Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Picture's Worth

I feel like I struck gold when Chip Py said he'd come out and take pictures of the bands for me. If you look at some of my older postings, you might see sort of lousy snapshots taken with my camera, or when I was really desperate, my phone, but it was better than nothing. Now all I have to do is relax if Chip's on the job, and hopefully he'll stick around because a girl could get used to this. Fast.
So if you couldn't make it to any of the Slickee Boys shows over the weekend, or if you did - you can get a good idea of what went on by heading over to Chip's site for more great shots like these two- plus more of The Beatnik Flies, Prabir and The Substitutes and The Howling Mad. Take it away photo guy. You rock.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's Not Completely Too Late

Slickees at the Surf by Chip Py

If you weren't there- you missed a great night. The Slickee Boys show at Chick Hall's was a blast. All three bands- The Slickees, The Beatnik Flies and Prabir wowed the crowd. Look for more pictures of last night's show taken by Chip Py, DC ROCKS own indefatigable photographer, coming to this site soon.

And Slickee fans - you can still get 'em while there hot at The Ottobar tonight in Baltimore.
Tonight's bill also includes The Howling Mad ( Ex- Razz) Chelsea Graveyard and the Screams at Midnight (the band with the world's longest name) AND Jukebox Zeros. Doors at 8 - all ages venue.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Part Two: How Slickees Meet Flies... OR.... Who Is This Martin Guy Anyway?

When we last left our heroes, (below in yesterday's posting) they were still operating out of various bedrooms scattered across the DC area, but Martin wanted to get their sound recorded. Marshall remembers:

He had this whole concept. He was changing his name to Kim Kane for the record, and the band would be called The Slickee Boys. Martin grew up on a base in Korea, and "slickee boys" were street punks that sold the GIs black market items. He played us a few obscure 1960s punk songs that we learned. He gave me chords to a song he was trying to write. I added a bunch of lead guitar to it. He gave Martha three times as many lyrics as were needed, and she chopped them down to fit. "Hands slide down snakes, a curling black-eyed sweetness, we're in a mandarin red-veiled dream." I had an instrumental version of "Exodus" I was working on. The record was called Hot and Cool. We went in a studio, and actually recorded it. He took care of all the art work and printing, and we actually put it out. I was shocked!

Getting the outfits for the cover photo started us all on a lifelong fascination with thrift stores. It matched the music. We were playing music that no one wanted anymore, just like the clothes in the Good Will. Recycling to the max.

Meanwhile, those three lost beatnik boys of Bethesda had moved into a group house in Wheaton. It was 1976, and something happened that changed everything according to Joe Dolan:
Somehow we came into possession of a "NY ROCKER" magazine which featured a pictorial of the NYC punk scene. Well, that was it. It was like a revelation from God above. Out came the real amps and drum kits. We were possessed, we were going to be punk rockers ( I couldn't play the electric guitar for shit, but I wasn't going to let that stop me). We spent the next few years playing the usual basement, garage, friend's party etc., but we never played at real rock clubs because we didn't think we were good enough. Then somehow by the grace of the rock gods, we were invited to play at DC Space.
We were playing with Black Market Baby. The place was packed; it seemed like anyone who was anyone in the DC music scene was there. When we got up to play our set, I had my shades on. After a few numbers I took them off and the audience started shouting " put the shades back on" ( that's how the shade thing got started). After we finished playing, Skip Groff came up to talk to us. He told us we would be perfect with The Slickee Boys, so we gave him our number. Lo and behold, a few days later Kim Kane called us and invited us to play with them at the Psychedelly in Bethesda. The rest is history, I've long since lost track of how many times we've played with them, but the excitement has never left.

Get over to the Surf Club tomorrow night and you can catch the excitement yourself in a rare reunion of both The Beatnik Flies and The Slickee Boys. Get there early and check out Prabir. The show starts at 9 p.m. Don't miss it.

P.S. And TONIGHT another legendary band comes back to life- The Rosslyn Mountain Boys
are at El Boqueron II
in Rockville. (And I can't help using the word legend. It's not an exaggeration- this town has quite a few.)

Penny Dreadful Part One... or HoW The Slickee Boys and The Beatnik Flies Came to BE

In the early 1970s a lot of music was going on around here- on the radio, out in the clubs and in many a teenage boy's bedroom.
Marshall Keith remembers it this way:
I was hiding out in my room in Wheaton, MD in the 1970s playing guitar and making tapes. I didn't have a good guitar or amp, so I tried to make up for it by doubling, quadrupling, and octupling tracks of guitar (and whatever keyboards I could borrow from my friend, Charles). I liked to mess around with speeding up, slowing down, and reversing tracks- anything to make them sound unlike some guy... with a guitar... in his bedroom.

Meanwhile not so far away in Bethesda, Joe Dolan was in HIS room, listening to Beatles' records with his friends, Larry and Kenny. Joe says: Back then I used to write songs on a four string tenor guitar. In those days, Kenny and Larry would join in playing table tops, beer cans, you name it, anything we could get a sound out of. Kenny eventually found a used bass guitar, which he would play through the record player. Other rockers would never take us seriously, so we ended up performing at coffee houses. We even played at the Cellar Door's Hootenanny. We were rockers at heart, but we became known as folkies.

Then Marshall met Martin. A mutual friend thought Martin looked somewhat out of place hanging out at Montgomery Mall, and she sought him out. (Anyone who has ever seen The Slickee Boys can say amen here.)
Martin's room, Marshall recalls-was like somebody had packed a museum into a bedroom. Not only did he have thousands of oddities everywhere, he had a million records in nice neat stacks. There were some Dali-esque oil paintings he had done. He was very enthusiastic about showing us everything. "This is a Coca Cola from India. I don't want it opened, so whatever you do don't accidentally open it." I think he was nervous that we were even looking at it.

He was enthusiastic about his records too. He had all this stuff we had never heard of-I can't exactly remember what it was, but like: Mexican Mersey beat, Japanese 1960s punk, Indian movie soundtracks. It was so different than what we listened to, it was hard to even relate to it.
About a year after meeting Marshall, Martin wanted to make a record with Marshall. He asked Martha Hull to sing, Andy Von Brand to play bass, and Chris Rounds to play drums. Martin's brother, brother Thomas (who was 14) was going to play bass on one song, too.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting episode entitled "How The Boys Got Out of Their Rooms" or "When Slickees Fly" to find out what happened next.

And don't forget you can see these fine local musicians plus relative new comers Prabir and The Substitutes at the now ephemeral establishment Chick Hall's THIS FRIDAY.
The perfect antidote to cranberry overload.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy X mas

Dear Readers
Hope you had a good holiday which in my mind includes parties, music, eggnog or any excuse to drink with family and friends. (I know my family made fun of me when I showed up with a half gallon of rum, but nobody turned me down either.)

(Chris Watling, Derek Huston and Kevin Cordt)

By the way, Last Train Home was great last Sunday at Iota with not only Derek Huston sitting in, but also the amazingly versatile Jon Carroll. Just when you thought you'd seen it before- a show like that comes along.

Lots more to read coming up shortly-especially for Slickees/Beatnik Flies fans.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Old Home Weekend

Anyone who is missing the drum beat of Jack O' Dell with The Troubadours can go see him and the unstoppable Bill Kirchen this Friday night for a special holiday gig at Jammin' Java. It should be a crazy show as saxophonist extraordinaire, Derek Huston will be driving up from New Orleans to sit in.

And at Iota it's the not so common anymore Last Train Home weekend. These shows used to be far more frequent before the band moved down to the big lights and bright city of Nashville.
But now there's the new Last Train Home DVD shot at Iota where they started out ten years ago. It's a nice souvenir for Iota patrons as well as Train fans and will be on sale at the shows this weekend. The Sunday matinee is a favorite of mine with drinking parents, dancing children and exhausted party goers- all mellowed out in this little club together. And you never know who'll be sitting in on one of these home based gigs.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why DC Rocks

The darkest days of the year are with us now- hence for whatever reason, religious or otherwise, throughout the centuries, people have produced lights of their own when the sun fails them. Menorahs, Christmas lights, candles and bonfires- the evidence is everywhere in the abundance of parties and food to get us through these dark days.

Eight years ago our annual party had grown to over a hundred people. It was going to be on a Sunday, luminary night in our neighborhood. I was in the grocery store stacking the cart FULL of food. I called home to see if we needed anything else, and that was when I got the word our eight year old daughter had to go to Georgetown hospital. A blood test had come back with an abnormal count.

I abandoned cart.

She was admitted that night, but we were assured she'd be going home the next day...but they kept on doing tests. We called off the party. Finally, fed up with hospital bureaucracy and not even registering the word oncologist in my feeble brain, I was blind sided when this beautiful woman asked me to go down the hall to talk. It wasn't until she suggested I sit down that I had even a clue something was very wrong. Our girl had leukemia-a highly curable form of leukemia- but nevertheless not something I'd imagined happening. Next thing we knew it was years of chemo, hospital stays, and many, many dark days.

But meanwhile all those friends rallied round. Meals started coming in from them and from neighbors- and this went on for many months. The food not only helped ease our routine, but each contribution was a sign that we were not alone.

It's been five years since the treatments ended, and she is cancer free which is truly a miraculous thing. Despite the happy ending, I've never again been able to plan a big party at this time of year. Or even a small one. The best I can do is ask people over at the last minute and hope somebody can show up. Last Sunday night was one of those nights. It was luminary night again, though the high winds postponed the event. A few friends came over anyway and early on in the evening, carollers were out- many of them neighbors. We went out on the porch, and when they finished singing those that knew me came up and hugged me one by one- the same people that helped us get through those dark times so many years ago- bringing light out of the dark again.

So that's what I hope for all of you - that when all this rushing around commercial crap that comes this time of year makes you crazy-that you can step back and find the music and the light. (Well, not THE light- you know what I mean) There are a lot of good things and people and talent in this town-underneath it all. All of that and the Lombardi Center, too. Another reason why DC rocks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Good Cause- Good Music- Can't Beat That

Saturday December 15
All proceeds go to Hungry For Music
2832 Wilson Blvd
Arlington VA

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Lizard King Really Did Sleep Here

Mark Opsasnick walks this earth part man, part detective, part living encyclopedia of DC centric music. I mean the man is unstoppable in his quest for knowledge of all things that make this "capital rock". I have just lately been waking up and realizing that we have a boatload of good music around here. (I always knew that we had our share, but I thought it was more of a shrimp boat - not the Queen Mary.) But Mark, a DC native, has been and still is working on the chronicles of our musical past for years. His book Capitol Rock covers the clubs and bands from 1951 until 1976-from teen clubs to the Capital Centre- chasing rumors and nailing down facts about DC stories. Did Jimi Hendrix really play with Roy Buchanan? Was Led Zeppelin's first DC gig at a teen club in Wheaton? This is the book with the answers. It stirs up memories of places like the Varsity Grill (whoa that hits home for me)and Strick's-and gives detailed histories of bands like The Cherry People, The Hangmen, and Grin.

(photo by Alan Kresse)

Another undertaking, The Lizard King Was Here, zeros in on Jim Morrison's time spent in Alexandria where he attended high school, and is filled with first hand accounts and extensive information- literary, social and musical- as well as local details. To say that Mark is a meticulous researcher is an understatement. He even mentions the orange bricks of the bookstores Morrison was said to frequent in Georgetown which he traces to a poem Morrison wrote.

The thing is the past is still with us: you can still go to concerts with national local stars like Nils Lofgren, Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen. More regional legends such as The Slickee Boys, The Beatnik Flies and Howling Mad (ex- Razz members) will be playing later this month. And now you can read about where they came from or who they grew up seeing right here in our own back yard. (Move over G.W.- let Jimi (and Jim) take over.) You can find the books at Mark's site: or hit the link at the top of this posting.

P.S. Don't miss The Slickees et al at The Surf Club Dec 28th- a show that just might make it into the next rock book.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Complicated Life

From Clint Maedgen

And New Orleans

I heard a story about riding the St Charles Streetcar on the radio this morning- one more step back from the abyss New Orleans faced when Katrina wreaked havoc there. The story stopped me in my tracks- just to hear that clacking noise and the whir of the motor was a great thing, but with it comes the stark reality that New Orleans is STILL suffering. Life went upside down for so many people - all over the gulf coast- and I feel compelled to remember they still need help.

A friend sent me this Complicated Life video (above) which I find mesmerizing. Maybe you have to have been there to get it, but to me it was another of a series of unexpected gifts from New Orleans. From the day I first fell for this city over twenty years ago up through that heartbreaking yet restorative Mardi Gras of 2006 (six months to the day after the storm) this town never fails to surprise me- whether it's a stranger kissing your cheek early Mardi Gras morning or the beauty of those ancient live oaks lining the streets. As our country gets swallowed up by chain store after chain store and mass attacks of vapid development, we need places with the character and the cultural strength that is New Orleans more than ever. I think if Louis Armstrong were alive today he wouldn't just be singing do you know what it means to miss New Orleans, but please don't forget New Orleans. Check out The New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund website or NOMRFmyspace page for more images and music and a way to help.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Prabir Preview

Prabir and the Substitutes (Mark Noone's new favorite band) will be opening for The Slickee Boys and The Beatnik Flies later this month, but you can get a sneak peek at Richmond's boy wonders tonight at The Velvet Lounge. Part Beatles, part animals-they sing, and they swing from the rafters. Oh, and they rock. Come get out from under this weather. (It's why they made galoshes.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007


This morning I got up and went over to the computer to see if DC schools were open, but the movie Casablanca was already on the screen, and I couldn't get it off no matter what key I punched. I kept trying, but nothing worked. Then I woke up for real. It was 7:45- sun out, snow everywhere- and we were already an hour behind schedule. Back to the computer as the local news media rarely mentions the non-state of Washington, DC. (West Virginia, yes. Loudon County, sure, but DC?)
Finally I got the word- schools open on time. I roused my inmates. Everybody was morose, and skeptical. My son rechecked. "We 're the ONLY ones," he moaned.
Walking my smallest up to school, we saw one car spin out, and later a three car pile up. When we got to school I found out two neighbors had literally run into each other on a patch of black ice near Wilson High School. On the way back I saw another neighbor hit the deck, and a poor woman tottering down hill clinging to a fence to prevent involuntary slalom.
I don't know who's down there making the Big Decision, but I'm glad it's not me.
I've heard rumors that DC rarely closes because of the breakfast program- that kids won't be able to eat if schools don't open -which is a sad state of affairs. I have to wonder, though, if there shouldn't be some sort of separation of Breakfast and State.

In the meantime for all those with cabin fever after the BIG Storm, there's a dance at Chick Hall's tonight with Hillbilly Jazz featuring Chick Hall Jr. Yes, Chick's is still open, still sold, but under original management through the end of January. (And don't miss the big show-The Slickee Boys, The Beatnik Flies and Prabir and the Substitutes there later this month.)

Or a quieter night can be had with Patty Reese and guitar wizard, Dave Chappell down at 100 King.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Follow the Milk

It's got to be a conspiracy, or a business plan along the lines of the Mother's Day card phenomenon. Nobody could drink that much milk, and yet whenever the "S" word is mentioned in this town, the dirth of dairy is almost immediate. When I went to the store at 0 dark thirty this morning, I was dang lucky there was still a half gallon of one percent that someone had over looked, deep inside the case and perched on the back of the roller rack.
Is there something about snow and milk that I've missed? Besides they're being the same color?
Or are cows a lot smarter than we think?
I wonder- could the dairyland people possibly be filling the forecasters pockets? (which would give a whole new meaning to the expression "cash cow") All I know is snow is coming; milk is gone. Thank goodness the same thing doesn't happen with bourbon.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Little Sunday Reading

This guy wrote me from England and sent me a link to his blog. I found it amusing- so if you are at leisure this bad mannered, promised to be bad weathered Sunday, check out his posting about trying to start a new wave band in D.C. ...back in the John Kelly's Voxford.