club D

I'm a 38-year-old gal, living in the Washington, DC area, who loves going to concerts of all kinds. My blog tracks most shows I attend. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to comment!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Musicians Play Soulful Tribute to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Message in the Music Concert

Washington Convention Center, DC, August 25

In Washington, the week of August 22nd was filled with tribute events to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to celebrate the unveiling of the MLK Memorial, a beautiful and bold set of stone and carvings located at the Tidal Basin, next to the FDR Memorial.

On August 25, a concert called The Message in the Music featured music from the Civil Rights era. Each act performed two songs before a cheering, enthusiastic crowd, some of whom were dancing in the aisles. Some notable guests were in that crowd, in fact, including actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersey, and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Roy Chew and his band served as the backing band for the evening. The evening’s acts included Naturally 7, a talented a capella group from New York; gospel singer Anthony Hamilton with his backup Hamiltones; and two soul/doo-wop/R&B acts: the Impressions from Chicago and Eddie Levert of the Ojays.

But two ladies stole our hearts that evening. The lovely India Arie appeared with Israeli pianist Idan Raichel. They performed two songs from their forthcoming album, Open Door, the first of which she sang in Hebrew. The second song was a fitting one for the evening, with a message of peace and unity.

For the final act, Patti LaBelle entertained us with her powerful vocals and sassy personality. She concluded with “Over the Rainbow.”

It was a night of powerful music befitting a King.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Steamy and Slow Night at Wolf Trap

Lucinda Williams w/ Amos Lee,
Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia. July 19

Recommended beverage: Water.
It was too damn hot and humid
to drink much else.

One never knows what side of Lucinda Williams will emerge at her shows. Thankfully, last night, she was more bluesy than country. Unfortunately though, her much-too-short set was way too mellow and, given the extreme heat and humidity, I found myself unconscious for whole parts of it.

I expected Lucinda to headline with a long, raucous set. The show instead turned out to be a co-bill, with Lucinda and Amos each playing about 1:15.

On the one hand, Lucinda’s sultry voice laced with that southern drawl is always a joy. But she never really picked up the pace and rocked out. She opened with one of her best-loved and well-known songs, “Can’t Let Go,” on which her voice was strong but the song lacked its usual energy.

It was also surprising, given such a short set, that she performed nearly half of her new album. For that, I did not feel “blessed,” but rather thought, “unsuffer me.”

The hero of the night was Amos Lee, whose rich, gorgeous vocals and heartfelt lyrics resonated throughout the venue. He and Lucinda each played a song during each other’s set, which was refreshing.

I came ready to rock and roll and was a bit disappointed Lucinda never really brought it home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Henry Butler Plays Annapolis MD, Reston VA

Henry Butler & NONYF, Ramshead Tavern--Annapolis, MD

Henry Butler played two fantastic sets at the Ramshead last night to a small but enthusiastic crowd. It was the perfect, intimate setting for some storytelling and soul-enriching music. Butler, a New Orleans native who now lives in New York after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his 9th ward home, brought a guitarist and drummer with him (the bassist was absent though Butler often played bass on keys with his left hand while piano rhythms flowed freely from his right). His Game Band still resides in New Orleans, so he often now tours with this band, called NONYF, for New Orleans- New York Funk.

The sets were full of funk and blues, with a healthy dose of New Orleans favorites tossed in, including Fess favorites Tipitina’s and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, as well as Iko Iko, to which the crowd sang and clapped along. A highlight was Butler’s performance of Old Man River, the gorgeous vocals & key combination visibly nearly brought the guitarist to tears. It brought me to tears.

Two days later, Henry played a free show at the Reston Concerts on the Town series in Virginia, mixing up the set some from the Annapolis show. Many of the staples he played at both can be found on his latest album, Pianola, a live album that captures his spectacular sound.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paul Simon: Still Rockin' after All These Years

Paul Simon, 9:30 Club, Washington

Those of us lucky enough to have been at Paul Simon’s 9:30 Club show last night were kvelling for the entire show. Simon packed his 2-hour set with lots of classics, a couple of new songs (which sounded great), and even a couple of covers. His voice still sounds beautiful and pure; his band is absolutely stellar, and their well-placed solos and occasional jams were spot on.

Simon had just played DC’s DAR Constitution Hall a few days ago to rave reviews. But the 9:30, which holds about 1,200 people, is one third the size of DAR. Seeing him in this intimate setting was quite an experience and the (over)sold-out crowd showed him much love throughout the night.

The set, when considered as a whole, really reminds us of the breadth of Simon’s musical influences. So many genres—rock, blues, funk, zydeco, African rhythms, jazz, and even some gospel—and he tackles each one with great skill.

So what does kvell mean? It’s a Yiddish word meaning ‘bursting with pride.’ We all were. This show was pure joy.

Setlist included: (encores are correct but missing a couple songs in the main set)

The Boy In The Bubble
Dazzling Blue (new)
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
So Beautiful Or So What (new, title track)
Vietnam (Jimmy Cliff cover) / Mother And Child Reunion
That Was Your Mother
Hearts And Bones / Mystery Train (Junior Parker cover)
Slip Slidin´ Away
Rewrite (new)
Peace Like A River
The Obvious Child
The Only Living Boy In New York
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (w/ drum break at the end)

Encore 1:
The Sound Of Silence (solo acoustic)
Kodachrome / Gone At Last
Here Comes The Sun (Beatles cover)
Late In The Evening

Encore 2:
Still Crazy After All These Years
Crazy Love Part II

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Highlights of Nawlins Jazz Fest

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, first weekend, April 30-May 1

Whichever of the two weekends one attends Jazz Fest, the Fairgrounds and the clubs at night are guaranteed to be packed with incredible music of all kinds. There's zydeco and cajun music at the Fais Do Do stage; Mardi Gras Indians performing on the Heritage Stage (see Chief Monk Boudreaux, right); incredible music in the jazz, blues, and gospel tents; second line parades going through the Economy Hall tent; and then two main stages of music which this year featured the likes of Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Dr. John, and John Mellencamp.

Daytime highlights at the Fairgrounds included: John Boutte singing in the jazz tent (this singer of the Treme theme song has a glorious voice; his cover of Hallelujah was breathtaking); Terrance Simien playing outstanding zydeco, including a medley of New Orleans classics that sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy (congrats on the Grammy!); and Trombone Shorty, who wasn't on the bill that weekend, but showed up all over the place, jamming with different bands, large and small.

For me, the most perplexing, and yet exhilarating, set came from Glen David Andrews in the blues tent. He was joined by very special guests Marcia Ball, a local boogie-woogie piano legend; violinist Amanda Shaw, and at the end his cousin Trombone Shorty for a fun jam. Glen crowd-surfed, incited the crowd to clap, cheer and dance, yet he barely sang a note (and never played a note on his trombone). When he does sing/play, he's generally fabulous! Rumor has it he played a stellar set that lit up the gospel tent second weekend.

And the night shows. Wow! Zigaboo Modaliste and friends did a round-robin drumming showcase that also featured Papa Mali and Eric Lindell at Howlin Wolf; Soul Rebels whipped up the crowd on Frenchman St at the Blue Nile for their Friday jam; and and Cyril Neville & Walter Wolfman Washington played back-to-back long sets at the newish club The Twelve Bar, in the CBD.

What a weekend it was!

1. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux

2. inside the gospel tent
3. Glen David Andrews w/ Amanda Shaw & Marcia Ball
4. Soul Rebels Brass
5. John Boutte
Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience
7. Cyril & Mrs. Neville

Monday, April 04, 2011

Highlights from March 2011

The month of March was packed solid with concerts. Here are some highlights:

OMD, 9:30 Club, March 10

Every 80s kid remembers this British synthpop band who sang “If You Leave,” from the soundtrack of Pretty in Pink. At this show, the blokes belted out their memorable classics, including: If You Leave; So in Love; Dreaming; Enola Gay; Tesla Girls; and Live and Die. Singer Andy McLuskey bounced around the stage with the energy of a teenager, thoroughly engaging the crowd. This show exceeded my expectations.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals,
Theatre of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, March 11

Is there anything this chick can’t sing? The ever-versatile powerhouse that is Grace Potter brought down the house in Philly. Love her rockin’, bluesy sound. Her nearly two-hour set included three covers: Beyonce’s “Why Don’t You Love Me?”; Heart’s “Crazy on You”; and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall be Released,” sung with the opening band, Belle Brigade. This show was off the charts! Opener Belle Brigade, from LA, led by a sister-brother team, was a nice surprise—rolling out their six-part harmonies as they shared their debut album tunes with us.

Scythian, Shamrock Fest, RFK Stadium Parking Lot, Washington, March 12 (afternoon)

Led by the enormously talented Fedoryka brothers, Alex and Dan, Scythian always serves up a high-energy musical stew. They alternate among numerous genres: Celtic, gypsy, East European/Klezmer, and more. At this festival, trying to cater to a young, drunk crowd, they threw in some rock and rap too.

Note: Scythian will play a free show on August 27 at Reston Town Center. Come join the fun and hit the dance floor with us.

Emmet Swimming, Iota, Arlington VA, March 12 (evening)

Emmet Swimming broke out a few new songs at this show and, as a testament to their enduring greatness, the new stuff sounds as top-notch as their earlier stuff. I never tire of these guys. Also glad they continued the tradition of bringing up their buddy Dave Strickland for a couple songs, a slow one on accordion and one on keyboard. The setlist was missing “Listen to the River,” but Watts did a solo acoustic of his Billy Bragg cover, “Levi Stubbs’ Tears” that made up for it. Excellent, as ever.

Pete Yorn, 9:30 Club, March 14

Pete Yorn played a stellar set, opening with ClubD’s favorite Yorn song, “Murray,” and playing nine more songs from that debut album, Music for the Morning After, released a decade ago. The set included a handful of songs from his newest album, a self-titled one released last fall that was produced by Frank Black of the Pixies. The new songs he played are strong and catchy, particularly “Precious Stone,” and “Rock Crowd.” His set also included “Crystal Village” by request; “Burrito,” from that same album, performed solo acoustic and also by request; and the Junior Kimbrough cover, “I Feel Good Again.”

Ben Kweller was the perfect support act and had many fans of his own in the crowd.

9:30 Club, March 22

Touring in support of their newest album, 100 Lovers, Devotchka puts on a great show. This Denver-based quartet rose to fame for doing the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack and has an ever-growing following. Their indie rock sound, replete with East European influences, is complemented by Nick Urata’s velvety smooth vocals. Rich in instrumentation, Jeanie Schroder alternates between upright bass, tuba, and flute; Urata among piano, trumpet, and guitar; and Tom Hagerman among violin and accordion. Devotchka served up a fine worldbeat mix and they’re a fun spectacle to watch. The band brought along two female dancers who did aerials from the curtains during a few songs.

Opening act El Mariachi Bronx, from…er, Los Angeles, had a fantastic sound, a lively blend of mariachi and rock.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Black Cat, Washington, March 24

While I haven’t tired of their debut album, Austin’s Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears just released a new album, Scandalous. I thought the first album couldn’t be topped, but this one is also off-the-charts fantastic. Was shaking my booty all night at this show. Joe has all the soul of a young James Brown, accompanied by a kickin’ horn section. At this sold-out show, “Booty City” gave him a warm welcome.

The Joy Formidable, Black Cat, Washington, March 25

This new Welsh rock trio just released their first full-length album, The Big Roar, though they’ve reportedly already enjoyed lots of airplay on UK radio stations for many months. Quite a full sound comes out of these three. This ain’t your mama’s chick rock. Check ‘em out.

All Souls Jazz,
All Souls Unitarian Church, Washington, March 27

The pews were packed with folks of different ages, religions, and races to hear some incredible New Orleans jazz on a Sunday afternoon. New Orleans Clarinetist Evan Christopher led a quartet that included pianist Allyn Johnson and drummer John Lamkin, accompanied by the All Souls Jubilee Singers from DC. From the opening “Basin Street Blues,” to the closing “Down by the Riverside,” this was an outstanding afternoon of jazz. All proceeds were donated to New Orleans charities, with a focus on rebuilding the lower ninth ward.

Bob Schneider, the Birchmere, Alexandria, VA, March 28

I first heard Bob Schneider on the Spectrum, a satellite station that often would play his “40 Dogs,” from his 2009 album. I’ve since learned this Austin singer-songwriter has been around for some time. Doing a solo show to support his forthcoming newest album, A Perfect Day, due out in mid-April, Schneider played a fantastic set, alternating between brooding, funny, and slightly insane. Gorgeous deep voice. Fantastic looping. Loved this show!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sounds Around Town: February

Robert Plant w/ the Band of Joy

February 1, Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

Taking his band name from the one he used pre-Led Zeppelin, this band is packed with heavy hitters who really bring it home: particularly blues singer/songwriter Patty Griffin and guitarist/singer-songwriter/arranger Buddy Miller.

Having seen his recent acoustic tour with Alison Krauss, I expected much of the same, particularly since the current self-titled album, and Raising Sand before it, are both so mellow. But what ensued was a rocking, bluesy, somewhat raucous set in which Plant put away the coy and let out the fire vocally. On the floor at Constitution Hall, we were all on our feet dancing the whole night. Outstanding.


Black Dog (Led Zep)
Down to the Sea
Angel Dance (Los Lobos cover on Plant’s latest disc)
Houses of the Holy
Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down (Uncle Tupelo cover)
Move Up (Patty Griffin singing)
Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday
12 Gates to the City/Wade in the Water/In My Time of Dying (Rev Gary Davis cover)
A Satisfied Mind (Porter Wagoner cover—Darrell Scott singing)
Tangerine (Led Zep)
Harm’s Swift Way (Townes Van Zandt cover)
House of Cards (Richard Thompson cover)
Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go (Buddy Miller cover-Buddy singing)
Monkey (Low cover)
You Can’t Buy My Love (Barbara Lynn cover)
Ramble On (Led Zep)
Tall Cool One
Gallows Pole (Led Zep)
In the Mood
Rock & Roll (Led Zep)
And We Bid You Goodnight



February 8, Iota, Arlington VA

Thao Nguyen is a fireball of sound. Touring in support of her latest disc, Know Better, Learn Faster, the free-spirited, alt-indie rockin’ Thao let loose vocally and on guitar at Iota.

Born and raised in Falls Church, Virginia, she now calls San Francisco home, where she performs with her band the Get Down Stay Down. But at this show, fans were treated to a solo performance, accompanied only by her drummer Willis Thompson. The show was a Virginia homecoming of sorts (in fact, her mom was in the crowd). Thao played to old fans and made some new ones that night, including me.

Opener Andy Zipf played a fantastic opening set.


Blues at the Crossroads: Robert Johnson Centennial Concert

February 17, The Strathmore, Bethesda, MD

It was an enigma seeing the headliner listed for this show: Big Head Todd & the Monsters. After all, they’re a rock band. From Colorado. Could they do justice to the music of the Mississippi Delta? But when Todd Park Mohr started to play, strumming that Dobro, that boy could certainly channel the blues. He and his Monster cohorts did a fine job memorializing the music of the legendary Robert Johnson and even tossed in the music of other blues greats as well.

Also on the bill, and coming in and out to play with the Monsters, was drummer Cedric Burnside (bluesman RL Burnside’s grandson) and Lightnin’ Malcolm, a young blues talent from Missouri. But the night belonged to two legendary bluesmen, who took the stage for only a fraction of the two sets: Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist and David “Honeyboy” Edwards, who played with Robert Johnson and many other blues greats. At 97 years old, he is one of the last original acoustic Delta blues players.

The two sets were electric…and the night ended with the boys taking a musical journey, from the Delta to Chicago, as the audience sprung to their feet to clap and sing to a rousing “Sweet Home Chicago.”