Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Peace Like a River


I've been thinking lately about where to find peace in our town. The obvious haunts come to mind right away- Hains Point, Rock Creek Park and the Arboretum. But I've also got my favorite hidey-holes like the Bishop's Garden behind the Cathedral where you can ponder life in outdoor rooms.  Down in Georgetown, I used to get a sandwich and a soda at Harold's Deli on M Street and picnic in the back yard of the Old Stone House. The deli is long gone, but the beautifully kept garden is still there. Over in Anacostia there's that magnificent view from Frederick Douglas' front yard,  but my favorite part of the property is the man cave he once called The Growlery. Here's a picture of WPA workers fixing the roof in the 1930s.


Mr. Douglas had his space tricked out simply with a desk and a couch so he could think and write. Or write and think.  Since then the Park Service had to replace the original building with a replica of the tiny cabin without the furnishings, but it's still a beautiful place.


Finding serenity downtown can be more of a challenge, but once a month the Luce Unplugged Concert Series takes place on the third floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and it's happening again this Friday. Here's the word from Andras Fekete of Boat Burning:

"This free concert will transform the soaring atrium which features vaulted ceilings, multi-tiered balconies, sweeping glass surfaces and deep recesses into a fully-immersive, walk-around sonic installation. Audience members are invited to wander the space during the performance to experience the aural effects from different angles. The October showcase will feature the ambient, synthesized tunes of AARON LEITKO and the maximal minimalism of BOAT BURNING's experimental rock."




I like being "invited to wander the space" for this sonic extravaganza as I have a hard time sitting still for anything. Plus - bonus- there's a free 3 Star beer tasting plus snacks for sale. Music starts at 6.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Deep Fall



Enough with the warm weather already. I know a lot of you get depressed around this time of year. Somebody I know even refers to falling leaves as "harbingers of death," but I dig the colors.



Plus I like Halloween and all the goofy decorations around town.



I was rereading George Pelecanos' Hell To Pay last week when I ran across this rather relevant paragraph featuring a favorite reoccurring character Derek Strange:

Soon the colors would change in Rock Creek Park. And then would come those weeks near Thanksgiving when the weather turned for real and the leaves were still coming down off the trees. Strange had his own name for it: deep fall. It was his favorite time of year in D.C.

This weekend it sounds like we will get our first real taste of Autumn with a high of 63 and a low of 48 predicted for tomorrow. And those cooler temps might actually kick our trees into gear. Hopefully the rain will clear out by Saturday in time for the H Street Festival which is a magnificent spread of food and music and stuff. Also over at the Wharf which is always buzzing on the weekends, King Soul will be playing for FREE.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Drown Out the Noise


Usually I am a news hound, but the trauma of last week's hearings made me snap off the radio now and then.  For my own sanity I found myself cranking up my own mix tapes- blaring songs from long ago.  I'm still having the heebie - jeebies, but I have taken a stab at DC ROCKS' October's calendar and would welcome more input. As far as this weekend goes the Takoma Park Street Festival is always fun- full of music with three different stages and numerous bands. Here's a few photos from past street fests over the years.

First off there are no cars which is always a plus:


And don't forget to drag along the kids before they are too big to drag-



although some kids never get too old (!)








OCTOBER

4

Thrillbillys @ JV

5

Valentine Slim @ Takoma VFW


Black Masala @ Pearl Street Warehouse

Lunch With Bob @ Takoma VFW


Takoma Street Fest

Rock -A- Sonics @ JV matinee

9

Dave Chappell and Anthony Pirog Band @ JV

11

Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW

12 

Hula Monsters @ Villain and Saint

13

H Street Festival

King Soul @ Pearl St Warehouse free matinee!

Thrillbillys and guests @ JV

14

The Toasters/ Caz Gardiner/ Free Lobster Buffet @Dangerous Pies

17

Beverly Bros. @ Takoma VFW

20

Bold Deceivers @ Takoma VFW

25

Dave Chappell @ JV 

Easter Island / Color Palette @ Dangerous Pies

26

Beverly Bros @ JV 

27 King Soul @ Takoma VFW


Spooky 31

Thrillbillys @ JV

The Independents w/ Glenmont Popes and Children of October @ Dangerous Pies

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Two Cans and a String


Many moons ago, in March of 1988, I went to see the Daniel West Dancers perform at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.  While waiting in the lobby before the show, a tall, somewhat frazzled looking woman was being slightly too pushy and slightly too loud as she bumped her way through the crowd.  People started to buzz. Some laughed nervously while others tried to get out of her way. No one wanted to make eye contact.  Once inside, this same weird person started a ruckus by loudly asking people to move so she could sit in their seat. Finally an usher came and escorted her down the aisle- still arguing. Then suddenly she was climbing onto the stage where the dancers stood waiting. Surprise! She was part of the show all along. This is one of my favorite memories of Susan Mumford. Performance artist. Musician. Writer and friend. She was also an all around good egg.

I talked to Susan many times before I got to know her. She was the ethereal woman with short cropped blonde (or sometimes black) hair,  usually dressed in shapeless clothing sitting behind the ticket window of the old 9:30 Club on F Street NW.  Back then artists of all stripes felt comfortable there when the club was little. We congregated like moths under a street lamp and ended up becoming friends for life. My friend Peter was one of the regulars. A decade or so later I told Susan that Pete had had a big crush on her. (Now I know lots of guys had crushes on Susan.) Her reaction was basic incredulity, and a slightly wistful "I wish I had known."


Susan in person was a very different ball of wax than Susan performing. On stage she was wildly unpredictable. Powerful. Loud. Off stage she was quieter, very funny and cool, but always strong. Susan might be best known for her role in the avant-garde band Tiny Desk Unit, but I will always remain impressed with how she moved in with her father who was suffering from Alzheimer's at the end of his life.  She stayed with him until he died. After that, Susan pretty much kept to herself and too soon afterwards also became ill. She had to battle cancer for the rest of her life, but she didn't lose her sense of humor. I once emailed her telling her I was sorry for not being in touch or taking her out for air.  She shot back:

Yes you should have taken me out for more air. or tried a bicycle pump. It's a coon's age since we yakked girl!
(as in raccoon - how long is a raccoon's age?  i bet it's a long time)

I'm sorry to say that Susan left the planet earlier this month, but for those who knew her- Bill Warrell is organizing a gathering this Saturday evening in Blagden Alley at 926 N Street from 8 p.m. - 2 a.m. In the meantime, I will leave you with another email to me from Susan in the same format that she wrote it in. I think it's more poetry than message. I will miss you, Susan. Wave at the nice man.
(I hope you can hear with me with two cans and a string.)

aaaaagh  sorry, my computer's crapped up (ooh, visuals)

so i only open it maybe once a week
maybe not

meant to answer this before when i saw it, but was watching the battery minutes deplete
and chickened out

prefer 2 cans and a string

will now call on your cell if anything fascinating leaps up and slaps me in the face (ooh, more visuals)


just thinking of you,

love,
susan




Friday, September 21, 2018

Let Them Eat Pie


For those of you dreading the end of Summer, now is the time to remember a few silver linings about Fall. I for one am looking forward to the day that the mosquitoes drop dead and the leaves start to turn. When I lived in San Fransisco, I don't remember having to battle insects,  but one drawback for me was the lack of seasons. There were only two. Rain and not rain. Green or brown. I really missed the big trees with their vaudeville routine of raucous colors.  Fall also makes me think of apples which brings me directly to pie.

Happily enough, Washington has a great pie shop on H Street NE called Dangerously Delicious Pies. The first store in Baltimore came into being thanks to rocker Rodney Henry of the Glenmont Popes who got into the pie biz trying to make ends meet at the merch table. Fortunately for us he a really good baker, and he was able to start another branch here almost ten years ago with friends Sandra Basanti and her husband Stevie McKeever.  This summer they expanded the business and created a 75 person capacity venue - nowadays a rare thing in DC - above the pie shop. (Not an easy thing to do in a 100 year old building.)

The space has been thoughtfully renovated by sound engineer Dennis Manuel and musician/ carpenter/ pie man Stevie McKeever. (Get the full scoop here at DCist.)  This Saturday Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness front a show with Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children and Dominy. No cover.  Music starts at 8:30.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Everybody's Missing the Sun


As I write, a ray of sun is cutting through the trees outside my window looking startlingly beautiful and noteworthy. It is 8:00 a.m. Friday morning, but now - just a moment later,  the light is fading, and we're back to our new normal- perpetually grey skies.  I do love a rainy day, but a lot of things were shifted out of Florence's way this weekend including several boxes of books in my basement and the H Street Festival which had to be rescheduled for October 13.

Hurricane dodging fatigue or a cloudy mood can be handily cured with music under a sturdy roof that is not your own. Tonight The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours take over that crazy little Takoma VFW they call Hell's Bottom with a "hurricane dance party." Elsewhere this weekend nostalgia seems to be the order of the day what with The Vi-Kings working their 1960s throwback magic at JV, and Nils Lofgren playing three shows Friday- Sunday at the Birchmere. (Saturday is sold out.)  The Newmyer Flyer show also happens Saturday at the Hamilton. Twenty two local musicians will endeavor to reanimate both Bruce Springsteen's "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle" and Van Morrison's " Moondance." Spinning vinyl is cool again, but hearing it live is out of sight. 



Friday, September 7, 2018

September Sloth Song


I've always said that I lose the will to function properly around July when the relentless heat and humidity of our "swamp" drive me into hibernation. Even so I usually get up early and hack at my garden for a little while before the sun announces another scorcher.  This past week I didn't even go outside if I could help it. Reverting to sloth mode, I fell to worshipping the buzzy drone of my AC unit and the misty fog of my ice maker.

Meanwhile the DC ROCKS' Creative Overachiever Award has to go to George Pelecanos who is home this week promoting his newest book The Man Who Came Uptown.  This will be George's twentieth crime novel, all of which are set in real life Washington, D. C. His characters inhabit a city which has been relieved of reference to the federal government. Quackenbos and Fort Stevens? Yes. Pennsylvania Avenue? Hell, no.  Additionally George will be shoehorning his book tour between producing Season Two and Season Three of the HBO series The Deuce- his latest collaboration with David Simon and the folks who brought you The Wire and Treme.  I hereby and forthwith dub George the anti-sloth.



Catch him if you can- he will be reading his latest at Politics and Prose this Sunday from 3-4 p.m.

And here's the belated DC ROCKS Calendar of Industrious and Mostly Musical Achievers:

SEPTEMBER


George Pelecanos Reading @ Politics and Prose

14

Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW

Johnny and The Headhunters @ Pearl Street 

15

H St Festival

Moondance/ Wild, Innocent & E St Shuffle @ Hamilton ( Newmyer Flyer)

The Vi-Kings @ JV

19

Fuzz Queen @ Dangerous Pies

20

Thrillbillys @ JV

21

Split Seconds @ Slash Run

22

Jake Starr @ Dangerous Pies

23

DC State Fair

Human Country Jukebox @ Pearl Street free (12:30)

SW Sessions w/ Elijah Balbed & Isabelle De Leon 
@ Pearl Street ( free)

27

Dave Chappell Band @ JV

28

Sister Ex/ Menage a Garage @ Dangerous Pies

29

Bumper Jacksons @ Hill Country BBQ

Art All Night Dupont

Johnny Grave w/ Uptown Boys Choir @ Dangerous Pies*

30

Alex the Red Parez/ Derek Evry @ Galaxy Hut

(* Size of print due to incomprehensible vagaries of html)