WASHINGTON — Legendary rockabilly guitarist and former D.C. resident Bill Kirchen brings his Americana swagger to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, this weekend.
Kirchen is known as the “Titan of the Telecaster,” an instrument synonymous with local legends such as Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan. The guitar also was a favorite of prolific musicians Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the Grateful Dead.
Kirchen carries on the tradition of the great Telecaster-slingers, to the delight of classic American rock ‘n’ roll fans.
The rockabilly guitarist is bringing on D.C. band Nighthawks, just one of the many local acts that have a long-standing association with Kirchen, to open the night.
Kirchen’s career started in the ’60s with his former band, Commander Cody and the Lost Airmen. Their best-known song, “Hot Rod Lincoln,” features Kirchen’s searing lead guitar front and center:
Kirchen has had some unlikely collaborators over the years, such as British songwriter and producer Nick Lowe. The pair’s friendship dates back to the ’70s, and even led to Kirchen working with Elvis Costello.
Kirchen’s performance at the Birchmere will feature his classic D.C. lineup, Too Much Fun, which was formed in the mid-1980s when Kirchen first moved to the District.
“Austin and D.C. are both great music towns, each with its own long history of music, including prominent guitar players,” Kirchen says.
“I have enjoyed the majority of my solo career here in D.C. It’s right up there with San Francisco and Austin for me for big crowds who get what I’m up to. It’s a Telecaster town, too, as [guitarist] Jake Flack says in his song.”
Watch a 1992 performance from Too Much Fun below:
Kirchen’s latest release, “Seeds and Stems,” features re-worked versions of his crowd-pleasers.
After nearly 50 years in the music business, Kirchen’s voice and playing are as thrilling and vital as ever. Friday’s reunion with his old D.C. band is sure to add an extra layer of energy to their performance.