Live at Hill Country's Backyard Barbecue: Higher Hands, Tobias Russell

Live at Hill Country's Backyard Barbecue: Higher Hands

Higher Hands are the latest group to emerge in the funk-soul revival led by acts such as Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Charles Bradley to name a few. A mainstay in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia), the band calls Annapolis home, performing regularly in the area. The "Hands" take a unique approach to creating their sound, relying on the talents of keyboardist Larry Byrne (who doubles on left hand bass), drummer Marty Bouchard, saxophonist Troy Atkins, and percussionist Marty Grigsby. It all comes together behind lead vocalist and percussionist Jason Crawford, who blends intelligent lyricism and soulful hooks effortlessly. And while the influence of landmark artists Bill Withers, The Meters, and James Brown is evident, the band consistently surprises showing they are equal parts A Tribe Called Quest, Fela Kuti, and Chuck Brown. This is Soul Music through and through, infused with Jazz, Hip-Hop, Go-Go, and deep Funk.

Higher Hands released "Stay Sharp" in November 2012, the band's highly anticipated, second full-length album. "Stay Sharp" has a full roster of notable guest players lighting up its 12 tracks, adding depth and new dimension to the band's original compositions. From the opening Hip-Hop crunch of "Re-Introduction" to the closing Go-Go groove of "Blow It Out", Higher Hands manages to touch on serious Funk, Jazz, and Afrobeat in between while never losing a cohesive feel. No easy task, but the band has truly created a signature sound on "Stay Sharp" which is further evidenced in their live show.

It's Higher Hands y'all! Right there in the pocket. Funky Soul Fusion with a Twist of Rhyme.

Tobias Russell

Say hello to Tobias Russell, the busiest musician in Annapolis, MD. Only performing as a solo artist since spring of 2009, he has already released 3 self-produced EPs in addition to his 2010 full-length debut, Flesh.Bones.Teeth.Words. Not to mention rocking countless shows, from bars to festivals to sidewalks to boats. Russell's music has been described as "...hip hop that's refreshingly free of misogyny and braggadocio. It's rock with an ear for hooks and a way with words. And it's folk that's introspective without being self-absorbed." His work has earned him airplay on MD/DC radio stations such as DC101 and 103.1 WRNR, and most recently Tobias was voted 2013 Best Local Musician by the city of Annapolis and What's Up? Magazine.

Musically, Tobias is unafraid to change styles from song to song, an approach that is building him a fanbase as diverse as his sound. While continuing work on several studio projects, Russell has been touring extensively over the past two years throughout the mid-atlantic. His shows have taken him as far as Austin TX and earned him a headlining slot at the 2011 Dewey Beach Music Conference. He has been invited to open for artists such as Cake, Citizen Cope and G. Love & Special Sauce.

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Hill Country's Backyard Barbecue! Featuring Hill Country’s award-winning Texas-style barbecue, ice-cold Shiner beers, and signature cocktails on the spacious and picturesque West Lawn of the National Building Museum (401 F Street, NW;; 202.272.2448). Gates open at noon!

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