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Etheridge extols pot virtues on new record

Unabashed cannabis lover’s new project is melancholy rocker



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Melissa Etheridge is back with one of her stronger efforts, ‘The Medicine Show.’ (Photo courtesy Concord Media)

Melissa Etheridge is easy to take for granted. She’s sturdy, reliably good and one of not many ‘90s hitmakers still releasing new music on a regular cycle.

Her new release “The Medicine Show,” her 15th studio album and third on her own label, is full of big melodic choruses; churning, easy-on-the-ear mid-tempo lite rock cuts; punctuations of harder, tougher rock edges and logical (some might say predictable, but they largely work) chord progressions. It’s a surprisingly melancholy record, not quite as heavy overall as her 2014 release “This is M.E.,” but more in that vein musically than 2012’s slinkier, more soulful project “4th Street Feeling.”

Her last album, 2016’s covers album “MEmphis Rock and Soul” was a pleasant detour; now Etheridge is back to her own songwriting with these 11 solid cuts. A Target-exclusive edition — not available to critics — has two bonus cuts. She opened her tour this week in Los Angeles and plays Wolf Trap June 25 with Pat Benetar and Neil Giraldo. 

Things get off to a rollicking start with the hard rocking title cut. It’s a little inane and lyrically repetitive — the hooks are based around nursery rhyme phrases like “high-ho, high-ho” and “E-I-E-I-O” — but it accomplishes what it sets out to do getting the record off to a bold start with rock thunder and a strong ear worm.

Etheridge says in press copy for the record, it’s about many things.

“Calling the album ‘The Medicine Show’ puts straight up, front and center, that this is about health, wellness, cannabis, this new thought, new paradigm, however you want to talk about it, however you want to understand it. It influences every song on the album. We’re not afraid of this any more. We’ve come a long way.” 

For this project, Etheridge reunited with John Shanks, a producer she worked with on three previous projects — “Breakdown” (1999), “Lucky” (2004)  and “Fearless Love” (2010). Shanks brought in drummer Victor Indrizzo, bassist Chris Chaney and keyboardist Max Hart. The sessions were done mostly live in studio giving the album a fresh, lived-in feel.

Many of the standout cuts are mid-tempo, hummable rockers. “Wild and Lonely” is catchy, moody and finds Etheridge’s trademark raspy vocals sounding as good and unrestrained as ever. “Shaking,” another rock cut, is punctuated by a thundering, five-beat drum pattern. “Love Will Live,” one of the harder rocking cuts, is straightforward and solid and “Woman Like You” is equally catchy and melodic.

Things slow down only twice — “I Know You” starts off as a strings-and-piano ballad but gets big and passionate by its end as does “Here Comes the Pain.” The record closes with “Last Hello,” a more melancholy cut on which Etheridge sings of loss: “this day will end and oh I miss you/I will rise again and oh I miss you/I’ll find the strength within/to shout never again/wish I could see my friend/Oh I miss you.” 

There’s not a lot of lyrical specificity, but Etheridge says the song is dedicated to survivors of the Parkland school shootings. Elsewhere, she says the album hints at the opioid crisis, national anxiety, cannabis and more. 

The record works much the same way Sheryl Crow’s 2017 return to form album “Be Myself” worked — “The Medicine Show” is a bit of a ‘90s throwback but in a good way. Several cuts feel like they could almost have been outtakes from her classic records like “Yes I Am” (1993) or “Your Little Secret” (1995). It’s classic Etheridge but with a new twist and its consistency and listenability make up for any ground it doesn’t break. 


Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months



Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel



Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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