Dead & Company at Jiffy Lube Live

Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir joined forces with singer/guitarist John Mayer to form the band Dead & Company. We caught their June 22 show at Jiffy Lube Live. Photos: Mark Raker


U2 Delivers Message of Unity through Rock ‘n’ Roll

It didn’t take long for U2 – one of the most political rock bands in history – to touch on Washington, DC’s favorite subject during an epic, two-hour show at FedExField Tuesday night.

But the topic wasn’t what you might think from the famously left-leaning band. Moments after hitting a massive stage that jutted nearly 50 yards into the audience, U2’s iconic frontman, Bono, sent a shout-out to none other than Rep. Steve Scalise, a right wing Republican who was shot by a madman last week during a practice for the annual congressional baseball game.

“We are so grateful that Congressman Scalise and his comrades made it through – so grateful,” he told a massive, near-capacity crowd that included Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and seemingly everyone else from Capitol Hill and beyond. “We hold them up as love holds us all up.”

The unequivocal, humanitarian and bipartisan statement triggered an eruption of cheers. And with that, U2 did what they do best. They rocked. Man, did they rock.

The centerpiece of the show was U2’s 1987 masterpiece, The Joshua Tree, which the band played in its entirety. Those 11 songs were bookended by a smattering of other U2 classics: “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Beautiful Day” and more. U2’s giant, ringing sound – led by the Edge’s chiming, effect-laden guitars and anchored by the clean, precision snap of Larry Mullins’ drumming – was in full effect, seemingly piercing every corner of the cavernous stadium.

But Bono, of course, is the star of the show. At 57, the Dublin-born singer doesn’t move around the stage quite as frenetically as he did 30 years ago, and his voice doesn’t always reach for the highest registers anymore, but he remains a master showman, carrying tens of thousands of people on his every word – many of those sung right back at him.

U2 thundered through their set with jaw-dropping power and precision. “New Year’s Day” – one of the band’s earliest hits about the solidarity movement in Poland – was big and brawny and came two songs in, revving up a crowd that was eager to hear the hits. “Bullet the Blue Sky,” off of The Joshua Tree, was equally powerful, as Bono wailed its blues-tinged vocals over Mullins’ monster drumbeats.

For all of its goosebump-inducing moments (and there were several), the show’s sheer scale was also its weakest link. Flanked by a gigantic – and frankly, at times distracting – video screen, U2 aimed to light up the heavens with every song. That generally worked, and indeed, is probably essential at a massive stadium show. But at times, it also threatened to obscure the magic being made by the small men on that gigantic platform. But that’s a minor quibble considering the effort, expertise and sheer love for their fans that U2 delivers. The band’s outspoken frontman wanted everyone to know he appreciated them, no matter what their political stripes.

“Whether you come from the right, the left or the middle, you are welcome here tonight,” Bono said. “We will find common ground in the higher ground.”


Learn more about The Joshua Tree tour here.

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DC JazzFest 2017

For nine straight days beginning last week, the citywide JazzFest echoed throughout DC with over 90 bands and 300 artists who rocked out venues like the Kennedy Center, Howard Theatre and Yards Park. Festival goers got to enjoy endless jazz music as well as food and drink all week. This diverse genre of music brought together tons of folks in DC for a memorable festival. Photos: Brittany Thomas

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Billy Coulter Band at Rockville Town Square

Last Friday  was a fun night out in Rockville, Maryland at Rockville Town Square, listening to roots rock vocalist Billy Coulter. He has won 10 Washington Area Music Awards, performing with inspiration from the classics like Lennon, Bowie, Dylan and Cash. His energetic performances has led him to appear at some of the region’s top venues and festivals. Photos: Mark Raker

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19th Street Band at Rosslyn’s Central Place Plaza

Locals were treated on Thursday night to a relaxing evening at Rosslyn Rocks! June Concert series with the Arlington-native 19th Street Band.  With a chemistry and stage presence similar to Johnny & June, they tend to captivate audiences just by being themselves while having fun and keeping it real. The group combines their instrumental talents with strong harmonies and high energy, bringing genuine joy to the show and instantly connecting to every audience.  Photos: Gevar Bonham


Iration Brings Sounds of Summer to Wolf Trap

Nothing says summer is in full swing like good music and chill vibes. But for those of us in the DMV, tropical paradise can seem out of reach. This weekend, the West Coast is sending us some love in the form of sound. Iration and Slightly Stoopid will hit the stage at Wolf Trap on Saturday, bringing mellow tunes along with them on their Sounds of Summer tour. On Tap recently had the chance to speak with Iration guitarist/vocalist Micah Pueschel about what to expect from the show.

On Tap: How did Iration get its start?
Micah Pueschel: We started in Santa Barbara. We all went to high school in Hawaii, and we started a band in college that was kind of a cover band. After college, we began to write original music and started gigging at mostly college parties and for friends. Eventually, we started to do other gigs. We play a mix of reggae and rock and all kinds of different styles, and that’s where we are now. We’ve been touring nationally since about 2008.

OT: How would you describe your latest album, 2016’s Double Up?
MP: The new album is [the next] logical step after the Hotting Up record, which was us discovering our new sound, working with a new producer and cowriting [the songs] in a different way. I think logically and musically, it makes a lot of sense. Overall, it’s a lot cleaner and more tidy.

OT: Have you toured with Slightly Stoopid before?
MP: No, [and] they’re the one band that we’ve wanted to tour with. We’re excited. We did their festival in Mexico last year, Closer to the Sun, and did a bunch of other festival gigs with them. We’ve gotten to know them and hung out with them. They’re all really cool, humble guys that we get along with, so it makes a lot of sense.

OT: What can we expect from your Wolf Trap show?
MP: You can expect an hour’s worth of music, which is a little bit shorter than we’re normally used to doing live. But I think it’s good to keep everything very efficient and electric. We don’t just play reggae. We play a lot of different styles: straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, alternative rock, even some indie stuff, and obviously there is some reggae. If you’ve never seen us before, just come with an open mind and enjoy it.

OT: Are you mainly going to play tracks from Double Up?
MP: [We’ll play] a little bit of everything. We’re going to play about 15 minutes from each record.

Iration will perform with Slightly Stoopid at Wolf Trap on Saturday, June 17 at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $40. For more info on all things Iration, visit here.

Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;

Photo: Derrick Freske
Photo: Derrick Freske

Firefly 2017 Bigger than Ever

There’s never been a dearth of great talent at Firefly, as hundreds of musicians head out to Delaware’s Woodlands of Dover International Speedway every year to take part in one of the summer’s most exciting music festivals. But for the 2017 event, taking part June 15-18, organizers wanted to up the excitement even more.

“Our biggest thing is that we are going to have five headliners this year, as opposed to just three in the past,” says Stephanie Mezzano, Firefly’s vice president of operations and business development. “The talent is as strong as ever and there’s so many new experiences that will make this year’s festival the best-ever.”

The headliners are The Weeknd, Twenty One Pilots, Muse, Chance the Rapper and Bob Dylan—a collection of top acts that are in the musical stratosphere. Of course, those acts are just the tip of the iceberg. Musicians from all genres that will appeal to all ages will be performing throughout the four-day-festival, including favorites such as Flume, Weezer, Busta Rhymes, 30 Seconds To Mars, Dillon Francis and The Shins.

In total, there will be 140-plus bands on 11 Firefly stages this year, including The Rambler, a new roving stage for pop-up shows and a Toyota-branded Music Den Stage.

“What’s also exciting is that we are introducing ideas from our first ‘fan-curated’ poll, where concertgoers were able to go online and pick attractions, name eateries, choose merchandise and even design parts of the festival site,” Mezzano says. “Those changes include a multi-level patio with acoustic performances, more food trucks, and new experiences. People wanted more options, more exciting food, more cocktails and we paid attention to those wishes with some great offerings.”

Another difference this year is that the festival has gone cashless. Vendors will be accepting credit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Wallet, or one can get a prepaid card at a convenience store and load it up ahead of time.

“The environment of Firefly is so amazing. As soon as artists take to the stage, they are surrounded by trees and all they see are thousands of fans and trees all around them in a beautiful landscape,” Mezzano says. “There’s 70,000 fans enjoying a relaxed summer weekend and there’s so much energy throughout the entire festival. Artists feed off that and that makes some incredible performances.”

Following her debut with her number one Spotify viral track “War Paint,” pop artist Fletcher (pictured above) will be making her first appearance at Firefly this week.

“Fans can expect good vibes, good music, and a really good time,” Fletcher says. “I want people to come, dance, sing along with me and just be present in the moment. It’s all positive vibes.”

The young singer was recently called the “Jennifer Lawrence of Music” by People Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly called her one of “10 artists who will rule 2017.” Still, she understands that many attendees probably don’t know her yet.

“My music has such an anthemic, feel-good vibe about it, so I think people will just be walking by and want to check out the set if they like what they hear,” she says. “I’m just excited to be in such a fun environment where good people come together for good music.”

Also on tap for its first Firefly appearance is the Philadelphia-bred sextet, Cold Roses, who will soon be releasing its second album, Escape to Anywhere.

“We’re definitely going to turn up the heat and bring the noise for this performance. Our set is during the ‘morning shift,’ so we need to make sure that we wake everyone up, get them boogying and feeling good,” says Rob Clancy, lead singer, guitar and songwriter for the band.

“We’ll be playing a handful of songs from our upcoming record, as well as songs from our previous record, No Silence In The City. We also may debut a brand new song that we have never played live yet.”

Although the band has played some smaller festivals, it’s never played to the magnitude of Firefly and all involved are really looking forward to the experience.

“It’s a little hard to comprehend that we’re playing the same festival as some of the greatest bands and musicians in the world,” Clancy says. “If you told me a year ago that we would be on the same festival as Bob Dylan, I probably would have fainted after giving you a hug.”

For more information about bands, tickets or the festival, visit here.

Firefly Festival: Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware;

Eric Johnson in performance at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia on June 6, 2017.
Eric Johnson in performance at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia on June 6, 2017.

Eric Johnson rocks Birchmere

Last week at Alexandria’s Birchmere, a lucky crowd was treated to a master class in six string virtuosity by guitarist extraordinaire Eric Johnson. Mixing fan favorites with new compositions (some still untitled), his performance flowed brilliantly from the high energy opening of “Trademark” to the soothing acoustic calm of “Divanae,” before returning to finish with classics “Cliffs of Dover” and “Zap.” Opening act, Arielle, with whom Johnson has been working over the past year, joined him on a couple of songs during his set, ably demonstrating her guitar prowess while he handled keyboards (Johnson is an accomplished pianist, as well). Stay up to date on his tour schedule and music here. Photos: Mark Caicedo

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Rockin’ the Block with South Rail at Canal Park

South Rail rocked the block last Wednesday night down in Capitol Riverfront. Music-loving locals headed to Canal Park to enjoy the rock-and-roll/Americana fusion band. South Rail showcases their original music with robust harmonies and solid songwriting. Take a peek at the perfect DC night, featuring live music and great company. Photos: Devin Overbey


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Celebrate Fairfax! 2017

This past Friday through Saturday was jam packed with live music, games, food, drinks and fun at the 36th annual Celebrate Fairfax! Held right by the Fairfax County Government Center, the festival featured concerts on nine different stages with big-name music artists like Bush, Everclear, Vertical Horizon and Sunday Brew. Friends and families got to enjoy great food and carnival rides while ending each night with an extravagant firework show. Take a look at all the fun! Photos: Jessica Meyers