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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ten Bands You Haven't Seen in Bethesda Lately

Bethesda back in the day was mostly a two story sort of town, but now it's easy for natives to get lost looking for familiar landmarks.  As developers knock down one block after another with Godzilla like indifference, rumors are running rampant. What next on the chopping block ?  The Farm Women's Market? Pines of Rome? Tastee Diner? The Psyche Delly? (Okay, the Psyche Delly's gone, but the block is still there.)

Here are ten bands you might remember playing that old rock haunt:

Evan Johns and the H-Bombs, Switchblade, Insect Surfers, King Soul, Tru Fax, Nightman, both The Slickee and the Rosslyn Mountain Boys, Catfish Hodge, Beatnik Flies. 

Wait, one of those is a lie! 

Silly social media games aside, the good news is live music can still be found in Bethesda. Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle took over the Psyche Delly's old address, and  The 19th Street Band will be there FridayMary Ann Redmond plays on Saturday.  Feeling supper club fancy? Cut the rug with Chopteeth at Bethesda Blues or- last but never least- King Soul will be just up the avenue throwing it down at Villain and Saint. Both play this Friday.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Spawn of Travesty

If you remember Cap'n Tugg and Gore de Vol, you grew up when TV programming was anything but generic. Every day after school we watched Cap'n Tugg, cruising the Potomac with Fantail the Parrot, fighting villains like Axel Graxle and Captain Flashflood while pushing "Bosco" to pay the bills.  

He communicated with Mister Flanagan in the engine room with something that looked like (and probably was) a vacuum cleaner hose and received updates from Commander Salamander. The humor of it all sailed right over my elementary school head, but I was a loyal viewer.

Another local celebrity, Creature Feature's horror host, Count Gore de Vol introduced the Langley Punks to the world with the film short Attack of the Paramecium Man. Nowadays films reach for perfection, but we lose the sheer genius which overcame low budget and very low tech. The Langley Punks, who in my humble opinion, were direct spawns of Cap'n Tugg, produced an explosion of insanity from the petri dishes of their imaginations. Who could forget titles like Alcoholics UnanimousHyattsville Holiday and Intestines From Space?

Really? No clue? Then prepare to be educated tomorrow evening at The First Absolutely Final Retrospective gathering and film event at the AFI in Silver Spring.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Can This Date Be Saved?

I don't want to tell you procrastinating types that tax day is not April 15th this year. Why?
Because April 15th is a Saturday, and then comes Sunday which is Emancipation Day, but the holiday shifts to Monday April 17th which is my father's birthday as cited on his birth certificate, but since he was born at home in DC, and since Greeks aren't big on birthdays per se, and perhaps because there was a bit of a language barrier thrown in, we celebrated his birthday on April 18th  his whole life long without knowing any better, which is why this year April 18th is Tax Day. Oh and please note that this Sunday Greek Easter shares the day with regular joe Easter something that happens now and again depending on moons and things. 

But the reason I don't want to tell you about the shifting tax day is because of the fun shows this weekend which you can go to because your taxes are already done. Right? Or you can procrastinate until Monday. Up to you. 

Meanwhile the Desson Thompson Trio will be shaking things up at Villain and Saint and competing for attention with Doug Stevenson and the Spades just down the road at Hank Dietle's. (Bringing us to the question why are there two things to do this Friday when for weeks on end there's nothing on tap?
 (Answer? See paragraph one.)

And Saturday, especially for those of you who live left of town, Ruthie of the Wranglers has this to say:

So what heading does this show fit under? Music, party/nightlife, comedy, concert, barn dance, country, americana, roots rock n roll, hollerin' contest, beer slam, dance, social, relaxation therapy, love-in? I need some of all of that!! Scientically proven to improve your mood. WARNING: Side Effects include smiling, weight loss, increased appetite, fits of laughter, possible slurred speech and uncontrollable dance-like quick movements which may become permanent. 8:30 pm. Let's rock it! We are NOT EVEN CHARGING ADMISSION FOR THIS SHOW!

Friday, April 7, 2017

What Goes Around

Glen Echo Park has come full circle since it was first envisioned as a Chautauqua community. An artists' utopia. In the 1890s, it was touted as "Glen Echo on the Potomac: the Washington Rhine." Original plans called for a large sylvan amphitheater, a hall of philosophy, a women's temple, and a school of fine arts, as well as hotels and cottages.

Clara Barton, who was a rock star at the time, was convinced to join the community with a donation of land for her Red Cross headquarters, but by 1897, when she left her offices in Washington, (above d.c space) the Chautauqua dream was over. Fake news and rumors of malaria had scared people away causing the artist's colony to fail financially after only one successful season. Clara Barton, a nurse and ever pragmatic, was still happy to have the space for her enterprise.

The rest of the property was rented to carnival folk, and in 1906, the manager tried to chase Ms Barton away by building a roller coaster in her front yard. But he underestimated the eighty-five year old Barton. She had scavenged building materials for her home and worked on the interior herself, and she still prided herself on being able to hammer a straight nail. She didn't budge, and her house is on my top ten list of cool places to visit. (Admission is free.)

Over the years Glen Echo on the Potomac was transformed into a full blown amusement park that thrived until the 1960s.

Now, under the management of the National Park Service, Glen Echo is art centric again.  The Dentzel Carousel, a work of art in itself, is the only original ride that was rescued, and it's a grand centerpiece- surrounded by art studios and galleries. I hear Pralines- an outstanding local bakery- has a concession there, too. Dances are held regularly in the perfectly restored Spanish Ballroom, as well as the Bumper Car Pavilion, which is basically an outdoor venue so folks can still take in the scene if they don't want to dance. This Sunday look for the Wild Anacostias  from 3-6.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Two Ply Plea

Spring is here, D.C. Opening Day is tomorrow. Everything is blooming. Birds going ape. Summer is around the bend and that means rocking out at Fort Reno. We hope. From the Slickee Boys to the boys from Fugazi - collectively we've got a lot of memories:  Grin. Tinseled Sin. Babe. Crank. Going Going Gone. Razz. Liz Meyer with Danny Gatton. The Neptunes. Claude Jones. Dinettes. Priests. Tru Fax.  No Trend. The Upsetters. And more recently: Greenland. Nunchucks, Hello Dharma. The Evens. Sleeper Agent. Pup Tent. The Black Sparks.

Davis White recalls: "Fugazi playing on the fringes of a thunderstorm, and if you were there, you know the moment. (Huge fifteen fingered lightning in the sky behind the stage during a dramatic pause in a song."

Recently the Fort has been held hostage by security issues meaning this all volunteer event has to cough up dough to pay for a police presence or it's a no go. We the people who love to rock need to  make sure this unique series survives. Please hit up this link to help.

And another S.O.S. this time in Arlingtron which is rapidly being swallowed wholesale by soulless development. Now IOTA is on the chopping block and faces extinction by corporation. Music fans there are trying to save this space from oblivion starting with a petition to the developer and Arlington County. Here's the link if you would like to sign.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tiny Purple Fishes

When I hear "Tales of Brave Ulysses," I see in my mind a psychedelic mermaid and lyrics painted on the wall of a chicken house on the property of E. Howard Hunt- a not so imaginary wire tapper. Nope. It's not a drug induced flashback- at least not for me. I wasn't cool enough to have drawn it.  It's just a memory. I was about fourteen and barely aware of who Eric Clapton was, but I was learning fast. The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith. That short lived group produced just six songs, but it's one of my favorite albums ever. What a band!

This Friday, Ron Newmyer, has wrangled up yet another crew of musicians; this time to pay homage to Clapton at Bethesda Blues. Imagine tiny purple fishes...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Adios For Now

DC ROCKS would be remiss not to note the passing of Evan Johns in Austin last week. Although Evan left Washington many years ago, his name and energy will always live on here in the DC scene- at least for those of us old enough to know better. The name Danny Gatton is on his resume, but he was a force of nature in his own right, and Austin was lucky to have him in the end. A crazy fun guy making crazy good music is hard to forget.

Here's Evan with another man we miss Michael Maye. (Thanks for posting this where I could find it, Linda Parker. )

And one more from the Austin archives with Danny Gatton.

While we are on a nostalgic note, music connoisseur and archivist Robbie White and former 'HFS deejay Weasel have been curating the local scene this past year with a radio show called "Forbidden Alliance" on WOWD. Past shows include members of the Nighthawks, The Slickee Boys and Razz as well as writers, film makers and deejays. The bad news is the show happens live every Sunday morning from 9 until noon which means many a bleary eyed player staggers in. The good news? Robbie has uploaded the shows for posterity so that we, the lazy people, can listen anytime. Here is that link.

WOWD Takoma Park has a very limited range, but it is a great alternative to "normal radio." You can stream it here.

More good news. Robbie's has a new show- just music this time- called "Put a Bullet Thru the Jukebox" on Wednesday mornings 8-10 a.m. Robbie has pretty much dedicated his life to collecting all kinds of music. He plays everything from the recognizable to 11 and 1/2 minutes of psychedelic 80s rock that I guarantee no one else is putting out there. He is knowledgable and eclectic and will share that talent with you which means never having to turn the channel. Again wickedly early, but you know what to do.