Ayo Awosika - She may be a towering presence on stage, but Ayo Awosika creates a friendly environment that is just what is needed on this very cold evening. She is a New Yorker originally from this area and appears to be just getting going with one EP out and an LP on the way. She handles all the vocals tonight and mostly plays keyboard, but donning a guitar for a few songs. The keyboard songs had a strong R&B flavor to them, while the guitar took it toward the light rock/singer songwriter mode. Even with this stripped down sound, the quality of the rhythm section gave this plenty of lively sound. Awosika's vocals soared and definitely starred through most of these songs. Her keyboards worked well punctuating the rhythms of her song and even her guitar work in one song had a fascinating droning style to it. Lots of fun sounds and composed songs here and she rightly got a big ovation from a big crowd tonight.
Caroline Smith - I won't complain about the cold in DC as Caroline Smith comes from Minneapolis and probably the worst thing about her lengthy tour is that she did not start it even earlier this winter. But there were no complaints from her or the crowd, as she was able to extend the warm feeling from the opening set and fully embrace it in her set. The sound is quite similar with only Smith's guitar working with a keyboardist most of the time. There are also two female backing vocalists who add some flourish to Smith's fine vocal work. Again, the music is a mix of R&B, singer songwriter rock, along with some lounge appeal. I was reviewing a record recently and thinking how I am at the right age to enjoy the lounge music I heard as a child in the 1960s as it was jazz based, but incorporated rock as well as a certain showbiz panache. Caroline Smith is one of many artists who seems to have brought back a bit of that style, even as her music fits most comfortably in many modern settings. All in all, a fine night of music enjoyed by a large, happy crowd.
Folkworld returns! The new issue of Folkworld is out with a few reprinted features you first saw here and over seventy reviews I wrote which you did not see here. Check 'em out if you wish, because I am sure not reading them again. I am too far behind in writing the next batch.