Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eric Brace and Peter Cooper @ St. Mark's Church

The Institute of Musical Traditions hosts a concert every Monday night at the St. Mark's Presbyterian church in Rockville. I went for the first time last Monday to join my 50 year old brother and his lovely wife to see Eric Brace and Peter Cooper perform. Eric and Peter are singer/songwriter guitar players and they have just released an album cleverly called "You Don't Have to Like Them Both".

Eric used to write nightclub reviews for the Weekend section of Washington Post (how do I get that job?), and at the same time he was the front man for the roots rock band Last Train Home. That became a conflict of interest, so he quit the paper gig and moved to Nashville to become a full time musician. There he met Peter Cooper, also a journalist/musicians, and through a series of "disc jockey parties" where they shared musical interests a duo was born.

Good fortune for us, this duo became a quartet on Monday, when Kevin Cordt (trumpet) and Mike Auldridge (dobro virtuoso) sat in for most of the show. Yes you read that correctly, trumpet. Kevin also plays for Last Train Home and provided an interesting jazz vibe on top of the country/Americana songs that Eric and Peter played. Mr. Auldridge has more skill, knowledge, and talent in his little finger when it comes to playing the dobro (or resophonic guitar) than most guys playing the instrument today (Fred S. being excepted). And in the second set he moved over to the pedal steel guitar and that was even sweeter.

But Eric and Peter were the stars of the show and they performed a mix of original songs (many from the new album) and covers (including tunes from Bob Dylan, Seldom Scene, and Last Train Home). Between songs they told lots of funny stories and overall it was a great 2 hours of music and fun. Original tunes included songs about Mt. Denali (not McKinley), Hank Aaron, and a really good one (Lucky Bones) cowritten with my main man Jim Lauderdale during a late night partying session.

The venue is an interesting one, it's a general purpose room with a high ceiling and excellent acoustics, I would guess seating for 150 or so and they serve snacks, coffee, tea and soda. A little weird checking out the tunes with no alcohol, but hey it's a Monday night. $20 to get in, but a chunk of that money goes to the church and the Institute.

I would love to see these guys again, and I may just pick up that CD (I like 'em both!).

Happy Birthday Ed, thanks for inviting me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Fabulous Dialtones at the EndZone in Gaithersburg

Great turnout last night at the EndZone in Old Town Gaithersburg to see the Fabulous Dialtones. This a band that plays "Classic Rock for the New Millenium" as well as a few originals. They are fronted by Tony Bardo, who during the day is the Vice President of Government Sales where I work at Hughes Network Systems. Many of the musicians used to work together at MCI (thus the genesis of the name). 

Tony and his crew started off with a more acoustic set that included some very nice harmonizing on some CSNY tunes, then were joined by a 4 piece horn section and began to really rock the joint. Faithful renditions of many familiar classics that got the crowd off their seats an onto the dance floor. 

Earlier in the day I was listening to "Hell in a Bucket" by the Grateful Dead, which starts off with the line "I was drinking last night with a biker, and I showed him a picture of you". Last night's crowd was about 50/50 bikers and Hughes employees, and I think we showed those bikers a good picture of the old Hughes spirit (work hard/play hard), which seems to be too focused on the first half of that equation these days. 

Tony and the Fabulous Dialtones certainly helped us "enjoy the ride" last night and I look forward to seeing them again.

Final note to self, I'll have to keep an eye on the EndZone's live music calendar (you can see it here), I wished I had seen Jah Works there last week. We need more local live music.