Category Archives: Music

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit at Wolf Trap

Americana kingpin Jason Isbell is always a gracious frontman and performer. But he had to stop his show with his band The 400 Unit a couple of times Tuesday at Wolf Trap in Virginia to take in what he was seeing: a nearly full outdoor amphitheater packed with fans who had been waiting as long […]

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NSO’s Labor Day Concert with Ben Folds

The pandemic has thrown traditional events like the National Symphony Orchestra’s annual Labor Day concert for a loop for two years running. Held for years on the West Lawn of the Capitol, it had to be broadcast last year to an audience parked at RFK stadium, watching on screens and listening to their car radios. […]

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Documentary Reminds: He’s Rick James

More than 20 years after his hitmaking heyday, Rick James became a household name to a whole new generation in 2004 when Dave Chappelle mocked his brash personality with the catchphrase “I’m Rick James, bitch!” The singer was still around and trying to catch a break after drug binges, prison and record company indifference had […]

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Willie Nile Finally Returns to Rock

Willie Nile’s pent up energy for getting back on the road was fairly palpable in his show Saturday at the Hamilton in D.C. Originally scheduled for April 2020, it had been postponed by the pandemic to summer that year, then to April this year to finally this late summer date 16 months later.  In the […]

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Elizabeth Cook, Waylon Payne Perform

Elizabeth Cook could well be the best of the legion of DJs on Sirius XM. Her weekday “Apron Strings” show on the Outlaw Country channel reflects her personality, as she speaks frankly and sometimes brashly about her life, her musician friends, and everyday hard knocks in her engaging twang. She’d bring that same charm to […]

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Remembering Nanci Griffith, 1953-2021

Though I spent my days as a small town news reporter in Eastern Connecticut in the mid-80s, I got my foot into the features writing at  the Hartford Courant by agreeing to be the folk reviewer. It was a crash course in a field that had not only a rich heritage but was also undergoing […]

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When Woodstock ’99 Burned It All Down

Warning: There may be a little PTSD for anybody who was there triggered by the new documentary “Music Box: Woodstock ’99: Peace, Love and Rage” (HBO, 9 p.m.), chronicling the terrible concert held on the overheated concrete of a decommissioned Air Force base in upstate New York that seemed to embody the epitome of white […]

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Bob Dylan Streams ‘Shadow Kingdom’

Out of all the musicians knocked off the road by the pandemic, it must have been a real strain on Bob Dylan. A guy who has essentially played one tour after another since 1988; totaling more than 3,000 shows, pausing only a few months during a health scare in 1997, he had seen nothing like […]

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McCartney Considers His Beatles Role

Given the size and power of the Baby Boomers demo, it’s a wonder the whole of TV isn’t back to back classic rock documentaries. But there are actually quite a lot of them. The most annoying of the lot are like “Icon: Music Through the Lens” (PBS, 9 p.m.), an exhaustive and exhausting six-hour (!) […]

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The Prince, Elvis Facsimilies of Vegas

Rising like a shimmering fever dream in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas has always been about fakery. Magicians and impersonators continue to be top draws in showrooms, the best of them mystifying the tourist flocks. Casinos are constructed to emulate ersatz pyramids, Roman coliseums, Parisian skylines, and the whole of New York City. […]

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