Artists To Watch 2023

Again this year my music buying was mostly online from Bandcamp, high quality audio from Qobuz & 7digital and preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I also got free mp3s from WNRN.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on Spotify.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on YouTube.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on SoundCloud.

Band Song Why them
01. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Honeysuckle Blue (feat. Sadler Vaden) I’ve tried to leave my love of covers out of Artists to Watch, but this stunning cover of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ with former DnC guitarist Sadler Vaden on vocals was the highlight of their show at Wolf Trap in June.
02. Summer Woods Pasadena I started following Summer Woods on Patreon after she released a Weird Al covers EP, but she has some fine songs as well.
03. Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs Wicked Mind It won’t surprise anyone that the ex-Heartbreakers guitarist writes songs that sound like Tom Petty, but who knew he could sing too?
04. The Loyal Seas Mary Magdalene In The Great Sky I’ve loved Tanya Donelly in everything she’s done, so when she formed a group with Brian Sullivan (from Dylan In The Movies), I was there.
05. Stephen Sanchez Until I Found You I found this first on MTV-U and loved the sound merging the 50s with today.
06. Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway Crooked Tree A fine bluegrass album.
07. Peter Mulvey & SistaStrings You And (Everybody Else) I’ve been following Peter Mulvey for a while, but when he brought in SistaStrings for his latest album, it became my favorite of his.
08. Suz Slezak This Life Is Kindly I would have enjoyed a new album from the David Wax Museum member, but seeing her perform it at their studio barn made me more of a fan.
09. TEOA (The End of America) Wait No More The first of my Falcon Ridge Folk Festival discoveries this year.
10. Envy of None Liar If you don’t think I’d be predisposed to like a group that includes Alex Lifeson of Rush, you’d be wrong.
11. Bleu & Carly Paige Holding On To You I was already a fan Bleu but this duet with Carly Paige made me a fan of her.
12. Aespa Life’s Too Short This was the year of K-pop for us, as Nina was all in this year. Blackpink is her favorite (and the biggest girl group in the world right now), but I also took a shine to Aespa (and an English version of their single).
13. Oshima Brothers Disco Down The Aisle The second of my Falcon Ridge Folk Festival discoveries this year.
14. Sharon Van Etten Mistakes What if Spoon’s Britt Daniel was female?
15. Tedeschi Trucks Band Hear My Dear These guys have always been great live, but now the songs are catching up to their talent.
16. Shannon Curtis Take It If You Want It What if Kate Bush started now?
17. Bhi Bhiman It’s Only Just Begun Been following him for a while. Not a Carpenters song.
18. Shemekia Copeland Too Far To Be Gone Timely slice of R&B.
19. Plains Problem With It Waxahatchee & Jess Williamson come together for this rootsy duet.
20. Nikki Lane First High A bit Sheryl Crow-ish. Never a bad thing.
21. Lula Wiles It’s Cool (We’re Cool, Everything’s Cool) Lovely harmonies.
22. Overcoats Clingy I found this on a compilation, but loved the sound made by the team of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell.


Sue was still here on Tuesday the 1st so she, Jill and Nina walked around the lake. Saturday Jill, Nina and I all got our updated Covid vaccines. Monday I posted “Get that booster shot before it’s too late. And vote blue tomorrow.”


Friday the 11th Jill and Nina went camping with the Girl Scouts at Camp Coles Trip in Stafford. They painted the archery range while they were there, and according to Jill “Nina used a ton of patience and perseverance and found this sharks tooth after 30 min of looking”. Saturday night I went to Shirlington and ate at Taco and Piña. The food was good, but there weren’t many other customers when every other place was packed, mostly because they were out of half their menu. I only had a couple tacos, then went over to Big Buns for fries and a beer. Later I was just expecting a selection of covers as Robbie Schaefer and Danielle Wertz did Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell at Signature Theatre, but it was an actual show, and this review does it credit.


The next week featured two very different sold out concerts. First up on Monday the 14th was Blackpink, back at the Prudential Center in Jersey where I’d seen Iron Maiden (and the same section of seats). The K-pop dance show was in full effect, and we knew what to expect as it was always the same show. I was particularly amused by them thanking their band and their Pro Tools guy. I might not have been the target audience, but you can’t deny their earworms, and Nina had a great time. Driving up was the worst: we left at 2:15, and got there at 7:40. Driving back in the middle of the night was better, but we got back at 2:40am and I still had to get her to school by 9:20 the next day (luckily she fell asleep not long after we left around midnight).


I got back into jam bands this year, and saw that Goose and Billy Strings were two of the hot new ones. I was excited when Billy Strings was added to several of the Outlaw Music Festival shows, but saddened when ours was left out. So when I saw in October that Goose was touring with the Trey Anastasio Band and coming to Fairfax, I snagged a ticket for Thursday night. I anticipated some collaborations as both bands had been sitting in with the other all tour, so it wasn’t a surprise when Goose brought Trey Anastasio out for the end of their set. And when Trey announced a special guest that needed no introduction halfway through his set, I wasn’t surprised either. Until who I saw who it was: Billy Strings. And he stayed for the rest of the show, marking the first time he played with Goose. The jam band world had their heads blown by this (the top tier bands live stream their shows for $), and I really loved the show (even bought a shirt).

Friday the 18th Nina went on a ropes and zipline field trip that had been postponed due to rain on the previous night. As soon as she got home from school and Jill got home from work, I was driving to Jersey once again, this time for Friendsgiving. Tony had hosted from 2016-2019, and felt obligated to this year, but was unsure. Then Bill and Tassy had the wonderful idea to host a party the way Chris used to host his TinyTim parties, by renting a house at the beach during winter (and testing for Covid twice before we left). We got to Ocean City, NJ late at night, forced to get Wendy’s on the way.

Benji Nina

Saturday morning I slept in, then went shopping for food at Acme (finding yet another in the Safeway family) and alcohol (Ocean City is dry, had to go back across the bridge to Circle Liquor). I started cooking Orange Cranberry Pork Loin Roast, then some of us went for a walk and I stopped at Jilly’s Arcade on the way back to play some pinball. We managed to squeeze all 24 of us in the downstairs level for a fabulous potluck dinner, with an after dinner reading of the pickle story. After cleanup, Tony and I went out to play more pinball. Sunday we had a bit of breakfast, then a family picture on the beach before we packed up and headed home, picking up lunch at Wawa (one of the few fast food places where I can get a low sodium sandwich).


Tuesday the 22nd I took and passed the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals exam. A week early, the long term contract I’d been working on ended and there were no available contracts, so I figured I’d start to get certified in some of the cloud computing I’d been working on. Late that night, Jill’s sister Melissa drove down with her two oldest kids. Wednesday we got Nando’s for takeout. Thanksgiving morning I got up early to put the 18 pound bird in the oven. Jill had already made her pies, Melissa had brought one from Ava, and when my dad arrived with Patricia, he brought 2 more for a total of 7. It was timely that the quilt Dad’s mom that we had finished had just arrived, so Jill was able to show him it. We ate around 2, and we had all the classics – everyone was happy. Dad wanted to leave before dark, so he had pie right away, but the rest of us spaced it out (I didn’t have pie until 7).

Bryce Jill Nina

Everyone but me went to the Walk of Lights at Meadowlark that night. Black Friday everyone was around, but off doing different things. The Bradys were shopping, Nina and Jill went to the parade in Reston and met one of her friends there, and I slept in. Saturday I took Nina to her flute lessons, and the Bradys left soon after we got back from that.

Nina Melissa Jill Maddy Jake

Tuesday the 29th the 3 Day Blinds people were here putting up the blinds on the middle level Jill wanted. That night I was at the 9:30 Club for NPR Music Celebrates 15 Years. I was also at the 10th anniversary, which had a great lineup. We got Amber Mark, Hurray for the Riff Raff and YENDRY, plus a surprise guest. I enjoyed the first three acts which all had a dance vibe. The surprise guest was Moonchild, who brought a jazz meets rock vibe, which was a nice way to end it.

NPR Music Celebrates 15 Years

Friday I was full of social media posts, as I got an unusual Wordle score:
Wordle 529 3/6
Then I found out about Christine McVie’s passing, saying “Dammit. RIP Christine McVie. I guess I know what I’m listening to tonight. The album she made with Lindsey Buckingham in 2017 was one of my favorite of the last decade – truly a Mac album (only Stevie Nicks is absent)”. And I also posted “Vax up and mask up, folks.” Nina also got her school picture taken this month as she was out in September.