Thursday, September 25, 2014

Going Back

DC ROCKS' Song of the Month is "Goin' Back"- a must for all you DC music fans to add to your playlists.  Although the song credits go to Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the only version I really like is by DC 's own Nils Lofgren.

Nils might be nationally known as a guitar slinger (and acrobat) for  Bruce Springsteen, but around here everyone likes to tell stories that swirl around his roots in Bethesda, his early escapades with Neil Young and of course, his band Grin. It seems like countless fans of a certain age either know him or his brother, or heard the band practicing in a garage somewhere. Grin even played Fort Reno way back when. But it was just after Grin and way before Springsteen that Nils came out with a solo album which included "Going Back."The Byrds did it. Carole King did it. Freddie Mercury did it for Pete's sake. Phil Collins has a beautiful version, but to me Nils is the only one that lifts this song out of its sugar glazed gauze and puts it on solid ground.

His version lacks sentimentality which is hard to do with a song so deeply steeped in nostalgia. I don't know if it's the up beat or the piano, but in the end, this song defies its title and is as much about moving forward as it is about going back.  I think Nils Lofgren is the one that delivers that message with joy. Play it if you can.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Get Out

September weather can be dang near perfect in DC so now is a good time for a walk-about. This Saturday check out my favorite food and music frenzy- the H Street Festival which is a huge yet still eclectic celebration of a neighborhood. Make sure you get a piece of one of those  Dangerously Delicious Pies. (the most deadly being the Baltimore Bomb)  These hefty slices of heaven are brought to you by a musician who honed his baking skills while touring and managed to bake his way off the floor by the cat box to a couch. Now he has his own shops- two in DC and one in Baltimore.

Also in the mix are multiple stages, sometimes every block, and all kinds of activities and bands including MH and his Orchestra, Little Red and the Renegades and Vintage 18.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dive In

Wednesday's Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU was right up DC ROCKS' alley. The discussion was all about dive bars and included Jackie Greenbaum who rescued The Quarry House from extinction and kept the atmosphere in tact right down to a low hanging but now defunct heating pipe.

 Even though I knew almost all the bars mentioned, I learned a lot from this show. I knew JVs was old, but didn't know it was born in the oldest strip mall in the DC area. I knew Quarry House goes way back but didn't know it might have been a speakeasy, and that there is no heat. I'm not sure why I 'm drawn to the darker side of sticky floors and creepy bathrooms with bad locks, but at least I know I'm not alone. This show also turned me onto a rather outrageously perfect punk rock explanation called Burn Down the Brixton by Jack On Fire- a band I can't wait to see.

Curious? Quarry House has live music every Saturday night with The Rock-a-Sonics coming up this week. JVs somehow churns out shows almost every evening- often twice on the weekends. Already have a favorite hang out? You can use the link above to chime in on Kojo's  dive bar survey.

Two not mentioned on the show that are a couple of my favorites (though relative new comers) are The Galaxy Hut which has a capacity of about 60 people, and a formidable beer list, plus  The Big Hunt. With it's furry chandeliers and dark strange atmosphere, I have to put this one on the list.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Why did all my cucumbers come in one week? Why do celebrities die in threes? And why are so many  bands playing Saturday and not Friday?

Ruthie and the Wranglers are back at Gypsy Sally's, one of the better places to see a show these days if you are looking for a decent size space and dance floor, but also cramming in this Saturday night we've got The Vi-kings at Clyde's, Little Red and the Renegades at Quarry House, and Beat Hotel at Harp and Fiddle.

And for all you day owls: Bumper Jacksons and more will be at the Atlas Brewery Anniversary Party Saturday afternoon.