Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sky Is Falling in Washington

Here in DC it's hard to get away from the news. Our local PBS radio stations rolled over from bluegrass and classical music to all day talk years ago. The stock market is in a free fall, a possible Depression looms, and, in what may be the greatest back firing move in political history, we have a vice presidential candidate - chosen for her gender, not her expertise. (I think the real key to her limited success so far is her ability to complete a full sentence unlike the guy in office. People just aren't used to that anymore- never mind that she has nothing presidential to say.)
But DC Rocks tries to avoid all that political noise in an effort to promote music over false promises.

Writing a blog started out as a tentative foray into cyberspace for me- an exercise to get myself back into writing and to try out this new venue. I began by producing stories about my DC family history and called that project Washington, DC- My Hometown. That was going well, but my sister copied all the postings and gave them to my parents. Nothing wrong with that, but being true to myself-I soon felt the need to sneak off and start another one just for me. So DC ROCKS was born. (a title blatantly stolen from Ian Hunter's "Cleveland Rocks")

Even though the title was pointing me exactly towards what I would write about- I THOUGHT I was  going to write about whatever happened to be stumbling through my brain at any given moment as a DC resident. Soon however- like a Ouija move- the local rock scene took over my mouse, and the blog took on a life of its own.

The same can not be said of The DC Hometown blog which frankly lost its will to live when my father died. I didn't want to see it go, so I pondered how to keep this thing alive, and "with a little help from my friends" (plus nagging) (there's that music thing again) the blog is about to be reborn and expanded to include all sorts of guest writers. Both natives- or gone native types. There won't be much about politics, but there will be all kinds of stories about growing up here to take our minds off the Other Washington. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Postcard #2 From James' World

(photo by LC- Woods by James)

"If you go out in the (Palisades) woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic."

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's Just This Simple

Prabir and The Substitutes this Sunday night at GALAXY HUT.

And that's all I am going to say about that.

Welcome Home

Last Train Home weekends at Iota used to be a common occurrence, but now that most of the band is based in Nashville- it's more of a homecoming event starting with tonight. I particularly like the Sunday matinee show which is an excellent time to have a beer and a juice box with the junior set. Check out Iota's web site for times. ( You can find that link in the sidebar here)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

7 Door Sedan is Cooking

You know how tomatoes, onions, spices and cheese seem to go together like they were made for each other? Each one contributes and you can't leave one out. 7 Door Sedan, who only debuted back in November, are like that. Each member of the band is doing amazing things and it comes together like a perfect sauce. Get a taste on Saturday night at Dahlak, an Eritrean-African restaurant where I used to go all the time decades ago. I am eager to check it out now that it also features local art and music. The Jet Age and Kalem Jones have been on my list so it's a perfect opportunity for me. You too. Dahlak is at 1717 U Street NW, where Florida, U and 18th Street intersect. The music starts at 10 pm with and the lin-up is Kalem Jones, Jet Age, 7 Door Sedan.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

He Might Be

the best guitar player you've never heard of- DC's own secret weapon, "armed and dangerous" Dan Hovey. He's the "H" of GHz-a psychedelic tribute band featuring covers of Cream, Hendrix and the like, as well as their own originals. Relive those days with three musicians that can handle just about anything with or without the kid gloves on. GHz will be performing at Bangkok Blues in Falls Church this Thursday night. Show starts round 7:30.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Greetings From James' World
Washington DC
Planet Earth

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Stuff on Saturday

Hello all
Now and then I need to remind faithful readers who are sent an email notice for new postings to please go to the DC Rocks site itself now and then as there's stuff on the ever changing calender that doesn't get written about. For example besides Tru Fax et al at The Surf Club this Saturday there's also these 3 shows to consider:

Chopteeth-that crazy world beat Afro funk band are having a CD release party at The Black Cat. That'll be a fun night as everything about them says dance dance dance. 

But if it's more meat and potatoes rock and roll that you are craving- up Baltimore way  The Loggers, are playing with old pal, Rob DuPrey, (from Iggy Pop/The Mumps) at Frazier's on the Avenue.  
Or catch Jonny and The Stingrays  at good old (and I mean OLD) Hank Dietle's on Rockville Pike. Please help keep this funky little place alive. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Political spin is a DC hometown industry, but I’m into a whole different kind of spin and it usually involves a beer and a dance floor. No, not that kind of spin. I'm into lyrics, and this Saturday, September 20 at the Surf Club you can see three bands - Yell County, Pup Tent and Tru Fax and the Insaniacs- all with their own versions of spin on things.

Yell County is named for Joel Maupin’s home county in Arkansas. I might tell an idyllic version of my youthful summers in Danville, Arkansas, my Mom’s hometown, hanging out with hunting dogs and eating fried okra. But Yell County has songs like Conveyor Belt of Death – or at least my take is- what happens if you stay there and work at the chicken plant. That’s definitely a different spin on that story

Puptent has a unique sound, but their lyrics are one-of-a-kind, too. They love to spin love into politics, and history into future visions. Each song has a story and many are serious. One favorite of mine is Safer- an ode to "homeland security" gone awry. "We’ve gone through your garbage, we’ve read all your emails; we know where you’re shopping, you will be safer at last."

Finally you might think Tru Fax and the InsaniacsPictures of You is a catchy love song. Listen closer; it’s also about obsession and I think it’s really kind of creepy. You might hum along with the chorus of Pinned Under a Jet and think it’s an ode to something nice. It’s actually about being pinned under a jet. Not nice. Tru Fax and the Insaniacs’ spin can be ironic, irreverent or political. And of course their hit Washingtron is the ultimate ode to an indigenous species still found inside the Beltway– the yuppies who inspired this song over twenty years ago and who just keep mutating.

See you Saturday – Support Local Bands – Support Surf Club Live!

-brought to you by Lyn2

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our own rock history detective, Mark Opsasnick has mined this area for every trace of our rock and roll past. His latest book, The Lizard King, delves into the time Jim Morrison's spent right here in the DC area.  As an off shoot, Mark is giving one of his increasingly rare presentations this Thursday evening featuring his article: "Coffee, Confusion and Jim Morrison: The Forgotten History of Hip Coffee Houses and Beatnik Poets in the Nation's Capital" recently published in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly. 

The program will be held at The Kensington Row Book Shop  and starts at 7:30. If, like me, your knowledge of the beatnik scene came mostly from cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle, you might want to check this out. It's never too late to get hip. And while you're there, be sure to pick up a copy of Mark's book Capitol Rock-a must have for any DC music fan's book shelf.

Monday, September 15, 2008

James' World

Down in the woods of a DC neighborhood called Palisades, there is a place where light and shadow are being reinvented. Where the wind makes a difference, and where one man is making magic out of mayhem, mirrors and cast off things.

This is the real DC.
(Photos by LC)

The one we can go to when the madness of Washington politics threatens our sanity.

(click on the pix to see them full size)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This Just In:

Roddy Franz favorite Girl Loves Distortion will be playing with 7 Door Sedan at The Surf Club tonight. Show starts round 9.

Friday, September 12, 2008

DC-Music Music Everywhere

Tonight Scott Giambusso- bass players to the stars and also the G in GHz- will be doing an acoustic solo thing for the happy hour crustacean crowd set at The Dancing Crab...5:30-8:30.

Tomorrow night 7 Door Sedan and mystery band at the Surf Club
go go go see Chuck Brown at The Kennedy Center- dancing under the stars program.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Let 7 Door Sedan Put A Spell On YOU

Glenn K Ringleader of 7 Door

7 Door Sedan. Where the heck did this band come from and how did they get to be so good so fast?

Glenn Kowalski gave me the scoop:

I went to a Vampyre Bunnies gig at the Black Cat, maybe two years ago. I didn't know any of these guys but liked the show and struck up a conversation with Jamie Holiday, the singer. Jamie knew of my work in the past and asked me to play on an upcoming CD being recorded at Norman van der sluys' "Madhouse" studio. I accepted and recorded several guitar tracks over the next few months. Coincidentally, at my day job I received a resume from a Mr. Josh Singer, who in a phone interview informed me, "This is going to sound strange but I believe you and I have done some recording on the same album!" I didn't hire him for the job he applied for, instead quickly recruiting him for 7 Door Sedan, and after realizing Norman was the drummer of the Vampyre Bunnies, I asked him to join as well. I just needed one more person to fill out 7 Door Sedan. Enter Ken Moss, the curious guy about 5 houses down on my block. The one my 8 yr old daughter called "your maniac guitar friend." And here we are about 13 months later."

So there you have it- a random act of talent. This band just keeps getting better and better. The last time I saw them I was mesmerized by their groove. Hypnotized. Magnetized. Well, maybe not magnetized, but I didn't leave the room until they did. Drive over to the Surf Club and see for yourself. This Saturday- 9 p.m.

P.S. Opening act TBA ; Julie Ocean had to cancel.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

If You Couldn't Be There...

Be here-
Wednesday-September 10th when Gigahertz the Harp & Fiddle on Cordell Ave. in Bethesda.

Scott says:

Come down and grab some dinner so you'll get a good seat; we’ll play from around 8:30 ‘till 11:30 or so.
GHz has been VERY busy the last three months recording and mixing material for our first studio release due out this fall. The new CD will include several of our latest psychedelic originals plus uniquely orchestrated remakes of some of Cream’s greatest B-sides and classic compositions from Mr. Hendrix and Mr. Morrison.

These guys are the bees knees if you have a hankering to travel in the way back machine and get lost somewhere in that broody psychedelic swamp that was the best of the sixties.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Free Lunch Sort Of

Well, actually you have to bring your own lunch, but the music's free at least. Catch
The Grandsons - a bit hard to pin down musically, but original roots rock rockabilly lounge pop swing rhythm and blues with a touch of New Orleans comes to mind. They play at high noon tomorrow-Tuesday- on Wilson Plaza downtown DC.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Good Things Happen in Small Places

Going to these little clubs has its advantages for me. First there are no bad seats (or possibly no seats) Second it's easy to talk to people you don't know because often as not you bump right into someone. And last but certainly not least- if you hang around this town long enough it becomes not a seat of power, but the home town that we native types know and love. Besides a rocking good show here are a few things that I saw at The tiny Velvet Lounge last Friday:
Martha Hull collaring a bewildered Michael Reidy and singing to him.
Short Staxx dancing.
Josh Arnson incognito as himself.
Door man Bucket watching the door and selling a bicycle on Craig's List at the same time.
Phil Duarte taking pix from the floor. (literally)
Abaad Behram doing that Tasmanian Devil thing right into the drum kit playing guitar all the while.
And after all the bands had played-Mark Noone slow dancing with Martha Hull.

I might be wrong, but I just don't see these kind of things happening at The Verizon Center.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The No Dead Horses Tour

A large part of my DC Rocks mission statement is covering the amazing in your face shows around here- the small places with low covers - and lucky for us- a DC scene rife with talented, veteran musicians.
This week's jaunt down Washington's musical memory lane -includes former members of The Razz, The Slickee Boys and The Hangmen to name a few. See them this FRIDAY NIGHT when Ottley! and The Howling Mad take The teeny tiny Velvet Lounge by storm.
(Speaking of in your face- nothing quite says in your face more than catching a show fronted by either Michael Reidy or Martha Hull.)

Sign me up !!!

The thing about these bands is that they are made up of musicians that- despite their years on the scene- are NOT stuck in the way back machine. Their music and sound is still evolving and impressive, and the energy level is somewhere off the charts. As they say on their own behalf it's about- "reuniting -not retreading."

I'll buy that. And for eight bucks- you can, too- this Friday night- Velvet Lounge- The No Dead Horses Tour. Opening up will be another local favorite- Dollar Bin.