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.