Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Are You Doing New Year's New Year's Eve?

Going to a party? Laying low listening to Ella? If you want to do something out of the ordinary consider the Irish tradition of banging bread against the wall or eating grapes for every chime of midnight like they do in Spain. In Denmark,  people break plates for fun, and in South Africa they throw old furniture out the window. ( I've got some candidates for that one.)
The Swiss like to drop ice-cream on the floor which must make the dogs and cats very happy, but my favorite might be the Romanian tradition of dressing up like bears and dancing around. (Anyone going out on this extra cold night might want to consider this one.)

For last minute frivolity- Hank Dietle's will be warm and cozy with music from The Conrads and a trio of Rock-a Sonics tonight, and, if you really want to whoop it up, tickets are still available for Thievery CorporationGogol Bardello and Troublefunk down yonder at The Anthem on the wharf.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Exit Strategy

I'm not complaining, but does this holiday week seem extra long to you? Need to vacate the house, despite the big chill? If so, get on your long john groove and head down to the new Wharf. You'll find burning towers and bonfires creating warmth for those who need to get out, no matter what the weather, and a waterfront neighborhood deliberately curated to rock with restaurants, bars and three live music venues.

Everybody seems to have heard of The Anthem which is big enough to relieve the 9:30 Club of mega crowded rock shows, but intimate it's not. Pearl Street Warehouse, which is just a block or so over from Anthem, feels more down home with working garage doors and a diner hooked onto one end.

Lisa White, former long time music wrangler for the 9:30 Club empire, will be booking, so be on the look out for an eclectic mix of good music, including DC's own wild n crazy in a good way King Soul tomorrow night.

And the newest kid in town - just across the way from Pearl Street- is Union Stage, brought to you by the Brindley Brothers of Jammin' Java. The venue is about the same size as Pearl Street and will hold roughly 400 people- which is double the size of their Vienna location. This Friday's show includes three bands from Virginia: Kid Brother, MILO in the Doldrums and Dusk Whale. Both venues will feature affordable shows.

And for those of you who want to hunker down on the progressive side don't miss The Messthetics and Dan Joesph at Rhizome in Takoma Park. (What's with all the Friday night happenings?)

Of course what I write about here is only the tip of the iceberg of what's going on in this town. Check the DC ROCKS calendar for more options this weekend.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Out of It

I have been  feeling a bit isolated and out of it this week which doesn't help with the upcoming holiday prep.  First off my cell phone somehow landed in the cat's water bowl and remained there unnoticed for quite some time. (I wonder if there's a Guiness Book of Records for a phone dying in the smallest possible body of water?)

Second  the news was so bad,  I wasn't able to listen to the radio like I usually do without catapulting into depression, and I couldn't call anyone to commiserate because my cell phone was languishing in a bag of rice.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago I perennially struggle with the mail in December.  I have a Jewish friend who religiously sends me a Christmas card EVERY year and, of course, Hanukkah is usually over and the candles are out by the time I dig up a card to send back.

And so,  as per my usual advice, I would like to take this moment to quote the great King Arthur via Monty Python.
"Run away!!" ( find a local watering hole)
"Bring up the holy hand grenade!"  (also known as booze)

Musical distractions this weekend include H.R. and the Captivators at Songbyrd and Revelator Hill with Ron Holloway at Pearl Street Warehouse. Both on Friday. Jimmy and the Blue Dogs invade Hank Dietle's on Saturday. Good ole JVs will be rocking both Christmas eve and Christmas night. Last but certainly not least, the Alice Despard Group, Marshall Keith and Mary Battiata are banding together (ha) for a Sparklehorse tribute at Galaxy Hut after the dust settles on Boxing Day.  Definitely a highlight of the month.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

We Go On and On

Dear Readers,
As of today you have officially survived almost 348 days of 2017-a remarkably dark and weird year. On the musical side of things, we lost IOTA and Tommy Keene- one of our dearest rock stars. (Ironically IOTA is the last place I saw him.) Tommy came to light here in Washington in the 1980s playing in a kick ass band called The Razz, but he soon rocketed beyond our universe on a solo career.  We will miss him deeply.

In Tommy's honor, I would like to give a shout out to a few places that have not gone, but have managed to endure the vagaries of time and circumstance. These are all venues which give local musicians a place to get their foot in the door.

First congratulations to Comet Ping Pong for braving a year of batcrap crazy attacks on the internet and in all too real life. Their consistently good food and dedication to live shows makes it easy to support this place -even if it doesn't haven't a child prostitution ring or a basement. FuzzQueen is having a CD release party here tomorrow night.

And hats off to Vietnam veteran Commander Mike Casey who saved his VFW post by having an open mind, a good heart, and the boundless energy to host live music events. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 350 (aka "Hells Bottom") welcomes The Conrads' brand of old school rock n roll- also on Friday.

And finally kudos to Dante Ferrando, the upstart punk, who dared to challenge the old 9:30 Club's obstructed views in 1993 with another venue for independent and underground type music. The Black Cat puts on multiple live shows every week, but this Sunday check out their 20th annual "garage sale" for all your not so conventional gift needs.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Panic in Pine Needle Park

The first shot over the bow arrived in the form of a Christmas card on December One. I'd like to say I was happy to see a message from a friend, but it just reminded me of all the cards I need to send. And meant to send. Last year.

Anxiety sets in the form of a creeping pre-holiday panic which only serves to produce bad ideas like listening to music in the car while waiting in an illegal parking space for forty five minutes without jumper cables.
Or misusing a Q tip. (I won't go into the details, but if you are not supposed to stick those things in your ears, then why don't they make them a lot bigger?)

The moral to this story is don't panic about the upcoming holidays. Take time out for a little fun. Like this:

If feeling a bit more energetic, you could add ingredients.

Or better yet, don't be a weenie.  Go out, people. Dare to kick up the volume. The teeny tiny Takoma VFW will be hosting  Valentine Slim on Friday and The Nighthawks on Saturday.

And the long awaited King Soul CD Breakout Party happens at the relatively large and lush Bethesda Blues and Jazz. Also on Saturday.

But wait - there's more.
Here's the slightly behind the times DC Rocks' calendar for


Boat Burning/ Time Is Fire/Heterodyne @ VisArts

Bill Kirchen @ The Birchmere

Rock-A-Sonics @ Hill Country BBQ


Flea Bops @ Hank Dietles

Valentine Slim @ Takoma VFW

Jumping' Jupiter @ Hill Country


Nighthawks @New Deal

Grin Again Tribute @ Jammin Java (3 pm!)


Ruthie's Jamboree @ New Deal


Thrillbillys @ JVs


Valentine Slim @ Takoma VFW


King Soul CD Release Party @ Bethesda Blues

Nighthawks @ Takoma VFW

Col Josh @ Hank Dietles


Fuzzqueen/ Super! Silver! Haze!/Fake Bodies @ 
Comet Ping Pong

Conrads @ Takoma VFW


Rock-N-Shop Garage Sale @ Black Cat


Thrillbillys @ JVs


Revelator Hill w/ Ron Holloway @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Alice Despard/ Cotton Candy @ Galaxy Hut


Ron Holloway @ Gypsy Sallys

Dave Chappell @ JVs


King Soul @ Gypsy Sallys


The Delarcos/Sister Ex/ Surprise Guest @ Slash Run


Conrads @ Hank Dietles

Thievery Corporation @ Anthem

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Going Back to Rockville

Rockville 1920s

Once upon a time tiny Rockville, Maryland was a beautiful Mayberry kind of town surrounded by farmland. Then came what some call "progress."

Later still Rockville was torn up and became a mall.

Then the mall went away, and it became a "town center" again. Meanwhile, somehow, both Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald landed here, and thankfully have slept though the ruckus just across the Pike in St Mary's churchyard.

I can't help but think that they would have approved of the VisArts Center which gives Rockvillians sanctuary beyond the headlights and head aches of 355. This Friday ye weary Pilgrims of the Pike may want to beat a path to see Boat Burning and Time Is Fire collide art with music in a massed guitar psychedelic multi sensory kind of show.

And speaking of being "borne back ceaselessly into the past," on Saturday the Flea Bops will do their rockabilly thing at Hank Dietle's the perfect venue for a high energy blue suede shoe throw back kind of dance at Montgomery County's oldest surviving road house.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Chill Zones

I stupidly took my life in my hands last Sunday night when I made the mistake of going to the grocery store. Lost in some kind of holiday denying bubble, I was caught unawares by the cart pushing frenzy happening inside. Suddenly hunting and gathering felt dangerous again- like cave man times. Food was flying off the shelves. It was fight or flight, people! We who cringe during holiday mania need escape hatches. Thinking not too far outside the box of home and hearth,  below are places that feel like a comfortable little house party without the labor intensive in-laws rearranging your cupboards in alphabetical order. All are open on or around Thanksgiving day.

Our first little hideaway is the Galaxy Hut on Wilson Blvd. where you'll find 28 taps of craft beer crammed behind the bar.  Most of the brews are local products with names like "Atlas Silent Neighbor Stout" and "Monocacy Riot Rye." All are potently delicious and not one contains the words "light" or "bud." All ages (over 21) hang out here, and there is the comfort of tater tots or a grilled cheese if you need sustenance with your beverage. (The Hut is traditionally open by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, but could not get confirmation by press time. )

Also in Virginia,  JV's Restaurant is like a big ole living room with a festively lit dance floor, and, thanks to the dedication of the tireless proprietor, Lorraine Campbell, there's live music EVERY DAY of the year.  Every day. Talk about labor intensive. Thank you, Lorraine!

This Wednesday look for Jimi Smooth and the Hit Time bringing a funked up soul vibe to Thanksgiving eve. (Wouldn't it be fun to play holiday hooky with these cats ?)

And don't worry about cooking because  turkey dinners are being served both Wednesday and Thursday with ax master Dave Chappell ably at the helm on Thanksgiving night.

Finally there's Hank Dietle's Tavern on Rockville Pike. Think man cave. There's nothing on the menu except for wine and plenty of cold beer in the fridge, featuring the usual domestic types along the lines of PBR and the lone Dogfish product. The biggest table here is for playing pool, but if there's a band playing, it's shoved aside so everyone can dance. Charlie Owen and Pocket Change play this Saturday, but Hank's will be open Thanksgiving day.

Check DC ROCKS' calendar for musical options through out the weekend and hope you have a  peaceful and wondrous holiday.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Baby It's Cold

Resist the cold weather coming our way. Shows are lining up this weekend like those valiant Old Dominion voters at the polls yesterday,  and any one of them would be a great source of warmth. Please see DC ROCKS calendar for even more choices, but for reasons only known to the gods of Random, there are too many to write about so I'll just mention a few.

Friday night Bill Hanke recommends the free "proletarian" rock show with The Taildraggers and XMC at Hank Dietle's - a change of pace from the usual rockabilly Saturdays.

On Saturday catch up with your ancestral swing jive roots at Eric Felten's Canteen Dance in the Glen Echo Ballroom.

Or lean in with old 9:30 and Dischord friends for the sights and sounds of Tone at the Rock n Roll Hotel. (Also on the bill are Cavern from Maryland and Sannhet from Brooklyn.)

And last but not least, the cover charge for Cravin Dogs at El Golfo includes a free margarita or dessert.  Can't beat that with a stick.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Winter is Coming

Getting that somber feeling that summer has finally left the building? We may have had an unusually warm October, but now Mother Earth is determined to tilt away from our dear old Sun- at least in this hemisphere. Time to head inside for warm things like steam heat, apple pies and live music. Here's your convenient and remarkably incomplete local music listings for November. 

(Further suggestions and additions welcome.)



The Conrads / Vinyl Lounge


Thrillbillys @ JV


Justin Jones @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Rock A Sonics @ Hank Dietle's

Linwood Taylor @ JV


Ruthie's Jamboree @ New Deal


Owen Danoff @ Jammin' Java


Jumpin' Jupiter @ JV ( 4 pm)

Tribute to the Band @ The Hamilton

Eric Felten Canteen Dance @ Glen Echo Ballroom

Snake Farmers @ Hank Dietle's

CravinDogs @ El Golfo


Thrillbillys @ JV


Jimmy Thackery @ Pearl Street


Dave Chappell/ Antony Pirog @ JV


Chuck Brown Band @ Pearl Street


Thanksgiving w/ Dave Chappell @ JV


Nighthawks/Skip Castro @ The State Theater


Jellyroll Mortals/ Dede and The DoRights @ Hank Dietle's


Patty Reese @ JV

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Spooky Is As Spooky Does

Looking for something musical to do this weekend? 
I love the description of the next show from the Bold Deceivers, and the location is pretty spooky, too. At least from the outside. 

"Mourn the passing of summer, celebrate a bitter harvest, and welcome the coming of cruel winter, in song! Join us at Hell's Bottom VFW, Saturday, October 28, 2017. It'll be a trick if it ain't a treat."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

DC is Experienced

Ten years ago a crew of motley pilgrims set forth on a beautiful fall day to attend the Ambassador Theater's 40th reunion. We were musicians, and history nerds; archivists and witnesses of the summer of 1967- the summer when Washington D.C. became experienced, and the Ambassador Theater was the epicenter of all things groovy. 

Sure, we had Georgetown, and its smaller music clubs. Big name rock bands sometimes invaded the Alexandria Roller Rink, Georgetown's Gaston Hall and the Coliseum, but those venues were shared spaces.  The Ambassador was opened by hippies, run by hippies and attracted hippies - which is why the Establishment did everything in its power to shut the place down. 

I learned a lot that day. I learned that Washington. D.C. had its own scene which rivaled The Fillmore in San Francisco when you consider the amount of rock history compressed into the six months that the Ambassador existed in Adams Morgan. I learned that The Grateful Dead almost played there.

And that Jimi Hendrix did play there after escaping an ill thought out tour with The Monkees. 

This Saturday local film maker Jeff Krulik and rock archivist/author Mark Opsasnick have organized a second reunion, and everyone is invited. It happens at the Showboat Lounge. Sorry -the Songbyrd Cafe- just across the street from The Ambassador, I mean the ugly bank plaza that took its place, at 2477 18th Street  N.W. from 1-4 p.m.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Get the Rockin Pneumonia

I love rock and roll piano, especially that classic boogie-woogie sound. I also love that Daryl Davis landed here. Daryl is one of DC's best bad ass piano players, and the only person I know who owns a collection of Klu Klux Klan formal wear. For many years now,  Daryl has been on a remarkable one man mission to understand racists by befriending white men wearing hoods. (That is when he wasn't playing keys with Chuck Berry.) Check out Daryl's crazy amazing story here.

This Saturday Daryl will be hosting  Chuck Berry's Birthday Party at one of the newest  clubs in town- Pearl Street Warehouse. (Chuck would have been 91 yesterday.)  If you didn't make it to last weekend's opening festivities down at the Wharf, this is a show well worth considering.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A New Hood in Town

What's going on behind all that chain link down at the Southwest waterfront? Last night I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview when friends and I landed tickets to two of the new venues- The Anthem and Pearl Street Warehouse. We were agog (especially us DC natives) at the transformation as we walked through a surreal landscape of not yet open shops and hard hat types scurrying to finish things deep into the night.

The Anthem will remind you of the old 9:30 Club going all the way back to the F Street location with its black decor, as well as the V Street place with its movable stage, balconies, and terrific sound system. The space easily absorbed the twenty-five hundred people there last night with everyone taking advantage of all the sight points. There's even a charging wall so your date can't use the excuse that their phone died when you lose them in this six thousand capacity joint. I'm not sure there's ever been a space this size to see a rock show in our town- not to mention on the water. I was wowed.

Pearl Street is as intimate as The Anthem is grand. Now we are back on the scale of the old 9:30, but think laid back Southern roadhouse with little tables and a checkerboard floor that can be cleared for dancing. A diner complete with counter service sits just to the side of the performance space. As one of my companions said gazing at the garage doors which will open onto the promenade on nice days, it feels like we left town. This is an all day venue which will start with breakfast at 7 a.m. and serve 'til they close. At a max capacity of three hundred, there isn't a bad seat in the house.

How to get there? The funnest way would have to be by water. Check out the new Wharf water taxi line opening tomorrow with free rides throughout the day.

P.S. Update from October 11

More photos from The Anthem's Foo Fighters preview show in which case Dave "never dial it in" Grohl gave us his all.

And we discover more people can fit in here...