Thursday, March 29, 2012

Farewell Earl Scruggs 1924-2012

I am not sure how it happened or when it happened, but Washington DC is known as the 'bluegrass capitol of the world." It might be because World War Two brought a lot of people out of the mountains to the city for work. Or it might be the DC based Bluegrass bands like Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys or the Seldom Scene. WAMU used to be mostly a bluegrass radio station until all the talking heads took over. At any rate bluegrass music owes a lot of its popularity to a man we have to say good bye to now-Earl Scruggs. His unique syncopated picking style made him the rock star of the banjo, and the theme of the Beverly Hillbillies helped put bluegrass on the national map in 1962.   He protested Vietnam and played his Grammy winning song "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" at an anti-war rally in DC in 1969. And he continued playing almost all his life. Thank you, Mr Scruggs, for making your music something everyone can get a kick out of- bluegrass fans or not- we salute you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sunday Sometimes Rocks

The Quarry House is a throw back to other times. Other times for me were long ago when my friends used to meet up there and go play pool across the street. Or play pool and meet there after for a pitcher and a burger. Or both. Very little has changed underground in the past twenty years...and probably little has changed since the Quarry House opened in the 1940s except for the massive beer and bourbon list (which still includes the unchanged PBR) and ...the music.

This Sunday take the kids and the earplugs and check out three bands on Daylight Savings time. Yes, it's a rare rockin' matinee at the Quarry starting at 2 p.m. with Dear Season, Sister Ex and 7 Door Sedan- all familiar faces from the chronicles of DC Rocks. All ages- $5. Cheap enough to spring for tater tots, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mardi Gras Redux or Are You WIlling to Give Up Lent for Lent?

The people of Eastport have their own way of doing things, and just because it's the middle of Lent and Mardi Gras is long over, they are willing to ignore all of that for the sake of The Party. Not the Democratic nor the Republican- just the good ole throw beer on the floor and whoop it up kind of a party with Little Red and The Renegades providing the music with a little help from Alan MacEwan and Chris Watling of the Grandsons.

This Saturday night it's a dance - it's a dinner, it's a fun time, and all the proceeds benefit musicians. Food, drink and music for $25- a great bargain and then some.
Doors at 7. Party rolls at 8.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wacky Weather We're Having Lately

The Weathervanes opened for the Chinese sensation Shanren the other night at IOTA which turned out to be a study in contrast between a band from half way around the world and a band steeped in Americana from good ole D.C.  If you missed this remarkable show, you can still check out The Weathervanes this Friday night as Black Cat showcases a night full of local talent. Seth Brown, drummer for The Weathervanes, gives us the low down:

"Brightest Young Things have listed this show as "a show you should blow your money on," and that's meaningful considering these harsh economic times. ironically, we're neither bright nor are we considerably young, but we'll take it. We'll be joined by up-and-coming Indie Folkers Orchard Wall, legendary band- The Reserves (who I'll also be playing drums with that night), and Whiskey Parade the shiny and new project spawned from two great bands, Scythian and No Second Troy."

Three bands only $10. That's still only $3 and change per band. 9 p.m.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Last night an international incident occurred at IOTA, and every musician worth their salt,  everyone that considers themselves to be a music fan needs to GO TO IOTA TONIGHT to see what promises to be another unforgettable performance by Shanren- a musical phenomenon from Mainland China on their first American tour.

This is not a drill, guys- this is the real thing.

DC ROCKS does not usually cover topics beyond the confines of our own Metropolitan area, but Shanren's  talent and sheer determination changed their lives, and all you have to do is get in your car or on the Metro to see and hear the joy that years of hard work can produce. If you don't believe me- here's what National Geographic has to say.

Their music is a fusion of modern rock and traditional roots- hard to describe and even harder to turn away from to get a beer. Make the exception and go out on a Monday.  See a band that came over 12,000 miles to perform for you, and see why it was worth it.

Opening for Shanren- The Weathervanes-a cool and capable DC band with American roots definitely showing.

$15 - a bargain in any currency.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You Don't Have To Play Ball on St Pat's Day To Win

St Patrick's Day can be a rough night for music lovers what with amateur bar flies clogging up the roads and bars, but this Saturday you can see a great show- "The First Ever Good Sports Music Fest"-  and be home before your corned beef and cabbage of cool off for supper.

Good Sports is all about raising money to send kids to college that might not otherwise have a chance to go- not because of lack of brains or drive, but because of lack that necessary evil- the almighty dollar.

That same dollar will go a long way Saturday afternoon at the Jammin' Java when three bands hit the stage for the Good Sports benefit including local favorites The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours and Scott Ramminger and the Crawstickers - which will be chock full of talent on this gig with the likes of Dave Chapell, Tommy Lepson, and Pete Ragusa-plus possible guest stars. Noon until 4 p.m.
Tickets just $15. That's $15 bucks for 3 bands, a good cause and four hours of music!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Massive Local Rock Show Friday

 I asked Tony Blankenship for his take on all the bands sharing the bill with him at the Black Cat this Friday, and he did such a good job that I have to thank him for doing all my work.  I think I'll just mosey outside and ponder the encroaching daffodils while he tells you what's going on:

Nunchucks take classic guitar rock and mesh it with the pop-sensibility of modern indie rock. They've been referred to as "Shred-pop", which is just as awesome as the name implies. Seeing these guys reminds me of when I was in high-school and going to rock concerts felt like being in another world. I was excited by the whole experience, and everything that happened on stage had a certain magic to it. Their guitar player kills me every time I see him.

Maple has this late 70s meets 90s rock thing going on. Kind of like the guys from Queens of The Stone Age playing Cheap Trick songs. It's a sight to be seen: rocking vocal harmonies, dueling guitars, mid-song tempo change, and nothing seems out of place or off. They've been together for a long time. The chemistry these guys have on stage is a beautiful thing.

Cane & the Sticks have this really intense dynamic. A song can go from vicious, jagged, rock n roll savagery to a place where really sweet melodic guitar lines and female vocals in harmony lure you in. Their music is passionate: it's primordial, it's psychedelic, and it's anything but safe. I shared a bill with them last year at Fort Reno, and they blew my mind.

The Courtesans summon the ghosts of late 60s garage rock and early 80s power pop. We want to conjure a force of evil known to man as "the pop song." The material is catchy, without apology. The bass is very present and melodic with leanings towards New Order. (Tony didn't mention it, but I hear a little Vampire Weekend thrown in there, too.) 

This show is all ages, and seems to me, all decades are pretty much covered. That's five decades of musical influences for just $10!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Field Trip on Friday

There's a scene happening out in the middle of Nowhere somewhat created by our friend Ben Pagac who relentlessly haunts the disappearing dance floors of the DC area. Surf Club is gone now, and Blob's Park still exists only by a stay of execution. Read Ben's piece on Blob's which will give you an idea of its history. It's a tavern worth seeing and definitely in the category of places that will one day be gone.

As far as what, who and when- it's a rocking dance party with two over the top bands Arty Hill and King Soul this Friday night.

The barrel starts rolling round 8 p.m. Music all night. $12 cover.

And Not So Far Afield

You can't go wrong with this little club. IOTA has expanded their band space as well as their beer taps. And if you've never been, The Grandsons are a fun band which will welcome you to the party.
Two bands actually...and only $12.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Don't Drop Everything Just Drop Electric

Drop Electric will bring their unexplainable but groovy sound to the Black Cat Saturday night along with Teen Mom, Mittenfields and Sam Cooper and the Sleepwalkers. ( Is it me or are there more band names than there are words in the English language?)

If you can't get to the show, be sure to check out his Drop Electric's band site for mesmerizing videos.