Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The Split Seconds have a history of the DC music scene wrapped up in their new project of original music. Lead singer Drew grew up listening to Discord bands and seeing DC players out and about. You can check their sound out here, but better yet- go see them. Live music is always an experiment so get in the laboratory with these guys and see what happens at Wonderland Ballroom Thursday with The Long Knives and fellow DC group The Prahns.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Survived 9:30 and Lived to Tell About It

For those of you who wonder where the heck the writer of this blog came from- I'd have to say it all started with a bizarre little haunt down on F Street called the 9:30 Club. I grew up wandering Georgetown listening to street musicians and going to concerts in little places like the Pour House Pub or big ones like Constitution Hall and the Capital Centre, but the 9:30 Club was … well, different. It drew a certain kind of a person- crazy, creative, passionate people. Current co-owner Seth Hurwitz called it "the Island of Misfit Toys."

I couldn't agree more.

 And I couldn't make these people up. They are my friends.

I was in college when Dody DiSanto and John Bowers turned a decrepit building into an art venue. My first show sometime in the early '80s was Kurtis Blow although I had no idea just where we were headed or what we were going to see the night a bunch of my Maryland housemates and I decamped for F Street in a Ford Falcon station wagon. It was such a cool place that I was surprised they let me in.

Thanks to my friend and music muse, Peter Alsberg, dc space and the 9:30 Club became the places we wanted to be, and that in turn led to meeting a lot of local artists and musicians- many of whom worked in bars. (Imagine that.) Some of you might remember Mark Hall with his black cap, black jeans (black pretty much everything) serving drinks and video dee-jaying behind the bar during happy hour Wednesday through Friday.

Music videos were the rage, and Mark's taste ran from Dear God by XTC to Run-DMC's Walk This Way with Aerosmith. At the end of his shift,  Mark would chase customers away with strategically quiet classical music while the doormen extracted cover charges from patrons wishing to stay for the show.  Quite a few bands like Troublefunk, Tru-fax, Insect Surfers and Beatnik Flies are still playing- giving me fodder to write about.

A lot of art and music erupted from that tiny hole in the wall, but no film or book has yet to fully capture this "place and time."  While we are waiting for that project to happen, "Salad Days"  (showing again tomorrow at AFI) gives a nod to that community, as does the recently re-released book Banned in DC. A must for any DC punk rock lover.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Round Up with Wranglers

Big big dance party alert at Bethesda Blues. Beat the Sunday blahs with music brought to you alive and kicking courtesy of ace pianist Bill Starks, Ruthie and the Wranglers and The Spampinato Brothers.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What is Hip?

I can't be. I don't know what one is. I hear the word bandied about; I also hear that hipsters are annoying. My high school aged son tried to explain it to me, but he had to give up. He did tell me a few jokes which shed some light:

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 
A: You wouldn’t know, it’s kind of an obscure number.

Q: How much does a hipster weigh?
A: An instagram. 

Q: How many hipsters can you get into a phone booth? 
A: One, any more and it would be too mainstream. 

Plus this: Two hipsters walk into a bar. The first one did it before it was cool, and the second one did it ironically. 


Where does that leave me who loves funky old dives and walked into a bar (without irony or an ID) way before most hipsters were born? Now that I think about it, I must have waded through crowds of hipsters in the front bar at the Quarry House Saturday nights on my way to the back room where the bands play. Oh, and good news on that front- I saw Jackie a few weeks ago, and she is confident the Quarry House will reopen in its original digs. In the meantime the bar life is malingering across Georgia Avenue at the now defunct Pirate Bar. And the music? The Saturday night music scene has temporarily shifted to Hank Dietles on the Pike- not a place hipsters are likely to stumble upon, but definitely the spot for the motley crew of musicians I know and love.

Look for Marshall Keith (ex Slickee) and Ubangis up to bat this Saturday. Definitely hip not square.