Tag Archives: 9:30 Club

RIYL Good Music –Saintseneca

There was a time when being a music journalist (“critic” is too harsh) meant trying to turn people on to new music by explaining and describing it in a way that would convince readers to seek it out. And in Ye Olden Days, that usually meant tracking sound down and buying it on some kind of physical media.  Now that there’s a firehose of free content coming at us 24/7 from all sides, I feel my “job” (even when there’s no paycheck?) is to talk about stuff I enjoy and point people to links they can use to hear for themselves.

The “Recommended If You Like…” or FFO (“For Fans Of…”) tag is easy shorthand to help introduce a new band. In the case of Ohio’s indie-rock/folk/psych musical collective Saintseneca, led by songwriter/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zac Little, I could refer to the likes of The Decemberists, maybe a little Mumfordism, even a touch of early Led Zep “bustle in your hedgerow” fairytale-telling, but it’s hard to pin the band down. American Songwriter once wrote, “It’s as if Conor Oberst was fronting Arcade Fire” and that’s a good one.

When it comes to acts that aren’t radio favorites, I’m always fascinated to hear how people first heard/heard of them. My Saintseneca origin story dates to April, 2015 when my Dr. Daughter, the unicorn (so dubbed for getting a real world paying job that directly relates to her Liberal Arts PhD), and I went to DC’s legendary 9:30 Club, to see her former high-schoolmate, Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down. Saintseneca was one of two opening acts and we were mightily impressed by the band’s engaging music and stage presence. We bought some vinyl that night and have followed the Little & Co. ever since.

After three EPs and three full albums – Last (2011), Dark Arc (2014) and Such Things (2015), Saintseneca’s released its fourth full-length album, Pillar of Na, last fall. At the time, I wrote about Little’s fun unboxing video that exposes new dangers in the simple act of opening a carton of albums. Dr. Daughter and I saw the band at the Black Cat Backstage (alas, that cozy venue is now closed) in September and had a great time. Here’s a few pics from that set.

Because Saintseneca utilizes a wide range of instruments – violin, mandolin, dulcimer, Turkish Baglama, floor percussion – along with synthesizers and electric guitars, the sound is both rustic and contemporary. Many of the players, including Little, originally hail from rural Appalachia, which feeds the organic quality of their music, while the band’s beginnings, playing with punk bands at DIY house shows, instilled an ability to move from intricate acoustic picking to wild electric jams. For a taste of the band’s live chops,  this one-take live version of Pillar of Na’s title track, recorded at Ohio’s Musicol Studios, shows ‘em off.

Saintseneca took to the road again last month, opening a new tour here in DC, at Comet Ping Pong, and DD and I were there again. Here are some pics:

The band has just released a new one-off song, “In A Van,” and yes, it was inspired by Chris Farley’s motivational speaker character Matt Foley, after Little spent some time revisiting the comic’s Best Of videos. As the singer tells, it, “This collection was a fixture of goofy-ness growing up, but it felt like a revelation that night.

It was a strangely emotional experience. The gauzy 90’s TV sheen, the feathery haircuts, a couple cringe-y jokes that didn’t age well. But, I saw his talent and craft shine through, in a way I had never quite noticed before. It was amazing, funny, and a little sad – knowing the end while witnessing the best all at once.

What a weird nostalgia trip to fall into some 25 years later- all tangled up with life and memory- the same old thing, accumulating new meaning with time.”

After covering the east coast in September, Saintsenca is heading for the middle of the country and the West Coast this month. Here are the dates and ticket info.

For more Saintseneca music, check out the band’s YouTube channel and Spotify playlist, which includes new stuff, old stuff, friends and influences.


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I Went, I Took Pictures, I Wrote About It

This little into bit here is always the hardest part of having a blog, trying to come up with some pithy way to say hello and fill in the gap from last we met. So I’m going to cut to the chase – I’ve been to some fine shows lately and wrote them up for my examiner.com column, with photo slideshows for all but one (the venue didn’t allow me to shoot). Here’s some links to bring you up to date, with photo samples to, hopefully, tease you into clicking through:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, with members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, with members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Wolf Trap summer season opener, with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The two Daves - Cousins and Lambert - of Strawbe

The two Daves – Cousins and Lambert – of Strawbs

The Strawbs revisit “Hero and Heroine” (an album that looms large in my personal legend) at AMP by Strathmore

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers with Brett Dennen (8th row seats for an amazing show!) at Eagle Band Arena (formerly the Patriot Center)

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (she went to high school with Dr. Daughter), plus Saintseneca (a new favorite) at the 9:30 Club

Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift (a veteran hero and a bright newcomer) at the Barns of Wolf Trap

Gaz Coombes (from Supergrass) and Piney Gir at Jammin Java

A trio of great local acts at Jammin Java – Sub-Radio, Swell Daze and Belmira

And there’s more coming soon, as I’m editing pics and writing text about another recent fine show – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats (“S.O.B.”!!)

close gtr

who opened for Lord Huron. See ya soon!

pink smoke

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Short month, long winter

February is the shortest month and yet it can easily feel like the longest, with the early-setting sun and bitter cold standing between me and spring – and my birthday, on March 1st. (Start planning now!)

At least this February, I have the sweet face of Harry Styles looking over my shoulder as I type, as his 21st birthday (can I buy you a drink, handsome?!) on February 2 makes him my calendar boy of the month.


Yes, my possibly inappropriate 1D fangirl obsession continues, but I was able to make it work with a recent story posted on AXS.com, when respected indie troubadour Martin Sexton covered a 1D song for his daughter, after she found out that Harry was following him on Twitter.

Other recent stories for that site include:

Courtney Barnett’s new single/video and upcoming album. Very excited for this as I loved her album and the show I caught last year, at the Black Cat. She was also very gracious afterwards, meeting fans and signing albums. Here I am with the cool lady. IMG_3992

Sufjan Stevens’ new album and upcoming tour.

Rapper/singer Lizzo gets coveted spot opening for Sleater-Kinney’s tour.

I’ve had a few other items posted recently, so here are some other links for your pleasure:

Jukebox the Ghost and Twin Forks giving away free music and touring together.

A review of The Black Cadillacs, and Knox Hamilton (a new favorite band) at Jammin Java.

A review of (charming Southern boy) Christian Lopez, also at Jammin Java.

To recap, here are places you can find me and links to a whole lotta love:


Examiner.com – National Music news

Examiner.com – DC Concert Photography (reviews, previews and slideshows)

 Whatcha Gonna Play – the set list site

Thanks for dropping by and please come back soon. It won’t all be listicles (a horrible trend in journalism, with an ugly word to match!).

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Where I’ve Been, What I’ve Seen, What I’ve Written

Hey there, CPF people. I’m not sure how many of y’all (as we say in Virginia) follow the articles I write for examiner.com or the postings I make to the Set List Site, WhatchaGonnaPlay, where I share concert photos and actual set lists from shows I’ve seen. (I would love to hear if you do via the comments section or direct email.)

Being busy elsewhere often keeps me from this here blog and I don’t want to be repetitive. But since I can’t assume that you know what I’ve been up to,  I thought I’d do a little catch-up summary here to remind you where else you can find my work…

Over at examiner.com, I write two columns. One is for reviews and previews of DC area concerts. Since my last posting here, the following have run:

Glenn Tilbrook at Jammin Java

Sept. 20 weekend preview – Travis, Virgin FreeFest, Laura Veirs, The Selecter

BOY at the 9:30 Club


Atlas Genius at Fillmore Silver Spring


I also have a Digital Music column, where I write about free, legal downloads and review albums and, as in the case of the One Direction movie (which I thoroughly enjoyed. So there!), other music-related stuff:

Freebies from Matt Pond, Army of Me, Wolfcolony,  samplers from the Mountain Oasis EDM fest, and the ATO label

“One Direction: This Is Us” movie review

And then, as I mentioned, there’s Whatcha Gonna Play, the set list site. I’ve been very lucky lately in that I’ve gotten lists from every show l’ve been to in the past month, and I’d love for you to check ’em out:

Glen Tillbrook


Atlas Genius, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (below) opening


And here’s a link you won’t find anywhere else yet. While I’m still working on the examiner.com review of this show, you can see the set list and pics from Wednesday night’s 9:30 Club appearance by Noah and the Whale.


I hope this collection of links offers you something new to see or at least explains my absence from CPF. I’ll try to be better about staying in touch.

Hope you’re well!

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Under the Wire for April

With only one day left in the month, I’m finally back to say hello and put something on the scoreboard (so to say) for April. And it’s not that I haven’t been out and about. Trouble with juggling the various Twitter feeds and examiner columns is that it lulls me into thinking I’ve covered the bases. And/or I let ideas and “should write about…”s build up and then I get stuck like ye olde proverbial deer in the headlights.

But you, dear blog pals, who’ve been with me the longest, deserve better. So, let’s take baby steps. One little post at a time.

Had a most lovely weekend just past. And, as is usually the case when I’ve having a good time, music played a part. As I mentioned before, I’m a member of many artist-related web sites, including some mentioned here for misplaced birthday messages (come to think of it, I didn’t get any greetings when it actually was my birthday!). And last week, one of those artists – British singer Ellie Goulding – sent a note announcing that she was coming to D.C. to run in the first annual Nike half-marathon and would be doing an invite-only show for fans and fellow runners. Sending an email put me in the running to score a pair of tickets and, slow and beholden, I won.

The concert was at the 9:30 Club, recently named one of the best clubs in the nation by Rolling Stone,  and was to start at the pleasant late afternoon hour of 6pm so that the club could get on with its usual Saturday night business, a show with Robyn Hitchcock and Peter Buck. (BTW, I previewed that show and a few others for examiner, if you wanna check it out. I’ve redesigned the column- like the new look?)

Corporate sponsored shows can be a drag, but Nike was pretty cool about this deal. When my plus-one and I entered, we were offered free snacks – a variety of chips, power bars and candy – plus sodas and bottled water were free from the bar. The ladies room had fresh cut flowers in vases, a throw rug and one of those little baskets with “ladies things.” A member of the staff was even on duty, handing out towels to dry your hands! (The young woman and I had a laugh over keeping such elements for hard rock shows.)

Again, because of time constraints, there was no opening act and the show started bang-on-the-dot at 6 with an intro from some nice young Nike spokeswoman who thanked all the runners in the crowd, some of whom had clocked 9,000 hours in preparation for the next day’s race. (My mileage to date? O.) And the corporate connection with Goulding was a clean one – she’s an avid runner who tries to do six miles a day even when she’s on tour.


Nike sponsored Goulding’s show.

So, the opening video of Goulding getting ready and hitting the streets for a run was acceptable and the occasional flash of a logo on her gear made sense. She never mentioned the company by name in her between-song chats, though she did invite anyone who saw her the next day to run beside her. And those staffers with the munchies just kept coming! I’m not the type to turn down free snackage, so I kept saying thanks and filling my bag. When I got home and emptied it, it appeared I had robbed a 7-11.

WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?!?! You say? Well, I’m going to write about the show for examiner (I should be doing that now, actually) and thus I’m back to that blog/column dichotomy. Here’s a quick summation – she’s got a lovely voice, not all of the songs stick, and she can’t seem to decide whether she’s an indie-folk singer/songwriter or a dancepop diva. I generally preferred the songs from the latter camp. “Anything Can Happen” is the latest single and a real ripper. Her debut American hit, “Lights,” is also a great song, but the live version built to an overly bombastic climax that kinda ruined it. (Let’s see how many of my own phrases I re-purpose for the photo gallery/report.)

Since I wasn’t actually press, I didn’t bring my SLR, but I got some reasonable shots with my little Lumix and scored a set list, so take a moment to visit the WGP page. Here’s a taste of the pics…

EG at 930

Ellie Goulding at the 9:30 Club the night before her half-marathon run.

6pm shows are actually quite nice. And, as I left the club, still in daylight and heading home for a nice dinner, I walked right past Peter Buck, shlepping his own guitar into the club for the show that would be starting in the next hour. “Have a good show,” I said casually and, though he seemed surprised to be noticed  (this was a young girl crowd; not alt-rocker types), he smiled and said thanks. A nice way to end the event.

[As I’m typing this, I’ve got the TV on, watching an On Demand repeat of last night’s Colbert Report with Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy, you’re a legend, and rightfully so, but you gotta start wearing a shirt…]

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