James Bay - This UK-based singer songwriter is going solo with voice and guitar. He does get a pedal steel assist from a player from the next band on one cut, which of course adds a touch of country to the folk style that Bay presents. There is some pop and rock here as well, as it has an old fashioned British Invasion light pop style. In fact, there is almost too much of that as Bay has a bright personality, that although a positive asset, seems to to follow a very old set of standards that at least the old timers in the sold-out crowd have seen before. This is all good, just not terribly memorable.
Wild Feathers - After a hint at steel guitar, I was prepared for some country rock. Well, I got the rock part right. This Nashville quintet did not even use the steel guitar for a few songs, instead choosing to blast away with some intense rock that was closer to Lynyrd Skynrd than Tom Petty. They pulled it back a bit with a more rootsy rock/alt-country approach and they kept the crowd heavily involved the full time. They cranked it up toward the end and finished as they started, creating a strong impression of a young band that may have the goods to stick around a while.
ZZ Ward - ZZ Ward completes this young billing tonight playing cuts from her debut album and a recent EP. She may only be 27, but she first hit the stage at age 12 with her father's band, so she is far worldlier than her album output may suggest. She plays a bit of acoustic guitar, piano, and some decent harmonica and is joined by a strong and steady rhythm section and a talented lead guitarist. Vocally, she reminds me of a tough Stevie Nicks and brings in a lot of similar appeal. Yet there is more of a country blues deeper in her music, and she even covers some Son House later in the set. It is not too surprising to see the mainstream support and backing and I am happy to see that she lives up to that investment and has delivered a fine set to her fans. I am not sure she is overwhelming better than anyone I would see headlining at the Iota or Jammin Java, but that is an essay for another day. She wraps up her set early (early start tonight) to send home the happy sell-out crowd, so that the 9:30 Club can clear the club for the second sold out show tonight.
Quote of the Night - ZZ Ward... "DC, man you guys look good and it's only like 7:30"