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Music Box: Rams Head On Stage hosts salute to Duke Ellington

Summer is on fire and the concert season is in full swing as Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis presents a jumpin' Friday night salute to Duke Ellington featuring trumpet player John Blount and the Dave Tucker New Big Band (8 p.m.).

Drummer Tucker leads the band as former Navy Commodores Big Band star Blount miraculously nails the double high C and every other sweet note of an evening of Ellington jazz standards and classics.

Virtuosos abound at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore this Friday night as violinist Jonathan Carney is joined by soprano Nola Richardson and a trio of stellar string players for an all-baroque evening program. Selections will include Bach, Corelli, and Scarlatti. There will be an early happy hour at 5:30 pm including local wines and food trucks.

Utah pop rock band (by way of Southern California) Neon Trees lights up Rams Head Live! in Baltimore Friday night with their Pop Psychology Tour (8 p.m.). Their hit song "Animals," recorded by Taylor Swift and Train, was the Billboard magazine Top Alternative Hit Song of 2011.

Also this Friday night, don't miss California country music stars The Morrison Brothers with Nashville singer-songwriter Amy Wilcox at the 9:30 Club in D.C. (8 p.m. doors). The band includes Maryland native Dave Benson.

The hugely popular and loveable Bruno Mars comes to Jiffy Lube Live with Aloe Blacc for a show on Friday (8 p.m.). Singer and choreographer Bruno Mars has something hot and danceable for everyone as he infuses his tunes with reggae, soul and plenty of pop resulting in a satisfyingly rootsy something new yet familiar sound.

Mars had four of the top-selling singles of all time, won two Grammy Awards, was chosen "Top Artist of the Year" by Billboard magazine and one of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2014 by Time magazine.

At Wolf Trap Farm Park for the performing Arts in Vienna, Va., see and hear Disney's "Fantasia" in a concert performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emil de Cou, in front of a widescreen showing of the legendary animated feature.

Saturday

Saturday night marks the first performance of a two-night stand by pop-rock singer Natalie Merchant at the legendary Lincoln Theatre in Washington (6:30 p.m. doors each night).

Merchant's self-titled album is her sixth solo work and her first collection of entirely original songs in 13 years. Merchant describes the self-produced release as informed "by decades of experience and keen observation," dealing with issues of "damage, love gained and lost, regret, denial, surrender, greed, destructiveness, defeat, and occasional triumph."

At Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis this Saturday night, it's a CD release party for southern rock band The Cheaters with special guests Sweet Leda and Nate Clendenen featuring saxophonist Ron Holloway (8:30 p.m.).

At Rams Head Live! in Baltimore on Saturday night, don't miss Bit Gen Gamer Fest 9, a night of music and video gamer fun featuring 10 bands (show kicks off at 4 p.m.). Hear the best video game inspired bands while playing a wide selection of console and arcade classics and enjoying an exhibit of video game inspired art.

Also this Saturday, the 9:30 Club presents electronic band Wild Beasts with Mutual Benefit (8 p.m.), while Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club offers a night of dancing to Motown and soul classics (8 p.m.), and The Nighthawks raise the roof at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown (free 7 p.m. concert).

Sunday

Country upstart Ashley Monroe comes to Rams Head Live! in Baltimore on Sunday (7:30 p.m.) with songwriting duo Striking Matches and Irishman Danny Burns. Monroe is a former trio member of the Pistol Annies (with Miranda Lambert) which had a hit song called "Heart Like Mine" from their album "Hell On Heels."

And, at Rams Head On Stage on Sunday, it's all things Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven doing their 'nother folk singer, hole-in-the-head, a al "hope I die before I get old" routine as Acoustic Apothecary, at an all-ages matinee (1 p.m.).

Also on Sunday, look for smooth jazz saxophone player Mindi Abair at Rams Head On Stage for the evening set (8 p.m.).

"Hobbit" inspired Bombadil performs folk rock music at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington on Sunday (8 p.m.), Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) continues her solo tour with a stop at Wolf Trap (8 p.m.), and Long Island alt-rocker band Brand New plays at The Fillmore in Silver Spring (7:30 p.m.).

Monday

Justin Timberlake sings soul music on his 20/20 Experience tour in celebration of his double-platinum album of the same name in a performance at the Baltimore Arena on Monday (8 p.m.). The album, which was No. 1 in 93 countries, features the hit songs "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors."

Like Bruno Mars, Time magazine chose Timberlake for their 100 List of Most Influential People of the year. The stop in Baltimore precludes his co-headlining tour this summer with Jay-Z.

Also this Monday night, it's a boatload of blues from harmonica ace Mark Hummel's Golden Stage Lone Star Revue, which also includes guitarist Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie Baty of Little Charlie & The Nightcats fame (8 p.m.).

Tuesday

Matthew Sweet returns to Rams Head On Stage on Tuesday with local favorite rocker Tommy Keene (8 p.m.), and classic rock outfit Procol Harum led by Gary Brooker reunite for a show at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va. (8 p.m.). It's an absolute joy to hear Brooker sing Procol Harum hits such as "A Salty Dog," "Shine On Brightly," "Conquistador," "Homburg" and, of course, "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Wednesday

Equally enjoyable is the experience of seeing the brothers Dave and Phil Alvin together again on stage singing the influential songs of their youth, in this case a whole new record of Big Bill Broonzy tunes. They'll be battling it out on stage (in a brotherly way) backed by Dave's band The Guilty Ones next Wednesday night at Rams Head On Stage (8 p.m.). Dave and Phil were founders of the seminal L.A. post-punk rock band The Blasters.

Thursday, July 17

Don't miss shows with singer-actor Rahsaan "The Kid" Patterson next Thursday at Rams Head On Stage (6:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows), and The Ben Folds Orchestra Experience, conducted by Eric Jacobsen and featuring rock pianist Ben Folds, performs in front of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (7:30 p.m.).

The a cappella group Straight No Chaser will performing choice popular covers of songs by Michael Jackson, Adele and Dolly Parton next Thursday night at Wolf Trap (8 p.m.). And, it'll be smooth sailing at Merriweather Post Pavilion with Queens of the Stone Age plus St. Vincent and Brody Dalle next Thursday evening (5:30 p.m.).

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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