Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Swelter Ring A Bell?

Howdy Heat, Humidity and Haze. Welcome back. I have to say I didn't miss you. At all. Maybe my tomatoes will be happy to see you. I know the mosquitoes will be elated, and a few of my more heat tolerant  friends (read mutants) see you as perfect summer weather. But basically I will wilt and lose the will to live under your grip. That's why I am happy to have something to look forward to this weekend- namely the rock show at IOTA on Friday night featuring local bands Jelly Roll Mortals and the Alice Despard Group opening for California pop rockers- The Orange Peels.

Good bye May. I'll miss your cool misty mornings. I'll miss watching the world go green and those riots of color erupting almost without warning.

Thanks for the mint- it's up and ready for juleps. And the lettuce which is just about to bolt, and the sweet surprise of an occasional errant fledgling fumbling around the yard. See you next year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hanging Round the Corner

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Long Gone Rockville Gears Up to Party

The Rockville Home Town Holidays thing is coming up, and I can't help but think that the town of Rockville means different things to different people. First the obvious- it could very well be your home. A lot of people live in Rockville including folks who think they live in Potomac, but actually they  dwell in a village which was once known as Offut's Crossroads, and is now merely a census designated area - a sort of zip code state of mind - not an incorporated entity. If you mail a letter to someone you know in "Potomac" and substitute "Rockville" for the town, I bet you five dollars your correspondence  will get there.

Long gone Rockville was the stuff of Mayberry with tree lined streets and Victorian homes or farm houses. Chestnut Lodge, an 1889 hotel turned sanitarium burned to the ground in 2009, but not before it inspired a book I read in college called Lilith by my once and future English professor JR Salamanca.  And that book led to "Lilith"-the most star studded movie you never heard of starring the likes of Peter Fonda, Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman and Jean Seberg. The film was made mostly in Rockville in 1964. (and also my brother was in it, but I think his part landed on the cutting room floor.)

The new Rockville might be the end of the line of a long string of identity crises, but here's the good news:  Rockville puts on its party hat on Memorial Day weekend, shutting down its streets and inviting you out to a heck of block party.  Food vendors and over thirty bands and entertainers clog the streets Saturday and Sunday. Look for Kelly Bell Band,  Dixie Power Trio, Chopteeth, The Nighthawks, King Soul and more more more. Free free free.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Minute Honor

Want to see Honor By August in May? This Washington based band is now almost too big for DC, but they'll be at the 9:30 Club this Friday, and DC ROCKS has a last minute ticket give away.
Just send an email to as soon as you read this for your chance to win two tickets. (Please put "honor" in the subject heading. )

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(the) Razz Made DC Rock

J Scott Watson

It's rare that DC ROCKS looks back on a show, but history was made (once again) at the 9:30 Cub last Sunday.  DC's long lost Razz came back with a vengeance not seen in 17 years. "Just like the cicada" front man Michael Reidy pointed out, and just like the cicada, they were loud and they chewed the scenery .

photo by J Scott Watson

I have to say, despite the years gone by, Razz kicked ass, and the crowd loved it. It was part theater, part nostalgia, and totally rock and roll.

photo by J Scott Watson

The band took no prisoners and ended up including both lead singers of the Slickee Boys.  Mark Noone played bass and sang "Gotta Tell Me Why" mid set.

And last but not least, surprise guest, Martha Hull jumped on stage for the big finale of the classic "Boys." giving us all the girl's point of view. Thank you Michael Reidy, Bill Craig, Doug Tull, Mark Noone and Abaad Behram for coming together as the Razz for DC Central Kitchen. And thank you  J. Scott Watson for capturing the action of this unforgettable event.

Photo by J Scott Watson

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And the Winner Is

Thank you to everyone who wrote in to win tickets for Soundbites and congratulations to our picked at random winner- Ed Innes!

Do You Wanna Dance?

Last week was my first trip to Artisphere for live music, and it definitely is a good place to dance. The ball room is huge with a rolling stage, surrounded by a balcony level with its own private bar and couches. There's plenty of free parking under the building and a Metro nearby. And it's a fairly painless foray into Virginia for all you river phobes. This Saturday's dance features the funky afro pop of Elikeh, plus Nappy Riddem and Black Masala.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sound Off for Soundbites

Michael Reidy's ad/Unicorn Times 1979

Misty eyed friends,  does seeing Razz at the Far Inn ring a bell with you? NO? Not to worry. Music and food lovers of all ages should check out SOUNDBITES anyway.  I've been concentrating on Razz  because it will be a one off reunion performance with Ron Holloway sitting in and perhaps even a surprise guest. But it's going to be a great day full of food and music- a freaking amazing cornucopia of talent including:  Deathfix, Kid Congo Power Hour and Lee Fields. And all for an amazing place-DC Central Kitchen.

There are only a few more days to enter DC ROCKS' SOUNDBITES contest. Just send us a DC scene memory. Doesn't have to be old, doesn't have to be good. Winner picked by random. Just go for it. Email: Please put Soundbites in the subject box. Contest ends on May 15.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What the?

I tend to veer away from news stories, but this past week was particularly weird, and I'm not even including what happened in Cleveland.

 How about the lunkhead who suspended second graders for pointing deadly weapons at each other (aka number 2 pencils) and making gun like noises? These kind of stories make me talk back to the radio when I'm all alone in the house. What are they going to do next? Take little boys fingers away?

And did you hear about the three guys who attempted to steal an ATM from a Potomac bank? What were they thinking? Is no one going to notice a back hoe loading an ATM into the bed of a pick up truck? And what the heck do you do with it when you get that sucker home?

Even if you could steal one without anyone noticing, a backhoe couldn't carry all the musicians playing around town this Saturday night. Take a look at DC ROCKS' calendar and pick your poison from the Loggers at Maggie's to the Hula Monsters at Quarry House. And don't forget Doug Stevenson and the Spades, Kid Goat and Jelly Roll Mortals at the Pinch. And more. You don't have to break into an ATM to afford  FREE LIVE MUSIC.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Use Your Brain

When money get tight, arts funding gets the first axe which is just the way the Moneymakers think. And yet music conquers madness by spanning both hemispheres of our brains.When we get in trouble, music therapy can help stroke victims speak clearly or Alzheimer patients recall a memory.  Over in Arlington, in the heart of Rosslyn, some folks used their brains and turned the old Newseum building into Artisphere- a space for galleries, music and more, but now possible funding cuts loom ahead. 

This Friday DC's own King Soul will open for Big Sam's Funky Nation - a New Orleans crew which has been featured on the show "Treme" and described by George Pelecanos as "fucking awesome." If you like to dance, then you know first hand the dearth of floor space in this area. Artisphere features a 4,000 square foot ballroom. Please come out and support this space, your brain and the music.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Unicorn Times October 1979

Washington is a small town, and if you stay here long enough, the connections will start to criss cross like a spider web. The story of how Razz ended up playing at the upcoming 930 Soundbites benefit for DC Central Kitchen is no exception.

I first met Robert Egger when he was hanging around with us at the old 9:30 Club happy hour back when Mark Hall was tending bar and playing video deejay.  I knew he got involved with feeding the homeless, but the details were sketchy for me until I went to his farewell party at the Hamilton a couple of months ago. Yes, I'd heard about his brainchild DC Central Kitchen, but holy cow! Oprah made him an angel. Why?  Because since 1989, he has made a difference in people's lives, not just by feeding them, but by training folks to work in the restaurant biz at the same time.

So way back when Robert was managing the (now defunct) Childe Harolde, he ran into a guy named Seth Hurwitz who was putting rock shows like Joe King Carrasco and The Cramps into the (soon to be condos) Ontario Theater on Columbia Road. Robert also was an editor at the (no longer in circulation) Unicorn Times, and Seth would come in to advertise the shows. Both were in their late teens. Seth (and his partner Rich Heineke) bought and still own 9:30.

And the connection to Razz?  A band which essentially broke up in 1979? Robert remembers being especially struck by their guitar player Abaad Behran standing out as "a shaman and a dynamic gifted performer." He remembers the wild front man Michael Reidy - not just for his music- but also for the art he created for Razz's ads in the Unicorn Times.

So now the stars have crossed sufficiently for (the) Razz to make one more run on May 19th- to help make that difference for their old friend Robert and for the Kitchen.

For your chance to win two tickets to see Razz plus six more bands, tons of free food and more : just write up one short foggy memory of the DC music scene, and send it to Please put "Soundbites" in the subject header. Contest ends May 15th. No talent required! Winner picked at random.

Unicorn Times April 1979

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cinco de Greek Sunday

(food coloring vs beets)

If you are of Greek heritage, then you will understand why I am spending my weekend dying dozens of eggs blood red. (and I'm here to tell you NONE of those "natural" methods like boiling beets worked. Just surrender to little expensive bottles of red food coloring and be done with it.)

Cinco de Mayo, Greek Easter or just plain Sunday- whatever May 5 means to you, there's some good music to go see if you want to celebrate anything. Over in Silver Spring- Roaddog - a cool solid rock band will be bringing it on at El Golfo. The last time I went the cover charge was around $5, and your entry ticket got you a free margarita. Couldn't argue with that. 

On the other side of the world, locals Dave Chappell and Tommy Lepson are in on a gig with Johnny Neel at JVs. The club's description of the show is almost bigger than the venue:

"Johnny Neel is an American vocalist, songwriter, and musician based in Nashville, Tennessee. He is best known for his songwriting, stage, and session work for the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule, and Dickey Betts. Dave Chappell has received 18 Washington Area Music Awards, including "Best Roots Rock Instrumentalist" 8 years in a row, and "Musician Of The Year" twice."

Both of these shows are what this blogger goes for: head shaking talent crammed into intimate venues. Opa! Ole, and please pass the ouzo (or the margaritas.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Merry Month Of May Give Away

Welcome to May Day, a day in which we celebrate Spring by tromping around a pole or leaving a basket of flowers on a friends' door step without getting caught. I only remember doing the pole thing once on a roof top in New York City with a bunch of inebriated people I didn't know very well- not exactly the bucolic experience that might come to mind, but never mind that.  DC ROCKS is going to celebrate May Day by kicking off a ticket give away to Soundbites at the 9:30 Club on May 19th.

Soundbites is a benefit for DC Central Kitchen and a complete throw down for food and music lovers. The event features samples from 25 restaurants and music from 7 local bands which include members of Slickee Boys, Fugazi and The Cramps. And this year Soundbites will feature Razz- the power rock band that seemed poised to go national back in 1979. I was in close proximity to one of their venues-the Back Room behind the Varsity Grill in College Park, but those days are foggy for me, and so I've been asking the guys from Razz about their history, but those days seem a bit foggy to them as well.  (Good thing I have Mark Opsasnick's book Capitol Rock sitting on my shelf.)

I'll be writing more on Razz and the Kitchen in the days to come. In the meantime here's your chance to win two tickets: just write up one short foggy memory of the DC music scene, and send it to Please put "Soundbites" in the subject header. Contest ends May 15th