Rodney Crowell performs with the ease and swagger of a man comfortable in his ways. He carries his songs the way he carries his old guitar: out in the open, no case, almost as an extension of his body.
Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.
Marian McLaughlin is a unique musician based in the Washington/Baltimore area, and because she's lived in D.C., I've had a chance to watch her grow. She's an artist on her own path, making music like few others.
Almost any pianist, from a budding beginner to a pro like Simone Dinnerstein, will tell you that one of the basic techniques of keyboard playing is also the toughest to master: making your hands to do separate things simultaneously.
No one else makes music that sounds like this. Juana Molina takes familiar elements — guitars, drums, keyboards, voice — and manipulates them into bewildering, attractive, polished jewels. Her songs don't fall into beat patterns we're used to, but we can dance to them. The guitar doesn't make sounds you'd expect, but we can relate to them. It's as if she'd been raised by wolves and discovered the world of music on her own.