Thursday, June 14, 2018

Capitals Fan Chris

In light of hockey fever, I feel compelled to remember my irracible and ever loyal friend Chris who was a Washington native and, literally, a die hard Capitals fan. His sons grew up breathing hockey with a goal perennially set up in their front yard in Silver Spring.

Chris and his wife Adele religiously attended the boys' games, and months would go by in which the entire family was consumed by all things hockey. Practices. Hockey at school. Hockey on TV. I would text Chris to come to a rock show, and his one word answer would be "game." Even after the boys stopped playing and moved onto college and other things, the family stayed in touch, cheering and screaming through every Capitals season that came to a not so happy ending.

In April of 2015, Chris died suddenly while watching a game on TV, at home in his own living room. This is why I couldn't help but think of him all through the playoffs. And when the team finally declared a long sought victory for Washington, I know Adele and his sons couldn't have been happier except for that enormous hole in their lives that only Chris could fill.

Now that I've thoroughly bummed you all out, let me go on to say that Chris was also a huge music fan and a total gear head.  He left behind a massive vinyl and CD collection which reflected his eclectic and inclusive taste, and he was a booster for local rock. He would have loved the whole idea of Rhizome - that crazy place on the hill in Takoma Park for events outside the box. This Saturday look for another installment of Seventh Stanine, an all ages music festival with bands starting at 2 and rolling through 11 o' clock in the evening. Here's a link to the schedule. Elsewhere JV is jam packed with music all day and night, too,  including Patty Reese with Dave Chappell rocking away the afternoon and The Thrillbillys throwing it down at night.

Friday night  Ruthie and the Wranglers will be honky-tonking at Pearl Street Warehouse. Valentine Slim is mixing things up at the Takoma VFW, and The Nighthawks rock JV.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

No More Pencils No More Books

I started school again in September of 1995, and even though I was ready, with all the supplies and a cute little outfit picked out, it was still kind of scary. My daughter was four years old, and I was supposed to leave her there all day. ALL day.  This seemed very strange to me. I grew up when kindergarten was the starting line, and we only went until lunchtime.

 At first it was a relief to have her socked away in school, but then all the old anxiety triggers came rushing back. Homework. Especially math homework. Deadlines. Boring textbooks.  And don't get me started on the horrors of science projects.

When Zoe started school, I didn't stop to think about just how long I was going to be involved with DCPS which oftentimes felt like Mr Toad's Wild Ride.  Turns out it was from 1995 until this upcoming weekend, when my son will graduate from Wilson High as long as he has turned in all of his textbooks (as of today one is still missing) and if he hasn't been classified as a truant. (That might be a close one, too, with all the new restrictions. If you miss a class- you miss the day.)

I was pretty dang organized back in the Pre- K era, but this year... let's just say little things fell between the cracks. Like teacher conferences and ordering a yearbook. And getting the boy into college. Right about now I am grateful to hear Doris Day singing in my head. You know the one.

Speaking of music here's a few "school's out for summer" parties for those of you counting the days. All are good choices, and all land on Friday night because that's just the way life is. Old school prog rockers should check out The Messthetics opening for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at the Black Cat. Or kickback to the 80s at JV's with Pile of Rocks, a Nick Lowe/ Dave Edmunds tribute kind of band with The Yachtsmen on board to warm things up first set.

And for anyone in a Cajun frame of mind, Little Red and the Renegades will throw it down at Haydees in Mount Pleasant.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

So Long to May from June

When I was a kid, holidays fell on historic dates, not convenient Mondays. Memorial Day was always May 30th, and it used to mean the end of the school year, and the official beginning of summer.  It's also my parents' wedding anniversary.  Before we move onto June which has no federal holidays, but plenty of music, I'd like to send a shout out to George and Bebe who eloped when they were teenagers on Memorial Day 1935 and somehow stayed married for seventy two years. Here's a link to that story.

As they used to say on Hee- Haw...SA- LUTE !

Now here's DC ROCK"S Incompetent and Incomplete Calendar for June :


Elikeh Afro- Pop @ Gypsy Sally's

David Kitchen and Dan Hovey Happy hour @ JV

Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Villain and Saint

Booker T Jones w/ Ron Holloway @ Pearl Street


Rambling Shadows/ 7 Door Sedan/ dc charges @ Takoma VFW

The Linemen w/ Karen Jonas @ Pearl Street


Ruthie n the Wranglers @ JV ( 4 pm)


Ruthie Jamboree @ New Deal Cafe


Thrillbillys @ JV


Ted Leo and the Pharmacists/ The Messthetics @ Black Cat

The Yachtsmen/ Pile of Rocks @ JV


Goin' Goin Gone/ The Traveling Ones @ Hill Country


Ruthie and the Wranglers @Pearl Street


Nighthawks @ JV

Dave Chappell/ Patty Reese @ JV ( 1 pm)



Thrillbillys @ JV


Goin' Goin' Gone @ JV


Jumpin Jupiter @ JV ( 4pm)


The Beanstalk Library/ Bal Boheme @ Galaxy Hut


Dave Chappell @ JV


Lunch with Bob @ JV

Split Seconds @ Black Cat backstage

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Beat Goes On

The Billy Hancock tribute last Sunday was a major rocking love fest.  The event sold out, but the folks at Pearl Street generously threw open their garage doors so everyone could see and hear the show even if they couldn't go inside. The monsoons had stopped, the bar was accessible from the patio, and the music was top notch.

Everywhere you looked musicians and fans screamed at the sight of each other as happy little reunions took place.

Iona Berberich, Chaz Powers and Martha Hull
In case you missed it, here's a short photo essay from the uber talented Alan Kresse who captured moments like these:

Johnny Castle and Ratso 

Eddie Angel
Martha Hull 
Tex Rabinowitz the Original Bad Boy

As much fun as it was, this event did not happen in a vacuum. With the exception of Tex Rubinowitz, who came out of retirement to honor Billy, most of the musicians on stage have been actively rocking lo these many, many moons and are still going strong.

This Saturday Ratso will come down from the mountain once again with his slightly newer project Lunch with Bob. Look for them at the Takoma VFW.  On Friday night long time local favorites Cravin' Dogs and The Walkaways will play Pearl Street Warehouse.   Please support local music and local venues. Don't let them become history.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

True Rock

The last time I saw Billy Hancock, he was sitting in the window at Hank Dietle's quietly playing a solo gig, just Billy and his guitar in a dark corner. My friends and I had stopped in for a drink and had no idea he would be there. Next thing I knew Mark Noone (of the Slickee Boys) got up and sang a couple of chestnuts with Billy. It was a surreal experience, and now that he is gone, it feels a bit like a dream as do a lot of memories from my DC musical past, but here's the picture to prove it really did happen.

I took a lot for granted growing up here.  Didn't every town have radio stations like WHFS and WGTB?  Plus a bunch of little bars where you could see players like Roy Buchanan, Tex Rabinowitz, Joe Stanley and Danny Gatton? Billy Hancock, while a rocking phenomenon in his own right, did projects with all of the above and more.

This Sunday's five hour tribute show at Pearl Street Warehouse will reflect that legacy and bring out names we haven't heard from in a while as well as others who have kept at it. Look for Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys, The Nighthawks, the Tennessee Rockets and Switchblade as well as an army of local talent including Martha HullEddie Angel and Ratso. And more. Way more. It's going to be a humongous hometown reunion for both players and fans from a lucky era when there were real "guitar heroes,"  and before the little clubs were eaten by developers.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Waxing Nostalgic and Funky

 Once upon a time, when the District of Columbia had no shortage of music venues, Desperados or "Despos" was a Georgetown bar and the Wax Museum was in Southwest. Sadly both have been gone since the 1980s, but Desperado's former booking agent Julie Wilson is heroically pulling together a big fat reunion for the second year in a row. Both venues once featured local and national bands, and both were raging rock clubs. Survivors can party down with their memories tomorrow night at the Birchmere which is known for its "sit down and shut up" policy, but fortunately has a huge outer hall and bar where everyone can yack up the days of yore.

The Funk Parade almost didn't happen this year, but the event is ON this Saturday turning the U Street corridor into a massive celebration of soul, funk and the arts.  The street fair runs from 1 p.m. to 7, with the actual parade marching from the Howard to the Lincoln at 5. Music goes all day and all through the night.  Hit the link above for the extensive and impressive lineup.  This year daytime wristbands can be purchased for $10 to help "sustain the artists" which is a good thing for all.

And finally Jimi and Janis. Need I say more? Bring back a piece of your heart with the Newmyer Flyer gang of kick ass local musicians - also on Saturday at the Hamilton.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Emergent Occasions

May is finally here. Such a romantic month with winter behind us and the possibilities of  Summer just ahead. In the meantime Washington is one big fat flower show, and even though I have lived here a really, really long time, I am still discovering places like the Pentagon Lagoon.

And the Columbia Island happy hour which starts up Memorial Day weekend, but you can take a picnic there anytime. See the table? The same goes for Theodore Roosevelt and Kingman Islands.

But remember John Donne once said that "no man is an island" when he wrote "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, " and I am going to go ahead and give John the benefit of the doubt that he meant men AND women. And while I am at it, I'd like to appropriate that phrase "emergent occasion" to describe Spring.  Let's all make like cicadas and emerge to be a part of things like picnics and concerts.  Or maybe be part of something bigger than all of us like the Running of the Chihuahuas which is happening this Saturday at the Wharf.  Look for a free show with Jumpin' Jupiter at Pearl Street Warehouse beforehand to get everyone in the mood for funny looking creatures bolting down the afro-turf.

If that's not your thing, here's more local concerts and events emerging for May:


Songs of Protest @ Gypsy Sally's


David kitchen Band @ JV


Jumping' Jupiter/ Delarcos @ Hill Country

Pow Wow! DC Opening Day 

Jumping Jupiter Free @ noon at Pearl Street
Running of the Chihuahuas @ The Wharf 1-5

Little Red and the Renegades @ JV

Chopteeth @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Rock-A-Sonics @ Republic 


Desperados/ Wax Museum Reunion @ Birchmere


Funk Parade 

Janis Joplin Tribute @ The Hamilton


Silk Leash/Flooded /Culture Thief/Maulrat @ Slash Run

Thrillbillys @ JV


St Sophia's Greek Fest


Chuck Brown Band @ Pearl Street Warehouse


Dave Chappell/ Patty Reese matinee @ JV

Billy Hancock Tribute @ Pearl Street Warehouse

The Yachtsmen/ Bold Deceivers @ Galaxy Hut


Dan Hovey (6-8 early) @ JV

Cravin' Dogs/ The Walkaways @ Pearl Street


Lunch With Bob @ Takoma VFW


Dave Chappell @ JV

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Paging Back or A Very Short History

This week I have been delving deep into the past (further back than usual) uncovering people like my ancestor Page Dugan who was born in 1800 in the wilds of Tennessee.  No internet. No Hot Shoppes. No go-go. Just trees and cook fires and maybe birds singing. After Page was married he pushed even further west near Jackson where my grandmother would be born in 1898. 

But that's as far west as my family got. My grandmother ended up moving to Washington DC  in 1916, and my mother arrived on the scene in 1917. So here I am, a mere hundred years or so later, talking about the very cool sounds of Boat Burning’s CD release party tomorrow night at DC 9

not to mention Dave Chappell at JV or the Rock-A-Sonics at Hill Country. (All on Thursday for Pete's sake.) Friday night Goin' Goin' Gone is rocking JV's with guitar luminary Dan Hovey, and it's not even Saturday yet when you can take your pick between original Southern soul, punk/garage and roots with  King Soul at the Cheverly Legion, 7 Door Sedan and Color School at the Takoma VFW or Eric Brace and Peter Cooper at Jammin' Java.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bureaucracy Versus Analog Tape

Just the mention of the numbers 1099 and W-2 make my head hurt which is why a place like Rhizome in Takoma Park is a haven and a safe space for those of us who puzzle our way through most sensible things. After the filing frenzy, allow yourself to relax this Thursday evening when a collaboration of music, film and interesting people collide. Check out  "Music for Amplified Violin, Guitar, and Analog Tape," plus a rare screening of "Film" with live accompaniment.

Here's the word from Andras Fekete:

"Robin Diamond and Andras Fekete of Boat Burning, a Washington DC-based "maximum minimalist" collective, explores unexpected connections between classical music, experimental and punk. Diamond and Fekete will accompany Mia Zabelka a sound artist, violinist and vocalist on guitar, tape and keys. 

In 1964, Samuel Beckett traveled from Paris to New York City to shoot "Film," a 24 minute short starring silent film legend Buster Keaton.  It would be Beckett's only screenplay, and Keaton's final film appearance. 

British multi-instrumentalist and film composer Tim Carless will perform a live score to the screening.   Music starts 8pm with DC improvisational combo Low Ways, featuring Mark Cisneros on sax and Ian McColm on drums."

For more traditional fare please check the DC ROCKS' calendar which is overflowing this weekend with the uber talented likes of  Dan Hovey, Dave Chappell, Patty Reese, The Thrillbillys and Valentine Slim. Plus check out a new venue with an old favorite... The Nighthawks are playing Union Stage- Jammin Java's sister venue at the Wharf. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Past Isn't

Art by Mark Holmes
Everyone loves harkening back to the bad ole days of 9:30 and d.c. space where much loved bands like The Beatnik Flies, The Slickee Boys and later Fugazi were a regular thing. Indeed, people I meet now tell me they hung out at the old 9:30 Cub on F Street "all of the time," and if you were then you probably remember my friend Stewart Schmallbach who could redefine that term. He was there night after night and sometimes during the day.

His bar stool was at the back bar right next to the service area, and his drink was a screwdriver.  An artist in his own right, he often painted the walls to defray his bar bill-especially when there was an event.  A lot of people remember the club in monochrome, but actually the color would sometimes change for anniversary parties.

Fred! Photo by Marie Broussard
This weekend put your money where your memories are. Come out and support live music with people who are still on the scene. On Friday night The Messthetics, a true power trio and comprised of Fugazi's Joe Lally and Brendan Canty plus guitar master Anthony Pirog, are throwing  a CD release party at Black Cat with Sarah Hughes and Kid Claws.  Please note this is a rare all ages venue, and a show not to be missed if you are a music fan.

Saturday The Vi-Kings, who usually do their magical throwback psychedelic thing in Maryland, will pilgrimage across the river to JV's in Falls Church. The line up includes  Joe Dolan (Beatnik Flies) Bob Berberich (Rosslyn Mountain Boys) and Bill Craig of (the) Razz.

On the other side of everything The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, with Mark Noone of Slickee Boy fame on bass, will be rocking the Takoma VFW. This is a cool and crazy little venue where you can grandly buy your friends a round and still have change from a twenty.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

No Foolin'

Not just a few of you remarked on the last DC ROCKS calendar which I put up in honor of my father who loved a good prank. Whether it was a goofy phone call or the always reliable "what did you spill on your shirt?" gag he would always roar APRIL FOOL afterwards at top volume and then laugh uproariously even if you didn't think it was funny.

For you curious cats, my April Fools' list was au current in 1979, and I plucked only a handful of items from the incredibly extensive calendar in an old Unicorn Times. Now almost all of the bands and every one of those venues are long gone except Columbia Station which is in a different place and only has the same name. (The original closed in 1984.)

Nevertheless a lot of those dates and bands were real and alive and need feeding.  The Beanstalk Library and Throwing Plates are at Pearl Street Warehouse tomorrow night.

On Saturday the Leon Russel Tribute happens at the Barns of Wolf Trap another Newmyer Flyer event with a panoply of local talent, but it may be sold out already. If you are feeling less extravaganza and more come as you are, the Bold Deceivers will liven things up at the Takoma VFW.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spring Is Coming

Staying home for Spring break last week meant exploring parts of the city I don't recognize anymore like "Eye" Street NW. The people in the picture above are actually sitting in the middle of the street. What was the street. Now there's a trendy waterfall fountain and a daffodil at each table. Go figure.

Despite the cold weather hanging around like a cheap suit,  the tourists are here for the cherry blossoms in droves.  Don't go anywhere near the Tidal Basin for the next couple of weeks unless your plan is to see the blooms through the car window while stuck in traffic which is a beautiful thing just as long as you don't have to be anywhere anytime soon. On the other hand there are other things to do,  and here's what I've got for April so far:

Grits @ Columbia Station

Snake Farmers @ New Deal

Thrillbillys @ JV

Insect Surfers @

Beanstalk Library /Throwing Plates @ Pearl Street

Leon Russell Tribute @ Barns of Wolf Trap

Bold Deceivers @ Takoma VFW

Razz @ Bayou

DC Music Salon/ DC's Streets Talk @Shaw Library

The Messthetics /Sarah Hughs / Kid Claws @ Black Cat

Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW

The Vi-Kings @ JV

Slickee Boys @ Psyche Delly

Thrillbillys @ JV

Dan Hovey/ Dave Chappell Happy Hour @ JV

The Nighthawks @ Union Stage

Patty Reese/ Dave Chappell 1 pm @ JV

Pegasus @ Italian Gardens

Dave Chappell (yes, again!) @ JV

Goin Goin Gone @ JV

King Soul @ Cheverly Legion

Eric Brace/ Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz Trio @ Jammin Java

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Make Love Not War

I've written about my neighbor Doug Dupin many times. He is always up to something interesting, and last Monday proved to be no exception. I was lucky enough to accompany him on an expedition which included transporting an eight by six foot space gun via pickup truck through the streets of Washington.

We  installed said project in the window of Upshur Books just in time for the Equinox and an upcoming art show.

Behold if you will.  "Baby with Deathray"  

But Doug is not alone. Over fifty participants are getting ready for Artists Against GunViolence- an event which will compliment the upcoming march this weekend. The opening reception happens this Thursday at Third Floor (above Slim's Diner) and runs from 6:00- 9:00 p.m.  Hit the link above for more details. The art show, made possible by the Ruppert family, will run through April 9th.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Tots Are Back in Town

With the recent loss of Hank Dietle's, it was nice to see the Quarry House reopen last weekend. (In case you haven't been paying attention, both of these small venues were ravaged by fire- Dietle's last month and The Quarry House three years ago.) Except for the peculiar smell which (thankfully) is gone, the dive bar atmosphere remains remarkably in tact along with their extensive beer and bourbon menu of beverages to wash down those burgers and tater tots. The juke box is back, but for now live music is a thing of the past.

Kudos to Jackie Greenbaum for saving this little piece of local bar fly history in Silver Spring.

On the musical front, axe man Dan Hovey will be having a busy week. Thursday night he'll be playing with the David Kitchen Band at JVs. I saw them a couple of weeks ago and was bowled over. Again. That unassuming shopping center always tricks me into complacency, but open the door, and it's a pre-weekend throw down with excellent chops here.

Saturday, if you want to avoid those amateur green beer drinking leprechauns, head over to the Takoma VFW for Goin Goin Gone's old school style of rock and roll. Hopefully Dan will have rested up by then, because he's on this gig, too. Please note that the gracious lads of the band will be donating most of the ten dollar cover back to restoring Hank Dietle's.

And finally on Sunday - NOT Dan Hovey but Dave Chappell and Anthony Pirog will burn down the stage at JV. Wait. Poor choice of words. How about tear up the stage?  Shred? In any case, if you call yourself a guitar connoisseur and haven't caught these two in action, then you ain't seen nothing yet.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dispatch From DC Rocks

Three shows this Friday. Zero time to write. Here we go.

Parthenon Huxley at Jammin Java. Google him then ask yourself did I read that right? He's at a little club in Vienna? Consider this a huge opportunity.

King Soul at the Takoma VFW. Open a can of sardines and jump in. The entire joint turns into a joyful mosh pit of cheap booze and kickass music when this band takes the stage. Not for the claustrophobic.

The Laurel Canyon Tribute at the Birchmere. If you are a sucker for a time and place like no other in California, Newmyer Flyer always puts on a great show with a truck load of local talent. Worth seeing even if you do have to sit down and shut up here.