The Lone Bellow Acoustic Tour at The Barns

I still owe you a post on The Oh Hellos concert from last week, but I’m already so far behind on that one I’m going to kick it down the road a little bit farther and go ahead and write about The Lone Bellow concert I went to last night. Usually when I’m talking about how much I love Wolf Trap and that it’s my favorite concert venue I’m generally technically talking about The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, which is their outdoor venue. They also have a very intimate winter venue called The Barns, which is composed of two 300 year old barns. It is also a wonderful place to see a show.

Last night I went down there to see The Lone Bellow’s Acoustic Tour with Naia Izumi opening. I thought I didn’t know anything about Naia Izumi until we got there and I realized he was the winner of the most recent NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I didn’t particularly care for his music when I watched that Tiny Desk Concert and I can’t see I much cared for it last night either, but I will say that he is a very interesting and talented guitar player. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone play a guitar quite like him before, but I can’t say I’ll go out of my way to listen to him again.

The Lone Bellow however was fantastic. This all acoustic tour took them back to their roots with just the three main band members Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipken on stage with some acoustic guitars, a mandolin, and a grand piano. Although they’ve never been an entirely acoustic band they’ve always done some acoustic stuff and in more recent years have had some additional people sitting in as part of the band including Kanene’s husband Jason on keys. At one point near the end of the show Zach said that this tour has been like a reset button and breathed new life into the music for him and it couldn’t have felt more like that last night. I’ve seen The Lone Bellow many times over the past five years and they’re always delightful and fun so I hadn’t actually realized that anything was missing until I saw it again last night.

They were silly and free and just genuinely seemed to be enjoying being up stage together and watching and listening to what each of them can do. That led to a lot of riffing and them winding up messing around with a lot of cover songs they don’t actually know the lyrics to generally due to Brian starting something. They used to do that all the time in their early shows, but I haven’t seen them be that loose with a set in a long time and I forgot how much I love it. Brian sang one line from the Patty Griffin song “Let Him Fly”. An audience member encouraged them to keep going, but they didn’t know any other lyrics. She shouted that she did and she wound up singing part of it with them joining in. After they mistakenly attributed the song to the Dixie Chicks it turned into a whole Dixie Chicks thing complete with a cover of “Wide Open Spaces” being danced to with pantomimed lyrics. There was also a cover of Boys II Men’s “End of the Road” at the beginning of the encore. In addition to all the silly off the cuff covers they also did a legit pre-planned cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, which was amazing. Kanene singing that song was gorgeous.

The actual set was great too. It was wonderful to hear so many of their songs played acoustic. I also had not realized that they put out an EP of acoustic songs, which includes some new songs, some acoustic versions of previous songs plus a cover of Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge”, a few weeks ago until they mentioned it last night. I really liked the songs they song off that last night am happy to know I have some new Lone Bellow music that I didn’t even know about.

It was a really wonderful show filled with a lot of laughter, fantastic music, and moments that made me grin from ear to ear. It was way better than sitting home watching election returns and well worth the long drive down to Wolf Trap.

New Music Friday:

I have two new songs for you this one. One is not the newest of the new, but I’m betting most of you haven’t heard it.

Mockingbird by Ruston Kelly

I’ve been meaning to write about this song for weeks now. It’s been in contention for new music Friday for a couple of weeks now, but there has always been another song that dropped that I felt about writing about more. It finally gets the honor of appearing here this week. “Mockingbird” has apparently been out in the world since July, but I only added it to my 2018 Spotify playlist at the beginning of October which means I probably didn’t run across it until several months later. The song is by Ruston Kelly, aka Mr. Kacey Musgraves. It reminds me of early harmonica-y Ryan Adams, which is my favorite Ryan Adams, so I’m really digging that vibe.

Comeback Kid by Sharon Van Etten

In general I’ve never been a huge fan of Sharon Van Etten, but I’m really liking her new song “Comeback Kid”. This is her first new music since 2014, so it’s been awhile. There’s not much in the lyrics that I find super exciting, but I just love the sound and vibe of the song. The song has been out for a few weeks, but this music video for it just dropped a couple of days ago. I actually watched it for the first time in writing this post, but I had seen comments about it channeling 80’s Pat Benatar, which it most certainly does. It may be my favorite thing about the song and the video is the little title chyron that shows up at the beginning of the video like they used to on MTV. Ah nostalgia.

Fall 2018 TV Diary

This new fall television season has been pretty lackluster. There wasn’t much I was even interested in watching and a lot of what I tried I quit pretty quickly. But here’s what I’ve been watching or in many cases no longer watching listed in order from best to worst. I’m even sort of cheating with my favorites because they are returning shows although different enough that I’m including them in the list.

Doctor Who

Obviously Doctor Who is not a new show, but we’ve entered a new era with new writers and the first woman Doctor. I was very excited going into this season that we were finally getting a woman Doctor and so far Jodie Whittaker has completely lived up to all my hopes and expectations. She is a fantastic Doctor, and I’m really loving the storylines so far. I like the companions. Prior to this Matt Smith was my favorite Doctor and I think there’s a lot of common DNA there. He had both Amy and Rory rather than a single companion and he had a sense of whimsy that she has too. I’m happy to go on many more adventures with this new crew.

Deutschland 86

This is technically the second season of the German show Deutschland 83, which was one of my favorite shows of 2015. At the time I wasn’t sure we were ever going to get another season, but 3 years later we’re picking back up with the characters who have also had 3 years of their lives pass. The show is about East German spies during the 80s. Obviously this season is set in 1986. If you miss The Americans it will help fill the 80s spy hole in your heart. As a German spy show it would probably appeal to people who liked Babylon Berlin as well. It does require reading subtitles since it’s German like Babylon Berlin. I have seen they are already filming Deutschland 89 which will pick up in 1989. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until 2021 for it. Anyway go watch Deutschland 83 on Hulu and then pick up with this season on the Sundance channel.

I Feel Bad

I’m really enjoying this NBC sitcom about a working mother feeling like she’s failing both her family and her job. I think the family parts of the show are stronger than the office parts. Hopefully they’ll figure that out along the way or maybe do what they did on Mom and mostly drop the workplace piece. At any rate it’s probably my favorite real new show of the season.

A Million Little Things

One of the things that I feel like has been lost in the age of peak tv is all the good family/friend dramas. I had been hoping that This is Us would fill that hole for me, but I never liked it and decided to not keep watching it this season. A Million Little Things is currently what I’m working with to fulfill that need and so far I do like it more than This Is Us. Don’t get me wrong though. This show is complete garbage. It’s completely unrealistic to the nth degree. It’s about a group of friends who are insanely codependent on each other. One of them commits suicide at the beginning of the show, so now there’s all these little clues about why. Their relationships and they way they all act has no basis in human reality, but it just got picked up for a full season and I’m going to keep watching.

Legacies

Legacies is a spin-off from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. I quit The Originals after the first season, but I watched The Vampire Diaries all the way through the bitter end. It was definitely long in the tooth by the time it was over, but I stand by my assessment of the amazingness of the first 3 or so seasons of that show. I wasn’t sure I was going to bother watching this show since I didn’t follow through on The Originals and my feelings on The Vampire Diaries weren’t the best by the end, but I decided to give it a chance at the last second. It follows some of the kids of the characters of the other two shows who are now teenagers and attending the Salvatore School for the Supernatural which was set up by some The Vampire Diaries characters. It’s only had one episode so far, but it I liked it well enough that I will at least give it another episode or two.

All-American

This teenage football drama is no Friday Night Lights. It probably shares more DNA with Beverly Hills 90210 as it revolves around a kid who moves from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills to play football so he has that same fish out water thing Brandon and Brenda did in the first seasons of 90210. Again I’m not sure I love this show, but I’ll keep watching it for now.

Maniac

We’re not quite half way through this Netflix show and we’ve kind of hit a standstill. Since it’s a Netflix show, which means we could have binged our way through it long ago, it’s obvious we aren’t super into it. Perhaps we’ll get back it eventually, maybe we won’t.

Manifest

This is yet one more Lost knockoff with a less interesting mystery and less interesting characters. I watched about 3 episodes of this show and only that many because my husband kept putting them on.

Kidding

I don’t love Jim Carrey, so I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try this show out, but I decided to give it at least one episode. I could not take Carrey or the zaniness of the side characters. I quit this show after one episode.

REL

For some reason I saw REL on a bunch of lists of what shows you should watch this fall. I have no idea why. It was not funny. It was super over the top old school dumb sitcom and I couldn’t deal with the laugh track that was so loud I could barely even hear the dialogue. I also stopped this show after one episode.

 

New Music Friday: Delta Rae and J.S. Ondara

I’ve got a couple of new songs for you this week. One thing that I kept hearing shortly after the 2016 election was well at least we’re bound to get some good protest music out of all of this. At the time people took issue with it because it sounded really flippant in the face of everything, but two years into this mess it turns out they weren’t wrong.

Early voting started here in Maryland yesterday and I’m sure if it hasn’t started where you are yet it soon will leading up to actual election day on November 6. So take a listen to a couple of great new protest songs, remember what we’re fighting for, and then get out there and vote.

Hands Dirty by Delta Rae

“Hands Dirty” is a song written in response to the #MeToo movement by Brittany Hölljes one of the members who was herself sexually assaulted as a teenager. You can read more about her story and why she wrote the song in her own words. It’s a great song with a very powerful video. There’s a part about 3/4 of the way through that gets me every time.

 

“American Dream” by J.S. Ondara

J.S. Ondara is born in Nairobi, Kenya and now lives in Minnesota. His explanation of the video and song is way better than anything I could say about it so I will just let his words speak for themselves.

“The video follows a man, as he sets upon a journey to purchase a weapon. While on his way, we get a glimpse of the world around him through his eyes, which gives us some insight into his state of mind. Ultimately, the video explores the turbulent times in the country, socially and politically, thereby throwing a shade of irony to the popular notion of ‘The American Dream.'”

New Music Friday: Party of One by Brandi Carlile and Sam Smith

Just a quick one for you today because I’m traveling, but I’m nothing but committed to you dear reader so I didn’t want to leave you without a song to listen to this fine Friday. The song “Party of One” itself is not that new. It’s off of Brandi Carlile’s newest album by the way I forgive you. On the tour for the album she’s been closing out the set prior to the encore with this song where she says this song is what happens when you get in a fight with your wife and then stay up late getting drunk and listening to Joni Mitchell. She just dropped this new version of the song as a duet with Sam Smith on Wednesday. Some of the proceeds from this version will go to support Children in Conflict through Brandi’s Looking Out Foundation where she does a lot of work to support children in war torn countries.

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.