All posts filed under: Saturday Music

Semi-regular Saturday updates – to break out of the more serious posts on other days of the week – on musical events, musicians and bands that catch my ear. Think of Paul Krugman’s “Friday Night Music” blog posts…without the PhD in Economics (not to mention the Nobel Prize).

Saturday Music: Dolly Parton

Few people—much less entertainers and celebrities—can bring together blue and red Americans, straight and gay communities, grandmothers and granddaughters, rich and poor. Dolly Parton bridges those divides, and more. As Dolly celebrates her 50th anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry this year, NBC will be airing a two-hour celebration of the occasion on November 26th. With a new podcast called “Dolly Parton’s America” and a new Netflix series, Dolly is everywhere. At a time when the marginalization of women in country music is being called out more and more forcefully, it is important to realize that Dolly’s been in that fight for half a century. And often winning it, always very much on her own terms. Growing up near Nashville in the 1960s, I was first introduced to Dolly and her exceptional gifts through the Porter Wagoner TV show where she was featured as the “girl singer.” But she had higher aspirations, and over the course of 50 years has earned the affection so many bestow upon her. She is well known as an entertainer, …

Saturday Music: Courtney Marie Andrews

In the summer of 2018, I had the chance to hear alt-country singer Courtney Marie Andrews live at a small venue in Washington, DC. Andrews was touring to showcase her just released album May Your Kindness Remain, and I was impressed by the honesty of the lyrics, the soulful power of her vocals, and—perhaps most importantly—the defiance in the songs. It was a defiance that pushed back against melancholy. Against the struggles we all face. The acoustic version of Took You Up is a good example of her work. And the lyrics of May Your Kindness Remain speak to the connectivity she finds with people while living the life of the road musician. You’re a good woman, and a good friend You’ve got a good heart, even when it’s busted and bent Lipstick and perfume, underground queen Wearing loneliness like a costume, for the whole world to see And if your money runs out, and your good looks fade May your kindness remain . . . The richest of people aren’t rich with houses, cars, or fame No, they’re …

Saturday Music: Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

Last Monday evening, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas brought their extraordinary musical partnership to Washington for a large and appreciative crowd at the Institute of Musical Traditions. This is the 20th year Fraser and Haas have played together, and the anniversary gave the duo the excuse to return to their back catalog. And it is a masterful body of work, beginning with the album where I first heard them—their inaugural CD Fire & Grace, a project that turned heads worldwide with its exquisite musicianship and clear sense of joy. Steeped in different backgrounds— Alasdair from the roots world of Scottish fiddle and Natalie from the classical halls of Julliard—these amazing musicians responded to each other and to each intricate twist and turn of the music for a delightful two hours. It was art as a life-giving force. And they clearly had fun, recognizing the unique nature of the evening’s setting when they played the “appropriate for Washington” reel Little Donald in the Pigpen. Haas’s percussive use of the cello underpinned the magnificent …

Saturday Music: The Busking Starts at the Busk Stop

On a picture perfect fall day, Swingology was cutting loose with some fine gypsy and traditional jazz this morning at the corner Busk Stop at the Silver Spring Farmers Market. They were a great new addition to our lineup of regular buskers, and we’ll look forward to seeing them back at the market in about a month. In the meantime, you can find some of their music online. And always remember lesson #30 from my 60 lessons from 60 years: tip the busker. More to come… DJB

Saturday Music: Flux

Jerry “Flux” Douglas is among a handful of innovators whose life work has defined, transformed, and elevated the dobro, taking it from a little-known instrument used primarily in bluegrass to the point today where it is heard and welcomed in a wide variety of musical styles. Much of the credit for the dobro’s growth in popularity results from Jerry Douglas’s skillful musicianship and free-wheeling approach. Several years have passed since I last heard Douglas take front and center in the instrumental spotlight. He is much more likely to be showcased playing his role as sideman extraordinaire, as with Alison Krauss + Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas (longest band name ever) or on more than 1500 albums. Thus, last evening promised to be special. I joined friends at the Rams Head in Annapolis to hear Douglas front his own trio and show off his monster instrumental chops (and idiosyncratic singing voice). He didn’t disappoint, playing a generous set of almost two hours and covering a range of musical styles. A couple of my favorites were from …

Saturday Music: A Human Touch

I first saw Jackson Browne in the 1970s. Today, at 70 years of age, he is still writing and singing some of the most beautiful and heartfelt music around. A Human Touch is among his most moving. Written with Steve McEwan and Leslie Mendelson for the Paul Haggis documentary 5B, the song captures the compassion of the caregivers in the 1980s in San Francisco General’s Ward 5B, the world’s first AIDS ward unit. The video of the beautiful Browne / Mendelson duet includes footage of how courage and compassion changed the way doctors and nurses approached and treated AIDS as the epidemic spread fear and hatred throughout the world. “You can call it a decision I say it’s how we’re made There’s no point in shouting from your island Proclaiming only Jesus saves There will always be suffering And there will always be pain But because of it there’ll always be love And love, we know, it will remain Everybody gets lonely Feel like it’s all too much Reaching out for some connections Or maybe …