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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unconventional Takoma Park

Free Your Mind at Rhizome

Takoma Park is fairly exploding with new things.  New restaurants. New apartments.  New bars. All are fairly cool places, but nothing really extraordinary except perhaps for RhizomeDC, a performance space and experimental arts center located in a somewhat ordinary looking house on Maple Avenue.  (Just over the D.C. line)  I've been driving to Takoma Park a lot lately, and the view from near the railroad bridge on Aspen  made me wonder...what the heck goes on in there? So I looked it up. Concerts, workshops,  a record fair, performances, book discussions, a film screening... whatever the heck artistic type individuals can dream up could possibly find a home here. And great things can happen in small spaces. A friend of mine told me he was wowed by the last concert he saw at Rhizome which would have been in what used to be an ordinary living room. Hit the link above for upcoming events to find out more.

Rhizome: Where It's At

Meanwhile on the other side of Takoma there's another atypical space - this one is not new but was reinvented by the commander of the Takoma VFW a.k.a. Hell's Bottom. Musical events have helped save this outpost from extinction, and patrons save big on their bar tab. This Friday the truly unorthodox Yachstmen and 7 Door Sedan will hold forth. (Please note this show starts promptly at 8 p. m.) Saturday look for Colonel Josh and friends to carry on into the night.




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rock On Campers


Good Morning Campers. Today I am happy to report that the Fort Reno Concerts are still alive and kicking off tomorrow with Weird BabiesTK Echo and Mock Identity.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Amanda MacKaye and her crew of volunteers, this series gives new and mostly young bands a chance to strut their stuff.

Free concerts happen at 7 p.m. every Monday and Thursday throughout July, weather permitting, and, if the gods are smiling, the ice cream truck will arrive, there'll be a decent breeze and an admirable sunset thrown in to boot. A very cool and unique venue for punk rockers of all ages



Monday, July 3, 2017

Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom


The United States was built on a big idea of liberty, but we sure have had a hard time figuring out what that actually means and who exactly is entitled to its benefits. It seems to be an ongoing struggle- especially in the name of fear. Here in my town, Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street are closed near "the People's House." We can't wander in and out of public buildings or eat lunch in the various department cafeterias anymore unless we have government business to conduct and run the gamut of security checks.  (Remember when the National Aquarium was holed up in the Department of Commerce? ) I haven't gone downtown for the July 4th holiday since the snow fence corrals went up.

But out here in the sticks, near the Potomac River, the District of Columbia runs a hometown parade that is free for anyone to watch or march in. It's an equal opportunity situation for firetrucks, horses and Radio Flyer wagons. Prizes are given with creativity preferred over politics athough we get a lot of both.


The parade starts near the Safeway on MacArthur at 11 a.m. and winds down the Boulevard to Edmunds Place before dumping into Palisades Park for the prize giving announcements and a party featuring free libations and frivolity. Be on the lookout for lemonade, watermelon, and hotdogs with mustard,  justice and liberty for all.







Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hot Town



Welcome to summertime in DC y'all. There's fireflies and flowers in the back yard tonight with an unusually cool and wonderful breeze, but tomorrow the temps are climbing up to the 90s with no end in sight. The melt down arrives just in time for the 50th Smithsonian Folklife Festival which is always hot as Hades. The festival will be celebrating its own anniversary with circuses, memories, and lots of music including The Chuck Brown Band on Friday.

The Fourth of July lands on a Tuesday this year so the upcoming holiday weekend comes with a Lego Expansion set, and a flashback. Our old pal Eric Brace is bringing Last Train Home back to IOTA. Two long sets are promised Friday and Saturday nights starting promptly at 9.






Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Party Like It's 1990 Something



Grunge, rave and hip hop all came into their own during the 1990s while I was home with kids paying absolutely no attention to what was happening in the music world. Fortunately I had a former 9:30 deejay keeping our house current with the eclectic scene, especially bands not playing on the radio. So basically, if it happened in the 1990s, I missed it.

This Saturday local bands Getchoo, Dammit Josie and Dashing Bumpkins converge to reanimate that bygone decade with an all ages tribute show at the Rock n Roll Hotel.


On the other hand, if you want to see a band that has been playing since the '90s, check out the  Ubangis' Summer Fling show at Slash Run. (For you trivia fans The Ubangis' first show was with The Wanktones in December 1990 at d.c. space.)


And for those of you who fondly remember The Wanktones- be sure to listen to Takoma Park's WOWD this Sunday morning for a trip back in time.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trolls Redux



Once upon a time, folks lived in fear of trolls.  Cumbersome and ugly, these creatures could be found in remote caves with piles of questionable bones laying nearby. By the time I was a child, trolls had been relegated to fairy tales. This was my concept of a typical troll:

Circling back, modern day trolls function as malevolent entities again. No longer skulking in caves,  they hide on the internet, throwing up offensive tidbits like chum, hoping to deliberately provoke and disturb.

D.C.'s Comet Ping Pong, the pizza parlor with an imaginary underground dungeon, has withstood a particularly vicious onslaught of rumors. Despite it all, the ping pong tables remain busy with erratic young players and parents chasing after both balls and kids. Messages of support from young and old can be found scrawled across a poster near the bar. The phone may be oversubscribed, but you can always order your love in the form of a pizza pie online.

After dinner, Comet doubles as a concert venue and even though local musicians who once played there have been menaced as well, the music will not be silenced. This Friday ole 9:30 Club pal Norm Veenstra will be on deck with Tone, Show Pony and James Wolf. All ages show starts at 10 p.m.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We Like to Rock Too Much


Washington DC's federal hat tends to overshadow its true denizens- those incredibly lovable and often talented natives. Those of us lucky enough to have grown up here in the 1980s can't help but remember the supernova group Switchblade and a certain hot shot guitar player with an eye popping pompadour.


I am happy to report that DC's own Ratso is back and ready to rock again. Look for him this Thursday night at Villain and Saint in Bethesda with a new project called Lunch With Bob. According to Mr Silman, the band will be playing “kick ass American music” when they open for Colonel Josh and the Watt Brothers. Might be a raucous night considering V and S is having its first Biker's Happy Hour, too.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Long Live Rock n Roll



Once upon a time, most of us lived in a world relatively untouched by digital logic circuits. Yes, we had transistor radios, but we still had to be at home to answer the phone.  We lived in caves, but we did have lots of live music starting with middle school mixers and high school proms. (Fancy Colors, y'all.)  Plus there were loads of little clubs. Emergency, Babe's, The Far Inn, One Step Down,  One Flight Up,  Takoma Tap Room, Columbia Station,  Childe Harold, L.B.J Club, Italian Gardens, Friendship Station,  My Friend's Place, Gallagher's, The Keg.

Now it's deejays at school events and rocketing real estate values have brought down many an old haunt.  The smaller venues are as endangered as this tiny dude.

 Forest Owlet
Out in the wilds of Palisades, there's been no live music since Starland Cafe closed its doors many a moon ago. This Saturday, however, The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours will storm the castle with a church basement rock party just off the Boulevard. There's a real stage and plenty of dance floor.  And you won't be paying ten dollars for a beer because it's BYOB.   Tickets at the door.  Details here.







Thursday, May 25, 2017

Porch Time


One memorable year a ways back, two of my children briefly became vegetarians while they were  in school. Not at the same time, of course, because that would have been too easy for the resident chef. They transformed separately and consecutively. The girl child was moved by a film she saw in class- a somewhat brutal exposition on the beef industry. It was "the next cow watching" that sent her over the edge. The boy, on the other hand, was a committed consumer of bacon, and had always eschewed anything remotely colored green. He converted on a bet.

This teenage episode reminds me of the People's Republic of Takoma Park. Goofy and politically over correct, it's a community we love in spite of itself. A nuclear free zone which spawned Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Fahey and Root Boy Slim as well as "Cat Man," "Fox Man" and "Roscoe." Azalea City: eclectic old homes and beautiful porches.

Come Saturday afternoon, like cicadas emerging from the murky underground, musicians of many stripes will be out in broad day light for the fifth annual Takoma Porch Fest happening from 2-4 p.m.  Click the link for handy map and schedule, and check out this cool little never never land for yourself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Fade Away

Bob Weir /from Diamondback archives

I was never a huge Grateful Dead fan, but my UMD housemates sure were. If memory serves me, Dougal, Chauncy, Stuart and Pete all camped out in the snow to get tickets for the Dead's show at Ritchie Coliseum back in the 1980s. It was a big deal. Pete even designed commemorative tee shirts featuring Jerry Garcia's head on a terrapin's body. And thanks to my housemates, I found myself sitting on a folding chair close to the front. And thanks to the internet,  I can tell you exactly when that show was: Saturday March 7, 1981 to be exact. And it wasn't at Ritchie- it was at Cole Field House. With the date pinned down, I can find my own journal entry. (Being the odd child that I am, I took my notebook to the concert.)



"Row 11 Seat 5. Shoved Stuart over one. Everybody's standing on their chair swaying and screaming  looking glassy eyed at the stage. Alcohol, cigarettes, sweat and pot.  "It looks like rain, " Jerry croons and the crowd goes wild.  Now everybody's clapping, but all I see is a sea of knees. I  can occasionally get a glimpse of this page by the light of a flashbulb. I smell hash."

It was right about then that a flashbulb went off in my own head. I realized what a mistake I had made by attending the event stone cold sober.  Still it was a feather in my cap to be able to say I saw the Dead. And I wish I still had my tee shirt.



Fast forward to now. Jerry Garcia's famous "wolf" guitar which once brought almost a million dollars at auction, is being sold again.  This story didn't really catch my interest until I heard that the sale will be an unprecedented act of love beyond fandom. The man who bought the guitar in 2002 has pledged to donate all of the proceeds of the auction and the accompanying concert to the Southern Poverty Law Center - a group which has mounted the charge against hate groups and racism.  This "box of rain" is the kind of love this country needs. Now more than ever.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Connect the Dots?


A plethora of shows this weekend line up with a galaxy of genres: Psychedelic Prog Rock, Polyrhythmic Post Punk, Americana, Shoegaze, Roots Rock, Psych Dance, Street Blues, Gonzo Folk, Bar Prog, Party Metal, Math Rock just to name a few. Something for everyone. Right?  If you're left a bit dazed by all these monikers, get a magic marker and try to connect the bands to their ilk. Or just go with the flow and throw a dart. One thing they all have in common? As per DC ROCKS' credo- nothing here over $20 - most under $15- or no cover. All more fun than staying home and watching the news. Local music needs local people!

FRIDAY


Greenland is back ! along with Emma and Fat Spirit at Slash Run.


Bold Deceivers take down Takoma VFW. 


Eric Brace is back ! with Peter Cooper & Thomm Jutz at Jammin'Java


Bumper Jacksons have a crazy CD Release Party at The Hamilton.





 SATURDAY


Cravin' Dogs 10th (!) CD / Party at Villain and Saint.





David Goodfriend's new project The Conrads' debut (!) at the Takoma VFW 


The Messthetics- a dream team of former Fugazi players and guitar hero Anthony Pirog will be above ground at Comet Ping Pong with Crown Larks and Time Is Fire.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

These Are People That Aren't gone


Acoustic show with two men who rocked the 1980s. Catch 'em before they head for the West.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ten Bands You Haven't Seen in Bethesda Lately


Bethesda back in the day was mostly a two story sort of town, but now it's easy for natives to get lost looking for familiar landmarks.  As developers knock down one block after another with Godzilla like indifference, rumors are running rampant. What next on the chopping block ?  The Farm Women's Market? Pines of Rome? Tastee Diner? The Psyche Delly? (Okay, the Psyche Delly's gone, but the block is still there.)

Here are ten bands you might remember playing that old rock haunt:

Evan Johns and the H-Bombs, Switchblade, Insect Surfers, King Soul, Tru Fax, Nightman, both The Slickee and the Rosslyn Mountain Boys, Catfish Hodge, Beatnik Flies. 

Wait, one of those is a lie! 

Silly social media games aside, the good news is live music can still be found in Bethesda. Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle took over the Psyche Delly's old address, and  The 19th Street Band will be there FridayMary Ann Redmond plays on Saturday.  Feeling supper club fancy? Cut the rug with Chopteeth at Bethesda Blues or- last but never least- King Soul will be just up the avenue throwing it down at Villain and Saint. Both play this Friday.




Friday, April 21, 2017

The Spawn of Travesty




If you remember Cap'n Tugg and Gore de Vol, you grew up when TV programming was anything but generic. Every day after school we watched Cap'n Tugg, cruising the Potomac with Fantail the Parrot, fighting villains like Axel Graxle and Captain Flashflood while pushing "Bosco" to pay the bills.  



He communicated with Mister Flanagan in the engine room with something that looked like (and probably was) a vacuum cleaner hose and received updates from Commander Salamander. The humor of it all sailed right over my elementary school head, but I was a loyal viewer.


Another local celebrity, Creature Feature's horror host, Count Gore de Vol introduced the Langley Punks to the world with the film short Attack of the Paramecium Man. Nowadays films reach for perfection, but we lose the sheer genius which overcame low budget and very low tech. The Langley Punks, who in my humble opinion, were direct spawns of Cap'n Tugg, produced an explosion of insanity from the petri dishes of their imaginations. Who could forget titles like Alcoholics UnanimousHyattsville Holiday and Intestines From Space?



Really? No clue? Then prepare to be educated tomorrow evening at The First Absolutely Final Retrospective gathering and film event at the AFI in Silver Spring.






Thursday, April 13, 2017

Can This Date Be Saved?


I don't want to tell you procrastinating types that tax day is not April 15th this year. Why?
Because April 15th is a Saturday, and then comes Sunday which is Emancipation Day, but the holiday shifts to Monday April 17th which is my father's birthday as cited on his birth certificate, but since he was born at home in DC, and since Greeks aren't big on birthdays per se, and perhaps because there was a bit of a language barrier thrown in, we celebrated his birthday on April 18th  his whole life long without knowing any better, which is why this year April 18th is Tax Day. Oh and please note that this Sunday Greek Easter shares the day with regular joe Easter something that happens now and again depending on moons and things. 

But the reason I don't want to tell you about the shifting tax day is because of the fun shows this weekend which you can go to because your taxes are already done. Right? Or you can procrastinate until Monday. Up to you. 

Meanwhile the Desson Thompson Trio will be shaking things up at Villain and Saint and competing for attention with Doug Stevenson and the Spades just down the road at Hank Dietle's. (Bringing us to the question why are there two things to do this Friday when for weeks on end there's nothing on tap?
 (Answer? See paragraph one.)



And Saturday, especially for those of you who live left of town, Ruthie of the Wranglers has this to say:

So what heading does this show fit under? Music, party/nightlife, comedy, concert, barn dance, country, americana, roots rock n roll, hollerin' contest, beer slam, dance, social, relaxation therapy, love-in? I need some of all of that!! Scientically proven to improve your mood. WARNING: Side Effects include smiling, weight loss, increased appetite, fits of laughter, possible slurred speech and uncontrollable dance-like quick movements which may become permanent. 8:30 pm. Let's rock it! We are NOT EVEN CHARGING ADMISSION FOR THIS SHOW!


Friday, April 7, 2017

What Goes Around


Glen Echo Park has come full circle since it was first envisioned as a Chautauqua community. An artists' utopia. In the 1890s, it was touted as "Glen Echo on the Potomac: the Washington Rhine." Original plans called for a large sylvan amphitheater, a hall of philosophy, a women's temple, and a school of fine arts, as well as hotels and cottages.


Clara Barton, who was a rock star at the time, was convinced to join the community with a donation of land for her Red Cross headquarters, but by 1897, when she left her offices in Washington, (above d.c space) the Chautauqua dream was over. Fake news and rumors of malaria had scared people away causing the artist's colony to fail financially after only one successful season. Clara Barton, a nurse and ever pragmatic, was still happy to have the space for her enterprise.

The rest of the property was rented to carnival folk, and in 1906, the manager tried to chase Ms Barton away by building a roller coaster in her front yard. But he underestimated the eighty-five year old Barton. She had scavenged building materials for her home and worked on the interior herself, and she still prided herself on being able to hammer a straight nail. She didn't budge, and her house is on my top ten list of cool places to visit. (Admission is free.)



Over the years Glen Echo on the Potomac was transformed into a full blown amusement park that thrived until the 1960s.


Now, under the management of the National Park Service, Glen Echo is art centric again.  The Dentzel Carousel, a work of art in itself, is the only original ride that was rescued, and it's a grand centerpiece- surrounded by art studios and galleries. I hear Pralines- an outstanding local bakery- has a concession there, too. Dances are held regularly in the perfectly restored Spanish Ballroom, as well as the Bumper Car Pavilion, which is basically an outdoor venue so folks can still take in the scene if they don't want to dance. This Sunday look for the Wild Anacostias  from 3-6.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Two Ply Plea


Spring is here, D.C. Opening Day is tomorrow. Everything is blooming. Birds going ape. Summer is around the bend and that means rocking out at Fort Reno. We hope. From the Slickee Boys to the boys from Fugazi - collectively we've got a lot of memories:  Grin. Tinseled Sin. Babe. Crank. Going Going Gone. Razz. Liz Meyer with Danny Gatton. The Neptunes. Claude Jones. Dinettes. Priests. Tru Fax.  No Trend. The Upsetters. And more recently: Greenland. Nunchucks, Hello Dharma. The Evens. Sleeper Agent. Pup Tent. The Black Sparks.

Davis White recalls: "Fugazi playing on the fringes of a thunderstorm, and if you were there, you know the moment. (Huge fifteen fingered lightning in the sky behind the stage during a dramatic pause in a song."

Recently the Fort has been held hostage by security issues meaning this all volunteer event has to cough up dough to pay for a police presence or it's a no go. We the people who love to rock need to  make sure this unique series survives. Please hit up this link to help.


And another S.O.S. this time in Arlingtron which is rapidly being swallowed wholesale by soulless development. Now IOTA is on the chopping block and faces extinction by corporation. Music fans there are trying to save this space from oblivion starting with a petition to the developer and Arlington County. Here's the link if you would like to sign.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tiny Purple Fishes



When I hear "Tales of Brave Ulysses," I see in my mind a psychedelic mermaid and lyrics painted on the wall of a chicken house on the property of E. Howard Hunt- a not so imaginary wire tapper. Nope. It's not a drug induced flashback- at least not for me. I wasn't cool enough to have drawn it.  It's just a memory. I was about fourteen and barely aware of who Eric Clapton was, but I was learning fast. The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith. That short lived group produced just six songs, but it's one of my favorite albums ever. What a band!



This Friday, Ron Newmyer, has wrangled up yet another crew of musicians; this time to pay homage to Clapton at Bethesda Blues. Imagine tiny purple fishes...