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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Root On

Ugh. School started obscenely early again this year, and despite a meeting about scheduling efficiency, two visits to the school counselor and multiple emails, my son still ended up with a class he didn't want (no surprise) and a class he already took last year. What? No matter who is in charge, it seems our education system slogs on and on with an unusual penchant for imposing unrelenting lassitude. (And I am not referring to teachers here -who more often than not are themselves victims of bureaucracy.)

But perhaps unrelenting boredom was why a boy named Foster Mackenzie the Third was not invited back to more than one prep school here in Washington including Sidwell Friends (which also ejected Mark Noone of Slickee Boy fame). Still he managed to make his way to Yale and then emerged as our salvation from All Things Banal as Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band. One of the rare shows I actually remember during my student years clearly misspent in College Park was seeing that crazy crew at the Back Room. It was like watching pirates sail up Route One.

Although Slim has left us, this Saturday Dick Bangham and his gang of merry minstrels will be amassed for a Root Boy Slim tribute at Bethesda Blues featuring many of the ass kicking musicians who landed in the band including Dan Hovey, Marshall Keys, Ron Holloway and Tommy Lepsom as well as a sneak preview of the film "Boogie Til You Puke"- Dick's current project. Tickets $25 in advance, but beware- $35 on the day of the show(!) Yeesh.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Postcard from the "Other" Washington

DC ROCKS is on the road and found this very cool mural outside a music store in Seattle.  Click on the picture to check it out.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Message from the Action Man

I still don't want to think about David Bowie not being on this planet here with us. When I hear his songs now, I feel a beat of sadness at first, but then the music takes over, and I appreciate him all the more. I don't think I realized how over the top popular Bowie was before he died.  After all, he was always on the edge, never mainstream, but his talent and energy are such that it seems like anyone and everyone can find a song that speaks to them- especially the misfits amongst us which pretty much includes all of humankind.

This Saturday at The Fillmore, "action man" Ron Newmyer has corralled a posse of musicians for a tribute show. Herding this many people together to perform on one night is a feat, but seeing our local talent  cover their favorite Bowie songs can bring a bit of the joy back- at least for one evening. Please break out your inner glam and support the DC scene at this event.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Be True to Your Old School

It seems like a dream that I once stood on top of a two story parking garage next to Shakey's Pizza in Bethesda for the view. I think that same evening a friend and I scratched our initials in the newly paved alley after a pitcher or so. (Back then the drinking age was casual.) Now I can't hardly place where anything was, but a recent article in Bethesda magazine, "When Bethesda Was Cool," stirred up all kinds of memories from the Red Fox Inn to Twist and Shout.

This Saturday- the psychedelic spirits will rise again in the form of The Vi-Kings. (a rocking band named after Walt Whitman High's mascot) at Viallain and Saint near the still unchanged Farm Women's Market.

Make a night of it with a milk shake at Tastee Diner and a cruise up the Pike to catch the last set of  Monsters From the Surf who will be tearing up Hank Dietle's- another fine establishment in the category of hold outs.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Yachtsmen Run Aground

Sorry to report The Yachtsmen will NOT be able to make the show at Galaxy Hut this evening The show will go on with Alexis and the Samurai from New Orleans. Please come support this great little band far from home.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Moose and Squirrel

This election season sure has been full of surprises. Between sloppy plagiarism to invites of espionage, I feel like I'm watching an episode of "Rocky and Bullwinkle." When I first watched those cartoons, I was too young to catch the political satire lurking behind Boris "Badenov" and Natasha Fatale, but sometime in college, after a long booze infused night in College Park, I wandered into a frat house to find no one up except Moose and Squirrel on the TV in the common room.  I sank into an arm chair, and soaked in the new layers of humor that had sailed over my head ten years before.  (Fearless leader if you're listening...)

Also I can't help but notice that musicians have rallied around one candidate with luminaries performing at their convention- while at the other unhappy artists have protested even their recordings being played. "Cleveland Rocked" looks into this subject. (Great title)

Of course there's the write in candidate, and one band in the District of Columbia, far from Frostbite Falls, wants your vote. The party ticket is just that- they want to throw cocktail bashes in the White House. This Monday night the shamelessly ambitious Yachstmen will be currying favor at the Galaxy Hut- a tiny home to an astoundingly varied choice of crafty draft beers.  Alexis and the Samarai- talented friends from New Orleans are also on the bill.  The five dollar cover  ridiculously low for a contribution to the arts, but such is life in Pottsylvania.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cool Things 9:30 and Other Reading Matter

Beware Washingtonians. The excessive hot air coming out of Cleveland lately will be steaming our way this weekend. Time to retreat to a shade drawn room or perhaps a river bank under a tree. With a book. And perhaps a cold drink at hand. While reading, we might want to remember last winter with something akin to nostalgia.

In January the 9:30 Club threw a swell anniversary event, and book launch, but until this week, I had only paged through my copy, not expecting too much in the way of substance. I have to say I should have known better. Whatever the 9:30 Club does- it does well.  There's plenty of eye candy here including numerous Mark Holmes postcards, but every page is strikingly visual, full of photographs punctuated with wonderful little stories from those who were there.

The club originated as a hole in the wall, but the space was a godsend for the maladjusted. It was created by brave and visionary people who filled a void and breathed life into a decaying F Street N.W.  Thus an edgy kind of refuge was born where misfits could gather together as kindred spirits. We were a strange but happy family.

9:30 X-mas party
Now the 9:30 Club is a musical if not mythical anchor of the DC scene, but the thumbnail sketches in this book sparked a myriad of memories of the old place -and reminds us of the many stories left untold. Some of you who frequented the old F Street location (and d.c. space) may remember a bartender named Raymond Martin (or Framin' Raymon' as we used to call him in honor of his day job.)

photo by Marie Broussard

Raymond has many talents including poetry which are almost short stories in themselves.
Here's one:

The naming of a dog
can be a delicate thing.
My friend Judith 
sent me a Chocolate Lab
for my sixtieth birthday.
I was looking for a female name.
so far I`d used iconic names,
Lucy, from the Ricardo
Gus, from Lonesome Dove
Stella, only from Brando
Wippet, from Devo`s Whip-It-Good
And of course, The Dude
Even Dora Mar,
(She was one of Picasso`s lovers)
but I`m not responsible for that one.
Then I started in on
people I`d worked with.
(There have been a lot of dogs)
I thought maybe
A name that went with Dante
So with good reason
a former bar owner`s name
popped into my head
I thought the 930 Club was
the best run bar I ever worked
And the only place
where an owner shut down for a week,
took the staff on vacation
to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
(I don`t know where those mushrooms came from.)
It seemed right
Until I tried to write this story.
Then I saw the insult,
You never name a dog after a woman you know
No matter what!
You can name dogs
after men you know
We`re used to being called dogs
It`s almost an honor
So to avoid insult
I`ve changed my Lab`s name
to Dede.
(For Dodi Bowers)

Right now Raymond is working on a story called "The Heart of Tenley." Send Raymond an email if you would like to read this evolving piece for extra credit. ( In the meantime here is another poem which seemed especially appropriate to pull up for this weekend's heat wave:

    A Draft Beer 

If it had not been 
such a hot Saturday afternoon 
My brother and I might not have stopped 
for a draft beer at a tavern at Tenley Circle. 
Everybody knows that when the humidity and the temperature 
are hovering at 100, one beer is not nearly enough 
and it was cool inside, the windows all covered 
The bar a rich oak with a curved rail 
There were big mirrors with glass shelves, 
maybe a twenty-foot bar with fourteen stools 
and a large open area for people to stand. 
We were drinking near the exit 
and there was this little pest of a bartender
and he kept hovering 
like a mosquito on cocaine 
Never shutting up 
and it was all profanity 
f this and f that, on 
and on, and screw them 
and G-d them, over and over, 
Then I saw the look. 
Jerome had this way of tightening his eyes 
just before he exploded 
-He had it before he went to Viet Nam- 
And now his eyes were locked 
and that little pest of a bartender 
kept right on cursing, right 
up to the second an empty draft beer mug 
went flying past his ear. It crashed 
into the glass shelves with enough force 
to send all the stemmed martini glasses flying 
Shattered glass flew all over the bar 
The bartender’s face turned ashen 
He was realizing what would have happened 
if that mug hadn’t missed. 
When I looked over, Jerome was gone 
I told the shaken bartender 
I didn’t know who that was. 
Five months later 
I return from a trip overseas 
and now Jerome is behind the bar. 
The bartender that day turned out to be the owner 
When he found out who my brother was 
He hired him; figuring, he wanted 
to keep someone that crazy on his side. 
Jerome gets me a job as a doorman.
Then when someone doesn’t show up 
I get shifts as a waiter. Someone 
else gets drunk at work 
and now Jerome is teaching me 
to tend bar. Sending me 
on a new lifestyle 
That all started with an if.