Traveling for work is not always the most fun. What it does allow me is the off chance of seeing a band I really like in a completely different location than where I live. Yes it might be my old stomping ground but not all the bands I enjoy are willing to make the trip to the west coast. This past trip back home I lucked out because Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward were playing at the Jammin Java in Vienna.
I saw them almost a year ago at Mississippi Studios back home in Portland. At the time it was just billed as the Charlie Hunter Trio. This was the regular rotating cast of characters Charlie has played with for years now. During that 2018 performance they mentioned working on a new album that would be released the following year. To be honest all of this completely skipped my mind and I had clean forgot about it. This show was a jolt back to that last performance and the excitement I felt then as I waited for the album to be released.
Charlie and Lucy released that album titled Music! Music! Music! and had been on tour for a while supporting it by the time they played Jammin Java. They just got back from eastern Europe and started the east coast leg of the tour. I know that later the tour will take them west to my neck of the woods as I already plan to see them when they play at Mississippi Studios this December. Finally, before the end of the year it is 6 shows in UK before six shows back in Europe. That is a lot of travel around north America and Europe is a rather short amount of time.
I got my ticket less then 24 hours before the show. I wasn’t worried about getting a ticket but I certainly didn’t expect a good seat. I lucked out when it came to my seat. I got a prime spot right in the middle at one of the first tables. Someone at my table bought 3 tickets so I took the last spot available at that table. What a close seat. With the stage not very hit off the ground and it such a small venue, the band was really close.
The setlist was what I expected and followed the same playful song selection when I saw them a year ago. Mix of old, classic, funk, pop, etc… All done in that typical guitar style Charlie is known for. It was kinda funny that evening. This was after they got back from several eastern European gigs. You could tell they had been cramped in a small bus traveling together for to long. The music was spot on, it was the banter between songs that was just as memorable.
During the set break they had copies of the new album on vinyl. I didn’t have any cash but thankfully there was an ATM next door. I stood in line and got the album signed by both Lucy and Charlie. The whole time I was waiting I thought of what I would say. In the end I was such a fan girl words were hard to speak. I thanked him and said I have been enjoying his music for over 15 years which really surprised him. I was just happy to shake his hand and meet him in person after all these years. Really cool.
What a night. It started with a train ride to Tysons Corner for dinner at Founding Farmers before an after dinner walk to the Jammin Java from the metro station. A kick ass show where I got to shake Charlie’s hand and enjoy two sets of really great music from the trio. Getting home I missed the last train which really pissed me off because I made it in time according to the posted schedule. Nothing a Lyft ride back to Roslyn couldn’t fix.
Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward w/ Doug Belote on drums Thursday, October 17th 2019 Jammin Java – Vienna, VA
Set one starts at 8:09pm
Kiss and Tell
Never Gonna Get It
You Might Think
Be My Husband
Set over at 856pm
Set two starts at 9:23pm
You’re the One That I Want
? By Betsy smith in 1846?
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
. Set over at 10:06pm
Encore starts at 10:07pm
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
House lights at 10:13pm
On the weekend I love having a cup of coffee and reading The Post. This is especially true here in spring. The sun is up and the morning air has a crispness to it that you don’t get any other time of year. That morning chill in the air is great after coming off the miserable weather of winter. Today there just happened to be an advertisement for The Barns at Wolf Trap and it was The Bad Plus playing on April Fools day.
I have not seen a jazz show in such a long time so I was excited they where playing. Its funny how things can sometimes just work out. The last time I saw them was at the 2010 Rosslyn Jazz Festival and before that at the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival. Both of course large festivals with multiple acts so being able to catch them in such a small venue for a full set was a real treat.
I got to the venue not long before the show started and the place was pretty packed. I got my seat the day of the show and it was almost sold out when I got mine. There where only 8 or so seats left in the entire place which was cool. This time around I was in the balcony and I don’t know if that had anything to do with the acoustics or not but I could hear a pin drop from up there. This really made the music stand out. In fact I don’t think the drums needed much of a mic rig as they were plenty loud just by themselves.
The entire night was a good mix of the bands musical styles. Between songs Reid would do the banter and usually named the song and who composed it. Once thing I quickly found was I enjoyed more the compositions by drummer Dave King. His stuff is just much more funky and avant-garde then his band mates. Another thing I noticed was Reid did all banter and it just seemed like he was trying to hard. He had some good one liners now and then but he often struggled to connect with the audience. In these situations I am a fan of letting the music do the talking.
Great last minute concert from the Weekend section in The Post. All afternoon I was doing training so the concert was a welcome mental break and a good reason to get out of the house. I don’t see jazz bands very often so this was also a special treat. Unfortunately this also breaks my streak of seeing concerts outside my local area. Widespread Panic on Sept. 7th 2016 was my last local show. Six bands in six states since then. That has to be some sort of record for myself. I don’t much like my job right now but I will say this, it allow me to do what I really love which is concerts and traveling so its not all bad.
For weeks I have known about John Medeski playing a solo show at The Barns. Medeski, Martin and Wood is my second favorite band so I knew what to expect seeing Medeski solo. I have seen the Wood Brothers side project which is different then a MMW show. I was expecting him to play a grand piano and this is what I saw on the stage when we arrived. In 2005 I saw MMW play at the Newport Jazz Festival, Medeski had his normal setup but he did play the grand piano they had on stage and that was awesome.
I managed to convince Nancy to come and she suggested we invite my Dad and Pat, they accepted. The two of them normally go out to dinner on Thursdays so it worked out for all of us. I got to see John Medeski and everyone else got a nice evening together as a family. Pat got tickets from the box office and she found a close restaurant to have dinner at, Maplewood Grill.
This was a great classic American restaurant. The decor was nice but the crowd was definitely an older one. If you are young and looking to meet people, don’t come here. I had the chipotle and Guinness braised beef short ribs and they were amazing. The beef was cooked perfectly and the sauce was rich. It came with bacon risotto which was good, it was the beef and the sauce that made this dish.
We arrived at the venue just in time to grab a drink and take our seats. Since I had never been here before I was astonished at the inside. It is exposed beams from a 1730 German barn originally built in New York, pretty cool. There is a loft that seats close to 100 and the acoustics are pretty good in the space. I don’t know if this is because of the wood beams or because it is so small. Certainly for the Medeski show, the grand piano didn’t need any amplification and the sound was clear.
Medeski came on stage at 8:05 and only had a simple greeting. He then proceeded to play for 60 minutes straight without a break. I must be honest, his playing that night was a little weird. He would noodle for a few minutes and then go into a partial tune, back and forth for the entire hour. His noodling was crazy and at times made no musical sense. The transitions often didn’t make sense and I felt it ruined the flow. He would bang on the keys and sometimes even pluck the strings directly in the piano.
It was a weird set and I could tell that Nancy and Pat were getting lost. Nancy was ready to go shortly after the set started. He closed the show with a MMW song that was good but this was decidedly a Medeski show. He took us on a musical journey all over the place, sometimes I got lost and wanted to get off. After the show we all agreed it was interesting. Pat and Nancy didn’t care much for it and even for me, a fan of Medeski, it was a hard show to fall in love with. I liked the solo piano idea and at times he would really jam. Often weird noodling that didn’t make sense or flow and was hard to follow. My dad and I understood what Medeski was doing and as a musical performance, it was something different and new. Personally I can’t wait for the next Medeski, Martin and Wood tour to start.
I last saw Charlie Hunter on my birthday back in 2010. Back then it was the Trio which was a great show. This time around it was the duo, Charlie and drummer Scott Amendola. I was glad the show was on a Friday because it had been a long week and I didn’t want to go to work after staying out late for the show.
It has been a few years since I have been to the Jammin’ Java and it certainly had changed since that last visit. The biggest change and most disappointing, was I could no longer get a good cup of espresso. While they do sell coffee, it is mass market and brewed like I make at home. On the plus side they have added several tables and orientated them like the Birchmere in Alexandria or the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis. I bought my ticket Friday afternoon and was able to score the last premium table seat right up front. Since I couldn’t get a cup of coffee I got a beer and took my seat when I arrived.
This time around two people had recording rigs and recorded the show for posterity. Not long after the official start time Charlie and Scott walked out onto the small stage. I was rather close and could hear them talk which was cool. I felt they didn’t even need to use microphones I was so close. Well certainly Scott didn’t need one and if Charlie was playing an acoustic guitar, he wouldn’t need one other.
They played two sets that night and couldn’t play past 10pm which was disappointing. Being only the two of them, they put on a great show with a lot of energy. A small intimate show, Charlie told a couple stories which were cool. The one about a guy he was touring with always being late was a good laugh.
It seemed like just when the show started it was over, 10pm came rather quickly that night. Two short sets and Charlie did a one song solo encore before thanking the crowd and walking off the stage. Charlie has played here about once a year for the last three or four years if memory servers me. I think its great that he is playing small venues like this, as a fan I want to get as close to the band as possible.
Widespread Panic took a break over most of 2012 and this was their first tour since the hiatus. When it was announced and I saw Wolf Trap on the schedule I jumped at tickets as soon as they went on sale. Later when I started signing up for classes, I made sure none were scheduled for Wednesday night so I could go to the show.
A few days before the show Maggie messaged me asking if I wanted to come. I told them I bought my ticket the day of and I was in. I had a pavilion seat that was now useless but that was ok. I have always thought the vibe from the lawn is better and it’s better to see shows with friends as apposed to alone. I arranged to meet at their house in Centreville and carpool to Wolf Trap. Because I had a designated driver I was now free to drink. A quick stop during lunch for some beer and food and I was set.
We didn’t get to the venue till a quarter to 7 and I went I to get a spot on the lawn while they waited for tickets. I was not all the surprised to find the lawn pretty packed when I walked in. I was able to find a spot to the right of the stage down front, not the best spot but better than many that arrived later. At this point we settled in with drinks and food while we waited for show time. It being Wolf Trap I figured they would stick pretty close to the official start time.
The show started almost on time and hit the ground running with Wondering > Pilgrims, Tall Boy. I had high hopes for a high energy show with an opening sequence like this. From here it took a decidedly mellower turn for the rest if set 1. The show had a groove and funk to it but never really busted out. My guess is that because they came off a long break, they were a little rusty. I was expecting the first half of the tour to be like this but to start rocking come the second half.
During the set break I meet a couple of cool people and talked to them for a while. They were not much into WSP but into other jam bands and decided to give them a shot. Greg and Maggie both commented on the fans at the show, not what they are use to seeing. All these hippies in one place and Greg noticed many of them would sway with the music.
I was hoping that the second set would be high energy but it was more mellow stuff. The show ended rather early for a WSP show but within the limits of Wolf Trap. Both Greg and Maggie enjoyed the show and I had a blast. While mellow the show didn’t disappoint. Getting out of Wolf Trap was a pain but that is par for the course here. It was a school night and I didn’t get home till 1am that night. Certainly well past my bed time but worth the memories. Can’t wait to see them next time around and hopefully Greg and Maggie will come along. Maybe get Nancy to come out as well, one can always hope.
Set 1 (7:44pm start) 1. Wondering > 2. Pilgrims 3. Tall Boy 4. Bowlegged Woman 5. Saint Ex 6. Trouble 7. Heroes > 8. Impossible > 9. Imitation Leather Shoes Set 1 ends at 8:42pm
Set 2 (9:14pm start) 1. All Time Low 2. Pickin’ Up the Pieces 3. You Got Yours 4. Airplane >5. Shut Up and Drive 6. Bear’s Gone Fishin’ 7. I’m Not Alone 8. Fishwater > 9. Porch Song Set 2 ends at 10:25pm
encore: (10:30pm start) 10. Aunt Avis > 11. No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature Show over at 10:40pm