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Photo: courtesy of Drew Gibson

Virginia Native Drew Gibson Returns To Pearl Street

When Richmond native Drew Gibson released his debut album Letterbox in 2007, the singer/songwriter quickly developed a strong local following, with songs that harkened back to American days of country-blues and songwriters of yesteryear.  

By 2015, now living in Sterling, VA, Gibson came out with the critically acclaimed 1532, his third album, one that had a theme of family. Dedicated to his dad, who passed away a few years prior, the recording included tales of Gibson’s family beginning with its roots in Scotland.

After the success of his first concept album, Gibson returned to the format for his latest release, Shipbuilder, which came out in 2019, and carries a theme of water throughout.

“I felt that having a concept drew people in to my prior record, and it made it more special to have a theme,” he says. “As successful as that record was, I was really worried about how to follow that up because it was so personal. Over the course of time, I developed the theme about water metaphorically talking about the ups and downs of life.”

He considers Shipbuilder his best work to date and is happy his fans are enjoying it just as much as 1532

On January 5, Gibson will be performing a free show at Pearl Street Warehouse located on DC’s District Wharf, one of his favorite venues.

“It’s a full band show and we’ll be playing stuff across all four of my records,” Gibson says. “It will be a little less emphasis on just the new one, and really spanning equally among all four.”

Playing live is always an exciting time for the singer, and he’s happy to be kicking off the new year with this intimate show at a time when the band is at the best it’s ever been.

“Instrumentally, we can all breathe a little bit with expansion of solos and the night is going to be a lot of fun,” he says. “These are some of the best musicians in not only DC, but even on the entire coast.”

Gibson knew at a young age that he wanted to be a musician. Although he wasn’t a fan of his four years of piano lessons, once he found a guitar in his home, he taught himself how to play and started a band with friends. 

“As you start to feel good about something, it breathes your drive to do it,” he says. “I started writing songs and went out solo in college. Throughout my life, I had mini-successes that have kept me going, and I feel blessed that people are enjoying my albums and I get good reviews.”

Being heard wasn’t always easy. Although it was easy to get songs online, because so many others are doing that as well, attracting a following took some time. Gibson built that up by playing live shows mostly in the DMV at places like Jammin Java, the Birchmere and of course, Pearl Street. 

In 2020, Gibson hopes to release a live recording and will continue touring and playing throughout the area.

“Being on stage is one of the most enjoyable things I can do you just get that chill,” Gibson says. “I get it from feeding off of other guys in the band and hearing how they attack a solo. And I love communicating with an audience. I just enjoy sharing my music.”

Drew Gibson will perform at Pearl Street Warehouse at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 5. Admission is free. For more information about the artist, click here.

Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; 202-380-9620; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Photo: Klaus Burkhart

Kayleigh Goldsworthy Talks Touring and Inspirations

When Kayleigh Goldsworthy takes the stage at Pearl Street Warehouse Saturday night, opening for Americana singer-songwriter Austin Plaine, it will be the third time she’s performed in DC this year.

In fact, by the end of the month, after opening for punk-turned-Springteenian bandleader Frank Turner at the Warner Theater October 14, she’ll have made four separate treks to the nation’s capital. Those trips include stints playing in Bayside at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue and Frank Iero & The Future Violents at Union Stage.

But that’s still only a fraction of the shows she’s played in the last 12-month period, in which she’s been on tour with one of four bands (or performing her own material) every month.

On top of beloved alt rockers Bayside and the wailing punk of Iero & The Violents, Goldsworthy – who plays guitar, keyboards and violin – hit the road this year with Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Philadelphia’s answer to Tom Petty – and Irish outfit Kenny O’Brien and the O’Douls.

“[It’s] something that I strive to take on,” the 33-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter says. “It keeps things very interesting. …I feel like I always need to keep getting better…playing with different bands and different instrumentation and different people raises the bar.” 

That’s quite the musical resume, and Goldsworthy is an adept musical chameleon. She moves fluidly between all these groups and providing the instrumentation that fits exactly with their respective sounds. “To me,” says Goldsworthy, “What makes a great musician is being able to understand your instrument so well, you can slide through genres and put your fingerprints all over something but still make it what is it.”

Those different musical streams also feed into her own sound, which has morphed over the last six years from a more June Carter Cash-esque, traditional folk and country to fit alongside the kind of electrified Nashville sound exemplified by artists like Maren Morris.

Goldsworthy attributes that desire for a diversity of sound and perspective to one of her earliest musical influences: “I think that whatever makes my music uniquely me is some weird, subconscious thing steaming from listening to too much Peter Gabriel.”

The pioneering prog rocker was a fixture at the Goldsworthy’s Syracuse home while she was growing up. Her parents are both musicians who made their living playing in a cover band while also tinkering with original works. Watching Papa Goldsworthy shred guitar solos prompted her first real interest in playing an instrument. The seeds for becoming a musical polyglot came from Mama Goldsworthy, a singer who wanted to always experiment with new instruments. “One week my dad brought home bongos [for her], so we had bongos in the living room!” 

Photo: Matthew Lyons

Her first real plunge into being a professional, gigging musician came in high school, when Kayleigh and her twin sister Kaleena formed their indie-pop group The Scarlet Ending. The group started as a duo in 2002 before expanding to a sextet in 2008, becoming something of a local darling; the band won two SAMMYS – Syracuse Area Music Awards – over its 10-year lifespan.

The Scarlet Ending stood out in a solidly punk town due to their musical ambitions, whether that was inserting “a waltz with a violin in a bridge” or trying to “combine metal with acoustic guitars,” Goldsworthy says, highlighting examples of how the band sought to widen its sound. 

Goldsworthy put out her first solo album Burrower in 2013, a little after The Scarlet Ending went on hiatus. She had not put out recorded music under her own name until last year, when she released the EP All These Miles. Between those two records, she had moved to four different cities (New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and Philadelphia) and hit the road with Hause, punk-turned-folkie Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour and electro-R&B group Young & Sick.

There’s a reason behind the title of the EP. Goldsworthy sees it as an expression of the sum total of experiences she’s had from those five years on the road. In fact, she thinks of it as her first real solo release, since many of the songs on Burrower could have fit the sweeping sound of The Scarlet Ending.

“I like the place where I’m at,” Goldsworthy says of her new, more amplified sound, “Where I’m trying to maybe not be totally on acoustic guitar, not totally folk but try to drive it a little heavier…just a step louder.”

That step will help her in venues like the Warner, where her deeply personal and sometimes heartbreaking songs will have to push to the back of 2,000 seat rooms.

“I know I write sad songs,” says Goldsworthy, “Even with an electric guitar I’m a quiet performer. I try to be goofy. I try to be a little funny. At the end I feel like we’re all friends because I’ve just told a bunch of strangers intimate details about my life.” 

She sees her songs as naturally aiding that push for intimacy.

“There are specific themes that run through everyone’s lives…dealing with all sorts things going on in the world that make us uncomfortable and we’re not sure how to handle.” 

Goldsworthy handles it through songwriting, but there is no denying that kind of therapy can also come from experiencing those songs live; it’s like her process becomes a tether for the audience. In fact, she saw how one can create those kinds of ties between performer and people from watching tour mate Frank Turner play with The Scarlet Ending earlier this decade. “He incorporates the crowd size so no matter how big or how small you feel a part of something.”

In some ways, that ties back to how Goldsworthy first fell in love with music: watching her parents and playing in the family living room. She thinks there an incredible power in recreating that kind of space. “When you go to see superstars like Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga, there’s a lot of distance,” she says, “But in huge-er venues I like the idea that we’re still in a living room playing music.” 

Kayleigh Goldsworthy opens for Austin Plaine at Pearl Street Warehouse Saturday, October 5. The show is free; doors at 7 p.m. and show starts at 8 p.m. She also opens for Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at the Warner Theater, Monday October 14. Tickets are still available. For more on Kayleigh Goldsworthy, check out her website, Facebook page or Instagram.

Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; 202-380-9620; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Christelle Bofale

September Music Picks

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

Benjamin Francis Leftwich
While this young English artist may have landed on your radar for his hauntingly beautiful covers of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” and The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” don’t sleep on his original music. Although Leftwich does craft tracks you could easily drift off to, I promise that’s a compliment. Hearing his dreamy, ethereal folk live is the perfect way to usher in the cozy months of fall. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $17. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Jennifer Hudson and the National Symphony Orchestra
Since sweeping America during the third season of American Idol, Jennifer Hudson’s star quality has been undeniable. See the singer and actress in a new light this summer. Led by National Symphony Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins, this unique take on Hudson’s work will offer listeners the opportunity to enjoy Hudson’s talent and the NSO’s beautiful arrangements against the stunning backdrop of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis is perhaps best known as part of the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, but her solo career is equally prolific. Lewis comes to The Anthem with songs from this year’s critically acclaimed and all-around excellent On The Line in tow. Her alt-folk tunes and acerbic lyrics have already solidified her as one of the best musicians of a generation. Here’s a fun fact to tide you over until you see Lewis in the flesh: Did you know she starred in the 80s comedy Troop Beverly Hills? Truly a woman of many talents. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40. Show at 8 p.m. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Queen of Jeans
Underneath the sun-soaked sounds of this trio are some intense, introspective and healing lyrics, making for a listening experience that’s equal parts cathartic and calming. Late last month, the band released their second album If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid, a continuation of their fresh-but-retro sound. For the ultimate introduction to the group, start with the album’s lead single “Only Obvious to You,” a captivating breakup song, and dive into the rest of their catalogue from there. Doors at 7 p.m. , show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

SG Lewis
You name a successful alt-pop artist from the past several years, and SG Lewis is most likely a collaborator. The likes of AlunaGeorge, Clairo, HONNE and more have turned to the British DJ, songwriter and producer to give them the edgy and atmospheric sound that established his star power. He definitely doesn’t need the help of other artists – it’s more a relationship where they bring out the best in each other – and his solo work is similarly affecting and catching. He’ll appear live in DC, not just as part of a DJ set, which means you’re in for a treat, as Lewis has a gorgeous voice of his own. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets begin at $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;
www.ustreetmusichall.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

Banks
Genre-bending crooner Banks took several years off at the height of her career to truly hone in on writing and recording new music, leading up to the release of this year’s record III. Feeling burnt out from a grueling tour schedule around her first two records, her retreat to solitude and creativity allowed her to perfect her craft and return with what Pitchfork called her “best album to date.” Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

The Messthetics
While The Messthetics were somewhat born of the ashes of the ever-relevant Fugazi (drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally were both members), they’re joined by fellow DC denizen Anthony Pirog on guitar to create a sound that epitomizes the local DIY spirit but still keeps it innovative. To celebrate the release of their forthcoming record Anthropocosmic Nest, they stop by the Black Cat, a venue as important to the local scene as each of Messthetics’ members. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;
www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

Seratones
Rock and motown have always been inextricably linked, but Shreveport, L.A.’s Seratones have perfected the blend for the modern age on their sophomore album, Power. Power is right, as you’re instantly taken in by frontwoman AJ Haynes’ captivating voice, layered perfectly with the rest of the four-piece band’s gritty instrumentation. Wrapped up in production courtesy of Cage the Elephant’s Brad Shultz, the breakout band has entered an exciting new chapter in what’s sure to be a long career. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Bloc Party
Sure, there has been a whole slew of bands announcing anniversary tours around their best albums over the last 10, 15 or even 20 years. But Bloc Party is playing its iconic record Silent Alarm in full on this tour, an album that’s not only the group’s best, but arguably the seminal work in the pantheon of bands producing explosively good records throughout the early 2000s. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St.
SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

KAG + Sir E.U
Katie Alice Greer, of local post-punk outfit Priests and Sister Polygon Records, has stated on Twitter that she plans to debut new solo material at this show. While Greer has released work outside of Priests as far back as 2015 (including recording her own take on The Dixie Chicks’ Fly), anyone itching to hear what’s next to come from Greer’s ever-expanding body of work won’t want to miss this show in the Black Cat’s Red Room. Greer is joined by another notable name in the DC music world, Sir E.U, whose transcendental take on rap is not to be overlooked. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Marina
You might know this Greek-English singer from when she still recorded under the name Marina and the Diamonds. Now that she’s dropped the diamonds from the stage name, the pop star born Marina Diamandis has ushered in a new era for herself as an artist. She’s touring around not one but two albums she released this year (Love and Fear, respectively) and although one can hope for some old bops to be thrown into the mix, I’m excited to see what this new name and era looks like for one of the most interesting musicians of the decade. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Ride
After a notable split at the height of the UK’s shoegaze scene in the 90s saw each member of Ride off to their own endeavors (most notably, bassist Andy Bell joining Brit-pop legends Oasis), it was unclear if the group would ever produce new work in the future. Two reunions and many years later, they’re not only back together, but releasing new music as well. Perhaps their reunion could be credited to the increased interest in shoegaze from modern artists, or maybe Ride has just been itching to release new music. No matter the reason, don’t miss some of the pioneers of the genre live. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $35. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC: www.930.com

Tasha + Christelle Bofale
Two of Father Daughter Records’ finest signees on the same bill? I can hardly think of a better way to spend your Sunday. Tasha is a musician and poet from Chicago who crafts warm, dreamy songs about the beauty of black love. Christelle Bofale, who is Congolese and hails from Austin, Texas uses her rich family heritage to inform her guitar driven songs. Here, you’re presented with the opportunity to hear two voices who will inevitably do even bigger things in the coming years, so clear your schedule. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Cosmo Sheldrake
Cosmo Sheldrake is an incredibly whimsical artist. So whimsical, in fact, that I’d be willing to bet if a quirky sort of for kids, but mostly for adults movie like Where The Wild Things Are were made today, he’d be the first choice to score the film. Case in point: his most popular song, “Come Along,” unironically refers to a “heffalump,” of Winnie the Pooh fame. Because of all this, Sheldrake’s electro-folk sensibilities and nonsensical, improvisational style provide the perfect music to get lost in. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Whitney
Generating from the dissolution of garage rockers Smith Westerns, Whitney takes some of those same influences but spins their sound into something completely their own. Add some blues and folk sounds to the aforementioned jangly nature of rock they’ve been known to play, and you have the makings of a sound that may not make sense on paper but is incredible in practice. The band tours around their new album Forever Turned Around, released last month, which they’ve been quoted as saying to DIY Magazine deals with topics “fear, confusion, and substance abuse.” Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC: www.930.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

Ezra Bell
Portland’s Ezra Bell sounds very much like they are from Portland. While their musicianship is masterful, their devil-may-care ethos of combining almost every genre under the sun is something that could most certainly only have generated from the cool and carefree Pacific Northwest. If your music taste skews to the classics of the 60s and 70s, this is not a band to sleep on. Instead, head to Gypsy Sally’s and dance through your Wednesday night. Doors at
8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

Oh Land
Nanna Øland Fabricius takes her stage name, Oh Land, as a variant of her middle name. The Danish musician contributes to the brand of icy pop that the region is known for. Her 2019 album Family Tree marks her first album in five years. She’s been busy in the interim, though, starring alongside Mads Mikkelsen in the Danish Western movie The Salvation, composed music for ballet and became a mom. With a background in dance and stage performance, her live show is sure to be a vibrantly good time. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Frankie Cosmos
Earlier this month, Frankie Cosmos (née Greta Kline) released the whopping 21 track long Close It Quietly, a welcome continuation of the confessional, poem like songwriting that’s made her a go-to voice in the indie rock scene. While I couldn’t complain if Kline played all 21 new songs on this tour, here’s to hoping we hear the old stuff that put Kline on the map, too. For more on Close It Quietly, read assistant editor Trent Johnson’s interview with Kline at ontaponline.com. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

Generationals
Even if you’ve never heard of Generationals, you’ve probably heard their retro pop sound in a commercial or soundtrack without even realizing it. Sleeper hits like “TenTwentyTen” and “Put a Light On” certainly have a cinematic quality about them. The duo’s new record, Reader as Detective, shows off their evolving sweet but jangly sound into something still modern, always exciting and ready to soundtrack at least the next several year’s worth of movies and TV shows. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Sir Babygirl
I became familiar with Sir Babygirl, AKA Kelsie Hogue, as an incredibly hilarious and endearing comedic personality on the internet before I ever even heard her music. When I realized she was making music born out of my early 90s, Lisa Frank power-pop fever dreams, in addition to being the funniest queer person on the web, I was fully indoctrinated into the cult of Sir Babygirl. You should join this fun and fluid pop revolution. Consider her live show your baptism. Doors at 7 p.m. Show’s at 8 pm. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com