Its First Wild Promise: January Roundup

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Well hey, New York. Here we are, about a month in. Winter Storm Jonas gave me an excuse to curl up in my 9:30 Club sweatshirt (miss you, DC) and go through photos from a series of dance-away-those-winter-blues shows. I’ll share these pics & tunes with you over the next few posts. Let’s start with some Alabama soul from St. Paul & The Broken Bones and rootsy rock from Banditos.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

“For all y’all in the front row, I’m sorry. It’s gonna be like Sea World–” Paul Janeway warned on the second of two sold-out evenings in New York (the first at Carnegie Hall, the second at Bowery Ballroom). We loved every bit of it, sweat and all. Continue reading “Its First Wild Promise: January Roundup”

Won’t Be Home Tonight: Banditos + Old 97’s

First, the young upstarts known as Banditos lit up the club with raw, bluesy, punkified, tambourine-shaking, banjo-laced rock. Then the Old 97’s — venerated statesmen of the Republic of Alt-Country Meets Punk Rock — took us hip-shaking, innuendo-slinging, windmill-strumming into the wee hours of morning.


Wide-eyed, white lines
On down the road I slide
God willing and the creek don’t rise
Well, I won’t be home tonight …

First, the young upstarts known as Banditos lit up the club with raw, bluesy, tambourine-jangling southern rock. Then Old 97’s  — the venerated statesmen of the Republic of Alt-Country Meets Punk — took us hip-shaking, innuendo-slinging, and windmill-strumming into the wee hours. It was one of those nights when you wanna say, “oh, to hell with it,” pack a bag, and follow the bands on down the road.

The six-member Banditos hail from Birmingham and operate out of Nashville. If you’re looking for new songs to play between cuts of Alabama Shakes and Drive-By Truckers, look no further — all that well-muscled, gritty, soulful goodness is right here.

Continue reading “Won’t Be Home Tonight: Banditos + Old 97’s”

You Make Me: Cory Branan Live in DC

You could call his music punk or call it country, but you’d be better off forgetting the categories and just giving Cory Branan a listen.

My first encounter with Cory Branan‘s music was through browsing the Bloodshot Records catalog — the label that signed the Old 97s and Neko Case can do no wrong. Branan had just released his third album, Mutt, and I wound up listening to “Survivor Blues” on heavy, heavy rotation. The song is a combo punch to the heart and gut. It encapsulates Branan’s potent cocktail of fierceness and finesse — a touch of grit in his voice, rawness and urgency in delivery, and vulnerability beneath.

Continue reading “You Make Me: Cory Branan Live in DC”

This Could Be Home: Jesse Terry + Suzie Brown & Scot Sax


Days of rain. Not spring rain, the kind that nourishes new life, but late autumn rain. The kind that seeps into your bones and makes you weary, weary beyond your years, weary of waking up to headlines in which a city name is metonym for all that is fundamentally broken, weary of the emotional output demanded by the holidays, of tallying up mistakes and trying to outrun your own shadow.

The rain tapered to a drizzle mid-day and I laced up for a run. The Reflecting Pool was deserted, the Tidal Basin drew only a few brave tourists. I usually crave these moments of solitude, the grim satisfaction of pushing through the weariness. But that day, the wind whipping through the trees and the staccato of my shoes against wet gravel sounded more stark than soothing.

So I put on some music. Not my normal running playlist of pop and hip-hop, but the music of a singer-songwriter I started listening to a few weeks ago. His name is Jesse Terry. His music is filled with a simple grace, with lyrics that capture beautifully the eternal tug-of-war between head and heart. If you like Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams, or Jackson Browne, give Jesse’s music a try. His soothing voice paired with acoustic guitar is like a gentle sunbeam parting monochrome sky.

Continue reading “This Could Be Home: Jesse Terry + Suzie Brown & Scot Sax”

No guilty pleasures: A chat with Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless performs at DC9 on Wednesday, September 24. Get your tickets here. Photos from her DC9 show after the jump.

lydialoveless_bs219promo_horiz_whiteHer voice is like a good whiskey — a warm, tantalizing smoothness followed by a fierce kick that reveals potency and fire. Lydia Loveless delivers punk-inflected and country-infused songs that are a bit Loretta Lynn and a bit Replacements, but ultimately and undeniably her very own brand of swagger and smarts. It’s an addictive combo, and it’s no wonder Rolling Stone named her as one of “10 New Artists You Need to Know.”

Following a tour with the Old 97s this spring, Lydia Loveless is back on the road. Over the weekend, she answered a few questions via e-mail.

Q. I read that “Hurts So Bad” was inspired by a book you read about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Are there other stories — from novels, films, poems, etc. — that have found their way into your music?

Yes, Verlaine and Rimbaud for instance. I wouldn’t say anything I write is strictly about one thing, but inspired briefly by things I observe or read and then stretched as far as I can take them.

Continue reading “No guilty pleasures: A chat with Lydia Loveless”