Friday, December 28, 2012

Getting Ready to Ring In the New Year and Other Things

That Christmas train did come through right on time, and I have to say, it knocked DC Rocks somewhat off track. It didn't help that it took a few days to clean up the aftermath of a party which included a bonfire, massive amounts of food and drink, a  bathroom door knob falling apart and last, but certainly not least, part of the ceiling fell in. (Still trying to determine if that was a good party or a not so natural disaster.) At any rate, now that things have calmed down a bit here, congratulations are in order to Peter Krogh- the winner of the DC Rocks' Drive By Truckers ticket contest. 

Hopefully you have some down time coming your way as well and have a couple of minutes to read Peter's instructional and seasonal tale of local life once upon a time here in Washington, DC:

A Holiday Story by Peter Krogh

In the late seventies and early eighties, the National Cathedral was still being built. There was scaffolding surrounding the West Tower that ran to the soffit of the building's great sloping roof. (This is distinct from the current scaffolding, which is being used to repair earthquake damage.)

The scaffolding provided access to an area that looked and felt a lot like an attic. There was a bunch of stuff stored up there like architectural models. From that attic room, it was possible to get into the rest of the building.

The spiral stone stairways were dark and cold at night. It's possible to imagine running down one of these in the dark, right shoulder skidding along the wall, skipping out into darkness with the confidence that the next stair would actually be there.

If a visitor climbed the main spire, he would get to the bell ringing room, which had velvet-covered ropes hanging from holes in the ceiling. An experienced bell-ringer might choose the largest bell, and start that bell in motion by grabbing the rope and pulling hard.

On the biggest bells, the ringers might jump and grab the velvet section of the rope at its height, and then put all their weight on it.  If  one continued to hold onto the rope after its low point, one could ride nearly up to the ceiling. Taking this activity to the next level, an experienced bell-ringer could get a bell swinging, and let visitors hang on for the ride.

The ride would have been even more exhilarating if, let's just say, the visit was done surreptitiously at night, and the ringing of the bell became an advertisement that someone was in the belfry when it really should have been empty.

It's even possible that at one time the door to the roof might have been left unlocked, and a night time visitor would have access to even the very top of the roof in the company of all those gargoyles and that intense red light.

When I look at the Cathedral, I think about those Christmas vacations in my college years when I would rejoin old friends and go out looking for fun stuff to do... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stop That Train

This weekend those of us who deal with Christmas will most likely be feeling that overwhelming sense  of a very large locomotive roaring into our brains. If you want to drown out that noise, there's plenty of excellent options going on in the local music scene. Speaking of the railroad, Last Train Home returns for their annual Christmas reunion which really has turned into a party at IOTA both Friday and Saturday nights. A DC Rocks' favorite 7 Door Sedan and Sister Ex will be down at DC9 on  Saturday with the Love Load. (that's 3 bands only $8)

Last but certainly not least, and also on Saturday, the one and only beloved Beatnik Flies are back after a two year hiatus. ( and DC ROCKS has missed them) Rocking, martini swilling prepsters The Yachtsmen will open. I'd mention the venue, but it doesn't have a sign, so I'm calling it the 8401 Club. I know you hip people out there can find it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Drive By Doomsday Doubter Fans

Dreary days like yesterday hit home how depleted our sunlit hours are as we head into the final days of lengthening gloom. As I write this at 7:15 a.m. the sun is just rising, and today sunset's is at 4:45,
but by Friday either the world is going to end or the days are going to start getting longer again. All we know for sure is that the DC Rocks' Drive By Truckers ticket contest ends early Friday morning. Click the link! Be a winner, Charlie Brown.

(If you've already entered, please resubmit your entry, and please be sure to put DRIVE BY CONTEST in the subject box. We heard one contestant's submission was inexplicably lost in cyberspace, and we want to make every effort to make sure that doesn't happen despite impending Mayan doom.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Holbert Report

This weekend fell in between the cracks on the calendar as far as local live shows go so here's your chance to stay home under the radar and save up your strength for next weekend which already looks wild. Recently DC Rocks' new staff member. J. Holbert went to a couple of rock shows ( so you don't have to) and came up with The Holbert Report-a rundown on what you might have missed. The first story on the docket chronicles Neil Young's most recent tour which came through DC last month:

Neil Young and Patti Smith, what an interesting bill. Still I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go because it was at the Patriot Center, a 10,000 seater-maybe 15 miles outside of DC and no public transportation. I was there only once before when I saw the Sex Pistols on their first US reunion tour. The band was great, the sound was decent, but the huge downer of the night was they didn’t sell beer.
I tried to mobilize the cavalry for the show, but no one was interested mainly because of the arduous trek to the venue.  Finally I found an old friend who was psyched to go and volunteered to be the designated driver.
We left DC at 4:30 for the 7:30 show in order to beat the worst of the hellish Friday rush hour traffic that always accumulates in that direction. And we were successful, cruising out Route 66 in the HOV-2 lanes. We stopped at the Route 29 Diner(serving since 1947) just outside Fairfax City and close to the venue.  Six booths and maybe 15 seats at the counter. Only a few other patrons in the small place, but everyone was having a general conversation. We were quickly brought in to the chatter by the very friendly staff who announced to everybody that we were going to see Neil Young. Good decent basic food, very friendly service.
On to the show. We park, get to the arena, walk half way around it to find the only entrance you can use if you have General Admission tickets.  Get in and got our red plastic wristbands attached to denote that we were GA people.  Go to get a beer (Yes! They sell beer there now!) and get our blue plastic wristbands attached to denote that we were over 21. (as if that would be in doubt)  Go down to the floor and since we were a half hour early, we were only about 20 feet from the stage.
A band called Everest came on right at 7:30. I have heard of them, but had never heard their music. Exceptional singer. Rock and roll with a tinge of the South in it, maybe kind of like early Black Crowes.
Then came the big arena concert dread. How long until the next band?  Gotta say, Patti Smith was out in only about 15 minutes.  Patti all smiles waving to the audience opened with ”Dancing Barefoot”- one of my faves.  They sounded fantastic.  Then some new songs, good songs which got a warm reception. I was struck by how much she smiled; I had never seen her appear so happy on stage before. Her show ended with the hits: “Because the Night”, than a fabulously explosive “Gloria.” 
I had only seen Neil Young once during the Rust Never Sleeps Tour at the Capital Center in 1979 or '80 while I was in college.  I remember the roadies were dressed in Star Wars costumes. Tonight though, his roadies wore long white lab coats. Lights go down, the crowd screams, and The Beatles'song “A Day in the Life” starts playing over the PA.  As it plays, the roadies attach ropes to large packing cases which are lifted to reveal huge Fender amps.  The song ends. Roadies line up, and a big American flag lights up.  Neil and the band come out, and line up with the roadies as the “Star Spangled Banner” blares over the PA. Everyone on stage sings along. 
After this the band starts to play. Good Crazy Horse grunge, and boy, were they LOUD.  Crowd going nuts.  Second up was “Powderfinger” another one of my faves.  Beautiful.  The pot smoke really started to fill the air. A few people came slamming through, shoving, trying to get to the stage. Not cool. The song ended,and we decided to escape the weirdness we'd head up to the concourse to refresh our drinks. When we came back the acoustic portion was starting. We saw two empty seats on the aisle and grabbed those instead of heading down to the floor where we were supposed to be. “Needle” done perfectly. Neil was in great voice tonight.  
After the acoustic set ended, Crazy Horse came back out while Neil pretended to tune his guitar. Neil says, “OK, here’s an old one,” but continues to "tune." As he slides one note lower and lower, he starts listing some of his album titles in reverse chronological order as if searching for the song. He gets all the way back to the album “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” finally stops, and breaks into “Cinnamon Girl”.  The crowd screams.  Everyone is on their feet. 
Neil and Crazy Horse then went back to the guitar sludge/feedback songs from his new album.  A couple more of those and the show was over.
Neil is an artist; Neil is a genius in my book and as so he has the right to play whatever he wants to play.  On this tour he is back into loud guitars and playing his newest songs.  I wonder if I will ever see him again.  Final conclusion:  I really liked his show, but wish he had played a few more of the fantastic songs that we grew up with. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Drive By Tickets

Don't forget while you're driving around stuck in mall traffic on the Pike or in unexplainable volume delays on the Beltway, think about getting tickets. No, not traffic tickets. Trucker's tickets. Yes, we've got a pair of tickets to give away to the Drive By Truckers show on December 30 at the 9:30 Club. FInd out how to win by clicking here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Support a Good Cause - Rockin' For Repeal Saturday by Lynn Thorp

At Saturday night's Rockin' For Repeal,  you can support an important cause and hear great music all at one time.  Rockin' For Repeal will benefit Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.  The line-up includes Color School, 7 Door Sedan and the young and upcoming Doublethink.  This is an all ages show- both in terms of admission and band members!

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and students get in for $10.  Purchase tickets here.

All this goes down at the eclectic Electric Maid, 268 Carroll Street, NW conveniently located very near the Takoma Park Metro station. Showtime: 7- 10 P.M.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Show Biz

Look out for a real show coming up this Friday when Los Straightjackets and The Yachtsmen take over IOTA. I emphasize the word show here because both of these bands are seriously dedicated to rock entertainment; these are musicians who will stop at nothing to bring a sense of fun to the stage. 

Los Straightjackets, an outstanding guitar driven surf band out of Nashville rerouted themselves through Mexico for headgear, and that's just for starters. (You might remember Straightjacket guitarist Eddie Angel who came to our town around 1980 to play with Tex Rubinowitz and The Bad Boys) 

The Yachtsmen, those bad boys in Brooks Brothers jackets, spend an inordinate amount of time in thrift stores hunting ascots in order to deliver their original brand of straight up rock and roll. If you go, be on the early side as Iota doesn't sell tickets in advance, but it does have a lot of good beer. $15 cover.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let There Be Light

This time of year can send people into a vortex of anxiety and Charlie Brown bleakness which threatens to contradict all the joy those little colored lights are supposed to convey. Rampant commercialism is our society's heart of darkness, but it's your choice whether to succumb or fight as the days grow shorter. DC ROCKS and the 9:30 Club want to help ease your pain by giving away two tickets to the Drive By Truckers's show on December 30, 2012. All you have to do is kick back with a glass of eggnog, glogg, or a hot buttered rum, (I don't know about you, but I feel better already)  and spin a short seasonal anecdote preferably set in the DC area. Tell us about a favorite haunt at this time of year or maybe a memorable holiday rock show. This contest will run from today until Friday December 21 at 6:12 a.m when the winter solstice will occur here in Washington and sweep us back towards those golden long days of summer. Send your entry to with the words DRIVE BY CONTEST in the subject heading.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Don Who?

photo by Jonathan Timmes

You might not have heard of Don Zientara, but Mark Noone, former Slickee Boy can tell you a lot: "Don's a singer, surfer and songwriter, but he's best known for his studio Inner Ear where he recorded pretty much all of the Dischord music, early Slickees  and much much more. Inner Ear could possibly be the most important studio as far as the recent history of DC music is concerned."

Don Zientara's appearing this Monday night at the Galaxy Hut. A little place with a lot of soul and a wonderful selection of beer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pining for Music?

Here's a concert that could be worth the drive to Damascus- especially if you are in the mood to go upcountry and pick up something large and green to drag inside as a seasonal sacrifice to the gods of colored lights. And if you do go- I'd get there early; it's a little place for a big show.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Old Flyer But Bethesda Still Going

It's about twenty years too late to go see this show, but there's still music in Bethesda.
The Dupont Circles take their garage psychedelic sound to the Harp and Fiddle this Thursday evening. If the genre seems familiar, so might the venue which once was the Psyche Deli back in the days when Bethesda had more than a few little dive bars and a lot of more night life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank You DC

Thanks Washington for keeping me writing.

Thanks for being such a small town that while I'm in line to vote, I meet the woman who bought Julia Childe's Washington home.  (And thank you NPR for throwing recordings of Julia on the radio just about every Thanksgiving. )

Thanks for warm golden days this late in November.

Thanks for my DC born parents who managed to pull together a Thanksgiving dinner for 40 some people for 40 some years even though it included my father doggedly staying out to rake leaves until dark which drove my mother up one wall and down the other.

Thank you for bands like The Thrillbillys who are playing JV's on Thanksgiving itself for all of those who really, really want to do something else. Plus:  The Grandsons have their annual Wolf Trap thing with special guests Derek Huston and Jon Carroll on Friday night. The ever nimble fingered Dan Hovey's at the Quarry House on Saturday.

And thanks to all of you who keep reading. You'll never know how much you all keep me going.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rats WIn

Dear Readers, 

We have a winner in the DC Rocks' Dive Bar Story Contest.  After reading all the entries with identifying bands and names removed, an independent panel voted unanimously for Anthony Piazza's rodent infested tale which happened at the old 9:30 Club on F Street:

Sometime in the mid-eighties my band, Eubie Hayve was playing the club. We were hanging out in the basement dressing room enjoying the beer and pizza the club had graciously provided. We decided to save most of the pizza for after the show, and we all headed upstairs to play our set. I was the last one out, and halfway up the stairs, I realized I had forgotten something, guitar picks, cigarettes, I can't remember. But when I went back down into that dressing room, only 30 seconds or so after leaving, the table with the pizza box was covered in rats tearing it to bits!!! In fact there were rats everywhere, crawling over our clothes, on the backs of the chairs, and on all of our belongings. We made it a point to never eat food or leave anything we cared about down there again---ever!!!

Congratulations, Tony. You survived that night, and you've won two tickets to see X at the new non- rat infested 9:30 Club. Thanks to everyone who wrote in and a special shout out to Kendall Church who came in second with this memory:

I was playing drums with my band The Nuclear Crayons. I wasn't sure if, with our approach,that was rather outside even for punk, that we had reached our audience at the Dirty Thirty....That is until a really stunning young girl with dark hair and miniskirt came directly up to me in the front hall of the club. She smiled, planted one right on my lips, and then handed me a small piece of leopard-print stationary with her phone number on it. I knew right then that not only did God not hate me, but playing drums in a punk band was the exact right thing that I should be doing!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Write Now Rock Later

Kids, be sure and get your homework done. Enter the contest to win tickets to the upcoming X and Reverend Horton Heat show now so you can go out this weekend and raise hell. The Vi-kings are at Clyde's and Jumpin Jupiter's at Iota on FridayHard Core Troubadours are playing rockabilly Saturday at Quarry House or catch Soul Gravity at Clare and Don's on the Virginia side of things.

Contest ends at midnight Friday November 16. Pencils down.

Monday, November 12, 2012

DC ROCKS 9:30 Club Ticket Give Away


DC ROCKS likes old dive bars.  Their atmosphere can't be manufactured even though the experience might include uneven sound and a decent chance of being christened by your neighbor's beer while watching a band. The flip side is being able to hear live music for little or no cover, and usually being able to worm your way up front. The 9:30 Club used to meet all these qualifications and then some. We called it "the dirty thirty," and the rats that cohabited the space were legendary, but the club was magical, the shows sometimes historic.  In 1996 The 9:30 moved from its namesake address at 930 F Street to occupy the WUST Radio Music Hall on V Street. The original back bar was installed in the basement of the new club, and if you go down there you'll get a sense of what the old place was like- kind of dark and a little bit scary

But upstairs is nothing like the old club. Upstairs is a premiere venue for bands with an outstanding sound system, two floors of watching and three huge bars. One thing that does remain the same: some of the bands that played the old space still play the new including X and the Reverend Horton Heat. For those of you still reading this post, your reward is a chance to win tickets for this show at the (new) 9:30 Club on December 4. To win send an email to Put "Ticket Contest" in the subject heading and include a short anecdote about the old club, or about your favorite DC dive. The winner will receive a pair of tickets and have their anecdote published in DC ROCKS. Contest ends at midnight Friday, November 16.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beleive in Hank

photo by DC Rocks

Seeing is believing as the old adage barks, and only  people who have been to Hank Dietle's Tavern can truly believe it. The first amazing thing is that the Rockville Hank Dietle's is still there. This tiny bar has survived the over developed Rockville Pike since 1955, and remains almost unchanged although the inside phone booth seems to have gone missing. Another unbelievable thing  is the musicians who play there. One night last spring, we walked in to find Billy Hancock holding forth in the corner.

If you want to become a believer, make your pilgrimage this Sunday when The Thrillbillys cross the mighty Potomac to give Virgina-phobes a chance to come out of hiding.
EARLY early show 5-9 p.m.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just Not Sayin

I'm not plugging the Marshall Keith/ Ubangis show at the Quarry House this Saturday because it's going to be crowded and fun no matter what I say even though last time I looked there was still no sign indicating that an unmarked slightly creepy stairwell under Bombay Gaylord's leads to two overstuffed rooms full of laughing people, good music, plenty of beer and fried pickles. I'm not.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DC Votes ?

Greetings from the territory known as the District of Columbia. We may not have a legal voice in Congress, but at least we have a very cool flag which became official in 1938 and was based on George Washington's coat of arms. 

It's election day, and though we have the right to vote for president, our ballot is pretty dang skimpy since Congress thinks collecting taxes without representation from us is A-OKAY.  Congress people also like to talk about how anti- Washington they are even while they are campaigning to come here to clog up the streets so I'm not sure why we want one of our own, but we do. (That being said, I want to thank Eleanor Holmes Norton for taking on what might be the epitome of a thankless job.)

My son, who is extremely politically aware, told me he considers his vote is pointless, but he voted anyway just for the absolute thrill of it, and I relieved he feels that way. Maybe one day he will believe his voice really does matter, and maybe it will be his generation that finally brings about that right to all of the denizens of DC.

In the meantime we still have a very cool flag.

Library of Congress 1938

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Blows in on Time

After two days of anything but business as usual with Washington DC shut down and Mother Nature filling the void, many of us are lucky enough to be able to turn our attentions back to the weird today- just in time for Halloween. Happy All Soul's Eve from DC ROCKS.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy - Ready or Not Here She Comes

With all the endless predictions on the news and urgent, sometimes alarming, updates from various locations- here's a more thoughtful take on getting ready for a storm from Washington Post writer and DC neighbor Joel Achenbach.

Wishing you all running water, electricity to play music and a sturdy roof overhead.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trick or Treat?

Halloween causes confusion. People seem uncertain about when trick or treaters will strike- especially when Halloween falls on a week day. I was once an avid participant and have not forgotten anything including the little cardboard boxes for Unicef which supposedly offset our voracious greed for Three Musketeers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Halloween always happens on October 31st, and what happens on Halloween stays on Halloween. Like zombies, trick or treaters are unstoppable: they go out at twilight, stay out in the dark and will slog through all kinds of weather for hours for candy corn.

But Halloween parties- that's another story. Halloween parties might happen throughout the whole month of October, though the ones for overgrown trick or treaters usually happen on the weekend of or before Halloween. One amazing party, the Zombie Walk of Silver Spring, used to be a crazy ass happening. Now Silver Spring is trying to curb this monstrous event with sponsors, but it still could be a fun thing to check out.

If you're more in the mood for music, Indie bands like the Nunchucks are taking over the Velvet Lounge Saturday night. And if you'd just as soon forget about Halloween altogether, there's a zydeco dance brewing at Glen Echo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spooky Doings This Friday

This Atomic Mosquitos show may be up in Frederick, but the poster is out of this world. Gotta be the work of that theremin playing mad man Stephen Blickenstaff.

Beer and a Movie in Aisle 8

Grocery shopping is not exactly my favorite activity, but things just got a whole lot better at Whole Foods in  Tenleytown DC. A few weeks ago I slogged up the stairs from the basement parking and there- like a mirage in the desert -was a bar with people talking and laughing. I wasn't dreaming.  You can get a glass of beer or wine and sit at the little bar, but even more amazing, you can take your drink and go prowl the produce. Yes, it's the dawn of civilized food shopping. (I don't know how we made it this far.)

Here's the other thing: they have a happy hour from 4-7 which features a variety of good wine and micro craft beers all at a dollar off their already reasonable prices. Yes, we're in a grocery store. The ambiance might be a little weird, but there's no Budweiser here. This Thursday - you might want to volunteer to pick up the milk and eggs because while you're up there you can check out the DC Brau tasting at 5 p.m. and also a screening of The Love of Beer- an independent film about women brewers at 6.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not Debatable

In early October I sat down with my 11 year old to watch the first of the Presidential debates. He whined loudly, while I claimed that our time together would be an educational opportunity. But even I had to admit it was out of the box boring with a capital B although when Mitt Romney looked Jim Lehrer in the eye and promise to cut funding to PBS,  I had to squawk. Big Bird jokes aside, Romney's remark was particularly ludicrous considering only about 10 percent of public broadcasting funds come from the government according to the Nieman Journalism Lab. Why do public stations  have all  those admittedly annoying fund raising campaigns? Because they need the money- that's why!

And we need them.

Commercial radio, at least here in Washington, is a veritable wasteland. Many of the true talents of the airwaves have been forced underground, but the world wide web has given us a safety net, and broadcasts aren't limited to tiny stations with weak antennas anymore.  In DC WPFW keeps jazz and zydeco alive while WTMD in Towson is bringing back the unique voice of Weasel.  Yes, it's the same crazy guy whose name was synonymous with Bethesda's home grown radio station WHFS. The same man who kept us fellow late night lunatics company back in the 1970s, and whose musical knowledge must be encyclopedic by now.

(I'd love to see him moderate a debate- at least it wouldn't be a snore.)

Catch Weasel's show Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Creepy Poster For Friday

Gotta love rock n roll as a relief and an outlet in these debatable times. 9 p.m. @ The Velvet Lounge
in the real people's D.C.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Can You Do in 48 Hours?

Photo from Cairo Fred (Who Are Still Not Sleeping)

A lot of kids these days seem oversubscribed with swim practice before school, music lessons after school and weekends full of sporting events. Energy like that can dissipate as we get older, but my friend Gary continues to defy the curve. A typical night out for Gary, a musician and an economist, can include catching part of a symphony, taking in half an O's game, then cruising by the Quarry House for a last set there while I'm still contemplating getting out the door...

This Thursday the State Theater will show case people who can get things done in a short amount of time: the finalists  of the 48 Hour Video Contest. Twelve ambitious but sleepless bands and film makers were randomly married in creativity for this project and congratulations are in order. All twelve videos will be screened at the awards event, plus expect live music from Drew Gibson, The Beanstalk Library and Cairo Fred.  Sounds like an inspiring event for music, film and  time management fans.

Doors @ 6:30

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sunday Hit the Streets of Takoma Park

Takoma Park seems to attract people who like to live their lives a bit off the beaten path. Artists, musicians and activists all hide out in bungalows and Victorian houses on its hilly tree lined streets. (I should know because a lot of my friends live there.) Perhaps the town's proximity to the University of Maryland has something to do with it. Back in my college days, downtown College Park might have had a small town feel by day, but weekend nights were often giant parties with bikers and students co-mingling (and fighting) in dive bars on Route One. Takoma Park, just down the road, was an easy commute and out of the frat kid fray.

Now Takoma Park has an amazing farmer's market founded in part by a quietly wonderful man named John Hyde. He was not one to brag, (the last time I saw him, he was wearing a duct taped barn coat) but his passion brought true change and innovative thinking to the market place way ahead of the curve. He came up with ideas to feed the less fortunate from farm to table before that was even a catch phrase. (Just yesterday WAMU ran a piece on Farmers' Market Economics, and John's name came up more than once.)

The market is open every Sunday from 10-2, but this week it will be operating at the west end of a giant throw down known as the Takoma Park Street Festival. Two large stages flank either end of  town with another in the middle- food and craft vendors shoe horned in between with outstanding local music of all kinds from 11-5. Free. Rain or shine. The music schedule and links to the bands can be found here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Way Back When Bethesda And Now

Bethesda. The parking sucks.  A lot of the old places are gone, and the sky scrapers that loom over the corner where the old Hot Shoppes was render the place unrecognizable to me. I freely admit that I feel more at home with what was rather than what is. And I'm not over losing places like the Psyche Delly, the Red Fox Inn and Shakey's Pizza. (I'm not sure they make them as hokey as Shakey's anymore, but it might have been the first place I had a beer. I was underaged of course, and served a pitcher. )


But back to now.

"Taste of Bethesda" happens this Saturday. Look for loads of free music all afternoon. 
And food. Lots of food. (If there's one thing Bethesda is known for now it's an astounding number of eateries.) Plus a Metro stop offsets that parking thing. 

I'm in.

Here's the music schedule:

Fairmont Avenue Stage
11am        Adrian Duke (Jazz)
1:30pm     Lloyd Dobler Effect (Rock)

St. Elmo Avenue Stage
11:15am    Signature Live (R&B/Soul)
1:45pm      King Soul (Southern Soul)

Cordell Avenue Stage
11:15am    JCJ Band (Latin)
1:45pm      Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band

Norfolk Avenue Stage
11am         Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble (Folk)
12pm         Jayantika Dance Company (Indian)
1pm           Tepua Hio Hio Polynesian Entertainment
2pm           Farafina Kan Junior Company (African)
3pm           Culture Shock; Afta Shock (Hip-hop)

Veterans Park
11am        The Village Jazz Band (Dixiland Jazz)
1:30pm     ilyAIMY (Folk Rock/Alternative)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Get Thee to the Glen

photo credit: (c) Richard Cook 2001 

Glen Echo has a history of being abandoned. The Chautauqua movement had high hopes for this beautiful tract of land back in the 1880s but had to give up their dreams by 1900. A variety of entrepreneurs took over and turned the place into an amusement park which had many years of great success, but finally ended up as a troubled run down place by the end of the 1960s.  In a happily ever after sort of way, but slowly,  Glen Echo has recovered as a show place for all kinds of arts. Every weekend music abounds especially this Saturday when the Cajun And Zydeco Music Festival  runs from noon until midnight with local bands like Little Red and The Renegades and Sir Alan and the Calypso Ponzi Schemers during the day, and the evening culminates with a Zydeco dance in the Bumper Car Pavilion.

Next Friday (October 12th) The Vi-Kings will preside over what they are calling a "Hullabaloo in the Glen" which is a semi-private event, but those in the know (as in you dear reader) can go. The kicker is you need to buy tickets in advance at the Vi-Kings' web site because of Park Service regulations. Unlike a lot of cover bands, The Vi-Kings deliver a live kind of energy back to the bands you might have missed fifty some years ago when Glen Echo might have been ebbing, but the music of the Sixties was roaring. I try and see this band as often as possible for two reasons:

1. The sheer  fun of it
2. Bob Berberich

Music Music Music

Local music madness is taking DC by storm this weekend. If you've been wishing you could get out and see bands, but never have the time, then hark, I say- keep tuned to this site! Taste of Bethesda, the Takoma Park Street Festival and much more are all coming up: live music day and night and, for the most part, free to boot. First up is the STPP Festival which begins FridayMany thanks to event volunteer Mary Frances Powell for the low down on this event:

"The main point is to raise awareness of DC's music scene.  Friday, October 5th, all bands playing the festival will be from DC. On Saturday and Sunday there will be a mix of local and non-local talent.  All of the bands are up and coming; a few we expect to make it really big in the next year.  Our main purpose is to get people together to listen to great music and learn about all the bands.  The majority of it is free.  Some of the places that have allowed us to host bands are: The Black Squirrel, Comet Ping Pong, The Velvet Lounge, The Codmother, Zoo Bar, and Nanny O'Briens to name a few.  All the venues are walkable, so you can go to Cleveland Park, then hit up Adams Morgan before making your way to U St.  This is DC's biggest musical festival." 

By the way I got an email from Ben Eiserike today on this very subject. His band Club Scout is just one example of what's in store. Check it out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rivers Run Through It

Every now and then I forget to appreciate how pretty Washington is, but then I cross a bridge-any bridge- back into town and can't help but enjoy the view. The Memorial Bridge is an obvious classic - running right into the Lincoln Memorial, but the 11th Street Bridge gives you the bird's eye on Nationals Park with the Capitol in the background. Key Bridge looks downstream to the Kennedy Center and upstream to where the Three Sisters gage how high the river is running.  Just last week I  travelled by canoe from Fletcher's Boat House up to and almost under Chain Bridge- still in the city but in a world apart from Pennsylvania Avenue. On that note I can't help but think of this song by  The NRIS called "Across the River." I saw this local band at Galaxy Hut some months ago. Keep your eye out for them to play again.

In the meantime both the Potomac and the Anacostia are getting more attention these days. This Saturday the Southwest Arts Festival will be celebrating the neighborhood in a relatively new park space on the Maine Avenue waterfront with all sorts of activities including decorated bikes, hand dancing, and music from the Wil Gravatt Band, the Dixie Power Trio and more at Seventh Street Landing

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Big Hair Lives

Robbie White grew up in the DC area, and he has spent a goodly amount of time immersing himself in the local and national music scene- especially back in the 1980s. This Saturday Robbie takes his show on the road down to WRIR in Richmond to hang with Slickee Boy drummer Dan Palenski. Dan runs a radio show called "Songs from The Big Hair"which is definitely not your usual heavy rotation. (Thanks to public radio, there are still live deejays out there that can play songs they actually want to hear.) Robbie commandeers the studio  from 3-5 p.m. so listen for shout outs to DC and the good old days. Stream it live!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Still Chipper

What's so great about Route 11 Potato Chips? Yep, it's a really good snack, but even more impressive is a factory with one dumpster which is emptied only twice a month. (My favorite way they do this is the cattle solution- all the not so perfect chips are consumed by local cows.)  Sarah Cohen, native DC girl and founder of the Route 11 empire, once told me that part of her despotic vision was to have everyone within a 110 mile perimeter of her factory eating Route 11 Chips which is a point of view I find easy to swallow.

This Saturday come join the party out at the Route 11 factory featuring music from The Acoustic Burgoo and The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours. If you can't make the trek, have a bag of Route 11 and know that somewhere, down in Virginia, a cow is smiling.

Art Most Spheric

What two words describe the man we call Andrew Bucket?
How about nutty?
No, that might be too ordinary.
Most definitely.

I think I'll leave the other word open for discussion, but let's just say you never know what might happen if Bucket is involved. Last month he got married (and divorced) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
This Saturday he is hosting an event called Popped-up Video at Artisphere. A myriad of artistic events is going on there at all times including the photography exhibit Beyond the Parking Lot curated by Cynthia Connolly. ( If you ever went to DC Space, you will remember that name)

Artisphere which once was the Newseum is that weird domed building you might spot coming down the hill in Arlington trying to get back to DC. It might be the biggest, newest space devoted to the arts in the DC area hosting all kinds of events from dances to film and everything in between. It even has a bar ! Artisphere is just across Key Bridge near the Rosslyn Metro with free parking on weekends and week nights.

Popped Up Video starts at 8 p.m. / $10

Consider This on Saturday

For the most part local musicians in this area fly safely under the radar which is not a good place to be, but there are great resources around like "All Songs Considered."

 "All Songs Considered" is a radio show brought to you by the folks at NPR, headquartered right here in DC. The show is for the more eclectic minded longing to find anything but that churned out commercial sound, and co-hosts Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen are with you. Here's something worth considering: Bob has been in the DC music scene so long, he should have some sort of historic plaque hanging around his neck. His band Tiny Desk Unit was the first and last group ever to perform at the old 9:30 Club.

Last month "All Songs Considered" featured DC based band  Drop Electric which, come to think of it, reminds me a little bit of Tiny Desk Unit with its eerie other worldly sound and a penchant towards the visual. Drop Electric will be creating their scene this Saturday at the (relatively new) 9:30 Club when they open up for Papadosio from Asheville, N.C. If you can't make the show, check out Drop Electric's site for some impressive video work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Postcards From H Street Festival 2012

A Glimpse of Baltimore Rock Opera

Doing "The Wobble"

Unidentified Rolling Object

Past Meets Up with Present on new Heritage Trail

Friday, September 14, 2012

H Street

Lots of new things have been happening on and around H Street for quite a while now. The Atlas Theater has been revived, and lots of little watering holes and eateries have been shoe horned into original row house/shop spaces that existed when my Greek grandfather had a confectionery back around 1915. I used to take my father on field trips there so he could recount everything he remembered about the neighborhood which was destroyed during the riots in the 1960s. I only remembered that  H Street- the one that languished as a shell of its former self  for years. The block the shop was on was demolished, but change has finally come.

 This Saturday come celebrate this reviving neighborhood at the H Street Festival which features all kinds of activities including 'live music everywhere." And check out the new heritage trail which peers into the past bringing history alive as well. Festivities begin at noon.