The 9:30 Club was brimming with folk fans ready to hear the buzzed-about David Wax Museum—their conversations floating from Burning Man, to Newport Folk Festival, and how to most creatively tie bandanas. Surrounded by my co-folksters, I felt simultaneously at ease and excited. Turns out I live for folk.
Still flying from my high up in Newport, I was pretty excited to see David Wax Museum live, one on one with them, no dirt, no thousands upon thousands of people, good sounding venue in my own town. And I thought, they are bringing Pearl and the Beard—oh now I am most definitely switched on!
As the “ooooos” began in Pearl and the Beard’s “40K,” I got goose bumps, the sweet sound of Jeremy Styles’ guitar, Jocelyn Mackenzie’s percussion building anticipation. “You never come when you say you will/ and I overstay my welcome sitting in this windowsill/ not letting this fire build.” In this opening song, we flirt with Emily Price’s cello, not hearing her let loose both voice and strings, until “The Lament of Coronado Brown,” at which point you realize that her voice is strong and sultry. Each individual of Pearl and the Beard brings a lot to this trio.
It wasn’t the well attended send-off for which I’d hoped, but the crowd was enthusiastic and loyal, typical of These United States fans. As Southeast Engine played their last few songs, the projection screen geared up, and my much-anticipated live introduction to The Cassettes began. Shelby Cinca is exceptional, the energy he brings, the sound… I felt satisfied. When Saadat Awan introduced “Aik Kahani” with ”this is a pakistani folk song,” I knew I was getting something this evening I hadn’t wholly expected.
I then grew nervous for our TUS, as The Cassettes played an amazing set; a reunion suits them, and they would be a tough act to follow, but as itching front man Jesse Elliott began his banter and sang, “The Important Thing,” my relief percolated. I began missing them already as they played “I Want You to Keep Everything” from Everything Touches Everything. With a quick drum introduction from Robby Cosenza, the first words oozed slowly through Jesse’s lips.
Say your goodbyes to the likable local band members of These United States: Jesse Elliott, J. Tom Hnatow, Colin Kellogg, Justin Craig, and Robby Cosenza.
These United States bids adieu to The District, their musical birthplace. But please don’t despair; they will continue touring across the country making full-bodied East Coast folk rock together, no matter where they wind up.
For untapped fans, or for those new to the area:
Over the last three years, These United States has played over six hundred shows and released four albums, and their style of folk rock and roll has gained the support of NPR’s All Things Considered, World Cafe,Mountain Stage, Spin, Paste, Filter, NY Times, Village Voice, and countless other reputable music experts.
Join them at Black Cat this Saturday, September 10th, for a proper sendoff.
David Wax Museum was declared “The breakout act at the Newport Folk Fest last year” by Paste. They solidified their reputation this year and have tour dates scheduled all the way out to March 2012! DWM are hot; not like a fleeting flash or a passing trend, they embrace enduring and influential styles of Latin America, weaving them flawlessly into classic folk.
Rob Kirkpatrick from Huffington Post dubbed them The Best Band You Might Not Know, and after hearing them live was
…simultaneously excited to hear a great act on the verge of blowing up while lamenting that the band is destined for mainstream audiences and bigger venues from here on out. It’s bound to happen for the band. They’re that good. It’ll be our loss and our gain.
After Digitalism’sI Love You, Dude record release this year, I was kindly invited by the German duo to hear them live and “bust a move” at the 9:30 Club Friday night during the HARD Summer Tour (as mentioned in my previous post). Being the most popular act on this tour, Digitalism has their recent single “2 Hearts” featured in the promotional video for the HARD Summer Tour.
I typically lean toward “instruments,” but isn’t music, especially live music, about breaking with convention? Friday night, I left my folk bias behind and arrived early to “get the lay of the land.” And as I stood in a freezing cold, nearly empty club I felt intimidated and nervous. What would fill this space; who would fill this space; how could they fill this space!? So, like we do when the show hasn’t begun, we drink!
I cannot believe I have not written them up sooner, but what better time than now! Carolina Chocolate Drops is the absolute number one reason to regret not having attended Newport Folk Festival. Get hooked on them, it will only take one listen to Rhiannon Giddens’ vocals and fiddle, Dom Flemons banjo, passion, and history lessons banter, and Hubby Jenkins’ guitar and bones to fall inlove. This trio (plus 2011 addition, beat boxer Adam Matta) mingles old picking, jugs, and rhythm and blues; inspired by legendary southern fiddlers, CCD puts a new face on “black string music.”
Rhiannon Giddens sang old-time ballads and R&B covers with soulful nods to female jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. (Being from the Piedmont area myself, I felt they did the foothills some serious musical justice with their sound.) Their creativity in mixing the older classics with their current influences is their greatest asset, making them one of the most fun and inspiring acts to watch.
They are rock n roll, the kind you miss before they’re gone. I am already reaching for the car radio as “Out at Sea” fades. Immediately I want to go back, go back and repeat that catchy riff, the charm of a full female lead, the tormented call of Erika Wennerstrom. These intoxicating psychedelic garage rockers played one of many acoustic tour dates Friday, July 22nd, at IOTA.
Vandaveerwas a 9am addition to the show. “I received a text at 9am from IOTA wondering if I could open for The Heartless Bastards tonight. My reply, ‘yes!’” says Vandaveer, his fingers moving nimbly across his guitar, well rested after three weeks since his last live gig.
Cass McCombs and his band, back lit by a sophisticated ‘Lite-Brite,’ opened with “Buried Alive” from his newly released album Wit’s End, a “cheerful” track where you’re unsure whether he is deep in the ground or profoundly depressed.
“Waking up to the breath of the ore, in the sea of Black/ If you cut a worm in two the other half will grow black /If I’m alive or dead I don’t really care, as long as my Soul’s intact/ Buried Alive/Stinking corpse, I smell but cannot see, you hateful neighbor! /Pride, monomania, everything from Earth, topaz vapor/ Hi-chloridized polyethylene resin lacquered newspaper/ buried alive/maybe I’m wrong/ maybe I’m waking for the day…”
I burrowed through the crowd to the platform and awaited the group-wallowing which I had looked forward to all week. Naturally, I did not expect to have my mood instantly elevated by Cass McCombs. He sings about death and abandoned toys.