Packed concert weekend: Ellis Paul, Dar Williams, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

Friday I picked up Jill from the Vienna Metro. She was finishing her travel from Hartford and had her luggage with her. It was better that way, as we were close to Jammin’ Java where Ellis Paul was playing. We got our usual meal (cup of the pork ‘n tomatillo chili, half roast beef sandwich and a side of the house salad) and sat down. I knew Michael Clem would be performing with him, but he also brought Robbie Schaefer on stage and kept him for the rest of the set, he and Mike had some great harmonies. Ellis started out the second set solo, but brought Mike back for “Let It Be” through the rest of the set. We left right before the end as Jill had a headache – I brought my video camera but it refused to work (could be a new purchase very very soon).

Ellis Paul & Michael Clem

Saturday we slept in, then I whiled away the afternoon reading newspapers and watching TV. We headed over to RT’s Restaurant for a quick dinner before the show. I wanted something different, so I had the Alligator Stew and the Spicy Crawfish Red Beans & Rice (the crawfish was very good, the stew was ok) while Jill had the She Crab Soup, salad and shrimp in a Jack Daniels sauce (tasty). Then we headed over to the Birchmere, got some drinks and watched The Rhythm Angels (ok) and Dar Williams (yay!). She was joined by pianist Bryn Roberts for most of her set, really added some nice texture (I love that keyboard riff during “Buzzer”).

Sunday we didn’t sleep quite as late, but I had a busy day planned. First we went to some open houses in Reston, then I watched the Redskins lose another one (though if they’d played the first half like they played the second they would have won) and grilled some brats for dinner with some oven baked sweet potato fries. After dinner it was back to the Birchmere (solo, Jill wasn’t interested) to see Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (from the Bangles).

Matthew & Susanna had first performed together as Ming Tea in Austin Powers. I’d love to hear them write songs together, but their record company decided to capitalize on a trend and paid them to do a covers album as Sid ‘n Susie. Their first one was ’60s songs, and that was successful enough they released a second one hitting the ’70s. And most importantly now they’re touring together. Needless to say I really like the way their voices work together and was eager to see how it would be live.

It was an all acoustic set, with two additional guitarists to lend a hand. They were very low key, flubbing verses and ending songs prematurely, but I found it charming (especially Matthew commenting on wearing his Vibram FiveFingers shoes on stage). Standouts of the set included “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”. But the real treat was the first encore. “Here Comes The Sun” just killed, and the fact they had to start over at the bridge just meant more harmonies. Even better was ending some Bangles and Sweet songs, Susanna taking “In Your Room” into “Manic Monday” and Matthew breaking out the rare (for this tour) “Sick Of Myself” and “I’ve Been Waiting”, all with great harmonies.

Sid 'n Susie