By Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki ClarkÂ
I was first introduced to Laura Mvula in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My dear friend Sally and I had met up for a girls weekend (Chattanooga being somewhat equi-distance between Arlington, Virginia and Alexandria, Louisiana) and when her powerful voice radiated from Salâ€™s laptop, I was immediately intrigued. And I knew, if Sally liked her, she must be good. Sally was one of those kinds of girls that was listening to Bob Dylan and Belle and Sebastian when everyone else was listening to Candlebox and Gin Blossoms. Sheâ€™s just a bit cooler than the rest of us. And so is Laura Mvula.
At her sold-out show at the Hamilton on Tuesday, as fate would have it, Sally, who recently moved up to DC, joined me. And what a show it was.
The show started with an ethereal performance by Phox, a six-piece indie pop group headed by the spectacular albeit shy Monica Martin. Hailing from Baraboo, Wisconsin, better known for being the former headquarters and winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus, the band has been creating quite a buzz on the music scene with recent gigs at the iTunes Festival in London and Lollapolooza. They played songs off their upcoming self-titled release (available on pre-order now) and if you missed the show, youâ€™re in luck. They will be returning to the Hamilton as the main act on July 11th. Get your tickets here.
I hadnâ€™t seen Laura Mvula perform before, but I think I may have been the only one. Nominated for 2 awards at this years BRITS 2014, including â€˜British Breakthrough Actâ€™ and â€˜British Female Solo Artistâ€™, the soul singer-songwriter had fans hot, with one in particular (seated behind me) singing along to every single word. Itâ€™s a family affair for Mvula too, her sister and brother both tour with her, playing the violin and standing bass, respectively. The whole performance was magical and orchestral; Mvula actually re-recorded her debut album, Sing to the Moon, with the Metropole Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.
Mvula has a definite presence, barefoot and easily bantering with the audience with a slight self-depreciation. She gave us all the lessons sheâ€™d learn on the North American leg of her tour, which ends April 28th in Atlanta. 1. Donâ€™t get a weave (she typically keeps her thick hair super cropped and fiddled with it the whole show), 2. Donâ€™t get 12 pairs of Hammer Pants custom made (interesting clothing choice indeed) and 3. Donâ€™t wear a leather jacket if you donâ€™t know of temperature of the venue. Lots of donâ€™ts but there was a definite do I learned by the end of the night. Listen to Laura Mvula. She is an incredible musician.
Upcoming show at the Hamilton include the return of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band on April 12, Keller Williams on April 18 and Todd Park Mohr (of Big Head Todd and the Monsters) on May 15.Â And as always, their Sunday Gospel Brunches and free late night music in The Loft are as big of a draw as the headliners that grace their downstairs live venue space.Â The full show calendar is available here.Â The Hamilton is located at 600 14th St NW at the corner of 14th and F.