Owen Danoff, left, performs songs from his new album and covers of pop songs at the Mansion at Strathmore. — Photo by Allison Lantero
By Allison Lantero, Contributor, DC Music Live
I took the red line up past the limits of the District, past Bethesda, to the Mansion at Strathmore to see Owen Danoff’s EP release show. I first saw him play with The 9 at Black Cat, and his self-described mix of Taylor Swift and John Mayer hooked me at once.
It was a gorgeous day, and the walk up to the Mansion was a little confusing at first — since the back looks like the front, but I found my way to the entrance by following the strains of guitar music wafting through the window.
The room was crowded with people of every age sitting at tables cloaked in green table cloths and garden party chairs. The walls were paneled in dark wood with intricate molding. But the young musicians and tangle of wires in front of the large ornate fireplace at the back stood out against the archaic setting.
Danoff played mostly original music off his two EPs, including “Nothing Like the First Time,” “Never Trust a Man” and “Abandon Ship.”
“This is the first time I’ve been able to say this: my CD is available in the gift shop,” he joked.
He also covered John Mayer’s “Good Love Is On the Way.”
Ever the lyricist, Danoff’s songs are full of interesting metaphors and rhyme schemes. “Never Trust a Man” starts out talking about men in general and then ends in a twist when Danoff proclaims you should, “never trust a man like me.” Too bad John Mayer never learned this one.
Danoff, as noted in his bio, has grown up surrounded by musicians. His father, Bill Danoff wrote “Country Roads,” and “Afternoon Delight,” which won two Grammy Awards and more recently appeared in the movie Anchorman.
His keyboardist on Wednesday, Jon Carroll, was a founding member of Starland Vocal Band, who performed Afternoon Delight and has played with the Dixie Chicks, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Rodney Crowell, to name a few. Carroll played two keyboards and a grand piano, quite often playing two at the same time.
The hourlong show flew by with what seemed like 50 instrument changes. Between Carroll, Danoff, and guitarist, Eric Montgomery, these talented musicians would go seamlessly from piano to acoustic guitar, bass to electric guitar and back. And during these switches drummer Miles Nasta would keep everyone’s feet tapping.
The standing ovation at the end of the show prompted Danoff and Carroll to play one last song.
“I have to warn you, its a kind of depressing one,” he said as he switched guitars once more and played the beginning chords of “Alone Life.” The song is a pretty ballad about the loneliness of sitting at home in pajamas all day, but not quite the ending I expected.
I, for one, wish he’d ended with “Ashes or the Sun,” my personal fave and a fitting ending. As the song says, “I’m a man on a mission, a one-way plan … got a simple wish and a prayer this world might learn my name.”
And if Danoff continues to play the way he did on Wednesday, his wish and prayer will be realized sooner than later.
Danoff’s first EP entitled Icarus
is available to download
for free on BandCamp and Never Trust a Man
is available here
or on iTunes.
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