Friday, July 29, 2016

Moose and Squirrel

This election season sure has been full of surprises. Between sloppy plagiarism to invites of espionage, I feel like I'm watching an episode of "Rocky and Bullwinkle." When I first watched those cartoons, I was too young to catch the political satire lurking behind Boris "Badenov" and Natasha Fatale, but sometime in college, after a long booze infused night in College Park, I wandered into a frat house to find no one up except Moose and Squirrel on the TV in the common room.  I sank into an arm chair, and soaked in the new layers of humor that had sailed over my head ten years before.  (Fearless leader if you're listening...)

Also I can't help but notice that musicians have rallied around one candidate with luminaries performing at their convention- while at the other unhappy artists have protested even their recordings being played. "Cleveland Rocked" looks into this subject. (Great title)

Of course there's the write in candidate, and one band in the District of Columbia, far from Frostbite Falls, wants your vote. The party ticket is just that- they want to throw cocktail bashes in the White House. This Monday night the shamelessly ambitious Yachstmen will be currying favor at the Galaxy Hut- a tiny home to an astoundingly varied choice of crafty draft beers.  Alexis and the Samarai- talented friends from New Orleans are also on the bill.  The five dollar cover  ridiculously low for a contribution to the arts, but such is life in Pottsylvania.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cool Things 9:30 and Other Reading Matter

Beware Washingtonians. The excessive hot air coming out of Cleveland lately will be steaming our way this weekend. Time to retreat to a shade drawn room or perhaps a river bank under a tree. With a book. And perhaps a cold drink at hand. While reading, we might want to remember last winter with something akin to nostalgia.

In January the 9:30 Club threw a swell anniversary event, and book launch, but until this week, I had only paged through my copy, not expecting too much in the way of substance. I have to say I should have known better. Whatever the 9:30 Club does- it does well.  There's plenty of eye candy here including numerous Mark Holmes postcards, but every page is strikingly visual, full of photographs punctuated with wonderful little stories from those who were there.

The club originated as a hole in the wall, but the space was a godsend for the maladjusted. It was created by brave and visionary people who filled a void and breathed life into a decaying F Street N.W.  Thus an edgy kind of refuge was born where misfits could gather together as kindred spirits. We were a strange but happy family.

9:30 X-mas party
Now the 9:30 Club is a musical if not mythical anchor of the DC scene, but the thumbnail sketches in this book sparked a myriad of memories of the old place -and reminds us of the many stories left untold. Some of you who frequented the old F Street location (and d.c. space) may remember a bartender named Raymond Martin (or Framin' Raymon' as we used to call him in honor of his day job.)

photo by Marie Broussard

Raymond has many talents including poetry which are almost short stories in themselves.
Here's one:

The naming of a dog
can be a delicate thing.
My friend Judith 
sent me a Chocolate Lab
for my sixtieth birthday.
I was looking for a female name.
so far I`d used iconic names,
Lucy, from the Ricardo
Gus, from Lonesome Dove
Stella, only from Brando
Wippet, from Devo`s Whip-It-Good
And of course, The Dude
Even Dora Mar,
(She was one of Picasso`s lovers)
but I`m not responsible for that one.
Then I started in on
people I`d worked with.
(There have been a lot of dogs)
I thought maybe
A name that went with Dante
So with good reason
a former bar owner`s name
popped into my head
I thought the 930 Club was
the best run bar I ever worked
And the only place
where an owner shut down for a week,
took the staff on vacation
to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
(I don`t know where those mushrooms came from.)
It seemed right
Until I tried to write this story.
Then I saw the insult,
You never name a dog after a woman you know
No matter what!
You can name dogs
after men you know
We`re used to being called dogs
It`s almost an honor
So to avoid insult
I`ve changed my Lab`s name
to Dede.
(For Dodi Bowers)

Right now Raymond is working on a story called "The Heart of Tenley." Send Raymond an email if you would like to read this evolving piece for extra credit. ( In the meantime here is another poem which seemed especially appropriate to pull up for this weekend's heat wave:

    A Draft Beer 

If it had not been 
such a hot Saturday afternoon 
My brother and I might not have stopped 
for a draft beer at a tavern at Tenley Circle. 
Everybody knows that when the humidity and the temperature 
are hovering at 100, one beer is not nearly enough 
and it was cool inside, the windows all covered 
The bar a rich oak with a curved rail 
There were big mirrors with glass shelves, 
maybe a twenty-foot bar with fourteen stools 
and a large open area for people to stand. 
We were drinking near the exit 
and there was this little pest of a bartender
and he kept hovering 
like a mosquito on cocaine 
Never shutting up 
and it was all profanity 
f this and f that, on 
and on, and screw them 
and G-d them, over and over, 
Then I saw the look. 
Jerome had this way of tightening his eyes 
just before he exploded 
-He had it before he went to Viet Nam- 
And now his eyes were locked 
and that little pest of a bartender 
kept right on cursing, right 
up to the second an empty draft beer mug 
went flying past his ear. It crashed 
into the glass shelves with enough force 
to send all the stemmed martini glasses flying 
Shattered glass flew all over the bar 
The bartender’s face turned ashen 
He was realizing what would have happened 
if that mug hadn’t missed. 
When I looked over, Jerome was gone 
I told the shaken bartender 
I didn’t know who that was. 
Five months later 
I return from a trip overseas 
and now Jerome is behind the bar. 
The bartender that day turned out to be the owner 
When he found out who my brother was 
He hired him; figuring, he wanted 
to keep someone that crazy on his side. 
Jerome gets me a job as a doorman.
Then when someone doesn’t show up 
I get shifts as a waiter. Someone 
else gets drunk at work 
and now Jerome is teaching me 
to tend bar. Sending me 
on a new lifestyle 
That all started with an if.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Doubling Down

I wish I had a dollar for every time I've mentioned two of my favorite dives, JVs and Hank Dietle's, and have gotten blank stares in return. Both of these places have been around for decades yet remain somewhat under the radar. Of course, if I try to tell a person from Washington or Maryland that JV's is near Seven Corners, the eyes glaze over with dismay and confusion.  I get the same reaction when I mention the Rockville Pike and Dietle's to Virginia types. Oh, the horror.

Yet there are those among you who defiantly travel through the intergalactic portals knowing full well  how much fun live music can be, especially when delivered by an ass kicking band.

This week, as luck will have it, The Thrillbillys will be performing on BOTH sides of the river: Thursday evening @ JVs and Saturday night @ Hank Dietle's.  
Get out the map.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Rundown on Fort Reno

By hook or crook the Fort Reno Concert Series started up again last week and will continue with three bands showing off their stuff every Monday and Thursday from July 7th until August 4th.  This Monday will be "cake night" with Dot Dash, the Delarcos and Nine to Five taking the stage to celebrate the late John Stabb's birthday. Here is the full schedule which has links to all the bands as well as the low down on attending.

This unique and free event is an all volunteer operation which sometimes showcases young bands who have never played on stage before. It's truly an all ages scene including babies on blankets, skulking teens, and aging rockers. I want to send a shout out and thank you to Amanda MacKaye who has kept this crazy ball rolling for many a moon now. It's a beautiful spot to have a picnic, catch a breeze or make some noise.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Old School Show Alert

Airborne Abad Behram back in the day

Washington D.C.'s own Johnny Bombay and the Reactions will be the opener for The Yardbirds this Sunday evening at Bethesda Blues and Jazz.  (Yes, those Yardbirds with original members Jim McCarty and Chis Drejabrought still standing.) The date? July 10th- not April Fools.

I have faith in Johnny Bombay and his crew, and the review I found about the current version of The Yardbirds was more than favorable, but the $40 ticket price makes me a wee bit nervous. Still this just might be one of those musical happenings that people are going to wish they knew about so I leave it up to you to decide.

 Showtime 8 p.m.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sailing on a Summer Breeze

This week the DC area will be hit with that not so subtle sledgehammer of humidity so typical of July. Finding a cool place will be a challenge, but cool local things is what this site is all about.

Fort Reno, which sits on one of the highest points in the District, is the most likely spot to catch a breeze on a sultry evening, and lucky for us the summer concert series kicks off this very Thursday. The line up includes  Title Tracks, Strange Avenger and Bad Moves. (Show rocks at 7; picnic anytime.)

Also on Thursday evening, a long time DC ROCKS favorite that you probably never heard of,  We Were Pirates is back on the scene with new music to show off at Jammin' Java. Pirates have a very catchy pop sound, but if I had a magic carpet, I would also be at The Split Seconds LP release show at the Black Cat where things lean more towards the punk rock side of my heart.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Truck 5

I live in a fairly small town. If I get in a conversation with someone who has lived in Washington as long as I have, we usually find we know someone in common in about 15 minutes. I went to a concert all the way out in Frederick last night and ran into an old college roommate and a cousin as soon as I walked in the door. I was surprised, but not shocked. A lot of people spend millions of dollars bad mouthing Washington "insiders" thinking this will win them a job on Capitol Hill, but the true insiders are those that live here for the beauty of two rivers, tree shaded streets, and the height limit on tall buildings. We have little to do with the politics blanketing the airwaves when we head down to Fletcher's with a half smoke picnic to watch small craft drift by on the Potomac.


This Fourth of July, if you are looking for an "insider" event, come see the District's home grown parade meander down MacArthur Boulevard. The pageant is truly democratic with a small "d." Anyone can be in the procession although boring politicians are discouraged. Here's the kind of politician we like to see:

Lineup to be part of the spectacle starts at 10 a.m. first come first serve. (The queue winds up Whitehaven Parkway between Foxhall Rd. and MacArthur Blvd.) The parade itself rolls at 11 - right in front of the city's oldest Safeway and ends at Palisades Park where free hotdogs and more hoopla await.