The biggest open house party in the District took place in Capitol Riverfront with the most luxurious rooftops of neighborhood apartments. Locals enjoyed premier food and beverages from places like Due South, Rasa Indian Grill, Agua 301 and Gordon Biersch on each rooftop. Here’s an exclusive look of the one-of-a-kind neighborhood tour that ended with wine tasting and live music in Canal Park. Photos: Cristina O’Connell
Friday night is always an evening of family fun at Rockville Town Square, and this crowd got to listen to blues singer and guitar legend Tom Principato. Tom and his band have toured all over the world, delivering passionate performances of roots music and American blues. Photos: Mark Raker
This good-time DC crowd came out to The Wharf’s Thursday night concert series to hear Maryland-based modern rock band, Lloyd Dobler Effect. LDE has amassed a solid and growing fan base while gaining a stellar reputation in the DC area. Photos: Devin Overbey
This DC crowd spent their Friday evening at Yards Park dusting off their cowboy boots and jamming with The Morrison Brothers Band, a unique country/rock group known for their authentic sound and fun energy. The band’s soon-to-be-released single, Loud Love, will mark the band’s second release since moving to Nashville in 2016. Photos: Devin Overbey
Locals spent their Thursday night relaxing at Rosslyn Rocks! June Concert series with White Ford Bronco, one of DC’s most popular 90’s cover bands! White Ford Bronco fans came far and wide to catch a free show and sip on some cold brews located at the Central Place Plaza adjacent to the Rosslyn metro. Photos: Josh Brick
The National Air and Space Museum feels like home to 25-year-old Anthony Alexander Mathison II. Today, he’s donning a black shirt and a backpack, and if you didn’t know better, you’d see a tourist; another passerby accompanying his travel companion, both peering down at various blocks of text to carefully read the information preserved by the Smithsonian. But the exhibits and galleries depicting space and flight are an area he knows more intimately than any earthbound apartment or house.
Online, Mathison is better known as Airøspace, a DC rapper who unapologetically uses clips of anime to promote his music. When his aggressive lines are compared to those of rapper Tyler, the Creator, he pays respect to the Odd Future hip-hop collective before correcting you on the actual inspiration for the lyrical outbursts: metal.
“[Metal and hip-hop] are very closely related,” Mathison says. “There’s a division because you know, they’re screaming and you sometimes can’t understand what they’re saying, but it’s the loudness. In the black community, you’re only supposed to listen to gospel, jazz or like, Prince. You’re not encouraged to go find metal music.”
You can hear this on the two songs released in promotion of his upcoming July record Nocturne, the opposite side of his November mixtape Analog.
“I’ve been working on it for about five months,” Mathison says. “I like writing and listening to albums you can absorb all the way through. Analog is more visceral and [taps into] raw expression, and the other is telling it how it is. Like, when you get in a fight with somebody, you’re in fight or flight mode; you’re in it. Nocturne is like the calm after the fight.”
Mathison has fought throughout his life, both figuratively and literally, bouncing house to house in various locations from Southeast DC to different parts of Maryland. He was largely raised by his stepmother after his biological parents gave up that responsibility. To fill the void, the young child attended church, but the institution carried its own issues.
“I was a pretty bad kid; I got suspended a lot. Sh-t was just rough. I got in a lot of fights, had a lot of angry outbursts. I grew up in a lot of different ‘hoods. I had a ton of identity issues, just trying to understand myself as a person. As a kid, you soak up knowledge and wisdom from the people around you. My stepmother was my mom, but she also wasn’t. She did her best.”
Despite his trouble, Mathison found solace in the drums at the church he and his stepmom frequented. From there, his love of music blossomed, but he wasn’t able to play with the percussion instruments as much as he wanted, so he eventually gave up. That was until he heard Jay Z’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, and anything by Eminem.
“I liked the creative aspect,” Mathison says. “As far as what got me in this musical mindset; it came after Eminem. I remember playing Pokémon Blue and “My Name Is” came on MTV, and I really started loving hip-hop from there. I’m like, ‘What the f—, how did he do that?’”
Despite his realization, Mathison says he didn’t take hip-hop seriously until 2016. He performed, made music and constantly wrote rhymes, but fear held him back. Instead of gaining steam with this passion, he reverted back to the scared child without direction. His lack of knowledge discouraged him from giving music his all, but that all changed with Analog and next month’s Nocturne.
“Clarity. I want people to hear clarity. I feel like there are a ton of rappers that don’t talk about their lives. The least I can do is be honest. I want people to find themselves in it. I want people to discover who they are. Life’s a growing process, and you don’t always have to be who others want you to be.”
When he was younger, Mathison always sought role models and belonging – the high schooler banging metal out of his headphones, the wide-eyed child doodling characters who originated in some Japanese scrapbook. Now, he’s a man peering up at the stars, whether they’re pictures hanging from a wall in a famous DC museum, or vibrant twinkles piercing the darkest night.
“It’s funny because people get caught up in their daily lives. But, we’re literally floating on a ball of water. I want to know what’s beyond that. If we expanded our views, we’d stop being so egotistical.”
For more information on Airøspace and to see where he’s performing, go to www.airospace.bandcamp.com.
By Michael Coleman and Trent Johnson
SUNDAY, JUNE 4
As one of country music superstar Miranda Lambert’s self-professed favorite songwriters, John Moreland has received the kind of publicity that other previously obscure tunesmiths would kill for. But there’s no question that the burly Tulsa native deserves the attention. Moreland’s gritty tunes fall squarely in the Americana camp – a little country, plenty of rock, some soul and lots of well-penned lyrics. With the April release of his highly anticipated third solo album, High on Tulsa Heat, Moreland is riding a career high. His June show at the Rock & Roll Hotel gives DC area residents a chance to hear the gorgeously plaintive songs that have earned Moreland devoted listeners across the country. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
TUESDAY, JUNE 6
The French electronic duo comprised of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel is known for its sensual, atmospheric sound, inspired by Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson as well as disco, new wave and obscure Italian film soundtracks. A forerunner of the late 90s electronica boom, Air became one of the most influential electronic acts of the 2000s and beyond. Air is celebrated for its atmospheric, melodic soundscapes that intersperse experimental textures with rock and pop themes. The duo returned in 2016 with a career-spanning retrospective titled Twentyears. On the heels of that release, expect a nostalgic set that revisits some of the group’s greatest hits. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $48-$88. The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org
Hometown rock ‘n’ roll hero Mary Timony – the frontwoman for Ex Hex – has joined up with members of the band Hospitality to play Helium songs, in honor of the Matador record label’s forthcoming reissue series of Helium albums. One of the most critically-acclaimed (if not commercially successful) alt-rock bands of the 90s, Helium is seeing the first printing of their music on vinyl in more than a decade. Timony’s fearless approach to guitar playing forged a new path for the much-discussed “woman in rock” trope, lending credence to the idea that woman could do more than just play guitar – they could innovate. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16-$18. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
Somehow this three-piece band drenched in folky sensibilities still find a way to merge spacey indie sounds with those old-timey Southern roots. Songs venture from ominous ease to twangy guitar licks, with a soft whisper of vocals tying the different mechanisms together. The group has a Bob Dylan sound about it also, which we all know is a strong base of inspiration to draw from. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com
With the dominance of hip-hop and electronica-influenced pop music, the American hard rock landscape has become a bit hollowed out over the past two decades. But British duo Royal Blood (vocalist and bass guitarist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher) are doing their part to inject new vitality into the genre. We haven’t heard a duo make this much glorious noise since The White Stripes and The Black Keys. But don’t just take it from us. Here’s none other than legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s assessment after seeing them in London two years ago: “They’re such fine musicians….it’s so refreshing to hear because they play with the spirit of the things that have preceded them, but you can hear they’re going to take rock into a new realm – if they’re not already doing that. It’s music of tremendous quality.” Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
THURSDAY, JUNE 8
Nashville-based Radio Birds describe their sound as “plain old rock ‘n’ roll music with a distinctly hairy touch.” It’s an apt description for a band that infuses its meat and potatoes rock with a heaping helping of greasy slide guitar, wah wah pedal and an overall sense of letting it all hang out musically. Radio Birds are particularly appealing because their songs don’t follow any one blueprint and feel as if they are made to be played live. All members of the band sing and play, leading into consistently interesting sonic territory. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
FRIDAY, JUNE 9
Hailing from the ever-fertile Texas country music scene, Cody Johnson is a neo-traditionalist who manages to sound modern without completely sacrificing the basic tenets and constructs of the country genre. The Huntsville, Texas native routinely sells out big clubs in Houston and has a devoted following in other parts of the Lone Star state as well. Johnson is young but something of a throwback – no fancy $200 jeans and bleached spiky haircuts for this guy, unlike so many male “country” stars today. Just give Johnson his Wranglers, a starched shirt, a cowboy hat, a guitar and a mic, and he’ll gladly show you the real deal. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
SATURDAY, JUNE 10
Mike of Doom
One might say Mike of Doom is a personal storyteller. His songs sound like prototypical bangers, but underneath the loud club-shaking beats are rhymes carrying colorful vignettes about what it’s like in DC. All of this is a step in a new direction for the local hip-hop savant, as his previous works lacked the personal touch that his 2016 release, Michael, emanated throughout. So, if you’re into hip-hop and are interested in seeing what homegrown, introspective talent looks like, make sure to see Mike of Doom. Playing at Strange Adventures III. Performances start at 12 p.m. Weekend tickets are $20. St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church: 1525 Newton St. NW, DC; www.twinmoonarts.com
The Record Company
The suits at the actual record company have been working overtime to build this L.A.-based band’s buzz, and it’s paid off. The tight-knit throwback trio is all over modern alt-rock radio. The band’s Concord Records debut, Give It Back to You, from 2016 was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Contemporary Blues Album. “Off the Ground,” the album’s first single, proved a sensation, spending two consecutive weeks at number one, topping new songs from superstars such as The Lumineers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Avett Brothers. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
TUESDAY, JUNE 13
Cracker, one of the darlings of the alt-country/alt-rock movement of the mid-90s, is still going strong more than two decades later. The once-bratty Richmond-based band has matured like a fine wine. Their latest album, a double disc effort titled Berkeley to Bakersfield, shows Cracker encapsulating the sound of two very different sides of the California landscape – the harder-edged, rock-styled Northern region and the countrified area further south near Bakersfield. Expect to hear some of both, as well as tunes from the band’s classic back catalog. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30. Jammin Java: 27 Maple Ave. East Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14
Ha Ha Tonka
Named after Ha Ha Tonka State Park in their native Missouri, this band’s eclectic approach to organic rock and country music makes them among the more original bands in America. A favorite of Anthony Bourdain, Ha Ha Tonka’s music is reflective of Middle America in the 2000s with a dark view of the realities of socioeconomic hardship, backwoods prejudices and drug abuse. But the band’s tunes are leavened by wry humor and a deep appreciation for regional storytelling traditions. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
THURSDAY, JUNE 15
A-Wa is Arabic for “yes,” and this Israeli band made up of three sisters will have you yelping the phrase in any and all languages. Fusing Yemenite traditional music with hip-hop and electronic beats, the group has transcended the classical sound into something completely and utterly new. The trio stumbled upon this style after a childhood of listening and absorbing all kinds of genres including jazz, R&B, reggae and even things like Greek and progressive rock. With the group reaching international acclaim, the future may hold songs in English, but for now you’ll have to settle on the feeling of “yes.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
Hailing from Dallas, the Old 97’s have been kicking up their unique blend of alt-country, rockabilly and punk since the early 90s, and they’re still going strong. With 11 studio albums under their collective belt, Old 97’s – fronted by Rhett Miller – seem to get better and more accomplished with age instead of veering into irrelevance. They are recognized as pioneers of the alt-country movement during the mid to late 90s along with bands like Uncle Tupelo, Drive-By Truckers, Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks and The Bottle Rockets. Miller has described the band’s style as “loud folk.” Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com
FRIDAY, JUNE 16
Singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw’s music reveals elements of classic soul, the British Invasion, Burt Bacharach and Buddy Holly – the latter to whom Crenshaw was often compared in the early days of his career, and whom he portrayed in the 1987 film La Bamba. The noted guitarist uses offbeat chord progressions that almost verge toward jazz while laying down deceptively simple and concise solos. A quote from Trouser Press summed up Marshall Crenshaw’s early career: “Although he seemed a latter-day Buddy Holly at the outset, he soon proved too talented and original to be anyone but himself.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
This six-piece Birmingham, Ala.-based band is known for its scorching live shows for good reason. They have routinely blown the roof off of the 9:30 Club and other area venues, and now they’re stepping up to the larger Wolf Trap amphitheatre. Drawing on 60s soul infused with latter day influences like Sly Stone, David Bowie and Prince, the band seems to ratchet their energy higher and higher in live settings. This show should make for an awesome summer dance party on the lawn under the stars. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30-$55. Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org
SATURDAY, JUNE 17
The Alvarez Kings
The Alvarez Kings are the prototype of a successful indie pop band, touching audiences with personal vignettes laid on top of synthy sounds. Imagine a slower, more masculine Chvrches with less bounce. While you can dance to the music, it’s more of a slow burn than a rapidly building boom ending in a tremendous amount of energy. Expect to be impacted by the tension and emotion of the vocals more than other indie pop bands. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$14. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com
Who’s Bad: The Michael Jackson Experience
Aside from seeing a hologram of the late King of Pop, this is probably your best option. As far as a tribute band goes, there are few groups more committed to the authenticity of whom they cover than the performers behind Who’s Bad: The Michael Jackson Experience. From whirling dervish dancing to impeccable vocals, these musicians have nearly perfected the nuances that made Michael Jackson one of the most notable icons in music history. So even though we can’t see the original, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the expansive library he left behind. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21
The Band of Heathens
Marking their tenth anniversary as a band, the Austin-based Band of Heathens released their fifth studio album, Duende, and it might be their best work yet. Moving away from the more acoustic sounds of their 2013 release, Sunday Morning Record, this year’s album sounds like a love child between a quick talking country record and garage rock concocted by bored teenagers during the summer. Despite the band’s longevity, they’ve shown the ability to adapt and grow their music, which is rare for Americana groups. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
THURSDAY, JUNE 22
Founded by Michael League of Snarky Puppy, Bokanté is a groovy band formed by eight musicians from four different continents – a supergroup in the literal sense as every member is well-accomplished. The music is as soulful as it is moody, and is all sung in Creole and French. The band’s debut, Strange Circles, offers varied knowledge, granting diverse perspectives on nuanced pictures of struggles faced in the world today. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $27.75-$54.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
Aimee Mann is the perfect example of the modern-day artist who must work very hard to maintain a career in a brutal music business, but manages to make that hard work pay off. The elegant, slightly quirky and witty blonde songstress crafts deceptively simple folk compositions threaded with some of the most insightfully direct lyrics in the genre. Her latest album, Mental Illness, was released in March to typically glowing acclaim. Expect to hear tracks from that, as well as some of the Boston native’s classics, when she returns to the Birchmere. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $49.50. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com
There’s something about this Walla Walla, Wash.-based band that sounds more mature than its collective four years in the music business. The band formed on a lark as college students, but quickly found an audience for their mid-tempo, post-punk music and wry lyrics about life, love and femininity. In Chastity Belt’s telling, mixed feelings and haunting melodies connect dizzying anguish and steely determination to gauzy ambiguity. It’s obvious that Chastity Belt don’t possess technical musical wizardry – and they don’t try. What they do have in spades is simple, honest lyrics and pleasing melodies, and sometimes that’s plenty. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com
SUNDAY, JUNE 25
New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men
Let’s hear it for late-era Generation X and a heavy dose of nostalgia, because that’s what this triple bill of 80s and 90s pop music is aiming for. Word on the street is that Jordan Knight and the rest of the New Kids on the Block are having fun and sounding good on this tour, with those falsetto harmonies that the (once but no longer) boy band were known for in full effect. Meanwhile, dancer, singer, choreographer and television personality Paula Abdul still knows how to put on a show, and Boys II Men, who rocked the Democratic National Convention in Philly last summer, rock that Motown-Philly thing like no one else. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $29. Verizon Center: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.ticketmaster.com
MONDAY, JUNE 26
Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears
Perhaps no other band from the 80s has experienced a career boomerang quite as pronounced as Hall & Oates. Huge hit makers in the 80s, the duo’s incredibly catchy pop became something of a joke in the 90s and early 2000s, only to see a massive resurgence of interest in their well-crafted and timeless tunes over the past decade. The fact that they have moved from theaters back to major arenas is further testimony to the duo’s staying power. Tears for Fears – another 80s radio juggernaut – is the perfect opening act for this walk down memory lane. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Verizon Center: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.ticketmaster.com
MONDAY, JUNE 26
Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie
Christine McVie – long laboring in the spotlight of Stevie Nicks – never quite got the respect she deserved as a songwriter, singer and integral member of Fleetwood Mac. But with the benefit of hindsight, McVie’s contributions to that legendary group are coming into sharper focus. Now, she’s collaborating with Fleetwood Mac’s incendiary guitar player Lindsey Buckingham on their first album as a duo, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie. The longtime collaborators rekindled their working relationship in 2014 when McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac for their 2014 “On with the Show” tour. The pair recorded the LP at Village Studios in Los Angeles, where Fleetwood Mac also made several albums including Tusk. Catch the rock legends in the flesh this month at Wolf Trap. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45-$95. Wolf Trap: 551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org
TUESDAY, JUNE 27
Flat Duo Jets
Long before The White Stripes, there were the Flat Duo Jets, Dexter Romweber’s ferocious guitar-drums duo from North Carolina who blazed through the 80s and 90s playing some of the most face-melting roots-rock ever heard. In fact, Jack White himself has called Romweber “a huge influence on my music… one of the best-kept secrets of the rock ‘n’ roll underground.” After breaking up for more than a decade, Romweber and drummer Crash Laresh released a new record last year. The duo’s current tour has them reviving the old Flat Duo Jets catalog of molten rock ‘n’ roll with a fervor for a whole new generation. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$17. Hill Country: 410 7th St. NW, DC; www.hillcountrywdc.com
THURSDAY, JUNE 29
Dave Mustaine is a legend in the metal community. From his early chords with pre-famous Metallica to his celebrated career as the vocalist and lead guitarist as the famed band Megadeth. While, Metallica transitioned from thrash metal to heavy metal, Megadeth has largely stayed true to the breakneck pace of the 80s. Album after album, hit after hit, Megadeth has remained a relevant talking point despite their aging members. And even with the old age, the group maintains an ability to muster infectious energy to get the crowd absolutely psycho. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $49.50. The Fillmore: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
FRIDAY, JUNE 30
The reigning king of Americana music (and former Drive-By Trucker) returns to the Washington area just as his highly-anticipated new album, The Nashville Sound, is set for release. The title is a sarcastic swipe at the formulaic approach that Music City takes to its country stars. Isbell, a smoking-hot guitar player who is just as adept at Crazy Horse-era Neil Young-styled rock as he is at pretty country-esque ballads, lives and records in Nashville. But his award-winning music is anything but formulaic. Advance buzz say the new album rocks harder than anything Isbell has done since his celebrated tenure with the Truckers. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40-$55. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com
The perfect pop song. The languid lullaby. The cheeky ballad. Alone-in-your-bedroom disco spinner. From the “Blues are still Blue” to “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” and “Seymour Stein” to “Nobody’s Empire,” you’d be hard-pressed to find an occasion or an emotion that a Belle and Sebastian song doesn’t express.
The first time I saw the Glaswegian natives live was from the back of the crowd at what must have been a sold-out show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2006. That was three years after my high school boyfriend had given me a gift even more lasting than our first crushing love – two burnt CDs of B&S albums If You’re Feeling Sinister and Tigermilk.
By the time I was cruising the back roads of South Jersey with “Stars of Track and Field” soaring through the speakers, Belle and Sebastian was already six years and six albums into a career as one of the greatest indie pop bands of my generation, and I fell harder for them than I had for the shaggy-haired intellectual who introduced us.
Fourteen years (and approximately 143 mixes including at least one B&S song) later, the romance hasn’t faded. Not one bit. My affair with Belle and Sebastian is constant, comfortable and always satisfying. They
continue to redefine electronic, surprise with the versatile use of female vocals and explore sexuality, religion – all of the big questions.
And as I found out after talking to guitarist/singer Stevie Jackson in advance of the band’s July 30 show at Merriweather Post Pavilion, they are just people, like all of us, navigating life and death and friendships and crises – living their own versions of reality in the place they call home.
On Tap: Can you tell me about the upcoming tour and your show at Merriweather? It’s an interesting lineup with Spoon and Andrew Bird, and locals Ex Hex. What can we expect to hear this time around?
Stevie Jackson: That’s a big bill, isn’t it? That’s a lot of bands! The show kind of grows as it goes along with every subsequent record. You’ve got more choice, but it’s always quite integrated – old songs integrated with the new. It will be a mixture of the last 20 years. Every time you go out, there are things from the past that rise up; some you haven’t played for awhile, then something fresh. We were rehearsing a couple of days ago a song we hadn’t played for years. At first I was holding my guitar and I was like, “I have no idea,” but then it comes flooding back – muscle memory – and it’s like time travel to my 2004 self, and my fingers know where to go.
OT: How do you guys stay fresh, excited and still making music that is meaningful after 20 years?
SJ: You don’t slow [down], basically. It’s actually 21 years we’ll be making records, and I think there was a period about 10 years in when we didn’t do anything for a couple of years. We probably needed that at the time. We’ve never split up. But to be quite frank with you, Courtney, we have to make a living these days. I don’t have any children, but a lot of the other guys do. The impetus is, as working people, they have to provide for their families. I suppose when you’re younger, the whole point of being in a band is to avoid work. You have a romantic notion [of what being a musician is]. Then about 10 years in I thought, “Oh man, it’s a job.” But then it occurred to me: “It’s the best job in the world.”
OT: You have stayed in Scotland throughout your career. How much of a part does your home play in your music?
SJ: The music is infused with [Glasgow]; the characters in the songs and just being here. I think the music’s still got that. For years, we’ve left Glasgow to record. We go somewhere and get it done; no distractions. And sometimes that can infuse – where you are when you record – give a slight flavor. But even still, the music is very Glaswegian as far as I’m concerned.
OT: There is a distinct difference between your and frontman Stuart Murdoch’s songwriting styles. Who are some of your own musical influences and icons?
SJ: They all died last year. David [Bowie] was very hard. I didn’t know him; that’s the beauty of it. He was like the cool big brother you never had. He was really a visionary.And Prince as well, because I didn’t see that coming. It was just a shock. It seemed really unfair because he was so young and worked so hard.
OT: What did your parents listen to? What were the albums that played in your house, that shaped your own tastes?
SJ: Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence LP. There was a Motown compilation, which I wore out. The Mamas & the Papas. Barbara Streisand’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2. I still listen to that. The Four Seasons [here’s where I swoon when Stevie sings “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”]. A couple of Beatles [albums]. A Good Vibrations 45 by The Beach Boys; I played that one a lot. Frank Sinatra – my dad liked that one. A live album of [Wings’] Wings over America. A big one was my mom’s favorite, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” I still play that lot. After I left home, the ones I didn’t steal I bought myself. Thank you, I enjoyed that question.
OT: Who are you outside of the band? What do you do when no one’s around?
SJ: Another excellent question. I just feel like I am, you know? People have asked me what it’s like to be famous, and I don’t consider myself remotely famous. I’m in my 40s and I’m just that guy who’s in bands. I’m not saying it totally defines who I am, but it does in a way. It’s my job and my hobby rolled into one. When we started the group, Stuart was kind of specific that we’d do this band thing but the stuff we produced would be a representation of our everyday lives. We’re just people living here with flats and bills to pay and mortgages like anyone else. I’m not down in the clubs hanging. I’m a homebody; I like to stay home.
OT: Speaking of being a homebody, the world is pretty crazy in a lot of ways right now. What do you do when things are just sh-t? For example, I sometimes listen to “Seymour Stein” on BBC Sessions.
SJ: The BBC one is the best one, yeah. Well, thankfully my life doesn’t go that badly. There are ups and downs. I like to go to sleep. I either sleep or drink my way out of it. Music always takes me to a place anyway. Especially when I was younger – there’d always be a song. [Bob Dylan’s] Blood on the Tracks when you had a breakup, you know?
OT: One last question before I let you go. Are you a cat or a dog person?
SJ: Dog. The cats generally tend to be girls. I’ve known cat-like girls all my life. They cover the cats. I’d rather the company of a dog when it comes to animals.
Locals enjoyed live music and local fare at the Capitol Riverfront with PEO and The Carriers at Canal Park. PEO and the Carriers were formed in December 2014 and since their inception, the band has played at several venues and organizational functions, aboard NAVSEA as well establishments in Washington DC and Manassas. Photos: Devin Overbey
Locals spent their Friday night relaxing at the Capitol Riverfront with Jimi Smooth & Hittime, a soul and R&B band known for their “high energy” and “get up and boogie” style of performing. Photos: Devin Overbey