New Music Friday: Light On by Maggie Rogers

This week’s song is hot off the presses. Maggie Rogers dropped her new single “Light On” on Wednesday. It’s all about the changes in her personal and professional life over the last two years after her song “Alaska” went viral after some promotion from Pharrell Williams. This song has an amazing beat and I love it. It’s going to be the perfect song to add to driving and exercise playlists.

I expect a lot more people will know Maggie Rogers’ name soon. This song will be featured on her first full album due out in January. She is also going to be opening up for Mumford & Sons on their upcoming Delta tour. Although she wasn’t officially on the bill with a set of her own she popped up all over the place at this summer’s Newport Folk Festival including with Mumford & Sons who turned over part of their set to back her singing “Alaska”. I definitely look forward to hearing more from her in the near future and seeing her perform on that tour.

 

Florence + the Machine at the Anthem

This past Saturday I went down to DC to see Florence + the Machine at the Anthem. This was my fourth time seeing Florence + the Machine. Interestingly the venues have been going down in size. The first time I saw her was back in her early days opening for U2 at M&T Bank Stadium. That is the first and last concert I will ever go to at a venue that size. Then I saw her twice at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I was a little surprised to see she was playing a venue as small as the Anthem, but she certainly made up for it with the ticket prices. Totally worth it though.

When they originally announced the concert there was only a Friday night show, which I bought tickets to. Then after that sold out they added a Saturday show. Getting down to DC on a Friday night after work is a bear, so I decided to buy a ticket for Saturday night figuring I would be able to sell my Friday one. I eventually did, but I held onto it for a long time thinking I might wind up going both nights. Even though I have a place to stay in DC, after being out of town for the previous two weekends I decided I only wanted to be away on Saturday night and not the entire weekend.

It worked out well because another Baltimore friend was going down to DC to hang out with the friend I was staying with in DC so I rode down with her and then got a ride back to Baltimore on Sunday with my DC friend as we have season tickets to Center Stage and our play was on Sunday afternoon. They went down to the Wharf with me trying to tour some Viking ship that was docked there for 10 days, but the tickets were all sold out. We tried to grab dinner, but all the sit down restaurants around there had at least 90 minute wait times so that didn’t work out either. I wound up grabbing something at Shake Shack. They kept me company while I ate and then went off somewhere else in the city to find food.

Even though the doors to the venue were open at that point I opted to just sit outside and enjoy the nice evening for about another hour. I had been to the Anthem once before to see Brandi Carlile, but that was a seated show meaning there were a lot fewer people. I was a little leary going in on how I was going to feel about a standing room only crowd of 6000 people in an enclosed space, so I decided to limit how long I had to deal with a crowd of drunken people. I also don’t care about Beth Ditto, who was the opening act so I decided I was going to go in just in time for Florence + the Machine to take the stage. I have to say I love Florence, but I do not love her choice in opening acts. I have not cared for her openers at any show I’ve seen.

My plan worked perfectly. I got in line around 9 and was through security at 9:10. Florence + the Machine went on at 9:15. I just situated myself at the back of the crowd and it was fine for the most part. I definitely did not want to be smushed in the middle of everyone. Plus I’ve often found that with my short stature if I can stand far enough at the back of the crowd I can kind of see over it whereas I can’t see anything if I’m in the middle of it. If it wasn’t sold it, it was close to sold out so I couldn’t get exactly far enough away from other people to see great, but for me at at a standing room only show where I wasn’t in the front I could see pretty well. It also helps that unlike must SRO venues, the Anthem has video screens so when I couldn’t see the stage I could at least watch those to see what was happening.

In all the press about her latest album release, High as Hope, I saw that Florence Welch had gotten sober before recording it. Assuming she’s still sober I was kind of curious how that might affect her live shows since she’s always been sort of out there on stage and I thought perhaps she would be more inhibited if she was sober. Whatever her current state of sobriety I did not notice any difference in her stage presence. She was still just as dancing and twirly and all over the place as she has always been. She spent a couple of songs in various states of running and dancing around in between the stage and the security gate, then standing on top of the security gate, and then finally over the gate and off into the crowd. I’m sure the Anthem’s security detail were thrilled.

The music of course was great. She sang an array of songs from across her four albums. It also just felt like a very positive place to be on a night that otherwise didn’t feel so positive in the midst of a whole lot of days that don’t feel so positive. She emphasized that hope is an action, which really struck me since in all of this hope is something I have very much struggled to hang onto and feel like I don’t have anymore. But she’s right without hope we can’t do anything else. I also forgot how touchy feely she likes to have her audience get. I’ve always been with friends at previous shows and perhaps my introverted self blocked out this out, but as soon as she started asking people to hold hands with strangers and asking people to tell strangers that you love them it all came flooding back. It’s not something I’m keen on doing even with people I know, so I was really not excited about doing it alone in a crowd of people I didn’t know. I just stood there, but the people on either side of me were game, so I went along with it.

It was as always a great show and I look forward to her next album when I will undoubtedly get to see her tour again.

A Star is Born

This past weekend I went to see the newest remake of A Star is Born starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. This movie was right up my alley. I mean a movie about music in which one of the main songs Bradley Cooper’s character was supposed to be famous for was written by Jason Isbell and there was also a cameo by Brandi Carlile. I had actually completely forgotten that I knew she had been involved in it. I just saw her post something on Instagram yesterday morning about the movie and I was thinking maybe she had also written a song. Then when I actually saw her scene in the movie I was like oh yeah she mentioned this when I saw her at The Beacon because she met the guy who was opening for her when they were filming the movie.

In case you are unfamiliar with the story Bradley Cooper plays a what I would best describe as an Americana singer who has had a great career, but whose star is starting to fade as he succumbs to alcoholism and hearing loss. Lady Gaga plays an amateur singer who he meets and takes under his wing. They fall in love, but their relationship is tested as her star rises while his is falling. It’s definitely a tragic love story, so if you’re looking for a movie with a happy ending this isn’t it in case you thought it was.

Despite one scene that I had to watch with my hands over my eyes because of the deep secondary embarrassment I really liked this film. The performances were great. I loved the music in it. Also, let me add the obligatory review comment about hey did you know that Lady Gaga could sing, but hey she can. It was actually kind of great to get to see her sing without all the performance trappings that go into her musical persona. I know we’re supposed to think Bradley Cooper’s character is being a jerk when he criticizes Lady Gaga’s character for pretty much turning from a singer-songwriter type into well essentially Lady Gaga, but I was like yeah drop the theatrics and go back. It’s definitely not the feel good movie of the year, but I would recommend it especially if you like music.

New Music Friday: Cat Power’s Woman

Cat Power is back with a new album, Wanderer, today, her first since 2012. I’ve been enjoying “Woman”, the first single off the album for the past several weeks. It features Lana Del Rey and I really like the way their voices sound together. I also love the guitar lick that starts each verse. It reminds me a lot of the guitar lick in Tom Petty’s song “Breakdown”, which is one of my favorites by him. I also appreciate that the song doesn’t exactly what you expect it to do musically. It sort of ramps up in the chorus so that you feel like it should break wide open, but it never really quite gets there and then it totally slams back down going from the chorus back into the second verse. It makes it musically interesting to me.

Girls’ Weekend in Richmond

Three of my friends and I try to do a girls’ weekend away every fall. This year we chose to go to Richmond. Almost every single person who I told that I was going on a girls’ weekend in Richmond scoffed at me, including one of the people I went with when it was initially suggested. I had never been there before aside from driving through on I-95, but it was in a good driving distance for a long weekend and looking it up there seemed like there would be enough to keep us occupied for a weekend. So to everyone who looked askance at me I can tell you that you were wrong. We had a very fun time in Richmond.

We rented an AirBnB in a neighborhood called Church Hill. It’s pretty much a residential neighborhood, but it was very cute with lots of beautiful Victorian style homes. It was also very historical because when I went for a walk around the neighborhood I saw lots of historical plaques on houses. Even though it was mostly residential there were a number of delicious restaurants within walking distance of the house. We wound up eating most of meals nearby.

After we got in on Friday night we walked over to the Liberty Public House in time to take advantage of some happy hour specials and eat dinner. On our way back to the house we stopped by this little place called the Union Market, which was a little sundry shop/restaurant of some sort. We stocked up on some alcohol, cheese, crackers, and some amazing ice cream sandwiches from a local ice cream place called Nightingale ice cream. We tried 4 different flavors (key lime, orange creamsicle, cookie monster, and salted caramel). They were all amazing. I wish they had them here so I could try some of the other flavors. We wound up going back to the house and playing Uno because we were all exhausted. I swear I looked at my watch thinking it was time to go to bed and it was only 7:30.

I always like to try and get my exercise in, so I got up and went for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone else got up. I like walking around because it gives you better sense of things than just driving by. After we all got ready for the day we grabbed breakfast at a little bakery/coffee shop near the house called Sub Rosa. The baked goods were amazing. I ate a sour cherry and pistachio pastry that was crazy delicious.

After breakfast we headed to the Carytown neighborhood. There is a cute little main street there with tons of shops and restaurants. We spent several hours wandering around there popping into stores. We of course spent a long time browsing in the new and used bookstore. For some reason it was called Chop Suey. My best guess is maybe there was a restaurant in the same location by that name and they decided to go with it. At any rate they had a store cat whose name was WonTon, which I thought was super adorable. I managed to leave the kitchen store without buying anything, but I did get some spices at the Penzey’s.

We headed back to the house for a few hours in the afternoon where we snacked on our cheese and some fruit for a late lunch and played Phase 10. We went to dinner at a place in some other neighborhood, though I’m not sure which one, that several people had recommended called Lunch. or Supper! We wound up having to wait an hour for a table, but they had a nice beer garden to wait in so it wasn’t terrible. In addition to the recommendations we also chose the restaurant because it was just a block down from the Blue Bee Cider tap room, which we also wanted to go to. We got some cider and sat outside in their I guess cider garden and enjoyed the beautiful evening.

During our travels on Saturday I realized that there was a canal path about a half mile from our house, so I decided to check it out for my Sunday morning walk. It was a great walk along the water that took me through a lot of different areas. Where I started it was a path running under some train tracks with a lot of beautiful trees along the water. As I got closer to downtown it was kind of like walking through some various locks, which was kind of cool. Then it turned into an actual canal walk like cities sometimes try and build up with some restaurants though in this case not that many, and some place you could get on a sightseeing boat on the canal. At the point I turned around the path was in some park. So it was great little walk where I felt like I got to see a lot of different things. We grabbed brunch in our neighborhood at a place called the Roosevelt, which was delicious as well before heading back to Baltimore.

Everything about the weekend was helped by the beautiful weather. It was perfect for all the time we were able to spend outside walking around and enjoying food and libations al fresco. Aside from the traffic driving there and back (suck it DC beltway) we had a great trip and I would definitely recommend Richmond to anyone looking to get away for a long weekend.