Thursday, February 28, 2008

March and April Music Festivals

Even though the cold weather hasn't left, the Spring music festival season will start shortly. Here are a few music festivals scheduled for March and April.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nicholas Marks and Ari

While covering the South Beach Food and Wine Festival at our partner site, we discovered an amazing duo playing at one of the local South Beach restaurants, Nicholas Marks and Ari. This husband and wife team is pure entertainment, from his "world famous gypsy rumba flamenco virtuoso guitar" playing to her Hungarian gypsy-inspired violin playing. The combination is pure entertainment with Nicholas playing the guitar behind his back with the same rythem as playing on his knees and Ari dancing and playing the electric violin among the crowd. Pure passion - both from the performers and the audience - our son could not stop clapping afterwards.

The '"Jimi Hendrix" of Flamenco music' is an appropriate description for this duo. I strongly encourage people to see them - or purchase their CDs. They also have very interesting bios that you will find on their website. I can't wait until I "stumble" upon this act again tonight.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Live Music in the Maryland Eastern Shore

For those living in the Washington D.C. - Baltimore region there are a plethora of live music venues to choose. However many do not even realize that their choices are even greater if you include the venues operating in Maryland's Eastern Shore. Andy's in Chestertown, is only 90 minutes from Washington DC and hosts several national and local acts. In the coming weeks, you have the opportunity to see Bombadil and Predator Dub Assassins with The Two Man Gentlemen Band and the Christine Havrilla Band coming in May.

The largest expansion in the live music realm has occurred in Easton Maryland, with several venues booking great national acts. The Avalon Theatre may be the most recognizable and for this spring they have booked Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles, Willy Porter, The Seldom Scene, Lucy Kaplansky, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The Coffee East is similar to Vienna's Jammin Java - providing high value entertainment at a neighborhood venue. Scott Miller, Greg Trooper, Luke Brindley, Tony Furtado, Bombadil, and Slaid Cleaves are just a few of the great acts coming this spring. When beach traffic gets crazy over the summer, what a great location to listen to music while the traffic clears.

Perhaps the best upcoming show is Joe Ely playing at the Historical Society Auditorium on April 25th. Check out the Mangold Entertainment website for details. This is a must see event.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hoots & Hellmouth @ Jammin' Java

At the last minute I decided to head to Jammin' Java to see a band that I've seen get a lot of hits on Hoots and Hellmouth. This Philly based band was just starting a 7 week tour and I wanted to see why the excitement. And what did I see? A jam band?, a little; a bluegrass band?, some; a folk band, a little; a gospel - blues band, sometimes. In other words this band defies categorization. What they are are four guys playing two acoustic guitars, a mandolin, and a bass - with intense energy that you'd normally see with a jam band, a semi-bluegrass or folk sound, with hints of gospel, jazz, and blues melodies. Also, their sound is not for the casual listener; I saw Jammin' Java transform from a sit down concert hall to a dance hall - with the band constantly asking the crowd to surge closer to the stage.

The band's energy was amazing. Ninety percent of their songs were played at full speed, with each player trying to out-pick the other. This was probably a result of spending the previous month locked in the studio cutting their second CD. Their first CD, is the self-titled, Hoots & Hellmouth. For the remaining ten percent they would slow down and do a jazz or blues rift, where you could fully appreciate their vocals (which sometimes were drowned out by the instruments). I wish they would have slowed it down for a few more songs because their vocals and harmonies are outstanding.

As I previously stated, the band will be traveling the next two months, playing primarily in the Northeast and Southeast, with a few Midwest shows mixed in. Their full schedule can be found at and for those traveling to Florida and Austin, they will be playing at the Langerado Music Festival and SXSW Showcase.

Before Hoots and Hellmouth took stage, I was able to see a few songs from Old Springs Pike, a trio from New York City. The band had a large following of enthusiastic supporters - that even followed the band backstage after their performance. I wish I had arrived earlier, because I really enjoyed what I heard. The three members have tight and complimentary harmonies that shine during their slower songs; but then the band can burst into a hard rock n' roll tune that gets even the Jammin' Java staff dancing. I was also impressed by the strong country-ish vocals of the piano - percussion playing Heather. This is a band worth following - you can say you saw them before they became headliners. They have a few shows scheduled in the Northeast - but I'm looking forward to downloading a few songs from I-Tunes and for their future EP.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jammin Java's Rock N' Roll Songwriters Circle

On Sunday February 10th, I was invited to one of Jammin Java's Rock N' Roll Songwriters Circle, this one featuring Luke Brindley, Shane Hines, Todd Wright, and Anthony Fiacco of the Blackjacks. Basically the idea of a songwriters circle is to get a few artists together in an informal environment to swap stories and play a few songs. The songs could be new material, new versions of older songs, or just anything that comes to them at the moment. Each of these artists have a strong local following in the Washington D.C area so there was a healthy turnout for a Sunday night. They opened the evening by each playing one of their own songs, then took turns playing a song written by each other. My favorite was Fiacco's interpretation of Brindley's Hudson River. Brindley turned around and played a semi-raunchy tune of Fiacco's which drew laughs from the crowd - considering the father of five's usual mild demeanor. Throughout the evening Wright and Hines traded humorous banter and instigated another round of laughing from the audience when they flustered Brindley before his last song. But this wasn't a comedy show - the four showed why they are excellent songwriters and musicians. They ended the night in a band format, Brindley on drums, Fiacco on bass, Wright on the keyboard, and Hines on guitar rocking to Dancing Queen. That's something you won't see often - but you know what, it was a better performance than the Abba tribute bands that sell out Wolf Trap each summer.

This weekend Todd Wright joins Shane Hines and the Trance on a one week tour of London where they will be playing first at the The Bedford and then three nights at the famous Abbey Road Studios. The trip is being partially sponsored by XM Radio World Space UPop 29 which has given Hines some airplay the past year. Each of these artists will be returning to Jammin Java in the next two months or playing in local Washington D.C. venues. I can't wait for an opportunity to see Fiacco and the Blackjacks in a more rock in roll environment. Jammin Java also has a great schedule coming this weekend. On Friday February 15 you can hear roots rock from Hoots and Hellmouth and the following night rockin' blues from the great Popa Chubby. Check for their schedules.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

24th Annual International Blues Challenge Results

Courtesy of the Match Box Blues Society, here are the results of the 24th Annual International Blues Challenge held in Memphis over the past week.

The International Blues Challenge took place this past week in Memphis, Tennessee, with all the bands and solo/duo entries competing on Beale Street on Thursday and Friday nights. On Saturday morning the Keeping The Blues Alive Awards were presented at a gala brunch. The IBC Finals were held on Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre. The finalists are now listed below with the final winners listed below that. Congratulations to all the entrants, finalists, and winners.

The Band finalists:

Doghouse Daddies
Laurie Morvan Band
Shakura S'Aida
Lil' Ray Neal Blues Band
Trampled Under Foot
Little Rodger & The Cheap Thrills
Delta Wires
The Mike Crandall Band
Pryor Baird and the Deacons

The Solo/Duo finalists:

John-Alex Mason
Ben Prestage
Dan Stevens and Chris D'Amato
Robert Sampson
Lionel Young

And the winners are:

Albert King Guitar Award

The winner of the Albert King Guitar award was Nick Schnebelen of Kansas City's Trampled Under Foot.

The Band Division of The International Blues Challenge

The Second Runner Up, or Third Place winner of the band division of the International
Blues Challenge is: Lil' Ray Neal Blues Band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana!

The First Runner Up, or Second Place winner of the band division of the International Blues Challenge is: Shadura S'Aida from Toronto, Ontario!

And the Winner of the 2008 International Blues Challenge in the Band division is...
Trampled Under Foot from Kansas City!

The Solo/Duo Division of the International Blues Challenge

The runner up/second place of the solo/duo competition of the 2008 International Blues
Challenge is: Ben Prestage

And the winner of the solo/duo division of the 2008 International Blues Challenge is...
Lionel Young!

Congratulations to all the great entrants, finalists, and winners of this year's International Blues Challenge.

Friday, February 1, 2008

MyJoog Artist - Daryl Davis

In the early 1990's, the great bluesman, Pinetop Perkins, interrupted one of his shows at the now defunct Tornado Alley to ask a member of the audience join him on the piano. From the first table, Daryl Davis rose and played the rest of the night with his mentor. For several years earlier, Mr. Perkins had selected the then 27-year-old Davis "to succeed him in the piano and vocal slot of the Muddy Waters Legendary Blues Band". For the rest of the evening, the two piano bluesman played selections from Muddy Waters and various Boogie Woogie compilations that I will never forget. Since then, I have followed Davis as he has performed in venues throughout the mid-Atlantic.

Davis' resume is impressive - he has played with such great artists as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley's Jordanaires, and The Coasters. He was also the featured pianist on Cephas & Wiggins' 1992 Grammy Award winning album, Flip Flop & Fly. Showing musical diversity - he scored the music to the popular children's story, Abigail. And in 2005 he won his first Wammie (Washington Area Music Awards) in the Roots Rock category which he followed in 2006 with a Wammie in the Blues/Traditional category.

Now on to the show. On most occasions Daryl Davis plays in smaller venues such as Bangkok Blues so you have an excellent chance to see him up close. He alternates between traditional Chicago blues to crowd pleasing boogie. Lately he has been mixing in songs from his latest CD American Roots. Look for "Romp In The Swamp".

Besides being an extraordinary musician Mr. Davis is a respected author and speaker. After feeling the affects of racism while growing up, he decided to "understand the hate that is inherent in racism". He was able to interview Roger Kelley, then "Imperial Wizard" of the Klan in the state of Maryland, first by disclosing his race. After many encounters they developed a friendship and Kelley eventually quit the Klan. And othe "former members that left have given Davis their robes as a token of respect, and he keeps them as a reminder that he can make a difference". You can read about these exploits in his fascinating book, Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan and in this Washington Post article.

Fans of Daryl Davis will be able to re-live his days with the now 94 year old Pinetop Perkins as they join the fabulous Nighthawks at Glen Echo Park on March 15th. This should be an unbelievable show. I'll see you there.