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Image: Courtesy of Records Collecting Dust
Image: Courtesy of Records Collecting Dust

Records Collecting Dust Sheds Light on Artists From Forgotten Era

Part of the appeal to old metal and punk records is the DIY attitude those bands put into recording the music. Instead of sounding pitch perfect and fresh out of a studio, these tracks could have been blaring live from a nearby garage, and that appeal is part of the authentic edginess.

Jason Blackmore is an integral part of this scene on the West Coast. When searching for a new project to deep dive into a few years ago, he resisted the notion of starting another band from scratch, and instead looked toward the past for inspiration. Though he had zero experience in film making, he embarked on a journey to document pieces of an era that helped shape him into a man. The result was the well received Records Collecting Dust, a collection of interviews with greats from the 1980s hardcore punk scene from the West Coast.

For Part II, Blackmore shifted regional focus and ventured east, highlighting Boston, New York and DC. Tonight at Black Cat, the film will be shown in the District for the first time, and it features 28 interviews with legends of the genre such as Ian MacKaye of Fugazi.

Tonight’s screening will also feature a Q&A with Dave Smalley, Dante Ferrando and Mark Haggerty. Before the play button is pressed, we got a chance to speak with Blackmore about his passion for the project, his DIY filmmaking and whether another one is on the horizon.

On Tap: When did you decide you wanted to make this documentary? And why did you focus on this specific genre of music?
Jason Blackmore: I’ve played in bands since the 80s, and was looking for a different avenue to express myself through music and came up with the film. I figured being located in San Diego, with almost no budget, it was a good place to start. There are a lot of folks from the Southern California area in the punk rock scene. My primary focus was always the 80s hardcore scene.

Yeah, in the future I could see myself covering different genres of music. I’m 48, so the hard core punk rock scene is very significant to me because it was the soundtrack to my adolescence and a lot of things happen when you’re 13, 14, 15. The people I’m talking to changed my life, and it’s my tip of the cap and love letter to those people.

OT: How did you know who you wanted to speak with, and what were some of the first steps with getting in touch with everyone?
JB: With the first film, I already knew some of the people just because of my history in music, and me living in San Diego. At that point in time, I had casually met a lot of the people, and became acquaintances and friends with some of these guys. Naturally, by the time I got to this one, some of the people had seen the first film and were eager to get on board and do an interview for the film, because they were aware of it.

OT: What was the response when you reached out?
JB: Oh yeah, it was great, absolutely. Just bringing up the topic of music, they were more than happy to talk about it, just music. By the time I got to the new one, people were thanking me because people were beginning to forget about this era. I had people thank me for making the film and documenting a period of time being lost; it’s a time capsule sort of thing. Maybe in 30-40 years, some people will see this film and learn something from it.

OT: Do you ever get intimidated talking to these musicians you respect so much?
JB: Honestly, you know, I’m more excited. It’s a little selfish, because I get to sit in these guys’ living rooms and talk about music and records. Who wouldn’t be excited? But yeah, there was a little nervousness at first. I was very honored to speak with all the people I could, and the fact that they opened the doors and allowed me in, I was very honored.  

OT: How many hours of footage did you have to sort through, and how difficult was it to figure out how you would shape the narrative?
JB: The first film was my first film ever and I have no background or education in this kind of thing. If you want to do something, do it, figure it out and go. So the first film was a learning process, and I asked too many questions and had so much footage and it was very painful. I asked 12 questions for the first film and I could only use half of them. For this film I asked less, and interviewed less, so I learned.

OT: Were there any huge differences from making the first and second film?
JB: Not especially. A lot of the people in that age range are speak of the same influences. A lot of Rolling Stones and Beatles, and that kind of stuff. Those bands are talked about a lot, so there are some recurring themes, but I definitely learned how to be more focused and ask less. I interviewed 28 people for the new film, down from 38 in the first. I learned the hard way, because we could have made an eight-hour film for the first one, but who’s going to watch that?

OT: Why decide to make a bonafide documentary, why not a web series or something along those lines?
JB: There’s all these different approaches to it, and it’s probably my age, because instead of making this an online series it seemed more official and more genuine to make a full documentary film. When you make an album, you put a lot of soul and passion into it, and that’s how I felt about making this film. To me, that is more real than watching something on your phone for five minutes. That’s the reason I’m booking in theaters. It will be available online, but for me growing up in the 70s and 80s, you’d go to the theater and see a film and I like that.

OT: Is there a part three on the horizon?
JB: Yeah, Part III would be the Midwest, but this has been the past six years of my life and I definitely want to hang out with my wife and not make a film at the moment. It’s very time-consuming. We’ll see what happens.

Doors for the event open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the screening are available here. For more information about the film, check out the website.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4527; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Joe Dilworth
Photo: Joe Dilworth

Algiers Breaks Barriers

“How do we relate that sense of division that’s brought upon us from top down, from people in power who seek every day to divide us and categorize us as human beings and prevent us from collectively coming together?”

Algiers bassist Ryan Mahan poses this question to me over the phone from his home in the UK. Now more than ever, I surely don’t know the answer. But through their genre-smashing catalog, Algiers might be close to finding it.

The four-piece outfit was a sociopolitical force before they were ever a band. Atlanta natives Mahan, vocalist Franklin James Fisher and guitarist Lee Tesche formed in 2007, eventually adding drummer Matt Tong – formerly of Bloc Party – to the fold in 2016.

Over the course of their 11-year career, the band has never been interested in what others call them. They’re more interested in using music as a unifying force, especially at a time when division is more common than ever in so many creative spaces.

“We actually came up with the concept of Algiers before we ever had written a note of music,” Mahan says. “We were focused much more specifically on the social context of the music – how that relates to the actual sound that you’re trying to project and looking at music in spatial ways. That’s where the politics come from too, because there’s a politic to that in and of itself. We deal with issues like appropriation and colonialism within music itself, and exclusionary spaces where you maybe see a particular scene that has been built up.”

On any given Algiers song, you’ll hear hints of post-punk, gospel, new wave and more. There are a lot of bands who could have potentially influenced Algiers, but there are no other bands who sound – or think – like Algiers.

When Mahan dissects the conglomeration of sounds that make up his band’s music, he explains, “It might sound a little bit analytical as an approach. But it actually allows us to be quite free with our music and play with our music in very different ways.”

He continues, crediting the culture industry for creating this sense of genre “in its own twisted, distorted way.”

“It almost polices these boundaries and prevents the fluidity of music and us from grasping music in a much more holistic way. We’re obviously engaged with history and our own histories and the history of oppression. How do we relate that sonically?”

Mahan and company explore that question and more on the band’s most recent record, The Underside of Power, released last June. With members now living in the States and the UK, their sophomore effort was influenced by the disarray of politics in both places. Their songs directly deal with everything from police brutality to the 2016 election and the resurfacing of fascist ideals. They seamlessly reference and draw inspiration from the Black Panthers, Che Guevara and Albert Camus, to name a few.

The band does important work using music as their vehicle, and their voices to give rise to others’ voices in turn. Algiers appears on the bill for Black Cat’s 25th anniversary show this month, and the band is looking forward to performing in a city that remains an epicenter for creative resistance. Algiers’ strength lies in their ability to embody the energies of these spaces, no matter the location.

“It’s all about inserting yourself in these spaces, and that’s why playing this 25th anniversary show at the Black Cat is powerful for us,” Mahan says. “Dante [Ferrando, owner] and the people at the Black Cat see us within this scene. We’re playing alongside some of our heroes: Mary Timony in Ex Hex, Mike Watt, Gray Matter and Subhumans. This is all where we see ourselves, and maybe people from the outside – unless they’re fans – don’t really get that. I think that’s kind of a constant battle that we take on.”

And while the band will continue to tackle subjects that very much need light shed on them – Mahan says they’ve recently begun to work on new music – their final goal is to be a unifying force among likeminded people.

“As a band, we just want to connect with people. We really feel like there’s so many people who also feel that way. It’s not through a sense of naiveté. We’re very cynical in our approach, but through that cynicism there is – as we particularly try to reflect on our last album – a sense of light.”

Algiers plays the second night of the Black Cat’s 25th anniversary event on Saturday, September 15. Tickets are $25. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information on Algiers, visit www.algierstheband.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Emily Chow
Photo: Emily Chow

DC’s Bad Moves Talks Power Pop Ballads & Collaborative Process for New Record

By day, the foursome behind DC-based power pop band Bad Moves span career paths – from labor union organizer to NPR music editor. But by night, bassist Emma Cleveland, drummer Daoud Tyler-Ameen, and guitarists David Combs and Katie Park are focused on their budding music career.

Still beatific from their successful SXSW showcase this spring, the band has been keeping busy with their upcoming LP Tell No One. The record comes out on September 21 via Don Giovanni Records in conjunction with a release party at the Black Cat.

“A lot of the songs on the album deal with themes of having secrets that you keep inside, and the repercussions of either keeping secrets or coming out with them,” Cleveland says.

The band alludes to a few family secrets of their own on Tell No One while still maintaining a degree of mystery. Secrets of sexuality and criminality are woven into the limericks set to the band’s peppy, kinetic beats. Yet the truth is, the album is not about divulging secrets.

Instead, Tyler-Ameen says it’s about “exploring the things that are traditionally considered taboo [that you later realize] are markers of identity, yet you feel when you’re younger you’re not allowed to fully own.”

Tell No One is expected to resonate with all, as did their self-titled EP.

“I don’t know if we necessarily started the band thinking in particular about a demographic,” Combs says. “I don’t know if that’s a word we even used with each other.”

Instead, Bad Moves relies on chance when creating music that sits well with their broad audience – the chance that their personal experiences, or the feelings evoked from those experiences, will be commonly shared.

The bandmates have relied on each other to craft their sound over the past three years, drawing on 90s pop punk and rock sounds that resonate with most older millennials. Combs says he and Park were the main collaborators on Tell No One, and then brought in the rest of the band to “shape it more in our own collective image.” Bad Moves has no lead singer, so the four musicians each share equal vocal responsibility in the band.

“Our intention is to take the focus away from one particular identity as being the central face of the band,” Combs says.

Picking a band name – on a car ride to a recording session at American University – was one of the only items on their ever-growing to-do list that didn’t require too much thought.

“One name I remember pushing for – and now feel relief that we didn’t go with – was Bad Wiz,” Cleveland says. “That would have been bad.”

Combs chimes in, “We also had Wet Hands. It’s hard to know what kind of name will suit your needs early on.”

The process of forming their sound, on the other hand, was a different story. Cleveland says the band made a lengthy playlist of power pop – around 180 songs – that inspired their eclectic sound. The first track on the playlist, which coincidently had the most impact, is “Looking For Magic” by the Dwight Twilley Band.

“You can tell from the lyrics that there’s a sort of desperation,” Combs says of the 1977 classic. “There’s this thing that eludes to magic. There’s a sadness to that sentiment, but the energy of that song is really lifting, inspiring and powerful. It’s a song that’s not ignoring that the world is a hard place to be in, but it’s also something I can put on that will push me through – and that’s what we want our music to do.”

Don’t miss Bad Moves at Black Cat for their record release party on Friday, September 21. The Obsessives and Ultra Beauty will open. Doors are at 7:30, tickets are $10.

Learn more about the band at www.badmoves.bandcamp.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Courtesy of Black Cat
Photo: Courtesy of Black Cat

The 25 Lives of Black Cat

Black Cat has sold out countless shows, with killer acts on regular rotation at the 14th Street music venue. Drawing big names like Radiohead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers and more, the double-level DC mainstay hasn’t quit booking national tours and amplifying local bands since opening its doors in ’93.

But its biggest accomplishment since opening? Owner and founder Dante Ferrando laughs on a recent call with On Tap, offering a blunt reply.

“Managing to stay open for 25 years would be the first [accomplishment] to come to mind,” he says. “It is a tough business. There’s a lot of ups and downs. You have to constantly recreate little bits and pieces to make things work.”

Black Cat is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month with a two-night lineup on September 14 and 15 of some of the venue’s favorite bands to work with. Ferrando seems like he doesn’t want to favor any particular act, but mentions Mike Watt – who’s part of the Friday night lineup – as an example of a musician that means something to the Black Cat team.

“We had a ton of good [musicians] that we asked and a ton of good ones that we got,” Ferrando says of how he culled talent for the anniversary shows. “It’s very tough unless you really want to blow huge amounts of money to get people to change their plans. Everyone’s on tour and has different things that they’re doing.”

As the drummer for local post-hardcore band Gray Matter, opening a music venue might have seemed like an obvious interest for Ferrando – but he’s also a natural entrepreneur. He owned Dante’s, a 14th Street restaurant and emphatic supporter of DC’s music scene, before opening the Black Cat. He says 9:30 Club monopolized the punk and alt-rock scenes at the time, but Ferrando had his own vision.

In its original location on F Street from 1980 to 1996, 9:30 was a “good, tiny punk-rock dive” for a 200-person show, according to Ferrando. At the time, he saw a need for a DC venue that was more accommodating to both fans and bands performing there, like a dressing room and more space for the audience.

“We did something that was needed in the city at that point in time. It was something we needed to have.”

With some healthy competition, 9:30 Club has since moved and improved – and both venues were able to carve their own identities in the city.

“My route was definitely more of the smoky bar or traditional club, [and 9:30 Club has] more of a concert production vibe,” he says. “I think it ended up balancing nicely in the end.”

Ferrando describes their current spot as a Hail Mary; the Black Cat moved to the larger space, still on 14th Street, in 2001.

“If you came to the area now and tried to get a space this big, I would be terrified to know how much that would cost.”

In the 25 lives of Black Cat, Ferrando has witnessed some shifts in the music scene. He says their first five years were the height of indie rock, with a unified local and regional rise of independent record labels and bands feeding off each other’s energy and style.

“I like times like that. It’s great to just have a great band. But if you have four great bands that all know each other and are bouncing stuff back and forth because they’re seeing each other’s shows, those sort of environments are very exciting to me. I just haven’t seen that to quite the [same] degree recently. I always hoped for those little hotspots to pop up and there’s not much you can do to create them aside from waiting for when they start happening.”

He says the fan-musician dynamic has changed too.

“Something that I kind of miss: there used to be a time where if a band was pretty big, a member of that band [playing] with their new act would draw really well. Nowadays, nobody cares. They might like the band, but the direct relationship to the band isn’t as intense as it used to be.”

But the volume of bands and people coming out is still growing, because new listeners can learn about an up-and-coming band through a few Internet clicks. With more venues popping up, local bands play more often now than they did before – and the venues are doing really well, according to Ferrando.

His Friday night anniversary show lineup includes Des Demonas, Subhumans, Ocampo Ocampo & Watt, Ted Leo, Dagger Moon, Scanners, Honey, and Felix & Sam. Des   Demonas guitarist Mark Cisneros calls the Black Cat an oasis in a changing district with new luxuries drawing people with wealth.

“The Black Cat is a home for everyone who’s still here playing music left in the scene,” Cisneros says. “It’s still a stronghold for the DC punk rock scene. It’s one of the best clubs in the world and it’s a real privilege to play there. We’re all thankful that Dante is still going with it and making a home for us.”

Ferrando’s band is set to play a couple of songs on Saturday night.

“It has nothing to do with Black Cat particularly,” he says of Gray Matter’s mini-reunion. “It’s just an opportunity for me to fly old friends in and do a show, which we haven’t done since the 20th anniversary. I’m particularly psyched about that.”

On Saturday, Ex Hex, Hurry Up featuring Kathy Foster and Westin Glass of The Thermals, Algiers, Hammered Hulls, Wanted Man, and Foul Swoops will share the stage with Ferrando.

“You get to catch some of the best local bands we’ve got and some really cool out-of-town bands too,” he says. “There’s a lot of people who’ve been coming here for a lot of years. It’s good to have just a fun party sometimes.”

Don’t miss the Black Cat’s 25th anniversary shows on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15 on the venue’s mainstage. Doors at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $25 per night. Learn more at www.blackcatdc.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

tiny-cat2

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival Brings Music and Charity to DC

During the isolating snowstorm of January 2016, Katie and Stephen Petix – the duo behind DC based band Technophobia – reflected on their journey recording and releasing their album. The duo decided their next step needed to work in tandem with their passion to better their community and affect positive change.

“We had given a lot of thought to the music industry and record labels and stuff like that and nothing seemed to connect with our ideologies,” Stephen says. “We had talked previously about doing something with our record where we can donate to charity and it kind of blossomed into ‘let’s start a nonprofit!’”

And thus, Working Order Records was born. The label is 100 percent not for profit, and operates under the motto “music, impact, vinyl, change.” Katie and Stephen first worked with Life Pieces and Masterpieces, a nonprofit providing arts education and mentorship to young African American men in need in Ward 7.

After the success of that campaign and playing various DC area charity shows to benefit charities such as Planned Parenthood and House of Ruth. Inspired by that model and hoping to make an even greater impact on the DC community, Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival came about.

Katie and Stephen chose the Greater DC Diaper Bank as the beneficiaries for Working Order’s first ever festival. The Northeast, DC based charity’s mission is to “empower families and individuals in need throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia by providing an adequate and reliable source for basic baby needs and personal hygiene products.” After communicating with the organization on their greatest needs, the couple settled on two programs to be the direct beneficiaries of Tiny Cat.

“Something that resonated with Katie, and with me, was one of the programs called The Monthly. Feminine healthcare items are taxed as luxury items in many states, and that should be criminal to me. That is one of the programs we are supporting – to provide feminine healthcare products for women in poverty in DC, Maryland and Virginia,” Stephen says. “The other program we’re helping them with is called The Baby Pantry. The Baby Pantry is great, it provides all these extraneous needs for baby care that people don’t usually think about.”

For the festival itself, Stephen called on the DC music community, including longtime friends and partners at the Black Cat, who will host the two-day festival. The lineup features a wide range of styles in the dark music genre: EBM, post punk, minimal electronic and experimental electronic, to name a few, are reflected in the lineup.

“All the bands we approached were really into it and excited about the idea of the proceeds going to charity,” he says. “They were also excited about doing it in DC because things like this don’t really happen in DC. We’ve got a bunch of artists that have never played here.”

As Technophobia, Katie and Stephen have deep roots in the dark music and DC music community. Their band will be playing at the festival, and Stephen says that in addition to the charitable aspects of Tiny Cat, they’re looking forward to sharing the stage with “bands that we’ve always wanted to play with but never had a chance to.”

“Community is important to us,” he continues. “Not just our community in DC but our larger music community. It’s important to have people involved in this positive thing that we’re doing.”

The DC community has definitely rallied behind Working Order and Tiny Cat. Just last month, the organization won a $1,000 grant from The Awesome Foundation’s DC chapter to help with the cost of bringing an amazing pantheon of artists to DC for Tiny Cat.

When asked about playing multiple parts in the production of the festival, Stephen was quick to show how passionate he is about what he’s doing with Working Order.

“Part organizers, part on the bill – that’s what we always do,” he says. “There’s a DIY aesthetic to what we do. It’s definitely a labor of love.”

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival takes place Friday, August 3 (Hante, Kontravoid, Technophobia, Remote/Control and Radiator Greys play) and Saturday, August 4 (Crash Course in Science, Tempers, Void Vision, Twins and Aertex play). Tickets are $35 for a two day pass and $20 for a single day pass. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. All proceeds directly benefit the Greater DC Diaper Bank. For more on Working Order Records, visit www.workingorderrecords.org. For more on the Greater DC Diaper Bank, visit here.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Courtesy of Mega Bog
Photo: Courtesy of Mega Bog

Mega Bog Speaks Sci-Fi and Destroyer

Not long after I hang up the phone with Mega Bog’s songwriter Erin Birgy, I look up a video she mentioned called Bridges-Go-Round by Shirley Clark. Bridges is first on the list of films that inspired her own music videos, like the one she made for “London.” But in Bridges, I see her music as much as I see her filmmaking.

Bridges looks both DIY and art school. It’s a montage of bridges in NYC set against “abrasive jazz,” as Birgy says. The film strikes me as beautiful but funny, if your sense of humor is twisted just so.

In anticipation of her show with Destroyer at Black Cat on January 28, we talked about her upcoming video projects and records, her favorite DC haunts and how this tour came about. Destroyer’s Dan Bejar had caught a Mega Bog show in Brooklyn and decided to approach Birgy about touring together. What she thought had been a subpar show was apparently “some of the only music [Bejar had] liked in years.”

I learned of her love of sci-fi when discussing her post-tour plans, which include shooting several pilot episodes for a new Star Trek series. She’s also reading Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem, which is having a moment since Cixin’s interview with The Atlantic. Ursula K. Le Guin is her favorite though, and she’s currently reading one of her books as well. Sci-fi also factors into Birgy’s DC plans.

“I have a couple book stores I like to go to [in DC], but I don’t even know what they’re called,” she said. “I just sort of end up walking there.”

Birgy’s interest in Star Trek was reawoken when she turned on Next Generation just to see what was going on, and she couldn’t believe what she had missed.

“I found it so hopeful and relaxing, and it gave me a lot of energy to put toward being patient. So for the past year, I’ve been watching Next Generation, Deep Space Time and Voyager almost every day.”

Birgy will shoot her demo episodes in L.A., where she plans to move after the tour. She’ll be relocating from New York, which she says is a wonderful place, but stressful to live in. 

“If I could be more present and interact with the things that are going on in New York I might like it more, but I don’t right now. And it’s just dirty and loud, and I need to go lay down sometimes.”

Birgy plans to release her new Mega Bog record from L.A., recorded by her partner James Krivchenia (of Big Thief) in upstate New York. She says there will be a slew of sci-fi-themed videos accompanying the record. After that, she says she has another 30 songs to focus on. 

Catch Mega Bog with Destroyer at Black Cat this Sunday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of. Learn more about Mega Bog here

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Cinema Hearts at Fort Reno DC/Photo: Mike Maguire
Cinema Hearts at Fort Reno DC/Photo: Mike Maguire

Guitars and Tiaras: Cinema Hearts’ Caroline Weinroth

Pageant shows and rock ‘n’ roll are two things you probably wouldn’t picture together, but Cinema Hearts are proving that a beauty queen can rock a tiara while shredding on guitar.

Based out of Fairfax, Virginia, Cinema Hearts are Miss Mountain Laurel 2017 Caroline Weinroth on guitar and vocals, her brother Erich on bass, and new addition Dylan van Vierssen on drums. Equal parts sugar and spice, the band combines a modern pop take on 50s nostalgia with rock-leaning electric guitars and accentuated drums that cut through the sweetness.

While an undergrad at George Mason University, Weinroth started a solo career doing open mic nights on campus. It wasn’t until 2015 that Erich joined her on bass and their mutual GMU friend James Adelsberger rounded out the group on drums.

Since then, the band has released two albums, 2016’s Feels Like Forever and 2017’s Burned and Burnished; parted (on good terms) with Adelsberger, who was later replaced by van Vierssen; and will soon be performing at the Black Cat, one of their biggest performances to date. Cinema Hearts will be joined by local band Julian and New Orleans-based New Holland at the Black Cat’s backstage on December 12.

“It’s our first time playing Black Cat as a band so I’m really excited,” Weinroth says. “This is our first traditional venue show in a few months and we have some new songs that I think people will really enjoy.”

She adds that with Cinema Hearts shows, she tries to make it a “glamorous affair” with all details centered around having a well-rounded, sensory-visual experience. Part of that glamorous setting involves her wearing her crown and sash to go with her pageant queen onstage persona, which Weinroth says started as a joke.

“No doubt that there’s a very strong presence of women in music and there’s so many different, talented, diverse artists who are women who are playing guitar or other instruments, but you don’t really see that in the mainstream. And at the time with Cinema Hearts, I was like, ‘What if I took this super masculine instrument – the electric guitar that has a very male-dominated history – and I combined it with the most feminine thing I can think of?,’ which to me was the Miss America pageant.”

For that reason, Weinroth says even from the beginning of Cinema Hearts, she has always played in a sequin dress and high heels.

“I really want to show that, though I’m a very womanly person, I can play electric guitar and convey the song’s message that I want to convey.”

Eventually, she wanted to stop being a poseur and signed up for a pageant and won. But dressing like a pageant queen to prove a point isn’t Weinroth’s only feminist move. On songs like “Fender Factory” off of their last album, she sings to her male antagonist that just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her way around a guitar – a true story of the time she went to the Fender Factory in California and had to deal with a pretentious tour guide.

But “Fender Factory” is just one of the many songs off Burned and Burnished that deals with growing up and innocence lost.

“The overarching theme of the album was a lot of disillusionment and letting go of naïveté,” she says. “If our first album was more of coming-of-age, I felt like our second album was much more ‘Alright, I really feel like an adult!’”

As for the album title, it pays homage to one of her favorite quotes from the play The Fantasticks, which goes, “The play is never done until we’ve all of us been burned a bit and burnished by the sun.”

Erich, who studied music technology at GMU while producing both albums, added that mixing proved easier the second time around, having gained more experience but also having a clearer sense of what he wanted Burned and Burnished to sound like.

As for where Cinema Hearts goes from here, Weinroth hopes to see the band spread out from the DMV scene and share their music with more people.

“I’m really excited and hopeful that we’re the kind of act that will be able to make an impact in the music scene of America,” she says. “And being able to inspire other women and girls through our music and being able to hit bigger stages where we can share these messages with people would be astounding.”

Catch Cinema Hearts at Black Cat’s backstage on Tuesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Learn more about the band here.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo by: Courtney Sexton
Photo by: Courtney Sexton

Truth and Dare Variety Show: Ladies, Let Your Freak Flags Fly

Whoever said DC doesn’t know how to get freaky obviously never attended Church Night at Black Cat, any number of cabarets around town or the latest in the District’s sideshow offerings – Truth and Dare. The performance series is the lovechild of Michelle Carnes of the DC Weirdo Show and Tija Mittal of Charming the Destroyer. A combination variety show/live storytelling event, Truth and Dare is no subtle celebration of la femme: it’s a lot of vagina and a few extra boobs in just the right places.

Photo by: Courtney Sexton

Photo by: Courtney Sexton

This Monday’s rendition was set upstairs at The Passenger (newly reopened in Shaw), and along with Mittal, Carnes and Carnes’s alter-ego, Dr. Torcher, the show featured appearances from veteran storyteller Stephanie Garibaldi of Story District and sideshow hostess extraordinaire Mab just Mab. What set the show apart from others in the same realm was the balance between serious (even when comedic) storytelling, and traditional sideshow skits. Between fire-eating and straightjacket-stripping, we heard carefully woven tales about Garibaldi’s experience as a 21-year-old fertility goddess in Mexico and Mittal’s lesbian love story that wasn’t, all rounded out by a tastefully tassled tri-titty twirl from Dr. Torcher.

While there are a few kinks to be worked out and the show could benefit from a bit more structure, overall the content is thick and the characters are compelling. I’m curious to see how deep these ladies take their Truth and Dare.

Mittal has a free comedy show at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at The Carolina Kitchen, 2350 Washington Pl. NE, DC. She is also included in the Story Districts “Sucker for Love” lineup on Feb. 11. More information, and tickets, are available here.