Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Peace Like a River

I've been thinking lately about where to find peace in our town. The obvious haunts come to mind right away- Hains Point, Rock Creek Park and the Arboretum. But I've also got my favorite hidey-holes like the Bishop's Garden behind the Cathedral where you can ponder life in outdoor rooms.  Down in Georgetown, I used to get a sandwich and a soda at Harold's Deli on M Street and picnic in the back yard of the Old Stone House. The deli is long gone, but the beautifully kept garden is still there. Over in Anacostia there's that magnificent view from Frederick Douglas' front yard,  but my favorite part of the property is the man cave he once called The Growlery. Here's a picture of WPA workers fixing the roof in the 1930s.

Mr. Douglas had his space tricked out simply with a desk and a couch so he could think and write. Or write and think.  Since then the Park Service had to replace the original building with a replica of the tiny cabin without the furnishings, but it's still a beautiful place.

Finding serenity downtown can be more of a challenge, but once a month the Luce Unplugged Concert Series takes place on the third floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and it's happening again this Friday. Here's the word from Andras Fekete of Boat Burning:

"This free concert will transform the soaring atrium which features vaulted ceilings, multi-tiered balconies, sweeping glass surfaces and deep recesses into a fully-immersive, walk-around sonic installation. Audience members are invited to wander the space during the performance to experience the aural effects from different angles. The October showcase will feature the ambient, synthesized tunes of AARON LEITKO and the maximal minimalism of BOAT BURNING's experimental rock."

I like being "invited to wander the space" for this sonic extravaganza as I have a hard time sitting still for anything. Plus - bonus- there's a free 3 Star beer tasting plus snacks for sale. Music starts at 6.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Deep Fall

Enough with the warm weather already. I know a lot of you get depressed around this time of year. Somebody I know even refers to falling leaves as "harbingers of death," but I dig the colors.

Plus I like Halloween and all the goofy decorations around town.

I was rereading George Pelecanos' Hell To Pay last week when I ran across this rather relevant paragraph featuring a favorite reoccurring character Derek Strange:

Soon the colors would change in Rock Creek Park. And then would come those weeks near Thanksgiving when the weather turned for real and the leaves were still coming down off the trees. Strange had his own name for it: deep fall. It was his favorite time of year in D.C.

This weekend it sounds like we will get our first real taste of Autumn with a high of 63 and a low of 48 predicted for tomorrow. And those cooler temps might actually kick our trees into gear. Hopefully the rain will clear out by Saturday in time for the H Street Festival which is a magnificent spread of food and music and stuff. Also over at the Wharf which is always buzzing on the weekends, King Soul will be playing for FREE.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Drown Out the Noise

Usually I am a news hound, but the trauma of last week's hearings made me snap off the radio now and then.  For my own sanity I found myself cranking up my own mix tapes- blaring songs from long ago.  I'm still having the heebie - jeebies, but I have taken a stab at DC ROCKS' October's calendar and would welcome more input. As far as this weekend goes the Takoma Park Street Festival is always fun- full of music with three different stages and numerous bands. Here's a few photos from past street fests over the years.

First off there are no cars which is always a plus:

And don't forget to drag along the kids before they are too big to drag-

although some kids never get too old (!)



Thrillbillys @ JV


Valentine Slim @ Takoma VFW

Black Masala @ Pearl Street Warehouse

Lunch With Bob @ Takoma VFW

Takoma Street Fest

Rock -A- Sonics @ JV matinee


Dave Chappell and Anthony Pirog Band @ JV


Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW


Hula Monsters @ Villain and Saint


H Street Festival

King Soul @ Pearl St Warehouse free matinee!

Thrillbillys and guests @ JV


The Toasters/ Caz Gardiner/ Free Lobster Buffet @Dangerous Pies


Beverly Bros. @ Takoma VFW


Bold Deceivers @ Takoma VFW


Dave Chappell @ JV 

Easter Island / Color Palette @ Dangerous Pies


Beverly Bros @ JV 

27 King Soul @ Takoma VFW

Spooky 31

Thrillbillys @ JV

The Independents w/ Glenmont Popes and Children of October @ Dangerous Pies

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Two Cans and a String

Many moons ago, in March of 1988, I went to see the Daniel West Dancers perform at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.  While waiting in the lobby before the show, a tall, somewhat frazzled looking woman was being slightly too pushy and slightly too loud as she bumped her way through the crowd.  People started to buzz. Some laughed nervously while others tried to get out of her way. No one wanted to make eye contact.  Once inside, this same weird person started a ruckus by loudly asking people to move so she could sit in their seat. Finally an usher came and escorted her down the aisle- still arguing. Then suddenly she was climbing onto the stage where the dancers stood waiting. Surprise! She was part of the show all along. This is one of my favorite memories of Susan Mumford. Performance artist. Musician. Writer and friend. She was also an all around good egg.

I talked to Susan many times before I got to know her. She was the ethereal woman with short cropped blonde (or sometimes black) hair,  usually dressed in shapeless clothing sitting behind the ticket window of the old 9:30 Club on F Street NW.  Back then artists of all stripes felt comfortable there when the club was little. We congregated like moths under a street lamp and ended up becoming friends for life. My friend Peter was one of the regulars. A decade or so later I told Susan that Pete had had a big crush on her. (Now I know lots of guys had crushes on Susan.) Her reaction was basic incredulity, and a slightly wistful "I wish I had known."

Susan in person was a very different ball of wax than Susan performing. On stage she was wildly unpredictable. Powerful. Loud. Off stage she was quieter, very funny and cool, but always strong. Susan might be best known for her role in the avant-garde band Tiny Desk Unit, but I will always remain impressed with how she moved in with her father who was suffering from Alzheimer's at the end of his life.  She stayed with him until he died. After that, Susan pretty much kept to herself and too soon afterwards also became ill. She had to battle cancer for the rest of her life, but she didn't lose her sense of humor. I once emailed her telling her I was sorry for not being in touch or taking her out for air.  She shot back:

Yes you should have taken me out for more air. or tried a bicycle pump. It's a coon's age since we yakked girl!
(as in raccoon - how long is a raccoon's age?  i bet it's a long time)

I'm sorry to say that Susan left the planet earlier this month, but for those who knew her- Bill Warrell is organizing a gathering this Saturday evening in Blagden Alley at 926 N Street from 8 p.m. - 2 a.m. In the meantime, I will leave you with another email to me from Susan in the same format that she wrote it in. I think it's more poetry than message. I will miss you, Susan. Wave at the nice man.
(I hope you can hear with me with two cans and a string.)

aaaaagh  sorry, my computer's crapped up (ooh, visuals)

so i only open it maybe once a week
maybe not

meant to answer this before when i saw it, but was watching the battery minutes deplete
and chickened out

prefer 2 cans and a string

will now call on your cell if anything fascinating leaps up and slaps me in the face (ooh, more visuals)

just thinking of you,


Friday, September 21, 2018

Let Them Eat Pie

For those of you dreading the end of Summer, now is the time to remember a few silver linings about Fall. I for one am looking forward to the day that the mosquitoes drop dead and the leaves start to turn. When I lived in San Fransisco, I don't remember having to battle insects,  but one drawback for me was the lack of seasons. There were only two. Rain and not rain. Green or brown. I really missed the big trees with their vaudeville routine of raucous colors.  Fall also makes me think of apples which brings me directly to pie.

Happily enough, Washington has a great pie shop on H Street NE called Dangerously Delicious Pies. The first store in Baltimore came into being thanks to rocker Rodney Henry of the Glenmont Popes who got into the pie biz trying to make ends meet at the merch table. Fortunately for us he a really good baker, and he was able to start another branch here almost ten years ago with friends Sandra Basanti and her husband Stevie McKeever.  This summer they expanded the business and created a 75 person capacity venue - nowadays a rare thing in DC - above the pie shop. (Not an easy thing to do in a 100 year old building.)

The space has been thoughtfully renovated by sound engineer Dennis Manuel and musician/ carpenter/ pie man Stevie McKeever. (Get the full scoop here at DCist.)  This Saturday Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness front a show with Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children and Dominy. No cover.  Music starts at 8:30.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Everybody's Missing the Sun

As I write, a ray of sun is cutting through the trees outside my window looking startlingly beautiful and noteworthy. It is 8:00 a.m. Friday morning, but now - just a moment later,  the light is fading, and we're back to our new normal- perpetually grey skies.  I do love a rainy day, but a lot of things were shifted out of Florence's way this weekend including several boxes of books in my basement and the H Street Festival which had to be rescheduled for October 13.

Hurricane dodging fatigue or a cloudy mood can be handily cured with music under a sturdy roof that is not your own. Tonight The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours take over that crazy little Takoma VFW they call Hell's Bottom with a "hurricane dance party." Elsewhere this weekend nostalgia seems to be the order of the day what with The Vi-Kings working their 1960s throwback magic at JV, and Nils Lofgren playing three shows Friday- Sunday at the Birchmere. (Saturday is sold out.)  The Newmyer Flyer show also happens Saturday at the Hamilton. Twenty two local musicians will endeavor to reanimate both Bruce Springsteen's "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle" and Van Morrison's " Moondance." Spinning vinyl is cool again, but hearing it live is out of sight. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

September Sloth Song

I've always said that I lose the will to function properly around July when the relentless heat and humidity of our "swamp" drive me into hibernation. Even so I usually get up early and hack at my garden for a little while before the sun announces another scorcher.  This past week I didn't even go outside if I could help it. Reverting to sloth mode, I fell to worshipping the buzzy drone of my AC unit and the misty fog of my ice maker.

Meanwhile the DC ROCKS' Creative Overachiever Award has to go to George Pelecanos who is home this week promoting his newest book The Man Who Came Uptown.  This will be George's twentieth crime novel, all of which are set in real life Washington, D. C. His characters inhabit a city which has been relieved of reference to the federal government. Quackenbos and Fort Stevens? Yes. Pennsylvania Avenue? Hell, no.  Additionally George will be shoehorning his book tour between producing Season Two and Season Three of the HBO series The Deuce- his latest collaboration with David Simon and the folks who brought you The Wire and Treme.  I hereby and forthwith dub George the anti-sloth.

Catch him if you can- he will be reading his latest at Politics and Prose this Sunday from 3-4 p.m.

And here's the belated DC ROCKS Calendar of Industrious and Mostly Musical Achievers:


George Pelecanos Reading @ Politics and Prose


Rhodes Tavern Troubadours @ Takoma VFW

Johnny and The Headhunters @ Pearl Street 


H St Festival

Moondance/ Wild, Innocent & E St Shuffle @ Hamilton ( Newmyer Flyer)

The Vi-Kings @ JV


Fuzz Queen @ Dangerous Pies


Thrillbillys @ JV


Split Seconds @ Slash Run


Jake Starr @ Dangerous Pies


DC State Fair

Human Country Jukebox @ Pearl Street free (12:30)

SW Sessions w/ Elijah Balbed & Isabelle De Leon 
@ Pearl Street ( free)


Dave Chappell Band @ JV


Sister Ex/ Menage a Garage @ Dangerous Pies


Bumper Jacksons @ Hill Country BBQ

Art All Night Dupont

Johnny Grave w/ Uptown Boys Choir @ Dangerous Pies*


Alex the Red Parez/ Derek Evry @ Galaxy Hut

(* Size of print due to incomprehensible vagaries of html)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

After Dark Redux

The Evening Star May 1968
Mark Segraves, local reporter and music aficionado should be the poster dude for DC ROCKS. This man doesn't just go out occasionally- he often goes to two or more shows a night where he records a bit of the action and sends out little reminders to the social media universe that our local scene is still alive and beaming. Mark's roots here in DC run deep. His father,  John Segraves, wrote the "After Dark" column for The Washington Star.  Now Mark and local musician Tommy Bowes have decided they want to help out both the scene and the artists with a new idea.

Here are a few details from Mark:

I’m excited to announce the formation of a new non-profit aimed at helping musicians who fall on hard times as well as promoting local music. After Dark Productions will raise money primarily by producing concerts. The proceeds from these events, that would normally go to the promoter, will go into this new fund instead. Funds raised will be distributed to musicians to assist them with a range of expenses including medical bills, lost or stolen equipment and other hardships.
After Dark Productions is the brainchild of Tommy Bowes and myself. Tommy and I recently were on teams that raised tens of thousands of dollars by producing the Hank Dietle’s Benefit, The Billy Hancock Tribute and most recently the Vinyl Acres Flood Relief Concert and we’ve decided to move forward with this idea. 
Our goal is to produce great shows that are affordable and accessible for audiences, promote local artists by giving them more opportunities to perform while paying them for their work and raise money that can be a resource in the future.
Our name is an homage to the work of my father, John Segraves. During the 1960s & 1970s he penned the After Dark column for the Washington Star newspaper covering the local music scene.

Be a good social animal and like the After Dark  Facebook page to keep up or help out. Their first official event happens this Sunday at Pearl Street Warehouse when the Rock-A- Sonics meet the Ray Apollo Allen Band.  Bands will come out swinging. 

And for all of you history nerds - Pearl Street Warehouse is part of Washington's completely redeveloped wharf on Maine Avenue.  Here's part of an article Mark's father wrote about the "new" waterfront which included the Channel Inn and Hogate's in 1972.  (Click on the picture for a readable size.)
The Evening Star October 1972

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Summer Reading

School started without me. For the first time in 23 years, I'm not yelling at someone to finish their summer reading or scrounging up 3 ring binders and composition notebooks. (I've  always loved to read, but pretty much NONE of the books on any summer reading list has ever grabbed me.)

We celebrated with a round of mini golf in East Potomac Park.

DC's public schools seem to start earlier every year, but now that my summer has been reverted to extended play, a celebratory trip to Alexandria's Grist Mill Park might be in order to catch Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun on Friday.

On the other hand, back in town there's a cool psychedelic, multi-sonic show at the Black Cat with Gringo Starr, Boat Burning and Heavy Breathing.

If chilling out in a road house is more your vibe, while away a summer afternoon on Sunday at JVs in the beautiful 'burbs of Falls Church.  City Farm Bluegrass will hit at 1, followed by Ruthie and The Wranglers bringing on a full court press of country-rock-honky-tonk at 4.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Post Jurrasic

photo circa Vinyl Cretaceous Period

Hey you all, remember Milo from WHFS? When I hit the Google Image Wand looking for old school things, the above photo popped up of Milo with Mark Noone of The Slickee Boys. Not a great shot of Milo, but doesn't this pic pretty much say it all about deejays?  They are the unseen voices who connect the dots of the music they choose to play for  us. Check out the pale flesh colored phone on the console. Classic, eh ? 

It's been a while since Milo had a radio gig, but he's back every other Wednesday morning from 10-12 on Takoma Park's low powered highly diverse WOWD. The show is called Borderlines, and due to the miracle of modern times, we can all tune in over the internet waves. Milo promises to play "just records from home" which sounds good to me. His next show is August 22.

This weekend The NRIS are at Jammin Java - an early show on Friday. A Dead-Head Alert is being issued for Black Muddy River Band at JV on Saturday and Rock -A- Sonics are at Glen Echo Ballroom if you are feeling another kind of retro. 

these shows.  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Gimme Shelter

The relentless downpours of July and early August have had their natural consequences. The Potomac is roaring. Weeds are ecstatic, and brigades of ants are living it up in my couch where my son likes to leave them offerings like wrappers from Fruit by the Foot or popsicles. Mosquitos are mocking me from the other side of the screen door, and even though my basement finally dried out,  the Georgetown library had to close for four days this past week after snakes were found congregating near a meeting room.

Speaking of congregating, this Sunday marks a grim anniversary in Charlottesville. As an antidote, check out this video from The Fishermen Band and please don't forget to support live music this weekend.  Valentine Slim celebrates a birthday at Takoma VFW and Goin' Goin Gone will hold forth at Villain and Saint. Both on Friday.

Spread the love.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Zany Postcards

I went on a vacation of sorts last week and learned a lot about Zanesville, Ohio. The town was founded in 1797 and named for Ebenezer Zane who was the great grandfather of the fiction writer Zane Grey.

Zane grew up in Zanesville, dreaming about the wild west and getting into numerous fights as a boy, quite possibly because his first name was actually Pearl. As in Pearl Grey. His middle name was Zane. As in Pearl Zane Grey.  I admit the name has a nice ring to it, but what were they thinking?

Zanesville was once a thriving town, perhaps best known for American pottery. Amelia Earhart called it the most recognizable city in America because of the remarkable "Y" shaped bridge which spans both the Muskingum and the Licking Rivers. (Unfortunately you have to be up in a small plane with Amelia to get that perspective.)  Back on the ground, the Y bridge leads from downtown proper to "Vasehenge" where one can contemplate those bygone days.

One of the best pit stops in Zanesville is Weasel Boy, a local brewpub come living room kind of a bar with an outdoor patio overlooking the mighty Muskingum. Coal Fired Bicycle, a cool little band from Columbus, was playing on the stage right next to the brewing equipment.

Back in Washington this month our town is emptying out a bit as Congress takes a recess and leaves us locals to our own devices. Here is DC ROCKS' belated and changeable concert schedule for AUGUST:


(Is Anybody out there?)


Parthenon Huxley @ Jammin Java

Catfish Hodge @ JV

The NRIs @ Fort Reno


Valentine Slim @ Takoma VFW

Goin Goin Gone @ Villain and Saint


Thrillbillys@ JV


NRIs @ Jammin Java ( early)


Thrillbillys @ JV


Ruthie and the Wranglers @ JV 4pm


David Kitchen Band @ Takoma VFW


Dave Chappell @ JV


Split Seconds @ The Pinch

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Most of my pictures from the d.c. space/9:30 Club days are either blurry or badly lit, and almost all of them are chaotic shots of people who don't want to hold still.

When I think about it, it's amazing I have any pictures at all. We didn't have cell phones and good cameras were too cumbersome to take clubbing unless you were serious about taking photographs like Charles Steck was. He took this one at d.c. space for our friend Art's poetry reading.

I still have the flyer.

Back in the day, Charles was involved with both music and photography, and that hasn't changed. His band these days is called The Rambling Shadows, and they'll be playing with X-Motorcycle Couriers and 7 Door Sedan this Friday at Slash Run.  All these bands have more than a few old school members so this show will rock. Here's another cool flyer featuring a picture of Charles' grandfather's Brooklyn motorcycle club.

And don't miss the David Kitchen Band at the Takoma VFW on Saturday.  I've seen these guys tear up JV's in Virginia many times, but this is a rare river crossing for them. (Hope it doesn't rain again this weekend (!)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Confessions of a Summer Slug

Summer may bring warm days full of flowers, and the temptation to go barefoot, but stepping on a slug is one of life's cruel little jokes. First they squish and then, like a bad sci-fi movie,  they adhere to to your skin. Ugh. I remember a backyard party long ago when my friend Dan and I were beating the heat of that extra warm night by sitting with our feet in a kiddie pool with cold beers at hand. We should have known better. 

By the time we became aware of the invasion,  at least a dozen slugs were sliming over the walls of the pool and one was happily attached to Dan's Budweiser. He screamed like a girl, and I'm pretty sure I was shrieking right along with him as we scrambled to evacuate.

Many moons later,  from the relative safety of my desk,  I realize the time has come to look for middle ground. I realize, if I look hard enough, that I have several things in common with Mister Slug. We're both mostly made of water, and we both like gardens, malted beverages and going out at night. I do have a few qualms about their sex life which, like a lot of things in Mollusk World, is not for the feint of heart.  But, just like humans, it's complicated. Embrace your inner gastropod and slime step out with me this weekend.  Saturday night is jam packed with shows including the irrepressible Tom Clifford working his show with King Soul at Villain and Saint
For those in the mood for something completely different check out Herschel Hoover, Death House Blues, Fake Bodies and A Very Special Episode. Yes, that's right, four bands, one club- all at Slash Run.

In other news, our friend Mary Battiata has a choice slot opening up for Ray Wylie Hubbard at DC's newest venue City Winery where you can get a "barstool" ticket for $22 which squeaks by as far as the DC ROCKS' price range goes.

And for those of you near Takoma Park- a ramble down the hill into the holler will bring you to Goin Goin Gone at the Takoma VFW in Hell's Bottom. Definitely a bargain to be had here both music and bar wise. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

JuLy Calendar

It's a somewhat tumultuous weekend coming up with the 13th being Friday and Bastille Day on Saturday, but personally, I think my summer slump is hitting early. I wonder how hot it was in Paris when the crowd decided enough was enough? 

I have trouble getting up the energy to battle my own arch enemy "Mr Bindweed" never mind having the gumption to storm massive buildings on these hot summer days. 

Little Red and The Renegades want us to dismiss the bad juju and come to their Lucky Friday the 13th Dance Party at Haydees in Mount Pleasant where margaritas meet Louisiana squeezebox. Also here is the belated and imperfect DC ROCKS' calendar for July:


Messthetics @ Fort Reno


Goin Goin Gone acoustic happy hour @ JV

Little Red and The Renegades @ Haydees


The Thrillbillys @ JV


King Soul @ Villain and Saint

Herschel Hoover etc @ Slash Run

Goin Goin Gone @ Takoma VFW


Ray Wylie Hubbard ww/ Mary Battiata @ City Winery


NRIs @ Fort Reno


Cigarbox Planetarium @ Fort Reno

Dave Chappell @ JV


XMC/& Door Sedan/Rambling Shadows @ Slash Run


David Kitchen Band @ Takoma VFW

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Seems Like Old Times

A Last Hurrah on IOTA's patio September 2017
Any fan of Kevin Johnson and the Linemen, Karl Straub and the Last Train Home crew will remember many a show at the now shuttered IOTA. I recall the days when the club was really tiny, and we'd all sit on the slightly ramshackle back patio in between and after the bands- everyone smoking and yacking their heads off. In the summer, the warmer weather would allow us to linger long into the wee hours nursing a beer and gossiping - hoping for a bit of cool air from the alley.

IOTA may be gone, and we miss it, but the musicians are still alive and kicking.When I asked Eric Brace of Last Train Home to tell me something about the upcoming show,  he was eerily close to my wavelength.

"It's hard to imagine a world without IOTA, where Karl, Kevin, and I spent so many nights -- separately and together -- making music, seeing music, just hanging out. Now that it's gone, we're going to recreate that feeling at this new club, that has all the promise of delivering what IOTA delivered all those years. I play a lot of music these days, but mostly with my acoustic duo and trio. I can't wait to play with the big 8-piece LTH! It'll be a pleasure to play with all my friends again, and I hope to see more than a few in the audience as well."

Look for this reunion to happen this Saturday at the new Wharf's new club Union Stage. I do miss the old haunts, but at least DC is reinventing the wheel with three live music venues where local music and traditions can continue to thrive.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Just Need Another Shot of Rock and Roll

As the political atmosphere continues to heat up along with the weather here in town,  I can hardly listen to the news anymore without feeling like this.

The Fourth of July lands right smack in the middle of the work week extending the weekend and giving all a good excuse to choose music and mayhem over the usual grind. Start the week out with the Fort Reno Concert series which kicks off on Monday July 2nd with Lotion Princess, Time Is Fire and Desdemonas. 

On Tuesday help bail out Vinyl Acres, the record store, owned by longtime DC musical legends Martha Hull and Bob Berberich. The shop flooded again this spring during yet another historic rain storm. The old school benefit at Villain and Saint is shaping up to be quite the event and will feature Grin Again- joined by none other than DC's own Nils Lofgren!! Holy crap!
(I just found that part out and am still excited)

Plus Rock- A- Sonics- The Sidleys, DC Ratso, surprise guests and more. In a time when things seem overwhelmingly sad and bad, here's a little piece of the world that we can try to fix.