Sunday, August 17, 2014

Plenty of Labor Day Weekend Blues in Washington and Baltimore

Selwyn Birchwood, seen at 2013 DC Blues Society show will be appearing at the DC Blues Festival and Alonzo's Memorial Picnic this Labor Day weekend
For those in the Washington and Baltimore area, Labor Day weekend brings some exceptional music. Saturday August 30, the DC Blues Society presents its annual DC Blues Festival at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Northwest Washington DC, and the next day (August 31) the Baltimore Blues Society presents its annual Alonzo Memorial Picnic at the Rosedale Maryland American Legion Hall.

The DC Blues Festival has an excellent line-up headlined by a terrific singer Shakura S’Aida along with a bright young blues artist from Florida, Selwyn Birchwood. One will also get to hear some electrifying sounds of the Eddie Turner Band; Washington vocalist Shirleta Settles and Friends; the southern soul and blues of The Hardway Connection; and Stacey Brooks, winner of the 2013 DC Blues Society Battle of the bands and one of the area's most popular female blues singers. Also at this festival will be some workshops at the John Cephas workshop stage along with a jam session from members of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation Jambassadors. This free festival begins at Noon and runs until about 7:30 PM at the Carter Barron Amphitheater which is located at 16th and Colorado Streets NW in Washington DC. For more information visit

The Alonzo's Memorial Picnic also has an impressive lineup which includes Selwyn Birchwood as well as another impressive young singer-guitarist Jarekus Singleton. Also on this line-up will be Gaye Adegbalola & The Wild Rutz, a four woman a capella group led by one of the former members of saffire-the Uppity Blues Women; and the swing-Chicago blues stylings of Doug Demming, Dennis Gruenling and The Jewel-Tones. This show will take place from 1 to 9PM (doors open at 12:30PM). The Rosedale American Legion Hall is at 1331 Seling Ave., Rosedale, MD 21237. For more information, including ticket price, visit

Here are some videos to highlight some of the performers.

Here is Shakura S'Aida from a recent Toronto appearance. I am especially looking forward to seeing her as I was unable to attend some festivals she was scheduled at. Her album Brown Sugar was one of my favorite albums of 2010 and her most recent album, Time, is equally impressive in not simply her vocals and the backing but the range of material she performs. If you click on the underlined Brown Sugar,  you will see my review of that recording.

Selwyn Birchwood was the winner of the 2013 International Blues Challenge and he previously appeared at a DC Blues Society show in October 2010. He brings plenty of enthusiasm and energy as well as a fine band and his considerable talent.  Here he performs the title track of his debut Alligator album, Call No Ambulance. I look forward to seeing him perform in DC and Baltimore.

How many festivals can claim to present two winners of The International Blues Challenge presented by The Blues Foundation. The Hardway Connection won the Challenge in October 1994 (It used to be held the Sunday after the King Biscuit Festival) edging out Susan Tedeschi's Band. They do a nice mix of soul and southern soul classics and strong originals with three exceptional singers, Jerome MacKall, Toni Love and Robert Owens. MacKall may be the best deep soul singer you never heard (a cross of Otis Redding and Al Green) while Owens is a nephew of the legendary Don Covay.

Illness prevented me from attending the Pennsylvania Blues Festival where Jarekus Singleton appeared, but I keep hearing raves about him. His music is quite original and striking and you can click on the title of his Alligator debut, Refuse to Lose, to see my review of it. I am certainly looking forward to seeing his performance at the Alonzo's Memorial Picnic. Here is a clip from the 2014 North Atlantic Blues Festival from this July.

Stacey Brooks is a DC area favorite and here she is performing her signature song, My Name Is Stacy.

Here is Gaye Adegabalola and the Wild Rutz.

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