Photo: Piper Ferguson
Photo: Piper Ferguson

Ska Darlings Save Ferris at Black Cat

I’m not going to lie. When I found out that 90s ska band Save Ferris was back together (well sort of, vivacious redhead and insanely talented songstress Monique Powell is still at the helm with a new lineup) and had put together their first album in nearly 20 years, 12-year-old me got really, really excited.

I was immediately transported back to my awkward middle school years, complete with face full of braces and a confused sense of style (at the time it seemed really cool!) that was meant to channel skater chick-meets-punk rock but didn’t quite come together. But I digress.

I would listen to 1997’s It Means Everything on my Discman over and over again, connecting with Powell’s cheeky lyrics, upbeat ska sound and inspiring role as the kick ass female lead of the band. Also, her band’s name was inspired by one of the best movies of all time (#johnhughesfanforlife). Come on, what’s not to love?

And now, with the band on tour for their new album, Checkered Past, I had the chance to catch up with Powell (swoon!) before her upcoming performance at the Black Cat this Wednesday. Read on for a slightly fangirl Q&A with this fab singer-songwriter.

On Tap: Save Ferris has switched up its lineup multiple times over the years. How has that impacted the band’s sound, and how would you describe your sound under the current lineup?
Monique Powell:
Well, with the old lineups, the sound didn’t change too much as Brian and I were the only writers in the band after I joined. So, the sound grew naturally as we grew. The new band is made up of a number of truly exceptional musicians with immense creativity and musical talent, so the songs are developing accordingly. My voice as a writer has also changed as I’ve grown up a lot over the years. Sometimes I just want to write something simple and reminiscent of [our] first album, sometimes I like to indulge myself emotionally [and] sometimes I’m inspired by other artists.

OT: What initially drew you to ska music? Would you still describe ska as the band’s genre, or has it evolved into something else in recent years?
My friends were all in ska bands back in the day. When I was in college, I started going to their shows, and I fell in love with the music and the scene. It was just natural that I’d end up in a ska band eventually, as I was a singer studying music at the time. I’d say we still play ska. My vision is to bring in a lot of the first and second wave in style and feel, but I just have to honor where the creative process takes me. So we’ll see!

OT: The band’s had a 10-year hiatus in recent years, and you’ve just put out your first album in almost two decades. How does it feel to be back in the swing of things after some pretty significant gaps in time?
It’s just like riding a bike! I fell back into the swing very naturally.

OT: Tell me about Checkered Past. What inspired the songs? Who wrote most of them? Who did you collaborate with as part of the creative process?
I am the chief songwriter in the band. I do love to collaborate, particularly with my bandmates because we all work so well together. A few lines of “New Sound” and “Anything” were brought to me by Patrick, and I developed the songs from there. A lot of the parts of “New Sound” fell into place for me while in the studio with John Avila. Gordon and I did some work together on “Golden Silence” and “Do I Even Like You?” while holed up at a cabin in the woods during a writing trip we took as a band.

OT: I’m really digging “New Sound.” It’s got a bit of a reggae vibe to it. Would you say this song sets the tone for the entire album, or is each song notably different? What’s your favorite track on the album and why?
I wanted each song on the album to have its own identity, and represent different aspects of the personality of [Save Ferris]. “New Sound” represents the current sound and possible future sound for us. “New Sound” would be my fave right now. I love the production, and I love that Neville [Staple, of The Specials] was involved.

OT: Who were your main influences when you started out as a band in the 90s? What about now?
It’s hard to say who my influences were in the 90s, exactly. Mostly, I’d say I was influenced by the bands in our scene and all around us at the time. I’m very influenced by first wave ska now, mostly.

OT: As a hardcore fan since 1997’s It Means Everything, (“Spam” and “Under 21” will forever be two of my all-time faves), I’ve looked up to you as a strong female vocalist in music for two decades. Your pipes are insane, and you’re such a fun, colorful and unique presence in an often redundant, vanilla era in music. How do you feel that you’ve evolved as a songstress since you got your start? Where do you hope to be in the next few years?
That’s very kind of you, thank you. Right now, the stage character is very pinup sexy and well-developed, whereas before, I didn’t feel I had a developed style and image. My pipes have gotten better too, I think. The sound of my voice feels richer.

OT: What are you most excited about regarding your new tour? How has the start of the tour been?
So far, the tour has been a blast. Some shows have [had] an insane number of people and are sold out. [In] some markets, due to tour routing, we’re required to play for smaller audiences and clubs. Those are my favorite shows. [It] reminds me of what I think CBGB might have been back in the day.

OT: And last but not least, any favorite stories about our nation’s capital?
I remember the 9:30 Club fondly, and the rich history of the DC punk scene always makes me excited to be there. Really looking forward to the Black Cat!

Catch Powell and her band at the Black Cat on Wednesday, March 1. Doors open at 7:30; tickets are $20. Baby Baby and The Fuss will open. Learn more about Save Ferris at

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490;


Tedeschi Trucks Band Afterparty featuring The Ron Holloway Band

Tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway is a well-respected musician on today’s contemporary music scene. Over the years, he has been a member of an eclectic list of iconic artists. Guests enjoyed featured guest members of Tedeschi Trucks Band other amazing talent. Photos: Mark Raker


Tedeschi Trucks Band at Warner Theatre

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is a blues rock group based in Jacksonville, Florida. Formed in 2010, the band is led by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Their debut album, Revelator, won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. Guests enjoyed a live performance by the band at Warner Theatre. Photos: Mark Raker


Laura Mvula Evokes Emotion and Vulnerability at Sixth & I

Listening to Laura Mvula is a powerful and intensely personal experience. The British soul singer’s voice is raw with emotion and vulnerability, inspiring listeners to reach inside, question what’s there and embrace what they find.

Her performance at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Chinatown last week was no less than moving. I sat in the audience wondering how Mvula could possibly communicate her inner experience so poignantly – and identify with mine as well. Mvula has a curiously melded style that heightens this emotional connection. Her songs are reminiscent of soulful R&B tunes mixed with jazz and classical, offering a diverse musical and emotional experience.

“Show Me Love” is the epitome of her creatively mixed – and highly expressive – style. Mvula uses strings, vibraphone, guitar and celeste to create a sound that is both ambient and soulful. Maybe it was the song’s intimate atmosphere, or its mournful tone, but her performance moved me in a profound and deeply personal way.

And you showed me love of the deepest kind
And I will never find another love like you
Showed me love
And now I see

Her chorus echoes enormous heartbreak and longing – feelings we can all identify with on varying levels. The sound is about loss, regret and uninhibited musical expression. “Show Me Love” isn’t something you just listen to. It’s an artistic experience that you feel, through and through.

I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. As I observed the audience during Mvula’s performance, it was clear she moved them deeply too. Every set of eyes was transfixed on her throughout the concert. The atmosphere in the hall was almost prayer-like at times, meditative and thick with human emotion.

Her stage presence – sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but always authentic – only heightens her appeal. Throughout the concert, she continuously addressed the audience, sharing personal anecdotes that further connected her to listeners.

“Last time I performed ‘Show Me Love,’ I lost it – and I don’t mean one single sexy tear,” Mvula joked onstage. “I mean a nasty, hot mess where I’m just all over the place.”

It’s this fearless honesty and wit that humanizes her. Mvula isn’t afraid to be wholly who she is, and laugh at herself for it too. She encourages us all to face ourselves and own what we discover.

If you haven’t seen Laura Mvula live, do it ASAP. She’ll leave you feeling contemplative, connected and fulfilled – something every music lover needs to experience.

Learn more about Laura Mvula and her upcoming performances here.

Read more about Sixth and I’s performance schedule here.

Photo: Tuan Nguyen
Photo: Tuan Nguyen

U Street Music Hall Presents Julius Jetson

Up-and-coming electronic music producer and DJ Julian Ragland, also known as Julius Jetson, will be making his headlining debut at U Street Music Hall this Friday. On Tap caught up with this local talent to get the inside scoop before his upcoming show.

On Tap: First things first. Where did the pseudonym Julius Jetson come from?
Julius Jetson: I was in a history class junior year of college doodling and spelling out my name in different ways when I wrote “Julius Jetson.” I kept rereading it and thought, “That has a really good ring to it.” And it just stuck.

OT: How long have you been playing music in the DC area?
JJ: I began playing back in 2012 when I was in undergrad at the University of Maryland. By 2014, I was playing four days a week while I was still in college. It was during college that I started my first company where we would host two parties a week and max them out. While I was DJing a lot, the frequency of shows helped me pay my way through college.

OT: In electronic music today, more artists are saying they don’t have a genre. What genre of electronic music would you say you fit into, and what differentiates this sound?
JJ: I would say I fit into house music, and a subgenre called G-house. My sound is unique because it’s heavily influenced by 2000s rap from Atlanta. I’ve been able to study it and implement samples from old Atlanta vinyl. It’s basically the glory years of Atlanta hip-hop, and I think that period speaks more heavily than other time periods [in rap music]. The combo of hip-hop and house music is something that I want to introduce to everyone. I get to use throwbacks while incorporating house sounds without changing the vibe completely. I love that I can introduce my two favorite music types in one.

OT: Why is Friday’s show significant to your career, specifically in the DC area?
JJ: I started learning the ins and outs of planning events at U Street Music Hall in 2011 for a group of guys that were regularly throwing parties at the location. I then became an intern for U Street, and after that my first event collaboration with them was in 2013. It’s cool that I can return to the venue where I first starting gaining experience in DC. We’ve kept a great relationship over the years, so this is really exciting for me.

OT: If you could perform with one artist, who would it be and why?
JJ: Probably Bijou. I first heard his music two years ago, and hit him up on social media to connect musically. From that point on, we have been friends and kept in touch. We both resemble the same genre, and it’s awesome to see that he’s coming to DC and bringing more light to our genre. [You can catch him at Flash this Wednesday.]

OT: What are you plans for the spring and summer? What’s your ideal venue or festival for performing?
JJ: I’ll be playing a local festival in June, and I’ll liking be making my way out to L.A. and Miami this summer. My ideal set would be played at Coachella’s Do LaB stage.

OT: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JJ: I would love to be touring in five years. Ideally, I’d like to have my own label and throw major parties in Miami, Barcelona, Ibiza and Amsterdam for all the main house music conferences.

Hear Julius Jetson and Rawle Night Long at U Street Music Hall this Friday at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 or free before 11 p.m. if you’re 21+.

U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; 202-588-1889;



Photo: Courtesy of MCT Management
Photo: Courtesy of MCT Management

Joe Purdy Brings Protest Song to The Hamilton

In these days when #protestisthenewbrunch in DC, there couldn’t be a better time for folk rock musician Joe Purdy to come to town. An Arkansas native, Purdy has been a significant and often underrated figure on the American folk revival scene for a decade and a half, and has put out a new release almost every year since his debut in 2001 (way before the genre’s coolness got, well, revived).

Tonight, Purdy brings his guitar, suspenders, shaggy beard and deep, gravelly voice to The Hamilton, where he’ll be promoting his latest record, Who Will Be Next? Fitting to the times, the album diverts slightly from the style of his previous work, which combines the best elements of blues, ballad and rock – to draw more directly from traditional American protest songs.

With Who Will Be Next?, Purdy has written an album that satisfies his “determination to honor the giants of American folk” like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, while “addressing immediate transgressions” experienced and witnessed by many Americans in recent years.

Rhett Miller, lead singer of the alt-country band the Old 97’s, will join Purdy onstage at The Hamilton. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20-$39.75.

The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; 202-787-1000;


Pat Metheny at Strathmore

Globetrotting, trailblazing, sui generis musician Pat Metheny brought a wide range of music from his storied career to Strathmore. Photos: Mark Raker

Decades dc
Photos: Alex Martin

Dancing Through the Decades

Last August, I checked in with Panorama Productions owner and longtime DC event promoter Antonis Karagounis about potentially covering a few upcoming events. I’ve been collaborating with Karagounis since the start of my nine-year career as a music and nightlife journalist, covering the likes of Tiësto, David Guetta and more at his Club Glow parties.

But instead of a media pass, Karagounis presented me with the opportunity to become the concept development and social media director of Decades, a three-story, 12,000-square-foot, retro-themed nightclub that opened downtown at the end of 2016. The last six months have been entirely unexpected, and ultimately beneficial to the nightlife scene in the nation’s capital.

Until February of last year, the space now occupied by Decades was known as Midtown, a club that specialized in Top 40 pop and dance from the present day. However, for Panorama Productions, opening a pop nightclub wasn’t enough. Panorama owns Northeast DC mega concert hall Echostage, and a quartet of Northwest DC spaces including restaurant and nightclub Barcode, fully soundproofed underground house and bass music venue Soundcheck, multilevel dance den Ultrabar, and urban pop space L8 Lounge.

Alongside vaunted turntablist DJ Enferno (who once toured with Madonna), venue designer Josh Lee, artist Keneth Nyakabwa, Decades  Marketing Director Kamal Azzouz and myself, Karagounis focused on creating an atmosphere “celebrating club and DJ culture, plus the hits of the recent past and the present day.” Together, we are aiming to do something more by paying homage to the top hits of the 80s, 90s, 2000s and today.

As the journalist involved in this process, my most significant role is ensuring that the story of the club is correct. Everything in the planning stages was selected with precision – the Air Jordan sneakers hung artfully as if they’re swinging from telephone wires on the Decades of Hip-Hop floor, the beer and other alcohol served on the 90s floor, the faces of the most culturally relevant pop stars in the 2000s floor’s Pop VIP bottle service area, and of course, the music itself. It’s my job to ensure that the respective timeframes of each floor are accurately represented, making a nostalgic impact on the nightclub’s clientele.

It’s important to hear the perfect song in the perfect place with the perfect mood and feel completely transported to a likely forgotten, but pleasantly remembered age. If even one of those concepts falls short, in many ways the club falls short. In my attempts to overdeliver alongside a team of creatives also obsessed with overdelivering, Decades has thankfully been packed since it opened.

The larger goal of Decades is to celebrate just how well-liked and remembered these songs and eras were – forever. Within one classic era cycle, the music industry sold nearly 1 billion albums in the year 2000 alone. And for roughly 30 years, MTV excelled at turning music into indelible pop culture. There is now a very real, three-story and must-enjoy opportunity in the heart of DC for everyone who wants to connect with a sound from their past.

Decades: 1219 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; 202-853-3498;

music picks

Music Picks: Winter Edition

Basecamp is what you get when three badass producers from Nashville decide to join forces to write their own music – and it’s mixing magic. Not just your typical drum and bass, these guys are masters at subtle layer, sick beat and sophisticated rhythm. If you dig the likes of Phantogram and Chvrches, check them out. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15. U St Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; 

The El Mansouris/Young Rapids
Both bands are calling it quits. And it’s a real bummer for the DC local music scene, and especially for those of us who have been following the curiously beautiful evolution of experimental alt rockers Young Rapids. They’re going out in style with a farewell show, where they’ll both be releasing new (and final?) records. Rumor has it the first 150 in the door get a limited-edition cassette copy of The El Mansouris’ self-titled, full-length album, and a limited edition copy of Young Rapids final release, the Everything’s Perfect EP. Get ‘em while you can. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Smith Public Trust: 3514 12th St. NE, DC; 

The Smithereens
Oh where did the 80s go? We don’t quite know, but the four original members of the classic New Jersey power pop band who left us with hits like “A Girl Like You” and “Blood and Roses” are getting back together to bring us back in time – for four shows only. It’ll be just like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $21. State Theatre: 220 North Washington St. Falls Church, VA;

Crystal Bowersox
Who needs to win a reality show to become a bonafide performer? Not Crystal Bowersox, who actually made the cast of American Idol’s ninth season. Instead of taking home the mantle of “American Idol,” she has crafted a successful career simply creating music, instead of living up to a title. How many winners still even make music? Not many. But Bowersox does, and you can catch her rocking side to side while delivering powerful folksy songs into a microphone at Wolf Trap. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $26-$28. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;

These Scottish post-punkers have been shoegazing since the mid-90s. With influences like Sonic Youth, The Pixies and The Cure, their music is heavy on distortion and effect. Their stop in DC is part of a North American tour promoting their latest project, Atomic, the soundtrack to Mark Cousins’ film Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $30 in advance; $35 at the door. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC;

Star FK Radium
The cosmic, ethereal songs that this local chamber rock trio creates are hypnotic – but far from repetitive. The notes are colorful enough to keep from lulling into a bore, and the tracks are smart enough to keep you wanting more. It’s Sigur Ros-eque but not quite as esoteric – seeing guitarist Bill Martien in a cowboy hat really flips the lid on any preconceived notions about musical genres. Plus one if you’re a sucker for anything with a violin. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Galaxy Hut: 2711 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

J Boog
Some people like to argue that all reggae music sounds the same, save for the occasional run through the Bob Marley greatest hits. Although I’ll agree that there is a formulaic method to the madness of most great musicians operating within the genre, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time bobbing your head and subtly allowing your shoulders to roll while partaking. J Boog combines those simple tunes with a raspy voice, most often reserved for traditional R&B, in a beautiful medley of digestible songs. So forget the naysayers, and boog to J Boog. Doors 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.25-$20.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Joe Purdy
He had a beard and suspenders and heartbreak on his face before it was cool. Singer-songwriter Joe Purdy has been a figure on the American folk revival scene since Y2K, and has put out a new release almost every year since – all consistently well-crafted. It’s hard not to be seduced by his deep, gravelly voice, especially when he’s crooning original tunes that combine some of the best elements of blues, ballad and rock. In his latest album, Who Will Be Next, Purdy taps in a little more to traditional Americana a la Dylan, so you can probably expect a bit more of a protest-song vibe from this show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20-39.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Bob Marley’s 72nd Birthday Tribute Event w/LITZ + Threesound
With the extensive catalogue and legacy of Bob Marley, it would be really difficult to screw up a tribute event as long as you had folks on the stage who could play the music. Jammin Java will double the trouble with two groups set to take the stage as they pay homage to one of the most influential reggae artists. LITZ and Threesound will tackle some of the legend’s timeless material, with twists representing who the two respective group are as artists. LITZ brings a sonic sound, while Threesound brings heady festival experience. Whether you’re a casual fan, or a diehard groupie, this is a must-see show. Show at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$22. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Charlie Hunter
He’s been a soloist, a trio and a quartet, and for this show four is the magic number. Charlie Hunter has been called a “guitar virtuoso” by critics – he plays on custom seven and eight string instruments – and brings Latin flavor to traditional jazz. He has written interpretive arrangements and covers of the late greats Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain, but his original work can certainly stand solo in the catalogue of (sometimes aggressively) experimental jazz. His new album, Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth was released July 22 on GroundUP Music. Doors open at 5 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $22. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Here’s to the Night
Hailing from Baltimore, Here’s to the Night fully immerses listeners in a nostalgic experience, with a song list comprised of some of the most fun and energetic rock songs from the mid-90s through the turn of the millennium. From start to finish, audiences can’t help but recall countless memories and unforgettable nights, as the party vibe transcends the stage and makes its way to the dance floor. These four musicians bring their years of experience and “frontman” performing mentalities to the table to give audiences an unforgettable live show that is as visually interesting as it is sonically impressive. Union Jack’s: 9811 Washingtonian Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD;

Don’t think about it “Too Much” and go see Sampha. His lyrics are touching and soulful, and his melodies are to die for. The British singer had been experiencing an explosion in popularity over the past few years, which is the opposite of his sound, as he chooses to dabble in sentimental experimentation with his vocals, often bellowing emotional, heartfelt tracks. Sampha isn’t a concert you go to if you’re looking for a rave-like atmosphere. Instead you’ll find a man on a stage with a propensity to get you laughing, crying, smiling and crying again. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

VHS Collection
Synth on synth on synth – that should be the mantra of VHS Collection, as the band embraces the sounds of 80s pop music in a more somber tone. It’s not as fast as a-ha, or even contemporary stalwart Chvrches, instead favoring a more deliberate approach to the noisy electric sounds. Speaking of which, I used to watch Beverly Hills Cop on VHS all the time when I was a kid, and is there a synthier intro than that? Probably not, no. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Aztec Sun
If you guessed an Aztec Sun would be hot and smoldering, you’d likely be correct. However, did you think it would be groovy? DC’s Aztec Sun is just that, as they combine funky chords with bluesy vocals that sounds similar to Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. and some of the slow jams owned by The Black Keys, particularly in their indie days. The group has experienced an eventful 2016, and is looking to get your 2017 started off right with moody, groovy blues. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1363 H St. NE, DC;

The Dustbowl Revival
In a talent-laden place such as L.A., the moniker of “best live band” carries a tremendous amount of weight, especially when the title is awarded by LA Weekly. Apparently, The Dustbowl Revival puts on such a raucous show that The Hamilton is clearing out a dance floor so folks can throw away their inhibitions and cut loose. With the fusion of old school bluegrass, blues and folk music, with some New Orleans flair, the revival won’t be of the tough times dustbowl. No, it’ll be the resurrection of your closeted dance moves. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Kali & Ancestors in Training
Growing up in Vermont, Kali Stoddard-Imari was big into poetry, hip-hop and chorus until his teenage discovery of the guitar. With a wide array of experiences, he has used these influences as a springboard to learn more about the craft of making music, and now as a bonafide performer in his own right, the musician hopes to help others see the art how he does. Sometimes combining too many influences can mean chaos, but Stoddard-Imari embraces this clash of sounds, forming a truly unique live show. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Free show. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC:

The Wood Brothers
One of the most exciting things about American roots music is how much wonder it evokes when you hear what can be done by just a man, and a couple of strings on wood. But The Wood Brothers are two (sometimes three), and what they do with an upright bass and guitar is beyond impressive. Their style has evolved some since their debut album a decade ago, and they’ve opened up beyond the two-dudes-in-chairs-on-the-stage vibe to put on quite a show. They’ve also added multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix to the mix, and the combo really amps that big, round rootsy sound. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Nuex is a duo out of the DMV that is making moves. With a combination of tight control over instrumentation and electronics, and Lady Gaga-like vocals, it’s not hard to be mesmerized by Nuex. The pair cites Lana Del Ray and Beach House as musical influences, and you can hear some of those otherworldly effects. Their live performances are sultry and intimate – Galaxy Hut should be a perfect spot to see them. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Galaxy Hut: 2711 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

Sweet Yonder
Have you ever seen the Coen Brothers’ Oh Brother Where Art Though? If you have and enjoy the music from the period film, Sweet Yonder will make you warm and fuzzy inside. From plucking banjo strings, unison backup vocals and lead vocals with a pension for storytelling in a bold folk manner, this all-woman group is a must-see for those without a time machine in search of classical bluegrass music. In fact, even if you do have a time machine, go see Sweet Yonder. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$20. Frying Pan Farm Park: 2739 West Ox Rd. Herndon, VA;

July Talk
This. Is. Rock ‘n’ roll. I mean blues-rock, the Elvis-inspired kind. I mean the kind that screams primal sexy. Peter Dreimanis’ deep, soulman voice catches you completely off-guard – Consequence of Sound describes it as Tom Waits on steroids – but mingles in perfect contrast with fellow vocalist Leah Fay’s. These guys have grown a following by putting on “explosive” live shows. We’ve got a feeling they’re about to blow up the scene. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 

Parquet Courts
Forming in Brooklyn, Parquet Courts is a tad hastier, and honestly, a little more fun than your average indie band. Why? Probably because their guitar riffs border on twangy, and their use of instruments reminds us of the 70s, or any track from Reservoir Dogs. We’re not saying Quentin Tarantino will put their music in a movie, we’re just saying we wouldn’t be all that surprised to hear a track playing in the credits, likely after a weirdly humorous death of a pain-in-the-ass antagonist. Oh right, anyways, Parquet Courts is a perfect way to kick off February with a subtle bang. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

The Radio Dept.
In many markets, the radio department is sort of marching slowly toward doom, being replaced by podcasts, the Internet and it’s longest foe, television. One reason for this is radio’s inability to adapt and evolve into something fresh. The Radio Dept. isn’t one to follow the fate of its namesake, offering up experimental tunes reminiscent of a baby Radiohead. The group strives to bring balance and shifting tones to each of their tunes, creating a whirlwind of enjoyable indie music. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Teamster, Sundrainer and Consumed with Hatred
Make sure you remember to bring your earplugs to this one. As their names might suggest, all three acts produce heavy, headbang-inducing contemporary hardcore. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Slash Run: 201 Upshur St. NW, DC;

Big Gigantic
When you think of electronic music, you might immediately think of musicians hitting keys and buttons on a device in a studio, carefully planning which sound to tack onto the main track. For Big Gigantic, it’s different, as the group has spent years honing their live performances. With backgrounds in jazz, the Colorado group has been a staple at festivals, performing at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and other events. So instead of braving the elements of an outdoor concert, cozy up in Echostage and see one of the best electronic live performances imaginable. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $44.45. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;

Arlo Guthrie
In many American households, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition in to listen to the full, extended version of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” But beyond the 27 8×10 colored glossy photographs, Arlo Guthrie has been carrying on the American folk tradition for decades. Like his famed did father before him, he writes and performs songs of protest and of change. Catch him Running Down the Road as we enter a new era in American politics. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $65. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Palm/Horse Lords/Dove Lady
This trio of bands represents what we’ve been hearing leaking out of basements and garages in the past few years – in other words, they are what is happening in music right now. It’s not quite rock, not quite electronica, or anything else definable, really. It’s largely noisy and gritty, and has a distinct quality of making you want to simultaneously thrash around and solve math proofs. Not for those looking for lowkey. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $12-$14. Songbyrd Music House & Record Café: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; 

Luce Unplugged is one of, if not the most, influential local music series. Acts are featured at free monthly concerts among the paintings and sculptures in the Luce Center. If you haven’t been, you definitely should. February’s show will host brushes, the solo project from Nick Anway of locals Baby Bry Bry. brushes is a fitting name for the project because Anway uses a palette of lyric, layer, loop and more than a few dashes of feedback-heavy nostalgia to paint tracks that bring us into a realm somewhere between Stranger Things and The Velvet Underground. Art Talk at 5:30 p.m., show at 6:00 p.m. Free. Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum: 8th and G Streets, NW, DC;

George Clinton
There’s not much to say about George Clinton that hasn’t already been said, or written. Clinton is undeniably on the Mt. Rushmore for funk artists with a long and storied discography. You only get a few opportunities to see pioneers of anything, so think of this as a plea to go see this music icon perform live. It’s a grant chance to get funky with one of the funkiest dudes on the planet. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42-$138. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;

Lisa Hannigan
With a strum of her acoustic guitar, Lisa Hannigan can either melt your heart or give you a severe case of the feels with her faint Irish accent and soothing vocals. Sometimes it’s good to melt into a puddle or get lost in your emotions, especially if you have an excellent performer helping you along the way. Hannigan is someone who drives this bus, with every song featuring twists and turns, that can leave the listener in tears of joy, or tears of sorrow. Good art makes you feel, and Hannigan is exceptional here. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Formed in Cleveland in the early 90s, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony changed the way hip-hop sounded, with fast and furious rhymes paired with a melodic know-how, rare for the then rough and tumble genre. Though there are a few original members following other paths in the music world, the group still knows how to put on an epic performance, and remain rap legends because of their electric past. Doors open at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

Leopold and His Fiction
With vocals that cause comparisons to Jack White and Julian Casablancas – think a whiney, nasally high-pitched screeching sound – Leopold and His Fiction is an extremely fun listen. From the bleached blonde hair to the 80s sensibilities, the groove is strong with this group, as they use psychedelic guitar riffs to perfectly compliment the strange, irregular rhythm timing from the percussion. Leopold and His Fiction is a nonfiction success story, and you should experiences this story of a concert. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

By Trent Johnson and Courtney Sexton

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
Photos: Courtesy of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears

Back on the Road: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears

On a recent call with Joe Lewis, it was clear that he was enjoying the comforts of home, just as he was poised to give them up again – for a while at least. The heart, soul and frontman of the eponymously named Austin, Texas band Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears was having a quiet lunch at home as he prepared to hit the road for the better part of two months, the band’s biggest tour since 2013.

“I made a chicken pot pie the other night,” he said. “I’m gonna finish that off.”

Lewis is soft-spoken in conversation, a marked contrast to the gruff, high-energy singer that he becomes when leading his band. Combining a range of influences from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Iggy Pop, Nile Rogers to James Brown, Lewis and his band have made a name for themselves through their live shows, featuring horns and a rhythm section that doesn’t quit. They show off that same intensity on their albums, the fourth of which, Backlash, will be released on February 10. Lewis thinks it’s the band’s best yet.

“My skill level now versus then…everybody has just grown so much,” he said. “The songwriting [has] gotten better. I’m getting older, maturing. I was older when I started playing guitar, and all those early years you’re kind of learning, I was just doing it onstage. I feel like now I know my way around stuff more. You refine all that over the years.”

The band’s last album, 2013’s Electric Slave, featured a heavier, rockier sound and didn’t come with the “and the Honeybears” part of the band name which, Lewis said, sowed confusion. His intention at the time was just to shed a part of the band name that he didn’t want to keep for so long, but the change made a bigger splash than he imagined.

“We had the name and kind of just got tired of it,” Lewis said, “and we took it off. And it became like a big issue, and everyone was confused. So this time around I just put it back on, simple as that. The name change threw everybody off. I didn’t think it would, but it did.”

As for the band’s four-year hiatus, Lewis said there wasn’t any master plan, just a lot of different factors that added up, including wanting to record and release the band’s best possible material. While he often brings an idea to the table, he said the band’s songwriting process varies.

“Each song’s different,” he said. “A lot of times, I’ll come up with the beef of it, and I’ll bring it in and the guys will do what they do to it. Or it’ll be an idea that comes up in a sound check that we jam out on, and somebody will record it on their phone, and when we’re back home working on stuff, we’ll f— with it. A lot of times, something will come up and it won’t be going anywhere, and we’ll say, ‘Hey, that thing from back in the day would sound cool here,’ and we’ll put ‘em together.”

The band has been signed to Lost Highway Records and Vagrant Records in the past, but this time around, they’re self-releasing their album.

“Unless someone is gonna be able to guarantee how much they’re gonna pump your stuff, and how hard they’re gonna work it…if you have enough money saved, it’s definitely better to do it on your own. You can control what’s gonna happen with it more.”

As the band gears up for the album release and tour, Lewis’s home cooking will be replaced with whatever is available on the road – just one of the changes that takes a little getting used to after some time off. But Lewis knows the drill and he’s ready.

“It usually takes me about a week to acclimate to being back out on the road,” he said. “And then it’s all easy sailing from there.”

Catch Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears at the 9:30 Club on February 21. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $25. Learn more about the band at

9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; 202-265-0930;