Music Picks: July 2017


Ruben Studdard
For all those American Idol fans who have been missing the show’s first male winner, Ruben Studdard heeded your calls. Fourteen years later, he is still at it, bringing R&B, pop and gospel full circle, album after album. With a score of hits as well as an appearance on The Biggest Loser, the spotlight has never dimmed on Studdard. Expect a lot of heartfelt vocals and soul out of the singer as his sound has only become humbler and more defined. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $37.50-$69.50. Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;


The brainchild of singer-songwriter (and sometimes actor) Robert Schwartzman, Rooney is top-shelf indie pop from Los Angeles. Schwartzman is Hollywood royalty himself: brother of actor Jason Schwartzman, nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and cousin of Nicolas Cage. With opener Run River North. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;


Mingo Fishtrap
Blending funk and soul music with a hint of bluegrass, Mingo Fishtrap is a throwback to simpler sounds. Originating in Denton, Texas, the group is a melodic, fun show featuring well-timed chords and blaring horns – basically playing music from all eras. 60s soul? Yep. New Orleans funk? Definitely. There’s even a hint of Motown in the more sensual tunes. Normally, when a band attempts to encompass a ton of influences, the sound can lack direction, but Mingo Fishtrap avoids this by mastering a perfect formula. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Violent Femmes
For those who grew up listening to the Violent Femmes, it might be hard to believe that the band has been around for almost 40 years. Various drummers have been in the band, but the duo of singer/guitarist/songwriter Gordan Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie have been there since the beginning. Last year, they released their first album in 16 years: We Can Do Anything. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;


Laura Tsaggaris
Laura Tsaggaris has been gracing the DC area with her amazing songwriting for over a decade now. She recorded her latest release at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street, which was funded with contributions from fans. And her most recent studio album, EVERYMAN, includes backing vocals from Ryan Adams and production from Jamie Candiloro. Tsaggaris’ songs are always meaningful and always moving. With Alex the Red Parez and The El Rojos. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. IOTA Club & Cafe: 2832 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;


The Cactus Blossoms
This band of brothers from Michigan is in a league of its own when it comes to country music. With strong, harmonizing vocals backed by a slight touch of drums and a little bass, it can be downright tough to dislike this band. Years of songwriting and work went into their 2016 album, You’re Dreaming, which culminated in a sound that’s reminiscent of the Everly Brothers with a distinct, modern touch. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Les Nubians
The iconic Francophone duo will bring their smooth voices and hypnotic R&B beats to DC this summer. Though their themes of African roots and self-love are occasionally in French, like their classic song “Makeda,” a dance floor will be cleared for the show, so you can dance the language barrier away. With their distinctive sound and emphasis on intercultural empowerment, Temperature Rising barely begins to cover it. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.75-$25.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

The Morrison Brothers Band
These DC natives will be rocking their way back home for a visit after their successful migration to Nashville. If you’re into exploring the obscure spaces between multiple genres, then this performance is for you. As residents of the space in between mainstream pop, country and good old rock ‘n’ roll, this is sure to be the perfect summertime show. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

Royal Headache
Sometimes punk rock gives you a Royal Headache. Okay, perhaps too on-the-nose for a pun, but seriously, the Australian garage/punk band brings the speed and pace of traditional raucous punk music and combines it with the almost homemade sound of garage rock. Never too fast to understand or dance to, Royal Headache is a tremendous band to go out and enjoy controlled chaos with. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;


In a world of electronic dance music (EDM), it can be extremely difficult to separate oneself from the pack with samples and drops coming at you left and right. NERO has been able to do just that in spectacular fashion with a string of top hits and a Grammy under their belts. Composed of members Daniel “Dan” Stephens, Joseph “Joe” Ray and Alana Watson, NERO has carved out their own unique sound combining sharp, eerie piano keys and a more melodic formula to produce music that electrifies you. If you are looking to dip your feet into the EDM pool and experience a more approachable and danceable act, NERO might just be for you. Show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;

Town Mountain
Described as being “raw, soulful and with plenty of swagger,” Town Mountain is a band that pushes the boundaries of country twang. Though the group subscribes to the Southern genre of country, the band is more than a Southern guy singing about his lost love. The band features a guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and a double bass, meaning the instrumentation is explosive, especially in a live setting. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$17. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;


Sawyer Fredericks
In 2015, Sawyer Fredericks became the youngest winner in the history of The Voice when he won the show’s eighth season at the age of 16. But Fredericks was already what some might call a veteran of the music business, having started performing at age 11, and releasing his first studio album at 13. With Gabriel Wolfchild and The Northern Light, and Haley Johnsen. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Ultimate Painting
What is the ultimate painting? Is it a masterpiece gawked at for centuries crafted by a legendary person who is long dead? Is it an unknown mural in an abandoned barn, never to be seen by museum eyes and those of hungry tourists? I don’t know, and I doubt the band Ultimate Painting knows either. What they do know is peaceful indie music. Actually, it’s dope music for when you want to paint. Just don’t bring your stand, canvas and oils to DC9 because you might get kicked out. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;


Amadou & Mariam
Amadou & Mariam are many things: a couple, a Grammy-nominated duo from Mali and purveyors of the Malian blues. They met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, where they both were being treated after losing their sight. Amadou handles guitar and vocals, and Mariam sings. The duo has played all over with world, and with artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, TV on the Radio and Damon Albarn. With opener Redline Graffiti. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;


The Aquabats
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s The Aquabats! This troop of superhero rockers are bringing their crime fighting and jumpsuits to Silver Spring. With strong ska and rock roots as well as a knack for fighting super villains onstage, this Orange County group is sure to deliver a show unlike any other. Their music has evolved since the 90s from ska to a more rock and synth-pop-influenced sound with the addition of new members. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $23. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

Hoots & Hellmouth
This folk rock group plans to thaw our frozen hearts with their combination of mellow melodies and emotionally charged lyrics. The feelings that their songs evoke range from reflective and peaceful to overwhelming. If you’re in the mood to sway and discreetly wipe tears on your sleeve all night, Hoots & Hellmouth has your back with the band’s captivating ballads. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

Tank and the Bangas
Recently (and rightfully) crowned NPR’s Tiny Desk 2017 contest winners, Tank and the Bangas is a musical experience unlike any other. Their infectious level of energy and never-miss-a-beat bouncing makes them one performance you can’t miss this summer. Hailing from New Orleans, the collective infuses their funky, spoken word-inspired sound with lyrics that are sometimes humorous, sometimes profound and often both. The vocals are tag-teamed by Tarriona “Tank” Ball and Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$17. Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC;


If you were to combine Elvis Presley’s iconic, crooning voice, Malcolm X’s timeless call for revolution, and William Faulkner’s Southern Gothic imagery of poverty and damnation, you’d get Algiers. The band uses their Southern roots as inspiration for their soul-filled, gospel-tinged, experimental rock music. In their most recent single, The Underside of Power, lead singer Franklin James Fisher describes the power of elites as a game that can’t go on. Here’s hoping Algiers’ unique sound will go on and on. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;


John Legend
Originally scheduled for June, this can’t-miss performance has been rescheduled. Grab a date and show some “P.D.A.” at the R&B icon’s show. With more recent hits like “All of Me,” classics like “Ordinary People” and Legend’s role in beloved movie La La Land, there won’t be a better night to slow things down and dance it up all summer. Doors open at 6 p.m. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD;

Back in the 90s, boy band fever was in full swing, and the world couldn’t get enough. LFO was one of the few rising stars that shined through the shadows of NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, and were no strangers to the Billboard charts either. With 4 million records sold thanks to songs like “Summer Girl,” “Every Other Time” and “Girl on TV,” it was only a matter of time before the boys of summer came out to play once again. Though only comprised of remaining members Devin Lima and Brad Fischetti, expect a show that will take you back to when all the girls wore Abercrombie & Fitch. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$25. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

With magic flowing from his fingers through his guitar, this virtuoso will get the Gypsy Sally crowd gliding across the dance floor. Did we mention his fingers? Yeah, but we didn’t mention his propensity for playing keyboards, cymbals, horns and powerful drums. So basically, this man is a human instrument, somehow turning chaos into undeniably pleasing sounds. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;


Ben Gibbard
Ben Gibbard has been leading Death Cab for Cutie since 1997, and has made a name for himself in the world of indie rock. He’s also released a solo album, Former Lives, and collaborated with Jimmy Tamborello as The Postal Service. This is a rare chance to see Gibbard in a more intimate setting, as he is only playing two solo dates on this tour. With Jon Glaser. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;

Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst is a talented fella. This dude pulled in the title for best songwriter in 2008 from Rolling Stone. In fact, there is some Bob Dylan influence in his music. Oberst is the quintessential contemporary folk artist with a heavy pen, beautiful strums of the guitar and the occasional harmonica explosion. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $36. 930 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Regina Spektor & Ben Folds
Two singer-songwriters both known for their piano playing and quirky but heartfelt songs will grace the stage together for one night only this summer at Wolf Trap. Spektor, originally from Russia, writes energetic songs that meld well with her soft but staccato delivery. Folds is known for his work with Ben Folds Five, but the North Carolina native has worked with orchestras and reality TV stars as well. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35-$65. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;

Toad the Wet Sprocket
Toad the Wet Sprocket started in Santa Barbara and took their name from a Monty Python sketch. They hit it big with breezy, catchy pop tunes like “Walk on the Ocean” and “All I Want.” In 2013, the band returned to releasing new music, and they show no signs of letting up again. Also appearing Thursday, July 27. With Beta Play. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $55. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;


If triangles are your favorite shape, then don’t miss this British art-rock collective’s sure-to-be-amazing performance. Their freshly released album, Relaxer, has caused a stir in the music world thanks to their unique sound and symbolic lyrics. The complexity of Alt-J may not be for everyone, but hear their cryptic music for yourself before coming to a decision. Doors open 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $45-$65. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD;

Jagwar Ma
Hailing from Australia, this electronic indie trio has toured with the likes of the xx and Tame Impala. Jagwar Ma gives audiophiles a fresh take on indie sounds, offering fantastical rhythms with the occasional funk/disco vocal. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$20. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;


Belle & Sebastian, Spoon and Andrew Bird with Ex Hex
This trio of indie rock and pop bands will fill the outdoor spaces of Merriweather with alternately dreamy, edgy and danceable tunes this summer. Belle and Sebastian will be testing out new music that they’ll be releasing later this year on Matador Records, their first since 2015’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. With opener Ex Hex. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $45-$55. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD:


Grace Mitchell
Known among her fans for her constantly evolving style, Mitchell isn’t afraid of trying new things with her music. From an 80s pop princess aesthetic in “Now” to her finger-snapping, break-up anthem “NoLo” to the slower, bass-heavy hit “Cali God,” Mitchell will keep fans moving all night long. Expect an eclectic performance, with each song catchier than the last. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe: 2475-2477 18th St. NW, DC;

Queen + Adam Lambert
When Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen appeared on American Idol in 2009, they saw their future. Contestant Adam Lambert had the pipes to belt out the band’s hits, doing his best to honor the memory of Queen’s original, inimitable singer Freddie Mercury. While no one can ever replace Mercury, Lambert has been welcomed by the band’s longtime fans and continues to tour with Queen. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $49.50. Verizon Center: 601 F St. NW, DC;