Mr. Jimijam

MY CIVIL WAR ANCESTOR - WILLIAM WALLACE RILEY

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ROKY ERICKSON - October 28, 2018
Black Cat - Washington, DC




THE DAMNED, RADKEY, and THE DARTS - October 20, 2018
Black Cat - Washington, DC




CHVRCHES and LO MOON - October 18, 2018
The Anthem - Washington, DC




MARTIN BARRE (JETHRO TULL) - October 14, 2018
Miracle Theatre - Washington, DC




AN EVENING WITH PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. - October 12, 2018
Black Cat - Washington, DC




THE ENGLISH BEAT - October 6, 2018
City Winery - Washington, DC




ELTON JOHN AND HIS BAND - September 21, 2018
Capital One Arena - Washington, DC




CHEM LAB, C-TEC, and HELLBENT - September 15, 2018
The State Theatre - Falls Church, VA




OZZY OSBOURNE and STONE SOUR - September 14, 2018
Jiffy Lube Live - Bristow, VA




KILLING JOKE and PIG - September 10, 2018
Baltimore Soundstage - Baltimore, MD




SAINT ETIENNE - September 7, 2018
Union Stage - Washington, DC




NEW ORDER - August 28, 2018
The Anthem - Washington, DC




THE FIXX and ADAM EZRA GROUP - August 15, 2018
The Birchmere - Alexandria, VA




MORRIS DAY & THE TIME - August 12, 2018
The Birchmere - Alexandria, VA




ALICE BAG, HOMOSUPERIOR, and THE FAUNAS - August 11, 2018
Comet Ping Pong - Washington, DC




HEARNOW - August 4, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC





ROB ZOMBIE, MARILYN MANSON, and DEADLY APPLES - July 31, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




THE XX and KELSEY LU - July 27, 2018
The 9:30 Club - Washington, DC





ERASURE and CAROLINE & REED - July 21, 2018
The Warner Theatre - Washington, DC

It was a surprisingly nice and pleasant summer day but with a fast-moving cloudy sky as I walked down into the Stadium/Armory metro to take the train downtown to the historical Warner Theatre to see the always fabulous Erasure on their “World Be Gone World Tour” and this was the first of two sell-out shows and it was the second iconic British band with a gay singer that I have seen this week, the first being Boy George and Culture Club whom I saw on Wednesday at Wolf Trap with The B-52s who also have a gay singer coincidentally. So I put on my best “snotty gay face” and wearing my favorite Divine t-shirt and I strutted into the venue and sashayed to my third row seat giving some fierce attitude and I sat down with a great big smile on my face. I have loved Erasure since they released their first album “Wonderland” in 1986, but since at that time I was well-known on the local music scene as a “rock guy” and one just did not ever admit that to anybody that you liked Erasure, and it was mainly due to the homophobic attitudes of the time and plus there were no discernible guitar parts in their songs, but the times have really changed for the better since I saw them perform at the original 9:30 Club on F Street on May 14, 1987 for the “Circus” tour and I watched and stage-worked for them several more times over the years up to September 2014 when I saw their “The Violet Flame” tour at a sold-out 9:30 Club show when they were regaining popular appeal with their music...a comeback of sorts if you will. Erasure are just one of my favorite 'comfort food' bands who just made me feel good when I was facing obstacles in life, and as I was getting comfortable in my beyond fabulous seat, I noticed that their stage set-up would fit in a medium-sized moving truck with room to spare, it was sparse but as I will witness tonight, a very effective presentation with nominal production values and I guess that is the wonder of modern sound technology, and all the while the PA was booming with a marvelous mix of synth-pop classics that had my head a'boppin' and my toes a'tappin'...Kraftwerk...OMD...Shriekback...Human League...Soft Cell, and etc....and then it was time for the opener, New York City-based Reed & Caroline, who are an EDM duo consisting of instrumentalist Reed Hays and vocalist Caroline Schutz and the two of them are on tour supporting their brand new album “Hello Science” on Erasure's Vince Clarke's music label Very Records. They opened the set with a furiously upbeat song called “Travel With Me” that had a nice Kraftwerk-esque groove and percolating electronic percussion that kept it moving at an jaunty pace and then Reed played some sort of stringed instrument like a dulcimer that had a nice bass sound as his tiny set-up produced an angsty beat that just marched on and on but pleasantly, however their sound got kind of tepid and repetitive after a couple of songs. Caroline had a lovely dulcet-toned voice that sometimes made her sound like she was singing a lullabye to a small child but what she sang did have some positive lyrics that were trying to affect everyone in a positive way and sometimes her voice reminded me of Alison Moyet, who incidentally was the singer that Vince Clarke wrote and played music for in Yaz(oo) earlier in his career and they were estranged for many years until they reunited in 2008 for a few concerts and a live recording. Reed played some very lush and orchestral music that sometimes reminded me of the Human League and then sometimes Kraftwerk, but their music was concise and well-written and held my attention. They played a pleasant seven-song set that was an inventive take on the EDM formula and I really liked the song called “Singularity” and they had some cool images flowing on the large screen behind them that also vaguely entertained me. Reed & Caroline finished and walked offstage as the stage crew cleared their equipment and then re-checked Erasure's rather unusual 'jungle gym' set-up with Vince's gear set up above the fray in a framed box flanked by two large frames with an opaque screens in them. The place had finally filled up to capacity and everyone eagerly awaited for Erasure to start the show, and then the houselights went down and Andy Bell ran on stage with the two backing vocalists behind the framed screens and Vince Clarke up above and they opened with an almost spiritual “Oh L'Amour” from their 1986 debut album “Wonderland” and it had the audience on their feet as the crisp rhythms filled the venue as everybody sang along with Andy as he sang, “Oh l'amour, broke my heart, now I'm aching for you, mon amour, what's a boy in love, supposed to do, looking for you, you were looking for me, always reaching for you...”, and damn, Andy has aged over the years. They flowed into the gentle and soothing rhythms of “Ship Of Fools” from their 1988 album “The Innocents” and it was a gorgeous version that was sublime and smooth and the two backing singers added some humanity with their wonderful voices. Andy joked about having to kill a mosquito in this swampy weather that has given him a summer cold as Vince started the loping percussion of “Breathe” from their 2005 album “Nightbird” and it rocked in a gentle way and then they went right into a techno-tinged “Just A Little Love” from their recent album “World Be Gone” and it had a very modern tone to it as the song pulsed along with gentle ease. The very second the electronic percussion of “Chains Of Love” from the “The Innocents” album started its catchy hook, the crowd was on their feet again and singing along at the top of their lungs with Andy as he crooned, “Do you remember, there was a time ahaha, when people on the street, were walking hand in hand in hand, they used to talk about the weather, making plans together, days would last forever, come to me, cover me hold me, together we'll break these chains of love...”, and I tell you, when straight people love a song, they make it their own, but there was beauty in the song's message...it was just gorgeous! Next they performed a touching ballad called “Sweet Summer Loving” from “World Be Gone” and the sparse percussion and synth washes made for a beautiful song that was emotional and touching as Andy traded vocals with the two backup singers, and they followed that with an oddly perky “Victim Of Love” from their 1987 album “Circus” and the song had the place jumping as Andy sang with such passion, “I don't wanna look, like some kind of fool, I don't wanna break, my heart over you, I'm building a wall, everyday it's getting higher, this time I won't end up, another victim of love...”, and the audience loved it as the percussion made it swing and dance so elegantly to the beat. The somber beat of “Phantom Bride” from the album “The Innocents” began to pulse and throb so elegiacal as the crowd swayed back and forth as Andy sang about comforting someone close to him, and the beat flowed into the melancholic title-track “World Be Gone” from their recent album and Vince made the song sweeping and majestic as Andy crooned his heart out. The band went into the classic gay disco of “Who Needs Love Like That” from their debut album “Wonderland” and the manic beat just rolled over me with a wink and a sneer as he sang the biting words, “Love can turn you upside-down, then leave you cold, it's plain to see, you're losing all control, who needs love like that, who needs love like that...”, and I really wished I could still dance like a champion. Andy paused and spoke of his undying love for Debbie Harry and Blondie and she was the reason that he cut his hair and dyed it blonde in honor of Debbie and then Vince launched into a electro-pop version of Blondie's “Atomic” and they made it their own as the three singers' voices rose in perfect harmony as the groove grinded along with a bit of clatter that made the song shudder in ecstasy...it was an awesome version and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein would have been proud. Next they went into the big beat of “Love To Hate You” from their 1991 album “Chorus” which was one of my favorite songs by them and the beat jumped and thumped along as Vince's synths swirled with the sassy melody as Andy sang, “And the lovers that you sent for me, didn't come with any satisfaction guarantee, so I'll return them to the sender, and the note attached will read, how I love to hate you, I love to hate you, I love to hate you...”, and the crowd went wild as they joyfully sang along with them. Andy said the next song was “a twisted love song” with a Motown edge called “Take Me Out Of Myself” from “World Be Gone” and Andy sang it with such gusto over a very sparse rhythm that was flowing out of the PA that Vince was deftly producing with a jaded perspective and Andy's love of Gladys Knight and her voice really showed in the song. He babbled on about taking up crochet and how bad he was at it and then Vince started the symphonic beats of “Blue Savannah” from their 1989 album “Wild!” and everyone sang along so happily as the subtly deep rhythms glided through the song like a soaring eagle as Vince's fingers fluttered across his keyboard and when they finished, the crowd roared their approval. Next the band performed one of their biggest singles, a raucous “Drama!” also from “Wild!” and it was quite powerful and full of jaunty rhythms and disco-esque synth fills that had the place jumping and cheering then Vince picked up his guitar and strummed a nice intro to “Love You To The Sky” from “World Be Gone” that he peppered with some rock-a-billy riffs that were big and booming as Andy crooned the words, “And you blow me away to the soul, will you be my port in a storm, and I want to climb inside your head, I'm stronger to know that you care, I love you to the sky, sky, sky, sky, I'll not tell you lies, lies, lies, lies...”, and then Andy made some jokes about the cold medicine he was taking tonight to stifle his cold. The signature synth riff of “Sometimes” from their 1987 album “Circus” began playing and the crowd was ecstatic as he sighed, “Ooh sometimes, it's the broken heart that decides...”, while the electronic horn wailed so languidly as the song slowly faded away, and Andy thanked us for coming to the show and then the synths twinkled their way through a pulsating “Always” from their 1994 album “I Say I Say I Say” and Andy's voice danced with the melody to the beat so gracefully. He then spoke of how he just loves American drugstores and how it seemed to him that Americans appeared to be a bunch of hypochondriacs with so many drugs and pills for everything under the sun, and then they started into the pulsing and exuberant beat of “Stop!” from the 1988 EP “Crackers International” and it rocked the crowd into a near-frenzy, but the song was glorious and the three singers let it rip as they impassionedly belted out, “Stop! Stand there where you are, before you go too far, before you make a fool out of love, stop, don't jump before you look, get hung upon a hook...”, and then they left the stage and the audience erupted with cheers and cries for more. I was just electrified and after a few minutes they returned and burst into a flamboyant over-the-top rendition of the real crowd-pleaser “A Little Respect” from their 1988 album “The Innocents” and Andy had the whole place totally lost in the joyous rhythms and grooves as he crooned, “I try to discover, a little something to make me sweeter, oh baby, refrain from breaking my heart, I'm so in love with you, I'll be forever blue, that you give me no reason, why you're making me work so hard, soul, I hear you calling, oh baby, please give a little respect to me...”, and the song seemed to be the perfect ending to a perfect night...it was just absolutely flawless. Erasure's twenty-song set was an incredible selection of all their songs over the years that showed just how diverse their influences and styles are and how they went on to influence the next generation of musicians. The whole performance was well thought out and choreographed to the second, and Andy turned out to be quite a comedian as his chatter between the songs was quite amusing and his well-timed delivery made the audience roar with laughter. This was one of the better shows that I have seen over the past couple of months and I really liked how diverse their audience was, gay, straight, young, old, and all races. It made me feel hopeful for the human race. Thank you Andy and Vince!



BOY GEORGE & CULTURE CLUB, THE B-52S, and TOM BAILEY (THE THOMPSON TWINS) - July 18, 2018
Filene Center At Wolf Trap - Vienna, VA




HONEY, TIRED ALL THE TIME, and THE SARA CURTIN FIVE - July 16, 2018
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC




TACITURN, BORN DAD, and THE MESSTHETICS - July 12, 2018
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC




ALLTHEBESTKIDS - July 11, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




COOL BABY, WE CAPILLARIES, and KING SOUL - July 9, 2018
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC






YSAYE MARIA BARNWELL, BE STEADWELL, and CAROLYN MALACHI - July 7, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




NO PLANS, VICTOR ARCHIE, and DON ZIENTARA - July 5, 2018
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC




A CAPITAL FOURTH CELEBRATION - JuLY 4, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




LOTION PRINCESS, TIME IS FIRE, and DES DEMONAS - July 2, 2018
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC




BEAUTY PILL - June 24, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




BOOMSCAT - June 14, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC




ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS and SHERYL CROW - June 12, 2018
Merriweather Post Pavilion - Columbia, MD





SHE WANTS REVENGE - May 26, 2018
Rock And Roll Hotel - Washington, DC




THE SKIP CASTRO BAND - May 19, 2018
Gypsy Sally's - Washington, DC




POWER TRIP, SHEER MAG, FURY, and RED DEATH - May 8, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



PINK - April 17, 2018
Capital One Arena - Washington, DC

Whitesnake's “Here I Go Again” intro “Get The Party Started” from her 2001 album “Missundaztood” “Get this party started on a Saturday night, everybody's waitin' for me to arrive, sendin' out the message to all of my friends, we'll be lookin' flashy in my Mercedes Benz, I got lotsa style, got my gold diamond rings, I can go for miles if you know what I mean...” “Beautiful Trauma” the title-track from her new album “Just Like A Pill” from her 2001 album “Missundaztood” “Who Knew” from her 2006 album “I'm Not Dead” “Revenge Land” video interlude “Revenge” from her new album “Beautiful Trauma” duet with Eminem “I'm daydreaming, let me count the ways, how I'll get you, or how I'll make you pay, babe, I'm hurting and now you'll feel the same, that's my plan, that's my plan, that's my plan, we could do revenge, revenge, revenge, revenge, together, together, together, we could take revenge...” “Funhouse” No Doubt's “Just A Girl” from her 2008 album “Funhouse” Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit” “Secrets” from “Beautiful Trauma” “Try” from her 2012 album “The Truth About Love” “Just Give Me A Reason” from her 2012 album “The Truth About Love” “Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough, just a second we're not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again, it's in the stars, it's been written in the scars on our hearts, we're not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again...” “I'm Not Dead” from her 2006 album “I'm Not Dead” “Just Like Fire” her 2016 contribution to the “Alice Through The Looking Glass” movie soundtrack “What About Us” from “Beautiful Trauma” “For Now” from “Beautiful Trauma” “Barbies” from “Beautiful Trauma” “I wish I could go back to playing Barbies in my room, they never say that you gotta grow up, quite this soon, how fast things change, and now I'm here, and all I wanna do, is go back to playing Barbies in my room...” “I Am Here” from “Beautiful Trauma” “Fuckin' Perfect” from her 2010 album “Greatest Hits...So Far!!!” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” from her 2012 album “The Truth About Love” “Raise Your Glass” from her 2010 album “Greatest Hits...So Far!!!” “So What” from her 2008 album “Funhouse” “So, so what, I'm still a rock star, I got my rock moves, and I don't need you, and guess what, I'm having more fun, and now that we're done, I'm gonna show you tonight, I'm alright, I'm just fine, and you're a tool, so, so what...” “Glitter In The Air” from her 2008 album “Funhouse”


DEAD MEN'S HOLLOW - March 29, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It seems that spring has finally got here on this lovely and pleasant day as I headed towards the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the next-to-last farewell performance of Dead Men's Hollow who have been playing alternative country music for the past seventeen years all over the DMV at various venues but they are going their separate ways in the next few weeks. The band featured guitarist Mike Clayberg who used to be one of my associates on the mid-eighties underground rock scene with his bands Malefice and Scythian who were pretty big on the circuit and recently I have been wondering about whatever happened to him and I was surprised to see that he had been in this country/bluegrass band for the past seventeen years, and I find it interesting that a lot of old punkers turn to country music later in life. At 6PM the band took the stage and they opened with a lively number called “Burn Your House Down” and it showcased their breathtaking vocal harmonies as the song chugged along at a jaunty pace as the various members took turns solo-ing on their respective instruments. Next the six of them played a song called “I'm Still Here” that was played like a traditional song about surviving life and thriving...”How about that...”...and Mike Clayberg played some real nice and intricate fretwork on his acoustic guitar and the upright bassist Jared Creason kept things moving with a little swing in the back-beat. Next they played a song called “Dead Men's Hollow” which told the little-known history of Rosslyn before the high-rises appeared and it was originally called Dead Men's Hollow when it was the bad side of town, and that went right into a cover of The Carter Family's “The Wabash Cannonball” which was the original country train song and guitarist Amy Nazarov, banjo player Belinda Hardesty, and Mike Clayberg provided the remarkable vocal harmonies as fiddle player Marcy Cochran accented the vocals so well as they soared over the bassist Jared Creason's calming groove and then they flowed into a pastoral “When I Stop Dreaming” by the Louvin Brothers pledging oneself to that special someone forever. Jared lead off the next song “Father I Haved Sinned” with a mournful bass solo as he plaintively sang about being forgiven by the Lord for all of his sins just like it was an old school country-gospel song, and the band kept things going at a nice pace with a song called “Shady Grove” and their intricate vocal harmonies were out-of-this-world and the song was very percussive even though there were no drums on the stage...absolutely amazing! Next they performed a song called “The Ballad Of The Four Chaplains” whom died saving people on the rapidly sinking WW Dorchester when it was bombed by the Germans on February 1943 during WWII, and the lyrics celebrated their heroic sacrifice and the song was beautiful and touching and driven by the melancholy mandolin of Caryn Fox and their wonderful harmonies. The fiddle player Marcy Cochran had her turn to shine on the bluesy “I'm Not Walkin' Along” and she sang her heart out as she gave the words feeling and then she played the most wonderful solo on her instrument as the bassist Jared propelled the song forward with a jaunty walking beat as guitar Mike played his best solo of the night with great zeal. Next the band played a morose song about the passage of time and the beat had a lilt to it that made one tap one's toes as Marcy and Caryn dueled with soaring riffs from their instruments that made the song feel alive with melody and melancholy. The next song was a phenomenal rendition of bluegrass legend Hazel Dickins' “Working Girl Blues” which she wrote in the seventies about workplace inequality and the song's sentiment still holds true which is really sad that things have not got much better for equality since then, and the band just chugged along like an old school country band with Belinda Hardesty's solid banjo playing leading the way as their voices blended together so beautifully as they moved into a really pop-ish version of Miley Cyrus' “Wrecking Ball” and they actually made it sound great with their warm vocals giving the song a new edge that made me forget Miley's version, and the fiddler Marcy lit it up with a groovy solo. The mandolin player Caryn took the lead on their next number “Hallelujah, You're Not Coming Home” which took potshots at being trapped in an unhappy marriage and then getting the last laugh, the lyrics were quite biting but very genuine and the song rocked. The band thanked everyone for coming to their show as they launched into an uptempo version of The Andrew Sisters' “Boogie Woogie Bulge Boy” and it was a real cool juxtaposition of swing and country that sounded real good together, and then they finished their fourteen-song set with a splendid version of “Shenandoah” that was a hyped-up jaunt through the pastoral beauty as each musician played their last solos of the night and it was glorious. The crowd went crazy with applause and cheering and the six members of Dead Men's Hollow stood in a line and sang a wonderful piece of a cappella that their voices rose in a soaring crescendo thanking everyone for all the years of support and love and to say goodbye. It is too bad that they are breaking up because I would love to see them again. Cheers guys and good luck.


JUDAS PRIEST, SAXON, and BLACK STAR RIDERS - March 18, 2018
Anthem - Washington, DC


“Warpigs”/”Guardians” intro “Firepower” “Running Wild” “Grinder” “Sinner” “The Ripper” “Bloodstone” “Lightning Strikes” “Saints In Hell” “Turbo Lover” “Angel” “Evil Never Dies” “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” “Breaking The Law” “Hellbent For Leather” “Painkiller” “The Hellion” outro “Electric Eye” “Metal Gods” “You've Got Another Thing Coming” “Living After Midnight”



THE HORSE LORDS - March 14, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

Once again I had to trek downtown on the metro to go to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see some new rock and roll at the Direct Current Festival with “avant-heavies” the Horse Lords from Baltimore who are a very nerdy quartet who play straight-up American rock and the band consisted of saxophonist/percussionist Andrew Bernstein, bassist Max Eilbacher, guitarist Owen Gardner, and Sam Haberman. Formed in 2011 and they took to the streets with their multi-genre sound-scape music and they have released three albums including their latest “Interventions” on Northern Spy Records, and their sound is an amalgamation of many genres and styles that give their sound such variety and intonations. At 6PM the Horse Lords took the stage and launched into their squonky riffs and disjointed that felt a little off as they plowed through their first song as the saxophonist Andrew Bernstein played on and on in a atonal haze with these extended wails that reminded me of eighties NYC No-Wave music. For the next number, Andrew led things off with a cowbell and Max's simplistic bass line that just seemed to repeat itself in an endless loop that seemed more fitting for a film soundtrack than a live performance. The music was very percussive with all kinds of rhythms popping in and out of the band's flow but the song seemed to be missing something like a consistent melody as they went through many tempo changes. I could hear African poly-rhythmic influences in Sam's drumming mixed with free jazz and other sub-genres in their playing as Owen played some very intricate riffs on his guitar as the flow of the music crescendo-ed into the coda. Andrew started the next song with another extended saxophone solo whose wail was full of feedback and noisy squonks and then the band kicked in with a more traditional mid-tempo groove that seemed to last forever as random notes drifted across stage ever so carefully as Owen played a long disjointed guitar solo that was a little short on melody but really dense. As usual, because they were an instrumental band, I became quite bored with them halfway through their set and I sat there wishing for more melody in their songs and some vocals, because most of the time their songs seemed to be almost over-intellectualized studies in all assorted types of percussion and grooves that really never seemed to go anywhere on their next couple of songs that were full of mindless noodling and punchy bass. They played a six-song set that basically went in one ear and out the other as the band pounded out the simple beat of their last song as Owen and Max played their most consistent groove of the evening but other than that they left me cold as they got a bit jazzy towards the end and I was glad when they finished their performance.


IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS - March 13, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a deceptively sunny day as I stepped into the outside world where winter's icy grip clung tenaciously to the area as I made my way out of my house and into the metro to go to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the free jazz collective called Irreversible Entanglements, and the band features the poet Camae Ayewa a.k.a. Moor Mother backed by alto saxophonist Keir Neuringer, bassist Luke Stewart, drummer Tcheser Holmes, and trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, so it should be an eye-opening experience that makes me feel like a sixties hipster in a dark and smoky off-the-beaten-path jazz club as I sat in the foyer and watched the band soundcheck with random jazz riffs flying everywhere over the pulsing rhythm section as they awaited the late arrival of Camae Ayewa. At 6PM the rep Alex from the Direct Current Festival told us about their purpose and goals about bringing new culture to the masses and with the mournful wail of Keir Neuringer's saxophone they began the show as his horn told the story of the search for freedom as Aquiles Navarro started his trumpet's staccato response as the two of them dueled away with layers of melody as the rest of the band joined them with a sparse and percussive rhythm section and they noodled on and on. Next Camae took the microphone and over the driving beat, she let her measured words flow as she raged, “I don't give a shit...”, as she expressed her anger and rage over the dark side of the American Black Experience. The band pulsed and oozed with some unusual percussion and some squelchy trumpet from Aquiles as Camae expounded on the “death culture” of today and Camae tried to convert her raw anger into righteous rage about the unfairness of life and death over the disjointed melody that the band played as the song slowly faded away. The next song “Upright Climbing” was about survival and self-worth and achieving something worthwhile as the inspirational words bounced along to the chaotic percussion and random and muscular horn runs with an odd symmetry that was pleasant to my ears. For their fourth number the band started with some scatter-shot drumming from Tcheser Holmes as he solo-ed for a few minutes with military precision and Camae let loose with some chastising words about violence towards women and children which seemed to be a topic that has plagued her words as she howled, “She was five and she knew how to play dead...”, and the music subtly pulsed and throbbed like an irregular heartbeat as the saxophonist Keir played all kinds of weird percussive instruments and then he picked up his saxophone and let out a wail that wound itself into my brain with its tweedy blasts that sounded like Coltrane on the nod with his unusual ways of fingering his horn. For their fifth number Camae poetically shouted, “Not only do we disappear...”, which was about the shame and trauma of slavery that has destroyed many people as God looked away from our disgrace and she raged about the rhythm of oppression as Keir's saxophone let out a mournful and elegiac wail as the drummer Tcheser pounded out a disjointed beat with the enveloping bass groove of Luke Stewart following him with an ear for filling the spaces between the horns' mellifluous notes as the band careened on through the dark groove that ended with a delicious trumpet solo from Aquiles that was a clarion call to stand up and fight oppression. For the last song of their six-song set, the band got all space-y and psychedelic as random riffs floated above us as Camae shouted to the heavens, “No one remembers...”, and the drummer Tcheser laid down a taut beat that propelled the song forward as the horn player Keir made all kinds of noises and sounds that accented her deep words as the song ended in a psychedelic deluge full of extended notes. The band took their bows to very appreciative applause and Camae Ayewa said goodnight and please get home safely. I thought tonight's show was quite inspirational and I liked how the band approached their political topics with poise and grace, and that really said something and with a nice groove.


PUNJABTRONIX - March 12, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



ABDU ALI - March 7, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was once again a chilly and overcast winter day as I begrudgingly readied myself to trek across town to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see up and coming Baltimore rapper Abdu Ali do his thing with some futuristic urban sounds and rhythms in a performance piece titled “Zip Into The Yellow Light” as part of the Direct Current Festival that celebrates all contemporary culture, and the DMV has been abuzz lately with a plethora of hip-hop performers from Oddissee to Logic to Fat Trel to Rico Nasty, and they are all worthy of your attention. So tonight we have Abdu Ali who is black, queer, and proud, plus he is the cultural figurehead of a radical underground scene with its roots in the angry DIY ethos of punk, the raw grittiness of hip-hop, and the gay sassiness of Baltimore club music that he delivers as a visceral punch in the face to the status quo. Abdu Ali and his three-piece band, drummer Joshua Stokes, keyboardist Amy Reid, and saxophonist Theljon Allen, hit the stage in a flurry of sound as they let loose with a house-y jazz groove that just swung and Abdu Ali started to sing/rap about something but his vocals were murky and hard to understand but the music was percussive and sort of in the be-bop jazz range that was all over the place with its clattery rhythms. Abdu Ali's voice became a little clearer in the mix as he cajoled the audience into awareness with his politically-charged lyrics as they worked their way into my ears. Next the band got a bit discordant on a song called “I Wanna Be Free” that seemed to be overpowered by drummer Joshua Stokes' relentless pounding that seem to go on for ever as I tried to discern the lyrics from the chaotic noise or “free jazz” as it is called these days, but it was just too much to bear...I like melody. The third number was actually interesting and full of these quirky little semi-melodies but the drummer was just too damn heavy footed and very distracting as the synth player Amy Reid squiggled away on her keyboard but she never went anywhere with it. Abdu Ali seemed to be more of a performance artist than a vocalist as he ranted about “the tears of a black woman...”, and his voice sounded a bit thin and reedy and also it was hard to understand but his lyrics seemed to be modern-day urban nursery rhymes when I could make them out. The saxophone player Theljon Allen had some skills as he made his horn wail and dance with Amy's piercing keyboard solos as the drummer relentlessly followed Abdu Ali's laptop's digital groove. For the fifth song the band drew upon their punk influences as Abdu Ali howled and Joshua pounded their way through the pre-recorded music on the laptop and the song had a Bad Brains feel to it, except that Earl Hudson is a way better drummer but I did like how they paced the song. On their sixth song they went into the dense rhythms of Baltimore club music as Abdu Ali seemed to sing about being “woken” and helping to change the world for the better and the beat went on and on as Amy re-joined the groove with some squonky melody fills and I just wished they had a bassist to fill the bottom with some swing. The singer got a little spiritual and uplifting about overcoming the various negative obstacles and living a honest and free life but the song just seemed a little lacking in melody and cohesiveness but I liked his message about not becoming someone that you do not want to be. For their final song, Abdu Ali dedicated it to the iconic Sun Ra and His Arkestra whom he opened for in 2016 and it was the most melodic song of their seven-song set and I vaguely enjoyed it as Abdu Ali raged and danced himself into a frenzy as he yelped, “I did that, I did that, I did that...”, and drummer Joshua Stokes finished the song with a burst of clamorous percussion that he just pounded out until the end of the song. The band left the stage to the applause of the crowd but they just left me slightly amused and mildly confused because I liked Abdu Ali's style but I think he should put more melody and song-craft into his music.



ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK and GGOOLLDD - March 6, 2018
The 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

It looked like an unwanted return to wintery weather as the sun went down behind a looming bank of gray clouds as my pal Scott and I headed out to ride the metro downtown to the illustrious 9:30 Club to see synth-pop legends Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark on their “The Punishment Of Luxury” tour along with openers GGOOLLDD from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who are supporting their new release called the “Teeth EP”. We arrived at the club and went upstairs to our reserved stools by the bar with a fantastic view of the stage and settled in for the evening and we sat and watched as a wide variety of people slowly filter in from the cold as we made sarcastic comments about them. Soon it was time for the opening band GGOOLLDD who formed in 2014 and they were a quintet who dressed in white as they played mid-tempo retro-eighties rock with a female singer who sounded like Garbage's Shirley Manson just a little bit too much but the drummer Mark Stewart had a nice sense of groove that propelled their music forward. However I found the guitarist Thomas Gilbert was a bit lacklustre but the synth player Nick Schubert did liven the music up a bit over the mundane playing of bassist Nick Zieman. The band seemed to have a lot of energy to their sound but they never went anywhere with it because all of their songs had a ring of familiarity to them that just left me befuddled and I found myself wishing it was Garbage on the stage instead. Their songs did have a nice sense of rhythm to them but but it sounded like they were missing some parts that would have made their songs really rock and the audience seemed kind of bored. I liked one song in particular called “Gold” from their 2015 release “Gold+” and it had a cool dual electronic/acoustic beats dynamic with some interesting and meaningful lyrics. They played a pleasant but forgettable eight-song set that reminded me of so many other bands with touches of My Bloody Valentine and Blondie in the mix, but they just did not seem that original and I was glad when they finished playing and the stage crew preceded to re-setting the stage for Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or as they are often known...OMD. I have loved OMD since the early eighties and their masterpiece album “Architecture And Morality” and they have not toured America for several years and this is the first gig of this tour in support of their brilliant new album “The Punishment Of Luxury”. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark took the stage to the strains of their intro music “Art Eats Art/La Mitrailleuse” from their recent album in the swirling lights as they opened with an elegaic “Ghost Star” from their 2017 album “The Punishment Of Luxury” that slowly built up the pulsing beat as vocalist Andy McCluskey languidly sang, “Across the sky and clear away, reaching out to hold you, echoes dead across the bay, I wish I could have told you, and sand it blows into my eyes, as love it tries to blind me, far beyond horizon's fall, the darkness yet to find me...”, and the groove flowed so elegantly over the deep and percolating percussion of drummer Stuart Kershaw as the band kicked into a futuristic-sounding “Isotype” also from their new album and the synth washes flowed over me with a lush precision and an icy edge but Andy's warm vocals made the song come alive. The audience livened up for the next number, a sprightly “Messages” from the band's 1980 self-titled debut and Andy picked up his bass and made it go boom as he followed the intricate rhythms and melodies that swirled out of Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper's synthesizers. The band pumped it up for a spectacular rendition of “Tesla Girls” from their 1984 album “Junk Culture” that got everyone dancing as Andy sang the song with such conviction and enthusiasm. They started next with an exhilarating “History Of Modern (Part 1)” from their 2010 album “History Of Modern” that got the entire audience dancing for joy, and to quote Andy, for a “boring love song” and the song's Kraftwerk-ian percussion was punctuated by these piercing synth lines as Andy led the crowd in singing, “Everything you say, everything you do, all the things you own, all the things you knew, everyone you love, everyone you hate, all will be erased and replaced, everything you take, everything you gave, all the things you've found, all the things you've made, everyone you lost and saved, nothing will remain, cradle or grave...”, and the percussion kept marching along with military precision as Andy crooned away about the mysteries of love and I must say the sound was impressive and was so clean. Next the band got a bit poppy on the upbeat “One More Time” from the “The Punishment Of Luxury” album and with a loping beat and a catchy chorus that made me flashback to the eighties and dancing away the night at Poseurs in Georgetown, then the four of them went into the touchy-feely rhythms of “(Forever) Live & Die” from their 1986 album “The Pacific Age” and it really rocked the audience as Andy crooned the lovely words with a passion as the crowd clapped along in unison with such joy as the song's melodies swirled and eddied into every corner of the room as the crowd broke into rapturous applause as they segued into a glorious “If You Leave” from the 1986 film soundtrack to “Pretty In Pink” that was just sensational. Andy said it was time for a few songs from their career-defining 1981 album “Architecture & Morality” and they kicked off with a lush “Souvenir” and the gentle groove was just so wonderful as Andy's bass bathed the song in a luscious thump as Paul Humphreys took over lead vocals and wailed away on the emotional words, “All I need is co-ordination, I can't imagine, my destination, my intention, ask my opinion, but no excuse, my feelings still remain, my feelings still remain...”, and then they segued into a glorious “Joan Of Arc” that had a galloping beat that just propelled the song into the funky rhythms of “Joan Of Arc (Maid Of Orleans)” that the band played with military precision with these epic crescendo-ing synth washes covering it in waves of dancing melody. The band moved into a warm and luxurious rendition of “Of All The Things We've Made” from their 1983 album “Dazzle Ships” that showed us why they have lasted so long because all their songs are so well-writtened that they have made a lasting impression on the modern musical landscape forever. The four musicians switched things up to their newer material and a disembodied synthetic voice gave us some instructions then the four of them stood in a line on the stage and performed a melancholic “What Have We Done” from their 2017 album “The Punishment Of Luxury” and the song was simply arranged as the melody swirled about as Andy almost chanted, “You could talk without speaking, cry without weeping, your secrets will never be told, leave your bonds left unbroken, words left unspoken, and dreams that can never unfold, what have we done...”, and Paul got all bombastic on the synth as their voices blended in perfect harmony and I really enjoyed it. The band let their melodious rhythm get a little loose with the Motown-ish beat of “So In Love” from their 1985 album “Crush” and its raucous beat got the crowd moving and then keyboardist Martin Cooper broke out in a succinct saxophone solo that just echoed in my ears as they moved into the uptempo Motown groove of “Locomotion” from their 1984 album “Junk Culture” and the band seemed to be having a lot of real fun and camaraderie as they rocked out on several small percussive instruments that gave the song a calypso feel that made me want to wildly skank and move. The band turned it out with a pulsing version of “The Punishment Of Luxury”, the title-track of their new album, and it was probably my favorite performance of the night and they did it with such classy verve as they sang, “So close your eyes, and shut your mouth, you make me want to scream and shout...”, and the audience went crazy as they morphed into the thunderous groove of “Sailing On The Seven Seas” from their greatly-overlooked 1991 album “Sugar Tax” and Paul played these cool little riffs full of melody as he worked the keyboards of his synths with great flourish. The four of them paused before they jumped in and from the first note of “Enola Gay” from their second 1980 album “Organisation” the crowd went absolutely crazy as the song's insidious little keyboard riff drilled its way into my head and it was just beautiful and the band played it for all it was worth. It was just wonderful as Andy crooned, “It's eight fifteen, and that's the time that it's always been, we got your message on the radio, conditions normal and you're coming home, Enola Gay, is mother proud of her little boy today, ah-ha this kiss you give, it's never ever going to fade away...”, and the song slowly faded away and the musicians took their bows and thanked us for being so supportive all these years and then they quickly left the stage as the audience erupted with cries for more. After a few minutes OMD returned to the stage and immediately burst into a heavenly “Dreaming” which was a 1988 single from their “The Best Of OMD” album and they cranked out the terse rhythm with ease as Andy bellowed the hopeful words as he did some weird hand-dancing as they moved into a tepid rendition of “Secret” from their 1985 album “Crush” and it was the low point of the gig for me. The band however was bathed in applause and adoration and they just loved it. Andy then said they were going to finish their twenty-song set with their oldest song and from the first note of “Electricity” from their 1980 self-titled debut, they were incandescent as Andy gloriously sang, “Our one source of energy, electricity, all we need to live today, a gift for man to throw away, the chance to change has nearly gone, the alternative is only one, the final source of energy, solar electricity, electricity, electricity...”, and Paul and Martin went crazy on their synths in a splendid burst of soaring solos as the song made you want to put on your dancing shoes until the song collapsed into a swirling mass of melody and rhythm as the band walked offstage and into the night as the crowd screamed themselves raw for their return but alas...the show was over. I was so very glad I made it to this show because it was one of the best shows I have ever been to this decade and I am glad that OMD has lasted all these years and still making great new music along with their classic hits. And oh yeah...a big shout out to my friend Larry and the 9:30 Club for my reserved seats with the ultra-fantastic view of the stage...thanks so much...and cheers OMD!


THE CARIBBEAN - March 4, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a lovely but chilly day as I left my house for the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see The Caribbean play their unique brand of multi-genre music that will make you think besides dance and move. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Michael Kentoff, guitarist/synth player Dave Jones, and drummer Matthew Byars, and they formed in 2000 as a sort of “Steely Dan on a shoestring” and they have not looked back as they play their very original music in the showcase for Hometown Sounds. At 6PM Tony and Paul took the stage and explained what Hometown Sounds did for the community besides their website and podcast, and then they brought The Caribbean to the stage and after a slow start, they proceeded with some guitar strumming with Michael Kentoff's rather insightful lyrics as the music meandered round and round ever so gently. Next the three of them got even slower as the groove seemed to softly breath in and out like one was asleep as the music swirled like a gentle summer breeze as drummer Matthew Byars kept the beat terse and controlled. The band punched up the tempo for their third song and it had these surrealistic lyrics about the ways of the world and how one should react as all kinds of snippets of music clashed in unison. They seemed to take a long time between songs but the fourth song “Traveling Light” was my favorite song of their set with its verbose lyrics about floating through life as Michael Kentoff sang it with slightly jaundiced eyes and I liked the guitar solo that he played ever so languidly as the notes seemed to just hang there in the air as the band into the next number that got a bit raucous for them as Michael made his whammy bar go crazy with the wah-wah effect. For the sixth number “I Haven't Give Up”, the band made the groove pulse and flow as his vocals danced across the melody and the words were quite insightful and had a nice flow as he repeatedly sang, “Dial 9-1-1...”, and Dave Jones added some intricate little riffs as the drummer Matthew Byars plodded on and on in time and with a pleasant tempo. Next they played a number called “All Of Us” that was about their circle of friends and how they eventually end up dead as Dave made these unearthly sounds on the synth until it abruptly ended on the down stroke. The next song Michael sais was based on a Graham Greene novel which would explain their grandiose lyrics about being a human being and the struggles that follow but I found their music a little bit staid and it seemed that they never changed tempos but they did have some interesting guitar licks and the drummer had a lovely laidback style that was slightly jazzy as guitarists Michael and Dave played a cool dual lead that was the high point of their set. They slowed things back down as they played a very winsome number about feeling secure in this world and how to deal with it gracefully as the guitars got a bit chime-y as the effected vocals told the hard-hitting story. The three of them really effected their vocals for the last number of their ten-song set but I was getting bored it seemed all their songs sounded the same but their songs had some nice and edgy guitar solos but they had no memorable hooks to draw me in and their stagecraft could use some improvement, but overall it was an enjoyable show.


IDA CAMPBELL AND HER BLUES NATION BAND - February 14, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



BACKBEAT UNDERGROUND - February 5, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a cold and windy winter afternoon as I bundled myself up and headed towards the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see to the latest installment of the Hometown Sounds concert series and tonight featured Backbeat Underground who are an octet who play a soulful blend of funk, soul, and jazz improvisation that just warmed my heart with its genuineness. At 6PM the guys from the Hometown Sounds podcast took the stage and told us about the organization and its aims and goals and most of all, their love of local music, and then they brought the band to the stage and leader/saxophonist Satya Thallum took the microphone and rambled on about the mechanics of music and then the band kicked into their first song of their set and Gerald Pierce's bass-playing was fantastic as the horns bounced like ships on the ocean in all their instrumental beauty as they grooved on with their subdued funk. They seamlessly flowed into their next song that was a guitar-driven tornado of notes and guitarist John Wedeles played some nice licks that seemed to wrap around my ears as the organist Brad Booth propelled him forward with his sassy melody runs. Next the band went down-tempo as the beat subtlely grooved as the various instruments swirled with snatches of melody while riding the bass. Satya Thallum brought guest rapper Flex Mathews to the stage so he could add some DC-centric lyrics to the song “I Be On The Green Line” and he had great flow as the beat rhythmically meandered like a pulsing snake as saxophonist Satya let loose with a lovely run on his instrument. The next song was very percussive with some James Brown-style licks from the guitarist John and the band was amazingly tight as the audience clapped along and the groove made me really miss James Brown a whole lot as organist Brad wound the song up with a majestic coda as John finished the song with a wicked solo on his axe. The next song “Less Means Better” had some go-go influences in the Reginold James' drumming as the others played a silky smooth groove that never seemed to go anywhere but the saxophone playing was sensational as the band morphed into another jazz-lite number that just lost me but the guitarist did keep it perky with these clipped and sharp riffs, and also on the next song where his playing reminded me a little bit of the late great Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic fame, however as usual I found a mostly instrumental band a bit boring because there are no vocals to keep my attention and it would add so much more to the music. And as if the band heard me, Satya brought guest vocalist Pamela “Swee' P” Lawrence back to the stage and the band kicked into the deceptively upbeat melody of “Made It Easy” and Swee' P crooned about the “other woman” and fighting for their man and she somehow sympathized with the “other woman”, and the band sounded like the Stax Records house band and with Gerald Pierce's walking bass groove they went into their next song as Satya tried to make everyone get up and dance and John Wedeles made his guitar rock in sync with Brad's lively organ. The band finished their twelve-song set with a frantic horn-driven number called “Scrambled Eggs” that seemed to propel itself as Satya brought Swee' P back to the stage and they got real funky as she wailed about men and their shady ways and the band made that groove swing as they played out the song as they took turns solo-ing and it was real cool...but as George Clinton proclaimed...”sounds like yer funk is on three...”..., but overall the band played a nice and engaging show and I liked some of their songs, so what more can I ask.


CHOPTEETH AFROFUNK BIG BAND - January 29, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC



SUPER! SILVER! HAZE! - January 18, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a dreary-ass winter day as I began my trek to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see this month's Hometown Sounds podcast hosted show with Super! Silver! Haze! whom featured Washington's own Brendan Canty from Fugazi on drums and Doug Kallmeyer from Verses Records on bass and keyboards along with Monica Stroik on video presentations, so this evening's show should be pretty interesting and psychedelic – a full-sensory experience. Brendan Canty has been on the Washington DC music scene for almost forty years now, including a stint in Dischord Records' iconic emo-rockers Fugazi plus many other bands throughout the years, however I do not know much about the other two members. The guys from Hometown Sounds intro-ed the show with their usual spiel and then Super! Silver! Haze! took the stage and opened with a bass-driven number that was sad and hopeful at the same time and Brendan laid down a slab of percussion that just rolled over everything as Doug Kallmeyer played some really melodic riffs on his bass that sounded like he was playing a guitar and it made the song soar over Monica Stroik's lovely video graphics that accented the song and gave it motion. The music was ambient jazz more than anything else but it was warm and gentle and seemed to take me on an aural journey. The second song was a little more propulsive and had a bit of swing from the drummer as Doug played these big open riffs that rode the beat like skin as the song pounded on and on but I wished they had some vocals or just said something but the music was good. They added hints of all kinds of music as they got real progressive rock-sounding on their third song that reminded me of King Crimson as they went into the dark groove of their fourth song as they chugged along so melodically while Monica's spectacular flowing images lit up the video screen behind them. The fifth song was their most “rock” song yet as Doug's bass melody ebbed and flowed over Brendan's succinct and taut percussion with a grand ease as the beat marched on non-stop and some of Doug's innovative bass solos reminded me of The Dixie Dregs as the song gently ended like how the day does with the setting sun and its fading light flayed so beautiful across the sky. I found their soundscapes to be quite beautiful and made me feel blissful among the bass' whimsical melody and Brendan Canty purposeful drumming that almost lulled me to sleep as the song meandered on and on almost like an Indian raga. I really enjoyed the Super! Silver! Haze! performance today, the music was tuneful and interesting even though there were no vocals, and Monica Stroik's large-scale projections were so immersive and cinematically vivid that they brought the music to life.


WES SWING - January 2, 2018
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC









Continue to read reviews