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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

True Rock

The last time I saw Billy Hancock, he was sitting in the window at Hank Dietle's quietly playing a solo gig, just Billy and his guitar in a dark corner. My friends and I had stopped in for a drink and had no idea he would be there. Next thing I knew Mark Noone (of the Slickee Boys) got up and sang a couple of chestnuts with Billy. It was a surreal experience, and now that he is gone, it feels a bit like a dream as do a lot of memories from my DC musical past.

I took a lot for granted growing up here.  Didn't every town have radio stations like WHFS and WGTB?  Plus a bunch of little bars where you could see players like Roy Buchanan, Tex Rabinowitz, Joe Stanley and Danny Gatton? Billy Hancock, while a rocking phenomenon in his own right, did projects with all of the above and more.

This Sunday's five hour tribute show at Pearl Street Warehouse will reflect that legacy and bring out names we haven't heard from in a while as well as others who have kept at it. Look for Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys, The Nighthawks, the Tennessee Rockets and Switchblade as well as an army of local talent including Martha HullEddie Angel and Ratso. And more. Way more. It's going to be a humongous hometown reunion for both players and fans from a lucky era when there were real "guitar heroes,"  and before the little clubs were eaten by developers.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Waxing Nostalgic and Funky

 Once upon a time, when the District of Columbia had no shortage of music venues, Desperados or "Despos" was a Georgetown bar and the Wax Museum was in Southwest. Sadly both have been gone since the 1980s, but Desperado's former booking agent Julie Wilson is heroically pulling together a big fat reunion for the second year in a row. Both venues once featured local and national bands, and both were raging rock clubs. Survivors can party down with their memories tomorrow night at the Birchmere which is known for its "sit down and shut up" policy, but fortunately has a huge outer hall and bar where everyone can yack up the days of yore.

The Funk Parade almost didn't happen this year, but the event is ON this Saturday turning the U Street corridor into a massive celebration of soul, funk and the arts.  The street fair runs from 1 p.m. to 7, with the actual parade marching from the Howard to the Lincoln at 5. Music goes all day and all through the night.  Hit the link above for the extensive and impressive lineup.  This year daytime wristbands can be purchased for $10 to help "sustain the artists" which is a good thing for all.

And finally Jimi and Janis. Need I say more? Bring back a piece of your heart with the Newmyer Flyer gang of kick ass local musicians - also on Saturday at the Hamilton.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Emergent Occasions

May is finally here. Such a romantic month with winter behind us and the possibilities of  Summer just ahead. In the meantime Washington is one big fat flower show, and even though I have lived here a really, really long time, I am still discovering places like the Pentagon Lagoon.

And the Columbia Island happy hour which starts up Memorial Day weekend, but you can take a picnic there anytime. See the table? The same goes for Theodore Roosevelt and Kingman Islands.

But remember John Donne once said that "no man is an island" when he wrote "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, " and I am going to go ahead and give John the benefit of the doubt that he meant men AND women. And while I am at it, I'd like to appropriate that phrase "emergent occasion" to describe Spring.  Let's all make like cicadas and emerge to be a part of things like picnics and concerts.  Or maybe be part of something bigger than all of us like the Running of the Chihuahuas which is happening this Saturday at the Wharf.  Look for a free show with Jumpin' Jupiter at Pearl Street Warehouse beforehand to get everyone in the mood for funny looking creatures bolting down the afro-turf.

If that's not your thing, here's more local concerts and events emerging for May:


Songs of Protest @ Gypsy Sally's


David kitchen Band @ JV


Jumping' Jupiter/ Delarcos @ Hill Country

Pow Wow! DC Opening Day 

Jumping Jupiter Free @ noon at Pearl Street
Running of the Chihuahuas @ The Wharf 1-5

Little Red and the Renegades @ JV

Chopteeth @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Rock-A-Sonics @ Republic 


Desperados/ Wax Museum Reunion @ Birchmere


Funk Parade 

Janis Joplin Tribute @ The Hamilton


Silk Leash/Flooded /Culture Thief/Maulrat @ Slash Run

Thrillbillys @ JV


St Sophia's Greek Fest


Chuck Brown Band @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Dave Chappell/ Patty Reese matinee @ JV

Billy Hancock Tribute @ Pearl Street Warehouse

The Yachtsmen/ Bold Deceivers @ Galaxy Hut


Dan Hovey (6-8 early) @ JV

Cravin' Dogs/ The Walkaways @ Pearl Street


Lunch With Bob @ Takoma VFW


Dave Chappell @ JV

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Paging Back or A Very Short History

This week I have been delving deep into the past (further back than usual) uncovering people like my ancestor Page Dugan who was born in 1800 in the wilds of Tennessee.  No internet. No Hot Shoppes. No go-go. Just trees and cook fires and maybe birds singing. After Page was married he pushed even further west near Jackson where my grandmother would be born in 1898. 

But that's as far west as my family got. My grandmother ended up moving to Washington DC  in 1916, and my mother arrived on the scene in 1917. So here I am, a mere hundred years or so later, talking about the very cool sounds of Boat Burning’s CD release party tomorrow night at DC 9

not to mention Dave Chappell at JV or the Rock-A-Sonics at Hill Country. (All on Thursday for Pete's sake.) Friday night Goin' Goin' Gone is rocking JV's with guitar luminary Dan Hovey, and it's not even Saturday yet when you can take your pick between original Southern soul, punk/garage and roots with  King Soul at the Cheverly Legion, 7 Door Sedan and Color School at the Takoma VFW or Eric Brace and Peter Cooper at Jammin' Java.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bureaucracy Versus Analog Tape

Just the mention of the numbers 1099 and W-2 make my head hurt which is why a place like Rhizome in Takoma Park is a haven and a safe space for those of us who puzzle our way through most sensible things. After the filing frenzy, allow yourself to relax this Thursday evening when a collaboration of music, film and interesting people collide. Check out  "Music for Amplified Violin, Guitar, and Analog Tape," plus a rare screening of "Film" with live accompaniment.

Here's the word from Andras Fekete:

"Robin Diamond and Andras Fekete of Boat Burning, a Washington DC-based "maximum minimalist" collective, explores unexpected connections between classical music, experimental and punk. Diamond and Fekete will accompany Mia Zabelka a sound artist, violinist and vocalist on guitar, tape and keys. 

In 1964, Samuel Beckett traveled from Paris to New York City to shoot "Film," a 24 minute short starring silent film legend Buster Keaton.  It would be Beckett's only screenplay, and Keaton's final film appearance. 

British multi-instrumentalist and film composer Tim Carless will perform a live score to the screening.   Music starts 8pm with DC improvisational combo Low Ways, featuring Mark Cisneros on sax and Ian McColm on drums."

For more traditional fare please check the DC ROCKS' calendar which is overflowing this weekend with the uber talented likes of  Dan Hovey, Dave Chappell, Patty Reese, The Thrillbillys and Valentine Slim. Plus check out a new venue with an old favorite... The Nighthawks are playing Union Stage- Jammin Java's sister venue at the Wharf. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Past Isn't

Art by Mark Holmes
Everyone loves harkening back to the bad ole days of 9:30 and d.c. space where much loved bands like The Beatnik Flies, The Slickee Boys and later Fugazi were a regular thing. Indeed, people I meet now tell me they hung out at the old 9:30 Cub on F Street "all of the time," and if you were then you probably remember my friend Stewart Schmallbach who could redefine that term. He was there night after night and sometimes during the day.

His bar stool was at the back bar right next to the service area, and his drink was a screwdriver.  An artist in his own right, he often painted the walls to defray his bar bill-especially when there was an event.  A lot of people remember the club in monochrome, but actually the color would sometimes change for anniversary parties.

Fred! Photo by Marie Broussard
This weekend put your money where your memories are. Come out and support live music with people who are still on the scene. On Friday night The Messthetics, a true power trio and comprised of Fugazi's Joe Lally and Brendan Canty plus guitar master Anthony Pirog, are throwing  a CD release party at Black Cat with Sarah Hughes and Kid Claws.  Please note this is a rare all ages venue, and a show not to be missed if you are a music fan.

Saturday The Vi-Kings, who usually do their magical throwback psychedelic thing in Maryland, will pilgrimage across the river to JV's in Falls Church. The line up includes  Joe Dolan (Beatnik Flies) Bob Berberich (Rosslyn Mountain Boys) and Bill Craig of (the) Razz.

On the other side of everything The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, with Mark Noone of Slickee Boy fame on bass, will be rocking the Takoma VFW. This is a cool and crazy little venue where you can grandly buy your friends a round and still have change from a twenty.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

No Foolin'

Not just a few of you remarked on the last DC ROCKS calendar which I put up in honor of my father who loved a good prank. Whether it was a goofy phone call or the always reliable "what did you spill on your shirt?" gag he would always roar APRIL FOOL afterwards at top volume and then laugh uproariously even if you didn't think it was funny.

For you curious cats, my April Fools' list was au current in 1979, and I plucked only a handful of items from the incredibly extensive calendar in an old Unicorn Times. Now almost all of the bands and every one of those venues are long gone except Columbia Station which is in a different place and only has the same name. (The original closed in 1984.)

Nevertheless a lot of those dates and bands were real and alive and need feeding.  The Beanstalk Library and Throwing Plates are at Pearl Street Warehouse tomorrow night.

On Saturday the Leon Russel Tribute happens at the Barns of Wolf Trap another Newmyer Flyer event with a panoply of local talent, but it may be sold out already. If you are feeling less extravaganza and more come as you are, the Bold Deceivers will liven things up at the Takoma VFW.