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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Show Man

Mark Noone with Vance Bockis photo by Mike Ratel
Like everyone, Vance Bockis has a story, but Vance's story is particularly sad. Just this year Shift, a short but riveting film, celebrated his six year triumph over heroin addiction and his comeback to the music scene and... life. But last week Vance was unable to recover from a recent surgery and died at home at the age of fifty.  A life long musician, Vance was in several bands including 9353, The Obsessed and The Factory which played The Slickee Boys' farewell show at the 9:30 Club in 2011. Mark Noone, front man for the Slickees Boys, had this to say in remembering his friend:

"Show Business. It’s called that because it’s all about putting on a show, and the business of music depends upon the talent that can do just that. People usually remember Kim Kane even if they have only seen Slickee Boys once because  he individually put on the best show amongst his five band mates. I remember seeing The Factory for the first time, and marveling at the front man. I soon realized that it was Vance Bockis- the singer from The Obsessed; but now he was looser, more self-assured, newer. He had this zonky swagger. I immediately loved this band, and I tried to study Vance, and see what made him such a wonderful front man. He was a killer singer; his pitch, timing and inflections were just right. He was smart and a true musician. He was keenly aware that one had to put on a show. And beyond that, whenever I saw him off stage, he was the same sweet and intense guy. I was always happy to see him. Sweet, intense and zonky- I was a fan.

I’ve known too many people who never made it out of the depths of addiction alive, but Vance did. I don’t know how he did it; he had to be stronger than I or any of us may have thought. I thought it was very kind of him to tell us his story in Steven Biver's documentary Shift. It is a very important film. I’ve watched it a bunch of times. For me it’s kind of like hanging out with him. The last six and a half years of his life, he was happy, hopeful and excited. Personally I was delighted that Factory had re-formed. I saw the new band twice, and loved it and was thrilled that the band could play Slickee Boys’ final show at 9:30 Club. I apologize for being selfish, but I can’t help imagining what he could have offered us in the years to come. I’ll miss him, and I’m still a fan."

A service for Vance Bockis will be held this Thursday, September 13 at 6 p.m. at Fairfax County Memorial Funeral Home

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Get Your Gumbo On And Then Some

The hot and soupy hurricane leftovers weather we've been having lately at least sets the mood for the "Gumbo and Goulash" dance at Glen Echo this Saturday night with Little Red and the Renegades and the Continentals, but it also describes a couple of other shows, too.

What goes in a stew? A little of this and a lot of that which is exactly what makes up the cast of thousands in Chopteeth's world beat band. Check them out at the U Street Music Hall which the 9:30 Club is occasionally booking as a smaller venue worthy of note .

If you want to get out of town by sundown,  there's a free, psychedelic, all ages happening called Revolve going on in Hyattstown, MD, and this time there's color, sound and light involved in the mix with music courtesy of none other than ex- Slickee Boy, Marshall Keith, Rupert Chappelle and Morpho. (Just take 270 to the Outer Limits and turn right at the Twilight Zone. Going to be out of this world.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School Night With Your Clothes On

Are you still having bad dreams of taking that math exam you didn't study for.... in your underwear?
People with children can have those dreams, and feel the shudder of going back to school. Long past are the days when you could shove a child out the door with an apple.  Now it's: Finish your summer reading! Where's the gym suit? You need what by Monday? Never mind back to school night which means showing up on time, cramming yourself into a student size desk and receiving a ream or two of paper to keep track of as well as instructions and deadlines, and don't forget to sign up for the bake sale, and... don't show up in your underwear.

But wait, we're adults now. We can make the rules and sign our own permission slips.

This FRIDAY unleash that inner child and report to The Vi-kings who recreate what fun was all about back when band members were toiling away just down the road at Walt Whitman High- and being in a band. It's back to school night without the school!

head down to the Velvet Lounge where DC's own Color School is in session with Round About and Wes Tucker and the Skillets. Three bands for $8 in a dive bar where you can play hooky all night long.