Desire' Moses

Richmond’s Lucy Dacus didn’t go searching for a music career, but it found her anyway. She made her first record, No Burden, on a lark, as a school project for a friend. Recorded in just one day, critics raved about the album, a bidding war began, and she signed with Matador Records a few months after its release. Publicity photo

Lucy Dacus sets course for big topics on second record

On “Troublemaker Doppelgänger,” a bluesy jaunt from Lucy Dacus’ debut album, the singer-songwriter posits, “No child is born knowing there’s an ugly or evil thing / When did my folks stop covering my eyes?” It’s a thesis statement of sorts for No Burden, a record that explores the responsibilities of adulthood. The cover art features […]

PWR BTTM plays The Southern Café and Music Hall on Wednesday, February 15. Publicity image.

PWR BTTM flip the switch on vibrant punk rock

The 2013 documentary The Punk Singer chronicles the rise of the riot grrrl movement in the ’90s and focuses on the revolution’s central figure, Kathleen Hanna. During a highlight of the film, Hanna discusses how she and her bandmates decided to form Bikini Kill even though none of them could really play an instrument. For […]

Margaret Glaspy plays the Southern on Wednesday, February 8. Publicity photo

Margaret Glaspy gets to the point on new album

Margaret Glaspy doesn’t mince words or deal in excess. Clocking in at a brisk 34 minutes, the singer-songwriter’s debut, Emotions and Math, made several best-of lists in 2016 with its blend of bluesy riffs and pared down rock ’n’ roll. “I do like things boiled down to their kind of most distilled nature. That was […]

Margaret Glaspy plays the Southern on Wednesday, February 8.  Publicity image.

Margaret Glaspy gets to the point on new album

Margaret Glaspy doesn’t mince words or deal in excess. Clocking in at a brisk 34 minutes, the singer-songwriter’s debut, Emotions and Math, made several best-of lists in 2016 with its blend of bluesy riffs and pared down rock ’n’ roll. “I do like things boiled down to their kind of most distilled nature. That was […]

Nadim Sawalha stars in Captain Abu Raed, which was released in 2007 and is the first independent film made in Jordan in 50 years. The screening will be followed by a conversation with director Amin Matalqa. Courtesy Paper and Pen Films

Jordanian film promotes hope

Captain Abu Raed is a film of firsts. Released in 2007, it was the first independent film to emerge from Jordan in 50 years, becoming the country’s first official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category. It received accolades at Sundance, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival, among […]

Kurt Vile & The Violators channel new obsessions from the Jefferson stage on Thursday. Photo by Marina Chavez

Kurt Vile is happily going nowhere slow

Musical gatherings known as pickin’ parties are staples in the bluegrass tradition. These communal jam sessions can be found on the porches of Appalachia, or in the case of musician Kurt Vile, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Before he became an established guitar virtuoso, the first stringed instrument the Philly native picked up was a […]

Constant touring and a hot new album position South Carolina’s SUSTO for a breakout year. The band performs at the Southern on Tuesday, January 17. Publicity photo

SUSTO balances its genre through personal narrative

Charleston, South Carolina-based SUSTO’s forthcoming album kicks off with all the Western swagger you’d expect from a group most commonly tasked with the alt-country moniker. But just over a minute into the opening track, “Far Out Feeling,” it becomes evident that this is no standard foray into dive bars and backwoods. As the chorus hits, […]

Guys and Dolls, starring Natalee McReynolds, opened at Live Arts’ Gibson Theatre on December 9 and runs through January 15. Photo by Martyn Kyle

Natalee McReynolds brings pizzazz to Guys and Dolls

Brimming with gamblers, gangsters, showgirls and soul-savers, the bustling world of the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls has come to life this season at Live Arts. Based on short stories by Damon Runyon, with music and lyrics written by Frank Loesser, this legendary production debuted in 1951 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. […]

China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale lead Pink Martini through holiday classics and new favorites at the Paramount on Sunday. Photo by Chris Hornbecker

Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale plays politics

The connection between music and politics bears the same nuances as any standard relationship: It can be complex and messy, yet symbiotic. Between protest songs, benefit concerts and artists serving as activists, music and politics have long inspired and fueled one another. Portland, Oregon, pianist Thomas Lauderdale sought to marry the two when he founded […]

Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble performs on November 17 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Image: Martin Phillips

American jazz great Bill Cole reveals new work

Composed in 1936, Peter and the Wolf is a musical fable that introduces children to the orchestra. The story is constructed such that each character has a musical theme played by different instruments: The bird’s theme is played by the flute while the cat’s theme is played by the clarinet, and so on. Throughout the […]

Breakout singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless trades in country-punk for pop on her new album, Real. Publicity photo

Lydia Loveless gets emotional on fourth album

In our hyper-connected society, amid countless forays into reality television, the championing of celebrity culture and the crafted realities presented on social media, how do we define “real”? Its meaning is oftentimes fluid. Historically, the concept of authenticity has been inherent to discussions on music and art, but that can be a slippery slope devolving […]

Lucius, led by glamorous “twins” Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, brings retro pop to the Jefferson on Saturday. Publicity photo

Lucius doubles down on sound and style

By the 1960s, American artist Mark Rothko had risen to prominence for his color field paintings, which featured two solid rectangles hovering just shy of the picture’s borders. With a small painting, the viewer is acutely aware that he is on the outside, looking in. Music was deeply important to Rothko, and with his color […]

Swamp and soul play out on John Paul White's new solo album, Beulah. He's at the Southern on October 19. Publicity image.

John Paul White steps out post-Civil Wars

Originating in the 19th century, “Beulah Land” is a popular gospel song based on the biblical reference of Israel. It’s a hymn that Alabama singer-songwriter John Paul White grew up hearing (his dad’s side of the family is Southern Baptist), and one that sparked a familial namesake. “My dad called my little sister Beulah as […]

Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins are the founding members of Wild Child, a seven-piece fusion rock band from Austin, Texas. Publicity photo

Wild Child fights through tough times and finds magic

The sound of Wild Child is hardly categorical. With horns and strings, it’s orchestral; with tap-your-feet basslines, it’s all groove; with ukelele-based riffs, it’s easy listenin’; and with bare piano arrangements, it’s full of soul. Fronted by Kelsey Wilson (vocals, violin) and Alexander Beggins (vocals, ukelele), the Texas indie- pop outfit has honed its blend […]

Peter Bjorn and John pair modern pop flair with old school aesthetics as the opener for Beck at the Pavilion on Monday. Publicity photo

Peter Bjorn and John play to the beat of pop history

Haunted by spirits of recordings past, music studios are just as legendary as the work they’ve cultivated, and they often come equipped with their own folklore. Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” echoes throughout RCA’s Studio B in Nashville. Memphis’ Sun Studio gave us the first recordings of both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio […]

Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, who are performing at the Southern on August 16, met at a house party and formed a fast friendship, which led to a five-song EP, a 7-inch follow-up and an upcoming full-length. Photo: Publicity photo

Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano dances to a DIY beat

Don’t hang out with Diet Cig if you’re not willing to risk arrest or have your exploits immortalized in song. That’s not to say that every night the self-proclaimed “slop-pop” duo spent on the road over the past two years ended in flashing lights. It simply means that as in life, anything can—and will—happen. “I […]

Steve Gunn brings a full band and his simple-yet-expansive musical landscapes to the Southern on Monday. Publicity photo.

Steve Gunn captures the road well-traveled

The magnetism of life on the open road has a long-standing mythos in American popular culture. Wide-eyed travelers were encouraged to get their kicks on “Route 66” in the blues standard first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946. Sal and Dean’s cross-country pursuits defined a generation in Jack Kerouac’s beat manifesto while the frenetic […]