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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

All Booked Up

I love libraries thanks to my mother who grew up near the one in Mount Pleasant.  She was around six or seven years old when she first realized she could take her wagon over there and bring home her fill of books every week. 

I remember being that age when she first took me to a book mobile-  a tricked out RV kind of thing which magically appeared on twilit summer evenings. The truck fumes outside were slightly nauseating, but inside the books smelled great. 

As I grew up, the only draw back to the system was the anxiety brought on by overdue fines- never mind the shame and horror of a Lost Book. Well meaning librarians would torment me, encouraging me to search at home one more time. In the car? Under the bed ? Not hardly. I excavated a novel once, years too late. It had landed in a laundry basket in the basement- under that fuzzy orange sweater I never really liked.

But now, I no longer cower beneath the shadow of Library Angst. You can renew a book up to ten times in the District. TEN ! And the book doesn't become overdue for 30 days after that. That adds up to a whopping 240 days. To put things in perspective, a grizzly bear could give birth to a whole new bear in that amount of time. 

Turns out, librarians understand the anxiety thing, and they took away a lot of restrictions to encourage people like me. How cool is that?

The good news/bad news is the MLK Library will be closing for renovations soon and will not reopen until 2010. (Step into that future here.) Meanwhile this Friday, the library will be anything but quiet. (I love the end of this video)

Andras Fekete of Boat Burning gave me the lowdown:

We're terribly flattered to be part of ALB's Rock the Stacks​ as there are many DC legends playing including Fort Knox Five (members of Thievery Corp)​, Super Silver Haze​ (with Fugazi​'s Brendan Canty​), Rob Myers​ of Thievery Corporation​, Benjy Ferree​, Furniteur​, Sitali Siyolwe​ & Juju Julius House​, Warm Sun​, Elmapi​, and Small Doses + the ALB All Stars (Jerry Busher​ & friends).  

It should be mentioned that the ALB All-Stars will be a sort of DC supergroup, with Betsy Wright (EX HEX), Joe Herrera (Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, Thievery Corp), Matt Rippetoe (The Harry Bells), Artemis"Ardamus” Thompson, Renell “RNL” McEwan, Jerry Busher (Fugazi), and Amy Farina (The EvensThe Warmers). 

So much packed into this one night.

Tickets start at $75, but all proceeds will go to the DC Public Library Foundation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Start A Love Train

Kennith Gamble and Leon Huff have contributed a lot of love to the world since 1963. They became a driving force behind the Philadelphia Sound producing and writing one hit after another. A traffic jam on the Schuylkill Expressway led to The Soul Survivors' reaching #4 on the pop charts with "Expressway to your Heart."  In 1972 they signed the O'Jays to their label Philadelphia International, and that's when "Love Train" left the station for number one.

This extremely relevant, almost prescient song is my valentine to you this year. Pull up the original video or the Soul Train version and sing it, baby.  Give it up to the dance break:

People all over the world (everybody)
Join hands (join)
Start a love train, love train
People all over the world (all the world, now)
Join hands (love ride)
Start a love train (love ride), love train
The next stop that we make will be soon
Tell all the folks in Russia, and China, too
Don't you know that it's time to get on board
And let this train keep on riding, riding on through
Well, well
People all over the world (you don't need no money)
Join hands (come on)
Start a love train, love train (don't need no ticket, come on)
People all over the world (Join in, ride this train)
Join in (Ride this train, y'all)
Start a love train (Come on, train), love train
All of you brothers over in Africa
Tell all the folks in Egypt, and Israel, too
Please don't miss this train at the station
'Cause if you miss it, I feel sorry, sorry for you
People all over the world (Sisters and brothers)
Join hands (join, come on)
Start a love train (ride this train, y'all), love train (Come on)
People all over the world (Don't need no tickets)
Join hands (come on, ride)
Start a love train, love train
Ride, let it ride
Let it ride
Let it ride
People, ain't no war
People all over the world (on this train)
Join in (ride the train)
Start a love train, love train (ride the train, y'all)
People all over the world (come on)
Join hands (you can ride or stand, yeah)
Start a love train, love train (makin' love)
People all over the world ('round the world, y'all)
Join hands (come on)
Start a love train, love train

Now that you are in a better mood, we can turn to Valentine dances happening over the weekend to get you warmed up for Feb 14.

First off for Friday. If you're feeling swanky,  Billy Price and The Nighthawks will be at Bethesda Blues.  Want to shake things up? Aztec Sun at Rock n Roll Hotel

Just was to lay low? Valentine Slim is at the Takoma VFW.

Saturday....pick your love potion: Eric Felten's Jazz Orchestra Red Dress Dance at Glen Echo or The Beatle's Love Songs Tribute at the Hamilton.

For Dead lovers, The Black Muddy River Band is out at Branded 72, for old school rhythm and blues  Charlie Owen and Pocket Change at Hank Dietle's,  and for hopeless romantics The Vi-Kings of Bethesda will make a rare appearance at JV's.
Why? Because

"Ride the train y'all."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

La La La Land

Is the news making you feel like plugging your ears and howling?  Turn off the radio. "Throw out your TV" as John Prine likes to say. This weekend DC will rock. (And if you can't wait, The Thrillbillys start the shake down at JV's Thursday night. )

On Friday both Comet Ping Pong uptown

and the Velvet Lounge downtown have multiple bands going all night. See poster above for bands at Comet. See U Street for Purple Orange, TrajectoriesHello Dharma and Herschel Hoover, .

Saturday night?  Good god y'all. The variety is amazing. Buddy Holly fans? Rave on at Bethesda Blues with multiple bands including Ruthie and the Wranglers, Billy Coulter, The Rock a Sonics and David Kitchen playing tribute to the day the music died.

Long hairs?  One way out is The Allman Others at New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt.

Punk rockers? Find the mosh pit at IOTA.

And last but not least, Carnival season is well under way down South. Kick it in gear up here with Little Red and The Renegades. The fais-do-do happens at Hank Dietle's in quasi Bethesda on the Pike.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sorry Billy!

DC ROCKS apologizes for  getting the Billy Coulter/Garland Jeffries date wrong. The show is tonight Friday, January 27th.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program

Last Saturday, as my friends and I walked down 14th Street, we saw Constitution Avenue transformed into a river of sign bearing, pink hatted people flowing relentlessly west towards the Elipse. Then came the roar. It began in the distance, like an approaching storm, then arrived as those around us joined the shouting before it moved on- like an auditory version of a ball park "wave." I couldn't help but think of the rebel yell as the cry was repeated at random throughout the day.

We wondered at first, was this the march, or a pre-march? Should we try and get closer to the Capitol?  But short exploratory forays made it clear. We would have been salmon trying to leap up a torrential stream. And so we watched for hours, mesmerized by the wicked smart home made signs passing by before joining the throng. I have an innate fear of crowds, but there was no sense of violence here despite the unrest. Even the police seemed unperturbed as the crowd flowed undaunted up 17th Street towards Pennsylvania Avenue which was closed in front of the White House. (Of course it was.) By then it was early evening with no end in sight.

Then yesterday, I woke up to the news of traffic issues downtown. Turned out those determined folks at Greenpeace made this happen:

I sense a theme.

Meanwhile this FRIDAY if you need a break from, well, from everything,  Billy Coulter will be opening for Garland Jeffries at Jammin Java.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Welcome to Washington

D.C. It's complicated. The capital of the U. S. of A., and yet we lack the right to vote for representation in Congress. The District may be a prime target for terrorists, but we are graced by two rivers- including one which flows right next to the Pentagon providing an asymmetrical peace to the landscape.

Our city has its dysfunctional issues, but I am proud that we embraced gay marriage, relaxed restrictions on marijuana, and voted for death with dignity ahead of the curve.

We the people will not be quiet in Trumpville.

This weekend, as we get ready to turn our country over to uncertainty and our city over to protests, I hear songs in my head like "Compared to What" and "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

I wonder what Gil Scott-Heron would say now about our overwhelming social media and cameras in every hand. Here is a quote from him I thought rather topical:

"I've always had questions about what it meant to be a protester, to be in the minority. Are the people who are trying to find peace, who are trying to have the Constitution apply to everybody, are they really the radicals? We're not protesting from the outside. We're inside."

Isn't that last line great? We are inside. Down by the river or in front of the Capitol, find your place to be heard or to listen this weekend. In town Friday night, there's the "No Thanks" concert and benefit for Casa Ruby and One DC at Black Cat.  Uptown we've got The Vi-Kings at Bethesda Blues if you want to get your retro groove in motion before Saturday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Remembering Robert

Once upon a time, many moons ago, near the end of the 1970s, the District of Columbia had its own Atlantis located in the aptly named Atlantic Building. It was an almost mythical place where artists and musicians alike sought shelter in our deserted downtown after dark.  Robert Goldstein was one of those early denizens, and he helped create the scene which evolved into the 9:30 Club we once knew on F Street.  His band, The Urban Verbs, practiced upstairs. Their haunting art rock sound grabbed this town as it edged towards punk; their shows were raw, and alive with energy.

This Saturday afternoon, scattered tribes of DC musicians and fans who admired unforgettable songs like "The Next Question" and "Subways" will come together for an extremely musical tribute and a celebration of Robert's life at the new to us 9:30 on V Street.

I talked to Roddy Franz, lead singer for the Verbs, this morning and he said, "What makes this event extraordinary is the outpouring of respect and affection from Robert's contemporaries who will be showing up to play his songs."

Franz was somewhat surprised at the volume of support because Robert was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy. As NPR's music librarian, he was responsible for the digitalization of the entire collection and sometimes selected the snippets of music between news stories. Although you may have never heard of Robert, the Atlantis or the Urban Verbs, this is the time and place to gather to discover and remember things past. All are welcome to this singular event.