Mr. Jimijam



BUSH TETRAS and DES DEMONAS - November 23, 2019
City Winery - Washington, DC

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS - October 23, 2019
Black Cat - Washington, DC

It was a rather lovely and nice autumn day as I readied myself at home for tonight's show with Belfast, Ireland's own Stiff Little Fingers on their “40 Years Of Inflammable Material Tour” and whom I absolutely adore and the bands opening for them are the legendary seventies LA punk rockers The Avengers and local wunderkinds The Split Seconds and so tonight's show should be fantastic. I finally headed uptown to the Black Cat and I arrived to be first in line and entered the club with my ticket and calmly went upstairs and sat down at my usual spot at the bar and waited for tonight's festivities to begin as I watched the various types of people make their way into the club and I ordered a Stella Artois for my enjoyment and I preceded to get comfortable for the evening because I am old and standing on my feet sucks so I got there early to sit on a stool so I would not eventually fall over from the pain...getting old sucks. First up tonight was DC's very own THE SPLIT SECONDS and they play crisp and sharp punk songs that decry the madness of the modern world, and they even won two Washington Area Music Awards (WAMA) last year for Best DC Punk Band and Best DC Punk Album for their last release “Counterfeit Reality” that they issued on Altercation Records. The four of them, vocalist/guitarist Drew Champion, guitarist Alex Massi, drummer Sean Peterson, and new-ish bassist Derek Evry, hit the stage and launched right into their opening number and they rocked their way through it with flashes of genius as they grinded their way through the song. Their songs were short and crisp and well-written and they just made me want to pogo like crazy like I was in my twenties. The band played a cool melange of harder grooves that showed more maturity and skillfully tight rhythms, but they need to interact with the crowd as their “pop edge” came out in their songs and they even played a tune with a ska-edge to it. The band played an eleven-song set that attacked the audience with a raw rage that just made one dance to their ferocious groove that was excellent and the crowd cheered loudly for them as they left the stage. The crew set to work on and got the stage ready for The Avengers on their “Finally Tour 2019”. Famed vocalist Penelope Houston and her band, long-time drummer Luis Illades, hard-as-nails bassist Joel Reader, and hot-shot guitarist Greg Ingraham, hit the stage with a rather raucous version of “Cheap Tragedies” from their 2003 live album “Zero Hour” and it had her singing the bittersweet words with a rude punk rock sneer on her face, “I see you face and I've memorized it, I see your life, I recognize all your petty jealousies, your hidden tragedies, your bitter memories, they'll be the death of you yet, oh...”, and they grinded their way through their set; a dark and punchy “Thin White Line” from their 1983 album “Avengers” and a dance-y “Teenage Rebel” from their 1999 album “Died For Your Sins”, and they followed that with a fantastic version of “Corpus Christi” from their 1979 EP “The Avengers” that had everybody loudly singing along, “See how they run, sheep to the fold, see how they fall, corpse from the cross, read another bible story, I've got to find the truth, sending loads of telegrams to God, prove my faith is absolute, I'm going down, down on my knees and pray...”, and everyone seemed to be in punk rock heaven tonight. The band was tight and they were “looking for 'teenagers' to lead in dancing” as they plowed through their set with ease as they went into a spastic “Uh-Oh” also from their 1979 EP and then they rocketed their way through a fantastic version of “Desperation” with just the right edge of ...well...'desperation' and they performed an surprisingly uplifting song called “We Are The One” and both were from their 1983 album “Avengers” and they still stand the test of time. In what was my favorite song of theirs that they played tonight was a relentlessly driven version of “The End Of The World” from their 1999 album “Died For Your Sins”, and the band was furiously rocking as Penelope wailed, “And you all hold your breath, as you watch the last sun set, and your dreams will finally come, at the end, the end of the world, and we all hold our breath, as we're standing at the edge, and our dreams will finally come, at the end, the end of the world...”, and the song really rocked me as it got me thinking about the world's future as the band kicked into high gear as they roared though a scorching hot “Second To None”, next a very fast-paced “Open Your Eyes”, and finally a spastic and disjointed “Car Crash”, and they all came from their 1983 album “Avengers” which brought a smile to my face, but it was a little stagnant and I got kind of bored with them after awhile but the band did a good job, especially during their raucous cover of The Rolling Stones' classic stomper “Paint It Black” from their 1983 album and I really really enjoyed their take of the classic number. I also really enjoyed their last song “The American In Me” from their 1979 EP “The Avengers” and the band just raged on the number with a full fury that seemed to singe my skin as Penelope Houston yelped out, “It's the American in me that makes me watch the blood, running out of the bullethole in his head, it's the American in me that makes me watch TV, see on the news, listen what the man said, he said...”. Bravo to Penelope and The Avengers as they took their bows and then the band quickly left the stage and then they ended up at the merch table near me in the back of the club where they interacted with their rather eager was really cool. The lights dimmed and Ireland's STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, comprising of fiery vocalist/guitarist Jake Burns, bassist Ali McMordie, guitarist Iain McCallum, and drummer Steve Grantley, and they took to the stage and immediately launched into a raucous version of “Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae” from their 1981 album “Go For It” that they delivered with a sneer as Jake Burns raged, “C'mon you roots, you radicals, you rock to the reggae, you roots, you radicals, you dub to the reggae, you roots, you radicals, you skank to the reggae, you roots, come on now...”, and the band made that groove skank ever so tightly as they got the crowd jumping to the beat as Ali McMordie made that bass thump ferociously much to my joy as the band went right into an ardent “Nobody's Hero”, the title-track from their 1980 album, and the song reminded me of an old song from the fifties as they gave it a nice bounce as they stomped their way through it. The band went non-stop into a bright and buoyant “Just Fade Away”, also from their 1981 album, and it had everyone dancing like drunken maniacs. Jake Burns paused the proceedings and told us a whole bunch of pertinent political information and then he dedicated the next song “Strummerville” from their 2003 album “Guitar & Drum” to the memory of The Clash's Joe Strummer and they roared through the song with a poignant joy that uplifted me. Next the band went a little bit wild with a thumping rendition of “At The Edge” from their album “Nobody's Hero” and Jake led the crowd singing, “Back when I was younger they were, talking to me, never listened to a word I said, always yap yap yapping and complaining to me, made me think I'd be better off dead. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to hear no lip, take your share don't shout about it...”, and once again Ali really showed out on his bass with some brilliant playing that made me bounce along to the catchy beat. The band paused and Jake said he suffered from depression for many years but he talked to a doctor and got some professional help and then he wrote the stunning “My Dark Places” from their 2014 album “Not Going Back” and it was uplifting and made me feel better as he sang the insightful lyrics and he seemed so much better for it. Then with a scorching guitar riff leading the charge, the band kicked into a solid “Safe As Houses” from the “Go For It” album and they made it swing with a little reggae edge and it was a beauty of a song that swirled around us, and next they got real political with a throbbing “16 Shots” which was their newest song from this year and the band made it rock with a passion that you could feel deep in your very soul as Jake wailed the angry words. They all paused and Jake pontificated about release of their classic 1979 album “Inflammable” and its cultural and political effects on western society and especially on him and his friends, and they kept the pace up with a raucously driving and upbeat version of “Suspect Device” which was their biggest song and they made it explode as the band roared through song like angry demons and Jake made you feel the words, “We're a suspect device if we do what we are told, but a suspect device can score an own goal, I'm a suspect device the Army can't defuse, you're a suspect device they know they can't refuse, we're gonna blow up in their face...”. Bassist Ali McMordie kicked off the next song “State Of Emergency” with a thumping bass-line that drummer Steve Grantley followed with a thumping groove that propelled the band into a throbbing “Here We Are Nowhere” and it featured some scorching guitar riffs that morphed into an electrified version of “Wasted Life” and it had the crowd going with excitement as they brought the next song “No More Of That” to life as Jake howled, “Oh, we want no more of that, you can't push us under the mat, oh we want no more of that...”. Next the band got wild and loose on a shard of music and then without even taking a breath they went right into a slamming “Barbed Wire Love” that he said it was their only love song and he made it a tour-de-force as the band turned it out and made it stomp all over you and made it rock. Then they performed an exquisite “White Noise” which was their 'big song' about the fighting racism and then they went into a jaunty “Breakout” and it made me want to dance like a madman as Jake spat the words with all his heart. The band kept the beat rocking with a groovy “Law And Order” that leading the crowd in singing at the top of their lungs, “I'm not trying to say we're always right, no-one's saying that it's black and white, all I'm saying is we don't agree, I don't think like you don't think like me, I hope you never do...”, and Jake spoke some more on urgent political matters and then the band launched into an electric “Rough Trade” and the crowd was moshing like crazy. They surprised us with their lovely version of “Johnny Was” which was Bob Marley & The Wailers 1976 song by released on this album and one could not recognized it as they twisted and turned its way inside out like an extended mix as the grinding riff careened through it with such eager enthusiasm, and I really liked their version of the song which had a old-school kind of “dubby” sound as Jake began scatting words of wisdom like he was an old Rasta. The band finished with a raucous skanking version of their most famous song from that era, “Alternative Ulster”, and it had the entire crowd going mad as the slashing guitars filled the room as Jake crooned, “An Alternative Ulster, grab it and change it, it's yours, Get an Alternative Ulster, ignore the bores and their laws, get an Alternative Ulster, be an anti-security force, alter your native Ulster, alter your native land...”, and the audience just screamed and applauded with sheer delight as the band finished performing their entire 1979 album “Inflammable” and they quickly left the stage. The crowd just got louder and louder as they cheered and stomped for them to return to the stage, and then they just did that. Jake Burns wished us a wonderful night as he stepped to the microphone and he thanked us for coming to the show and then he introduced the very political song “Tin Soldiers” from their 1980 album “Nobody's Hero” and they plowed through the song like a runaway tank gone amok and then they finished their set with a full-speed ahead version of “Gotta Gettaway” also from “Nobody's Hero”, and everyone joined Jake and the band in singing the words, “They wanna have me here, have me and hold me near, hold me down fasten and tie, but the cars are all flashing me, bright lights are passing me, I feel life passing me by...”. It was a fantastic ending to rather wonderful night and I slipped out of the club as fast as possible and thinking it was a great night. Cheers!

J. PERIOD and MAIMOUNA YOUSSEF and THE ARCHIVES - September 14, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

Kennedy Center The REACH Stage - Washington, DC

KING CRIMSON - September 12, 2019
The Warner Theatre - Washington, DC

It was just another long and hot day in the city as I quietly awaited for tonight's arrival of King Crimson on their 50th Anniversary Celebration tour at Washington DC's historic Warner Theatre and tonight the band are playing for us for one last time. Then later after I arrived at the venue and found my lovely seat, it became time for KING CRIMSON to take that the stage and let their beautiful music flow with; founder/guitarist Robert Fripp, bassist Tony Levin, saxophonist Mel Collins, vocalist/guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, and their awesome percussion section consisting of drummers Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison, and Bill Rieflin, who started off the night with a cacophonous deluge of percussion in the opening live drums piece called “Drumsons” and the wonderful swirls of rhythm and groove that crashed everywhere as the band slowly segued into the dark “Cirkus” from their third-released 1970 album “Lizard” and Jakko groaned the menacing words so skillfully, “Elephants forgot, force-fed on stale chalk, ate the floors of their cages, strongmen lose their hair, paybox collapsed and, lions sharpened their teeth, gloves raced round the ring, stallions stampeded, pandemonium seesaw..., I ran for the door, ringmasters shouted, all the fun of the Cirkus...”, and the audience answered with completely rapturous applause that seemed to light the place up as the band added layers and layers of music to the mix that I got lost in the soaring sounds and frenetic rhythms. Next they started into the light and jazzy beat of “Neurotica” from their 1982 album “Beat” and the band gave the song a bombastic and sweeping feel to it as the band slowly morphed into the dark-edged “Suitable Grounds For The Blues” from their 2016 compilation album “Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)” and it was almost funky as the three drummers drove the song with layers of percussion and the guitarists, Robert Fripp and Jakko Jakszyk, accented the groove with these great sweeping guitar riffs that filled the theatre and I was amazed by their performance. The band revved itself up and launched into the swirling and crunchy title-track “Red” from their 1974 album and it was full of killer guitar playing that blew my mind as Tony Levin began playing this fat bass sound that just engulfed me in its groove that flattened everyone in musical ecstasy that was mind-blowing in every way. One of the highlights of the wonderful show was a jaw-droppingly beautiful rendition of “Moonchild” that included a bit of the song “Cadenzas” in it from their 1969 album “The Court Of The Crimson King” and the band played a light and airy version that just seemed to float so casually on the air as Jakko softly crooned, “She's a moonchild, gathering the flowers in a garden, lovely moonchild, drifting on the echoes of the hours, sailing on the wind, in a milk white gown, dropping circle stones on a sun dial, playing hide and seek, with the ghosts of dawn, waiting for a smile from a sun child...”, and the song actually made me smile as Tony Levin made his bass just stomp right over everyone as the song came alive with music. Next their rendition of “Cat Food” from their first 1970 album “In The Wake Of Poseidon” really caught my attention with its odd time signature that drove the music and then saxophonist Mel Collins put the icing on the cake with an out-of-this-world solo that blew my mind and had me thinking what a great song it was. The band kicked into a wonderful version of “Drumzilla” that was a fantastic percussion breakdown on the part of the three drummers as they traded runs and para-diddles with such adept skill, and then they flowed into an electric “Frame By Frame” from their 1981 album “Discipline” that flowed in a rhythmically funky way that made the beat jump in an almost jazzy way and it made me want to groove like I was on was incredible! The band kicked into the groovy beat of “EleKtriK” from their 2003 album “The Power To Believe” and it was light and sprightly as Robert Fripp made his guitar make these soaring leads that tantalized my ears as the song really rocked me to the core as it segued into a bombastic rendition of “Epitaph” also from “The Court Of The Crimson King” and the band turned it out as vocalist Jakko screamed the dark words, “The wall on which the prophets wrote, is cracking at the seams, upon the instruments of death, the sunlight brightly gleams, when every man is torn apart, with nightmares and with dreams, no on will lay the laurel wreath, when silence drowns the screams...”, overall the song was very soulful and made me a little bit sad as the band punched its way through the song and then Robert Fripp said that the band was going on an intermission and they will be back in a few minutes as the seven musicians walked into the backstage area as the house lights came up and I rushed to the restroom and came back and sat down in my seat and waited for KING CRIMSON to start up again. First the three drummers returned to the stage and immediately set to pounding on their equipment with the multitudes of intricate percussion of “Drumsons” which once again was the opening live drums piece and it had the place jumping from the get-go and the band segued with a great and pounding bass line from Tony as lead the charge as it seemed that he was getting to be almost funky like Bootsy but in a nice and jazzy kind of way as they surged into a spectacular version of “Lizard”, the title-track from their third-released album at the end of 1970, Robert Fripp began making all kinds of noises and layers and layers of sounds on his guitar as the music swirled about the theatre and Jakko garglily intoned, “Burnt with dream and taut with fear, dawn's misty shawl upon them, three hills apart great armies stir, spit oat and curse as day breaks, forming lines of horse and steel, by even yards march forward...”, as the rest of the band pushed the flowing rhythm around and around to the crowd's joy. Robert Fripp told everyone that the next song “Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part IV)” from their 2000 album “The ConstrucKction Of Light” was one of his favorites and then he turned it into a guitar spectacular with him executing some lightning fast tricky movements on his axe that just blew my mind with the speed and dexterity of his fingers on the fretboard to create such tuneful melodies. The seven musicians moved on to the title-track from their 1971 album “Island” and it was moody and slow and it was highlighted by a wonderful saxophone solo from Mel that led the way for a series of solos from the band that were amazing to witness. Then the band rushed into the plodding beat of “Easy Money” from their 1973 album “Larks' Tongues In Aspic” and it was a wonderful version that took me places in my mind as Robert made his guitar scream and howl with a passion that shook me to my very soul. They continued with the title-track from their 2000 album “The ConstruKction Of Light” and it was full of elastic and bouncy percussion as Robert led the band with his light-fingered guitar-playing and Jakko cried the words, “Pain day sky beauty black die joy, love empty time sun hurt trust peace, dark rage sad white rain hate anger, hope sacred passion life night ache soft, Light...”, and one could really feel his pain as it oozed out of the speakers. They continued with a dynamic “Starless” from their 1974 album “Red” and it was light and airy as Jakko so deftly sang the rather lovely lyrics as the band became slow and languid as the drummers followed with some cool and succinct percussion until Robert took off with some searing guitar riffs in a solo that played the song out into space until they segued into a rather dense “Indiscipline” which was an instrumental from their 1981 album “Discipline” and it was full of intricate notes and grooves as the band went mental on it. The band paused and Robert thanked everyone for coming to the show and supporting them all the years and he began strumming his guitar until the riffs got crunchier and crunchier and the band just boomed and the crowd just rocked for all it was worth to a fantastic “The Court Of The Crimson King” which was the bombastic title-track from their legendary 1969 debut album and Jakko whispered, “The choir softly sing, three lullabies in an ancient tongue, for the court of the crimson king...”, and I felt so exhilarated from their performance. The band closed their magnificent show with a brilliant rendition of “21st Century Schizoid Man” also from “The Court Of The Crimson King” and the three percussionists had the song swinging as they soared together so gracefully as they pounded out the intro and the guitarists began wildly playing these intertwining crunchy leads and booming hooks as vocalist Jakko Jakszyk lustily wailed, “Blood rack barbed wire, politicians' funeral pyre, innocents raped with napalm fire, twenty first century schizoid man, death seed blind man's greed, poets' starving children bleed, nothing he's got he really needs, twenty first century schizoid man...”, and finally horn player Mel Collins played the most lovely flute solo that I have ever heard and it made the performance absolutely sensational to my ears as the band ended the show. The whole band came to the front of the stage and took their bows to some of the most rapturous applause that I have heard in a while, and the audience just loved them as they screamed for more music from King Crimson. Bravo! I must say it was a phenomenal show that was incredibly pleasing to my ears, and one of the best shows of the year.

OH HE DEAD - August 28, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a dreary and rainy afternoon as I headed towards the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on the metro to see one of the District's more popular bands, the sensational OH HE DEAD, and they are a quintet who play a hybrid brand of independent soul music that just makes you want to wildly dance and twirl. At 6PM exactly, OH HE DEAD took the stage with dueling guitar leads and vocalist Cynthia “C.J.” Johnson 's raspy voice that rose with the chiming leads of Andrew Valenti and newest member Alex Salser over the rather succinct drumming of Adam Ashforth accented by the rock-steady bass-playing of John Daise. Alex made his guitar howl as the band moved into their next song and Cynthia reminded me of Macy Gray without the crack cocaine habit as she joyously sang “Show Me Love” with a groovy soul edge that had her notes crescendo-ing everywhere. Next they went into a well-constructed song that was full of densely packed notes and grooves as she cried out “Baby” as the melody of the song went round and round and carried me away like a classic sixties soul singer as the band slid into a fantastic version of Seals & Croft's “Summer Breeze” and they did it so marvelously with some grinding guitars that gave the song a hard edge. Andrew Valenti and Cynthia Johnson duetted on the next song “Never Wanted” and their voices rose in harmony at a clipped pace that was quite danceable and the band paused and Andrew told us the funny story about where the band's name originated from as he grabbed his guitar and strummed the intro to the introspective song “Did You Ever Wonder” and it showed that they were in sync and very soulful. The next song started off with a very intricate riff from Andrew that intertwined so beautifully as she wailed the song called “Hit Me Down Easily” as the band played a melody that flowed by ever so gently and touched my soul with its prescient words as the new guitarist Alex Salser made his instrument howl over the underlying bass groove and then he played a soul-searching guitar solo that really touched me as they churned out this terse rendition of “Makin' Love” and it really got me. They rocked out on a soulful “Don't You Miss Me” that had Cynthia wailing away as the audience clapped along with her and the band made that groove bounce as they slowly moved into one of their oldest songs called “Big River” that showed they have real soul as it grooved along with them as they made that beat sound so lively. They surprised me with a Eric Clapton song “Oh Love” that they played so beautifully and it was way better than EC ever did and the guitarist Alex was way excellent as his fingers burned up the was amazing! Next they played the first single called “Lonely Sometimes” from their forthcoming album in November and the song was just beautiful and jumped out into the audience with pizazz and it was quite a treat for my ears and I really liked the punchy groove that they played with such zeal. The next song “Don't Wait Up On Me” had a nice groove to it that made one dance with such feeling as guitarist Alex made his guitar howl as the rhythm section, bassist John Daise and drummer Adam Ashforth, thumped out the mellifluous as Cynthia cried out the lyrics with such soul and feeling. They came to their last song of their set and it had the beat swinging with a nice jazz edge to it as they blew their way through Amy Winehouse's “Valerie” and the band had the beat swinging as they made the song their own and I must add that they did it beautifully as they made it their own. It was quite a stunning rendition as they finished it and wished us a wonderful night as they left the stage. I was just thinking that it was just a beautiful experience and I just loved Cynthia's voice!

ANITA AYSOLA - August 27, 2019
The Warner Theatre - Washington, DC

It was an overcast day with a feeling of eminent rain in the air as I made my way to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the sultry vocal stylings of Atlanta-based pianist Anita Aysola whom fuses jazz and blues with classic rock'n'roll and Indian music in the most entertaining way that made you rock with such sheer delight. At 6PM on the dot, Anita Aysola and her band took the stage and they immediately launched into the gentle rhythms of their first number called “Legend In My Mind” and the music danced with the soothing rhythms that made the song groove with such grace that I wanted to dance. Next she introduced the meaningful song called “Tourist In Every Town” and she sang about being an immigrant and what it meant to her and how one dealt with it and she said everyone is the same but different in this world because we are all immigrants. She led her band in a glorious “Better Than Us” that was a very traditional soul song as she led the band though it as the band made the song soar with a flurry of notes that made the song rock so solidly. They played a wonderful rendition of Seal's smash hit “Crazy” that she livened up with some Indian ragas and the song was wonderful as she gave the song a new life that was exquisite to hear as she gave it a personal touch that was marvelous as her fingers flew across the piano keys and Khari Simmons added a wonderful bass solo that shook my world as Justin Chesarek drummed a nice coda that was accented by Ari Kohn's precise percussion as the band went back into the number. Next they played the lovely “Long Way Home” that was steeped in classical Indian music that just soared with these delightful glisses as the song danced with the lovely melodies that gently danced with the beat as it gently floated away over Nishja's very skillful violin was so nice. One of my favorite songs of their set was called “Firefly” and the instrumentation reminded me of fireflies as the notes flew everywhere ever so gently as it moved forward. Anita brought three female singers to the stage to help her perform her new song called “Heartbeat” which was her contribution to women's freedom to have an abortion when necessary and their voices rose together in perfect harmony as they sang about protecting their rights and they sounded great. The next song was called “Rumpelstiltskin” and Anita wrote it with her husband Dhanu Meleth and it was about the current immigration problem and what to do about it as her piano notes drilled into my head as she wailed the important lyrics. The last number of their nine-song set was called “Beyond Our Dreams” which comes from her new album and it is about achieving your dreams with your children and it had a nice pop flow to it as she sang her heart out as she twinkled away on the piano in an very intelligent way because I could really hear her on the radio. It was an exquisite performance full of heart and soul and intelligent socio-political lyrics that had something real to say and I really enjoyed the show.

ELECTRIC HOT TUNA and DAVE MASON - August 25, 2019
The Warner Theatre - Washington, DC

Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

IMANI WJ WRIGHT and SWANODOWN - August 24, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

I meandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on the metro to see classical soul singer Imani WJ Wright with Swanodown give us their display of uplifting song-stylings with a classical music edge that highlighted the deep soul of their music that reached right into you. At 6PM exactly, Imani WJ Wright and his five-piece band took the stage as an intro video played on the screen an explanation of them and the guitarist started playing a driving groove and then Imani joined in with the rest of the band as he soulfully sang the very prescient words of the song called “Oh Boy” which was about surviving in the world of today and they kept the beat swinging as they went into the next number, a sprightly “I Took Her To The Beach”, that was with a bass-y guitar intro that was tuneful as Imani almost whispered the sentimental words as the song swayed with a simple R&B groove as the guitarist accented it with some joyful notes and riffs. Next they went into the soulful musical soothings of the next song and he sang his heart out and he had me floating on a cloud ever so gently as the music charged along ever so fantastically to the beat as the trombonist accented the song just right as the band went into a solid “Let You Go My Friend” and Imani sat down at the piano and began twinkling away as he crooned, “This thing is doing nothing...”, and he sang it like an old-school song that was full of emotions and feelings as his voice dripped with warmth and empathy as he forcefully played the notes on the piano, and then he went into the next number and the guitarist lit things up with his memorable hook that grinded on and it was beautiful and then the trombone player made you feel it as the notes slid out of his instrument as he dueled with the guitarist in a song titled “She Lay”. Next Imani emoted about “the things that the Africans did” and it seemed to be the high point of their set as they sang over the terse guitar line as one of the female singers wailed away with her voice so exquisitely. The guitarist skillfully strummed an acoustic guitar on the next song as Imani wailed for a lost love and what he did wrong and just how sorry he was for everything and the song was quite beautiful and carried a lot of meaning and I found his voice very plaintive and touching to hear. Next he went into the heavy words of the next song “Sometimes” with the sad line, “Sometimes, come on baby, watch me walk home...”, and the trombonist lit the number up with the most interesting solo that somehow took the song to the next level. Overall, it was a fantastic show that took the edge off the summer and it seemed to be cooler as Imani sang his songs and I was quite touched by his music and his soulfulness. It was quite beautiful! What a voice!

Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

MK ZULU - August 21, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

KW BIG BAND - August 20, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

THE GLISSANDOS - August 19, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

BLAC RABBIT - August 17, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DCIt was yet another hot and humid overcast Saturday afternoon as I wandered on my way downtown and I must say that it was in the scorching heat as I reached the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to catch the Beatles-loving band BLAC RABBIT from Brooklyn, NY, play for us their vision of modern rock with a healthy dose of very rational socio-political viewpoints and excellent vocal harmonies and as per usual, I arrived early to catch the band sound-checking their way through their rather upbeat and personable music. At 6PM on the dot, the four members of Blac Rabbit hit the stage with a quiet fury as they launched into their opening number with intertwining guitar lines from twin brothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor rushing over Josh Lugo's punchy bass line as they plunged through the song behind Patrick Jones' precise and tight drumming and they went right into a Beatles-esque song that was layered and densely-packed and it made me want to dance. They began the densely swirling psychedelic song called “Mind Space” that was heavily Beatles-influenced as the beat slowly melted into the audience as I heard bits and pieces of iconic Beatles songs in the mix as the twins traded guitar licks and made the beat swing like it was 1967's Summer Of Love and you could almost smell the patchouli incense in the air. Next they went into the ragged rhythms of “Just A Thought (Now It's Easy)” that eddied around them like pouring rain as the guitarist Amiri Taylor moaned the lysergic lyrics as they flowed into the soaring riffs of “Never Been Before” that had a melancholic feel to the song as Amiri sang it so wistfully. They got really Beatles-esque with a song called “Once You Seize The Day” and it reminded me of the vibe of The Beatles' “White Album” and the song had me just “movin' and groovin'” to the funky groove that they were laying down so intently along with its great insightful lyrics. Next the band went into the modern edge of “Don't You Forget About Me” with its dueling and languid guitar lines that made it my favorite performance of the evening and I just loved the extended notes that guitarist Rahiem Taylor played with such ease and grace. The four of them debuted a brand-new song called “Mirrors” that had a very modern feel to it as the band chugged along with the guitars a'wailin' and it was a great song, and then they got a bit heavy with a number called “All Good Now” that had Beatles influences dripping at the edge and the guitarist Amiri Taylor showed us some spectacular fretwork that caught my attention and had me thinking...damn...and I have seen a million guitar players from around the world in my time and the band flowed with a guitar-heavy segment that I really liked. They moved into a wistful “Each Day” that Rahiem Taylor sang with hope in his heart over the swirling groove of the rhythm section. Blac Rabbit went into the very melodic song that seemed to flutter away and then Amiri Taylor switched up his guitars and the band went into a lovely version of The Beatles' “Day Tripper” which made me think of the Bad Brains who also covered the song but their versions were worlds apart but then they blew up the Beatles' “Helter Skelter” so spectacularly and they tore it up as they emoted with a fury as they ended their thirteen-song set with an explosion of noise and melody and Amiri Taylor screamed, “I got blisters on my fingers...”, which he did in tribute to the Beatles and their “White Album” and I was amazed by their rocking performance and I would not mind seeing them again soon. Cheers guys!

NORA JANE STRUTHERS - August 14, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another hot and humid afternoon as I headed to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see Meg Okura and The Pan-Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble from NYC bring her orchestral jazz to the stage to deliver her spiritual uplifting music to the audience. The Tokyo native Meg Okura founded the band in 2006 and they have performed all over the world and her fourth and latest album “IMA IMA” made several music critics lists as one of the best jazz albums of 2018. In the past she has played with instrumentalist Michael Brecker, singer Diane Reeves, and the late great David Bowie to much critical acclaim. At 6PM as usual, Meg Okura and her ten-piece ensemble took the stage in a swirl of melodies that filled the room as the drummer Paul Wells tapped away on his kit as the multitude of instruments sang out their lines especially guitarist Eric Burns who played in a jazzy metal kind of way and his playing was so spectacular as he jammed with Meg Okura on her violin so majestically. It was her first concert in twenty years at the Kennedy Center and with a flurry of bird noises and the band kicked into their second number as they gently began in an almost European kind of way as the notes glided all over the crowd as they gloriously spun around and around over the solid groove of drummer Paul Wells. I kept hearing touches of Miles Davis in their song structures as the band elegantly grooved along with full concentration and fantastic skill. Meg Okura dedicated the song “Black Rain” to her ancestors and it was about the horror of America exploding nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war in 1945 with its destruction capability and very palpable hate, and Meg Okura played a traditional Japanese instrument and her harpist Riza Printup provided a rock-steady beat behind her as the other instruments added such musicality to the song and then Meg Okura played a violin solo with a marvelous arching of her bow on her instrument that I was truly amazed by her performance. Next the band performed in unison as they slowly swirled through a futuristic “Jupiteroosh” and the band played skillfully off each other as the languid groove slowly moved through them as guitarist Eric Burns made his axe slowly grind through the beat as Meg Okura made her violin sound so bluegrass and classical at the same time with a touch of fusion as the pianist went off on a tangent and Meg Okura finished up on the song with some grandiose sweeps of the bow on her instrument that were just beautiful. The band finished their six-song set with a majestic number with a touch of funk as bassist Evan Gregor and flautist Anne Drummond jammed with each other as the horn players played off each other so skillfully and light-hearted in a way that was exquisite until the drummer Paul Wells took a little solo break until Meg Okura tore it up with her violin that was just spectacular as the harpist Riza Printup played a lovely groove as the musicians squeezed out a last bit of vocals that brought their performance to an end. The show was absolutely sensational and the music really touched me with its simple but complicated feel that warmed my heart as I headed home on this warm summer night.

KISS - August 11, 2019
Jiffy Lube Live - Bristow, VA

AEROSMITH - August 10, 2019
The Theatre at MGM National Harbor - Oxen Hill, MD

Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a bit of a rainy afternoon as I wandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see Lakota John Locklear & Kin play their post-modern take on some old-style Piedmont blues from southeastern North Carolina with all the modern trappings of today's music and I arrived early and I caught them playing a lovely soundcheck that gave a new edge to something old and traditional and they sounded wonderful as they readied themselves for tonight's show. At 6Pm on the dot Lakota John Locklear & Kin returned to the stage and their slinky rhythm slithered out into the audience as Lakota John sang, "I am a music man...", as the seven-piece band groove lanquidly behind him like an old-fashion train that transformed into the caressing rhythms of "Summer Blues (Since You Went Away)" that oozed along in a singularly way that had me tapping my foot along to the beat. Next the band performed one of their favorite gospel songs "Closer With Thee" and man, did they turn it out as vocalist Sister Layla gave it her all as she sang the heartfelt words and Lakota John played a beautiful solo on his guitar. He said how much he loved his guitar and then he went immediately into the upbeat rhythms of "Little Bird" that made me smile with its optimisem and then they went into the soothing rhythms of Bob Dylan's classic "Feel My Love" and it was an outstanding version that stood on its own as the gentle rhythms of bassist Andrew Wick and drummer Mark Anderson fluttered into the crowd. the band got all blues-y for the next song sung by his father and rhythm guitarist Papa John and it was filled with tweeting kazoos that made the song sound so funny as the band plunked along in harmony and the audience loved it. The vocalist Sister Layla said the next song was originally a poem by her mother as a tribute to her Lumbee heritage in North Carolina called "Dark Water" and its words were beautiful as they danced on the taut and simple rhythm as she sang of her love for her people, and it was sensational and celebrated her people and their lives. The band began playing the amped-up groove of the song called "Soul Stealer" and they laid it out with a deep blues edge that gave me the chills as they pumped it out with such lanquidness as they moved into the uplifting glory of "I Sing" that had everybody clapping along with joy in their hearts and it put me in an extra good mood, and the song made me swing gently to the rhythm with a smile on my face. Lakota John and his band finished their ten-song set with a vibrant "Down The Road (Ode To Dr. John)" that was a full-sounding number that livened the crowd up as he let the upbeat and positive lyrics flow with his guitar and his father Papa John let his harmonica blow up a whirlwind as musical notes flew everywhere as the band took their bows and left the stage. Tonight was a really good show and I was very glad I came to see it!

Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was the last show of the summer at Fort Reno Park's annual concert series and it was a show of rained-out performances from previous shows this summer featuring THE FEED, TRAJECTORIES, and PAGAN REAGAN, but it looks like it could rain at any minute today. The first band tonight was The Feed who are a trio who played nice and clean power-pop that moved along at a nice mid-tempo pace that made you feel nice and comfortable as the beat was rocking as they skillfully laid down the groove under the vocalist/guitarist Audrey White's lovely voice. They reminded me of a mid-nineties alt-band and then some rude fool dropped some food-crap all over me when the idiot dropped their crap all over my legs...fucking idiots...I tried to go back to the band but it was hard to let go of my rage...err...they better hope for their sake that the band does not suck, and somehow I got into their last song that had a really cool bass line from bassist Ben Rowny as vocalist Audrey sang her heart out as she made her guitar swing to the beat that drummer Manuel Santillana laid down. They played a seven-song set that was upbeat and pleasant to listen to as they put me in a good mood despite other people's actions. The second band tonight was Trajectories who were yet another trio who play sixties-influenced rock that seemed to groove along at a steady beat with some howling guitar leads that were nice and clean as my head gently bopped along with them..."I don't want it, I don't need it..."...the vocalist/guitarist Fred Yi played some nice strong leads that caught my interest as he grooved along as he put his weight into the words as he made his axe howl. They rocked on a song called "Take Cover" that had drummer Javier Diaz giving it a funky kick to it that vaguely reminded me of Gang Of Four underpinned by a very solid bassline from vocalist/bassist Michael Baxter, and it was cool and I liked how all their songs had a nice bounce to them as the guitarist Fred made his guitar go everywhere with a pop sensibility, especially on the song called "Northwest DC, plus the guitarist played some scintillating leads that carried the song. The band played a nine-song set of well-written songs that made me bop my head along to them in a happy mood. Cheers guys! The final band of the night (and season) was a trio called Pagan Reagan and they kicked into some aggressive rock with some very melodic lyrics that sailed over the crashing beat of drummer Mitchell Bass with some fleet-fingered guitar playing from vocalist/guitarist Evan O'Neal that caught my full attention as the band drove along with the plodding beat and the outstanding violin from guitarist Maya Renfro, but they seemed to like all their "Satan" jokes and references when they played a song about him and they seemed to like to make fun of Satan in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way but they never seemed to know what quite they were saying about it. They featured a lot of songs from their "It's Good For You EP" but they all sounded the same and after five songs, I got kind of bored of them and left because they were just not my cup of tea. See ya next year!

DON ZIENTARA and AMY, IAN, JOE - August 1, 2019
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

I was in attendance at the next to last show of the Fort Reno Park concert series with the legendary Inner Ear Studios owner Don Zientara and new band Amy, Ian, Joe (name unknown) who are playing their third show ever, and so I spent the day on the computer at Adrian's before I made my way to Fort Reno Park to see the bands as the end of the season nears. I arrived and sat in my regular spot as I watched the bands' soundcheck and they sounded great. At 7PM Don Zientara and his guitar took the stage and he opened with a little ditty called "Waiting On An Answer" that he accompanied with his noodle-ly guitar lines that seemed to get stuck in my ear. I liked how he made his lyrics flow as the guitar accented each song so classy as he played his set with his amazing guitar-playing skills, but I wished he had a rhythm section accompanying him. I really liked the song "What Is Old Is Getting New" and he delivered it with such heartfelt emotions that it was touching to me. His lyrics were very introspective with a very solid point of view as he played his guitar in a way that made one really feel the words. He played a lovely fifteen-song set that made you think and it was okay but by the end of his set I was getting distracted but he was finished with his songs. Amy, Ian, Joe (name unknown) immediately took the stage to ready themselves for their set and they burst into a few thanks for the people behind the scenes and then Ian started strumming his guitar as they went into the swampy rhythms of the first song as he made his guitar squeal and howl and then they abruptly stopped and Ian asked if everyone could hear them and then they went into a song called "Inaguaration Day" that reminded of his former band Fugazi. Next they played a number called "Clean Kill" and it was very political and timely and almost poppy as it chugged along, and then the next song "Beautiful Is Dirtier" was almost funky as Amy succcinctly sang the words as Ian made his guitar howl and then the three of them went into the languid "What To Do" as Ian sang the pointed words, and they immediately went into the song "Waste Away" with its gentle beat and swinging groove that made me want to dance. I loved how the insightful lyrics always had a clever feel to them as they tumbled off their tongues in a way that made them seem so political. Next they played the song "Leviathan" and I loved it as they harmoniously sang, "The last thing we ever wanted was a war...", and Ian joked about how much it cost them to fly a jet over them incidently, then they went into a song called "Too Many Husbands" that reminded me of Gang Of Four as the beat went round and round and Ian made his guitar screech and howl in a way that made the song stick in my ears. The next song "Hard To Explain" was about how so many people were just acting so insane without any real rhyme or reason, and it was quite lovely to hear their viewpoint and then they sequed into the tremendous "Woulda Shoulda Coulda" that had the most amazing bass line from Joe as it drove song the song as they sang it so beautifully like it was a church hymn, and I was quite impressed by the song. They finished their eleven-song set with a mixture of distorted riffs and weird phrasings that was almost jaunty as they finished up and abruptly stopped. It was a quite enjoyable set with several songs that really caught my attention as I bopped my head and tapped my feet to their political groove. Can't wait to see them again!

THE OSYX, DIRT EATER, and THE MAULS - July 29, 2019
Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was a lovely afternoon as I made my way to Fort Reno Park for the annual summer concert series to see THE OSYX, DIRT EATER, and THE MAULS give me their version of modern rock and roll. First up tonight was The Osyx who were, vocalist/guitarist Erin Frisby, bassist Maya Renfro, guitarist Selena Benally, guitarist Ara Casey, and drummer Robzie Trulove, and they played some straight-ahead rock and roll with some cool vocals that intertwined beautifully over the plodding beat of the drummer. Their songs were nice and melodic as they swirled out into the audience as the band's rhythmic stomp drove the songs as they surged forward with a little swing to them. I really liked the song called "Dogfight" that was mostly instrumental and it had some really cool guitar leads that made the song rock as the guitarists skillfully played off each other. They showcased a few new songs from their forthcoming album and they sounded pretty good and this project should take them somewhere and I liked the guitarist Erin's use of the harmonica. The Osyx played a pleasant six-song set of concise well-written songs that had something to say and they were enjoyable to hear and I really liked them. The second band was Dirt Eater from Falls Church, Virginia, and they were a hardcore trio consisting of guitarist/vocalist Eric Williams, bassist Chris Visser, and Steve Lucas, and they launched into their power-based hardcore music with its turgid rhythm section and buzz-saw guitar that chewed up everything with a silent rage, but their vocals were a little lacking. I liked how the bassist was very forceful in the way which he drove the song and I really liked how he played the bass. I liked the song called "Million Pieces" because of the cohesive song-structure that made it pulse and swing with calculated rhythm. Their ten-song set was loud and aggressive and all over the place as the beat pounded away with thunderous bass and screeching guitar that was very reminescent of eighties hardcore but they need to make their set more cohesive and with a little more interactness but Dirt Eater were okay. The final band of the night was the trio The Mauls who consisted of drummer Mike Sparrow, vocalist/guitarist Pete Duvall, and vocalist/bassist Kirk Waldroff, and they played post-punk with a vengeance as they raged on the stage with a fuzzed-out guitar sound over a thumping rhythm section. Their songs had some cool guitar riffs that gave their songs some nice textures as their rhythm section chugged along with a crunchy sturdiness that made them stand out as they screamed out the semi-political lyrics that urged the crowd to think for themselves. The band showed a lot of diversity in their songs as they made several tempo changes and their voices sounded well together on the song "Eight Days" and I found myself really enjoying their eight-song set of really cool songs that had some punch. It was a really good show from three local bands that showed the diversity of our scene. Cheers guys!

Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was an absolutely gorgeous summer evening as i headed uptown on the Metro train towards Fort Reno Park at the Tenleytown Metro to go see the latest installment of the annual concert series with; Girls Rock DC's own LOUDER MESSY, the kinetic BOAYT, and the young groove of THE MOONBUGS, and the three of them are playing some punchy alternative rock and roll served with a smile. First up tonight was mom-core quartet Louder Messy who played modern alt-pop for the masses as they took the stage and laid down a nice groove and sang in harmony as they pounded out their retro-esque sound that was well-received by the audience. The band consisted of vocalist/guitarist Sara, keyboardist Lindsey, vocalist/bassist Becca, and drummer Renee, and the songs were well-constructed like a classic pop song but they seemed to have an air of menace as the beat bopped along so bubbly, especially during the song about the patriarchy which reminded me of Martha And The Muffins. They even got a bit electro-clash for one song that bounced along like it was a "club" beat and bassist Becca groaned the words almost feverishly as the sound swirled into another song that reminded me of a rougher version of The B-52s as they plowed through their seven-song set and I was impressed by them...go Girls Rock DC! The second band was the trio called Boayt that played loud, hard, and fast as they were pimping their latest album called "Loud And Bold" and it seemed that their musical roots were in the late seventies Noo Yawk rock sound that was made famous by Johnny Thunders as the frenetic riffs flew everywhere from vocalist Kasey Raj's guitar. The band had one really tight rhythm section in bassist Aaron Aleiner and drummer Guido DeHoratiis as they laid down a groove that hit you like a sledgehammer that bounced like a ball in a hyper-masculine way. I really liked how the band mixed several music genres but I loved that some of their songs had elements of hardcore as they thrashed away and particularly during the song "Young And Ornery" which was about the politics of race that ended with a spectacular guitar spazz-off that I loved and so I quickly grabbed their CD that someone was giving away in the middle of the audience. Boayt played a twelve-song set that showed a wide range and depth as they raged through their set with a sullen ease until they finished and left the stage as the audience wildly applauded for more. The last band tonight was The Moonbugs who were a young quintet consisting of; vocalist/guitarist Ryan V, guitarist Loyd B, guitarist Carlo F, bassist Aldene V, and drummer Anthony V, and they played some mid-tempo rock that reminded me of Marginal Man as the five of them kept the beat pretty retro but sharp and perky as the music flowed into the crowd. The two guitarists, Loyd B. and Carlo F., really battled each other with screaming guitar leads as the rhythm section laid down a thunderous slab of sound that drove the groove. After awhile the music got a bit murky as the guitarists added more and more notes that cluttered up the song-structures until I could not take it no more, and after five songs, I decided that I had enough. I then hurried on my way to the metro and on to my home as I was thinking that I loved the first two bands, but the third band...ugh...

BLACK MASALA - July 19, 2019
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another boiling hot summer day as I ventured down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see local eight-piece high-energy band BLACK MASALA bring their upbeat and funky brass-driven musical amalgamation to the stage to celebrate the success of their recent album release “Trains And Destinies” to what seemed to be a very hyped-up audience who were here to dance. At 6PM Black Masala hit the stage with a lively funk jam led by their powerful horn section as saxophonist Brendan Schnabel showed-off his excellent playing skills and then they moved into a reggae-infused number called “Too Hot To Wait” and vocalist Kristen Long showed off her fabulous mid-range alto voice as Jacob Dalager blew some fantastic blasts from his trumpet that really made the song jump. Next the band kept the tempo upbeat with the sunny ska-influenced “Feels The Same Going Down” that reminded me of the English Beat as they were tight and crisp and made me want to skank like a rude boy. The tenor saxophonist Gordon Jones joked about the oppressive heat and celebrating Christmas In July as if it was a thing and then he kicked off the song “Big Man” with a scintillating saxophone solo and it had a vibrant world beat sound to it as the musicians made the rhythm jump as they continued non-stop into an amped up Motown groove driven by the frenetic saxophone of Brendan Schnabel that had everyone up and dancing as the rhythmic sounds of “Do What You Wanna” went round and round as guitarist Chris Lee played a shredding solo that rocked the house and it got the audience going as the band threw down like they were the red-hot Stax Records house band. They continued with some urban-esque Americana that bounced along merrily over Scott Clement's taut bass line that rushed the groove along with sharp precision as the vocalist Kristen Long wailed away as the guitarist Chris Lee chimed along with her and they moved back into some southern-fried funky R&B of “Messin' On You” that was punctuated by the melodious blasts from the four horns...damn, they had it goin' on!...and I was blown away by Chris Lee's playing. They then mashed up several genres of music, gypsy, bhangra, soul, and funk, and mixed into a rockin' blend of good time dance music as they played the lovely song “Where You Gonna Run To” and it showed how tight they were as the layers of rhythms saturated my ears as Chris Lee played yet another dreamy guitar solo. They really impressed me with the arrangement of the perky title-track song “Trains & Destinies” from their latest album, and the band really rocked it out as the co-founder drummer/vocalist Mike Ounallah led them with a swirling groove that made the song jump and pulse as vocalist Kristen Long let her voice wail the words, “Dancing through the night...”. Next the band got a horn-driven beat happening as the musicians walked out into the audience with their instruments at work and they urged the audience to get up on their feet and start dancing as the bassist Scott Clement got down on his instrument with such skill and precision, and then the band went in a gypsy direction with the lively “I Love You Madly” with its skanking beat and punchy horns that went round and round in an almost old-school rock'n'roll tradition as tuba player Tom Holtz added these wonderful deep bass sounds. The band Black Masala finished their twelve-song set with the world beat of “Opa” and Kristen Long sang heart out as the jaunty beat swirled around until Chris Lee played a very psychedelic guitar solo that was exquisite and he was one of the best guitarists that I have seen in awhile as he noodled away, then the horn section brought me back to earth as they blasted into the song's coda to the very end when they bid us goodnight. I was really impressed by them tonight with their lively set of songs and wonderful stage presence and with Kristen being pregnant and they are taking a break from performing after this show for her to take time and have her baby, but I will go see them again. Cheers, guys!

Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

I heard that the weather report was calling for rain today and when I checked outside, it looked cloudy and overcast but I did not feel any rain coming in my bones, so I headed to my computer workplace in Van Ness and I just prayed for the best and when the evening arrived, the weather became rather nice as I headed towards Fort Reno Park...aah the power of positive thinking, plus it was the annual “Night Of 1000 Cakes” yummy!. I sat down in my usual spot and watched tonight's event unfold as the bands and soundman Marty Shepp got everything ready for the show. The first band to play tonight was a female duo called COVEN TREE from Alexandria and they were comprised of violist Hannah Burris and cellist/programmer Alexia Kauffman and their synthesizer and they began playing their set with sweeping glisses and delicate finger-work that carried me away with their grandeur and epicness. The music was very soothing and easy to listen to as they beautifully played their instruments as they made them dance with the relentless electronic percussion as the melody swirled around them like a punk rock Yo Yo Ma. They had great tonality and control of their instruments that made them sound much bigger as the two of them played their four-song set to a very receptive audience for their genre of music that was usually not played here...a great show. The second band was guitarist Andy Shredder who was a self-named one-man band called of course, ANDY SHREDDER, and he played progressive metal that waived between Lenny Kravitz and Def Leppard, but he had a nice and tight sound and his guitar playing was phenomenal, however his vocals left something to be desired but his songs had a groovy flow to them that lifted them above your average street musician which he was definitely. I hope he gets a full band together so that the music becomes more organic and warm. The lyrics were cool and relevant with wry observations about life and how to get through it unapologetically as he displayed some incredible shredding on his guitar. He played a concise and mellifluous six-song set that basically held my attention because the whole set was good but I really hope to see him with a full band sometime this summer and the crowd enjoyed his performance as I did. The last band that played tonight was the trio called JACKIE & THE TREEHORNS and they played an updated version of nineties' college rock with a twist but I was easily bored as the three of them, vocalist/guitarist Steven Rubin, bassist Pat Kehs, and drummer Brian Gibson, pounded on and on and on, but the song called “Sharpen Your Knifes” had a catchy chorus and a jaunty beat that sort of made me like the song and Marty gave them a really good sound mix for their performance but they did not give me much else, however the audience seemed to really like them judging by their vigorous response. After six songs I became really bored and my mind started to wander so I left and as I walked to the metro I was thinking that I hope the shows next week give me much more lift.

Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

It was the perfect summer day as I rode the Red Line metro to the Tenleytown Station stop so I could go to Fort Reno Park to attend their annual local music concert series to see new post-punk trio ANTI-PLANET, the gritty girl-power upstarts EROTIC THRILLERS, and new local 'supergroup' called the HAMMERED HULLS and it seems its going to be a good show tonight. First up tonight was the instrumental trio of Anti-Planet who played some intriguing post-punk sludge that swayed and shimmered with layers of rhythm and noise over some very terse percussion that was bass-driven as the guitarist played some noodle-ly guitar lines that briefly caught my attention, They reminded me of several bands that made them seem like a “punk jam band' in the vein of Clutch and there seemed to be a large amount of sound interference making them sound a bit sloppy, but they had a nice groove throughout their brief five-song set but never quite enough to hold my attention, plus it seemed that the band was still trying to find themselves, and I could not find any information on them on the internet when I was researching them. The second band was a riot-girl-power trio called Erotic Thrillers that played sixties-styled mod rock that made you want to dance to the beat in an ironic way as they laid down the warm and sunny groove with a pop edge which was totally unexpected, because the band reminded me of Arlington's Tsunami in a weird off-kilter way. The vocalist/guitarist Lilly Schwartz played some interesting riffs that featured some spiraling hooks but they just never caught my attention even when they were trying to be political as they joked about their ages. I really liked what their rhythm section was doing because bassist Basla Andolsun kept things clipped and tight as veteran drummer Kristen “K-Bud” Buddenhagen chopped out the crisp and forceful beat succinctly, it was nice. I hate to say this but I found their seven-song set to be pretty bland and the songs never seemed to go anywhere. The final band of the night was Hammered Hulls who have become a noted band around town rather quickly since their first gig in September 2018, and they featured; vocalist Alec MacKaye of Nation Of Ulysses fame and brother of Ian, fierce bad-ass guitarist Mary Timony of Ex Hex, hard-working bassist Mark Cisneros who played in several Dischord Records bands including Deathfix and The Make-Up, and lastly, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists' excellent drummer Chris Wilson. They played a familiar-sounding groove along with Alec's bark and his insightful lyrics that made it like an insidious earwig that burrowed so deep into my ears. There were several songs that vaguely reminded me of Fugazi with their almost funky groove that had the audience rocking, especially when they performed a song called “Self-Inflicted Wound” which was the best song of the night and they had remarkably good sound with great vocals and it gave the music some richness that I found really pleasant to listen to. Alec led the band through a ten-song set that showed a bit of variety and tempo changes that really charged up the responsive audience. I will have to see them again on a nice stage in the next couple of weeks because they were really good and entertaining, and damn, Mary Timony can make that guitar howl! I just love her playing!

Fort Reno Park - Washington, DC

Well it was once again time for the annual Fort Reno Park concert series as it has been since 1968 and the opening show this year featured BROKEN HILLS, TOSSER, and BABIES WITH RABIES, and it should be an interesting show on this abbreviated season with only six shows listed on their web page. First up tonight was Broken Hills who were a quartet featuring guitarist Seth Ballentine, vocalist/guitarist Rob Hart, bassist Ed Parlen, and drummer Andrew Fishbein, and they play aggressive post-punk with an edge of world-weariness that reflected their views on aging as they pounded out their first song with all kinds of disjointed guitar riffs and emotional lyrics that the singer Rob seemed to squeeze out of himself. The drummer Andrew played a real rock-steady beat that held the band together in its tight grip as the band chugged along like a train as the bassist Ed rode that rhythm like a glove and the guitarist Seth churned out a melange of a million riffs but without much variety because all the songs in their six-song set basically sounded the same but they did hold my attention for a little bit, and with some more practice they could be a great band, because I really liked the song called “Double Dare” because it was where they got the formula right. The second band up tonight was called Tosser and they were a quartet featuring leader vocalist/guitarist Eric Zidar, guitarist Sam Matheson, longtime friend bassist Ryan Plummer, and drummer Jonas Farah-Bumstead, and they played loud and punchy rock and roll that seemed to lack direction as they careened through the song they were attempting to play which was more a collection of random riffs as they made their noise but the vocals were lost in the mix and I almost found them to be unbearable and a bit disconcerting, but I did like the song called “Fever Dream” that had a groovy bassline driving the haphazard percussion as the clarion of a guitar riff screamed away. They played a seven-song set that had a few moments of clarity but overall they were rather tedious and needed a lot more practice so that their songs were more cohesive sounding and tight. The last band tonight was Babies With Rabies from Arlington and they featured brothers vocalist Tim and guitarist Dan Fontaine along with punk guitarist Tommy, man-about-town bassist Johnny “Fucking” Bones, and drummer Brian, and they seemed to know what they were doing as they quickly took the stage and roared into a punk rock song from 1985 called “I'm Coming Around” and they reminded me of hometown legends Government Issue as they plowed through the song with its sing-song chorus and lightening fast guitar riffs as they then went into the rapid-fire hardcore of “Dead To Rights” that they delivered with passion and a controlled fury. I liked how the singer Tim gave it all he got with his clever political lyrics that seemed to have a melody behind them as they raged along with an smoldering intensity, and I really liked the song “Jet Setter”, but I did find the band to be a bit retro-gressive and they really made me miss G.I.'s deceased frontman John Stabb, but they played well together and gave us some coherent and catchy songs with some cool licks in their ten-song set. It was a nice evening to watch the setting sun while a couple of bands played some local music. Cheers guys!

SNEAKS - June 23, 2019
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

DC9 - Washington, DC

JUDAS PRIEST and URIAH HEEP - May 12, 2019
The Anthem - Washington, DC

D.A.R. Constitution Hall - Washington, DC

OG LULLABIES - April 20, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a lovely sunny afternoon as I made my way on the metro towards the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and I was going to see local upstart OG LULLABIES and the OG stands for Zero Gravity and she will perform her new show called “Out Of Body Synthesis” with her bass, her flute, and her violin and the electronic beats of her jazzy neo-soul musical amalgamation of sound from her synthesizer. OG Lullabies a.k.a. Taylor Brooks walked on the stage and immediately began running her fingers up and down the keyboard as she got the beat flowing and then she picked up her violin and began making it squeal over the taut percussion and she made it go crazy as her voice soulfully wailed the deep lyrics and then she grabbed her flute and made it tweedle away to the end of the song. Next she began singing about the power of love and how it can make the world a better place for everyone everywhere and then she made her violin howl over the messy but jumping beat, and then she went into the next song which came from her 2018 debut EP “Cruescontrol” and it was a lovely menage of neo-soul and hip-hop with a lot of heart and lots of effected sounds that gave the song some edge as she jammed on and on on her violin and but it was quite lovely. The next song had some very verbose lyrics that warmed my heart as she made her violin squeal as she added some ominous synth washes that really made you feel the song as she added some effected vocals that made you really listen to them. I liked the tone that she got on her instrument, it was deep and had a lot of breadth as the melody swirled around her and her intelligent and well-thought-out lyrics. I really liked the next song and it was probably the best one tonight as she played some trippy synth licks that just pulled me in like an old psychedelic song, and she began to sing about love, forgiveness, being a better person, and so much more, and then she picked up her bass and playing in a style that made the groove swing with booming precision that was just so riveting to watch and hear and then she launched into the low-key funk of “Tuff Love”, but I was getting bored with her because her songs were just so stationary and not very propulsive and did not move me as much as I thought they would and she continued with yet another bass-driven song that never seemed to go anywhere. She picked up her violin and played a melody that just hung there in the air with a subtle feel as she went into a jazzy number with her unique scat/singing-style that was saying something political, and then she picked up the violin again and she let her articulate fingers go crazy as her fingers flung fresh sounding riffs and notes everywhere in a sonic deluge over the sparse electronic beat that was almost danceable to me. She then began punching at her synthesizer in a space-y trance-like way for the best song of the show which was called “Free Fallin'” and it was about changing her life to be better and more positive and then she picked up her violin and attacked it with these broad sweeps to make the song seem even more epic than it was already. She finished her thirteen-song set with a number that was autobiographical in nature and full of vibrant and real lyrics and a lovely rhythm that drove it forward into my ears as she crooned the remarkable words of her song, and then she left the stage to an explosion of applause from the rapturous audience. I thought she did a fantastic job but I really wished she had a full band backing her to give the songs more depth and color, but I left with a smile on my face and thoughts of catching her again in a club environment that was more intimate and conducive to deeply listen to the music she played for us.

BROWNOUT - April 7, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a pleasantly mild but overcast day as I casually ambled on down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the powerhouse Latin Funk of Brownout who are a nine-piece band from Austin, Texas, and they were established in 2004 and the group was formed out of the Grammy-winning Latin revival orchestra Grupo Fantasma, but have evolved into so much more over the years. In 2014, they took Black Sabbath songs and turn them inside out and make them funk, so I cannot wait to see that happen tonight because I really love Black Sabbath and the funk, so this should be wildly interesting to observe tonight. At 6PM the band took the stage and kicked into a shimmery and horn-driven groove that pulsed and throbbed like a sexy beast as the guitarist Francisco Martinez III played these effected notes that hung there like cobwebs all over the place as the band rode that thick slab of funk as they went into some Afro-Caribbean funk that had a nice swing as they barreled through the song until Francisco played a lovely but sedate guitar solo that seemed to dance among the lively horn section of trumpeter Gilbert Anthony Elorreaga, trombonist Mark Valentino Gonzales, and saxophonist Joshua Scott Levy with sassy ease. The keyboardist Peter Stopschinski kept the beat twisting and turning on the next instrumental and it made it sound intense as the band rode the taut percussion that lead them through the song. Next they performed their fabulous tribute to hip-hop icons Public Enemy, a sensational version of the classic “Fear Of A Black Planet” from their 2018 album “Fear Of A Brown Planet” and the band funked it up as an instrumental and it was quite good as they made it into a space funk jam that had my ears loving it as they moved into another instrumental version of PE's “911 Is A Joke”, but after awhile I really missed the vocals which drive any good song but sometimes they were on time as the rhythm section, drummer John Speice and bassist Gregory Gonzales, kept that beat on the floor and I wanted to joyfully shout out the controversial lyrics. Vocalist Alex Alberto Marrero said it was time for an original called “You Don't Have To Fall At All” and it was actually nice and tight as the band made the beat stomp as horn blasts decorated the flowing groove as the guitarist ripped an electric solo, and then they played another original from their forthcoming album and it was trippy and with an odd time signature that made it seem like a “pop song” sung in Spanish as keyboardist Peter sparkled and shined as he tinkled his fingers deftly flew across the keys. Next the band played a vibrant cover of The Meters' “Be Funk” and they turned it out but just not as funky as the original but it was muscular and serpentine as the groove just pumped away and it had the audience singing and clapping along with them. The band finally got loose and sweaty on another original called “Same Ole Thing” that had the beat spinning and pulsing as the musicians made the groove explode with notes, riffs, and licks that held my attention with their adroitness. The band tripped out with some odd sounds and space-y effects that gave their funk some otherworldliness as the percussionists Matthew Harris and Alex the vocalist got the beat lively and terse as it rushed by with non-stop propulsion that ended with a riveting trombone solo from Gilbert that just shined. The band kicked into a bass-driven song that rushed over me like rising floodwater and the bassist Gregory was impressive on his instrument as he made it dance with the percussion, especially the congas, in all their percussive glory. For the last number of their twelve-song set, the band let the guitarist Francisco go wild on his axe as they laid down a fat muscular slab of vintage funk that steamrolled right over everyone and blew us away with their musicality, and then Brownout took their bows and left the stage as the audience screamed for more. I thought it was a pretty good show and really showed their range and I would love to see them play their version of Black Sabbath songs, and especially their sensational cover of “Fairies Wear Boots” that I saw them performing on YouTube the other day, but a great show none the less!

J HOARD - April 4, 2019
Kennedy Center MillenniumStage - Washington, DC

It was a somewhat overcast day as I headed my way downtown to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see noted LGBTQ singer/activist from New York City, J Hoard, who is bringing his band to pay tribute to his favorite American composers from slave spirituals to modern-day pop songs who sing about the comparisons of the LGBTQ movement and racial equality in a show called “Make America Great Again: The People's Perspective”. J Hoard and his seven-piece band took the stage and he began to beat-box as the rest of the band sang the Negro spiritual called “Go Down Moses” which was about Harriet Tubman and their voices rose in harmony until the musicians let a groove loose with the Negro spiritual called “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” and it featured a wonderful saxophone solo that just lifted me with its vibrancy, J Heard introduced saxophonist Dane Orr to the audience and then he languidly sang Billie Holiday's “God Bless The Child” and they tweaked it just a little bit to give the song a modern edge and then the saxophonist played a warm and enticing solo movement that made me feel that Billie was watching with a smile as J Hoard crooned away and I was touched. Next they performed “Don't Nobody Know Our Troubles But God” by southern gospel singer Bessie Jones and made super-famous by Moby when he sampled it on one of his hit songs and it was beautiful as the band gave it a terse percussive edge and their voices intertwined ever so nicely with the melody. They were starting to reach the classical era of songwriting with a funky cover of another Negro spiritual called “Wade In The Water” and flautist Melanie Charles played a lovely flute interlude that really stuck with me as the rhythm section of bassist Kyle Miles and drummer Tyler Newsom gave it a little bit of stomp...and it took me there as they went into a fabulous rendition of James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson's poem “Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing”, often referred to as the Black national anthem and it brought his message of hope home as the vocalists urged the audience to clap and sing along with them...we shall overcome...J Hoard left the stage and they moved into an original song called “Future Is Female” and Melanie sang it with such perfection in a modern neo-soul kind of way as the crisp melodious notes flew everywhere as the band moved into Aretha Franklin's “Skylight” and Melanie let her voice roar with the introspective lyrics and it was magical to behold, and with a fantastic guitar solo from AJ Jagannath to boot. J Hoard returned to the stage and the musicians launched into a lovely rendition of Aretha Franklin's “I Say A Little Prayer” and it was just so life-affirming to me as they sang it with so much soul and then they rocked out on another Aretha classic, the anthemic “Natural Woman” and it was touching but it could have used a little more swing as they moved into Aretha's “Respect” and I really liked their jazzy arrangement and the vocalists Esther Baldwin and Crystal Walters belted the song out with some real emotions that I was taken aback by their performance. Next they went into some contemporary R&B with the inspirational original “Head To The Sky” and the vocalist Crystal sang it with the right amount of human awareness and gospel spirit that got the audience cheering for joy. The band got a jaunty be-bop beat going as J Hoard majestically crooned the classic patriotic song “America The Beautiful” but with some political lyrical twists that made it more real as he sang, “America, America, I hope you learn to love as God loves me, because you or good does no one good from sea to shining sea...”, and then they went right into a groovy rendition of Sly and The Family Stone's “Everyday People” and I liked their version as it stomped along and it was awesome with it's terse beat and taut bass-line from Kyle Miles. And topped off with a searing guitar as they crescendo-ed into “We Gotta Live Together” by Jimi Hendrix and they did it justice with a crisp beat and then they burst into “Am I Black Or White” by Michael Jackson and I have no comment to make because I believe Wade. But other than that, their fifteen-song set was highly entertaining and made you think about the world, and the musicians did a fantastic job of presenting J Hoard's vision with concise playing and they looked good while doing it. I highly recommend that you go see J Hoard and his ensemble if you get the chance..

Kennedy Center MillenniumStage - Washington, DC

It was a lovely sunlit afternoon as I wandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see woodwinds/saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, play his instruments, and noise-punk poet Moor Mother a.k.a. Camae Ayewa read her poems set to their very original music in an inter-generational meeting of great intellectual minds. Roscoe began randomly tweeted on his horn as Moor Mother extrapolated on the “black drop” and other abstracts and Roscoe twiddled on and on giving the number some abstract edge and the whole thing felt like I was laying in bed in a darkened room randomly twirling the radio dial and catching different bits and pieces of music and words and it was very psychedelic sounding to me. Sometimes it seemed that Roscoe was the flow of air with a whisper of sound that seemed to last forever and the Moor Mother's vocal inflections took a musical edge to them as the various sounds that made the very words and made you feel it by the layers of sound and the pace of the sound and Roscoe changed instruments and Moor Mother manipulated her voice and made it very Frank Zappa-ish in a post-modern setting but it felt like she was saying something without really saying memory...and Roscoe's horn made a sound that swirled around and around without playing any real notes but they sounded real...the black drop of guilt...and its accompanying noise sounded like household goods rattling but I was being driven mad by the total lack of cohesiveness but sometimes it worked...climbing up the rough side...Roscoe had some beautiful instruments but I really wished he would just play a light and airy trill or a deep movement with some articulate chords...I can't be satisfied...the two of them just got lost in a cacophony of noise and bits and pieces of words and Roscoe switched to the saxophone and let a few trills blow but without any punch...not now...not after Nina Simone...I did not get high enough for an hour of this shit, so I gave up and left early.

TASHERA ROBERTSON - March 26, 2019
Kennedy Center MillenniumStage - Washington, DC

It was yet another almost nice spring day without a cloud in sight in the azure sky as I wandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see Baltimore-bred Tashera Robertson and her five-piece band bring her lovely take on singer-songwriter soul in a show called “Get Up” that they are bringing to the stage this evening and I arrived just in time to catch their pre-show soundcheck and they were actually pretty awesome. Since having came up on the vibrant Baltimore choral scene during her high school/college years particularly with the Baltimore City College choir under the direction of the great Mrs. Linda Hall, and she became a fantastic singer because of this background and she discovered her songwriting skills and then she gave birth to a son and she expanded her horizons to where she is today. Tashera and her ensemble took the stage and her drummer Teddy Grant started tapping out a 4/4 tempo and the band joined in as she crooned the first number called “Let Me Go” and her backing vocalists, Kharan Watkins and Florence “Flo” Carey, gave her voice some depth and dimension as she sang the meaningful words and they flowed into a soulful groove that reminded me of a Dionne Warwick song and Tashero's voice showed a lot of range and emotional depth as it soared away riding the gentle melody during the song. Tashero said she had unusual and diverse tastes in music and she was going to perform a couple of songs that she had wished she wrote and the band was tight and dynamic as they made the songs their own, and the guitarist Jay Rojas had some wonderful licks that just got caught in my ears with their inventiveness and ingenuity and she followed that with a love song that she sang at a lot of weddings and they made it shine with hopeful beauty as her keyboardist Micah Robinson's fingers twinkled along in perfect harmony with her lovely mid-range voice that just made me smile. They ventured into the jazz-lite territory with a bass-driven groove from Michael Smith as the other musicians traded all kinds of riffs and licks that gave the song “I Wanna Get Close To You” such a smooth and percussive flow and it was great how everyone played together so well...I was really impressed! The drummer Teddy Grant was also very impressive as he kept the beat jumping and Tashero showed the range of her vocal chops with a stellar rendition of Aretha Franklin's “Natural Woman” that just floored me with her vocal control and she sang it perfect as Micah Robinson played along so elegantly on the piano...Aretha would be smiling down on her...and the backing vocalists, Kharan and Flo, turned it out as they sang the chorus with class and pizzazz. She told us a little bit about herself as she introduced the band members and then they played several original numbers, starting with the achingly beautiful “All Alone” and it was a perfect song for a rainy day as it flowed so lanquidly with the notes drifting from the piano over the deep and booming bass and the subtle and piercing guitar riffs that accented the song. She said the next song was called “Get Up” and the theme song for tonight's performance and it made her very happy and the band proceeded to pump out the terse rhythm and turgid percussion that just made the music flow like an old-school R&B soul song from back in the day as she urged everybody to get up and get loose and the musicians worked their way through the flowing rhythm of the well-written song which was about living well and being self-motivated to be a better person and the musicians played out the song and took their bows and left the stage. Tashero Robertson gave us an eight-song set that was quite inspirational and her voice was quite spectacular as she brought her songs to life with just a breath. I thought she was one of the most exciting new singers that I have seen in the past couple of months and you will too, if you have the chance to see her and her band. Bravo!

HUGAR - March 24, 2019
Kennedy Center MillenniumStage - Washington, DC

It was the first really lovely spring day of the year where I did not have to be bundled up so I had a wonderful day walking down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the Icelandic avant-garde band Hugar on their very first ever American show on this nice sun-filled evening. Hugar consisted of multi-instrumentalists Bergur Dorisson and Petur Jonsson and they played multi-layered ambient music with the piano, guitar, trombone, and an electronics programmer along with space-y visuals on the screen. Huger took the stage to the sound of an extended guitar note that was accompanied with an ethereal keyboard line as the visuals kept getting bigger like the music that undulated and swooned to the gentle percussive beat and Petur announced the name of the song but it was in who knows! Next they went into these muted angular riffs that swirled about the room as the guitarist Bergur gave the song a sad pulsing groove that reminded me of The XX from London and as Petur added a mournful howl from the trombone and it was just beautiful. The guitarist played these elegiac extended notes that just hung in the air like Spanish moss and giving the music a melancholic air as the visuals fluctuated like smoke as it was drifting away and there was great beauty in its stoic-ness and sheer simplicity...I could see Icelandic landscapes in my mind. I wish I could understand the song titles but somehow they always seemed to fit as the music slowly expanded into the sonic atmosphere ever so gently as an image of a person slowly danced behind the band on the screen. Petur sat down at the grand piano and exquisitely twinkled out a sweeping movement that sadly whispered out each note at us with a feeling of empty loss as each note cried out as the guitar slyly guided them along the way. They finished their six-song set with two brand-new songs and the first one made one feel like the morning dawn with the sun breaking the horizon line as muted orange visuals floated to the sky as smoke filled the stage with a kind of hopeful melancholia that actually inspired me in an uplifting way. The second song was a traditional Icelandic folk song that they gave a new edge with Petur's trombone instead of vocals and it was very dirge-y and was very sad and Bergur played out the signature guitar riff that once again reminded me of The XX. They decided to continue by playing one of their older songs that even has a video on YouTube, and they let the groove wind out slowly as the guitarist and the trombonist played off each other in the most inventive way as Petur added some vibrant keyboard movements that caught my ear, and Bergur got all noisy and sputter-y with some fuzzy riffs that reminded me of the legendary shoegazers My Bloody Valentine. They finished their now eight-song set with a song that had a Hieronymus Bosch painting-feel to it as the gentle hum of noise fell like a soft rainfall as each note hit their mark until they got lost in the feedback as the song imploded into a fiery msss in the end. It was beautiful! I love the fact that international bands get to play here and don't play hardly anywhere else and Hugar were well worth it with their emotional and touching ambient music. Great show!

Rock And Roll Hotel - Washington, DC

It was one dreary-ass day that was full of dark overcast clouds and it was raining cats and dogs as I made my way from Union Station to the Rock And Roll Hotel on nearby H Street NE where I arrived at the club totally damp as a lost dog on a rainy evening, but I was here to watch a heavy metal package tour with Anvil who were big in the eighties and they were one of the forefathers of the thrash genre with their bludgeoning rhythm section and searing guitar and screeching vocals and then they faded away, but in 2009 there was a critically acclaimed rockumentary called “Anvil! The Story Of Anvil” released and the film was called “possibly the greatest film yet made about rock and roll” and it won an Emmy Award and put them back in the spotlight again and their career was revived and they have been touring ever since. But tonight the first band up was Evilterror, a trio from Bogota, Columbia, who are now have been living in Washington, DC and they have been making music since 2005 and they are promoting their new album “Dynamite” but then four months ago their longtime drummer Peter Muller Steelforce abruptly quit the band without an explanation, so tonight will be a new experience. At 7PM Evilterror took the stage in a wall of percussive fury as they rolled over the very small crowd in double-time as they raged like an amped-up version of Blackmore's Rainbow and they were good at it and vocalist/guitarist Nathan Daniel Evilfire was fun to watch as he acted out all of his guitar heroes as the rhythm section of bassist Sandy Guillen and their new drummer raged with a punchy fury that propelled the music. I really enjoyed the song called “Fireball” and its clever song-structure and the subtle changes in tempo, and I also liked the title-track “Dynamite” from their new album and it was a real guitar shredder that left me feeling exhilarated. Evilterror played a seven-song set of powerhouse rock that left me exhausted from its ferocity and excellent guitar playing that showed me that they were going to matter in the future. The next band to play was Archer Nation, a power trio from Santa Cruz, California who were on tour supporting the “Beneath The Dream” album and they took the stage and played mid-tempo grind-core that just sailed through my ears like butter as they careened along like a muscular Rush with less tempo changes and some real clean guitar-playing from vocalist Dylan Rose and bassist David DeSilva had some really jazzy bass-lines that gave the songs a smooth feel as the drummer Keyhan Moini plowed ahead with a lot of rumbling clatter and propulsion. The rhythm section remained quite stoic as they silently pounded along with a little bit of swing as guitarist Dylan's fleet fingers ran up and down his fretboard producing intricate riffs and licks that blew my mind with his skill but the songs themselves were kind of staid and stuck in history but they were kind of interesting to watch them play their ten-song set, however it was a very forgettable set otherwise. The third act was comedian Don Jamison who stars in “The Metal Show” on ESPN took the stage next and he just tried too hard with his tasteless jokes on questionable topics and I lost attention rather quickly...dull...dull...dull! The final band of the evening was the legendary power trio Anvil who was formed in Toronto in 1978 and they stormed the stage and let it rip as the surprisingly spry sixty-three-year-old vocalist/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow walked out to the center of the room with his guitar and they exploded into a mass of sound and thunder with Robb Reiner's pounding drums and Chris Robertson's throbbing bass as Steve made his guitar screech and howl as they blasted off with a furious cavalcade of hammer-ons and crisp licks that accented their opening number “March Of The Crabs” from their 1982 album “Metal On Metal”. Steve returned to the stage and the band got all ominous with a sense of doom for a heavy “666” also from “Metal On Metal” and he howled the menacing words, “Chains of death have been unleashed, ripped and tattered stricken from hell, sold my soul but the contract's been breached, enter humanity from death's well, your fate is sealed revelation is near, I hear your screams but I thrive off your fear, received my warning but you didn't, didn't didn't learn...666...666...”, and the band jammed on it with a passionate fury and a sense of devilish glee as they rolled along through their set. The three of them played some of the signature songs from each of the decades that they lived through, but I really loved the song called “Ooh Baby” from their classic 1981 album “Hard'n'Heavy” with its chugging rhythm from drummer Robb Reiner and bassist Chris Robertson and the larger than life guitar riffs provided by Steve Kudlow and it was loudly swirling and pulsing as they segued into “Badass Rock'n'Roll” from their 2013 album “Hope In Hell” and Steve was entertaining the crowd as he got us to clap along with him and it seemed to really fire him up as he urged the crowd to get wild and he said he could not believe that he has been doing this for forty-three years and with an over-the-top scream he kicked off a pulsing “Doing What I Want” from their recent 2018 album “Pounding The Pavement” and they rocked it with some great guitar leads that scorched my ears with their ferocity. Next the band went into the classic thrash of “Wing Assassins” from their 1983 album “Forged In Fire” and the band turned it out with a cacophony of riffs and licks as Steve growled the murderous words, “Camouflage colours impair observation, insignia painted depicting its nation, defying detection at low altitude, penetrate, attack, evade and elude, soaring death, taking lives, no escape, widows weep, winged assassins, seek their pray...”, and the drummer kept the beat lively with a great double-kick drum groove that propelled the song forward as the bassist broke down the beat with an almost jazzy bass solo that capped off the song with an edge of ingenuity and I was really impressed by what they did with it. Steve said the next song was called “Free As The Wind”, also from “Forged In Fire”, and it was dedicated to Motorhead's Lemmy Kilminister who recently passed and he rocked it to the very end...he was a real rock star...and then Steve told a few humorous anecdotes about his interactions with Lemmy when they toured with them in the eighties and they launched into the song with a fury as Steve played these lightning fast leads and then he would play these long extended notes on his guitar and you could feel him bending the note to its limit as the rhythm section pounded away like a jackhammer. The band kept up the brutal beats as they slide into a scorching rendition of “On Fire” from their 2011 album “Juggernaut Of Justice” and Steve was just a guitar monster as he thrashed away on his instrument as the other two made the rhythm groove like a sledgehammer to the end when it stopped on a dime. The band caught its breath and then they pounded out the monstrous beat of the title-track from their 2007 album “This Is Thirteen” and then they musically morphed through several sub-genres of metal as Steve let his great stage presence shine as he played these great searing riffs on his guitar with tons of reverb on them as he said he was going to blow our minds with some out-of-this-world guitar pyrotechnics and then he pulled out a silver dildo and he used it to play an incredible slide guitar solo that rocked like hell and it was pretty amazing to see. My favorite moment of the night was when they did a molten red-hot version of “Mothra” from “Metal On Metal” that screamed like a rabid banshee with these soaring guitar riffs over the thunderous slab of rhythm and percussion and then Steve started yelping, “I've sent this beast to purify your kind, and for your world leave no life behind, conquest complete, Mothra is nesting, population for future infesting, purification yes it's been achieved, for eternity Mothra reigns supreme...”, and then the band grinded its way through the rest of the song and I was in headbangers' heaven as they sawed their way into my ears. They kept the tempo up with a grim and sneery version of “Bitch In The Box” from the “Pounding The Pavement” album with its jagged guitar riffs that accented the drums as Steve sang about today's “telephone culture” and how it made some people very difficult to deal with and then they crashed into a manic “Swing Thing” from “Jaggernaut Of Justice” and it had a heavy swing to it as he made his guitar howl until Robb took control of things with a thunderous drum solo that did not go on for too long before the other two returned with that heavy groove that segued into a razor-sharp rendition of “Daggers And Rum” from their 2016 album “Anvil Is Anvil” and they made it screech as they roared through it with a bit of swagger that made it fantastic. For their last song of the night, they revved up for a loud and riotous version of their classic song “Metal On Metal” from their genre-defining album “Metal On Metal” and it was outstanding as Steve attacked his axe like a blood-thirsty maniac and then he screamed, “Metal on metal, heat starts to rise, kickin' it out, with screams and cries, metal on metal, never will die, parties and concerts, keep it alive, metal on metal, it's the only way, to hell with tomorrow, let's live for today...”, and I was loving it as I rocked out in all its head-banging glory as riffs and rhythms and booming bass propelled it into a sonic explosion as the three band members ran off stage lost in the feedback and noise. The crowd lost its collective mind as they screamed and yelled for more music and the guys from Anvil came running back to the stage and launched into a potent “Running” from “Juggernaut Of Justice” and they powerfully plowed through the thick rhythms as they sang the line, “Living for the dream, victory's supreme, winning is all that I like...”, and it seemed to sum up their view on life and rock and roll, and they added a little pizzazz to their cover of “Born To Be Wild” made famous by Steppenwolf back in the sixties as they gave one last blast of solos as they wished us a good night and left the stage and I hurried out the club and walked home. It was actually a very good night of metal music from all three bands, and Anvil has shown us that their music has stood the test of time with some classic songs and memorable playing skills. Cheers, guys! Keep up the good work!

LOI LOI, LIGHT BEAMS, and BORN DAD - March 16, 2019
Comet Ping Pong - Washington, DC

It was a strange Saturday night that was slightly cold but slightly warm also as my friend filmmaker Adrian Salsgiver and I headed uptown to see a show at Comet Ping Pong with three local bands, Loi Loi for their recent album release, the EDM of Light Beams, and queer punks Born Dad, who are each giving their own unique takes on the modern lifestyle of today's youth. We arrived a little bit early and I got a nice artisanal beer while we watched the hovering millennials as we waited for the band room to open up for tonight's show. At 10PM the five-piece band Born Dad took the stage and they warmed-up with a quick line check that reminded me of eighties NYC No-Wavers James Chance and The Contortions and it was grooving with a queer punk edge that made you want to dance wildly as the vocalist/guitarist Leah Douglas nasally sang some unintelligible words that seemed to have a political bent but the music was nice and tight and made me want to pogo as the band sang...”sexist leftist”...and the bassist Katie Parker played a taut and crisp bass line as she provided the subtle groove that kept the beat bouncing along, even though the drummer Zach Knowlton was a bit clattery and sometimes he ventured into swamp boogie land and the music featured jazz inflections from the other guitarist Rae Gaines that made the song boogie with some swagger, but I must say that I did not find their last song that referred to some people as trash interesting and I was slightly offended by this song. I liked Born Dad and their off-beat sense of humor and quirky songs that made me want to dance and I will go see them again soon. The second band tonight was the trio Light Beams and they sounded like a seventies fusion band and the drummer Sam Lavine had a nice jazz kick to his style that made the beat perky as the bassist Arthur Noll chugged along behind him like a shadow as the singer JM shouted out the offbeat lyrics but I could not tell what the words were about but the music was very interesting and it was somewhat funky and almost hip-hop-like in song structure but it got a bit tedious sometimes but I did enjoy Light Beams and would see them again, hopefully at Fort Reno this summer. The headliner tonight was duo Loi Loi who consisted vocalist/keyboardist Kristie Di Lascio and keyboardist Johnny “Fantastico” Di Lascio and they are celebrating the release of their new album “Me Dystopia” on Blight Records so I guess they will bring their sensual electro-pop to the stage. They kicked off with a bunch of swoopy and squelchy electronic beats and they reminded me a little bit of Erasure and early Depeche Mode as the music was swirling and jumping with girly vocals that put me in a good mood. I liked their nice song structures and Johnny played some nice floating bass lines that propelled the music gently forward. I really liked them and bought their album and I say you should like them too.

SABA ABRAHA - March 1, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was a return to winter when I awoke today and I saw a fresh layer of snow on the ground outside my window, so I just took my time getting ready to head to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the DMV's Ethiopian-born soul songstress Saba Abraha sing to celebrate the release of her new five-song EP “The Sweet Mirage” and I am excited to see her and her band play the EP live tonight. At 6PM her keyboardist Phil Ade came to the stage with a brief introduction of singer Saba Abraha and then snippets of rhythms and melodies and gentle boom-bap percussion began playing as Saba's lovely and mellifluous voice that reminded me of Vanessa Daou began crooning about her place in the world with the first song from “The Sweet Mirage EP” called “Utopia” and then the drummer Greg kicked in with the Queen-inspired drumbeat of “Do's & Dont's”...and ugh...I am so sick and tired of Queen's music because of the Oscar-nominated bio-pic, however Saba sang about nightmares and demons which was heavily influenced by her massive love of literature which gave her the topics to her lyrics until the guitarist Daniel Lyster-Mensh ripped a blood-curdling solo to finish the song with pizzazz. Next they went into the spacey “Moons, Mountains, Me & Mirrors” that had Saba crooning, “...come on over, don't be afraid, don't be afraid of...”, as the music seemed to flow there in a wash of riffs and notes as the song drifted away, but it seemed the drummer could give his percussion some warmth which I found lacking, however the guitarist was just fabulous with his tone and depth. They went into a dramatic “Pathway” and its slow and gentle groove that just rained down on me with its reverb-drenched guitar with stretched out notes that perfectly accented Saba's voice and I really liked this song with its luxurious groove and meaningful lyrics, and then the band went into the fluttery “Compass/Endless”, the last song from the EP, with its twiddly guitar and subtle keyboard runs as she sang so beautifully as forest sounds filled the air and the band got lost in the sound effects as they segued into the acoustic-sounding “Jitterbug” and the musical notes danced around in swirling eddies of sound that just pulled me in, especially when the guitarist would play these cool little riffs that danced in between the sharp notes of the piano as Saba made my head think with her clever wordplay. They played a phenomenal cover of Drake and The Weeknd's “Lost Legend” (which was surprising to me) and the three members of the band performed it way better and tuneful and without some atonal rapper to fuck the song up, and then they went into a very percussive rendition of the song “11a.m.” from her first EP in 2016 and I really liked her vocals and her theatrical phrasing as the audience snapped their fingers to the beat at Saba's urging as she languidly sang about love and finding it...fantasy or reality-wise. Saba then took a few minutes to introduce the band members to the audience and expressed her thanks to the Kennedy Center for this opportunity. They continued with a rather joyful rendition of “Possessions” which she said was written for her former housekeeper and she said that antiquated menial jobs of her profession were totally outdated and the song was piano-driven as Saba crooned with such stoic strength as she told us to let go of our possessions and be better people and then they played an emotional version of “Wicked Ways” from her very first EP and she sang it with such finesse as the pianist's fingers flew over the keys as the guitarist subtly accented it with random sparkly notes and you could feel that she bled the lyrics and they felt so real in their meaning as the guitarist Daniel made his guitar spark and sputter as they finished the song to Phil's dramatic piano outro and then Saba Abraha wished us all a wonderful night as they vanished off the stage and I was out the door in seconds flat and thought to myself that was a wonderful show and I would like to see them again soon.

CHAMPION SOUND BAND - February 28, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

There was the smell of spring in the air on this last day of February as I meandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see the freshest new local band in the Hometown Sounds concert series that they hold monthly here and it was sunny outside and the band Champion Sound Band looks to be quite vibrant and makes one want to dance. At 6PM on the dot, the Hometown Sounds rep took the stage and gave their spiel on their organization and what they were about, from their podcast to their website to their concert series here at the Kennedy Center, and especially why they are good for the music community. Then Champion Sound Band quietly took the stage and opened with the smooth neo-soul of their first number “Far Off In The Distance” and the vocalist Anastasia Antoinette was sensational as her beautiful voice flowed like creamy butter into my ears as the band made the song swing and it was propelled by keyboardist Kareem “Reemz” Johnson subtle finger-work. They kept the tempo up with their next number that just flowed with a serpentine groove that was underpinned with Jimmy Keith's deep and booming bass lines that just moved me. Then the band went into a delicious love song called “Whatever” which was the A-side from their first single and I got lost in Kareem's intricate and jazzy piano playing and then they went into a percussive intro and the saxophonist John Eamon wailed so languidly as Anastasia crooned the song “1 N 3” as the beat careened through the esoteric sounds of the rhythm section and then came the best guitar solo of the set from Alex James and it was complex and a full range of tones that informed his playing with its gripping sense of melody and the audience showed the band a lot of love for their performance. Their next song “Feel” was emotional and full of depth and featured some nice drumming from Gudo whose detailed percussion held the band together and some wonderful melody runs from the sax player John Eamon and it flowed into a powerful “The Powers That Be” and they made it upbeat and groovy and it had a cool bit that was just organic hand-clap percussion that gently danced on Kareem's potent note-picking as they made me sway to the melody. The next song was a thumping cover of “Sweet Thing” by Rufus and it was a showstopper that ebbed and flowed like a stone-cold classic soul song and Anastasia's voice was just marvelous, and oh so gentle on my ears and then she sang her praises of her bandleader Kareem Johnson with a sassy number called “Captain Champion” and the piano notes fell like warm raindrops on the melody as the saxophone wrapped itself around the rhythm with a glittery ease and then they played a cover of Amy Winehouse's soul-stirring classic “Valeria” and it was a very enjoyable version but it lacked Amy's unique vocal range, but they gave it a more understated arrangement that was more laidback and had a warmer feel to it as Kareem played some beautiful Ellington-esque piano over the forceful bass-playing from Jimmy. Next they played a song that was very modern jazz that was almost funky in a be-bop way as the song marched along with such gravitas, and then the band went into a joyously upbeat version of Deneice Williams' “Free” and it swirled and grooved with such a lovely melody, and I finally realized that Anastasia's voice was very reminiscent of the legendary Dionne Warwick, but she improved on it with a more mellifluous tone. The Champion Sound Band finished their twelve-song set with the very meaningful “Your Gold” which was about being thankful for what you got to work with in life and Anastasia sounded like an angel as she crooned, “You're welcome!” over and over and the band laid down a happy groove and it put me in a really good mood as they rode the song to the end. Then the band wished us a great evening and that Anastasia was going to be in back at the merchandise table waiting to sign the band's new 7”single for whoever wanted to get one, and so I did and Anastasia was really nice and thanks again! I really liked this band and you should too, so go see them the next chance you can get.

THE HACKENSAW BOYS - February 12, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was yet another dreary and wet winter evening as I wandered down to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see The Hackensaw Boys from Charlottesville, Virginia, who are currently a quartet with vocalist/guitarist David Sickman, fiddler Caleb Powers, bassist Chris Stevens, and drummer Beau Dodson and I will see them play their eclectic version of Americana roots-rock music and it is their 20th anniversary of being a band. At 6PM the four members of the band took the stage and launched into a fiddle-driven song that had a nice groove as Caleb Powers played his fiddle like it was on fire and the song was quite lovely as they flowed into the next number “Keep It Simple” and it had drummer Beau Dodson giving it a stomping beat so Caleb could go wild with some driving fiddle and then they morphed into the old standard “Sweet By And By” that they gave a modern edge as Caleb sang his heart out as he made his instrument sing. Lead vocalist/guitarist David Sickman said he wanted to thank his family for showing up tonight and he said that tomorrow was his 20th wedding anniversary and then he burst into song with a vibrant “All The Way Sad” and I really liked what he had to say and I liked his voice that sounded raspy but mellifluous as the words flowed out of his mouth. Next they went into the danceable bluegrass of yesteryear and David lead the song with a nice acoustic guitar groove as he sang the song “Ain't You” and it was cool and laidback. David said the next song was called “World Upside Down” and it was done in a very traditional country style as he commented on the wicked ways of the world as the other instruments intertwined melodically with a modern touch as the music danced across the audience. They continued with some rather traditional bluegrass with a song called “My Relations” which was about fishing and how it is an allegory for everything in life as the beat went around and around and the audience loved it. Caleb began tearing it up on his fiddle as their voices rose in harmony on the next number “That Wind Blow” and it reminded me of The Grateful Dead as they played a swaying hippie groove that made me want to dance for joy...but man, could Caleb play that fiddle! David started strumming his guitar as they began the rock-ish “Fall From Grace” as they grooved along with a comfortable ease as Chris Stevens played some ocean-deep bass that just engulfed me with its swirling warmth. Beau took a quick solo break on percussion and then the rest of the band kicked in with the sprightly beat of “Do As I Say” and it propelled the song with a laidback fury as they broke it down and Caleb played his fiddle over it and Beau's intricate percussion and it was the best song of their set. Next they played a new song called “Factory Blues” and it had a psuedo-funky drum beat as the fiddle and guitar traded licks and David sang about how the horrors of factory life wese the modern plight of the working class and it up to you to do something about it and the song was really emotional and touching to one's heart, and then they segued into an upbeat “Come On Baby” that was laidback and full of melody as he sang of being faithful to one's woman and marital vows and I really like what he had to say...almost political actually! The Hackensaw Boys finished their thirteen-song set with the jacked-up bluegrass of “Thank You” and they went fast as greased lightening and made the song jump and rattle to the end and then the band finished the song with a bit of acappella that had their voices soaring melodious as they said thank you to the raucous audience and left the stage. I thought they put on a fantastic show that showed a lot of range with well-written songs that caught my attention and made me want to see them again.

DREW KID - January 22, 2019
Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

It was just an absolutely odious day with very little sunshine as I made my way to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage to see local hip-hopper Drew Kid in his performance about his struggles with mental illness and recovery and his vision of the classical-jazz-funk-hip hop world he lives in being a son of Filipino immigrants who loves old soul music. He has been hanging out on the DC music scene and has been playing piano on several releases of varying genres and styles. I do hope that more people show up as I waited for the show to start. Drew Kid and his band hit the stage at 6PM and Drew gave a disclaimer about mental health and the evening's discussion of the problem and finding a healthy solution and they began laying down the ambient jazz beat of “Intrusive Thoughts” with random drifting horn melodies and a propulsive bass line and Drew was playing these delicate little piano parts as he introduced the band; drummer Kelton Norris, bassist Mike Gary, alto saxophonist David Diongue, trombonist Christian Hizon, programmer Roddy Rod, and uY the emcee. Next he introduced a new song called “Thoughtful Decisions” that had a nice gentle beat as the two horns, David and Christian, made the song jump as Drew's fingers gently glided over the keyboard and it sounded like a gurgling flow of a creek deep in the fluttering butterfly-strewn woods and they made the song groove like a Miles Davis cool jazz was beautiful...then MC yU stepped to the microphone and let the wisdom flow as he rapped with a dignified ease as he had something to say. Drew Kid dressed in a hospital gown to reminded him of the last four years and he announced that he had merchandise for sale and he began playing a song called “The Madness” with such a sense of grandeur as his fingers danced across his piano's keys until the band kicked in with a nice R&B swing and I really liked how they gave a pop edge to some very avant garde musical pieces because I enjoyed how they let the groove flow in a very natural way and the beat was almost funky as the trombonist Christian blew a sensational solo that reminded me of The Mahavishnu Orchestra as the musicians swept their way through “Simple” the last piece in the suite. Drew Kid and most of the band left the stage as MC uY strolled on and Roddy Rod provided the minimalistic neo-soul beat and uY let the words of wisdom flow on the topic of being the best you that you can be, and then comic/mental health advocate Mike Kurtz came to the stage and told his comedy that was about mental health care and changing the treatment and care system for the better and I find that all good and stuff but sometimes I just don't know about “serious issues” comedy and political correctness...I really don't get it all. Drew Kid returned to the stage and he introduced the 2018 Strathmore-commissioned song “Where Will You Be When The Popeyes Crumbs Are Gone?” from when he was an Strathmore Artist-In-Residence and he played what I considered to be the most soulful song I have heard in a long while as he poured his heart out over the intricate beat that reminded me of Stevie Wonder as they delivered an upbeat and bubbly version that had the place jumping as he finished up their enlightening and positive music with a flourish as he wished us a good night and I rushed out of the place and headed to the metro to get home and I thought to myself that I saw a pretty decent performance tonight.

JOHN "PAPA" GROS - January 7, 2019
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage - Washington, DC

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