Category Archives: The Washington Post

Concerning the Death of Ray Price

"Well, if I’m going to go out, I’ll go out singing." Ray Price, 1926-2013.

“Well, if I’m going to go out, I’ll go out singing.” Ray Price, 1926-2013.

I was waiting to board a plane at Reagan National Airport this morning, operating on about two hours’ sleep, when the Washington Post‘s J. Freedom du Lac, who used to assign me music reviews back when he was the paper’s pop music critic, Tweeted me the WashPo’s obit of country legend Ray Price.

Price’s death had been falsely reported by his son over the weekend, but as I read Terence McArdle‘s thoughtful summing up of Price’s extraordinary life, it quickly became clear he really had left us this time.

I’m quoted briefly in the story, from my review of a 2007 concert that featured Price, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard, touring together as The Last of the Breed. It was a great show. I brought my dad along as my plus-one. “I’m 81 and I ain’t quit yet!” Price told us on that evening six years ago. Continue reading

There’s No Dignified Way to Say “Christmas Unicorn”: Sufjan Stevens at the 9:30 Club


My review of Sufjan Stevens’ “Christmess Sing-a-Long” — or to use its full, formal designation, the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice — at the 9:30 Club Saturday night appears  in today’s Washington Post. Continue reading

What Justice Stewart Said About Christmas

My essay about making my Christmas mixtape is in the Style section of today’s Washington Post, the pullout section with Helen Mirren on the cover. I was surprised how difficult I found it to write about this silly little project that’s come to claim so many tens hundreds of hours of my time and moxie every fall. Continue reading

She Couldn’t Blame Us: Cat Power at the 9:30 Club, reviewed.

I’m sorry to say that Cat Power’s concert at the 9:30 Club last night was another heart-rending chapter in her sad history as a panicky, fragmented performer. It’s always agonizing to watch someone on stage who clearly doesn’t want to be there. I hope she’ll get the help she needs. The club was sold out, so clearly her fans haven’t abandoned her. Last night’s audience struck me as uncommonly respectful, sympathetic and forgiving. Continue reading

Like Louis Armstrong Said, All Music Is Folk Music

Gillian Welch posted her Strathmore setlist on her Twitter feed this morning.

Ain’t never heard a horse sing no song.

I reviewed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings‘s concert at the Music Hall at Strathmore last night for the Washington Post. It was great. It was better than that. There wasn’t a bum note all night. Continue reading

Loving Spit: Broken Social Scene at the Warner Theatre

The membership of Toronto indie-rock impressionists Broken Social Scene fluctuates between as few as a half-dozen and as many as three times that, which maybe has something to do with how this band has always — well, since 1999 — made music that feels intimate and epic at the same time.

Their generous 130-minute show at the Warner Theater last night boasted a lineup of eight (with Lisa Lobsinger performing the parts sung on record by BSS alums Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, and Amy Millan) performing crystalline lullabies, triumphant fist pumpers, and a few of the discursive, hazy instrumentals that used to get a lot more time on the collective’s albums than they do now. The one that came out at the beginning of summer (after leaking weeks earlier) Forgiveness Rock Record, is more focused and song-oriented than its forebears. It contributed the bulk of last night’s set, but the show still felt thrillingly rife with possibility, even if it was, as frontman and co-founder Kevin Drew repeatedly observed, a Monday night. (That still matters when you’re a full time rock semi-star? Depressing. A more likely potential inhibitor was that Of Montreal and Janelle Monae were kicking off a tour a couple miles north at the 9:30 Club.) Continue reading

The Late Greats: Wilco at Strathmore

Sorry I’ve let things slide around here for the past couple of weeks, everybody. But What ho!, new writing at last: I reviewed what turned out to be an epic Wilco concert — three hours, 37 songs, last Red Line train home – for the Washington Post. The blog version features a setlist and copious photos by the great Kyle Gustafson, while the paper-paper version has only one.

I thought I’d have more to say about the show, which included a lot of excellent, seldom-performed songs I never thought I’d hear, like “Some Day Some Morning Sometime” from Mermaid Avenue Vol. II , for instance, but for once I managed to stick to my allotted space. Amy Argetsinger gave me a little shout in her Reliable Source item about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel being at the show, which is why the Daily Swarm linked to the review. I haven’t loved Wilco’s most recent pair of records as much the ones they released between 1996 and 2004, but I’ve seen them play a bunch of times in the last 10 years, and I don’t think they’ve ever been a better live band than they are now.

Here’s Valerie’s fine DCist review breaking down the value-for-money equation, with some great photos by Jeff Martin.

On an unrelated note, I wrote about Bruce Norris’s superb new play Clybourne Park at Woolly Mammoth for the City Paper last week, but the Best of DC special issue didn’t contain an arts section, so the piece didn’t come out until today. Apologies, Woolly Mammoths.