Looking for Inauguration 2017 events in the Washington DC metro area? Whether you’re looking for galas, arts, alternatives or the late night bar schedule, we’ve got you covered.
Click here and use the inauguration tag to filter your search. Cheers!
Looking for Inauguration 2017 events in the Washington DC metro area? Whether you’re looking for galas, arts, alternatives or the late night bar schedule, we’ve got you covered.
Click here and use the inauguration tag to filter your search. Cheers!
By Jon Kaplan and Trent Johnson
SATUDAY, DECEMBER 3
Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Showcase
The Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards was founded by local Cathy Bernard, and named after Fred Ebb, an American songwriter who wrote “New York, New York,” and many other hits. This show will showcase 2016 winners Justin Jones (Grand Prize Winner) and Maddy Clark (winner of Young Songwriter Prize), and finalist Jason Byrd. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $23. AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD; www.ampbystrathmore.com
Dark Star Orchestra
Now going on almost 20 years as the premier Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra pride themselves on faithfully recreating the Dead experience. At most shows, DSO recreates an entire Dead show, right down to the set list and instrumentation. That level of dedication is what draws Dead fans to DSO shows, and has even led to appearances by members of the Dead themselves. Doors open at 7 p.m. $29. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5
Canada’s Andy Shauf returns to our area to headline his own show. He last appeared a few months ago as opener for the Case/Lang/Veirs tour. Shauf’s tunes are a mix of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, and Harry Nilsson, and his most recent album, “The Party,” came out in May. With Chris Cohen. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $12 in advance; $14 day of show. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5
Though I wouldn’t go so far as aligning the sound of The Jezabels to the definition of “jezebel,” that being impudent, shameless and unrestrained, the music the group makes is certainly free. The indie rock group hailing from Australia had planned a World Tour earlier this year, but was put off because member Heather Shannon underwent treatment for ovarian cancer. With her “feeling stronger,” the band is back on tour promoting their February release Synthia. Rock and Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6
From NPR to Time to Forbes, this six piece band from North Carolina has made waves since their inception. The folk group has been pretty prolific with two albums and numerous festival stops including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, plus the group shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama. With a soothing sound, the group is now aiming to deliver an all acoustic holiday celebration. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., shows at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $24.75-$49.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Stop us if you’ve heard an origin story like before: two college freshman met in their dorm room and began writing music only to form an awesome band. Yeah, that’s the story behind Rainbow Kitten Surprise, which is the most hipster band name perhaps ever. The band uses soulful lyrics combined with acoustic strums of guitars with sporadic pinches of “dynamic instrumentation.” The band’s website assures you’ll be humming along, and we concur because the tunes are undeniably catchy. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. The Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8
The Pasadena Band has been around the block, touring for many years all while cultivating a national audience. The Maryland group often produces well thought out lyrics and grooves any audience can dance to. Though the band is almost constantly touring throughout the country, they recently added DC native Zach Bellas to the lineup, helping to reinvigorate the group for future tours on the horizon. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 day of show. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
Third Eye Blind
With colorful lyrics, electric riffs and adoring fans, Third Eye Blind has been a recognizable cog in the rock machine for more than 20 years. With classic tracks such as “Jumper,” “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Never Let You Go,” the band has a number of deep tracks sure to provide 90’s nostalgia to anyone in proximity, unless you caught their set at the Republican National Convention. We’re pretty sure they’ll play the hits for this show, we hope. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $35. The Fillmore at Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9
Now based in Missouri, the American Wrestlers was actually founded by an immigrant. Hailing from Scotland, Gary McClure eventually made his way stateside before recording the Wrestlers’ self titled debut album in the rural midwest. The freedom of the environment is easy to spot in the tracks, as the group sounds like an 80’s indie band with lo-fi and all. If you’re in the mood for an early show, this upbeat group of guitar grapplers might be your speed. Doors at 6 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 day of. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
Atlas Road Crew
Atlas Road Crew have only been a band for five years, but they are already generating buzz and packing music venues across the country. This Southern rock band with soul accents was formed when its members were attending The University of South Carolina, and their first EP was produced by Mark Bryan of Hootie & The Blowfish. Also appearing Saturday, December 10 with Stop Light Observations. With Mo Lowda & The Humble. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15 in advance; $17 at the door. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
After a two year hiatus from making music, Dragonette is hard at work on another yet to be titled album. Regardless of the gap between releases, the group has still been touring internationally, playing with names such as Major Lazer, Mike Snow and the Presets. With indie pop principals, the group’s music has enjoyed success in pop culture and on the radio, which has provided fuel for the proverbial fire. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10
Since the 2006 release of Soon It Will Be Cold Enough Emancipator, or Douglas Appling, has been a mainstay in the EDM scene. Appreciated for his organic approach and fusion of different sounds from various cultures, his sets are often diverse and engaging. In 2015, Emancipator released Seven Seas after working on the album for nearly two years through extensive mixing and collaborations. After a busy two years, the performer is likely looking to close out 2016 with a bang on U St. Show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com
The two-time Grammy winner is touring on her first Christmas tour titled “A Very Kacey Christmas Tour” on the back of an album of the same name. This will be the famed country singer’s first foray into holiday themed music, but if Musgrave tackles the subject matter with the same confidence and fierceness she does the twangy genre, this will surely be a fun show. Don’t believe us, ask her; “I’m making sure these are going to be some very magical nights.” Shows at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $53-$68. The National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thenationaldc.org
The Reverend Horton Heat
Born Jim Heath in 1959, The Reverend Horton Heat is known to his fans as the godfather of modern rockabilly and psychobilly. Their music is a mixture of country, surf, punk, big band, swing, and rockabilly, and keeps fans up and dancing in the aisles all night. With Unknown Hinson, Nashville Pussy, and Lucky Tubb. Doors open at 8 p.m. Mainstage. $25. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11
Matt Pond PA
Matt Pond has been making music since 1998, and his most recent album, “Winter Lives,” just came out last month. The “PA” part of his name was a tribute to his musical beginnings in Philly, although Pond has sometimes dropped the initials, only to bring them back later. His indie tunes are hard to classify, but Pond has covered artists like Elvis Costello and Oasis, which gives you an idea of his influences. With Moving Panoramas. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com
MONDAY, DECEMBER 12
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was started by a couple of former punks who decided to, er, swing in a different direction. Yes, these guys were at the forefront of the swing revival, and their profile received a major boost from their appearance in the 1996 indie flick “Swingers.” Since then, BBVD has been touring and recording constantly, and every winter, they hit the road for their special holiday tour. Don’t miss it! Show at 7:30 p.m. $49.50. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13
Hailing from Pittsburgh, few rappers have evolved from album to album like Mac Miller, who burst on the scene with rhymes about drugs and life as an adolescent is now touring on the heels of a full blown romance album in The Divine Feminine. With beat experimentation and a textbook, old school rhyming style, Miller is for sure on the rise in the rap game. Lack faith, well he’s rubbed shoulders in the studio emcees such as Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35. The Fillmore at Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17
Though the name “Driftwood” implies either a rigid band with a country and folk sound, this band often shies away from those strict identifiers. Instead the group hailing from Binghamton, New York attempts to blend and blur the lines of preconceived genres in order to reflect the truest sound of the members. With three songwriters constantly collaborating and honing on each song’s particular sound, this band doesn’t plan on settling within a genre anytime soon. Doors open at 9 p.m., show at 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, Virginia: www.jamminjava.com
When dealing with classical instruments, they are often accompanied by a set of traditional standards. For Rasputina, and their cellos, the rock group has often found the best music comes when shattering those expectations and creating new sounds with old tools. Couple this with costumes of marginalized women from different historical periods and you get a raucous group prepared to storm the stage with screams and strings. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 day of the show. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21
Legendary singer Darlene Love comes to town for “A Darlene Love Christmas.” Love is famous for hits like “He’s a Rebel” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and is inextricably linked to producer Phil Spector, who she worked with early in her career. Love also had success acting, appearing in Broadway musicals and as Danny Glover’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. Doors open at 6 p.m. $45-$82.50. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC: www.thehowardtheatre.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22
Todd Wright’s 14th Annual Santa Clauster-f@%!
The granddaddy of all holiday shows takes place on December 22nd and 23rd when Jammin’ Java presents Todd Wright’s 12th Annual Santa Clauster-f@%! Christmas Spectacular. Tons of area musicians come together to play holiday songs with little or no rehearsal and a merry time is had by all. Grab your tickets as soon as you read this, because these shows will sell out! Another show on Friday, December 23. Doors open at 6 p.m. $15-$30. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com
The Funk Ark
This DC-based band, signed to Thievery Corporation’s ESL Music, is led by pianist Will Rast. Their sound is funk and Afrobeat, and the band is populated with some of the best jazz musicians from around the DC area. With Three Man Soul Machine. Doors open at 7 p.m. $12 in advance; $14 at the door. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23
This holiday season, The Fillmore Silver Spring welcomes an 80’s vs 90’s Dance Party, featuring none other than the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop” himself, Biz Markie. Released in 1989 as the lead single from his album “The Biz Never Sleeps,” the song “Just a Friend” made Biz a household name. Besides live appearances, Biz appears in movies and TV shows, including the kids show “Yo Gabba Gabba.” Doors open at 7 p.m. $15.50. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
After more than 15 years in the hip hop game, it’s arguable Joe Budden produced his best work with his recent album Rage & The Machine. With subject matter such as depression, relationship problems and even addiction, Budden has always allowed his lyrics to carry a certain weight portraying the real happenings in his life. While some may see rap as a young man’s game, Budden enjoys his veteran status even referring to himself as “Uncle Joe.” Look, just Christmas gift yourself a pair of tickets and thank us later. Doors open at 11 p.m., show at 11:30 p.m. Tickets cost $27.50 in advance, $35 on the day of. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com
Since forming at Virginia Tech in 1990, The Pietasters have been on the scene in DC and the mid-Atlantic area, pumping out ska tunes for loyal fans. Lead singer Stephen Jackson has been the stalwart member all along, and continues to lead the band to this day. With Mephiskapheles, Hub City Stompers, and Loving Paupers. Doors open at 8 p.m. $15. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
Virginia Coalition, known to their fans around the area as VACO, have been playing together for almost 20 years. Meeting as friends during high school in Alexandria, VACO has been moving fans with their blend of rock and folk since 1997. They don’t play a whole lots of shows anymore, so catch them whenever you get the chance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $12.25-$17.25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27
With a growling melodic approach to music, Clutch is a bit harder than a rock band, but not quite a metal band. This is good for people who aren’t really in the market for music that’s so fast and so loud that it’s hard to understand the depth of the lyrics. The Maryland group has been performing since 1991, and have always made it a goal to differentiate each album from the last, which gives them an eclectic catalog for live shows. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
The Fat Katz
“Never the same,” that’s the mantra for The Fat Catz who rely on compositions meant to get the crowd feeling something. Though the group constructs meticulous electric sounds and acoustic instruments, they are always heavy on improvisation taking their “space rock” to new dimensions as no two shows carry the same highlights. Either way, if you’re into electronic instrumentation, this is a good show for you. Doors open at 7 p.m. show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29
John Kadlecik Band
It’s happened a couple times in rock and roll. The leader of a tribute band gets plucked from on high to appear with the actual band they are paying tribute to. This happened to Takoma Park’s John Kadlecik when he was invited to tour with Furthur in 2009. Furthur consisted of Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, and Kadlecik had spent years with his Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra. With the John K band, he performs Dead songs as well as originals. Also appearing Friday, December 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15 in advance; $20 day of show. The State Theatre: 220 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA; www.thestatetheatre.com
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30
Old 97’s have been rocking the alt-country scene since they formed in Dallas in 1993. Lead singer Rhett Miller has released solo albums and toured on his own, but he always comes back to the hard-rocking full band. They’ll also be playing the next night, New Year’s Eve, and that ticket comes with champagne and party favors. Not a bad way to ring in the New Year. With Justin Jones. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $31.28-$47.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2
Yacht Rock Revival
If you’re like us, and can’t get enough 70s light rock, then Yacht Rock Revue is for you. This band of merry musicians puts on their 70s threads, and performs the hits of bands like Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and Steely Dan. This tour includes 70s artists Matthew Wilder, Robbie Dupree and members of the bands Ambrosia and Player. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35 in advance; $40 ay of show. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC: www.thehowardtheatre.com
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4
With a moniker like Warpaint, you might expect a thrash metal band with little sentimentality regarding the wellbeing of your ears. Though the actual Warpaint offers up some hard rock themes with tunes about the pain of love, the group approaches these subjects with a pop-rock grace. The four-piece female group has actually been trending more toward the alt-pop genre, using instrumentation minimally. This hasn’t affected their effectiveness, however, as the group is coming off the heels of their third studio album, Heads Up. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6
Bad Religion, the punk rockers from L.A. who have been at it since 1979, are still going. While lineup changes have meant members coming and going over the years, the band currently features three out of four original members (Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley). With Against Me! and Dave Hause. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Formed in 2001 in Rochester, N.Y., Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (also known as GPGDS) plays a combo of reggae, world beat and jam band music. Their sixth studio album, Make It Better, has just been released and will be available at this show, so don’t miss it. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance; $17 at the door. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
Lewis Del Mar
With patient strums of a guitar, the folk-pop duo attacks their fused genre with an abrasively colorful language. Each song neatly escalates and calms its tempo, delivering a powerful combination of sounds as strong as the sartorial acumen held by the members. Even with the aforementioned genre, the duo obviously pulls influences from grunge, especially with their penchant for raising and lowering their tone throughout a song, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats. Doors open at 7 p.m., and show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;www.rockandrollhoteldc.com
He’s had his ups and downs in the music biz, but Paul Pfau is always moving forward. Originally from Western Maryland, and now calling Nashville home, Pfau’s musical career was threatened by a polyp on his vocal chords. After he got better, he appeared on season eight of The Voice, and now he’s back with a new EP release, The Great American Love Story. With Brian Dunne. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$25. Jammin’ Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com
Temper Trap will forever be famous for what is essentially the perfect rom com tune in “Sweet Disposition.” While the band probably doesn’t want that to be the truth, it hasn’t stopped them from crafting other smooth singles. The group carries a beautiful indie feel with a pacing that is both smooth and enjoyable. If you get a chance, definitely see them live. It’s not a trap, we promise. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7
According to their website, the big emphasis in American Aquarium’s music is honesty. The band balances the good with the bad, including narratives revolving around epic highs and gritty lows. The music is unequivocally “Southern.” Though the tunes aren’t overtly country, there is a twang in the sounds of their voices and the strums of their often acoustic guitars. The band’s 2015 release Wolves has the band at its apex, and with sorrowful sounds like “Southern Sadness” and “Family Problems,” get ready for an emotional rollercoaster. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$20.The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
Ken Wenzel & Cross Kentucky
Ken Wenzel & Cross Kentucky is what you get when you gather six musicians from the DMV with rock influences and country traditions. Vacillating from country to rock is normal for this local group seeking to bridge the gap between both genres with scintillating saxophone solos and a raucous lead guitarist. Though they maintain twang, the talented band delivers music in multiple paces, so fans of both country and rock can enjoy the tunes. 9 p.m. to midnight. Free to attend. Sehkraft Brewing: 925 N. Garfield St. Arlington, VA; www.sehkraftbrewing.com
With a melodic approach to hip-hop, Post Malone follows the steps of greats Kanye West and Drake, delivering music easy to approach and fun to sing along to. The Dallas native started as a guitarist hopeful, but eventually crossed over into the studio production side of music before developing his own “sauce.” Now the young artist has worked with rap-game stalwarts such as the aforementioned West, 50 Cent and Young Thug, to go along with his stint opening for pop culture icon Justin Bieber. With this amount of early success, all without an official LP release, this might be an opportunity to see a budding star in a more intimate location before he moves on to venues like the Verizon Center. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25. The Fillmore Silver Spring:8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Cindy Alexander has recently released her eighth studio album, Deep Waters. On it, she draws from her life experience, including tackling tough subjects like overcoming breast cancer. Alexander won NBC’s StarTomorrow talent show and was offered a record deal, but turned it down, deciding the indie route was for her. 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets cost $12. IOTA Club & Cafe: 2832 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.iotaclubandcafe.com
Even though they haven’t had a ton of singles in their short lifespan, you’ve likely heard the sultry sounds of duo on the Drake track “Just Hold on We’re Going Home.” The pair is one of the upcoming musical acts signed to the Canadian rapper’s OVO label, and have been producing amazing R&B tracks since they hit the music scene. For this show at the 9:30 Club, not only will you get to see them in action, but with an online purchase you’ll also receive a copy of their self-titled album. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $28.25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11
Behind her beautiful singing voice, which enables her music to straddle the line between pop and R&B, Smith’s words always carry a certain weight. Even in her tunes, the messages often revolve around mantras of self-empowerment and believing in yourself. Two that come to mind are “Magazine,” a single about body image and the pressure the media places on people to look a specific way, and another is “Let ‘Em Say,” which calls for folks to ignore the haters. Essentially, Smith is a less famous, more talented Meghan Trainor, and likely a lively concert. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$25. Jammin’ Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;www.jamminjava.com
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13
Despite complaints from the neighbors, Muddy Ruckus created their 2016 releasePretty Bones in their apartment, on tour and in a number of other cramped locales. While this probably sounds like it was hell, you can feel the intimacy in the album, as the folk duo created warm tracks that sound like two friends fooling around with a guitar and drums, except it objectively sounds good. Gypsy Sally’s will be the perfect venue for these kinds of grooves, unless you can somehow convince the group to play in your kitchen. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Free admission.Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Scott Bradlee went viral when he posted a video of his band, Postmodern Jukebox, on YouTube doing a cover of Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” in doo-wop style. Since then, Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox have continued to go viral, and make genre-bending covers of songs such as “All About That Bass” and “Tainted Love.” Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $37.50-$103. DAR Constitution Hall: 1776 D St. NW, DC;www.dar.org/constitution-hall
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14
Crywolf, or rather lone member Justin Phillips, has the perfect name. Wolves are known to howl at the moon, and some wolves can carry a tune while doing so, making some dope music in the wild. Crying is a physical response typically triggered by a whirlwind of emotions. Phillips’ music is the perfect combination of these two abstract terms, blending mellow sounds with an emotionally charged electric howl. The music is soulful, powerful and smooth all at once, and the single “Anachronism” is a wonderful highlight of Phillips’ qualities, which are only adding up as he continues to record this style of dramatic music. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Black Cat:1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com
Started in Scotland in 1989, Teenage Fanclub was propelled by the songs of Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love, all contributing to the band’s output. Their third album, Bandwagonesque, released in 1991, earned them international fame, including in the U.S., where they even came out ahead of Nirvana in end-of-year polls. With Skyler Gudasz. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14
The Fishermen Band
When you go fishing, typically you’re on the prowl for a specific type of water-breathing animal, but sometimes you toss the line out and hope for any bite. Listening to music is similar as we all have our favorites, but sometimes want to bounce around from genre to genre. The Fishermen Band’s sound is this in a nutshell (fish egg?) as the group blends funk, jazz, rock and folk into their eclectic sound. Their new single, Hey, is due out on Halloween and in advance of the release, the band is set to enjoy a release party at Sehkraft Brewing. 9 p.m. show. Free. Sehkraft Brewing: 925 N. Garfield St. Arlington, VA; www.sehkraftbrewing.com
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16
When you get a chance to see a world-class musician, it behooves you to venture out to the venue and check them out. With Eric Johnson, the DMV will have an opportunity to see one of the best active contemporary guitarists in a one-man show featuring his crafty songwriting and piano prowess. Though some think loud noises accompany the title “guitarist,” Johnson will delve into many volumes of elegance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $28.50-$58.50. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
Not all concerts have to be rah-rah shows with raucous noise. Sometimes you’re not in the mood to have your ears ringing and that’s okay, because Keiko Matsui is here to bring her brand electric piano sounds to Virginia. The sounds are completely pleasant and easy to dance to or enjoy over a cup of coffee or a nice meal. There are no frills or theatrics with Matsui’s jazz music, just an elegant easygoing nature. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $45. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;www.birchmere.com
Also known as “Igor & Red Elvises,” after their frontman Igor Yuzov, the Red Elvises started in 1995, playing what they called “Siberian surf rock.” Yuzov grew up in the former Soviet Union, and left as soon as possible, starting his current when Elvis Presley supposedly came to him in a dream and told him to play rock ‘n’ roll. 8 p.m. show. Tickets cost $15. IOTA Club & Cafe: 2832 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;www.iotaclubandcafe.com
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18
John Paul White
From 2009 to 2014, John Paul White toured and recorded with Joy Williams as The Civil Wars, a critically-acclaimed, Grammy-winning Americana folk duo. After their breakup, White returned to his solo career and recently released his album Beulah to critical acclaim. With The Kernal. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$27. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org
Even people who don’t like Styx like Styx. The iconic band has produced hit rock songs for decades, and the group’s music transcends pop culture mediums, as they’ve enjoyed numerous name drops in films and TV shows. The band has been touring for more than 40 years, so folks have had tons of opportunities to see these vanguards of rock live. While the group hasn’t released a studio album since 2005’s Big Bang Theory, Styx’s catalog is extensive with radio bangers, making this a can’t miss show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $46.50-$66.50. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19
JD Souther is one of the most prolific songwriters in the music industry. Whether it was penning songs for The Eagles or other bands from the 70s and 80s, it’s likely you’ve heard words over the radio that started as scribbles on his scratch paper. Now Souther is touring on the back of his 2015 release Tenderness, which sees the old soul balancing his pop and jazz influences. With Souther, the tunes are always heartfelt and can’t miss, just like this performance. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $34-$42. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org
Lupe Fiasco emerged on the scene with a carefree attitude best represented by “Kick, Push” and “The Show Goes On.” However, over the past few years, the Chicago rapper has slowly been transforming into more of a political voice, shifting the focus of songs to subjects such as social justice and inequality. Though the music has become more serious in tone, the rhymes are still ferocious and well thought out. Despite his radio play trending down, Fiasco is as respected in the hip-hop community as any other artist, so he definitely remains an act worth seeing. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35-$65. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;www.thehowardtheatre.com
Sia’s career has had many incarnations already, and it seems she’s just getting started. She came to prominence in the U.S. when her song “Breathe Me” was used to haunting effect in the series finale of the HBO show Six Feet Under in 2005. Since then, she’s become famous for hiding her face behind elaborate costumes, and writing hit songs for artists like Beyonce, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera. With Miguel and AlunaGeorge. 7 p.m. show. Tickets start at $35. Verizon Center: 601 F St. NW, DC;www.verizoncenter.com
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20
Gathered around a single microphone, each strumming a stringed instrument and bellowing into a single microphone, is Darlingside. Each member of the four-piece band sings in some capacity, offering their unique voices to the individual songs. The sound teeters on the edge of Band of Horses and Mumford & Sons, mixed with the steady vocal teamwork reminiscent of a talented acapella group. So if you’re in the mood for a mellow night of live music, look no further than Darlingside. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12.25-$20.25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
John Brown’s Body
This Ithaca, N.Y.-based band has been creating albums since 1996, and just released their newest, Fireflies, in September. The band describes their sound as “future roots music,” and though they’re known as a reggae band, they experiment with dub, electronic, funk, ska, hip-hop and dubstep. With Nappy Riddem. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance; $18 at the door. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21
The Fab Faux
Two key members of late-night talk show bands that play The Beatles’ might sound like an odd combo. However, The Fab Faux is made up of Beatles freaks that want to do the music justice, and they do. The aforementioned late night band members are guitarist Jimmy Vivino, music director on Conan, and bassist Will Lee, who appeared onDavid Letterman for more than two decades. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $44-$93.50. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;www.thehamiltondc.com
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23
This rap group from South Africa has been oddly famous for weird reasons. Though you’d be hard-pressed to hear the group, made up of rappers Ninja, Yolandi Visser and DJ Hi-Tek, on any mainstream airwaves, they’re explosive sound has been a staple on music blogs. The accented rap is fun to bounce to, with electronic noise complementing the unique flow of each lyricist. Another quality of the triad is their use of “zef” culture, a.k.a. things that are out-of-date, trashy and pastiche. Recently, there was a rumor of a breakup, but the reports have been vehemently denied. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $40. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;www.echostage.com
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29
In July, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert needed an actress to portray Melania Trump. They called Laura Benanti, who nailed the impression and raised her profile around the country. Turns out, she’s been appearing on stage and screen for years, winning awards left and right. At this show, she’ll sing and tell funny stories from her years in showbiz. Shows at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40-$45. The Barns at Wolf Trap:1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30
Sort of local (they formed in Richmond, Va.), and sort of not (their characters come from outer space), GWAR has been rocking the interplanetary space since about 1984. While no founding members remain, the band has persevered. At a GWAR show, it’s always recommended that you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, or wet. With Darkest Hour & Mutoid Man. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com
With Back to Birth, Jackie Greene, formerly of The Black Crowes, actually brings a garage rock sound more similar to The Black Keys. Song after song is chock-full of groovy guitar riffs and soulful lyrics that carry you to the next track. While it’s not necessary to know the words to your favorite bands’ songs, we suggest giving the album a listen or two, because you’re going to want to sing along at this show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20-$25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com
MONDAY, OCTOBER 31
Frank Zappa’s son has carried on the family tradition – not just of playing music, but of playing intricate, whimsical, sometimes silly stuff. Dweezil has spent years learning his dad’s tunes, but is also a composer in his own right. And on this tour, he plays his own music, drawing from his newest release Via Zammata. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $65. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com
DC is no stranger to “high art.” Some of the nation’s (and world’s) most renowned collections are housed here. International performers of the highest caliber compete to bill at revered venues, and while museums and theaters make real effort to offer opportunities for the general public to engage (there are probably more ways to enjoy free art in DC than anywhere else), there still often lingers a sense of art as inaccessible. Conductor John Devlin and his Gourmet Symphony are turning the tables on that tired trope – literally.
Gourmet Symphony takes the classical music performance out of the concert hall and brings it tableside, where patrons can consume orchestral music chosen specifically to complement uniquely themed culinary and beverage pairings unlike either a traditional music or dining experience. Each performance is crafted around a theme – a past event with a theme of “woodworking,” for example, examined the effect of barrel aging on whiskey, and on the different woods used to make instruments. During the upcoming season of “Earth, Wind and Fire,” one show will pair a woodwind ensemble with an exploration of carbonation in different beverages.
“As a musician, and especially as a conductor, my job is to curate a menu for every concert the same way a chef would,” says Devlin, who launched Gourmet Symphony nearly two years ago.
In this case, however, the menu is composed of both food and music, with both art forms given equal weight. Devlin says that while the traditional mode of experiencing classical music has a place – it is his chosen profession, after all – he thinks “it’s remarkable that there’s this very versatile art form that we have and there’s almost only one way to consume it – sitting and staring straight ahead without being able to talk to anyone. There’s too much music at classical music concerts.”
So Devlin and his colleagues, including founding board member and former Kennedy Center Beverage Director John Coco, set out to “strip down any kind of preconceived notion” of how people should connect with the classics.
The result has been a series of performances that not only engages a different demographic in terms of audience – notably targeting millennials like Devlin himself – but bends the rules for musicians, too. Most significantly, the orchestra never plays on a stage and never sits higher than the audience.
“That separation,” Devlin says, “is one of the main things that make people feel uncomfortable – so we take away that barrier.”
Musicians that play in the Gourmet Symphony eat, drink and talk with the audience throughout the performance, sitting at tables alongside diners with whom they are encouraged to correspond with once the show has ended – a smart move for marketing of future shows. All in all, there is about 30 minutes of music throughout the two-hour events, leaving plenty of time to “enjoy what we love about restaurants, which is sitting and eating and drinking, and talking about experiences with people that we came to the event with,” Devlin says.
And while a young and energetic staff helps, the relatively recent blossoming of DC’s once blasé “steak power lunch” restaurant scene is certainly another reason Gourmet Symphony has flourished in the city. Among colleagues like Aaron Silverman (Rose’s Luxury) and Tom Cunanan (Bad Saint), chefs like Beuchert’s Saloon’s Andrew Markert, who sits on the advisory board of Gourmet Symphony, represent the new class of restaurateurs bringing out-of-the-box creative concepts to DC’s culinary arts.
“I’ve always been into music,” Markert says. “Music has always influenced me in my cooking.”
While Markert jokes that if he had his way, Pearl Jam would be playing 24/7 in the kitchen, he is “very excited about the concept and idea of pairing classical music with a great food experience.”
For this month’s season opener of the symphony’s “Saloon Series,” Markert has designed an entire menu around a classic British hunt, inspired by some of his time living and learning abroad. The sold-out “Game Night” on September 14 will feature the music of hunting horns set to a multicourse meal of dishes including guinea hen rouladen, wild boar and grilled venison leg.
At around $100 for the chef’s pairing and the performance, the Gourmet Symphony events are more reasonable than tickets to most concert hall shows or even dining out for two. But that price tag would still be exclusionary to many of the city’s residents whom Devlin and his team hope to draw. That’s why the organization has partnered with local nonprofits working with DC’s underserved and at-risk communities, including So Others Might Eat (SOME), Miriam’s Kitchen and Bread for the City, to make classical music – and fine dining – an experience truly accessible to all.
A grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities made it possible for Gourmet Symphony to launch its charity wing, “Taste Your Music.”
“We pitched the idea that we could go out to soup kitchens and food banks throughout the DC area and bring impactful experiences based on our concept to those most in need.”
In addition to the benefits and concerts for the residents and staff of the charities that Gourmet Symphony has already hosted, starting in October, the organization will hold a monthly event series at SOME wherein food professionals will teach residents life cooking skills, combined with musical experiences.
As a two-year-old nonprofit startup, Gourmet Symphony faces the usual challenges of funding, potential burnout (the staff still all have additional full-time jobs), marketing and sustainability. But if it can surpass the growing pains, the organization could succeed, both at reviving an interest in classical music, and adding another layer to DC’s creative zeitgeist.
Learn more about upcoming Gourmet Symphony events, including Volksfest DC at Shaw’s Tavern on October 18, at www.gourmetsymphony.org.
Chris Maier is typically tucked in a cramped office, nestled in Shaw’s Wonder Bread Factory, surrounded by countless start-ups and even more creative minds in one of WeWork’s collaborative DC offices. Made by Little’s space is more like a closet, with two desks stuffed within, and two bodies working toward innovation in storytelling through their creative agency.
Once a month, Made by Little’s creative director, along with other art lovers, are cramped somewhere else. Normally, Maier and his peers are in a house or apartment, but sometimes they’re in a studio or a large office space. Each event enlists five artists of any medium, from electric violinists to spoken-word poets, to stand in front of the audience, usually aligned shoulder to shoulder. These brave performers are eye level, not elevated on a stage, and are a mere five to 10 feet away from the community built over the past two years – Little Salon.
“In 2014, we wanted to get a little apartment and put together a fun event with a writer, poet and a quartet from the National Symphony Orchestra,” Maier says. “We put it on Twitter and we just waited to see who would show up. About 65 people came, we put beer in the bathtub and people enjoyed it.”
Maier, who has an MFA in creative writing, experimented with this sort of event when he was a grad student at the University of Illinois. As part of his work with the university’s literary magazine, Ninth Letter, he hosted get-togethers in restaurants and bars to bring literature to people outside of the bubble.
“We wanted to break down the barriers to get more readers,” Maier says. “I moved here, got into work at a creative agency, and I felt I lost touch with the creative world. This was at a fever pitch when I read a couple readings and no one came out except my friends. That’s what led me to try and get a larger audience for artists and their works. We try to combine the big and small.”
If you trek to a Little Salon, you’d be amazed to know nearly all of the groundwork is laid by Maier alone. He seeks spaces, reaches out to artists and promotes the events on social media. Not to mention, he can be easily spotted with a camera taking shots throughout the respective events, even if that means squeezing between the jammed patrons to secure a respectable photo. This summer, he had a little help from volunteers, but he’s not sure if that will carry over to the fall.
“I still find contacts, and enlist artists [and] performers to participate and curate the event,” Maier says. “The complication with Little Salon is it’s a lot of work to get a stranger to open up to a lot of people. I would love to have more people in the mix here, but it’s such a specific process. Part of it is I’ve lived here for a long time, and I know a lot of the people in the scene.”
Immediately after each event, Maier goes home, uploads his photos to Facebook, builds an email blast and begins sifting through prospective hosts for the next month.
This month, Little Salon is partnering with “What’s Going On? Voices of Shaw,” a celebration of art in numerous shared spaces in Shaw from September 24 to October 2. Little Salon will host on September 27, but the venue hasn’t been decided yet.
“[What’s Going On?] wanted Little Salon to be a partner, so we’ll be helping to cross-promote that,” Maier says. “They’re not trying to program Little Salon or anything. I think it’ll be cool. The fact that someone came to us proves that we’re doing something right.”
Next month, Little Salon will hit Congress Heights just east of the Anacostia River with a lightly Halloween-themed show on October 18.
“The biggest thing that I hope people take away is a sense of the rich creative life that surrounds them,” Maier says. “I want people to be more involved and more appreciative of the creative scene in DC. I want them to have a willingness to dive into different areas of art that they might not [normally] dive into. Maybe you arrived to see poetry, but you sort of dug the paintings. That’s why we have the performances in short doses.”
For information about upcoming Little Salon events, visit www.littlesalondc.com .
Photo: Courtesy of Little Salon
DC Brau is serving beer during the event and Brookland’s Mess Hall is providing snacks. Mixologists from throughout the area, including Chantal Tseng, are creating special lit-themed cocktails. Tseng has made a splash designing literary cocktails at Petworth Citizen. Duane Sylvestre also joins the party.
Last year, he created the unforgettable Shug Avery based on the character from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Violet in color (resulting from mixing hibiscus with pineapple juice) and crowned with a floating flower, flavors unfolded slowly with sweet, spicy, tart, bold and delicate notes, capturing the essence of the character beautifully.
On Tap scouts out the restaurants, bars and clubs that are new to the scene or shaking things up.
7 Locks Brewing
Order: Suds. Rockville is getting lively with the arrival of a neighborhood brewery; the taproom features a rotating selection of low-ABV beers and will fill growlers. No food is served, but customers are welcome to bring their own (or order from one of the food trucks frequently parked outside). 7 Locks Brewing: 12227 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, MD; 301-841-7123; www.7locksbrewing.com
Order: “Farm to Taco.” Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon have tapped into America’s burgeoning passion for veggies with their expertly assembled vegetarian tacos, and are now moving up from farmers markets to a Georgetown storefront – and it is guaranteed they will bring their long lines of ravenous fans with them. Go now, before it looks like Georgetown Cupcake. If you need protein, you can add an egg. Chaia: 3207 Grace St. NW, DC; 202-333-5222; www.chaiadc.com
Cloak & Dagger
Order: 21st Amendment (champagne, honey liquor, simple syrup). The ground floor is designated as a speakeasy – and the cocktail menu is solid – but go upstairs for a par- tay destination with top-notch DJs. Cloak & Dagger: 1359 U St. NW, DC; 202-234-2501;www.cloakdaggerdc.com
Order: Japanese Cocktail (cognac, orgeat, bitters). Love Mintwood Place? Then you’ll adore its new sibling, which delves into French cuisine and adds a twist – think fried coq au vin, scallop sausages, or duck egg beignets. Convivial: 801 O St. NW, DC; 202-525-2870; www.convivialdc.com
Order: The Homestead (Redemption rye, The Dabney Virginia pecan Madeira, angostura bitters). Gordon Ramsey called it “a really cool spot,” and we agree. Helmed by Jeremiah Langhorne (chef de cuisine, McCrady’s in Charleston), The Dabney is setting an agenda of Mid-Atlantic cuisine, featuring not only local ingredients but also local recipes and preparations. The Dabney: 122 Blagden Alley NW, DC; 202-450-1015;www.thedabney.com
Hula Girl Bar & Grill
Order: Never Below 75 (Black sesame infused bourbon, honey-ponzu, burnt orange). Yet another popular food truck makes the transition off wheels, this time to a space in Shirlington. We’re most excited about the addition of an island cocktail menu. Hula Girl Bar & Grill: 4044 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA; 703-998-4852; www.hulagirlbarandgrill.com
Marble & Rye
Order: The Black Heart (Bulleit bourbon, fig, maple syrup, orange juice). The folks behind Red Rocks debut a wood fire kitchen and a well-stocked whiskey bar. Go on Whiskey Wednesdays to chat with their whiskey experts and assemble tasting flights from their collection. Marble & Rye: 2501 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA; 703-920-0706; www.marbleandryeva.com
matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit
Order: The future. A new generation of matchboxes arises; this incarnation (which includes “female-friendly” salads) represents the next step in the beloved DC group’s expansion – specifically, 48 restaurants nationwide by 2020. Go now and witness the future. matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit: 20626 East Hampton Plaza, Loudoun, VA; 844-712-0369; www.matchboxfoodgroup.com
Order: Raman. First came dessert (Milk Bar), now comes the main course from this much-anticipated expansion from New York. Though pricier than other (excellent) DC raman joints, foodies are lining up to pay for the cachet of David Chang as much as for the rich broth that made him famous. Go ahead – there’s no shame in joining the queue. Momofuku CCDC: 1090 I St. NW, DC; 202-602-1832; www.momofuku.com
Pennsylvania 6 DC
Order: Belgian Mule (white whiskey, ginger beer, strawberry Lambic, lime). This “upscale” newcomer promises the “most extensive raw bar in DC.” True? We don’t know, but it’s hard to beat dollar oysters for happy hour, and we like the cocktail menu. Pennsylvania 6 DC: 1350 I St., NW, DC; 202-796-1600;www.pennsylvania6dc.com
Red White and Basil
Order: Prix-Fixe. Salad, carefully cooked house-made pasta (pick your sauce!) and cannoli – $16 prix fixe ($20 if you add meat) has arrived in AdMo at this sibling to L’Enfant Café. A la carte is available as well. We love that there are vegan and gluten-free options. Red White and Basil: 1781 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-518-7021; www.redwhiteandbasil.com
Order: Drinks. Dining room is tasting menu only (with emphasis on ‘taste’), lounge is a la carte menu only. The dark horse winner here is the cocktail menu. Secret Chopsticks: 1850 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington, VA; 703-812-8888;www.secretchopsticks.com
Order: Bloody Mary. California’s oldest – and probably the country’s third oldest continuously run – restaurant (166 years and counting!) opens its second location. Sourdough bread is flown in from San Fran, and their famous Bloody Mary mix is pre-bottled. Tadich Grill: 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-638-1849;www.tadichgrill.com
Order: Raman. Mike Isabella joins the raman stampede in partnership with Jonah Kim (PABU Baltimore). This is Isabella’s third restaurant in Ballston (after Pepita and Kapnos Taverna), which should make him the area’s unofficial mayor. Yona: 4000 Wilson Blvd., Suite C, Arlington, VA (entrance on N. Quincy St.); 202-234-5000;www.yonava.com
Why: Retailer of the Year, Loudoun County
Coffee shop meets homebrew supply store at Lansdowne Town Center, and the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce is impressed with their creativity and customer service. In addition to their local Virginia beers and ciders on tap (and they’ll fill growlers), you can order cold brew coffee on nitro, which gives the coffee a Guinness-like quality. Brew LoCo: 19382 Diamond Lake Dr., Leesburg, VA; www.brewloco.com
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Why: Coming Soon
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery broke ground in November on its new home in Goochland County, Va. The epic destination will feature 27,500 sq. ft. of brewing and packaging facilities, a 7,150 sq. ft. taproom and music venue, a private event loft, food truck plaza, bocce courts, a natural amphitheater and walking paths connecting to a planned creekside trail system. We can’t wait for its scheduled opening in spring 2017. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery: Goochland County, VA; www.hardywood.com
It is a given that is impossible to see everything at every festival. In many cases, during the earlier hours roaming the festival grounds, you have to gamble on seeing the artists you’ve heard of versus seeing the artists you know nothing about but sound cool. One of the benefits of Landmark’s set up is that the stages were close enough together so that each artists sound bled over a little to the next area. Normally a disastrous thing, it was perfect for more transient festival goers to hear the intoxicating sounds of the days’ best live acts. It was through this setting that by 3:45, only fifteen minutes after their set began, Gulf Coast Soul band the Suffers had packed the often sparsely populated BMI tent to the brim. The ten piece, Texas outfit drew in crowds through their sweet and spicy mix of the music of their native Houston. From their righteous, classic soul opener “The Giver” they launched into an hour set, barely pausing, that featured a medley of funk, Cumbia, hip-hop, ska, reggae, more classic soul, and oodles of other musical influences packed into their tight, bombastic sound. Whether through simply bopping their heads along to the beat or wildly dancing, the audience wordlessly expressed that they were witnessing one of the new, great acts in live music.
The Suffers have only performed in DC once before, packing all ten members onto the compact stage of DC9. And their only studio releases are two EPs, earning their way to Landmark through their tight, electrifying live show. Since we were so impressed with the group, On Tap wanted to give the group a proper introduction to the DMV. We sat down with bassists and co-founder Adam Castaneda to get the group’s history and say, officially, welcome to DC!
On Tap: Can you talk about your pre-show chant? It really got the crowd going before you even started playing.
Adam Castaneda: Ok, it’s two fold. Nick, our drummer, found an article that was talking about how to prepare for a job interview, or something like that, and it had this superman pose. It’s actually a yoga pose. You just put your hands up for a few seconds and I guess it moves the blood around, or the energy around, in a certain way; It gives you some strength, some confidence, some blood flow, and it gets you pumped up and going. So we started doing that, and I guess the yelling came out of a primal scream release, stress release thing. So we all started doing that. The other part is, right before we do that, we all say a number. I’m number one, our drummer’s number two, our keyboard is number three, and it goes on throughout the entire band, all the way up to ten and then we put our hands up and scream. And where that comes from is…when you have ten people on the road, you can lose someone really quickly. So we’ll go to a gas station or truck stop in the middle of nowhere and it’ll be like a sound off. So we’ll go off in our own little worlds: because when you’re with that many people in that small of a van you need to wander off and look at beef jerky or something. So when we all get back in the van, we all have the same count off. I’m still number one, drummer is number two, and it goes all the way up to ten. So if you know that if it stops at seven, we’re missing number seven. ‘Alright who’s number seven? Oh, he’s still in the bathroom.’ It’s saved us a couple of times, we’ve almost lost some people. So it’s the same thing at some of these festivals. People are running around all the time, getting pulled left and right, so sometimes you might get onstage and realize ‘Hey, where’s trumpet? We’re missing somebody!’
OT: So why the Suffers?
AD: Grammatically, it doesn’t make sense!
OT: And it has this connotation of something like pain or misery. Obviously naming the band is the hardest part so where did this name come from?
AD: It’s from a 1977 or 1978 movie from Jamaica called Rockers. In Jamaica and old reggae music, it’s roughly 30 or 40 people that are on almost all of the recordings; they would just change singers for the most part. It’s a lot of the same guys it’s like how jazz was or how Nashville was for a while. So what’s cool about this movie is that it’s about these reggae studio musicians and it actually stars these musicians. They’re not actors—not the greatest actors—but they’re in the movie and it’s really cool to see, especially if you’re a reggae head (which most of us are)! So in the movie, the main character says ‘I and I a sufferer,’ which means “all of us here hear are suffering.” He’s trying to hustle, he’s trying to sell records, and he’s trying to sell his records, basically on consignment, to a record store. The guy doesn’t want to buy them so he says “come on man, we’re all sufferers here.” We just thought that was really cool. So for a while we were “the Sufferers,” but we realized that was kind of hard to say so we changed it to just “the Suffers.”
OT: You don’t see many ten piece bands around these days. How did you guys come together and how did that number come about?
AD: It was almost immediately. We were a nine piece for about a week or two and then our conga player just started coming to rehearsals. So I started the band with Patrick Kelly, our keyboard player. We had all been in other bands together and at the time I was in three other bands. We had all been in ska bands together, reggae bands, country bands, Latino bands; all kinds of stuff. So we were all kind of used to the idea of a horns section and percussion and two guitars, so we were always in big bands. It was a natural thing and didn’t seem strange to us. Most of us had also done punk rock, so we were used smaller groups too, but a large band just has that power and that charge. And it’s a common thing [in our area]. Houston has a lot of blues and country down there, and those bands are pretty big: in excess of 6 members, usually. So we’re used to seeing that and it’s not a strange thing to us. Now while you don’t see a lot of bands that are continuously ten piece, when you look at a lot of larger name acts—big headliners and radio stars—and you look on stage, it’s usually about seven to ten people. I think Taylor Swift has twelve people in the band. They have back-up singers, a horns section, a drummer, percussionist, and everything else! It’s not that much different from most other bands; we just made everybody a member!
OT: The only other act I can think of like you guys is Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street band. Why do you think these kinds of groups are coming back now? Why are people now open to these groups again?
AD: It’s happening in multiple genres. I think things like Spotify are really opening that up; it’s so easy to look into music that was hard [to look into]. When I was in high school, I was in the suburbs of Houston and I was really into old ska and reggae. And that was a really hard thing to be into. You had to get tapes from friends and you didn’t know who was on it; but you learned songs like that. You’d go to the record store and you’d have no idea how to ask the record guy to get what you wanted. You’d play him tapes and he’s like “Oh I think I heard something like this one day,” and you’d get something that’s not it. And then things Limewire and Bearshare came around and things were horribly mislabeled. I got “Red Red Wine” that was labelled as Bob Marley and it was just wrong, it was just bad. But with Spotify you can so quickly look through genres; and people are rediscovering a lot of music. It’s happening in Latin music, it’s happening in country music; you have the resurgence of outlaw country. That came back out of nowhere after it had been gone for so long. People have been rediscovering old jazz, old blues classics, and I think the same thing is happening with soul bands. People are finding these old singers out there and people think “This is still good!” Now the challenge, and there are different ways of looking at it is…We don’t look at ourselves necessarily as historians or preservationists. There’s definitely a place for that and we love the people that do it and there’s a need for it, but we’re not doing that. We’re trying to make soul music in 2015 that is relevant in 2015 by people that live in 2015. We’re not trying to be a throwback band or be revivalist; we’re just making the music we want to make. We call ourselves Gulf Coast soul because that’s a different thing than “Soul music.” In Houston we have hip-hop, we have rock, we have country, we have blues, we have all sorts of Latino styles, we have Zydeco, Cumbia, and we even have African and Asian music because of the population new have living there. We’re blending all of that together. We’re not doing “this is what soul music was and it’s what we’re doing.” No. We’re doing modern music, today.
OT: It does sound modern. But a song like “The Giver” sounds so like righteously 70s soul music. So with something like that song, how do you make it modern while retaining a recognizable, classic sound?
AD: I think the lyrical content and our delivery on it—especially in the builds—that’s more modern technique. That’s definitely reminiscent, to me at least, of New Jack Swing and things like that. That’s in there but we’re presenting it in 6/8 time, and that’s not something you often hear on the radio. Maybe it’s a bit preservationist but it’s kind of like this: There are other times and other meters that work and it will still be good, but here’s a modern twist on a 6/8.
OT: Can you explain the sandwich bit in the giver? It’s one of the funniest bits any of the acts here have done yet I can’t tell if it’s a Houston joke, a band joke, or just something that happened by accident?
AD: We like to eat! Not joking, we like to eat! We’re not the fittest band in the world, but Houston’s a soulful town and we have a lot good food. We all communicate on a group text, it’s an app called “GroupMe,” and we have a food group where we all talk about good food we find on the road.
OT: What does the near future hold for the Suffers? Any upcoming releases we should know about
AD: February 2016: we have our debut, full-length record out. You can go to ilovethesuffers.com and pre-order it now!
For more info on the Suffers visit www.thesuffers.com