Concert Review: The SteelDrivers at The Hamilton

Juli Thanki | August 7th, 2012

steeldriversIt’s fitting that The SteelDrivers, with all their songs of murder and mayhem, would perform at a venue named after Alexander Hamilton, who infamously ended up on the wrong side of a bullet.

The ‘Drivers’ Sunday night show at The Hamilton, a new roots music venue in DC, was two fantastic hours of bluegrass punctuated with lots of humor (the evening’s ground rules, facetiously laid out by frontman Gary Nichols and fiddler Tammy Rogers: no drinking during gospel songs and…no gospel songs. Both rules were broken within minutes.).

Several surprises peppered the set list, which included a wide selection of cuts from the group’s self-titled record and 2010’s Reckless. Rogers’ solo performance of “Gloryland” was a highlight, as was the fiddle and banjo tune “McEntire’s Rain” that she played with Richard Bailey. The band shared some material from their upcoming album, which will be released either late this year or in early 2013 – whenever it comes out, it’s not soon enough. “I’ll Be There,” a haunting, gorgeous ballad that Gary Nichols wrote with John Paul White of The Civil Wars sounds unlike anything else The SteelDrivers have recorded to date, while “When You Don’t Come Home,” a wronged-woman tale which finds Rogers singing “You can tell the truth to me or this .45,” received raucous approval from the packed house.

Though founding members Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson have left the band, the  music hasn’t suffered a bit. With Nichols’ raw vocals anchoring sublime harmony singing and stellar musicianship, The SteelDrivers are making some of their best music to date, and Sunday’s show proved that they’re one of the most entertaining live acts in bluegrass as well.

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  1. Jon
    August 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Nice.

  2. Ben Foster
    August 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Great lead, Juli! Sounds like it was a fantastic show.

  3. Ben Foster
    August 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    *read (That’s me typing too fast again)

  4. Jack Williams
    August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Sounds like it was a great show. Nice place, that Hamilton.

    So that’s Gary Nichols singing in those videos? If so, he sounds very similar to Chirs Stapleton, who I thought was the original lead singer.

    • Juli Thanki
      August 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Yep, that’s Gary Nichols.

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