|01.||Alan Doyle||1,2,3,4||If Great Big Sea is no more, we’ll be sad, but Alan solo is still great.|
|02.||Charli XCX & Bleachers||Rollercoaster||Bleachers released a free album, collaborating with other artists on all the songs off 2014’s Strange Desire. This was one of the best originals.|
|03.||Au Pair||In Every Window||Gary Louris has a new Jayhawks album with a classic lineup coming out next year (and produced by Peter Buck), but he still found time to start another band with Django Haskins (from The Old Ceremony).|
|04.||I’m With Her||Crossing Muddy Waters||Aoife O’Donovan (from Crooked Still) and Sara Watkins (from Nickel Creek) are joined by Sarah Jarosz. It sounds as good as you can imagine.|
|05.||Barnstar!||Darling||Mark Erelli and the Armerding brothers with a touch of country.|
|06.||Found Wandering||That Home Far Away||Their Christmas album was a must buy after one listen, and so was this.|
|07.||Da Costa||I Can’t Stop It||Anthony da Costa has a power trio. ‘Nuff said.|
|08.||Della Mae||Boston Town||Great song, production, and harmonies.|
|09.||Cal Everett||Older Now||Former 4 Out of 5 Doctors frontman is back.|
|10.||Kristin Andreassen||The Boat Song (Gondolier)||The slowest tempo of any song here (I love a pop tempo), but couldn’t get it out of my head.|
|11.||Bombadil||Amy’s Friend||Delicate chamber pop, reminded me of Winterpills.|
|12.||Cassidy Ford||Monster||A Todd Wright discovery and co-write.|
|13.||love+war||Lost||I found them because they mashed up Sam Smith/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (see this for more info), but it turned out they had good songs too.|
|14.||Watkins Family Hour||Steal Your Heart Away||Sara Watkins’ second appearance here, this time with her brother (and some killer pedal steel from Greg Leisz) on an amazing Fleetwood Mac cover.|
|15.||Darlingside||The Ancestor||A nice Mumford/Lumineers vibe.|
|16.||The Empty Pockets||Find Or Fail||A Facebook ad that worked on me.|
|17.||The Sea The Sea||How Will We Know||FRFF folks making a joyful noise.|
|18.||The Pine Hill Project||Sweetest Thing||Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky reunite years after Cry, Cry, Cry for a new album with this fine U2 B-side cover. I also liked their cover of “Farewell To Saint Dolores”, but not as much as this one.|
|19.||The Boxcar Lilies||Home||Tight harmonies from these FRFF vets.|
|20.||Jamie Lawson||Wasn’t Expecting That||Ed Sheeran’s first signing to his label for obvious reasons.|
|21.||Emily Hearn||Volcano||Powerful pop found via Luke Brindley.||22.||The Lowlifes||A Spark||Matt Pond was having issues with his label and manager, so started a new band and released an album better that the other one he put out this year.||23.||Kat Robichaud||Somebody Call The Doctor||One Doctor? Three Doctors? Five Doctors? You decide.||24.||Michael Clem||Going Back To Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerych-wyrndrobwllllanty-siliogogogoch||Eddie From Ohio singer/songwriter back with his first solo album in 10 years.|
Sunday afternoon on the 1st we went to see Shrek: The Musical performed at the Reston Community Center. Nina and I had just watched the original movie a couple days earlier and I’d played her the soundtrack the day before, and she was ready. At intermission she wanted a pair of Shrek ears and I was inclined to say no until I saw they were $2 each (I’m too used to Disney prices). She really enjoyed it – the dragon wasn’t as scary as the one in the movie, and she was still singing “Freak Flag” days later (I got “Morning Person” as an earworm).
Monday and Tuesday were teacher workdays, I stayed home on the Monday (and got her a playdate with her friend Olivia) while Jill got to handle the teacher conference, voting, and 2 more playdates on Tuesday. Wednesday we met up with some of Nina’s classmates at Così in Reston Town Center as the restaurant was doing a fundraiser for her school; she liked her peanut butter and jelly and loved the s’mores.
Friday the 6th my mom came over to babysit (and watch Snow White). Jill was away for a murder mystery weekend, and I was determined not to miss the DC debut of Dead & Company – three former members of the Grateful Dead with John Mayer. And it was worth it, he was a much better fit (and bolt of energy) than Warren Haynes when the Dead were last in DC in 2009 (would’ve liked to see Trey with them but missed out twice on the lottery).
Saturday I took Nina over to the University Mall Theatres for her first movie in a real theater – Shaun the Sheep. I was concerned she would talk as much as she had at home but she was mesmerized for the most part (and mostly in my lap). Afterwards she was introduced to the claw machine. She’s not a fan, and a total meltdown because she didn’t get a toy was only avoided because I had a Frozen video on my phone. There was also a near meltdown later when the peanut butter crackers I served were square instead of round (she’d seen round ones in the grocery store earlier).
Sunday Jill came back and after dinner I headed to Fairfax again, this time to the Center for the Arts to see the Art of Time Ensemble with Steven Page and Glen Phillips cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Slightly different arrangements but a fantastic performance, and not a long line afterwards for signing so I got a chance to talk to them as well. The rest of the night was less fun, doing tech support on Mom’s PC.
Thursday the 12th I had my other ingrown toenail permanently fixed and on Saturday Jill took Nina to see a roller derby game. Wednesday Jill went to Nina’s class’ Thanksgiving celebration at school. Later I picked up Nina from school and got her and my mom situated, then I drove to Ashburn for a quick and tasty dinner of ramen and sushi at Okada, then joined Jill for Mockingjay Part 2 at the Drafthouse (she’d just seen Part 1 and they won’t let you in part way through so I watched it at home). Waiting to see the final Hunger Games movies together was a good idea. Great ending to the series.
Friday the 20th I fought Friday night traffic to Rockville to meet up with my dad and see Brian Wilson in concert. Last time we saw him solo he had Al Jardine with him, and this time Al was there again, along with African former Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin (who I hadn’t heard of the day before the show). The thing about one of his shows is with 12 people on stage, when there’s a French Horn part, you know it won’t be a sample on a keyboard. Some great songs off his new album he played along with all the classics you expect.
Saturday we took Nina to see Cinderella??? in the afternoon. Put on by the Reston Community Center’s Young Actors Theatre, it was an interesting twist on fairy tales, and Nina enjoyed it (especially good for young attention spans at a tight 45 minutes). That night Mom came over and Jill and I headed over to Clarendon to Me Jana, a Lebanese place. It was delicious, I especially enjoyed the seared haloumi and lamb chops. Later, we went to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington to see Natalia Zukerman & Caleb Hawley as part of Stone Room Concerts. We hadn’t seen Natalia in years, and she was fabulous.
Nina’s school was closed the day before and after Thanksgiving, so Jill was off on Wednesday as they did prep and Jill made a pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving Jill made potatoes and rutabegas, then we headed over to my Mom’s house where she and David were finishing cooking the turkey. Mom chose wisely to pick that day to let Nina start playing with the dollhouse that her father built for her (a model of the Sears Catalog home they lived in), and she didn’t want to do much else (although we did burn off some energy at the elementary school playground).
Friday I took Nina to the 25th Annual Reston Holiday Parade at Reston Town Center. Afterwards she wanted to play hide and seek along with all the other kids at A Bird in Hand and run all around. Then we heard bagpipers (we’d missed them in the parade) at the nearby World Of Beer, so we had to check them out. I’d already asked Nina if she wanted sandwiches from Cosi or Potbelly and she’d declined, so when she wanted to go inside World Of Beer “for a drink”, I wasn’t saying no. And she did a great job with poor service, especially since she couldn’t have her first choice of food (giant pretzel). We came back to Reston Town Center that night as Mom and the rest of the Reston Chorale were singing carols at the Christmas tree lighting, then Mom and David came back to our place for some open face turkey sandwiches.
Saturday night I ducked out for a quick show by Parthenon Huxley at Jammin’ Java – I’m always up for power pop and an Electric Light Orchestra connection. Sunday we drove over to Dad’s house for another turkey lunch with him and Patricia. Nina had her first introduction to their young dog Justin – while he was a little scary at first, he calmed down and everyone enjoyed themselves. The rest of the day was mostly cleaning the house.