Friday, January 27, 2017

Sorry Billy!

DC ROCKS apologizes for  getting the Billy Coulter/Garland Jeffries date wrong. The show is tonight Friday, January 27th.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program

Last Saturday, as my friends and I walked down 14th Street, we saw Constitution Avenue transformed into a river of sign bearing, pink hatted people flowing relentlessly west towards the Elipse. Then came the roar. It began in the distance, like an approaching storm, then arrived as those around us joined the shouting before it moved on- like an auditory version of a ball park "wave." I couldn't help but think of the rebel yell as the cry was repeated at random throughout the day.

We wondered at first, was this the march, or a pre-march? Should we try and get closer to the Capitol?  But short exploratory forays made it clear. We would have been salmon trying to leap up a torrential stream. And so we watched for hours, mesmerized by the wicked smart home made signs passing by before joining the throng. I have an innate fear of crowds, but there was no sense of violence here despite the unrest. Even the police seemed unperturbed as the crowd flowed undaunted up 17th Street towards Pennsylvania Avenue which was closed in front of the White House. (Of course it was.) By then it was early evening with no end in sight.

Then yesterday, I woke up to the news of traffic issues downtown. Turned out those determined folks at Greenpeace made this happen:

I sense a theme.

Meanwhile this FRIDAY if you need a break from, well, from everything,  Billy Coulter will be opening for Garland Jeffries at Jammin Java.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Welcome to Washington

D.C. It's complicated. The capital of the U. S. of A., and yet we lack the right to vote for representation in Congress. The District may be a prime target for terrorists, but we are graced by two rivers- including one which flows right next to the Pentagon providing an asymmetrical peace to the landscape.

Our city has its dysfunctional issues, but I am proud that we embraced gay marriage, relaxed restrictions on marijuana, and voted for death with dignity ahead of the curve.

We the people will not be quiet in Trumpville.

This weekend, as we get ready to turn our country over to uncertainty and our city over to protests, I hear songs in my head like "Compared to What" and "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

I wonder what Gil Scott-Heron would say now about our overwhelming social media and cameras in every hand. Here is a quote from him I thought rather topical:

"I've always had questions about what it meant to be a protester, to be in the minority. Are the people who are trying to find peace, who are trying to have the Constitution apply to everybody, are they really the radicals? We're not protesting from the outside. We're inside."

Isn't that last line great? We are inside. Down by the river or in front of the Capitol, find your place to be heard or to listen this weekend. In town Friday night, there's the "No Thanks" concert and benefit for Casa Ruby and One DC at Black Cat.  Uptown we've got The Vi-Kings at Bethesda Blues if you want to get your retro groove in motion before Saturday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Remembering Robert

Once upon a time, many moons ago, near the end of the 1970s, the District of Columbia had its own Atlantis located in the aptly named Atlantic Building. It was an almost mythical place where artists and musicians alike sought shelter in our deserted downtown after dark.  Robert Goldstein was one of those early denizens, and he helped create the scene which evolved into the 9:30 Club we once knew on F Street.  His band, The Urban Verbs, practiced upstairs. Their haunting art rock sound grabbed this town as it edged towards punk; their shows were raw, and alive with energy.

This Saturday afternoon, scattered tribes of DC musicians and fans who admired unforgettable songs like "The Next Question" and "Subways" will come together for an extremely musical tribute and a celebration of Robert's life at the new to us 9:30 on V Street.

I talked to Roddy Franz, lead singer for the Verbs, this morning and he said, "What makes this event extraordinary is the outpouring of respect and affection from Robert's contemporaries who will be showing up to play his songs."

Franz was somewhat surprised at the volume of support because Robert was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy. As NPR's music librarian, he was responsible for the digitalization of the entire collection and sometimes selected the snippets of music between news stories. Although you may have never heard of Robert, the Atlantis or the Urban Verbs, this is the time and place to gather to discover and remember things past. All are welcome to this singular event.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Resolution To Create a Better World

The New Year is before us. Here in Washington, people are girding their loins for battle and making plans for Inauguration Day. The DC Cannabis Commission will be making a lot of people feel better on January 2o when they hand out 4,200 joints near Dupont Circle, but I've got my own corner of the world to contend with and my own resolutions.  Number one might be painting the living room. (I started this project two years ago but only finished two walls.) 

Perhaps my bar is low, but so are my spirits. That's why I was happy to find a new role model in Taylor Mac. This dude is crazy creative.

Sara Krulwich /The New York Times

Last October at St Ann's Warehouse in New York,  Mac pulled off a glittering masterpiece of a performance called "A 24 Hour Decade History of Popular Music" which included 246 songs and spanned 240 years of music, history and commentary rolled into one truly elaborate and theatrical "sleep" over.  This dazzling event sold out, and everyone stayed awake most of the time. Wesley Morris of the  New York Times called it "one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Taylor Mac's vision, which I heard in this NPR interview, is what caught my interest the most. 

"We didn't really say, 'This is the world that we want' on stage," Mac says, "but we were making it — with the ... audience and the music and everybody participating." Mac wants to continue making this kind of art: art that imagines new ways forward instead of just identifying the problems in society. "I think that's what the future holds for me," Mac says. "Making more work that is about making the world that I want as opposed to commenting on the world that is."

We've got a lot of creative people around our town and this Saturday you can find Tone at IOTA, and King Soul at Villain and Saint. Also please save the date- the afternoon of January 14th- people are coming together to celebrate the life of Robert Goldstein at the 9:30 Club.

And I need to buy paint.