Last night, Cozy and the Pony, with the help of the guys and gals at Finnegans Wake, treated Alexandria to a downtown “rock n’ roll” block party– four hours of local, quality music, free and open to the public of all ages. To be sure, we’ve had other successful block parties in the past, but this one was rare– not just because of the musical line-up, but also because of the setting: The stage was set up near the intersection of Jackson and Third Streets, a location that seemed perfect for a concert, sandwiched in between the Hotel Bentley and Finnegans Wake. And it also seemed fitting for a band like Cozy and the Pony, whose debut EP is reviewed in a previous post, to launch their album with an outdoor, family-friendly concert in a place that is quintessentially Alexandria.

The show kicked off around 7PM with Ben Mahoney, a one-man act with the ability to sound like an entire orchestra. Ben’s music is dynamic and rich, punctuated by a loop station (which he uses expertly), the cello, and the violin. And though one may describe his music as ambient or electronica, it’s still very accessible. One of the best moments was when he covered Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” in a style similar yet still strikingly different than the Flaming Lips’s version– the deconstruction of a dance song, when done well, can be haunting and strange.

Aaron Sibley, a singer songwriter in possession of one of the best voices in town, took the stage next. Aaron sings lullabies and sweet country rock hymns, and she never disappoints. I’ve seen her perform twice, and I hope to see her many more times. And moreover, I hope she’ll consider treating us to a song or two over the Internet, so everyone can know what I’m talking about.

Next up was Wien Denley, a witty and incredibly talented singer and lyricist. Wien interspersed his quirky and infectious original songs (including one of my favorites, “Rubber Band Killer,” and “Obsidian Dream,” a song that features a Keller Williams-style mouth horn) with some atypical Bob Marley, Sublime, Bob Dylan, and Grateful Dead covers, which is to say he plays covers you won’t ever hear at a karaoke bar. Wien may be missing his “funky drummer” (his brother Daniel), but he’s still solidly entertaining as a solo act.

And following Wien was the headliner of the night, Cozy and the Pony, who delivered what had been promised: A set of great Southern rock hymns. I can’t say enough about these guys, so I defer back to the EP review. I’m not sure if they sold out of their EPs, but if they didn’t, they must’ve been really close. (And if they didn’t, I’ll try to tell you where to buy one).

If you weren’t one of the three hundred or so people who stopped by last night, don’t worry. From the looks and the sounds of it, the local music scene is strong and healthy; it’s supported by a loyal base, and more importantly, it works together.

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