Damien Jurado at Rock & Roll Hotel
Hi there, readers! I'm the new guy in town, Karthik. (Well, I've actually been in DC for 5 years now, but I'm the new guy in this digital town.)
I go to way too many concerts, and I'll be doing a lot of live concert recaps for you. I guess there'll be more about me in the contributors page soon enough, but for now, screw it, let's just jump right in. You can find me on twitter here, but my posting is probably 10% music, 90% hippie liberal, so your mileage may vary. (No matter what, you get one song a day from me, if nothing else.)
I'm recapping two concerts that were 3 days apart because honestly, other than the concerts, there's not much linking the worlds of Sunday, November 6th, pre-election day and Wednesday, November 9th, post-election day.
The first concert was Joshua Radin, with the opener Good Old War, playing at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA and the second was Damien Jurado, with opener Doug Keith, playing at Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington, DC.
The reason I link these two guys is that, way back in the Spring of 2001, your intrepid blogger and then-college freshman found out about this really cool music service called Pandora that was supposed to replace Napster (RIP). It was super cool - you could put in an artist (or two or more) and it would play songs based on their sound. While I first made stations based on bands, I started to create stations based on moods, and one of my favorite stations was called "Wistful Singer-Songwriters" and was just a station based on six artists (in alphabetical order): Howie Day, Damien Jurado, Greg Laswell, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, and Damien Rice. One of my (obviously ex-)girlfriends referred to that station as "Music to Kill Yourself By," and while she wasn't completely wrong, I still love it and listen to it pretty often.
Getting to see two of those guys in a week was something that 17-year-old me would have thought made up an awesome week, and it's one of the few things teen me would think was awesome about old me.
The first show (Radin/GOW) started off amazingly - if you haven't seen Good Old War, put them on your list immediately. (If you've seen them, you already know what I mean.) You'll come for Dan's amazing guitar solos, but you'll stay for Keith's endearingly awkward white boy dancing. (Tim's drum fills are great, as are his backing vocals: didn't want you to think I forgot about him.)
They started energetic, and then went sappy to sing an anniversary song to two of their friends in the audience, and, honestly, I think I've found a new song in the running for "my first wedding dance" song: "Amazing Eyes," (another post for another time) which they immediately followed with the fun and catchy "Small World."
Good Old War: "Amazing Eyes"
Good Old War: "Small World"
And that was just the first half of their set! By the end of their set, I knew that I had a new band to start mainlining right into my ear holes, and while I'd suggest getting all of their music, their newest album "Broken Into Better Shape" was put out by Nettwerk and is beautifully produced if you're looking for just one to grab.
Before we move to Joshua Radin's set, here's links to his new single, "High and Low": itunes | spotify | amazon
And now, after Good Old War blew our minds, it was time for Joshua Radin to bring the mellow, and the mellow is strong with this one. It seemed that every song had to do with a girl, and every story pretty much had to do with almost breaking up, breaking up, trying to get back together, or explaining why they would never get back together... yup, story checks out. Then he went into "Winter" to close his set, and it took me back to my days of when I got all my music from Scrubs. He came out for two more songs, closing with a Bob Dylan cover ("Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"), continuing to prove the point that Bob Dylan's music is better when played by anyone other than Bob Dylan. (But damn if that Nobel Prize winner isn't an amazing poet.)
Joshua Radin: "I'd Rather Be With You"
The show was awesome overall, and after, I was able to grab a couple of albums and get them signed by Good Old War. The guys are way too nice, and we ALL need to reward them with fame and fortune, or at least with a few more listens. The Birchmere is also a unique venue, with tables and servers and semi-open seating. It's hard to describe in words, but I'd suggest going there for a show if there's someone you're 50/50 on seeing instead of skipping the venue.
Three days and a devastating presidential election later...
I'm not going to lie, I didn't sleep Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I spent a lot of the day crying, and put in an almost 12 hour work day just to avoid thinking about things. That's part of why I forced myself to go to the Damien Jurado show with a friend, because there was no way I should have been home alone that evening, even if it was to go to a concert based on the "Music to Kill Yourself By" station.
Getting there a little early, there were maybe 25 people in the room when Doug Keith came out, but you wouldn't know it by the power he put into strumming his guitar. He came out, knowing the room was filled with those, like me, who had just had existential dread unexpectedly thrust upon them by 'Murica. He talked about how he was feeling - how we were all feeling - and then he gave us some folksy blues songs that honestly reminded me of an acoustic version of some Stevie Ray Vaughan picks, but with a voice that resembles a less-growly Springsteen. And, after 45 minutes, he jumped off stage, letting us wait for the main act.
Doug Keith: "The Lowest Low"
By then, the room had filled a little more, with probably over 150 people, but still enough that space wasn't at a premium.
Before jumping into Mr. Jurado's show, here's a link to a new single from his upcoming album of covers with Richard Swift called "Other People's Songs, Volume 1": Hello Sunshine.
Damien got up and without saying a word, jumped into a powerful ballad, and then, immediately upon finishing, started joking with the audience and putting us at ease, interjecting hilarity between each wistful song. He even brought up an audience member to be his percussion, and then after his powerful rendition of "Ohio" - which is maybe only powerful to me as someone from Ohio - he told us the story of how instead of getting into the story of the song, he just imagines himself behind a large sheet, hiding from the audience as he played. Best quip of the night: "My last name is pronounced Hu-rado like the question, but I guess I should go with Ju-rado given what happened last night."
Damien Jurado: "Ohio"
In contrast with the energy we had on Sunday, the Wednesday show was a combination of painkiller and gallows humor that was just what we needed.
Doug Keith's blues guitar just hurt so good, and I was lucky to catch him after the show to sign a vinyl for me.
In addition to thrilling teenaged me, this music has kept me level this week, and I hope you all find some good concerts! I'll do my best to keep people informed of concerts in the DC area, as well as artists you should be looking out for.
Next concert I'll be at: The Naked and Famous, Tuesday 11/15, Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC
Til then keep on listening, keep on singing, and keep live music alive.
Joshua Radin/Good Old War upcoming dates: (Good Old War is only at the US dates, Joshua is solo acoustic in Europe)
11.11 Boulder, CO-Fox Theatre
11.13 San Francisco, CA-The Fillmore
11.24 Madrid, Spain-Galileo
11.26 Barcelona, Spain-Foyer del Liceu
11.27 Budapest, Hungary-A38
11.28 Milan, Italy-Circolo Arci Bellezza
11.30 Cardiff, Wales-Tramshed
12.1 Nottingham, UK-Glee
12.2 Brighton, UK- St. Georges
12.3 Norwich, UK-Open
12.5 Edinburgh, Scotland-Queens Hall
12.9 St. Petersburg, FL-Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show @ Mahaffey Theater
Damien Jurado/Doug Keith upcoming dates:
11/10/16 Richmond, VA-Strange Matter
11/11/16 Durham, NC-Motorco Music Hall
11/12/16 Asheville, NC-The Mothlight
11/13/16 Charleston, SC-Pure Theatre
11/15/16 Chattanooga, TN-JJ's Bohemia
11/16/16 Birmingham, AL-Syndicate Lounge
11/17/16 Atlanta, GA-The Earl
11/18/16 Gainsville, FL-The Wooly
11/19/16 Orlando, FL-Backbooth
11/20/16 Tampa, FL-The Crowbar
12/03/16 Seattle, WA-St. Mark's Cathedral