Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Fever in D.C.

Anyone else feel a case coming on?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Now You've Got Somewhere to MOW! by Lyn2

What do lawn mower racing and local music have in common? You might think not much, but actually it's man-about-town photographer, film-maker and musician Mike Ratel. When I first heard Mike describe his movie project about lawn mower racing, I thought he was talking about a story in The Onion. But it turns out, this is a nationwide craze. Mike's goal in his upcoming film On Your Mark, Get Set, MOW! is to tell the story of this "poor man's NASCAR" and get behind the souped up mower engines and race day to chronicle the motivations of the racers. To support this film project, he's recruited some great local talent for a benefit show at DC-9 on Monday night, March 30. On the bill are the ethereal Janel and Anthony, singer-songwriter Tim Bracken, power-rockers Phoebus and one of this blog's regulars - the incomparable Puptent.

Come out out for a three-way hit: support local music, support local film and learn about a sport you didn't even know existed!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Technology Muse

Stock Wilson, a long time local musician and DC area native, has a lot of stories to tell-like this one which I lifted from his myspace blog. Here's an excerpt:

"I was a motorcycle courier back in the early '70s. If the Washington Post wanted a picture of President Nixon dancing at the Kennedy Center on the front page of tomorrow morning's edition they had to send a guy like me racing through the city to snag a package from a photographer and then racing back to the Post's photo department.
My friend Rob snapped some pics of the band a few hours ago, and before I was back in Falls Church they were sitting in my computer. Actually, they were in my Blackberry so I could have viewed them on I-95.

But about that technology thing?
It was a lot more fun piloting that big BMW around DC, dodging Secret Service agents and getting the packet back to the Post by deadline. The next morning I could look at the front page and know I'd have a story to tell thirty-something years later."

I think he has a point. There is a magic to the internet to be sure, but I'm an incurable nostalgic for old Washington, but at least we can share our stories at will without the burden of a publishing house's judgement.

Stock's in The Loggers, a self described roadhouse band that's been around for roughly an eon. Their next show is Friday at Bangkok Blues in Falls Church- an early one for all you early to bed early to rise types- 7:00 to 9:30.

"Our Giglet" from Dan Hovey

(And what I want to know is did Dan just make up a new word?)

THURS. March 26 9:00PM
at JV’s
6666 Arlington Blvd. Falls Church, Va.

Special Guest: Bruce Harrison

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rites of Spring

No, this isn't about the legendary
Rites of Spring, but you should look them up if you're into DC music history. It's about this weekend, where the vernal equinox meets local music in a burst of rejuvenation. Spring fever is setting in, and if DC Rocks seems irrational and opinionated sometimes, that's because it is. It's just the musings of a a handful of people who like a lot of the same things. For example:

We irrationally like Spring in DC, especially the pink-blooming trees.

We really like seeing people we know play live music.

We like music venues that feel like someone's living room only you have to pay for beer.

We like to see people we know at the shows and meet new people who are just like us only nuttier.

We like 7 Door Sedan in a glam/psychedelic/rock wow sort of way. Still.

We insanely like DC's adopted Prabir and the Substitutes even after 2 and a half years of fandom. (remember the origin of fan is fanatic)

So it ought to be a good weekend to celebrate warmth, sun, rebirth, pagan stuff, and the like. Saturday night at the Velvet Lounge we plan to catch the 3-way extravaganza, and we will have a lot of questions:

Where did the Septic Twins get their name and why are their 3 of them? 

Is that Arthur Noll's real hair in the Myspace picture?

 How come 7 Door Sedan just gets better and better?

Will John Stabb's new band Sleeper Agent be playing at a Glen Echo hardware store anytime soon? 

How many old DC punk hardcore players/fans are here? Raise your hands.

Then, after sleeping most of Sunday, we will bravely cross the bridge to Iota in Arlington, VA to see those fabulous Substitutes with The Laughing Man and Sleeping Bags. Richmond's finest have severely curtailed their appearances in our metropolitan area of late, so get on over and end the deprivation. We have run out of things to say about this band except that we love them and think everyone else should, too.

Irrational, maybe, but come along and see for yourselves.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

There is something mesmerizing and amazing about The Beatnik Flies.  Their songs are reminiscent of  The Beatles and a psychedelic 60s vibe without sounding stale or trite. They have the chops of experience, but the high energy of a much younger band. I have to admit I can't remember all the times I saw The Flies, but lately I've never been  disappointed, and I always want to go back for more. The Loggers, another solid veteran band more in the straight up rock and blues vein will be opening for the Flies in a new venue for everyone, The End Zone in old town Gaithersburg this Friday night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Surf Club Blues

Many people around town remember the hoopla when Chick Hall's Surf Club "closed." The Hall family had owned and operated this local honky tonk for generations, and everyone knew things would never be the same. And they are not. But what is a refreshing surprise is that very little has changed- even the name which is now Surf Club Live. The new owners James Byrum, (or JB) and his father, Jim decided to keep Surf Club the continuing haven it has been for local bands. In his relatively short tenure, JB has booked the better known groups such as The Nighthawks, The Slickee Boys, The Grandsons and  Ruthie and The Wranglers as well acts that are still trying to get their foot in the door- any door. Tribute shows, the DC Blues Society and zydeco dances are also all a part of Surf Club Live.

With JB's father minding the door, and Mike Toole, Chick Hall's veteran sound man, still at the helm, the place has a friendly feel and a non-pretentious atmosphere. It is one of the few clubs where all ages can come see live bands, and I am hard pressed to think of a venue of the same size with such good sound and a disco ball to boot.  Due to bureaucratic issues, the Surf Club has had to close its doors for now, but if you care about local venues trumping corporate ventures, please take a moment and drop a line on JB's behalf. 
Help keep the little guys going.

Here's part of a letter JB sent out as he struggles to keep this place alive:

"Many have asked how they could help me. My integrity and business operations are being challenged. If anyone wants to help, this is how you can do so. You can write a letter that I can submit in support of myself and Surf Club Live. Speak freely as to how you feel about me, my personal dealings with you, and what I am trying to do here in support of the community, local musicians, and the local music scene in general. Feel free to make any comments you would like. I’ve tried my best to keep this club going in a terrible economy and against tremendous odds. I have done all I can to support musicians and non-profit organizations such as the DC Blues Society. I have tried to keep this club, which so many you love so much, open and running shows every week. It does not matter if you are a member of an organization, a musician, or a loyal patron, I will submit all the letters I receive as a sign of the support I have within the community.

Please email any letters to jamesbyrum@yahoo.com.

Thank you. Your support means a lot to me during these difficult times.

James Byrum
Surf Club Live"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Frog's Tale by Mark Opsasnick

Local author Mark Opsasnick is definitely a guy in the know when it comes to DC bands and clubs. He's spent a good deal of time tracking down the history of both in our area. DC ROCKS is honored to have his insights this week as guest author. Here are Mark's thoughts about a show coming up Tuesday at The New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt:

Any attempt at describing the stage appearances of the musical artist presently known as “Mystr Treefrog” will inevitably fail to do the amphibious Montgomery County, Maryland-based axe-master justice. Best known for his ambitious 80s-90s run as vocalist-guitarist for the hard-rocking local band Shock Opera, the iconoclastic Treefrog has recently taken to periodically hopping off his perch and descending upon local stages where he cranks up his croaking and playing and delivers mind-bending, mood-altering, and dream-inducing musical performances.
When pressed for labels, Treefrog, whose simple slogan is “Beat the monster – feed him wine and show him fire,” identifies his sound as “Swampadelic thump – like Woody Guthrie on magic mushrooms and steroids, only possibly more melodic; twisted twang n’ blues to an interspersed go-go beat.” He goes on to proclaim his personal appearances are like “having a good old-fashioned hootenanny around a campfire – with girl scouts roasting sunglasses on sharpened sticks (that will be the acoustic set)” and promises that for his upcoming gig at the New Deal Café in Greenbelt he and his cohorts will “try to keep the racket down a little to respect the room…We may even sing ‘Michael Row’d Da Boat Ashore.’ Differently. Perhaps backwards.”
Got all that??
Unfortunately, such illuminating scribble fails to deliver the props Mystr Treefrog so richly deserves. For full effect, leave the tadpoles behind, seek the vibe, and experience the man – or frog – yourself.

Time: 7pm sharp.

Admission: Absolutely Free!

Food and drink: Not Absolutely Free!

And here's Mark's skinny on the New Deal:

The New Deal Café is not your typical Washington, DC-area watering hole. It serves as a Lebanese restaurant, coffee house, beer/wine bar, live music & performance art venue, and art gallery –all rolled up into one nice hippie, trippy package. There is never a cover charge (unless a special benefit is underway) and the comfortable back room-dining area accommodates approximately 60, with additional seating always available. The café welcomes everyone and conveys a warm, bohemian atmosphere. Live music is featured six nights a week (they are closed to the public on most Monday nights), with every imaginable style offered on their eclectic schedule. The Café’s Thursday night open mic has become one of the best in the nation’s capital, with a wide range of talented local musicians – electric and acoustic – taking the stage every week. What I like best is the laid back atmosphere (you can have a quiet dinner, hang with friends at the funky little bar, or take a seat in a darkened corner and “zone out” as I frequently do) and for those of us who are slowly bidding farewell to those wild all-nighters of our youth, the hours are accommodating – the Café closes up shop at 9pm on weeknights and live music acts are usually off the stage by 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Located in the historic “Roosevelt Center” just across from the historic Greenbelt Theatre, the New Deal Café is a fantastic suburban alternative to a night in the bustling city. Parking is free and so are the good times!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mi Ami's Got Local Boys from DC

I spotted this on our neighborhood list serve from Lynda Martin McCormick:

"Palisades son Daniel Martin-McCormick and his hyper-percussive tropical punk dance trio, Mi Ami, will be in DC on March 10 as part of the band's international tour. New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff praised the group's new single "Echonoecho" for its "slow and humid and elegant" sound that is both "strange and cool." Mi Ami was named one of the top bands to watch in 2009 by the SF Bay Online. Daniel and band mate Jacob Long have produced two CDs on the renowned Dischord label that still sell world-wide. Mi Ami's new CD, "Watersports" (under the Quarterstick label) is predicted to be "one of '09s finest afro-technological/mystic-punk record by City Paper's Aaron Leitko. "Echonoecho" is issued on vinyl and is also available on i tunes."

Mi Ami will be at the Velvet Lounge this Tuesday March 10th.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Retroactive Weekend

Read this carefully:
Local film maker and rock history buff Jeff Krulik is hosting a Led Zeppelin - Wheaton Youth Center reunion and open house thing this Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. at what is now The Wheaton Community Center.

No, Led Z is not playing. 
No, Jeff is not screening a movie.
And no there won't be free popcorn or ludes.

What will be happening then?
Jeff will be taping concert goers- hopefully including ones that were actually there when Led Zeppelin stopped here in our own humble Wheaton, Maryland for one of their first American gigs. (While some of us may debate whether this really happened or not, Jeff is on a quest to prove that it did.)  For more on this story check out John Kelly's column from the Post last January titled "Dazed and Confused: Zeppelin Played Where?"
There will also be guest speakers and displays and maybe even old friends to jar your memory

And to add to the excitement our own rock legends The Beatnik Flies and Ottley! will be playing live and in person. Free. ( Long about 3 p.m.)

If you can't make it to this event, you can email Jeff directly with your memories or photos.

Then later Saturday night, in keeping with the retro theme, that psychedelic crazy crew GHz will be having a CD party at Outta the Way Cafe in delightful downtown Derwood. GHz is celebrating their first studio recording which will include remakes from Cream, Jimi and the Doors as well as their own original materiel. They'll be playing new songs, too. (These guys have been busy.)
Ever practical Scott reminds rock fans to bring 'cold hard cash' so you can be the first on your block to own a copy of their new release "There's Trouble Coming."

There's no place like D.C.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You can catch Nick Ruggieri, that shoe shine inspired drummer, this Thursday at The Sunset Grille which to my knowledge is the only beach bar I know of in beautiful Annandale, VA. He'll be playing with his buddies Dave Kitchen, Dan Hovey and Pete Ostle in The Cutaways- a roots rock kind of band, according to Nick. "We play early R&R to New Orleans R&B to Rockabilly and Honky Tonk Country with some '70s pop stuff thrown in." Another great band at a tiny place for a song.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You may have seen Nick Ruggieri playing with various DC bands like King Soul or The Cutaways, but he also does photo work for the Newseum, gives drum lessons and has kept up a personal quest for the perfect crab cake. His DC roots go back to the shop his grandfather opened in the 1930s. Nick's Valet, once on 14th Street, exists only in memory now. Read about it at Washington DC My Hometown.