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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good Things Come in Tiny Venues

(picture courtesy of Gerald Martineau)

What is it about little dives that grabs me? Is it the guitar hangers on the wall? The portrait of the owner watching all the bands? Maybe's it's the feeling that you might meet someone new, or that anything can happen, and that the experience will be a lot looser and more fun than a perfectly choreographed show.  Last time I was in JV's, I  ran into a couple who had driven all the way down from New York to see The Thrillbillys, and they were not disappointed- not even when Mark Noone sat in for a song.

This Thursday's show is brought to you by The Soul Serenaders- one of those local super groups featuring players like Tommy Lepsom,  Billy Price, Pete Ragusa and Dan Hovey just to mention a few.  These guys are all pros, and they'll cram their talent onto that tiny stage and give it all they've got- no matter how small the crowd is.  (And for you more upscale types, you can catch them in the act again this Saturday at Bethesda Blues.)

JVs is about to expand into the space next door, so if you want to see the original mccoy- plan a trip (or two) soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DC You Really Got Me

photo by John Penovitch

DC is my home town, but it is changing so fast it astounds me. Sometimes I feel a bit lost wandering around, gawking at all the new brew pubs and eateries springing up like dandelions. I know I lean towards nostalgia,  but I do try to embrace the changes which are revitalizing so many neighborhoods.  I also fall back on old haunts. Eating a fried fish sandwich on the hood of a car, one block off H Street Northeast was not something I'd recommend 10 years ago, but recently I did just that. (And just one warning about that: one fish sandwich from Horace and Dickey's will feed a family of four-even if that family includes 3 musicians and an inebriated writer.)

When looking over my shoulder, I often recommend Walt Whitman's spin-off band- the Vi-Kings for a hit of nostalgia. Lately they lost a band member way too early, but as my friend Bill Petsche recently reminded me- though we can't change the direction of the wind, we can adjust our sails. Please come out and support the Vi-Kings - sailing on this Saturday night at Clyde's in Chevy Chase.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Find Your Inner Wild Child

Do you remember when art and dancing came naturally?
We come into this world wired to rock and roll and to create masterpieces.  I, for one, was incredibly proud of the abstract I created circa the mid sixties. The medium involved a lot of red and white finger paint on paper, crisscrossed by exuberant black lines. I'll never forget: our whole kindergarten class got to dip a string in a can of black paint and whap our paintings with impunity.

(yes, i still have it)

As soon as we can stand up, we dance. We danced the Twist, we danced to the Beatles. Even better, we danced to goofy songs playing in our heads. Pot lids were rhythm instruments, and everyone was Keith Moon.

You might have to go back to second grade to recapture that state of mind. Or kindergarten.  Some studies indicate we start losing creativity when we go to school. (Imagine that.) But lucky for us, some people don't lose "it," and what's more, others are still bringing it to those that can't or won't anymore.
(As my good friend Anne would say: "god bless the freaks.")

That being said two crazy ass shows are happening back to back this week. First on Thursday night Jake Starr's new incarnation Go Mod Go will be headlining at the Rock and Roll Hotel, and he's bringing a whole mod/retro crew of wild folks to the bandstand with him including The Yachtsmen and the El- Reys.

Friday night the Strathmore Mansion will be stormed by veteran DC rockers Tru Fax and The Insaniacs, The Atomic Mosquitos and The (can't play enough this week)  Yachtsmen. Putting this show over the top will be artwork from Diana Quinn and Stephen Blickenstaff (whom I'm guessing never did color between the lines.)

Both shows are way too much fun for the mere $12 cover.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday Collides with Friday

Often the music log jam is on Saturday, but this week the stars are aligning on Friday which reminds me- remember Harbison, Bond and Goddard and their weekly anthem "Thank God It's Friday?" My cousin John used to take me to the bars up in Tenleytown to see those guys at places like the Pour House Pub, Mr Henry's and Babe's. Once upon a time there were 2-3 watering holes every few blocks and live music in a lot of them.

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Don't know what the hell happened to the vibrant bar scene in that neighborhood, but thanks to youtube, the song remains the same. Check the video out for a ride down memory lane with the top down.

Back in the present, as in this Friday, a lot is going on scattered all over town. Here's just a few examples.

Galvanize and Go Cozy will be among those rocking a fundraiser for safe housing at the Dunes - an art space in Columbia Heights.

Elikeh's got their world beat Afro-pop thing happening so you can cut the rug at the Black Cat on 14th Street.

Roaddog's classic rock comes with a $5 cover (which magically transforms into a free margarita) at El Golfo on Flower Ave in Silver Spring.

And last but certainly not least despite their name: The Very Small are celebrating their new CD and continuing to defy grammatical tyranny. Join them down at the Rock and Roll Hotel on H Street NE. Long live rock and roll.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ch-ch Changes

A last slice at Luigi's

I admit I am adverse to change- especially when it comes to old things being torn down to make way for new. I miss old school Italian joints like Luigi's in Foggy Bottom and A.V. 's on New York Avenue. I miss parking in the senators' parking places at National Airport when I ran in to meet a plane. (Yeah, I go way back with my List.)

BUT, on the other hand, nothing works a change better than spring time in Washington.

We've got all those cherry trees and that very cool yard ornament from Japan. Soon you'll be able to tiptoe though the tulips courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson. Or head down to Fletcher's to watch the mayflies and catch the shad running. (That's one thing I wish they would change- that hair raising,  narrow-ass entrance right off Canal Road; it scares the pants off me.)

As the temperatures fluctuate, and we wait for the last freeze-usually between April 15th and May 1-here are a few pictures to remind us to hang in there:

Connecticut Ave last Sunday 

Shadblow trees bloom when the fish are running

Rock climbers at Carderock

Fletcher's Cove- worth that hairpin turn

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Last Rites

This week seems to be all about nostalgia here at the DC Rocks headquarters overlooking the wild and wooly Potomac River. At least the river has almost held its own although we did our best to kill it- especially in the sixties. Back then my parents sternly warned me never to go near its polluted waters.  (I always imagined my limbs withering away if I fell in by accident, but I never dreamed up snakeheads or that fish with two sexes. Yipes!)

Meanwhile it's going to be quite the going away party this Sunday up at Blob's Park, an institution that has seen everything from polka bands to Slickee Boys over its seventy plus year history. Julie Scharper at the Baltimore Sun has the full scoop.  She and I have written about the closing twice, but this time it doesn't look like the bulldozers are going away.

If you can't make it up to Jessup, check out The Bumper Jacksons- a new favorite of Ruthie Logsdon's-they'll be playing right here in town.  This crew has an old fashioned funky sound going with clarinet, trombone and upright bass to boot. Join in on their record release party at Sixth and I Synagogue and check out this very cool and unusual band. Too bad they didn't get to play at Blob's.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Easy Prospecting in Silver Spring

Mining for rock is no sweat at the Quarry House, and you don't need a pick axe to dig a true gem of a band the Highballers and the Rock-A-Sonics show this Saturday. No cover !