Wednesday, November 18, 2009

20 Days in November - Day 13: Langhorne Slim

This evening I left the confines of suburbia and pretending I was much younger, entered the dynamic environment of Washington D.C.'s H Street "Atlas" shopping district. Located in the northeast section of the street this area is home to several music venues and restaurants - including the Rock & Roll Hotel and The Red and the Black - as well as loads of road construction. This area is ready to explode. Why venture into the farthest area of the city from our residence? Langhorne Slim. I first heard this artist from his Daytrotter session - these songs I still listen to at least weekly - "Collette", "Diamonds and Gold", "Nobody But You, "Rebel Side of Heaven", and "We Love the Animals". The basic theme to all these songs is enjoy life now - its too short not to. There's a bit of blues, gospel, alt-country, and folk in the arrangements and Langhorne's bluesy vocals capture the spirit of each song.

I arrived at the Rock & Roll Hotel a little late after taking the venue's directions at face value. If riding in from the west - take 395 and not E Street->H Street completely across the city. The venue was packed - and I mean packed - a great crowd for any night, but extraordinary for a Tuesday. The opening act, Dawes was just coming onstage and lead singer Taylor Goldsmith also commented about the high attendance. Evidently they received a much lower response their last trip through. And Dawes was a good opening act. They have a similar style as Langhorne Slim - basically a blend of different genres. The band is named after the Goldsmiths' grandfather - brother Griffin plays the drums. The songwriting was way too mature for a group that young - that was a pleasant surprise - as was the basic stage presence of Goldsmith. They guy can sing plus he understands the business side - encouraging attendees to visit the merchandise table and that the songs the were applauding were contained in North Hills. A nice start to the evening.

Shortly afterward Langhorne Slim and his band came onstage - and they basically had me by seeing an upright bass and a banjo. Getting down to the roots. Within the first half dozen songs he met and exceeded all my expectations in terms of charisma, stage presence, and plain ol' music. Plus, during that time he played "Collette", "Diamonds and Gold", and "Rebel Side of Heaven" - all songs I could sing along to along with everyone else. I was also told at the merch table that they were available on Langhorne Slim. He also has a new CD out, Be Set Free; but most of the long time fans I conversed with still think of When the Sun's Gone Down as his best. Apparently it had the same gospel feel as tonight's performance. I liked the band's versatility. At times they were soft and soulful as for "Collette" and "Diamonds and Gold" - but then raising a raucous such as with the "Rebel Side of Heaven". A true showman. Apparently they just finished another Daytrotter session - so I look forward to downloading more music to see what's on the horizon for these guys. Thanks for making the venture into D.C. worthwhile.

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