Thursday, July 18, 2019

Over the Moon

I almost missed the lunar landing that Saturday afternoon in July 1969 because I was too busy playing outside. My mother had to yell at me to come in.  I didn't understand why everyone was making such a big fuss watching grainy footage of spacemen on TV. I knew that Bugs Bunny had already been to the moon and back, and what about "My Favorite Martian?" My mother informed me that "this was history." 

OK. I get it now. And I think it's pretty groovy that Apollo 11 will be recreated via a space age projection on the Washington Monument tonight and every evening through Saturday. 

For another cool scene on what promises to be miserably muggy evenings, I suggest Fort Reno at the top of DC tonight or DOGO at Lubber Run on Friday. (Man, if these bands can get out there and make music in this weather, the least we can do is rally up a bit of energy to watch them.)

Inside with AC, we have The Thrillbillys back at JV's with a newly bionic Johnny Castle. (Congratulations, JC), plus Wailin' Storms, Bound and Tone are making things happen at The Pie Shop- an excellent place to see bands by the by. Both shows are tonight.

The Skip Castro Band (now there's a rocket ship blast from the past) rock Jammin Java on Friday, and the Rock-A-Sonics tear up the New Deal Cafe on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

When the Rain Comes

Weird is the best way to describe a day that lost its light as the morning went on, almost as if the sun was setting just a few hours after rising. I felt compelled to turn on a lamp as the gloom descended.  Then the rain began.  At first I was relieved by the cool air coming through my window, but a short time later,  I heard sirens. This was the eerie scene down on Canal Road- not too far from my house.

Meanwhile my basement took on water which was not nearly as dramatic as other footage around town, but as quickly as the storm came, it moved on.  Fort Reno's first concert happened that same evening. People rallied here at the top of DC although tarps were de rigueur beneath the picnic blankets.

While I bailed out the basement, I celebrated the return of El Sol with a little K.C. and the Sunshine band. This cheerful little time capsule is also good for whatever angst is eating away at your soul.

The weather may or may not hold for all of the free outdoor shows this weekend, but there is much to choose from with another Fort Reno concert on Thursday,  featuring The Norms, The Osyx and Dirt Eater.  The Nighthawks rock Wheaton Veteran's Park on Friday, and King Soul will shake things loose at Lubber Run on Saturday. And don't forget the Capital Fringe Fest is going on for the next two weeks.

Rain checks indoors include The Rhodes Troubadours Troubadours at the Takoma VFW on Thursday and the Newmeyer Flyer Soul Tribute extravaganza at City Winery on Friday.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Fortitude for the Fourth

For me, the Fourth of July in Washington has been steadily losing its feeling of independence ever since Secretary of the Interior James Watt wanted to ban rock bands like the Beach Boys from attracting the "wrong element" to the mall in 1983. Yes. The Beach Boys. Watt thought that Wayne Newton, aka "Mr Las Vegas," would be a more wholesome choice.  Plus Wayne was a big supporter of Ronald Reagan, the Commander in Chief at the time. 


I didn't think it was so bad when the Park Service banned couches as elaborate picnic gear.  Those often rain soaked sofas were usually rudely abandoned by the end of the night, leaving park rangers to haul them away, but next came the big crack down post  9-11. 

Before this we had finely tuned our fireworks routine to a precision drill.  We would depart at 8:45 pm with a carload of kids, zip up and then back down the midget sized E Street expressway so that our vehicle pointed north when we parked on the shoulder.  We then ran down deserted streets to the mall where we would throw down a blanket and gaze skyward. As soon as the last rocket fired off, we reversed gears and sprinted back to the car.  Most nights we could be home in time to see the fireworks again- on the 10:00 news. 


This year the Fourth has been flat out pre-empted by politics, VIP sections and tanks. I don't recall anyone asking if we, the people, wanted armored vehicles in the mix. Between snow fencing, bag checks and bicycle restrictions,  liberty feels like it is in lock down here. Even the river has no anchor zones. Here's a helpful guide from the Washington Post for what you can and can't do downtown. 

Uptown- things are different.  

The Palisades parade is an all-inclusive low security event. Anyone can participate and more often than not, risk heat stroke in the name of pageantry. 

After the parade, free hotdogs and watermelon are doled out by volunteers in Palisades park. Free. No VIP.

Meanwhile music abounds this July. Here's a partial listing of concerts to catch:



Rare Essence/ EU @ Hamilton


Drunk History @ Slash Run


7 Door Sedan/ Color School @ Villain and Saint

Jumpin Jupiter @ Pie Shop (free)


Justin Jones @ Hamilton

Last Train Home @ Union Stage


Fort Reno Concert 


Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW

Fort Reno


Nighthawks @ Wheaton Veteran's Park

Southern Soul Tribute @ City Winery


King Soul @ Lubber Run


Fort Reno


Fort Reno

Wailin Storms/ Tone/Bound @ Pie Shop

Thrillbillys @ JV


DOGO @ Lubber Run

The Duskwhales @ Sauf Haus Bier Hall

Skip Castro @ Jammin Java


Goin Goin Gone @ Takoma VFW

Rock-A- Sonics @ New Deal


Thrillbillys @ Takoma VFW


Teen Mortgage/ Capital Offender / more...@ Pie Shop

Watkins Glen Reunion @ Jammin Java


Ubangis and Marshall Keith @ Slash Run

Ray Apollo Allen / Goin Goin Gone @ JVs


Drunk Mums/ BBQT/ Split Seconds @ Slash Run

Jumping Jupiter @ JV (4 pm)

Thursday, June 27, 2019

DC Rocks This Weekend

This year, mostly due to last winter's exasperating government shut down, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be Really Short and Very Local. The festival runs just two days this weekend with a go-go concert featuring activists from the Don't Mute DC movement on the docket as well as a punk rock "story time" given by a DC librarian.  A music market Saturday afternoon provides an unusual  chance to shop home grown labels from the well known Dischord to This Could Go Boom!  Hit the link for the full schedule.

Coincidently, another Smithsonian event goes native on Sunday with the "Space Was the Place" lecture at the National Gallery of Art at 2 pm. Seating is a first come first served kind of affair.

(Maybe the ever swelling tourist population will learn a thing or two about our fair city this weekend.)

Also lots of musical choices on the DC ROCKS calendar as June sneaks on out of here:


Dave Chappell Band @ JV


King Soul @ Mason District Park

Billy Coulter @ Rockville Town Square


Punk the Capitol @ AFI

Beanstalk Library/Nitepool @ Pie Shop

Laurel Canyon Tribute @ Birchmere

Ruthie and the Wranglers @ Soundry


Fuzz Queen/ Kosari @ Galaxy Hut

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Innermost Ear

Once upon a time in a studio far away from things afloat in the main stream, a man named Don Zientara worked his magic with the outliers and the mavericks that were bouncing around our Beltway. He recorded bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Government Issue, Fugazi and more.

From Mark Noone of the Slickee Boys:

"In 1979 I found myself in the basement of a modest house in Arlington Va. This was the world renowned recording studio known as Inner Ear. Slickee Boys were recording the first record that I would  be on. I wrote one song, "Gotta Tell Me Why" and co-wrote "Forbidden Alliance" with Kim Kane. At the helm were Skip Groff and Don Zientara; two men who changed my life. 

I'll admit I never heard the great Skip sing, but Don does a darn good job of it. His singing and his songs are very much like him straight up and honest."

Don Zientara will be performing at one of my all time favorite watering holes- the Galaxy Hut this Monday June 24 with Dougie.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice Solace

The longest day is here. Here are a few thoughts for how to spend that extra day light:
Read a book just for fun hopefully in hammock. I recommend "The Man Who Came Uptown" by George Pelecanos

Sleep late on Sunday with impunity, then wander down to Fletcher's for river gazing or perhaps rent a row boat.

Find a bar without a TV like Lyman's Tavern, Jack Rose or Galaxy Hut and hoist a very local beer.
Raised By Wolves comes to mind...
plan an early evening picnic in Rock Creek Park and watch the local firefly show.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mystical Marathons

James Joyce once wrote such a weirdly wonderful book that people still feel compelled to read it out loud every year, especially in Dublin, where they celebrate Bloomsday with Joycean costumes and specials on gorgonzola sandwiches and a glass of burgundy. "Not logwood that." (Right, Hugh?)
Joyce gives us the story of one day in the life of Leopold Bloom, June 16th, 1904 to be exact, encapsulated... or perhaps I should say elongated... into one long-ass Irish tome.  It begins with the line: "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed, and, some seven hundred pages later, ends (spoiler alert) with the word "Yes." 

My friend Hugh urged me to tackle Ulysses once, several years ago, and it was like hearing everything in a man's head erupt out of a tinny speaker on a street corner. A teacher friend of mine gave me the best advice on wading through the experience. She said just keep reading the words.  Never mind what they mean.


This Saturday,  the Bloomsday Marathon Reading begins at noon at Loyalty Books in Petworth and continues on at Petworth Citizen where Bloomsday inspired cocktails will help numb or enhance the experience which continues through the night and all day Sunday.

Another enigmatic marathon, the third annual Seventh Stanine Festival, also kicks off on Saturday starting at 2 pm at the house of Rhizome in Takoma DC, and will include our friends in Tone hitting the stage about five hours later.  From Norm Veenstra: "This festival will take place rain or shine -- the Rhizome house can be both shelter and source of sound."

Little Red and the Renegades will be  testing out a new to them venue at Celtic House in Arlington and Valentine Slim will be hold forth at Rockville Moose Lodge. All on Saturday.

This week's alert: call before you go to any show happening at Villain and Saint.... The kitchen has closed, and things are going South in a hand basket over there.

get your joyce