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.