Friday, September 30, 2016

Your Own Reality

Call me a sadist, but I forced everyone in my house to watch the debates last Monday. I even printed out language specific bingo cards, to keep things interesting, but weirdly enough none of us won. If only Hilary had taken a sip of water or if the Donald had said the word "huge." ("Braggadocious" was not on the game card.)

Then I woke up this morning thinking about the different worlds of slang. Politicians pursue things like birthers until they need to walk it back, double down or pivot with the one percent.  Musicians ? They like to woodshed until they can shred without clams for cabbage. 

Both politics and music will be in the air at the Takoma Park Street Festival  although fortunately harmony and funk will be the overwhelming vibe here in this nuclear free land where even 16 year olds have the right to vote. Besides the usual outstanding farmer's market, food vendors and artists galore will line the streets while nineteen bands play all day long on three different stages. Two will be at either end of the festival and one in the middle at the gazebo. Check out the local hepcats without laying down a lot of lettuce and have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sunday. 

(Link above has full schedule and more information)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Down For the Count

I think I stopped watching the evening news about twenty five years ago- shortly after the best sportscaster ever, Glenn Brenner left the planet. I mean what was the point?  Every night we heard about all the scary stuff going on, but with Glenn gone, there was no one there to make you laugh your head off at the end of the broadcast. When he was "in charge" of sports, even non athletics fans like myself tuned in just to see what he would do next. Once he turned anchor Maureen "Mo" Bunyan into a Damon Runyon character, complete with fedora and cigar, to prognosticate the upcoming games. Another time he enlisted Sister Marie Louise, a nun and rabid foot ball fan.

This Friday my kind of sporting event is happening at Bethesda Blues (which has now decided to be Bethesda Live.)  Blue eyed soul crews King Soul and Soul Crackers will be duking it out in a mock battle of the bands called "The Thrilla in Vanilla."  The loser  gives up the right to use the word "soul" in their name. (Gotta give these boys points for creativity here.) Not just a concert, this will be a danceable exercise in hilarity. I'll bet Glenn would've loved to be a ref in this ring.

Hit the link above to watch a tribute to Glenn Brenner/ a trip down memory lane.

Friday, September 16, 2016

All the Small Things

Sometimes it takes an outside eye to catch your own style. My friend Wendy was the one who pointed out to me my penchant for little things.  She walked into my kitchen one day, picked up my mouse sized cast iron frying pan and started laughing. Then she pointed out the colander that comfortably might hold four or five raspberries and a bottle of hot sauce that was only slightly taller than the miniature troll standing next to it -if you didn't count his hair. I'd always heard that "good things come in small packages" as a kid, but I wasn't aware that I had embraced that idea. I gravitate towards sliders, silver dollar pancakes and definitely pint sized venues.

As far as night life goes, I think the Galaxy Hut on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington might be the tiniest coolest bar I know. It holds around 50 people and has 28 taps -none of which are Budweiser. This place certainly isn't for everyone, but I have seen some of the best shows I can remember within the confines  of that space including many by the founder herself- Alice Despard. This Sunday catch The Rambling Shadows (for those of you with in tact memories -you might remember folks from The Crippled Pilgrims and Black Market Baby.) and the Gully Jimson Quartet. Five dollars is the perennial cover charge here to keep the bands from starving.


My new favorite radio show from the land of Lilliput is on WOWD-a low power radio station in Takoma Park, Maryland. (The station's bathroom might be bigger than the studio space.) The format focuses on hyper local things, but on Sunday mornings from 9-12, DC music fans anywhere on the world wide web can tune in to "The Forbidden Alliance Show" hosted by music connoisseur Robbie White and his able assistant former WHFS deejay Weasel. Robbie plays anything but top 40 and has a jam packed schedule interviewing local musicians and the like.  This Sunday's show will feature Joe Dolan of the Beatnik Flies and the Vi-kings. Creative radio as it should be - far from the corporate world.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Instant Karma

The Beatles have been on my radar as long as I can remember, but I was a bit too young to fully appreciate their music at the time. I was more a Snoopy fan when they broke up in April of 1970, and way into dogs and riding bikes.

But sometime in my late teens I found their music irresistible. While a lot of my class mates were into the latest disco and pop tunes, I was looking back to Rubber Soul and the White Album. As life went on, I found the recordings of their early energy pouring out of Hamburg just as compelling, and I still wonder at their staying power. I never get tired of their albums. 

Speaking of staying power, I am not sure how Ron Newmyer has time to eat or sleep as he is churning out yet another tribute show to John Lennon this Saturday. I have seen a bit of the prep that goes into these shows. How can I  describe just how much work is involved? 
Imagine organizing twenty two cats in one place and getting them to tap dance. In a bathtub. Then add just a little bit of water... 

Please believe me when I say, he and and a truly impressive line up of hep cats will not disappoint -this is a truly cool way to see the impossible - John Lennon (and the Beatles) coming alive again at the Hamilton.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hey Hey My My

Once upon a time, I remember getting a Captain Kangaroo record for my birthday which I was allowed to play on a portable record player in our basement.  I was thrilled. I started combing the house for music, ransacking my brother's rock n roll as well as my father's forgotten 45s. Finally I ventured out and bought my own vinyl which was a different rite of passage altogether. I started out humbly enough with a 45 of "Uncle Albert."  I even put my name on the front so it wouldn't get lost at some frenzied slumber party which it never did.

The cassette and 8 track tapes that followed never had the charm and artwork of the album, but wow, what joy and power it gave us.  Cars were transfigured into our own private concert halls.

And don't get me started on mix tapes. We were suddenly free to make up our own segways culling this song or that from albums.  My College Park housemates and I were all into it. Alan provided the Doghouse with a near professional reel to reel soundtrack, while Dougal was amassing enough live recordings of the Dead to cover his bedroom wall, and Chauncy turned me onto innumerable bands which I first heard blasting out of his second story window on Guildford Road.

Tapes were presents, tapes were apologies. They were vital for road trips, break ups and celebrating just about anything. When the CD came along claiming superiority, I howled in dismay. NO. I wasn't going there. I dug my heels in for years, but finally succumbed to that overwhelming tide thinking there was no turning back. Boy, was I wrong.

Flash forward to now. What remains? Much to my surprise- all of the above. Despite Walkmen and iPods and blueteeth, vinyl has been reclaimed, and on a recent trip out West which included haunting record shops, I saw the good ole cassette tape in its own section clawing its way back as well.

Joe's Record Paradise, a DC tradition,  opened in 1974, and although they have moved numerous times, their clientele has always followed. Joe's is not just a store, but part of our history and has always attracted musicians and deejays as a hang out or even a place to play. Their latest home however, was almost derailed by the Man ( i.e. the Montgomery County Government.) The opening was seriously delayed by red tape and financial issues which still plague Johnson Lee. Please don't wait for "record store day" to drop by 8700 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Your patronage can help make sure rock n roll doesn't die- at least not in this little corner of the world.