan Enright warbled something over the careening groove. All their songs had the same structuring but mid-set all their equipment broke down and that seemed to affect the rest of their set as they seemed out-of-sync and tune for the next couple of songs but they got it together by the end of their set because the two guitarists had some great interplay as they joked about being unprofessional. The rest of their set was moody and driven by the dueling guitars that played these winding riffs over the solid rhythm section. Their six-song set showed promise but tonight they just could not carry it off, so hopefully I will get to see them play a better gig in the near future, plus I did like their red ties and black clothes look though. The last band of the night was The Tubefreeks from Rockville and they were a quintet who I seemed to remember from the nineties as a party-rock outfit who played the 'hair band' circuit and so their whole vibe seemed to be stuck in the nineties as the band grinded away and vocalist Paul Van Valkenburgh postured and posed like a Hollywood rock star, but I found their sound very dated and forgettable as the band grinded away like they were Extreme or Winger or some else passe, but they had a really good guitar-player in Todd Stevens but he kept getting lost in the mix sometimes as they went through every nineties band and I just could not take that much of them and their dated music so I left the park and headed home in the twilight's last gleaming.





MARGARET CHO - July 13, 2017
Lisner Auditorium - Washington, DC




SIGNAL 30, APPOLLO 66, and THE DUPONT CIRCLES - July 10, 2017
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was a beautiful evening as I headed uptown to Fort Reno Park in Tenley Town to see the start of the annual summer concert series that was postponed last Thursday because of the threat of rain, but tonight was lovely even though another heatwave is headed our way and soundman Marty Shepp is back with his sound equipment for the season. After a quick line, the first band Signal 30 took the stage and almost exhaled the first song's drone-y intro that exploded into a post-punk frenzy as waves of notes flooded my ears over the frantic drumming and the vocalist/guitarist's whiny-ish and muted voice sort of reminded me of The Buzzcocks as the music careened forward like a charging bull. Phil their guitarist played some really cool riffs that caught my attention but the band never sounded quite in sync with each other but the parts were there, so just keep practicing those songs. They kept a nice and sludgy groove going their entire set and had me bopping my head in beat with their songs but there was something amiss but I could not put my finger on it, however I really liked the song “The Barrel Of A Gun” and its solid groove. Signal 30 played a well-received nine-song set that left a pleasant aftertaste in my ears but I would be hard-pressed to remember a single melody. The second band tonight was Apollo 66 and they are a quartet that had a garage-y surf guitar edge to them with some very angst-ridden lyrics and they really reminded me of The Slickee Boys and other bands of that genre but I really liked their song “Tiny Hands For Tiny Minds” which was dedicated to “you know who” but they were kind of retro-sounding and not very musically adventurous, just loads of angular guitar riffs that never seemed to go anywhere and the drummer seemed to play the same beat for every song. Their eight-song set became a bit tedious after awhile because they never seemed to change tempo but they were somewhat amusing though. The final band was The Dupont Circles and they played fairly standard rock and roll that just did not rock me because they were really lackluster and boring in that they never seemed to connect with each other or anyone in the crowd so I left shorty soon after.



WILL EASTMAN with RAS HAILE and TT THE ARTIST - June 23, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was another hot and humid summer day and ominous thunderstorm clouds rolled in slowly as the sun went down and I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see local DJ/producer Will Eastman tickle my eardrums with his dance-y EDM sonic soundscapes from his recently released album “Hilo”. He started out on the DC dance music scene in 1996 with his long-running DJ night “Blisspop” and he currently runs the U Street Music Hall and it is considered one of the top ten dance clubs in the world plus he brings many national acts to perform there. Tonight he is showcasing his own original music from his new album and he was brought to the stage by the Hometown Sounds podcast hosts and they praised him and Will Eastman took the stage and started the beats thumping and vocalist Ras Haile let loose with his positivity lyrics as the gentle beat careened through my ears as he got hyped and singing his cool lyrics that engaged the audience with some call-and-response and then Will Eastman pumped up the beat with a dark edge as Ras Haile addressed the pressing racial issues of the day and possible solutions to the problem and he sang the pithy words with a genuine realness that reminded me of Bad Brains vocalist HR and his style of singing in his gentler moments. The music thumped and pulsed and crescendo-ed with an almost cold beauty as Will mashed up several genres from techno to house to neo-soul to dub into an electric sonic dance groove that was all his own. Next Will Eastman brought female rapper TT The Artist to the stage and she brought a streetwise edge to her lyrics as she rapped/sang about surviving and thriving on the streets as Will added an electro-funk edge to the beat as the bass thumped and pumped and she shook her long braids and engaged the crowd with her jump-around style...”boogie on down, back it up, work it out”...and Ras Haile returned to the stage and joined TT The Artist and they traded lyrical flows that weaved in and out of the beat as they danced wildly...”shake what yer momma gave ya!”...and they shouted for everyone in the back to join in the celebration as the music got funkier and funkier and they moved into a freaky sexy beat that they sang with some sass as they got the audience to dance all crazy as TT The Artist prowled her way through the crowd urging them to let loose as Will made the beat swing with a barrage of diverse rhythms and TT The Artist got all Baltimore club-stylee as she spat the smart lyrics like an Uzi into the ecstatic crowd and then Will went into a house dub beat that was relentless and non-stop and it kept me thinking of the legendary DJ/producer Larry Levan and his style of dance music. Will Eastman and company rocked an enjoyable ten-song set that filled the crowd with positive energy and love and wild dancing. It was awesome!



THAO of the GET DOWN STAY DOWN - June 20, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



KRISTOPHER FUNN AND CORNERSTORE - June 19, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was actually overcast and rainy for once in the middle of the recent heatwave that landed on the Mid-Atlantic area with languid fury but I was going to see yet another show in the DC Jazz Festival's “Bassically Yours” concert series at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage and tonight it featured Baltimore native Kristopher Funn and his bass along with his band Corner Store. Kristopher started playing the trumpet when he was four-years-old and he switched to the bass when he started high school and he has been active on the DMV music scene ever since with his energetic and joyful genre-bending music. Kristopher Funn and his three-piece band took the stage in silence as some female singer narrated about their experiences of living in West Baltimore and beyond as she welcomed us to the show as the band exploded with riffs and rhythms and the guitarist John Lee was quite good as Kristopher underscored him with a muscular and pulsing bass line as his fingers rode the rhythm of his bass over the drummer John Lamkin III's terse percussion in a swirl of genres, rock, jazz, blues, fusion, funk, and be-bop, as the band raged through their opening number “Visceral”. They brought their saxophonist Herb Scott to the stage and he dedicated the next song “Gemini” to his brother and it was a lovely mellow number and the saxophonist made his instrument soar with these beautiful riffs that played off the fleet-fingered guitarist's Mahavishnu Orchestra-esque grinding explosion of riffs and licks as the tight percussion propelled them along in a throbbing eruption of sound that ebbed and flowed so beautifully. For their next song “Boom Box”, the band explored their more esoteric influence such as hip-hop and other sub-genres and the guitarist was just going crazy with his lightning fast fingers and swooping riffs until the saxophonist got wild with some also fast playing over the ocean-deep rhythm section that just rolled over me with its engulfing bass. Kristopher explained that the next song was a lullaby called “Ghetto Birds” which was about how government helicopters would fly over the ghetto in an effort to combat drugs which were flowing unabated into the neighborhood and the helicopters would buzz the neighborhood when the children were trying to sleep, so Kristopher decided he would try to make a positive out of a negative and the song he wrote was spectacular as it grooved and soared like you were feeling what he felt and the band was awesome especially the guitarist John Lee who made his instrument sound like a helicopter as it battled the tension it caused with the people. Kristopher went on to explain the history of Hennessey cognac and the civil rights movement and how the company supported African-Americans in their struggle for justice and equality during the World Wars and then the band played an almost psychedelic version of the song “Wish” that was peppered with these fat biting guitar riffs countered with some finger-picking on the acoustic guitar amongst the feedback-drenched power chords along with a deep and booming bass from Kristopher. He brought two guest musicians to the stage, a pianist and another drummer, to join the band in playing a soulful “Thursday Night Prayer Meeting” and they let the rhythm flow with some incisive piano playing that just let the spirit flow as Kristopher Funn and the drummer John Lamkin laid down a deep rhythm that made you feel like you were in church...it was beautiful. The Corner Store finished their six-song set with a flourish and then Kristopher bid us a goodnight and he led the band offstage and I rushed to the merchandise booth in the back and bought their new album “Cornerstore” because their show was just fantastic.



HERMAN BURNEY'S MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE - June 15, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another hot as hell day as I headed downtown to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see bassist extraordinaire Herman Burney and his group Ministerial Alliance play some incredible funk-inflected jazz music, but before the show started there was a live discussion with Herman about his music and his varied contributions to music in general and it was quite informative and enjoyable to watch the interview unfold before us particularly as they discussed children's musical education and how it helps them to be better people. Herman has played on some of the biggest stages in the world and he has played with a wide spectrum of artists in jazz, R&B, soul, and funk from Oscar Brown to Natalie Cole, but tonight he was featuring all original songs he wrote for himself. He walked onstage and proceeded to play “Best Of The Betts” as an almost funeral elegy to the late great Keter Betts to begin his performance as he bowed his upright bass with the right amount of grace and skill and then his three-piece band joined him with some Keith Jarrett-esque tinkly piano from Noble Jolley and the bright and bold trombone of Reginald Cyntje over his drummer Tyler Leak's very succinct playing that made them soar as the song's melody ebbed and flowed in my ears. The trombonist Reginald played some lovely runs on his horn that seemed to float in the air as the melody bounced all over the raucous percussion until he slowed the tempo down for a muted “Delayed Gratification” that was full of Afro-Caribbean influences that gave the song a slick feeling. I wished they had a vocalist but they did not, however they let the music flow in all directions. The band paused and Herman introduced each member and then they jumped into a finger-snapping rendition of “Mercy Mercy Percy” by the fabulous Percy Heath and they grooved it with a little bit of swing as they each took turns solo-ing and giving the song some varied textures as Noble's piano notes flew everywhere willy-nilly but they were not really, and then Herman played an amazing bass solo that gave you the full spectrum of his well-honed playing skills. For the next song “Playground”, I liked how he brought the contrasting musical styles of his musicians together and made such great music that was a reflection of them, sort of sophisticated but street at the same time and Herman kept the song “Wade In The Water” in balance with his lighthearted touch and the trombonist Reginald played in a New Orleans-style that was great and full of life. The pianist Noble was a brilliant player as his hands flew across the keyboard with sardonic ease as he carried the melody of “6:45PM Blues” for Reginald to make come alive with each tantalizing blast of his horn. Next the band did a remarkable take on the bluesy “9 To 5” that the band played in a down-tempo style as the trombonist just wailed away over the jazzy percussion of Tyler as pianist Noble filled the void between notes with a flurry of runs that gave me the chills. Herman Burney and his band finished their eight-song set with the uptempo “Just Touching Bass” and they delivered an almost frantic rendition as the stage seemed to overflow with notes and riffs that propelled the groove to the end of the song. It was a wonderful set of traditional jazz that really made me appreciate really good musicians and great tunes.



TOMMY CECIL TRIO - June 14, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another hot and humid day as I headed towards the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the wonderful Tommy Cecil Trio in the “Bassically Yours” concert series as part of the DC Jazz Festival and it should be some melodious bass-driven traditional jazz led by Tommy Cecil and his upright bass and he is accompanied by the legendary seventy-six year old drummer Billy Hart who played with the late great Otis Redding and young wunderkind Emmet Cohen on the piano on this night. The three of them walked onstage and Tommy started right up with some propulsive bass lines for the piano to dance on while the drummer kept a nice and clipped tempo as his sticks seemed to glide across the drums so smoothly on their opening number “Three In One”, and they were like the Duke Ellington Trio in style and technique. I loved how they gave the music some interesting textures and depth without a lot of flash to accent their virtuosity on their instruments. They then went into a Brazilian jazz composition by the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos called “Little Train” and they performed a piece from its second movement and it had some classical edges to it as the band wound the song up some dance-floor rhythms and Emmet played some brilliant finger-work as his hands glided over the keys with a relaxed ease and Billy kept the percussion jumping as he followed Tommy's jaunty bass-playing rhythm. They played like a well-oiled machine as the three of them took turns weaving in and out of each others playing that kept me on the edge of my seat. Then as if the band was reading my mind, they went into an elegant and laidback rendition of Duke Ellington's “All Too Soon” and they delivered a beautiful and sophisticated version that gave me the chills as Emmet made the piano sing like an angel and Billy laid down the sparest of rhythms that gave the song an original edge that crescendo-ed into a wistful coda as they ended on the down stroke. Tommy made his bass groove with the heartfelt melodies of “My Funny Valentine” as his hand roamed all the way up and down the neck of his instrument as he tore it up and the other two got a bit discordant in that “jazz” kind of way, but they were phenomenal in how tight they were together. Next they played a jazz take on a number from Stephen Sondheim's “Road Show” called “The Best Thing That Ever Happened” and they were so elegant as they jazzed it up into a nice little groove that had me bopping my head to the beat as Billy drove the song with some delightful percussion and Emmet's raining notes on the melody runs on the piano. They went back to some Brazilian jazz for a morose version of “Without You” and it was just beautiful and elegiac in a sad kind of way as they played it with such melancholic ease. The trio finished their seven-song set with a Thelonius Monk cover called “Rhythm Changes” and they propelled themselves through several rhythm changes as they got “old school” with some raucous be-bop as the rhythm went in all directions as the melody drove straight ahead until an amazing drum solo from Billy Hart that gave the song some wild textures as Emmet Cohen exploded into a flurry of notes that ended the song. Tommy Cecil thanked his band and the audience for a fabulous show who erupted with some very appreciative applause as the three of them left the stage and I thought what a great show to brighten my mood on this hot day and I would really love to see them again.



THE JAMES KING BAND - June 12, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a humid and overcast day in the city as a vicious heatwave landed on us with an onerous thud and I trekked down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in this heat to see bassist extraordinaire James King bring his traditional jazz stylings to the Kennedy Center for the annual city-wide DC Jazz Festival and I will be coming here for several gigs over the next few days. But tonight featured DC-based since 1977, bassist James King and his three-piece band and he has played with a multitude of jazz greats, so tonight should be wonderful to hear and filled with his smooth jazz rhythms. The band ambled onstage and picked up their instruments and they opened with a number dedicated to his mother Miss Lillian called “Allan's Number” and it was a nice laidback song full of swirling saxophone riffs and piano runs over his deep and propulsive bass lines as the drummer kept the tempo terse and lively as the groove twisted and turned through the gentle percussion. James King played a soulful and inventive solo intro to the second number “Texas Thang” that had his booming notes cascading into a percussive maelstrom as the piano tinkled like a warm summer rain that was punctuated by languid blasts from the saxophone and the band traded riffs so beautifully. Like traditional jazz musicians, they did not have much to say as they went into the down-tempo groove of “This Time” and the saxophonist blew his horn for all it was worth as the melody danced between the elegiac notes of the piano until James made his bass sound like a percussion instrument that made me feel like I was in a smoky dive listening to some faraway jazz music. James said since this year's events was honoring bassists and their skills, so the band decided to perform “The New Day Dawn” which was written by the Grammy-winning upright bass player Ben Williams and it was a twittery number that danced and swirled like a horde of butterflies as they surged forth with ease as they traded riffs and melody runs so delicately, and then they played “Eric's Walk” by the great jazz bassist Butch Warren and it was a real upbeat number full of fast chord and tempo changes as they let their fingers show how good they were at their instruments until James blew everyone away with a deep and heartfelt bass solo that had me in awe. The saxophonist and drummer left the stage and James and his pianist performed a sparse version of “Charlie” that was inventive and textured in a way that was delightful yet melancholic and James' bass solo left me stunned by its beauty. Next the rest of the band returned and they played renowned bassist Keeter Betts' “Here Star” and it showed off their be-bop inflections and they made it jump and the saxophone carried the melody as the band followed James with a tight muscular groove. They concluded their eight-song set with a number by bassist Buster Williams called “Native Dancer” and the band lit it up as they had cascades of notes flying everywhere over the drummer's driving beat as they traded a flurry of notes that seemed to flutter away at the end of their marvelous set. James King and his band were just fantastic and their songs were catchy and uplifting and I left the Kennedy Center feeling real good and loving life.



THE B-52S and THE ROMANTICS - June 11, 2017
Wolf Trap Filene Center - Vienna, VA

It was a gloriously beautiful summer evening as my best friend Scott Parks and I motored our way out to the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia to see the legendary party band from Athens, Georgia, The B-52s, along with eighties skinny-tied new wavers The Romantics on The B-52s' Fortieth Anniversary Tour and we could not be more excited to see them play live one more time. I can still remember when I first saw them on February 24, 1979 at the Corcoran School Of Art with DC's own Urban Verbs and their use of toy instruments and joyous demeanor made me love them forever and after all these years and gigs, some of which I worked at as a roadie/loader, and now I find myself sitting in the fourth row in anticipation. But first, Detroit's own...The Romantics...took the stage with...well, old rockers just do not age well, and with a flurry of power pop guitar riffs and a thumping rhythm section the band opened with a very new wave and dance-y rendition of “When I Look In Your Eyes” from their 1980 debut album “The Romantics” and vocalist/guitarist Wally Palmer was feeling it as he belted out the words, “When I look in your eyes, I get a feeling that I can't describe, it can't be wrong, no, no, not when a feelin's comin' on this strong, now I'm wonderin' why, I feel so good inside, when I look in your eyes...”, and they were quite entertaining even though they did not look like it as they forged into the taut beat of “Rock You Up” from their 1983 album “In Heat” and frontman Wally Palmer added a sassy harmonica solo as the rhythm section, bassist Rich Cole and drummer Brad Elvis, chugged along behind him. The band was incredibly tight as they grinded their way through a sputtering “Judy Be Mine (Friday At The Hideout)” by The Underdogs from their second 1980 album “National Breakout” that they made into a garage stomp that put me in a really good mood to see some old farts rock out with such pizazz and style. The band paused and Wally made some witty comments and observations and then guitarist Mike Skill started the hypnotic riff of “Talking In Your Sleep” from their 1983 album “In Heat” and since it was one of their two greatest hit songs they performed it with a little extra “oomph” as Wally howled the stalker-esque lyrics, “You tell me that you want me, you tell me that you need me, you tell me that you love me, and I know that I'm right, cause I hear it in the night, I hear the secrets that you keep, when you're talkin' in your sleep...”, and the audience responded joyously and it featured a killer guitar solo from Mike Skill that was scintillating electrifying as he morphed the groove into the rugged beat of “Stone Pony” from the “National Breakout” album and Wally growled the lyrics as the band stomped out the primal beat and then he whipped out another bone-chilling guitar solo and I took a few photos of him being quite emotive on his instrument. He continued flailing on his guitar as riffs and licks and chords flew chaotically into the venue and Wally sassily crooned the words to “Tomboy” also from “National Breakout” as the beat jumped behind him with a lurch as they went into a big-riffed version of The Kinks' “She's Got Everything” from “The Romantics” album as the drummer Brad Elvis pounded out the song's intricate beat with his funny-ass hair-do as Wally got the crowd to clap along with the band as they segued into a marvelous cover of The Animals 1965 classic “We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and they made it their own as Wally wailed on the harmonica till the song's coda when the churning guitars finished the song. The Romantics finished their nine-song set with a ripping rendition of their career-defining song “What I Like About You” from their classic 1980 debut album “The Romantics” and it had the joint dancing and singing along with the guys, “Keep on whispering in my ear, tell me all the things that I wanna to hear, cause that's true, that's what I like about you, that's what I like about you, what I like about you, you really know how to dance, when you go up, down, jump around, think about true romance, yea...”, and the band gave it their all as the guitars screamed and howled to the end and then they quickly left the stage. The crew rushed onto the stage and did a set change in record time as the audience anxiously awaited The B-52s and it seemed it was ready to go and the intro music began playing and Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, and their stellar band hit the stage at full-force with their perky opening number “Cosmic Thing”, the title-track from their 1989 album, and their voices still sounded fabulous as they rose in perfect harmony to sing, “Gyrate it till you had your fill, just like a pneumatic drill, don't let it go down the drain, ya better hop on the cosmic wagon train, cosmic, cosmic, I was havin' this out-of-body experience, saw these cosmic beings, everywhere I went up there, they were shakin' their cosmic things...”, and they had the place instantly grooving to the uplifting beat as the new guitarist Greg Suran whipped off a tasty and succinct solo. Fred took the time to chastise someone with a camera in the front row before the band moved into the percussion-driven “Mesopotamia”, the title-track from their 1982 EP, that they played it slow and swampy and they gave a little nod to Prince's songwriting skills when they mixed in a snatch of the melody of “Raspberry Beret”, and then they went into the lascivious “Lava” from their 1979 debut album “The B-52s” and their vocal harmonies were delightfully impeccable as they sang of the glories of fellatio with clever double-entendres and it was re-vamped to play like a torch song and it sounded wonderful. The band flowed into a crisp and taut “Is That You, Mo-Dean” from their 1992 album “Good Stuff” and Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson outdid themselves in the vocal harmonies department and Kate's voice would just soar over Sterling Campbell's smooth and inventive drumming that exploded into an exhilarating “Private Idaho” from their 1980 album “Wild Planet” and their voices intertwined beautifully over the Motown-ish groove as they sang the surreal lyrics, “You're livin' in your own private Idaho, Idaho, you're out of control, the rivers that roll, you fell into the water and down to Idaho, get out of that state, get out of that state you're in, you better beware, you're living in your own private Idaho...”, and I was just in heaven. The band slowed things down for a melancholic “Deadbeat Club” from their 1989 album “Cosmic Thing” and it's was rolling and swaying groove was led by bassist Tracy Wormworth's liquid playing as they sang in harmony and Greg Suran made his guitar chime so wistfully as they morphed into a beautiful “Roam” also from “Cosmic Thing” that just warmed my heart with its lovely and insightful chorus accented by the guitarist's languid riffs that just seemed to hang in the air like Spanish moss and the crowd loved it. Kate Pierson joked about their tour-mates The Romantics and how she reduced their name to the word “ticks” and she told a new “tick” joke for each gig on the tour and tonight's joke was...”What do you call ticks in togas?”...”Roman-ticks” and then she thanked them for being a great opening band and great people, and then the band went right into a bouncy “52 Girls” from their seminal 1979 debut album “The B-52s” that they rocked out with colorful pizazz and then some static radio noise occurred as they segued into a shimmery “Channel Z” from the “Cosmic Thing” album which they seemed to favor tonight and they turned it out as the band whipped the groove into shape as the three of them sang, “I want the world to change for me, gotta get away, away from Z, living on the edge of Z, space junk, laser bombs, ozone holes, better put up my umbrella, giant stacks blowin' smoke, politicrits pushin' dope...”, and everyone was loving it. They went back to their roots with a pulsing “Dance This Mess Around” from their debut album and they traded vocals with ease as the agit-funk flowed with new keyboardist Ken Maiuri giving the song some extra sparkle as I flash-backed to my college years and wild times as the groove segued into a joyous rendition of “Party Out Of Bounds” from their 1980 album “Wild Planet” and it was percussive and driving as Fred Schneider prowled the stage spewing theses random expressions peppered with strange noises and yelps, it was wild. The band let loose with a re-vamped arrangement of “Love Shack” from their 1989 album “Cosmic Thing” that had everyone singing along at the top of their lungs, “I'm headin' down the Atlanta highway, lookin' for the love getaway, headed for the love getaway, I got me a car, it's as big as a whale, and we're headin' on down to the Love Shack, I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty, so hurry up and bring your jukebox money...”, and in a glorious musical free-for-all, the band just exploded in a frenzy of notes and melodies and guitarist Greg Suran played this wonderfully distorted solo to end the song as the whole audience shouted “Tin roof rusted” just like on the album and it seemed to bring great joy to the audience as the band left the stage. The crowd erupted with applause and cheering until the band returned and launched into a phenomenal version of “Planet Claire” from their 1979 debut album that put the place into a dancing frenzy as soon as Kate Pierson sang the intro to the song as the slinky rhythm throbbed and pulsed like a huge undulating snake that morphed into the kitschy “6060-842” also from their debut and it was a fantastic version that made the audience bounce as they went into a really rocked up rendition of the classic “Rock Lobster” from their best album “The B-52's” and their band tore it up as Fred, Kate, and Cindy belted out, “Boys and bikinis, girls and surfboards, everybody's rockin', everybody's fruggin', twistin' round the fire, havin' fun, bakin' potatoes, bakin' in the sun, put on your noseguard, put on the lifeguard, passing the tanning butter...”, and the place went crazy and The B-52s bid us goodnight and left the stage and Scott and I fled the premises just seconds before the parking lot crush began and we got into his car and we were on our way barreling down the parkway to Route 66 and we find our way home thinking that was one of the best times I have ever saw The B-52s and their fifteen-song set was just the perfect way to begin the long summer and hopes of going to the beach.



KOOL AND THE GANG and MORRIS DAY & THE TIME - June 2, 2017
Wolf Trap Filene Center - Vienna, VA





RICHARD LLOYD (TELEVISION) and DOT DASH - June 1, 2017
Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC

Today, the so-called first day of meteorological summer and it just happened to coincide with the exact day that The Beatles' released their ground-breaking “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” album exactly fifty years ago and as I trekked downtown to the Black Cat Backstage to see guitar god Richard Lloyd of Television fame and a guitar-for-hire for San Diego's Rocket From The Crypt and Athens, Georgia's Matthew Sweet and locals faves Dot Dash who remind me that there is life in rock music after you turn thirty, hence The Beatles reference...oh god...I feel so old sitting in a dark and grimy club on such a beautiful sun-drenched evening. However, on with the show...Dot Dash's drummer Danny Ingram was one of the main people who got me interested in participating in the growing local music scene back in the early eighties and here we are today waiting to see his latest and greatest band, but I so still love his drumming with legendary nineties DC band Strange Boutique just a little bit more, but getting back on track, Dot Dash's set tonight will be the first time I have seen them since last October when they opened for the phenomenal Ian Hunter and The Rant Band, so I am looking forward to seeing them. The band minus guitarist Steve Hansgen, who was taking care of some personal business, started right into their darkly upbeat power-pop that had me bopping my head in rhythm with them as the guitar jangled and chimed its way through their set as the vocalist/guitarist Terry Banks melancholically crooned his incisive world-weary lyrics about finding some hope on this planet. I found myself quite enjoying them performing as a trio because it made them sound tighter and more upbeat as Terry really showed us some skillfully ingenious guitar-playing which Danny Ingram accented with his precise drumming which was quite sharp and crisp tonight. My favorite song was “From Here To Eternity” and they turned it out as Hunter Bennett showcased his supple bass lines as they flowed into the other stand-out song of their set, a robust “On The Radio” that just rocked. I really enjoyed how textured Terry made his guitar-playing sound like and it was as if he was changing colors and moods and not just chords. I really enjoyed their twelve-song set that sometimes strangely reminded me of The Beatles at their most esoteric when the band got really mod and garage-y sounding and I also liked how as a trio their music sounded more dark and compelling than usual. Bravo Dot Dash! I really did not know what to expect from Richard Lloyd but I hope he performs a few Television songs from their 1977 masterpiece album “Marquee Moon” and their life-changing single “Little Johnny Jewel” and that would be just fantastic to me. Richard Lloyd and his band, guitarist Jason Smith, bassist Terry Clouse, and drummer Jeff Brakebill, took the stage and they kicked things off with the frantic CBGB's-birthed late seventies New York groove of the new song “The Word” from his 2016 album “Rosedale”that reminded me of the old days and my own rock'n'roll memories and he passionately croaked the pithy words,“I am the word that you never heard, I am the earth that continues to turn, I am the land that you cannot restrain, so open wide into the ocean its drain, oh Adam and Eve, from your garden of green, won't you come down with me...”, and I let the music take me there as they segued into Lou Reed's classic 1967 ode to heroin, “I'm Waiting For My Man”. The band made it their own and they went right into the sensational “Crystal Mountain” also from “Rosedale” and the song evoked the Lower East Side and the ghost of Johnny Thunders and Richard played some driving guitar riffs as he told quite a story with the lyrics. The next song “Misty Eyes” from his 1979 debut solo album “Alchemy” melodically ebbed and flowed as he sang about a woman that he loved as he wringed these gnarly licks out of his guitar as I bopped my head in unison with the band. They were warmed up and they plowed through a frenetic “Fire Engine” by The 13th Floor Elevators which he covered for his 1987 album “Real Time” and the band had that New York groove just a pumping as Richard worked his magic on his guitar and they kept the pace up with a glorious “Amnesia” from his 2007 album “The Radiant Monkey” that he originally wrote for Rocket From The Crypt and he made his guitar howl and scream in the most unusual and original way as they went into a nasty little ditty called “Swipe It” also from “The Radiant Monkey” and it was about the disappointments of love and people and the band sounded great as Richard succinctly sneered, “I see there is something that she likes, she trys and says she needs it, I'm going to go down and swipe it, she always been a friend, I never get her alone, she's got a pretty head but its always on the telephone, so tell you what you want me to do, anything to make it groovy with you...”, but they seemed to never know how to end the songs as most of them ended rather abruptly. The band next performed their first Television song of the night with a rather dark version of “Elevation” from “Marquee Moon” and they made it murkier and more plodding as Richard menacingly sang the words and twiddled on his guitar and for some reason I did not miss his old band mate Tom Verlaine at all. Richard and his band rocked their way through a red-hot version of “Pleading” from his 1986 album “Field Of Fire” as he made his guitar sound so wonderful as he made all kinds of riffs, licks, and odd almost paranormal noises as the rhythm section plunged into the gritty grind of “Monkey” from the “The Radiant Monkey” album and the song rocked as Richard's fleet-fingered guitar-playing blew my mind. He and the band then made my week with an electrifying rendition of Television's “Marquee Moon” and it brought a teat to my eye as they delivered an exquisite slice of psychedelia and Richard sardonically crooned, “Life in the hive puckered up my night, a kiss of death, the embrace of life, over there I stand 'neath the marquee moon, I ain't waitin', uh uh...”, as he made unnatural but beautiful sounds with his axe and the band laid down a supple sonic groove that surged just right and it was tremendous and they went right into a glorious version of “See No Evil” also from “Marquee Moon” and Richard played some rollicking leads that blew my mind. The next song was “Glurp” from “The Radiant Monkey” album and it got lost in the afterglow of the two previous songs but it was an okay thumper with cool lyrics and a nice and lovely signature riff that drove the song. Then the band went back into Television's “Friction” also from their 1977 album and they rocked it out with cascading guitar riffs and one solid rhythm section and some very eviscerating lyrics, and Richard noodled ever so elegantly on his guitar, and it was just beautiful to behold. The band slowed things down for a sad and melancholic rendition of his 2016 digital single “Something Remains” and they made the groove sway ever so gently as Richard's lyrical poetry told its somewhat morose story and then the band lurched into the title-track “Field Of Fire” from his 1986 album and the band got all swampy-sounding as Richard got all crazy on his axe as riffs and notes flew everywhere with his out-of-this-world guitar-tronics and feedback manipulations and he sadly crooned, “We can shrug it off, baby we can walk it off, hey,little darling I just walked it off, hey, so don't call me a liar, I've been through the field of fire...”, and when the song ended they rushed off into the back and the audience went crazy with applause and cheers for more. Richard Lloyd and his band returned to the stage and launched into an elegiac “King Of Fools” from his 2010 album “Lodestones” and it seemed an appropriate way to end their terrific set and the song's words burned into my soul as they seemed to say it all, and surprisingly they finished their seventeen-song set with a real thumper, one of his older songs about moving along with one's life called “Number Nine” from his 1979 album “Alchemy” and he defiantly raged, “I got my bags packed, and I'm waiting in line for the number nine, and when the sun shines again, you'll know I'll have left this town behind, there is no reason for me to remain now that she has gone, I guess, I guess that I'm traveling on...”, and with that he quickly vanished offstage and so did I as I headed out the club's front door and down the street to the metro to get home and tonight's show was just fantastic and gave me great memories of his glorious guitar-playing and lyrical songwriting that permeated my soul with its beauty.



COLOR PALETTE - May 30, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

For the last day of May, it sure was an unusually dreary and chilly overcast spring afternoon as I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the Hometown Sounds-curated monthly show with local electro-rock/synth-pop band Color Palette who surely must brighten up this horrible day with their music. They are a quintet comprised of vocalist/guitarist Jay Nemeyer, keyboardist Rogerio Naressi, guitarist Joshua Hunter, drummer Matt Hartenau, and vocalist Maryjo Mattea, and their latest album “Vaporwave” got them nominated for several WAMA (Washington Area Music Association) awards including Best Pop Rock Recording in 2015. Color Palette took the stage and opened with some gentle rhythms with all these little melodies popping up all over the place from the band as the two vocalists, Jay Nemeyer and Maryjo Mattea, harmonized on the cool lyrics like they were in New Order as Jay played some really clean guitar lines as they almost got dance-y in their sound. Their drummer Matt Hartenau kept a tight and gritty beat flowing on the song “Pour Me A Whiskey And Ginger Ale” as the two guitarists Jay Nemeyer and Joshua Hunter traded licks over the keyboardist Rogerio Naressi's deep groove that ebbed and flowed as Joshua played a fuzzed out lead on his guitar that reminded me of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. The band became a little perkier on their next song “Fighting” as the electric beat swirled about in an almost melancholy way and the vocalist/guitarist Jay Nemeyer sang the pointed words and Maryjo Mattea let her voice soar in perfect harmony with his. I liked all the quirky noises the nimble-fingered keyboardist Rogerio Naressi produced to accent the song along with a thick and pulsing synthetic bass line that just relentlessly marched over my ears as they played my favorite song of their set, “Fly Away”, but the drums sounded a little bit “thrwappy” and distracted me sometimes, however the song was rather good and had really clever lyrics even though the band lacked energy and interaction with the audience. The band decided to play a Depeche Mode number and they made the song “It's No Good” sound great as they performed it pretty well and with a bit of originality as they plowed forward with the ominous-sounding keyboards and boomy drums. They kept up the dance-y Depeche Mode sound with a song called “Rain” and Jay and Maryjo really shined with their exquisite vocal harmonies as Rogerio played some thoughtful and well-placed keyboard runs as they sang their hearts out and Joshua made his guitar squeal as he faded it out to the end. They kicked up the beat back up to a New Order-style groove and it made me want to dance and sway as they sang of the disappointments of love but the drummer's sound and tone got on my nerves. Next the band performed the song “Seventeen” that told the story of looking back at the mistakes of your youth and they made it rock as Jay sang the insightful lyrics about being yourself as he traded vibrant guitar riffs with Josh in a melodic progressive way. Next they played a wonderful interpretation of The Killers' “Mr. Brightside” that made it feel sunnier and happier than the original and Maryjo played the signature guitar riff with ease as the band pounded their way through the song. Color Palette finished their ten-song set with a shimmery number about appreciating what you got in life as the gentle rhythms of the song got caught in my brain as the guitars burst into a frenzied glory as they finished the song. The audience and I really enjoyed this show and it put me in a good mood and I will definitely go see them again.




SERPENTS OF SECRECY, TONE, and SEASICK GLADIATOR - May 10, 2017
Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC

Well this month has been full of surprises from one extreme to another with the weird weather and the wide variety of bands that I have seen at the Black Cat lately, so anyway I had been coding away on my website at my friend Adrian's computer lab for several hours this afternoon until it was time to go to the club for tonight's show with locals Tone and Seasick Gladiator and headliners Serpents Of Secrecy. I have known various members of the first two bands for several decades now and I am interested to see and hear where they are at musically these days, and first up tonight was Seasick Gladiator who featured my old pal Chris Rasley on guitar along with Daniel Euphrat on bass and Nathaniel Simms on the violin and vocals along with their new drummer Patrick Geddes who replaced their much-beloved drummer Bradwell Sheppard who died unexpectedly on January 3rd earlier this year. They opened their set with the plodding and shuddering Black Sabbath-esque thud of the song “Plague Mask” that was accented by Nathaniel's exquisite violin playing that gave their sound a very interesting feel to their brand of “metal” as the room slowly filled up with people. Then unexpectedly Nathaniel broke one of his violin strings and ran offstage to fix it so the rest of the band took up the slack with a gritty instrumental that also plodded along like a ship being tossed at sea and then the song just ran out of steam and the band stood there in silence until the crowd urged them to play another song without the violinist, so the three of them kicked in with yet another creeping beat and they continued in this same groove for a little bit and they petered out much to our chagrin and they announced that they were finished with their set and they were very sorry that we could not get the full Seasick Gladiator experience. Next up was the all-instrumental Tone who featured former 9:30 Club manager Norm Veenstra on guitar and Gregg Hudson on drums and it has been a long while since I have seen them play live, so tonight's gig should be a pleasant surprise, hopefully. These days Tone are a quintet with three guitar players and they line-checked for a few minutes and then they let loose with a Glen Branca-esque guitar attack full of swirling and soaring riffs that wormed their way into my ears as waves and waves of thick percussion rolled over me as the guitarists battled each other and the bassist was excellent as he made the bass ebb and flow underneath the triple guitar tidal wave that was heavy yet airy as the guitars grinded away like a sledgehammer and Gregg Hudson was just thunderous on the drums as the others made a squall of feedback that swirled around the room, and I heard a little Pink Floyd in the guitar playing as the dense notes almost drowned me in its relentless sonic beauty. The band's playing was incredibly tight and full of riffs and licks that filled every nook and cranny of each song and yet sounded like a sparse groove but because of the lack of vocals the band never seemed to go anywhere with the music on some of their songs because them were very 'metal' sounding and then on others they sounded like an abstract jazz ensemble but the band was very skilled in what they do. Their six-song set was a genre-defying melange as they careened through their songs in a variety of styles with dispassionate ease and a perky beat...oh, they must practice a helluva lot! The final band of the night was Serpents Of Secrecy and they were a quintet who played loud and abrasive metal-edged hard rock that just pummeled and bludgeoned me with its hyper-aggressive beat and the vocalist growled the dark words in a hyper-macho way that just put me off. I was unamused by their Pantera-like metallic assault on my ears and so I left the club and headed home but I really enjoyed Tone and hopefully one day I will get to see a whole set by Seasick Gladiator.



THE XX and SAMPHA - May 6, 2017
Merriweather Post Pavilion - Columbia, MD




TOMMY KEENE and IVAN JULIAN - May 4, 2017
Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC

It was surprisingly cold night for this time of the year as I made my way downtown to the Black Cat to see some local boys made good do their thing by performing solo acoustic singer-songwriter sets, and tonight featured the legendary power-popper Tommy Keene and Ivan Julian who made it big as one of NYC performance artist Richard Hell's band The Voidoids, plus he had just recently survived gastro-intestinal cancer and in the press he said that he could not really play guitar however he wrote the seminal punk classic “I Belong To The Blank Generation”, so what more can I say. First up tonight was Ivan Julian and he walked on stage and sat on a stool and picked up his acoustic guitar and he was off with a plaintive cover of Fleetwood Mac's 1969 Peter Green-penned classic “Oh Well” and his fingers skillfully glided over his fretboard with ease as he flowed into his favorite Voidoids cover song “Walking On The Water” written by The Golliwogs (John Fogerty) in 1966 and his stripped down version was just lovely, and then he played a song from his 2009 album “The Naked Flame” and it was sassy and jumpy as he sang “Hardwired” with a smoldering intensity as he growled, “I got a girl in the front, I got a girl in the back, I got some girls on the side, and it feels like I'm under attack, because I'm hardwired, for rock and roll, hardwired, just to take control, hardwired, its gonna be my death...”, with its caustic words biting into my brain driven by his clipped guitar riff. Then he performed a song from his forthcoming album called “(Meet You In) Cazala” and his words painted a bleak picture but he still had hope as he strummed an elegiac melody ever so perfectly on his guitar as it followed his voice as he joked about having a runny nose, and then he launched into the haunting riff of “You Is Dead” also from “The Naked Flame” and the song was dedicated to guitarist/longtime collaborator Robert Quine who recently died, and he let the sad and morose words rip into my heart with deadly accuracy. He brought his old guitar teacher to the stage and the two of them played a truly melancholy song written by John Hiatt called “Lipstick Sunset” and his friend accented with his beautiful slide guitar that sighed so elegantly with Julian's crisp notes from his acoustic. Next he played a song called “(This Can't Be) Julie's Song” that he said he had written for Alejandro Escovedo and The Fauntleroys and the lack of drums took away some of its punch but its poignant words still touched me. Ivan said that he just learned this very morning that you cannot stay in the basement and yell at things, you had to get out there, so he rocked on another vitriolic Fauntleroys song called “Suck My Heart Out With A Straw” and it had a cool edge to its twisted lyrics. He asked the audience for a drummer and one named Steve appeared and joined him onstage and he began to beat out a beat as Ivan Julian made some beautiful noise on his guitar and then he brought Tommy Keene to the stage to play a strange-looking Indian stringed instrument called a “bulbul tarang” while Ivan played some cascading riffs on his guitar as he eloquently sang the song, “Drone” from the “The Naked Flame” album. Then he announced that it was time for the “adult” segment of the show and he played a torch song that was very reminiscent of Soft Cell's Marc Almond in lyrical content called “Tell Me Lies” and it totally wowed me as he sang of wearing high heels and then he went into a bluesy rendition of “Statesboro Blues” by Blind Willie McTell and his eleven-song set just blew me away with its originality and edge that made it stick in my mind as he quickly left the stage. A few minutes passed and Tommy Keene took the stage and burst into a jaunty “Going Out Again” from his 1996 album “Ten Years After” and he made it rock in an upbeat tempo. He played each song like he meant it as he made his guitar jingle and jangle with ease as he sang with confidence as he flowed into a gentle “You Can't Wait For Time” also from “Ten Years After” and onto a raucous version of “Go Back Home” from his 2015 album “Laugh In The Dark”. He then played a loud version of his classic power-pop masterpiece “Back To Zero Now” from his 1984 album “Places That Are Gone” and he brought former band-mate Billy Connolly to the stage to play some fierce electric guitar with him and his voice sounded good as he crooned, “So appealing, but know you're feeling down, 'cause people talk in another dimension, no, they don't always know their intentions, you don't want to be somebody's hero, no, you wanna get back to zero now...”, and the song has really stood the test of time and it made me nostalgic for that era went things seemed so much easier. Tommy slowed things down for a melancholic and yearning cover of his hero Big Star's Alex Chilton's 1978 classic “Nighttime” and the song seemed to slide off his guitar and he sang the emotional words quite eloquently, and next he went right into an elegiac take on “Silent Town” from the “Ten Years After” album and the lack of a rhythm section was beginning to get on my nerves a bit, but I truly love his singing voice because it still sounded rich and full of nuance. He played a beautiful rendition of “My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe” from his 1986 album “Songs From The Film” and he showed his emotional side as his fingers glided so skillfully on the guitar's fretboard as he sang lost in his memories, “I've stood here a long time, everything is clear, there's no one around but you're always near, you know what to do, but sometimes I feel like letting go, and I swear that it's true, yeah, my mother looked like Marilyn Monroe...”, because his mother really did look like her and it was my favorite song of the night and without missing a beat he went right into “Back Again (Try)” the title-track from his 1984 EP and the song showed his vulnerability and ear for a good song. He chatted with the audience for a few minutes and then he went into the gentle melodies of “Astronomy” from his album “Songs From The Film” and he kept the beat at this pace as he got real and heartfelt on a wonderful “Laugh In The Dark” from “Places That Are Gone” that was amazing and he continued on with a morose version of “Nothing Can Change You” from his 1989 album “Based On Happy Times” and he switched to his electric guitar for a righteous version of Robyn Hitchcock's 1986 opus “Raymond Chandler Evening” and it was actually quite cool as a solo song for him as he made his guitar sound flutter like a swarm of butterflies as he went into an effervescent “Highwire Days”, also from “Based On Happy Times”, which was about growing up and getting one's life together as he sang with the wisdom that only comes with age, “You feel safer in the light, as long as you are out at night, a market in the shadows, I know what she will find, I've seen it in your mind, I scream that nothing matters...”, and then he made his axe grind with such passion...it was so excellent! Next he went into a slightly lackluster rendition of “Deep Six Saturday” from his 2011 album “Behind The Parade” and I wished the song had more punch as he made his guitar crunch and stomp the stationary groove as he morphed the music into a raucous version of “Nowhere Drag” from the same album and I really liked this song and the way it made me feel with its clever guitar riffs as he sang it so passionately and then he went right into a heartfelt version of “Long Time Missing” from his 1998 album “Isolation Party” with its dance-y beat and wistful lyrics. Tommy really got things going with a lovely rendition of “Places That Are Gone” from his 1984 album of the same name and it was once my favorite song and I really liked this version he played tonight and it seemed to sum up the night as he melancholically crooned the words, “But looking back before they take it all away, well, then I'm almost glad that we never wanted to stay, because, these are the places that are gone, now we can go on and on, back before you knew me well, I was trapped inside a shell...”, and the words seemed to sum up the night just perfect. Tommy Keene left the stage for a moment while he got Ivan Julian to join him on the guitar and the two of them launched into a slamming cover of the The Rolling Stones' 1966 classic “Mother's Little Helper” that had everyone singing along with glee and Ivan played some incredible guitar as Tommy and him traded vocals and it was a joyous end to his eighteen-song set and a rather excellent night of music on the last night of the tour. Bravo to our hometown musicians!




REDD KROSS and FOUL SWOOPS - May 2, 2017
Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC

It was yet another sunny and pastoral day in the capitol city and I tried not to think about the horrors that lurk underneath this city's facade as I wandered downtown to the Black Cat to see one of my favorite ever nineties band, the incredible Redd Kross from Los Angeles where they were “the darlings of the underground scene” who never quite made it to “superstar status” but they almost did in 1993 with their brilliant album “Neurotica” and its lyrically biting satire of the L.A. punk and metal scenes. I saw them a bunch of times back then at the old 9:30 Club with Das Damen and The Lunachicks to name a few, then they disappeared back into obscurity until a few years ago when they returned with the critically acclaimed 2012 album “Researching The Blues” and they have been touring regularly since. The opening band tonight is locals Foul Swoops and they are a trio who play loud and abrasive post-punk with a melodic edge with gargled lyrics which seemed to express anger about something as the angular and gnarly riffs of vocalist/guitarist Devin Connell and bassist Sean Connell flew everywhere over the precise and clipped percussion of drummer Jacky Majic. Their songs were angry and oozy like sludge but they were usually very short and the band reminded me of British post-punk band Wire on a couple of songs and there was not much audience interaction. The rhythm section was stomping and tight as they barreled through their eleven-song set that bristled with gnarly fat guitar riffs that were drenched in feedback and reminded me of Iggy Pop and The Stooges and albeit hidden, some real ferocious punk rock blues and it was an exhilarating set that got my blood flowing with jittery anger about the state of the world as they finished their set in a squall of noise and the pounding beats of the drummer. The band quickly moved their equipment and cleared the stage for Redd Kross and the audience seemed really excited and looking forward to them. Redd Kross hit the stage and let loose with their melodic power-punk and their music has aged well as they opened with the classic “Lady In The Front Row” from their 1993 album “Phaseshifter” and brothers Jeff and Steven MacDonald harmoniously sang, “You look so fine, but are you too old to be the first in line, die hard dedication, would you give me a standing ovation, so bad you stand in her place, you better go now, ooooh you better look out, the lady in the front row...”, and the band was tight and exhilarating as they rocked like they were teenagers in a garage and their vocals were great and I just love their sense of humor about themselves and what they do for a living and then they plowed into a kinetic “Jimmy's Fantasy” also from “Phaseshifter” and then a dark and bruising “Stay Away From Downtown” from their 2012 comeback album “Researching The Blues” and the band just hammered away with a fury. They then turned out my favorite song by them, a high-energy version of title-track “Neurotica” from their highly-influential 1987 album and it was spectacular as they maniacally plowed their way through the song as it morphed into the raucous title-track “Researching The Blues” from their 2012 album and Jeff gave a shout-out to their roots with a snippet of The Beatles' “Yer Blues” added in the mix and then he mournfully wailed, “Keep one foot on the other side, by now you know exactly what you'll find, you just can't win, strung out on the devil again, researching the blues, researching the blues, hey you, is that what you do...”, and the song raged like a blitzkrieg across my ears as they made their guitars ring. The band went right into a crunchy “Uglier” also from “Researching The Blues” that just pummeled my ears with some booming bass and squealing guitar, and they always seemed to shine on the songs from their highly-influential 1987 album “Neurotica” as they slammed their way through a rollicking “Peach Kelli Pop” and it was fierce and the lyrics were still very relevant and the precision percussion of The Melvins' drummer Dale Crover was fantastic, and they continued with a taut “Annie's Gone” from their 1990 album “Third Eye” that had some razor-sharp drumming and then they plowed at a hectic pace through The Quick's version of The Beatles-penned “Pretty Please Me” from the 2015 CD re-issue of “Teen Babes From Monsanto” then Jeff said they were going to do some of their favorite songs from their infamous 1984 covers EP “Teen Babes From Monsanto” and then they launched into “Deuce” by their heroes KISS and they tore it up like a real cave-stomper as Jeff passionately wailed, “Baby if you're feeling good, and baby if you're feeling nice, you know your man is working hard, he's worth a deuce, and baby if you're feeling good, yes baby if you're feeling nice, you know your man is workin' hard, yeah...”, and he satirically went through all the rock star posturing cliches as they careened wildly through the rest of the album's songs but each with that special Redd Kross twist. The band played a remarkable take on “Citadel” by The Rolling Stones that was really drone-y but fresh sounding and Jeff and guitarist Jason Shapiro, who was subbing for the amazing Robert Hecker, and he rocked on an electrifying guitar duel that blew me away with its muscular intricacies and fleet fingers. Dale Crover's big booming drum sound was perfect for the band and he gave their sound a nice and crisp percussive edge that stayed in sync with Steve's intricate bass lines as they roared through the rest of the album with a breathy rendition of “Heaven Only Knows” by The Shangri-Las, a stomping cover of “Ann” by Iggy And The Stooges, a sensational interpretation of “Saviour Machine” by David Bowie, and a rather mushy version of “I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind” written by Tin Pan Alley legends Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and made famous by sixties glamour queen Elizabeth Montgomery. Jeff joked about Satanism and having to go visit an exorcist and then they kicked into the manic beat of “Linda Blair 1984” and the band went crazy as Jeff screamed the words, “In the Exorcist baby, you were really insane, you got busted, you got dusted, you got busted for cocaine, you're born innocent girl, and that ain't all, you got it for the first time baby in a shower stall, kidnapped raped and possessed, Linda is the best...”, and the band sawed through the groove and me as they made it pulse and undulate like a giant blob and Jeff MacDonald made his guitar scream like a strangled cat but with really cool vocals and then Jason Shapiro played a really spacey guitar jam with Jeff until it exploded into a grand bombastic ending that just into a clattering mess of feedback and squalling guitar squeals as the boys in Redd Kross ran off the stage to a rapturous audience screaming for more. After a few minutes the band returned to the stage and they plunged into the searing guitars of “Janus, Jeanie And George Harrison” from their influential 1987 album “Neurotica” and it was mixed with a bit of The Beatles' “It Won't Be Long” and they almost sounded rock-a-billy as they sang in perfect harmony, “Frankincense and myrrh, are the odors that are her, mystical being with eyes of coal, that sacred substance, will bruise your soul, on a boat with Janus, Jeanie, and George Harrison, when Jesus Christ Superstar was crucified, the Beatles were still making noise...”, and it was pretty spectacular rendition. They then continued with the crunchy “Annette's Got The Hits” from their 1980 debut EP “Born Innocent” which they played all the songs from as they got all dirty and nasty with the grinding beat of “Clorox Girls” that careened into the bouncy “Cover Band” that had the crowd in a mad frenzy as the band plowed through a frenetic “S&M Party” with its windy guitar riff that melted into the all sixties bubblegum-pop of a maniacal version of “I Hate My School” that raged on in short blasts like a speeding freight train going off the rails. Redd Kross finished their spectacular twenty-three-song set with the manic fury of one of their oldest songs, an exhilarating “Standing In Front Of Poseur” that got the crowd rocking out in a sweaty frenzy as vocalist/guitarist Jeff MacDonald, who I had recently learned was married for a long time to The Go-Go's guitarist Charlotte Caffey, and his brother bassist/vocalist Steven MacDonald joined together in screeching the words, “Walking down the boulevard...”, as guitarist Jason Shapiro made his axe sound like a swarm of mad hornets until Melvins drummer Dale Crover walked them off the stage with his rat-a-tat percussion and the crowd went crazy with applause and yells of more but the house lights went up suddenly and I ran out of the club and headed home. Redd Kross were utterly fantastic to experience and one of the few bands left that have that true punk rock and roll spirit and I will go see them perform again and again anytime!




STEVE WINWOOD and LILY WINWOOD - May 1, 2017
The Warner Theatre - Washington, DC

It was a lovely overcast day as I slowly meandered downtown to the historical Warner Theatre to see one of my favorite performers ever, the genius know as Steve Winwood of Traffic, Blind Faith, and The Spencer Davis Group fame, and of course his illustrious solo career, and his twenty-one year old daughter was opening for him on this tour, and so it should be a fantastic show. I saw him perform seven years ago at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap where he was truly awesome and also back in 1994 when I saw him with Traffic three times that summer and the experience was out of this world and particularly at Woodstock where they rocked the place. I finally entered the venue and found my seat and settled in for an awe-inspiring show. First up however was Steve's twenty-one year old daughter Lilly Winwood who ambled onto the stage with her acoustic guitar and she was one hell of a singer/songwriter as she opened with the lively ditty “Brighter Days” from her recently released album “Silver Stage” and she sounded so beautiful almost like seventies songstress Maria Maldaur and her lyrics were insightful and deep as she ran through her seven-song set from the delightful “Take My Time”, on to the soaring and anthemic “One Big Sky”, and a terse “The Hard Way”, and I really loved the song “Safehouse” that she accented so gracefully with her fleet finger-picking on the guitar that made her songs so beautiful as she finished with a groovy “Silver Stage” and the excellent thought-provoking “London”, and I was really impressed by her and her music...and so you see...sometimes nepotism is a good thing. Lilly left the stage and the houselights went up and after a few minutes Steve Winwood and his crack five-piece band walked onstage to wild applause and they opened with the 1986 Grammy Award-winning song “Back In The High Life Again” the title-track from the album of the same name and Steve played the mandolin so exquisitely and the band played the song slower and it sounded like a country song, and it was swampy and eerie-sounding as Steve wistfully sang, “I'll be back in the high life again, all the doors I closed one time will open up again, I'll be back in the high life again, all the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in, and I'll drink and dance with one hand free, let the world back into me, and on I'll be a sight to see, back in the high life again...”, and it was a tremendous opening number that blew me away. Steve sat down at the Leslie organ and went into the nice and jaunty groove of “Pearly Queen” from Traffic's 1968 self-titled album and he rocked on the organ as he crooned the song's words and Jose Neto added some tasteful guitar riffs and Paul Booth's flute playing gave the song a sexy edge. The band got real jazzy and percussive for a lovely re-working of his first big song “I'm A Man” from The Spencer Davis Group's 1966 single and they made the song pulse as it rode the serpentine guitar as Steve sang the words and his voice sounded great as it danced with the Afro-Caribbean percussion and Paul Booth finished the song with a delightful saxophone solo that carried the melody to its end and then he picked up his oboe and blew a wonderful solo intro to “Fly” from his 2008 album “Nine Lives” as the groove got all mellow and flowing and Steve crooned, “So fly, cause I know what you're feeling, when it turns out that way, and that emotion is healing, and we can fly, climbed a mountain, just to see the other side, we start with nothing, cause there's nothing left to hide...”, and it was the perfect Adult Contemporary song if there ever was one. Then the band played a surprising psychedelic version of “Them Changes”, which was a Buddy Miles-penned number from Steve's 2009 album with Eric Clapton “Live From Madison Square Garden”, and they got down and dirty and it was almost funky and Jose Neto played an incredible guitar solo that was just jaw-dropping as the band worked it out so beautifully. Steve picked up his guitar and led the band in delivering a phenomenal version of “Can't Find My Way Home” from Blind Faith's 1969 debut album and their only album actually and the audience loved every second of it and Steve played the most wonderfully relaxed guitar solo that just seemed to hang in the air casually dripping notes into the atmosphere until Jose Neto joined him for some incredible dual lead work as they kicked into the jaunty beat of “Had To Cry Today” also from the Blind Faith album and the band danced through the song with an unabashed hippie joy. Then came the highpoint of the evening, an absolutely splendorous rendition of the classic title-track from the 1971 Traffic album “The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys” which began with a sultry saxophone-driven intro that emerged into a swirling and soulful psychedelic groove as Steve wistfully crooned, “If I gave you everything that I owned, and asked for nothing in return, would you do the same for me as I would for you, or take me for a ride, and strip me of everything, including my pride, but spirit is something that no one destroys, and the sound that I'm hearing is only the sound, the low spark of high-heeled boys...”, and he followed with an amazing killer guitar solo that lit the place up and then the rest of the band took their turns soloing with beauty and grace that just blew my mind and the audience went crazy once they finished the song and went right into a laconic and winsome “Empty Pages” from Traffic's 1970 album “John Barleycorn Must Die” that they really shined on. I was in heaven with the next song which was the third Traffic song in a row and they made “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” from Traffic's 1971 album “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” rock like an old-school R&B song that Paul Booth made his saxophone dance all over the frenetic rhythm as Steve's guitar soared with these long extended notes that melted like warm butter into percussionist Edson DaSilva's deft and precise hands on a fantastic whirlwind of Afro-Caribbean-Middle Eastern-Far East percussive beats that he laid out in a vigorous solo that electrified me and he merged into the solid drumming of Richard Bailey who then pounded out one of the best drum solos I have ever seen and usually I am easily bored by long drum solos, but not tonight! After that glorious display, the band jumped back in with a phenomenal coda that almost lifted me off my feet and Steve Winwood brought back his daughter Lilly to the stage and the song “Higher Love” from his 1986 album “Back In The High Life Again” began to meander out the speakers as the band started playing and the song was very percussive and had a great new arrangement that made it more perkier and Paul blasted a lovely saxophone solo that led to yet another killer guitar solo from Jose and Lilly gave a tremendous rendition of the great Chaka Khan's vocal part as her voiced soared like an angel, “Give me a higher love...”, and the song really got even funkier as the band gave it all they got and even I stood up for them as they played out the song until they quietly left the stage hidden in the flashing lights and the audience erupted into uproarious applause and cries for more. After a few minutes Steve and his band returned to the stage and immediately jumped into a soulful and languid version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” from their 1967 album “Mr. Fantasy” and he took me there as he sang with such melancholy, “Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune, something to make us all happy, do anything take us out of this gloom, sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy, you are the one who can make us all laugh, but doing that you break out in tears...”, and then Steve just wailed on his guitar like it was his last time ever and the band just pulsed and pounded out the dense rhythm like the tides to its last note. The audience just lost it and cheered their hearts out, and Steve Winwood quickly introduced the band members and thanked everybody for their love and support and then the band jumped into a wild and wooly rendition of The Spencer Davis Group's 1967 smash hit single “Gimme Some Lovin'” which was Steve's first big hit that he was part of when he first started and the band got loose and played like they were on fire as they let the rhythm flow...”Gimme me some lovin'...”...and they played the song out with a sense of joy and they took their bows and quickly left the stage and disappeared into the night. I sat there somewhat flabbergasted by what I just saw and I was blown away by their thirteen-song set that somehow covered all of his illustrious career and I was so glad I got to see him perform tonight and he really is one of my favorites ever.



ARTO LINDSEY, BEAUTY PILL, and BR'ER - April 29, 2017
Black Cat - Washington, DC

So it seems that the summer season has begun and so tonight I am heading to the iconic Black Cat to see the legendary Arto Lindsay of New York “no-wave” band DNA and locals, the experimental pop of Beauty Pill, and the obtuse sounds of Br'er. So I arrived and found my favorite stool at the bar where my pal Al works and ordered a Stella Artois and started to write this piece. First up tonight was local upstarts Br'er and they are a quartet that play drone-ish mid-tempo music that sounds like album being played at the wrong speed. The vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Schurr played some really cool and clean riffs as his voice dripped over the gentle beat of their drummer Luis Angel Cancel who had a nice style that reminded me of Black Sabbath's Bill Ward's drumming as the two keyboardists Eric Sleight and Christian Mirande filled in the songs with layered sounds that was almost hypnotic, plus they had well-thought out lyrics and they reminded me of My Bloody Valentine a couple of times. On several songs they gave them a bit of swing but for the most part their sound was pretty stationary as the drummer Luis made the beat crawl and lurch like a slow-motion train-wreck, but the band played a really cool and sarcastic song about “brunch being for assholes” and it was damn funny and especially during Benjamin's jazz-like vocal delivery. Once the band got going, their vocalist started going wild as he flailed about like he was having a seizure and he howled about “trails of semen” and the keyboardist Eric made strange squelches and squeals on his instrument, but I really wished that they had a bassist to hold up the bottom. Br'er finished their seven-song set with a wildly chaotic number about being “Jewish” and how terrible they are treated as people sometimes and they angrily pummeled their instruments to the end of the song and then they quietly left the stage and the crew hurriedly changed the set for the next band. Beauty Pill took the stage and leader Chad Clark introduced the band by their unusual nicknames and then they lurched into the disjointed beat of their first song “Ain't A Jury In The World Gon' Convict You, Baby” from their 2015 album “Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are” that the band was featuring tonight and Chad stepped to the microphone and sang, “Please raise your right hand, please conflate, will with chance, blur your choices and your circumstance, it's on, it's on, ain't a jury in the world, ain't a jury in the world gon' convict you, baby...”, and he sang it with the right sense of irony as it drilled its way into my head with its insistent melody. Chad said that the “Fat Albert Theme Song” was one of the great songs and it was the influence for their next number as they jumped into the off-kilter groove of “Drapetomania!” and it was a bit jazzy in its delivery but more like Frank Zappa jazz with a neo-classical bent, and actually his music was very Zappa-esque as he made his guitar scream and wail on these intricate riffs as the keyboardist Jean Cook gently crooned the clever lyrics over the drummer Devin Campos's intricate percussion fills as they moved into the squonky art-rock groove of “Ann The Word” and then onto the sardonically world beat-ish “Afrikaner Barista” and then the elegaic “Steven & Tiwonge”, and it sounded very modern and no-wave as they sang about “heartbreak” and “being the one you like” with cool reserve and all their song had a nice sense of rhythm and flow and particularly on a cover of Arto Lindsay's “The Prize” and they performed a wonderful version with these lovely open chords and then they moved into the very avant garde pop of “Lifeguard In Wintertime” from their 2004 album “The Unsustainable Lifestyle” and it was full of great riffs from Chad that reminded me of Alan Holdsworth as he solo-ed on his Fender over Basla Andolsun's brilliant ocean-deep bass lines that really gave them some groove. Beauty Pill finished their eight-song set with a murky and thick as pea soup “Exit Without Saving” which was my absolute favorite song from their 2015 album “Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are” and it rushed over me like summer humidity in a gloriously swirling way as Chad made his guitar scream and howl as he sarcastically bellowed, “Caught you mid-drop in a bottomless war, a hybrid of scream and yawn, whatever always happens here will always happen after you're gone, noise right, you recognize that this is noise, right, you still want it...”, and the band raged to the end of the song as he bade us good night and led his band off the stage to some rapturous applause. I just thought, “Wow!”, they are a really tight unit and their eight-song set just grabbed you by the short hairs and would not let go as it took you on a wild ride. Bravo! The stage crew rushed about getting the set ready for Arto Lindsay and his three-piece band, and I did not know what to expect from them but I hoped it was some really good music and hopefully a few numbers by his old band DNA will be played for us. With a “hello” to the audience Arto and company jumped right into the multi-genre amalgamation of music that they delivered with razor-sharp precision as he made the oddest sounds with his twelve-string guitar as his band seemingly floated through morphing music genres from R&B to jazz to pop and so forth and sometimes in one song. Arto Lindsay had a very inventive style of playing the guitar but his vocals constantly got lost in the mix, and his bassist was excellent and held the bottom with the tenacity of a pitbull as Arto made his instrument make these godawful noises but somehow they fit into the song. Tragically all of his songs sounded the same on some variation of the same groove with Arto Lindsay's strange and distorted guitar licks and I became kind of tired of his music, and after six songs I found I just could not take it anymore so I left the club and headed home, but overall it was a pretty cool show and I found I really liked Beauty Pill and their music.


COUP SAUVAGE AND THE SNIPS - April 28, 2017
Smithsonian American Art Museum - Washington, DC

It was a wonderfully sunny and warm day as I rushed about town completing my errands before I headed to the monthly Luce Unplugged Community Showcase at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see the melancholic beauty of the music of Janel Leppin and the uptempo revolutionary dance sounds of Coup Sauvage And The Snips and it seems to be quite a hipsters event as I arrived and sought a seat with a good view. Janel Leppin took the stage with her cello and she soon lulled me into an almost coma-state as her music oozed out of the speakers and into my ears. She was accompanied by two violinists and a keyboard player and she rocked her cello as her voice seemed to drift in the air like smoke and the words were quite soothing to my soul as she sawed away with her bow on her instrument in great sweeping motions. She entertained us with a six-song set of her neo-classical chamber-pop music which was perfect for where we were surrounded by all kinds of beautiful paintings and sculptures. I returned to milling about the three levels of art with mild interest as Coup Sauvage And The Snips got their gear ready for their show. They took the stage and let loose with some futuristic retro-dance grooves that sounded like The B-52s meets The Supremes with vocals that soared like gospel divas in action over the band's swirling pre-programmed synthetic beats created by Maegan “Executive Realness Sauvage” Wood and the delicious music was accented by the bassist Elizabeth “Skeletonhead Sauvage” Allin's deep and loping groove and the keyboardist Jason “Hit Factory Sauvage” Barnett's sparkling melodies as vocalist Crystal “Sauvage” and her girls raised their fantastic voices in perfect harmony. They had the crowd moving and grooving to the beat as they sang of changing the world for the better as best they could, and please do not touch her hair as the band got lively and funky and they made the beat swing as Crystal let her truth free. They played a way too brief six-song set and one song had the crowd just singin'n'swingin' “Praise Jesus! Praise God! I belong to the House Of Sauvage!”, and that couplet summed up the night for me but too bad they are breaking up.


OLIVIA MANCINI AND THE HOUSEMATES - April 16, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - April 12, 2017
Verizon Center - Washington, DC



FAST EDDIE AND THE SLOWPOKES - March 26, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



MAY J. - March 24, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



KING - March 21, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a rather lovely first day of spring as I ran around town doing my errands before I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the LA-based Grammy-nominated trio King who are three female singers in the vein of TLC and En Vogue and they have been making their mark on the eclectic neo-soul scene since they released their debut EP “The Story” in 2011. Twin sisters multi-instrumentalist Paris and vocalist Amber Strother who are joined by vocalist Anita Bias to produce some lush and dreamy electronic R&B that they have taken over the urban airwaves with great eclat. The three of them take the stage dressed in a bright jungle motif as they opened their set with the gospel-sounding “Good Bye” and their joyous voices lifted the groove of their buoyant pop confection and they blended so perfectly and creamy over the sparse electronic beat and synth washes that made them seem more regal than your average pop R&B divas. They segued into the rolling groove of the next song “My Heart Beats Like Crazy” as they had the crowd swaying and just loving them, next they let the lovers rock flow with “Don't Care What They Say” and their fabulous vocals intertwined together so beautifully that they just blew me away with their intensity as they moved into the dreamy pop of “The End” that had some great lyrics about love. The three of them got real busy on a real crowd-pleaser from last year's Grammy-nominated debut album “We Are King” called “Love Song” that had a great swing to it as their voices sounded so lovely like butter in my ears...so smooth. The next number “Get Up And Go” was in the vein of a confessional soul song as they sang of plotting their escape from this life to a better world as they crooned some pitch-perfect out-of-this-world three-part harmonies as Paris got her groove on with the synthesizers, and they lit up the audience with the lush orchestrations of “Supernatural” and it gave me the chills as they sang of the magical powers of sacred love and I just adored their intricate harmonies as their voices soared in a way that made them sound so eerily old-fashioned and schooled in a sixties-styled kind of way like they were Tammy Terrell and Patti Labelle and other times they were in the vein of slick seventies soul like Angela Bofill and Minnie Riperton. Amber Strother next sang “Hey” as a real tear-jerker and it was beautifully enunciated as ruminated on getting lost in love as her sister Paris tinkled on the piano behind her and Anita Bias accented Amber's words with her own velvety voice. Paris kicked off the next song from their 2011 debut EP, a soaring rendition of the title-track “The Story” with some gentle nineties R&B that reminded me of Whitney Houston but they had way better voices that expressed so much more as they moved on to “Tell Me” and Anita blew it out of the water with her wonderful soprano voice as she traded soaring vocal trills with Amber over Paris' deceptively simple song structures. King finished their eleven-song set with the Robert Glasper-penned “More Blood” and the three of them really made you feel it as they sang so sensually...it was just wonderful and their carefully enunciated and insightful words. They took their bows and left the stage and their show tonight could not have been better...good job, ladies.


SCYTHIAN and BIG SAM'S FUNKY NATION - March 19, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




PAPERWHITE and LAURIN TALESE - March 10, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




LANDLADY and NO BS! BRASS BAND - March 7, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




KOKAYI - March 3, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




AARON MYERS - February 25, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




CAMEO - February 24, 2017
The Howard Theater - Washington, DC

Today was like a lovely spring day but it was February and winter seemed so far away as I ventured downtown to the historic Howard Theater to meet my friend Artie Lassiter to see the legendary sixty-one years old Larry Blackmon with his signature bright red codpiece and his band Cameo celebrate their forty years of making the funk. We got lucky in getting our seats right dead center with the stage and then we ordered some overpriced food and drink and chilled until it came time for Cameo to hit the stage. I have loved Cameo since the seventies and their song “Shake Your Pants” took me there so it should be interesting to see how Larry Blackmon and the current line-up of the band does with his catalogue, and at eight o'clock on the dot Cameo took the stage in freaky outfits as they flung riffs everywhere as the band launched into the rugged funk rock of “Alligator Woman” from their 1982 album of the same name and Larry seductively crooned, “Come on, you can feel her coming, coming at you, she, she's stay on you, you know she's coming at you, to resist her seems impossible, you can't do it, no you can't do it, no you can't do it, hey lady what you say, how about some fun today...”, and the band worked it out with some crunchy grooves and riffs that went immediately into a sassy “Back And Forth” from their 1986 album “Word Up!” that got the crowd excited and dancing as they let the sultry funk flow and the guitarist Charlie Singleton ripped a fierce solo on his lit-up axe that lit up my ears. Next the band played the percolating groove of “She's Strange”, the title-track from their 1984 album, and they really made it swing as Larry growled, “She's strange...”, and the band was phenomenal and in total sync as they made you feel the funk as they burst into a wonderful version of “Single Life”, the title-track from their 1985 album, and it rocked my world and made the ladies holler as the guitarists Charlie Singleton and Anthony Lockett made their axes scream and howl until the fantastic drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett took control of the stage with a percussive work-out that was just killer as his hands were a blur as he deftly played these cool poly-rhythms that flooded the room. The band returned and Larry humbly thanked everyone for enjoying his music and their love and support and then the band jumped into a super raw and funky rendition of “Attack Me With Your Love” from their 1985 album “Single Life” and the vocal harmonies of Larry and back-up vocalist Tomi Jenkins sounded great as the two of them intertwined so beautifully. Larry spoke to the audience about how it was Cameo's fortieth anniversary and how he felt that his music was timeless as he touchingly sang the words, “When you walk, when you pass me by, there's reasons that come immediately to mind, one is I'd like to have you, two is I love your face, the third one is irrelevant cause there's no time or place, attack me with your love, baby...”. The band slowed the groove down to a crawl as they played these long stretched-out notes and glisses that signaled the start of a melancholy version of “Why Have I Lost You” from their 1978 album “We All Know Who We Are” and Larry said it was for all the ladies in the house who then proceeded to scream with overwhelming passion and lust as Larry left the stage and the band segued into an upbeat and lively “Hanging Downtown” from their 1984 album “She's Strange” and it featured some soaring vocals acrobatics from Tomi who sang lead by himself and an exquisite guitar solo from Charlie that was electrifying to witness. Larry returned to the stage and introduced their next song, an anthemic and soul-felt “Sparkle” from their 1979 album “Secret Omen” and the band made it sound like a classic 1960s' R&B song and the crowd loved every second of it judging by their response, and then Larry said it was time for them to “kick up the funk” and they launched into a sensationally sexy version of “Candy” from their chart-topping 1986 album “Word Up!” and then Larry led the house in a giant sing-a-long and it was a total love-fest as the band turned the song into an extended jam that was so beautiful to watch. Larry and the band next dedicated their song “Skin I'm In” from their 1988 album “Machismo” with its socio-political overtones directed at President Trump as they sang for their dignity and lives, “Who's this face in the mirror that I see, sometimes confused by the double standards of society, and maybe I'm wrong about the way I feel, but then, will somebody tell me what is really real, now I respect myself, I respect you too but in the end it's got to be, do unto me as I do to you...”, and it was accented by the searing guitar riffs of Anthony Lockett and he blew me away. Larry counted off 1-2-3 and the band hit a jazzy groove that morphed into the more funkier and dirtier beat of “Shake Your Pants” from their 1980 album “Cameosis” and the guitarist Charlie Singleton played his best solo of the night and he used a talk-box for added effect as he just lit his guitar up spectacularly with his fleet fingers. Larry introduced bassist Aaron Mills to the audience and he played one of the best bass solos I have ever seen and heard as they rocked a bass-driven musical interlude that took me there as I got lost in the melody, then Larry returned to the stage and he said we've going back in time to those funky seventies and the band launched into the timeless groove of “I Just Want To Be” from their 1979 album “Secret Omen” and it was a beautiful rendition that had their voices and instruments intertwining like two ballet dancers to much applause as the band moved into an upbeat and sassy “Keep It Hot” from their 1980 album “Feel Me” that got everybody up on their feet and dancing that grown folks dance we will all end up doing one day. Larry took some time to remember his recently deceased keyboardist Chucky Bush and he asked the crowd to applaud for him and then they broke into a spectacular version of their smash hit single “Word Up!” and the title-track from their 1986 album and Larry and Tomi traded vocals, “Do your dance, do your dance, do your dance quick mamma, come on baby tell me what's the word, word up everybody says, when you hear the call you've got to get it underway, word up it's the code word, no matter where you say it you know that you'll be heard...”, and the electric groove put the crowd into a funk frenzy as the band got a sweaty work-out and their funk masterpiece was just brilliant as the audience lost their minds. Cameo played a solid fourteen-song set from all of their expansive career to celebrate with us their forty years in the business and hopefully they will reach fifty years but it was a great show and I cannot believe that their keyboardist died a little over a week ago and they are still keeping their tour commitments, but I walked out into the lobby and bought a tour shirt and walked to the metro singing “Word Up!” with a smile on my face.


AVON DEWS - February 21, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




DARKEST HOUR, ROTTEN SOUND, and ACCIDENTS DC - February 17, 2017
Black Cat - Washington, DC

It was yet another oddly warm February night which was fitting since I was going to a doom metal show at the lovely Black Cat on Fourteenth Street and I arrived and entered the club and went upstairs to my favorite stool at the bar and ordered a Stella Artois beer from my favorite bartender. Tonight is a metal show featuring DC's own Darkest Hour, and Rotten Sound from Finland, with locals Accidents DC, so it should be a fantastic show with some great music of assorted sub-genres of metal. First up was Accidents DC who are a quintet that played some grind-y punk-metal as pretty decent vocalist John Felter let his biting words flow with a tempered anger. The band even added some reggae-ish flourishes to several of their songs, but their music was varied and surged at different tempos as they were driven by the rhythm section of bassist Dan Boyd and drummer Jill Miller and the guitarists Matt Hanson and Nicole Morris raged on some really cool duels as the molten riffs bored a hole into my ears and the singer John Felter kept reminding me of Harley Flanagan from The Cro-Mags. The band's songs all had a melodic edge to them that was surprising to me but they did sound good and the guitarist Matt Hanson was exceptional and fleet-fingered on his fretboard as the rhythm section rocked with a little swing. The band blasted through their nine-song set with swagger and they kept my attention with their well-written songs. The Accidents DC left the stage and the DJ cranked some mainstream metal as we awaited the next band. They are called Rotten Sound and they are a grind-core quartet from Finland and they have been together since 1993 and they played intensely brutal death metal that just pummeled the audience senseless as their singer Keijo “G” Niinimaa screamed almost incoherently at the crowd and the band pounded away ferociously and non-stop with waves of scorching riffs that kept relentlessly coming as they plowed through a crunchy “Power” from their 2011 album “Cursed” and G railed, “Power is shit, domination is lust, it makes them think, that they're better than us, that they're better than us...”. Next they played a trio of songs from their 2002 album “Murderworks”; a very dark and moody “Void”, a twitchy and writhing “Insects”, and a gripping “Targets” that blew out my ears as they moved into my favorite song by them, a blistering “Salvation” from their 2013 EP “Species At War” that had G raging with anger, “Salvation from the reality, takes away your mortality, salvation ensures the false relief, to all of you useless slaves, until the starving maggots, feast on your useless bodies...”, and the band just pounded any melody the songs contained into a bloody mess. The drummer Sami Latva was amazing as he let the percussion flow at relentless speeds and with several severe tempo changes as the band charged through a gritty “Trashmonger” and a lumbering “Fear Of Shadows” from their 2016 album “Abuse To Suffer”, and then the bassist Kristian Toivainen made the groove really go spastic as it drove a smoldering “Self” from their 2011 album “Cursed” that went right into a shimmering “Decay” from their 2006 EP “Consume To Contaminate” like a crashing rocket. Guitarist Mika “Q” Aalto was on fire as he made his axe howl and scream as the band launched into the sonic blur of “Blind” from their 2008 album “Cycles” and G maniacally howled, “We are grinded by our ways to give, and it is time to let go and give away all there was before, the criticism against what used to be wrong is weakening, it is time to open the filthy box inside our senseless minds...”. And still their drummer Sami was just plain phenomenal, even though the rest of the band sounded like a jet engine stuck in idle but somehow in the swirl of roaring noise there was some melody as they charged forward with the rude sarcasm of “Lazy Asses” and the bludgeoning “Inhumane Treatment” from their 2016 album “Abuse To Suffer”, and the band kept it in sonic hyper-drive with the skull-crushing groove of “Corponation” and “The Effects” from their 2008 album “Cycles” and I really liked the songs and how they presented them with such aggression. I just wished I could understand the rather political words of vocalist G a little bit more instead of fragments as the band finished their seventeen-song set with three songs from their 2005 album “Exit”; first Q played some menacing riffs as fast as he could as they roared through an ominous “Slay” and a rather catchy and dark “Western Cancer”, and then the band delivered a magnificent “Sell Your Soul” that had me on the edge of my stool as they made quite an ugly racket as G screamed, “Gathering money property, for your social value, losing inner self, not needed to succeed, urge to get filthy rich, with inhuman deeds, taken from your dull life, that does not exist anymore, sell your soul and die alone...”, and they finished their set in a blur of feedback and strange noises and I wished that G had more enunciation and clarity to his voice, but their set was perversely entertaining. Rotten Sound left the stage and the DJ played some more mainstream metal as the crowd readied themselves for Darkest Hour. The crowd was filling up the venue and getting restless and then Darkest Hour hit the stage and opened with a “brand new fucking” song called “Knife In The Safe Room” from their recent album “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” and it just rolled over the crowd like a possessed steamroller as guitarists Mike Schleibaum and Mike “Lonestar” Carrigan raged like a wild thunderstorm as vocalist John Henry growled, “Drown any semblance, of power of privilege of state, the plight of the sainthood, the harmony of gluttony and lust, the knife in the safe room, without the business of death, bringing glory what's left, a celebration of blood...”, and they plowed forward with a spiraling version of “For The Soul Of The Savior” from their 2000 album “The Mark Of The Judas” and the vocalist John ranted and raved with growls and screams that just rocked me as the guitars grinded and soared away and Mike Schleibaum played an brilliant solo that scorched my ears. Next the band played a brutal rendition of “Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)” from their 2007 album “Deliver Us” that was driven by the brusque drumming of Travis Orbin and the twin lead guitars of the two Mikes. They plowed like madmen through their set as they got real furious on “Timeless Numbers” from their new album and I was amazed by how fast they could play especially when the two guitars ripped away at the melody. The band paused and took a breath and then they were off and running with a ferocious “Marching To The Killing Rhythm” from their 2003 album “Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation” and bassist Aaron Deal was booming and zooming as singer John Henry howled, “This machine, is marching to the killing rhythm, spilling blood in vain, subdues the vengeful masses, so put your blinders on, replace your conscious with a flag, so you can forget, money runs thicker than blood...”, and the bass surged and pulsed over the battling guitars. The audience was real excited for the band when they played a punchy “No God” from their 2009 album “The Eternal Return” and then everyone was headbanging away in complete ecstasy to “Savor The Kill” from their 2011 album “The Human Romance” and a merciless rendition of “Violent By Nature” also from the same album and it seemed to showcase their more rawer sounds. The band went into a more mainstream direction with a succinct “Those Who Survived” from their new album “Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora” that was propelled by some classical guitar-playing from Mike Schleibaum that was the calm before the storm as they burst into the brutal beat of “With A Thousand Words To Say But One” from their 2005 album “Undoing Ruin” that had some groove to it as vocalist John Henry roared, “If we can make it through the landslide standing, we'll lift each other up to see the bliss on the horizon, been looking in from the outside lately, I've seen who I used to be and it's not me, and we can keep healing, and we can keep holding on...”, and the two guitarists battled it out fiercely and made it a real grinder of a song as they sounded like two buzz-saws cutting into my brain as the song collapsed into a mass of feedback and noise. They paused and then they exploded into an epic rendition of “Rapture In Exile” from their 2014 album “Darkest Hour” that got a great response from the audience and the song showed some range in their playing that was more than metal to me. Darkest Hour finished their twelve-song set with a spectacular version of their over-the-top masterpiece “The Sadist Nation” from their 2003 career-defining album “Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation” and the band went wild with scorching guitar riffs and a super-heavy boom from the rhythm section as vocalist John Henry menacingly growled, “One nation under the gun, where forward thinking is shunned, a morbid tradition, of archaic value systems, where violence justified, is just another pride, under the surface lies, a holy plastic empire...”, and it was a sensational way to finish their set with some really heavy lyrics that made one think one's place in society and how to make it better for all. Tonight was a fantastic show that showed the better side of extreme metal and that it could change the world with its message, and I will go see them again because I really liked what they had to say, especially Darkest Hour!



THE MOSHE BAND featuring MOSHE SNOWDEN - February 9, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a strange day as the weather went from the warm seventies to the very chilly forties in a matter of a few hours and then we were expecting snow to strike at any moment but I rushed on down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage anyway to see The Moshe Band featuring trombonist Moshe Snowden play some wonderful mid-tempo instrumental jazz and it was presented by the DC Legendary Musicians and they promote, protect, and serve area musicians. I do not know much about the band but during their sound-check, they sounded like a well-oiled machine as they laid down a horn-driven groove that sounded quite lovely to my ears. And at the usual time the rep for DC Legendary Musicians, the honorable Reverend Doctor Sandra Butler-Truesdale approached the podium to explain the organization and its purpose, and especially during Black History Month, and she honored local longest-serving florist Rick Lee for his longtime support of local music with a plaque and a declaration of appreciation. Then she introduced The Moshe Band and the band got down with some sophisticated and funky grooves that had them blowing their horns with great passion and feel as they flowed into a warm and sensual version of Heatwave “Groove Line” as the bass propelled the song forward and Moshe Snowden blew an exquisite trombone solo that had the place jumping with excitement. The band slowed the tempo down and Moshe's trombone made Smokey Robinson's “Just My Imagination” sound even sexier as they played it as an instrumental and the horns gave it a slick feeling as it lanquidly flowed into the room as they made it their own. They morphed into some lively gospel-jazz to get our praise on and it sometimes had a bit of a ska feel in the horn sound which was cool as John Woodridge blew a potent saxophone to finish out the song as the drummer Emmanuel Dazdie and keyboardist Chris Burnett played an uptempo groove that gave it a Caribbean feel. The next song opened with some swirling keyboard washes that Moshe blew some be-bop trombone to and the other horn players, trombonist Jack Jackson and trumpeter Kenneth McDonald, filled the space with some swinging runs that gave it a nice catchy melody that made me want to dance, and once again saxophonist John Woodridge blew my mind with an intricate note-filled solo that was all over the place. The band switched up the groove and the horns took turns solo-ing as the rhythm section kept a solid base for the song's melody to dance with keyboardist Chris Burnett's spry runs that made the song sparkle. I liked how they reconstructed their choice of cover songs and made them all instrumental and really showing the emotions of how love made one feel and act as Moshe Snowden strolled through the audience playing his trombone like a guitar and the song “Happy Feelings” never sounded better. Moshe then introduced the band members to the audience and they finished their fantastic nine-song set with a rocking version of Earth, Wind, And Fire's “September” that had the entire audience up and dancing as they made the song a horn-driven showstopper and Moshe played his best solo of the night before they left the stage. Tonight's show was fantastic and I was glad I left my house to see them, and I want to see them again.



KONSHENS THE MC AND STATE OF MIND and THE DARAJA ENSEMBLE - February 8, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




SALTMAN KNOWLES - January 25, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




AARON "ABE" ABERNATHY AND NATIVE SON - January 13, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




JOJO ABOT - January 11, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another dreary winter afternoon as I headed towards the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the singer Jojo Abot, a Ghanian whose signature sound is an eclectic blend of electronica and the urban-based sounds of house, neo-soul, and reggae that she coined as “Afro-Hypno-Sonic” and it will soothe any savage soul with her genre-bending music. Jojo Abot in a neon green wig and her three-piece band took the stage and opened with these ambient synth washes and extended guitar notes over some very sparse percussion as she strolled up to the microphone while banging on a traditional hand-drum as she let her voice rip on all kinds of tones and soaring notes as she beseeched the sacred spirits. The atmospheric playing of the band wrapped itself elegantly around my ears, and the drummer was really spectacular with his deft playing and catchy tempos. She reminded me of Sade in her demeanor and style as her voice laconically wound its way through the song and its taut percussion, and there were a few times when she reminded me of Nina Hagen, especially during her reggae-infused numbers like the song “Chemistry” which she sang with these grand operatic flourishes. Her band added a nice dance groove to the next song called “Not Over You” which was based on a Nigerian pop song as the crowd swayed to its intoxicating beat and soaring guitar riffs and then they segued into the swirling Afro-beats of the song “Avento” that sparked and sputtered to the beat as the keyboardist made his saxophone squawk like some kind of mutant jazz from outer space. The band slowed down the tempo as they went into a bit of tradition jazz and she crooned so elegantly from her heart as her guitarist played these stretched out and long notes that captivated me with their beauty and I was blown away by the gospel-infused song “Totally” which was about standing up for what is right and doing something about it and I loved the intense poly-rhythms that the drummer was playing that gave the song its deep groove as Jojo sang the uplifting lyrics so joyfully and the audience joined in with their voices. Jojo Abot and her band finished their ten-song set with a mellow jazz groove that featured a wonderful saxophone solo from the keyboardist as she sang of spreading love and understanding to the world. It was a really cool show and I just loved her voice and what she had to say to the world.



KANDACE SPRINGS - January 8, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a freezing and desolate Sunday afternoon as I left my warm and snugly house to head to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to revel in the glory that is Kandace Springs and her velvety smooth voice as she performs her wondrous music that reminded me of Billie Holiday and Roberta Flack in its intensity. The metro was barely functioning as it slowly weaved its way through the cold city until it stopped several stations before mine and I had to get off the train and trudge the rest of the way there through the dishearteningly freezing cold but the journey was worth it. I arrived at the Kennedy Center and made my way to my favorite seat just as her drummer Collin James took the stage and started playing some tight rhythmic percussion and the bassist Chris Gaston added these deep swinging riffs and Kandace Springs started twinkling away on the piano as her deliciously enveloping voice told us a story about love and loss and her voice really reminded me of The Eurythmics' Annie Lennox as her voice wrapped itself around my ears as she segued into a slinky and sparse version of “Talk To Me” and the song was stunning in its simplicity as her voice soared and crescendo-ed with ease. For their next number, Kandace tipped her hat to Oscar Peterson and she proceeded to make that piano keyboard swirl with some scintillating melodies runs that sounded so nice, and then the three of them played a remarkable version of the Coltrane classic “Soul Eyes” and the song was wonderfully melancholy as it flowed slowly into the air with her voice carried me away. They kicked into a laidback groove and she crooned like Roberta Flack as her voice sparkled on the song “Why It Gotta Be Like That” with the right amount of mellow sass, she then blew me away with a rendition of Billie Holiday's “Someone To Watch O'er Me” that was sultry and sensuous as the piano notes washed over me as the band picked up the tempo with a jaunty ditty called “Love Got In The Way” that just rocked my world as the rhythm section kept the beat crisp and sharp as she got down on the piano and then came a wonderful solo break from the drummer Collin James and the punchy bass line from Chris Gaston propelled the groove forward and it was my favorite moment of the evening. Kandace's hands glided over the ivories as she soulfully sang the song “Forbidden Fruit” and her sultry voice danced so gracefully with the lumbering bass line over the sparse percussion. In what was the closest thing to a “pop” song that she performed tonight, and she sang her heart out on a marvelous “Neither Or Young” which was written by Sarah Joy who helped Norah Jones to fame and she sang the words so beautifully and heartfelt as her voice soared about the fray. The next song showcased her classical music skills on the piano and then her band dropped into the jazz riffs of “Words” and the audience loved it as they segued into the melancholic melody and words of “A Day In Your Life (You Cry)” that revealed how vulnerable she feels at times. Then the three of them really got down and dirty with a funky and soulful “The World Is Hard (Ghetto)” and her rhythm section got a little be-boppy for a while, and then she said that Norah Jones made her do what does and she launched into a cover of “The Newness Of You” and her voice gave the song a different perspective as she tinkled away on the piano and passionately crooned the lovely words and made the song her own. She gave the next number a classical bent as her hands glided over the keys of the piano and her rhythm section kicked in with a terse beat and she let the words rip as she crooned, “Call Me Day Or Night”, with a glossy sophistication. Kandace Spring and her band finished their fifteen-song set with a tremendous cover of Roberta Flack's “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” that was dirge-y in its feel but it was just fantastic as was her rhythm section and she just became my favorite new singer/pianist, so go see her and you will feel the same.



THE DIFIBULATORS - January 7, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




WES FELTON and ASHERU - January 4, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




NAG CHAMPA ART ENSEMBLE, OSHUN, THE CORNEL WEST THEORY, and DJ UNDERDOG - January 1, 2017
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was the first day of the New Year and I was kicking it off by attending a tribute concert for Yasiin Bey formerly Mos Def who is performing at the Kennedy Center later tonight in his farewell concert performance in America, so several local acts are getting together to celebrate him and his music. First up was local MC Nichi who took the stage and dropped some verbose lyrics about where she came from and where she is going and she had some nice flows as her words twirled into the audience's receptive ears and then she introduced the first band of the night, The Cornel West Theory, and they hit the stage with a thunderous groove as rapper Rashad Dobbins let loose with his righteous indignation about the wicked ways of the world but his intelligent lyrics kept getting lost in the noisy waves of tight rhythm and percussion provided by the band which consisted of bandleader/vocalist Timothy Hicks, vocalist/keyboardist John Moon, bassist Ezra, drummer Sam Levine, and the fabulous N’digo Rose on the Fender Rhodes organ, but they seemed to be plagued by sound difficulties however it did improve as they rapped, “Get it while you can...”, over and over. Their music was interesting as the band floated through several different genres as diverse as psychedelia and dub and they reminded me of local hip-hop act Basehead and the legendary Bad Brains and the lyrics always seemed dark with just a hint of hope. They grinded their way through their thick and murky rhythms as they preached the truth, especially during the song “Paper Tigers” from their five-song set but I wished their music was a bit more hookier and got stuck in my head but overall they were quite enjoyable and had some toe-tappin' beats. MC Nichi returned to the mic and performed another number called “Touch Me” and it was rather forgettable and then she brought the wonderful Nag Champa Art Ensemble to the stage and their founder Jamal Gray's music built up into a deluge that rushed into my ears full of gentle jazz riffs and African rhythms that was very soothing as two costumed women performed a cleansing ritual and the guitarist played some phenomenal licks that swirled about all psychedelic-like over some driving organ riffs that propelled the song forward as the free-flowing percussion filled the room and then it morphed into some sweet and soulful R&B as the guitarist stole the show with some wild playing that just soared as Jamal Gray sang of “Positive Energy”. Next his band got real funky and laidback and a dancer gyrated sensually as the vocalist sang, “Baby I want you some more...”, as the keyboards laid down a muscular riff worthy of Chick Corea and the singer reminded me of Marvin Gaye on their song “Chase The Sun” and the guitarist burned another scorching solo into my ears as his band finished up their four-song set. MC Nichi returned to the stage and rapped a little and then she brought the duo Oshun to the stage and the two of them brought their their thoughtful neo-soul with a roughneck edge to life as they wittily sang of their experiences in life and love with an India-Irie/Macy Gray feel to the sparse beat that just chugged along as they sang, “Stay relevant and open...”, and they spoke on all kinds of knowledge but they just did not take me there musically, but I liked what they had to say, “Watch your head, heart, and soul...”. They finished their eight-song set with a real crowd-pleasing number that had the audience clapping along as they performed the best lyrics of their set but I wished they had a full band backing them instead of the backing tracks they used that seemed to lack any real depth. MC Nichi once again returned to the stage and thanked everyone for coming and celebrating Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def and his contribution to culture and she welcomed DJ Underdog to the decks and he rocked it as the crowd slowly dispersed into the evening with a skip in their steps. I find it funny that the only time I seem to enjoy listening to hip-hop is at performances at the Kennedy Center.






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