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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.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Resolution To Create a Better World

The New Year is before us. Here in Washington, people are girding their loins for battle and making plans for Inauguration Day. The DC Cannabis Commission will be making a lot of people feel better on January 2o when they hand out 4,200 joints near Dupont Circle, but I've got my own corner of the world to contend with and my own resolutions.  Number one might be painting the living room. (I started this project two years ago but only finished two walls.) 

Perhaps my bar is low, but so are my spirits. That's why I was happy to find a new role model in Taylor Mac. This dude is crazy creative.

Sara Krulwich /The New York Times

Last October at St Ann's Warehouse in New York,  Mac pulled off a glittering masterpiece of a performance called "A 24 Hour Decade History of Popular Music" which included 246 songs and spanned 240 years of music, history and commentary rolled into one truly elaborate and theatrical "sleep" over.  This dazzling event sold out, and everyone stayed awake most of the time. Wesley Morris of the  New York Times called it "one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Taylor Mac's vision, which I heard in this NPR interview, is what caught my interest the most. 

"We didn't really say, 'This is the world that we want' on stage," Mac says, "but we were making it — with the ... audience and the music and everybody participating." Mac wants to continue making this kind of art: art that imagines new ways forward instead of just identifying the problems in society. "I think that's what the future holds for me," Mac says. "Making more work that is about making the world that I want as opposed to commenting on the world that is."

We've got a lot of creative people around our town and this Saturday you can find Tone at IOTA, and King Soul at Villain and Saint. Also please save the date- the afternoon of January 14th- people are coming together to celebrate the life of Robert Goldstein at the 9:30 Club.

And I need to buy paint.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Good Morning DC Rockers! This week's posting, "A Ghost of Christmas Past," ended up on Washington DC My Hometown,  but I wanted to wish you all a happy holiday here as well.

If family or other manifestations of the season are getting you down, Goin' Goin' Gone will be rocking JV's tonight starting at 8:30 p.m. until the wee hours. Also, my good friend and stellar musician Alice Despard returns to the Galaxy Hut for one night only with Crowd Scene on Monday night. Music gets going round 9. Hang in there, y'all and godblessuseveryone.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


"Responsibility" by Bill Owens

Most of us spend too much time taking care of an overabundance of stuff that we heedlessly accumulate. Then come the holidays which can cause incoming angst as much as outgoing packages of anxiety wrapped up in colorful paper and disguised as love. Or sometimes you just gotta buy the boss a tie. This weekend we have a lot of rock shows laying around. Give yourself (or a favorite companion)  the gift of live music.  Here are just a few of the rocking things going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 

Friday Dec 16

Johnny Bombay and the Reactions/Rockaway Birch @ Slash Run

Little Red and the Renegades @ Villain and Saint


Sat Dec 17 

Hendrix Tribute w/ Anthony @ IOTA

Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Hank Dietle's

Sun Dec 18

Anthony Pirog @ JV
w/ Dave Chappell

All of the above feature tried and true musicians, and will be a lot more fun than cleaning your room.  Another bonus? None of these outings will break the bank or end up in the basement behind the furnace.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Slickee Boys Split

The Slickee Boys may hold the "Cal Ripken" award for playing the most shows at the 9:30 Cub, but it's been over five years since the band broke up, and still people refuse to believe it.  I know it won't help to present facts here since the popular trend these days is to deny reality, but two of the boys will be playing this Thursday in two separate towns.

 Marshall Keith will be opening for Andy Bopp at the Wind Up Space in Baltimore. (If you live up that way, you are lucky, if not, this show is worth the drive.)

 Meanwhile Mark Noone and his Yachtsmen will set sail for IOTA in Arlington. (Always a raucous event in the guise of civility.) So once again we have one show in Maryland, one in Virginia. Both on Thursday.  Believe It or Not.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Coping Mechanisms

This has been an especially weird and dark autumn. The recent election turned lives upside down, and trolls are erupting with glee. The gunfire at Comet Pizza last Sunday, our most local example, was a direct result of false news stories that won't go away.  Joel Achenbach, of the Washington Post, wrote a great article this week explaining why things are. He writes:

 "The Information Age has become the Misinformation Age. Pizzagate is not an anomaly it’s the natural consequence of advances in information technology, the erosion of traditional media and the strenuous efforts of demagogues to tribalize our civic life....The fake news epidemic is a lethal combination of technology and human nature. It’s supply and demand. We probe for missing information, what’s hidden, what’s secret. Digging up secrets has survival advantages. We’re programmed that way."  

My survival response to the election and seasonal disorder was to fortify myself with nourishment. I started with scrapple, eggs and biscuits. And then I made myself a chocolate cake.  (Clearly I am taking the fight not flight route here.) I also derive comfort from old routines. Christmas, whether we are believers or not, brings a whole season of reprises. To set the mood, I like to watch my favorite version of  "A Christmas Carol" with Reginald Owen. (1938) 

Also I'm all in favor of hanging lights with impudence to combat the early evenings brought on by a retreating sun. An old standby in itself, Martin's Tavern, is the bomb when it comes to combining lights with decking the halls every year- an effort that takes, according to undisclosed sources, two weeks and three days to accomplish - mostly after hours. This year I am torn between the race horse adorned with glittering antlers and a plaid scarf, and the large fish wearing a glittering silver garland- sporting what I think might be a miniature Mount Vernon in its mouth. All of which are sadly not displayed here:

And then there are holiday concerts. I'm not a big fan of Christmas music per se, but live music played well is a gift. This weekend  Last Train Home takes over IOTA all weekend long with a matinee show on Sunday (which my older kids remember fondly and would gladly attend if they weren't all grown up and moved away.) Look for the David Kitchen Band and guests making merry at JV's Saturday night.  And last but not least - Eric Felten does a bang up Nutcracker every year about this time at Blues Alley.