Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: Della Mae and Sister Sadie at The Birchmere

Della Mae and Sister Sadie co-headline a night of bluegrass performed by and featuring women and only women.

Della Mae -- Photo: Courtesy of Della Mae
Della Mae — Photo: Courtesy of Della Mae

When the group Della Mae was just starting out a little more than a dozen years ago, they were treated as a kind of novelty act — by virtue of being an all-female band in the male-dominated music and touring industries.

And even more, because they insisted on playing bluegrass and being a bluegrass band, which still has some lingering good ol’ boy connotations.

Not for nothing, the band has also always had queer-identifying members. With its present makeup as a five-piece, the band is actually majority queer.

“We weren’t the first all-female bluegrass band, but we were the only one touring at the time,” Ludiker told The Guardian in a lengthy profile of the band published over the summer.

The reporter for the U.K. newspaper went on to note that their “novelty…brought plenty of unwanted attention. Their sound engineer was constantly asked which of them he was sleeping with; there were wandering hands and dick pics, and enough attempts to follow them or get into their green room that they all took a self-defense course.”

In the intervening years, the novelty has worn off as more women slowly but surely joined their ranks as regularly touring musicians. And also as Della Mae has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in its field.

The Grammy-nominated band, as the Guardian put it, “[has] become the most influential all-women band in bluegrass.”

Della Mae will be joined by another all-female band, Sister Sadie, as co-headliners of a show at The Birchmere this Sunday. It will be a night of music performed by and featuring women and only women, and all of it emanating from women working together as teams.

As the band’s publicist put it, “it’ll be a rare and exciting night of music.”

Sister Sadie — Photo: J. Roncolato

For Della Mae, the concert comes in support of the 2021 album Family Reunion, which captures the sense of joy and relief, as well as renewed enthusiasm and determination, the women felt when they got together to record the set, their first in-person reunion as a full band in a year and a half.

Because Family Reunion was recorded at Tonal Park studio in Takoma Park, and even more because Ludiker and guitarist Avril Smith, her partner as well as bandmate, make their home in Silver Spring — The Birchmere concert will be something of a hometown show — and all the more special because of it.

Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at The Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $29.50. Visit www.birchmere.com or call 703-549-7500.

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