Hangtown Dancehall, a musical tale of the California Gold Rush, is having its Washington D.C. premiere in one month, on October 3 at the world-famous Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, VA. It will feature vocal performances by Austin-by-way-of-Annandale alt-country star Kelly Willis, Steel Wheels frontman Trent Wagler, D.C. punk-garage-hula legend Mark Noone, Grandsons leader Alan MacEwen, Nashville songwriter Peter Cooper, Nashville singer Lindsay Hayes, and Hangtown's composers Eric Brace and Karl Straub. They'll all be joined by the evening's narrator, Washington's cultural man-about-town Robert Aubry Davis.
The band is an all-star combo of some of Washington's finest musicians: Rickie Simpkins (violin), Orrin Star (mandolin, banjo), Kevin Cordt (trumpet), Chris Watling (saxophone, accordion), John Previti (bass), Evan Pollack (drums), Ariel Francis (keyboards), Jared Bartlett (guitar), plus Nashville guitarist Thomm Jutz, and a string section featuring Austin Hoke, Stephen Czarkowski, Jeffry Newberger, and Anita Ayerbe.
FRIDAY, OCT. 3, 7:30 PM
3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.
Tickets on sale now! Click here for more info.
With songs written by Grammy-nominated producer Eric Brace and D.C. songwriting hero Karl Straub, Hangtown Dancehall tells the story of a young couple who make their way to the California gold fields in the 1850s.
Released on Nashville-based Red Beet Records, Hangtown Dancehall has been getting some spectacular reviews:
“An artistic success...a bold concept and a fine piece of music and storytelling,” said Martin Chilton of The Telegraph UK.
“Muscular and tuneful,” said Tim Rice, lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and The Lion King. (yes, he really did say that about Hangtown)
“Five stars! Absolutely brilliant. Deep and listenable, creative and grounded,” said Donald Teplyske in The Lonesome Road Review.
"Ought to be a country classic. Brace, Straub, and company have pulled it off with tremendous aplomb," said Lee Zimmerman in Country Standard Time.
There have been many more, but you get the idea. It’s really good.
While some of you know Eric as a former writer for The Washington Post and frontman of the acclaimed roots rock band Last Train Home (winner of numerous Wammie Awards from the Washington Area Music Association), you might not know he was born in Placerville, California, the very heart of Gold Rush country. Growing up there, he learned the folk song “Sweet Betsy From Pike,” whose 15 verses describe Betsy and Ike’s adventures as they head west. In that song’s final verse the couple breaks up as soon as they get to Hangtown, aka Placerville. To Eric, that seemed a little abrupt, them splitting up after walking 2,000 miles together, so he and Karl decided to tell the rest of the tale. Hangtown Dancehall is Eric and Karl's continuing story of Betsy and Ike.