This was our first trip to Pearl Street Warehouse, in the new Southwest DC Wharf District along the Potomac waterfront – we had driven by the construction on a regular basis on the way to Nats games. There’s an extremely wide expanse of underground parking that’s underneath virtually the entire area, along with a nifty app that provides real-time updates on the number of available spaces. We were thus surprised to see a “P – FULL” sign as we were about to turn off Maine Avenue, but an attendant directed us to turn right into what the map said was “Water Street”, but appeared to be more of an alley. Once we got into the garage, we were becoming somewhat frustrated as a number of the green-lighted spaces turned out to be for EV charging, otherwise reserved, or basically non-existent, despite teasing signs promising 30+ empty spaces. Fortunately someone was leaving and we grabbed their spot. The underground color coding and directional signs were quite good, and once we got back to street level on Pearl Street we were right across from the club.
The club (21 and over for all shows) features a diner as you come in, before you turn left into the lower level of the performance space. The downstairs seating plan varies depending on the show; for this one there was an empty area for dancing in front of the center of the stage, with rectangular tables on each side and some round tables for standees (of which there were many) in front of the bar in the rear. We had paid a few dollars more to get tickets for the small second-level mezzanine above, which was farther from the stage but much less congested given the number of people standing below. The sound was quite good; there was more chatter than I’m used to at the Birchmere or Rams Head, which was not an issue for this show but might be for more acoustically-oriented acts. The table service and food were good, although they had run out of the listed Flying Dog brew.
Hunter and crew were up to their usual excellent standards, keeping the sold-out crowd entertained throughout an 18-song set that mixed four tracks from his recently-released Whatever It Takes album with plenty of older material. Highlights included the songs where various band members were able to stretch out (“No Smoke Without Fire”, “Don’t Do Me No Favours”, “Believe Me Baby”), his obligatory cover of “Baby Don’t Do It” by The “5” Royales, and the closing “Talking ‘Bout My Love.”
I was impressed enough with Three Man Soul Machine to buy their CD at intermission (a bargain at just $8). Primarily a jazz combo, although with some soul and funk, the trio (sax, organ, drums) demonstrated their chops in a 40-minute opening set that mixed originals with a few covers, including “When I Fall In Love” and an inspired version of the Stylistics’ “People Make The World Go Round”. The set was all instrumental, except for a mid-set tribute to the old American Basketball Association (ABA).
James Hunter Six setlist