We here The Buzz About got a request for our Top 5 Shows and Top 5 Albums, according to us, from 2009. So, here are my picks, with the briefest of brief explanations. And, really, it was next to impossible to choose only five, and, yes, once I cheated.

Top 5 Shows of 2009:

5. Sister Hazel, October 20th at World Cafe Live!, Philadelphia: There are three reasons for this pick: when I was a freshman in college, I swore to my then-roommate Annie that I would see Sister Hazel (whose song "All For You" we covered) in concert "one day"; they are a really, really, really fun bunch of guys who genuinely have fun onstage; and: their hardcore fans are incredible to watch in action. I was awed and amazed.

4. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, October 11th at The Grand Opera House, Wilmington, DE: While my Mom got confused but excited and thought I was going to see the band she calls the Cherry Pickin' Daddies (I'm sure those Poppin' guys would understand, or I hope they would, as my Mom is the same woman who calls Facebook "Spacebook"), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was an incredibly fun, make-me-dance-in-my-seat show. My already great love of horns grew exponentially after that show.

3. Jonatha Brooke, October 1st at The Grand Opera House, Wilmington, DE: This show was the second time I saw JBro in concert, but she charmed me immediately when, after walking out on stage, she said, "I couldn't decide what to wear, so I just put on one of everything." Jonatha live is something not to be missed.

2. Erin McKeown and Jill Sobule, December 5th at World Cafe Live!, Philadelphia: It's no real secret that I love Erin McKeown. Love. Having seen both Erin and Jill separately, I wondered what their combined forces would be like. In two words: fantastically fun. I mean, who else teams up to cover Neil Diamond and plays wiffle ball on stage?!

1. Tracy Chapman, August 3rd at The Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA: Quite simply: If you ever get a chance in your lifetime to see Tracy Chapman play, do it. This, by far, was the best concert I've seen. Ever.

Top 5 Albums of 2009:

5(a). The Gaslight Anthem, The '59 Sound: These rockers from New Jersey (yeah, Jersey!) pack a lot of energy into this release, and they have a song that references Charles Dickens. How could I not love them?! (Okay, technically, this album came out in 2008, but I didn't hear about until 2009...)

5(b). Susan Werner, Classics: Susan's creativity, much like her sense of humour and her infectious laugh, know no bounds. Classics is a remarkable album from its conception to its execution.

4. David Gray, Draw the Line: Maybe it's the accent when he talks. Or maybe it's because this latest release by this Brit is simply wonderful, from its lyrics to the arrangements on tracks like "Jackdaw", the first single "Fugitive", and "First Chance". You can catch David's lovely session on NPR's The World Cafe with David Dye here.

3. Imogen Heap, Ellipse: I saw Imogen a few years ago in Baltimore, and was amazed by what that woman and a Mac can do. A careful listen to this album reveals a plethora of sounds for a truly unique listening experience, including the kitchen sink.

2. Rose Cousins, The Send Off: I love Rose Cousins, and from the first notes of the first track, "If I Were the Bird" just completely captivated me. If you've (a) never heard of Rose or (b) missed this album's debut in October, pick it up. It's simply delightful.

1. Erin McKeown, Hundreds of Lions: Two words: "Santa Cruz". Otherwise: Lions shows you an Erin McKeown who's willing to experiment with form and style, musically and lyrically. I think this album is her most inventive and, truly, one of her best.

But wait! There's more!!:

5 People I want to hear more from in 2010:

5. Paul Thorn: I ask you this, TBA readers, who cannot love a guy who has a song called "Pimps and Preachers"?!  Paul Thorn, proudly from Tupelo, Mississippi, has an incredibly wonderful stage presence, sense of humour, and southern drawl. If you've never heard Paul or seen him live, do both in 2010. You won't regret it.

4. Katie Sawicki: I received Katie's sophomore album Time Spent Lost (2008) in the mail with a few other albums. Katie's was the first I put in and the only one I listened to that night. The depth of her voice on the opening track "Tuesday" simply took my breath away, and it's an album I can listen to for hours on repeat. I'm hoping 2010 brings both new music by Katie but also a return to East coast.

3. Edie Carey: I'm looking forward to two Edie Carey shows this year, one in April with Natalia Zukerman and one in August, which I'm counting towards my birthday week celebration (and I like to plan ahead!). I'm also looking forward to Edie's new release, which you can help put together.

2. Meg Hutchinson: I first saw Meg open for Catie Curtis five years ago, and fell in love with her voice the minute she opened her mouth. Look for The Living Side in February!

1. Adrien Reju: Adrien's January 2nd Philadelphia show was unexpectedly my first show of the year. I'm really hoping 2010 will be a good and big year for Adrien. I think she's got an incredible, incredible voice, strong writing skills, and an absolutely infectious personality.


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