Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Sort of Happy Ending

When I moved to my neighborhood, The Macarthur Theater was a major attraction. The neighborhood was quiet, but it had stuff like a library, restaurants and a grocery store. The theater was the thing that put it over the top, and it was great while it lasted. Then, sometime in the middle of a dark slimy night in 1997, a business deal was made. Our neighborhood woke up and found out that not only was the theater closing, but a CVS was going in. If this wasn't bad enough, the deal included a clause which said no other movie theater could be there again for 99 years or some such depressing thing.
My neighborhood was outraged. We collected signatures, made bumper stickers and staged a protest, but the deal was done. We were able to preserve the lobby somewhat so if you drive by it still looks like a theater with a marquee, (now showing: CVS) and there are sad old posters languishing in display boxes.

Thanks a bunch.

The same thing could have happened in Chevy Chase, but people learned from our loss. When The Avalon closed abruptly in 2001, the neighborhood circled their wagons to save the theater. Out of this came a non profit group- The Avalon Theater Project. They fought long and hard, raised the money and won their battle. Today the Avalon, built in 1923, is D.C.'s oldest surviving (emphasis on surviving) movie house and is still run by The Avalon Theater Project. Restoration uncovered many original features. And the sign out front is from 1937.

The theater showcases a variety of movies, hosts film festivals, and even brought back the Saturday matinee for the younger set. This Saturday instead of a movie, The RTTS will be playing live at 10 a.m.-and it's the last gig on their foreseeable future calendar. Come out and support a local band and a local treasure. It's a lot more fun than going to the drugstore.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Last Weekend

(Jake Flack Rhodes Tavern Troubadours)

Well, a it took a while for us all to recover from the shows this past weekend, and we didn't even make it to all of them, of course, but here's what we've got (besides moi) -pictures from Chip Py and a report from roving reporter, Lyn2 who called in from the train to NYC this morning:
Saturday night The Quarry House had a huge unidentifiable crowd. Ottley was first with new material that Martha Hull delivered in her usual powerful way- occasionally wading into the audience for added effect. 7 Door Sedan is really getting its new act together, improving exponentially each time she sees them. And their new song by Ken Moss was a hit. Rambling Shadows was extremely loud and worth the ear damage. "They were jamming on that hypnotic psychedelic thing." Our reporter was married to a drummer for 21 years, and can't figure out exactly why, but she could watch Tommy Carr play the drums all day.
Everybody kept using the word psychedelic about all the bands, but each had a very different sound -a new sound- a 21st century thing. Maybe their roots lie in the past, but it's not a rehash going on- it's a renaissance. Thank you, Jackie at The Quarry House for helping this scene get out there.

Meanwhile in another bar in another part of town-
The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours
had everyone dancing Friday night at The Surf Club. It was nice to see them play in a place where there was room to swing more than a cat. Despite their lack of live gigs, the guys were going strong. (Catch them one more time with the kids this Saturday at The Avalon Theater in D.C.)

(birthday boy- i wrestled him for his camera)

Friday was also the kick off to Chip Py's birthday weekend although he stayed on the job-from the Surf Club right through Saturday night at The Velvet Lounge where Haley's Band ( that's it- that's what we're calling it now) got the place full to bursting.

Joe Jack Talcum had the stage to himself as he performed Dead Milkmen songs and other tunes to a dedicated crew who could and did fill in if Joe forgot the words. Punk Rock Girl was probably a highlight-definitely a floor shaker, but in general it was a fun and witty performance.

Finally (and we do mean finally at 12:30) The Hula Monsters crammed on the tiny stage and got the Faithful but Weary Attendees dancing with their drummer, Ben Holmes (a.k.a. Big Beat) leading the charge. Hulas at The Velvet Lounge.
Not a sight you're gonna see every day, maybe never again, but they played as if they were at The Royal Hawaiian. You had to have been there.

(Mark Noone)

Thanks again to Chip for these great, sometimes ethereal shots-click on them to get the full effect.

Friday, January 25, 2008

And The Answer Is...

(Dead Milkmen 1983)
So that common denominator of the bands playing The Velvet Lounge tomorrow night- the one I threw out as a challenge in the last posting that started with P ? Kind of a trick question because it's actually two words in my mind-Psychedelic and Punk. We've got Joe Talcum, once in The Dead Milkmen. Mark Noone of the Hula Monsters, once a Slickee Boy, and Haley Dolan of The Ex Invisible Husbands, daughter of Joe Dolan of The Beatnik Flies.
If that ain't a psychopunkic thread, I'll eat my hat. (Emphasis on thread- it ain't a rope that's for sure)
Free beer for everyone tomorrow night at The Velvet Lounge that submitted the right answer here in triplicate.

(Slickee Boys-mid 80s)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Way WAY Too Much Goin' On

The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours named themselves after one of D.C.'s oldest watering holes which used to hold down the corner of 15th and F NW. Sadly, perhaps even criminally, it was torn down in 1984 to make room for "progress" despite efforts to save it. All three of the guys in this band are as original as that place. They all sing and write their own songs which is a lot of talent for one band. Unfortunately for The Troubadours, Jack O' Dell is touring with Bill Kirchen so their live performances have been cut way back. That's why their gig at Chick Hall's Surf Club is a unique happening in a unique place which is also on its way out- probably in a matter of weeks.

It's a weekend chock full of choices, and here's just some of them. There's the venerable Hula Monsters appearing at The Velvet Lounge's Tenth Anniversary Party Saturday night to consider. (Really- just consider that alone for a moment...Hawaiian Swing appearing on the same bill as... x Dead Milkman, Jack Talcum. That alone is worth a trip downtown.) Also appearing are the Ex-Husband Invisible Deadbeats (the band that Can't Make UP Its Mind on what to call Itself.) All of these bands actually have a common denominator which starts with a P which I will reveal on FRIDAY. Go ahead and place your bets now.
There's The Buddy Holly Tribute Show with too many bands to mention Saturday night at Chick Hall's.
And here's the skinny on another scene happening at The Quarry House- from my guest blogger and alter ego, Lyn2: (complete with footnote)

I finally figured it out. The re-emergence of so many local musicians and bands had me puzzled. Then I noticed: an economic house of cards collapsing, war without end, climate confusion - the inconvenient truths abound these days. What better response to this than our old shamans tuning in to the cosmos? Be it distraction or cure-you can get a good dose this weekend at The Quarry House- an old-time tavern amidst the chain store glitz that has become Silver Spring. This is the kick off weekend for a series of Geezer Punk shows. You don't have to be a geezer or a punk to go. They have good food and an impressive beer selection. Here's what else you will get:

Friday January 25

The Stoats - Okay, I know virtually nothing about this band, but they come highly recommended from Baltimore with connections to The Mumps and Iggy Pop's band so how can you go wrong? They go on at 10.

Tru Fax and the Insaniacs don't play often but they play hard. The line-up includes the incomparable Diana Quinn, mad-scientist David Wells, Kenny Bugg (who may win the area's prize for being in the most bands at one time) and Deaf Drummer Michael Mariotte (name that song) father of the two coolest teenagers around. They'll serve up an extra-long portion of their special pop/punk/garage/new wave/rocking TRUthiness at 11.

Saturday January 26
Ottley starts at 9 so get there at 8.
- Martha Hull - a grrrrl power role model for wise and wild women far and wide. Bob Berberich - who's provided the beat for bands that define my lifetime exposure to rock and roll. Marshall Keith - who taught the guitar to play. Ottley is a hypnotic velvet tsunami.. Don't believe me? Check out I Wanna Be You on their Myspace page; it's why Humphrey Osmond coined the term "psychedelic." *

Rambling Shadows turn up the volume on the psychedelic experience and then some. Phil Duarte had one of their songs stuck in his head for two weeks. If a song is powerful enough to stick around in there I think you want to hear it live. Also Jay Moglia was featured in a pretty funny Daily Show piece last week so now he's a t.v. star, too.

7 Door Sedan -This band brings together talent from a remarkably diverse collection of local bands (White Boy, Acrylix, Vampyre Bunnies just to name a few) for this season's newest and hottest force on the scene. Your reporter has a 100% attendance rate at their two shows to date and is going back for more. 7 Door Sedan's glam/psychedelic/rock and soul thing will wow you and you will go back too.

* "A psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters."

(Thank you, Lyn2)

So there you have it- more music than you can shake a drum stick at, and no excuse to stay home.

P.S. Don't forget GHZ TONIGHT!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A White Room's Happening At Bangkok Blues

Yep. It's a school night, but the GHZ show starts early this Thursday, and you can eat dinner while you're there. (bringing a whole new meaning to the words dinner theater) GHZ (Scott Giambusso, Dan Hovey and John Zidar) take you back in time to a hazy period when Eric Clapton was in a band called Cream, and Jimi was the new star on the horizon. Scott says: This is the Get The Rust Off Tour. We have prepared some new material and haven't played out since November so everyone is itching to do some bashing, especially John whose feet never seem to stop twitching. (Mind you this is the bass player talking about the drummer-but they all twitch and bash- in a good way. )

These guys don't play together often, but they 're all consummate musicians- so be sure to catch this version of them which will take you back in time, but will also get you home in time for the evening news. Show starts at 7:30-this Thursday at Bangkok Blues in Falls Church, Virginny.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Quarry Rocks

The Quarry House is a refuge of sorts. As Silver Spring gets newer bigger venues, new shops- new everything it seems-The Quarry House remains virtually unchanged. And we like it that way. You can make friends easily, but chances are you will probably run into somebody at a show that you knew ten years ago. And the music there is top rate. Last weekend was The Thrillbillys' debut on this side of the river, and they were one commanding crew.

The place was packed with loyal Virginianites as well as Maryland/ DC music lovers, and they got what they came for- a great show with outstanding musicians. Chip Py was there to catch these pictures. Lots of great acts coming up there soon. Stay tuned.

Johnny Castle And Dave Kitchen

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thrills , Dogs and Teeth for A Song

(© John C. Garofalo).
This weekend coming up there's at least two bands of note on one night. The Thrillbillys- who are usually stationed in Virginia at the Sunset Grill, are crossing the river to play at The Quarry House in Silver Spring Saturday night. The guys in Thrillbilly have longer resumes than Donald Trump. I'm not kidding. Johnny Castle alone has a paragraph's worth in Capitol Rock. (By the time he's finished, he'll have his own book.)

Then there's The Cravin' Dogs another unique talented crew who have been around these parts a good twenty years now. Their Live At The Black Cat recording is finally being released as a CD. As an added bonus- Jon Carroll, one of the most amazing musicians in the area, will be sitting in. They'll be at The Barns of Wolf Trap this Saturday night as well.

Two totally different bands, two totally different venues. Either way you're seeing good music for under twenty bucks at Wolf Trap, and under ten at The Quarry House. Not to mention Chopteeth on Friday at Rock and Roll Hotel for ten.
As I said in the last post-you just can't beat local music as the best value for your entertainment dollar in this town.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

H Street NE

Once upon a time there was a candy shop on H Street Northeast which belonged to my grandfather. My father happily rotted his baby teeth there-sampling the merchandise. That was about eighty five years ago, and the neighborhood was chock full of theaters, stores, restaurants and bars.
Now H Street is struggling to revive itself, and there are a bunch of new places down there I've been meaning to visit. This Friday night, Chopteeth, a self described Afrofunk Big Band will be at one those clubs- Rock And Roll Hotel. Playing with Chopteeth will be special guest, Malian ngoni wizard, Cheick Hamala Diabate .
And, as if this is not enough, DJ Thick will be there to keep the beat going all night. (I hear there are other rooms so you can go put your feet up if necessary) All of this excitement for $10. That will barely get you into a movie these days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ode to Tom Sarris

So long wrought iron, so long prime rib, riverboat salad bar
all that you did.
So long tiffany lamps, random busts, sky blue ceiling-
and the suit of armor I thought was appealing.

So long to piano, sagging booths, cafe chairs
the clock from The Willard, the balconies, the stairs.
So long you white columns and portico lamp,
stained glass and cocktails, a place to encamp.
Absurdly green dressing from this house alone-
goodbye unrepeatable; hello monochrome.

So long to indulgence and old paintings on the wall-
say howdy to progress four hundred feet tall.

(Tom Sarris Orleans House closed on January 15 2008)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thirty Years and Back Again

prabir and the subs with the silver beats back stage

The Silver Beats sold out the 9:30 Club last Friday night turning the space into a roaring arena. But Prabir and The Substitutes rose to the occasion knocking out all of us who knew them, and grabbing the attention of everyone else with their charm and good looks.
(Oh, and they rocked the house down.)
The next night, back at 9:30, there was a smaller but still respectable crowd- older rock and rollers-some with youngins in tow. It was hard to believe that all six Thirty Years Over DC bands weren't the newest thing or haven't been playing together forever-as everybody was vibrant - each delivering a strong set. According to Mark Noone, show-biz guy-"Killer drummers were everywhere." A straw poll showed it hard to pick a favorite, but I thought Howling Mad put on their best show that I've seen. Michael Reidy was irrepressible as usual- making fun of the club's new panini sandwich. And Ottley might have to be the Who's who of DC's bands-all three are such veterans. Martha Hull's voice is still as bewitching as ever.
One of my favorite old time moments came when Dan Palenski (former Slickee Boy) sat in with Ottley and delivered his signature cover of I'm 18 while Boyd Farrell (Black Market Baby, Rustbuckit) was front and center in the audience singing along.
The evening ended with 9353, and I thought they were particularly mesmerizing and powerful. I don't know where I was, but I missed them at 9:30 last summer.

9353 /photo: Kathleen Hellington

If you missed this show, Ottley and The Rambling Shadows, plus other bands from way back when will be at The Quarry House later this month. Keep an eye on their schedule.

P.S. Thanks to Lisa and the 9:30 Club for making this particular show possible and for recognizing the importance of getting us together for the heck of it, and not for a funeral.
Hail hail rock and roll-
and life.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Party Party Weekend @ The 9:30 Club

Yes. It's Prabir and The Substitutes on Friday night AND a big rock show Saturday night BOTH at the The 9:30 Club, but what can you do? It happens. One is the future, one's from the past. And speaking of the past....

Mark Holmes, d.j./artist from the olden days at the 9:30 Club made schedules an art form. You can see an assortment of these framed in the basement of the new club where ghosts reside at the original back bar. (I sure have a boat load of memories there. My best friend once passed out and hit his chin on that bar twice in one night. Not to mention... well, don't get me started.) The 9:30 Club used to advertise itself as a place in time, and this Saturday night we can all get in that way back machine thanks to Marshall Keith (Slickee Boys, Ottley) who had a light bulb moment last summer at the DC Space benefit for Tom T:
I really liked the idea of a bunch of acts doing short sets. It kinda reminded me of those shows in the 60s where there would be a back up band, and then 10 acts would do 2 or 3 songs each. So Marshall grabbed the right person that very night, made his pitch, and now the idea is coming to life.
To all of us who were hanging out or playing in bands at the beginning of the DC new wave/punk scene, the 9:30 club is like Grandma's house. Makes me all warm & fuzzy.

Boyd Farrell (Black Market Baby, Rustbuckit) has a slightly different take on the old 9:30: The putrid smell of old beer and puke..I had to wash my clothes twice after spending just 5 minutes there.


Marshall especially wanted to get The New Standard on the bill since they missed playing the gig last summer. The New Standard emerged from a band called The Penetrators which formed in 1977 and played at The Atlantis- The 9:30 Club's first incarnation. In 1979 they opened for The Cramps at the LBJ Club - a gig listed in some music histories as DC's first true punk event according to George Dively, a founding member. In 1980 The Penetrators broke up, and George went on to reform the band as The New Standard with Mash LeGrande and Matt Makaio. As a three-piece 'power pop trio', we took quite a few people by surprise, playing songs at breakneck speed with complex chord changes and 'beatnik poetry' lyric.
The group has been on and off again over the years, but like a lot of these bands- they're seasoned musicians ready to throw it out there again. The 9:30 Club gig January 12 is an excellent opportunity for open-minded indie/alt music aficionados to revisit or discover one of DC's least-known 'great original bands'.

And the cover is $12- what a deal at just two bucks a band!!! (And don't worry the smell is gone- smoke free even)

Here's the low down from Marshall:

30 years over DC- The Resurgence: Limp records veterans in great new bands. We're doing condensed 30 minute sets so you hear la creme de la creme de la creme only. Former members of Razz, Penetrators, Slickee Boys, Black Market Baby, Velvet
Monkees, Trenchmouth, White Boy, Crippled Pilgrims and more- Headlining the whole shBang is 9353. (our comrades from a couple of years later)
Doors open at 7:30.

8-8:30 The New Standard
8:45-9:15 Rustbuckit
9:30-10 Rambling Shadows
10:15-10:45 The Howling Mad
11-11:30 Ottley

11:45-12:15 9353

Click on the card below to read it and get a blast from the past-
Be sure to check out Sun 13

artwork by Mark Holmes 1981

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Everybody's Waiting For Prabir

Prabir and the Substitutes- that young Richmond band I've been raving about- that both wild women and grown men have been swooning over- is hitting this town once more. All Music Guide just gave their new album Share a great review. And like a good restaurant, they've never disappointed every time I've seen them. They'll be at at the 9:30 Club this Friday night, January 11th, when they open for the Japanese Beatles tribute band The Silver Beats. Their similarity to the Beatles got them this gig, but Prabir's music is original and definitely has a sound and joyous fury of its own. Go see for yourself this Friday.

Chip Py-my rock photographer extraordinaire-got the shots for this posting during their gig at The Black Cat last week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Check Out Rising Stars

When Pluto Was a Planet, a pop folk trio from Takoma Park, has entered the studio to record their first album.

Eve Gleichman and Juliet Garlow, recent Blair High School graduates, wrote and recorded ten songs last year in their basement. They are now laying the tracks down in the studio with the help of guitarist Kevin O'Halloran of Darien, Connecticut while on break from Haverford and Juniata Colleges.

They plan on playing local clubs and coffee houses in the area next summer when they self release their album entitled Hot Air Balloon.

You can listen to their music here

Story and Photos by Chip Py

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy Twelfth Night

So long Christmas...hello Carnival.
Look out now-Mardi Gras will be sneaking up on us extra early
this year on February Fifth.
Please pass the King cake.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Got Nick?

The Nick Lowe tribute show this weekend (which includes almost our entire population of local musicians and then some) is sold out. I hear the powers that be sold it as a seated show which can be a drag according to the powers that don't be that wish they could dance. It should be a great show, but take heart if you didn't plan ahead- you can hit a movie and rest up for next weekend. That's going to be a busy one including Prabir at the 9:30 Club Friday (some of us can't get enough) or Chopteeth and The Junkyard Saints at the Surf Club. (Whoa- THAT's a dance party) Then on Saturday there's the 30 Years Over DC punk frenzy at the 9:30 Club including Ottley and The Howling Mad. (and it should be)
Maybe we'll all have calenders by then.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goodbye 2007 / Hello 2008

Alan MacEwen of the Grandsons joining forces with Bill Kirchen

Saw The Grandsons and Bill Kirchen at The Torpedo Factory for First Night Alexandria. Just when you think you've seen the show- these guys know how to shake it up...including second line parades, kicking over drums, and Bill playing his guitar with a trombone.
Hope everyone had as much fun last night- no matter where you were.

Happy New Year to You ALL, and
Thanks for reading.
Get some rest today so you can get out to The Black Cat tomorrow night and see
Prabir and The Substitutes. They wowed the crowd at the Surf Club last Friday,
and now they're burning back up 95 again from Richmond, but they won't be back for a while,
so go see what everybody's talking about while you can.

These boys are gonna be BIG.