Note: The following was written by Nick Ring. We’ve done this once before – all the way back in August – and we can’t say this enough: If you’re out there, and you feel like writing a bit about the stuff we have going down, we are happy to give you a platform to opine. Always and forever. For those who may not know, Nick is a member of local funk group Jack Funk, who you can check out on Facebook here. They will be commencing for a special semi-acoustic performance at Paddy’s Irish Pub in Charles Town, West Virginia, on Saturday, while next Saturday, they’ll return to Olde Towne Tavern for a night with Go Slow. Their debut LP, “Good For Your Soul,” is currently available on all the requisite Internet platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google, etc.), and, of course, on CD Baby. We thank Nick. We love Nick. We love you. And to all a good night.
Remember the inaugural Frederick Music Showcase? Hard Swimmin’ Fish, The Knolly Moles, Heavy Lights and Old Indian broke the ice, so to speak, for more local acts to follow in their footsteps and share the stage of our historic downtown theater. Needless to say there was much anticipation for this year’s event — who’s gonna play, what will they wear, what are we going to eat and drink, and most importantly, where’s the afterparty? The answers brought joy to us all: Retro/Ricole feat. DaMood, Katie Powderly and the Unconditional Lovers, Silent Old Mtns., and Freddy Long Band; who cares; Monocacy Brewing brews and Pork Authority BBQ; and where else, but The Cellar Door.
Retro/Ricole kicked off the night with a high energy performance. It was the first ever live hip-hop performance at the Weinberg, as we understand it. Backed by the rockin’ six-piece band DaMood, flush with keys/synths, trumpet, and trombone, the showman Ricole led a song-blending set that got the crowd moving like only hip-hop can. With a cast of collaborators featuring masked dubstep dancers, lovely backup singers, guest emcees and a few shoutouts to the crowd, it felt like a real family affair. There were hands clapping and waving overhead. There was an upright bass, an electronic drum kit, heavily distorted guitar, and on a few songs, there was even a ukulele. Overall, Retro/Ricole’s performance was a kind of variety show bearing new sights and sounds at every turn. And the people dug it.
Katie Powderly and the Unconditional Lovers next took the stage. As Powderly graced the theater with her mellow, mid-tempo brand of acoustic rock storytelling, seats were filling up in the Weinberg. Her subdued voice and slight twang (evidenced by her cowgirl boots) lulled the crowd into a sweet sort of nostalgic daze. You may have recognized the guitarist and bassist in the band – those would be the Durr brothers, Neal and Evan on guitar and bass, respectively. They pop up all over Frederick performing with a number of bands, playing whichever instrument needs to be picked up … because that’s how they roll. Katie introduced the Unconditional Lovers, giving each some time to shine, and shine they did. “If you’d like me to sing you to sleep every single night, we can make that happen,” Katie told the audience, mentioning she’d be in the lobby with CDs for sale.
Silent Old Mtns. then commandeered the Weinberg Center with their animated six-piece indie outfit, shuffling through an original canon of dynamic, multi-layered folky rock. With a verifiable smorgasbord of instruments and attitudes, their music filled the performance hall thoroughly, bringing young fans bopping to their feet and singing along to cinematic crowd-favorites like “Trenches.” If you haven’t seen these guys live, not only are they multi-talented musicians, but they’re comical and endearing with their stage banter. The banjo player, Sam Whalen, who cocked his head and strutted like a rooster across the stage as he plucked, and dramatically tossed shakers onstage and off, at one point said into the mic, “It’s Frederick out there, which means friends and family. All you strangers … tonight that means you too … congratulations.” You have to enjoy a band that can successfully blend electric guitar, bass, drums, keys, banjo, slide guitar, mandolin, and melodica, all while hitting three-part vocal harmonies and having a good time. Oh, and did I mention the horn sit-ins? Bottomline: The dudes have got great, natural stage presence.
For those who stalk Frederick Playlist, you might have also noticed that the first three bands performing were also featured on the Frederick Playlist/Flying Dog compilation from last fall. Also, now is a fine time to give a shout to Mr. Todd Walker, who kept the tunes rollin’ from above in the lobby between acts for the second year running.
Finally, the Freddy Long Band began their set with a rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which featured Long on the table slide guitar, a nod to our very own FSK (not the mall). The band wore full black suits, taking a more formal departure from the “t-shirt and jeans blend of pop, rock, soul and honesty” we’re so accustomed to seeing on Market Street on a Friday night. This horn-heavy line-up toted not one, but two saxophones, one trumpet, and one trombone player, along with bass, drums, and Freddy’s contributions on acoustic, slide, and electric guitars, as well as harmonica, keys and vocals. The singer-songwriter and namesake of the band echoed a sentiment that I feel each performer of the evening expressed at some point: A, “We did it, Mom!” feeling, finally taking the stage after years of being part of the Weinberg’s audience. They were now watched by loyal friends and family, and embraced by the artistic community of the city. Freddy also fulfilled a four-year-old’s request to hear the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen, which the girls’ parents recorded on their phones because it was past her bedtime. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
This second installment of the Frederick Music Showcase demonstrated a unique juxtaposition of artists from the impressive array of talent that Frederick has to offer. From hip-hop to pop-rock, electronic drum kits to ukuleles, the evening held something for everyone. I saw couples whose normal Thursday night routines might consist of little more than catching their usual prime-time television show instead waving their arms in the air to local music that they may never have known existed. It’s a true testament to the virtue and beauty of the collaborations that make the Frederick Music Showcases possible.