Monday, March 31, 2008

Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash @ Club Iota

On Saturday March 29th, we made sure we attended the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash show at Club Iota in Arlington Virginia. We started following this band after hearing Austin Nights on XM Radio X Country. This song describes Mark Stuart's - the band's frontman- initial foray into the Austin music scene. His feelings are easy to relate to: "They don't play Joe Ely where I come from." And now the band had finally ventured East.

Wink Keziah opened the show with an acoustic set playing without his full band, the Delux Motel. Mark Stuart produced his current release, Working Songs for the Drinking Class. Wait to you hear "A Hot Woman A Cold Beer" - a great song. During his performance I noticed a generation gap when he tried to get the crowd to participate in a sing along - with Lowell George's Willin'. However, it didn't appear that the younger crowd had ever heard this classic - so Wink sung alone.

From their very first song the BSJC were incredibly crisp - probably excited about playing the last show of the tour. Vance Hazen and Jon Lewis were solid on bass and drums, and Mark Stuart has tremendous stage presence, but Lars Albrecht on the telecaster was amazing. The band rocked. They started with originals from their first three CDs (Walk Alone, Distance Between, and Mile Markers), including Austin Nights, but mixed in a few songs from their next release. Wait to you hear this CD - these news songs were rockin'. By the end of the night, the entire club was dancing and when they covered The Blaster's Marie Marie - it was a frenzy. What a night.

In the coming months Wink Keziah and the Delux Motel are playing in several venues throughout his home state of North Carolina. A road trip will probably be planned. And the BSJC will be playing primarily on the West Coast - but if you find yourself in Iowa the end of this month - catch Mark Stuart acoustic shows with Randy Burk and Jared Hall from Randy Burk and the Prisoners.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Live Music @ Wineries

One of the most overlooked venues to listen to live music is usually in one's backyard; there is an increasing trend for wineries to include live music in their events, whether through annual concert series, Sunday jazz parties, or incorporated into a grape stomp. The wineries book national acts or promote local artists - either way when you combine good wine and good music - you can't go wrong. Close to our headquarters, Tarara Vineyard & Winery in Leesburg Virginia hosts a Summer Concert Series from July through September. This summer they've booked rising local artist Shane Hines and the Trance as well as Derek James, Melanie Mason, the Grandsons, and the Junkyard Saints. What a schedule.

Across the river in Mt. Airy Maryland, Linganore Wine Cellars hosts annual Caribbean, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae festivals. Our favorite is usually the Blues festival where for the past two years we've seen the Nighthawks and The Kelly Bell Band on the same stage. Following Route 15 north into Pennsylvania, Adams County Winery, near Gettysburg, hosts free Saturday afternoon concerts and they've been able to book the Skyla Burrell Blues Band twice this summer. And "neighboring" Mount Hope Estate & Winery hosts a few unique festivals this spring where you can hear Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Hot Buttered Rum, Gaelic Storm, and Enter the Haggis. These are just a few examples out of the numerous wineries who host music within an hour 1/2 drive from Washington D.C.

There are other excellent examples in other states. La Belle Amie Vineyard in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina provides a music festival every other Saturday throughout the year. In Boonville North Carolina, RagApple Lassie Vineyards hosts a Saturday Shindig. Then there's Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida; Grande River Vineyards in Palisade, Colorado; Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery near Kansas City; Haak Vineyards & Winery in Santa Fe, Texas and Warwick Valley Winery in Warwick, New York. Perhaps the best lineup is at California's The Mountain Winery - located in Saratoga - near San Jose. They have weekly concerts with mostly well known artists. and have many of these events posted - just take a look there or the winery's websites.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go Diego Go Live!

Over the weekend we took our son to one of the many Go Diego Go Live! shows playing at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. Ignoring the high ticket prices, hidden service charges and convenience fees, and merchandise - the show itself was very entertaining. Much more entertaining than other kid's shows we've attended (i.e. Sesame Street and the Wiggles). First the Warner Theatre is a great venue - there are no bad seats. Second, the cast performed without being childish - which made it interesting for the adults.

The storyline followed a typical Diego show - an animal was in trouble, this time his side kick, Baby Jaguar, lost his growl to the troublesome Bobo Brothers. With the help from the audience, Diego and his entourage - including an appearance by Dora - use his gadgets to track down the Bobo Brothers and return Baby Jaguar's growl. Our favorite performances were from the Rescue Pack and the Coconut Trees. During the entire adventure - our son - as well as the younger audience, was fixated on the stage - growling when asked, clapping, and dancing. At the end, the children were dancing in the aisles. If only there weren't any hidden service charges and convenience fees.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bill Kirchen @ Jammin Java

On Monday March 3rd, I headed to an early show at Jammin Java - to see three guitar wizards on the same stage: Eddie Angel from Los Straitjackets, Mark Gamsjager of the Lustre Kings, and Bill Kirchen. As expected a large crowd greeted me; people were grateful to hear true rock n' roll - or as now known - Rockabilly - the music of Sun Records. There were more people on this Monday night than the previous two Saturday night shows I had attended. Eddie Angel and Mark Gamsjager took the stage first, accompanied by Todd Wulfmeyer on bass cello and Jason Smay on drums. I have been following the Lustre Kings since Shoot the Messenger, but this is the first time I heard Eddie Angel. What a treat. Eddie and Mark alternated songs - from a fast dance tune to a slow lady's choice, with lots of Tex Rubinowitz. But always the guitar playing was outstanding. The music reminded me of old Danny Gatton shows and I was starting to get nostalgic to the old Washington music scene when Eddie started playing "University Boulevard". That did it - I started reminiscing about the days when you could see Tom Principato on Wednesday, Bill Kirchen on Thursdays, Whop Frazier whenever, and Danny Gatton on the weekends. My neighboring listener, Ed, declared that those days are long gone, although he did know a few choice spots where you could still hear great music. My new Washington D.C. historian and planner. Remember when....

After a short intermission, Bill Kirchen took stage with Jack O'Dell on drums and Claude Arthur on the electric upright. What an interesting instrument. He started with Rocks into Sand and included Working Man, Womb to the Tomb, and a little Nick Lowe and Bob Dylan later in the set. You could tell the ease in which Mr. Kirchen plays; as fans yelled requests he'd say okay, and the trio would start in immediately. That's how we heard Prison Band. It seemed like old times - several faces looked familiar from nights out long ago. And his trademark interpretation of the Commander Cody's Hot Rod Lincoln was classic. For fifteen minutes he played signature rifts from historic groups - although he still couldn't mimic Angel's behind the back, point, and play rift. The closest I had gotten to that kind of fun was XM12 XCountry - who play Kirchen fairly regularly. Thanks Jessie Scott.

After another brief intermission Mr. Kirchen brought everyone back on stage for another 45 minutes of rocking music. Everyone took center stage - sometimes dueling, sometimes playing together - but by the end everyone was dancing, clapping, or yelling for more. The show ended uniquely with a dueling drums. One after another each person left the stage until the two drummers were left. They played together for about 5 minutes as Kirchen, Angel, and Gamsjager walked to greet friends and fans.

What a night. The music of Sun Records is slowing dying away - so thanks to these artists for keeping it alive. If you want to help their effort Mark Gamsjager has a relatively new CD out, Way out There and Bill Kirchen released Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods last year. But if you want a feel for Monday night, try Hot Rod Lincoln Live!