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Photo: Paul Kim/Washington Nationals
Photo: Paul Kim/Washington Nationals

Play-by-Play Voice Charlie Slowes Expects Nats to Heat Up with Weather

Cable television is a luxury for many people these days. That means that Nationals fans who wish to follow their team could have trouble accessing MASN, the Nats’ home broadcasting network. Hence, the importance of radio.

“Sometimes all it takes is a comeback like this to turn your fate around,” an authoritative voice crooned over the airwaves.

That was Charlie Slowes, the play-by-play announcer for the Nationals’ radio affiliate 106.7 FM The Fan, speaking on April 16 during a tight game between the Mets and the Nats. A few pitches later, Michael A. Taylor, who entered the game with a .193 batting average, walked to force in the go-ahead run, and the Nats went on to win 8-6.

Taylor’s go-ahead walk came at a critical juncture early in the season. The Nats lost eight of their previous 11 games entering the series against the Mets, who stormed out of the gates to a 12-2 record. The Nationals ended up taking two of three games in the series to stop their early season skid.

For all 14 seasons that Nats baseball has existed in DC, Slowes has been the voice calling the games, engaging fans through the airwaves. When we got a chance to chat with Slowes off-air, he noted that it’s important not to sound the alarms just because of a slow start.

“You’re talking about a tenth of a season,” Slowes told On Tap the morning after the April 16 game, adding that there’s reason to keep the faith in a reigning first-place team. “I’m always excited at the start of a season. They’ve got Scherzer and Strasburg at the top of the rotation. They’ve got a backend of the bullpen that they didn’t really have last year, with a track record of success. Bryce [Harper] looks like he’s primed for a big, big year.”

Slowes noted that this April was abnormally cold and dismal, hardly the kind of weather that wakes Major League hitters out of their offseason slumbers – even the cherry blossoms stayed in their beds a few weeks longer than expected.

“Hell, let’s see the weather get warm,” Slowes said. “It hasn’t really been baseball weather. But you figure by May, it will be.”

Any baseball fan worth his weight in pine tar knows that warm weather and hitting go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Moreover, key pieces in the Nats’ lineup were missing at the start of the April 16 game. Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy – essential pieces in the Nationals’ batting order – spent time out of the lineup in April because of injury.

The Nationals entered the April 16 game with MLB ranks of 13th in runs scored, 19th in team batting average and 15th in team on-base plus slugging. At the end of 2017, the Nats ranked fifth, fourth and fourth in those categories, respectively. With a fully loaded lineup, one would expect the numbers to more closely resemble last season’s.

But unlike last season, when the Nats finished 20 games ahead of the second-place Marlins, our team has more to worry about than just their own performance. The National League East has vastly improved.

For example, the Mets welcomed back their young pitching phenom Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and potent hitters Michael Conforto and Yoenis Céspedes, all of whom missed significant time in 2017. Meanwhile, the Braves and Phillies have started to reap the benefits of their “rebuilding” phases. For both teams, a talented crop of young prospects has finally begun to arrive at the Major League level.

But maybe a little competition isn’t so bad.

“Maybe that will be a good thing,” Slowes said. “When you are a runaway winner in the division, and you don’t play any meaningful games, then September becomes a little bit more like spring training. Then you’ve got to flip a switch [when the playoffs begin].”

After a shaky performance coming out of this year’s spring training, the Nationals needed to search hard to flip that proverbial switch. If nothing else, the Nats – to invoke another idiom – have gotten a wake-up call to start the season.

For more info on the Nats’ 2018 season, go to www.mlb.com/nationals.

Nationals Park: 1500 South Capitol St. SE, DC; 202-675-6287; www.mlb.com/nationals

Photo: Valeria Villarroel
Photo: Valeria Villarroel

Instagramming For a Cause: We the Dogs DC

Is there any other city besides the nation’s capital with such a thriving dog culture? The minute the temperatures reach the mid-60s and the sun beats out the clouds, all the dogs suddenly come out of hiding from hibernation and join their owners at every patio and park throughout the area. Each moment of puppy play dates, brews and bones, puppies and pints, snuggles and sunbathing, and tongue and tail wags is documented on Instagram thanks to @wethedogsdc.

We The Dogs DC was born like many modern connections: on Instagram. A DM slide here, a DM slide there, and suddenly, five local women and their beloved pups found themselves members of a brand new pack. Renee Arellano is dog mom to Kingston; Kat Calvitti hangs out with her pup Stella; Marissa Dimino enjoys yappy hours with Teddy; Shannon DiMartino snuggles up with Ruby; and Amber Duggan gets mani-pedis with Izzy.

Locals following @wethedogsdc get to catch a glimpse at a day in the life of a local pup (much in the same vein of the @wethepeopledc Instagram account), where DC area dog owners get to hold the handle for a day and take photos of their canine companions at Fido-friendly spots around the city. We The Dogs’ Insta also features local rescue pups up for adoption. The cuteness factor is off the charts, and it’s all for a good cause.

More than just an Instagram handle, We The Dogs DC connects local dog lovers to help support animal rescue organizations and local dog-friendly businesses.

“With every dog story comes a human story, and it’s a great way to connect with people,” DiMartino says. “I think by having the handle and showing people who have pit bulls and other dogs that are often times restricted from apartments and other areas, people get to see they are really sweet dogs and just want to be loved.”

Last spring, the ladies of We The Dogs had an idea to bring together people from different political and ideological backgrounds to march for a common cause: their pets. What started as an idea for a small gathering of several dozen people swiftly became the Bipawtisan March; the June 4 event raised more than $10,000 for the Humane Rescue Alliance and Rural Dog Rescue.

“People were just really excited about coming together,” says Duggan, the organization’s executive director.

Since the march, We The Dogs’ Instagram account has grown to over 6,000 followers. Over 1,600 toys, leashes, beds, food and other essential pet items have been donated to help out rescue organizations such as Rural Dog Rescue, the Puppy Rescue Mission and Worthy Dog Rescue. An additional $2,000 was raised for local dog charities at smaller events, and plans are already underway for a second Bipawtisan March in September – an impressive feat for an organization that’s only been around for less than a year.

The pack is also working on a photobook, set to come out this fall. All proceeds from the sale of book will benefit four local animal rescue organizations: OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, K-9 Lifesavers and Operation Paws for Homes. Nearly 30 charities were nominated, and the local community took a vote to whittle the list down to four. Ruby the Bulldog selected the final charity.

“Ruby has a hide-and-seek toy, so we taped the charity names underneath the little cups on the toys and put treats in all of those cups, and let her pick the fourth charity,” DiMartino says.

The book will highlight different dog breeds visiting iconic DC locations and dog-friendly neighborhood gems around the DMV, and will be available on the organization’s website, via Amazon, and at local booksellers and dog-friendly publishing sponsors.

We The Dogs also hosts dog-friendly social gatherings on a regular basis. Thanks to their Instagram community of dog lovers and their social events, dog owners throughout the area have formed local pack walk groups (you can catch Calvitti and Stella at the Meridian Hill one). Pup parents have a place to turn to for advice and support whenever a furry loved one gets sick or injured, and a sympathetic ear when they need to vent about the pitfalls of dog ownership in the DMV, such as breed restrictions in housing and the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the Metro (take note, WMATA!)

While We The Dogs DC isn’t an advocacy organization, just by virtue of highlighting dogs of different breeds and sizes throughout the area – including those looking for their forever homes – the 501(c)(3) manages to bring visibility and awareness about maligned dog breeds by letting followers glimpse at life through literal puppy dog eyes.

“The community that we’ve built and encountered through our dogs is absolutely amazing,” Calvitti says. “My life revolves around Stella’s plans now. I don’t have a social life – my dog does.”

Don’t miss We The Dogs’ next Yappy Hour on Sunday, May 13. Learn more about We The Dogs DC at www.wethedogsdc.org and follow them on Instagram at @wethedogsdc.


DC Dog Rescues

Animal Welfare Institute
www.awionline.org
“Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Today, one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.”

DC PAWS Rescue
www.dcpawsrescue.org
“DC PAWS Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in DC, committed to rescuing homeless animals from high-kill animal control facilities that are often under-resourced and underfunded.”

Howl to the Chief
www.howltothechief.com
“The place to pamper Capitol Hill pets: premium pet foods for all budgets, delivery, grooming, dog walking, dog wash and adoption events.”

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
www.lostdogrescue.org
“Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation helps homeless pets find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.”

Mutts Matter Rescue
www.muttsmatterrescue.org
“We work in conjunction with shelters and other organizations to help save animals on death row, the strays on the streets or ones in unsafe living conditions.”

Operation Paws for Homes
www.ophrescue.org
“Operation Paws for Homes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs who have overcome great odds and deserve wonderful, caring forever homes.”

Worthy Dog Rescue
www.worthydog.org
“Worthy Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in distress, especially those living on chains, in pens, or in neglectful and abusive situations.”

Photo: Courtesy of Bold Rock
Photo: Courtesy of Bold Rock

Bold Rock Unveils Spring Seasonal Rosé Cider

Drink aficionados can be a fickle bunch, often resulting in cliques for beer enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs and spirit experts. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult, but Bold Rock Cider is used to bending norms to introduce folks to the wonders of hard cider. Earlier this year, the cidery released its new rosé hard cider. To get some insight on the latest and greatest beverage of Bold Rock, we talked to head cider maker Ian Niblock about the spring seasonal.

On Tap: How long had you workshopped a rosé cider? Why did you decide to develop this drink?
Ian Niblock: We’ve had our eye on a rosé-style cider for quite some time now. Like how our IPA (India Pressed Apple) is a gateway cider for beer drinkers, we wanted a style that would entice wine drinkers to give us a chance. We hear all the time from beer drinkers that they had no idea cider could taste that good, but they never would have tried it if not for the connectivity to beer. We saw that same opportunity in rosé cider, and we think many wine drinkers are going to be surprised by the great taste of Bold Rock Rosé.

OT: What are some similarities between your rosé hard cider and rosé wine?
IN: What anyone will notice first is the color. Bold Rock Rosé has a deep, rich pink hue immediately recognizable as rosé. Bold Rock Rosé is the driest cider we have ever released in a six-pack, with just enough sweetness to accentuate the strawberry [and] raspberry notes reminiscent of a Gewürztraminer rosé.

OT: Do you think cider drinkers might hesitate to try the cider because of its name?
IN: There has certainly been a need to educate the consumer on what rosé cider is, but rosé is such a popular wine style that there is plenty of awareness out there already. Our version is just a little bit of a twist that only uses apples, but still has a taste profile very similar to that of a rosé wine.

OT: What were your thoughts upon first tasting the cider? Did you guys nail it right away or did it take a while to get the recipe down?
IN: Bold Rock Rosé went through all sorts of trials and iterations, but when you hit the right recipe, you know. We had a moment when we were tasting some trial recipes and we all honed in on one in particular and said, “That’s the one!” It was pretty rewarding.

OT: What has the response been like so far? Do you guys plan to keep it as part of your seasonal rotation?
IN: The response has honestly been tremendous. The sheer amount of excitement surrounding the announcement followed by the subsequent success of Bold Rock Rosé in the marketplace has exceeded all expectations. We feel blessed to have such loyal customers who look forward to our seasonal releases, but the rosé has been embraced by longtime Bold Rockers and new entrants to the cider category alike.

OT: What’s next on the horizon for Bold Rock? Are there any strange or unusual drinks that you’re excited about?
IN: I can’t give away too much, but the rest of the year will not disappoint. As far as “strange and unusual” goes, we recently renovated our original cider barn into the Barrel Barn, which serves as both a small batch crafting facility and intimate tap room. The Barrel Barn will be our test bed of cider innovation, exploring the depths of cider, from yeast experiments to barrel aging and beyond. Guests can look forward to plenty of limited-run cider styles – some in kegs, some in cork and caged bottles. However, you’ll have to make the trek to our Nellysford Cidery to experience those styles as they will only be available at the Barrel Barn for now.

For more information on Bold Rock and where to pick it up locally, visit www.boldrock.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Bottled Up
Photo: Courtesy of Bottled Up

Bottled Up’s Niko Rao Removes the Lid

The members of Bottled Up didn’t exactly know what their band name meant when they first considered it.

Instead of asking 29-year-old singer-songwriter Niko Rao why he suggested it, they instead floated out numerous explanations – emotions being held back only to be revealed in songs or music that starts off slow thus bottling up energy released in an explosive conclusion, among others. Rao simply nodded along as his band members each tossed worthy theories at him, all different than the real reason he suggested the phrase.

“It comes from a Devo song called ‘Bottled Up,’” Rao says, laughing. “I didn’t tell the band why I wanted to name it that and they came up with all these elaborate other meanings, which were interesting.”

Yes, the name – like so many others – started as an homage to his favorite band, but the California native has since ceded that the name has evolved past a simple reference, transforming into an apt description for what Bottled Up is as a unit.

“I’ve grown to like the name more than just as a reference,” Rao says. “I think it embodies our songwriting, and I definitely write things I keep bottled up.”

A DMV Collective

It didn’t take Rao long to find people to jam with after moving to the District in 2016. Like an elaborate domino effect, the musician went to a studio so he could bang on some drums to relieve frustration. Afterward, he badgered the guy at the front desk, Alex Dahms, to join him for a jam session. Alex (drums) brought eventual bassist Colin Kelly to the jam sesh, and during this meetup, lead guitarist Mikey Mastrangelo overheard the trio and asked to join in on the next one.

“I kind of pressured [Alex] into jamming with me, because I had a bunch of riffs I wanted to toy around with from [my time in] L.A.,” Rao says. “We really had great chemistry. I didn’t interact with other people very well. Actually, I mostly played all of the stuff myself. I was very controlling over my music. With this band, I’m just happy to play with others who bring things out of our songs.”

The group instantly formed a bond and has spent the past two years constantly jamming, writing music and evolving. Their self-titled record contains seven songs of new wave and garage-style surf rock delivered in speedy, two- or three-minute doses. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of genres in one sentence describing seven songs,” it’s probably because these guys define their genre as “¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

“Well, I would definitely….oh man,” Rao says as he begins to try and describe their sounds for people who may not have heard them yet. “We’re totally new wave. Talking Heads, Devo, B-52s – that stuff is woven into my muscles at this point. I have a very angular, new wave guitar-playing style.”

The Constant of Music

One thing about the LP is that Rao’s up-and-down history is the emotional through line present in every track. Growing up on the West Coast, he dipped his toe in music after hearing the score of “Final Fantasy VII.” This prompted him to pick up a violin and study classical music, which he kept up with until his grandmother purchased him an electric guitar.

“Until that point, I was going to study classical music and play tennis,” he says. “Once I got a guitar and skateboard, all I wanted to do was play rock music, skate and smoke weed. I was 14, and that was a big year for me because I got into all this rock, indie and punk music – all of the stuff you hear in the background of skate videos.”

From then on, music was Rao’s life. After high school, he went to college for sound design, where he would formulate music for TV and video games. He also developed numerous drug addictions there, eventually leading to rehab and various group meetings. He ultimately decided to move to the DC area so he could be closer to family, and all the while he continued penning music.

“I definitely channeled that in my songwriting. It’s weird when you move to a city because no one really knows your past, and you’re this new, fresh person. You can choose all the colors you want to present. It wasn’t tough for me in the beginning, even now, because I feel like it’s nice to get out. My music deals with the aftermath of that – the emotions in dealing with those overwhelming topics, the things I was locking out. I use music to process this stuff.”

A Repackaged Bottle

“We don’t play anything off the old LP anymore,” Rao says of the band’s current shows.

Since the release of Bottled Up last year, the group has morphed, changing up how they write songs and even the pacing of their tracks. Rao says while the first release featured fast, compact narratives, the follow-up allows for a little more breathing room and is a tad less aggressive, though still energetic.

“I was just conditioned to play and think that way,” Rao says. “I don’t like bands that go on too long, and there’s always a point where a song will go on for too long. I think I can sense and feel when a song loses meaning, and I want to stop there.”

Rao no longer formulates the chorus, bridge and structure before bringing it to his bandmates; sometimes, he even approaches them with just an inkling of an idea.

“I was so stuck in my head with controlling everything. Now working with these guys, I bring something small and they take it to a place I didn’t know was possible.”

Before their May 11 show at DC9, the group plans to release two new songs digitally. But even if you miss those or are weary you won’t be able to sing along, Rao made a tongue-in-cheek pun to get you pumped for the concert.

“We have a lot bottled up, and we’re ready to explode and show everyone what we’re about,” Rao says, laughing. “We’re going to be theatrical, and we always try to change it up.”

Rao and his bandmates are set to take the stage at DC9 on Friday, May 11, opening for Olden Yolk. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and available at www.dc9.club. Learn more about Bottled Up at www.bottledup.bandcamp.com.

DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 202-483-5000; www.dc9.club

The Scottsboro Boys

Stage and Screen: May 2018

THROUGH SUNDAY, MAY 20

Snow Child
Arena Stage adapted Eowyn Ivey’s Pulitzer-finalist novel, The Snow Child, for the stage with the world-premiere musical Snow Child. Facing the loss of their unborn child, Jack and Mabel move to Alaska from Pennsylvania to restart their life together. During a long, hard winter, the fissure between them grows until it seems impassable. But everything changes once a wild, mysterious girl visits them from the dark woods that surround their small cabin. Matt Bogart, starring as Jack, wants audiences to deeply contemplate Snow Child’s themes before they leave the theater. “I hope that audience members will see some of their own life experiences reflected in this piece, and that we are successful in reiterating what is taught in these old folk tales,” Bogart says. “This folk tale has to do with the impermanence of nature – how nature can sweep in and change your life, how losing a child can change your life, and how gaining a child, whether it’s born into this world or if you create it in your mind, becomes [a form of] healing.” With Alaskan folk music, a puppeteer and a winter wonderland set, you’ll find yourself alongside Jack and Mabel as they struggle in the Alaskan wilderness. Tickets are $65-$80. Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

THROUGH SUNDAY, MAY 27

1984
In this captivating adaption of George Orwell’s 1984, the crushing realization of a dystopian future is inescapable. In a world with an authoritarian government monitoring every action, expression and thought of the masses, individualism is crushed and challenging the established regime leads to torture, prison and death. Be careful what you think. Big Brother is watching. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15-$45. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC; www.atlasarts.org

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2 – SUNDAY, MAY 6

Hamlet
For the first time since 2007, the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company returns to the Kennedy Center to tell the age-old tale of searing tragedy, murder and revenge. After a student is called home from university to find his father brutally murdered, he sets out on a mission to expose the truth on a journey of madness, murder and lost love. Rising star Paapa Essiedu makes his debut in the U.S. with his lead role in Hamlet. Tickets are $39-$129. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

SATURDAY, MAY 5 – SUNDAY MAY 27

The Undeniable Sound of Right Now
Father and small business owner Hank struggles to keep his legendary rock club open in 1992 Chicago. As Hank refuses to confront the reality of where rock music is heading, his daughter starts dating a rising DJ star, forcing her father to acknowledge the truth of a different era. Explore themes of family troubles, affection for a bygone decade and the pure awesomeness of 90s rock with the DC premiere of The Undeniable Sound of Right Now. Tickets are $35-$45. The Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC; www.keegantheatre.com

SATURDAY, MAY 12 – SUNDAY, JUNE 10

Saint Joan
Focused on Joan of Arc’s simple, illiterate, village-girl nature, George Bernard Shaw takes a different approach in telling this classic tale of martyrdom. Instead of portraying her as a witch, a saint or a heretic, Shaw emphasizes her individualism during her journey to liberate France from English control after over 100 years of war. Only four actors play over 25 roles in this engaging, bare-bones production, which The New York Times described as “irresistible” and “a force of nature.” Tickets are $35-$79. Folger Theatre: 201 E Capitol St. SE, DC; www.folger.edu

THURSDAY, MAY 17 – SATURDAY, MAY 26

Spook
Just an hour before his scheduled execution, ex-police officer Darl “Spook” Spokane is to give a live televised interview from death row. Convicted for murdering five of his fellow officers during what they call the “Morning Roll Call massacre,” Spokane is to explain himself with the entire country watching. There’s a catch: this will be the first time he’s uttered even a single word in three years since the mass shooting. You’re going to want to hear what he has to say. 8 p.m. all dates. Tickets are $20. Logan Fringe Arts Space: 1358 Florida Ave. NE, DC; www.capitalfringe.org

TUESDAY, MAY 22 – FRIDAY, JULY 1

Camelot
Amongst magical forests and castles of grandeur, four-time, Tony Award-winning musical Camelot explores the struggle for civilization and goodness in a society that’s accustomed to violence and hate. It is one leader’s integrity, courage and empathy along with his Knights of the Round Table that will change the course of history. With a doomed romance and an incredible score on top, this musical has won the hearts of theatre enthusiasts for generations. Tickets are $59-$118. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall: 610 F St. NW, DC; www.shakespearetheatre.org

The Scottsboro Boys
Along the lines of Kander and Ebb’s iconic musicals Chicago and Cabaret, the Tony Award-winning duo delivers yet another breathtaking musical. The Scottsboro Boys is a critique on racism and injustice in the South, revealing the true story of nine African-American teenagers who were falsely accused of a crime, quickly tried and sentenced to death in complete disregard for due process. Nominated for 12 Tony Awards, this musical transforms a disgraceful moment in American history into a platform for change. Tickets start at $40. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

Photo: Haley McKey
Photo: Haley McKey

Good Booze and Good Boys: A Dog’s View of DMV Watering Holes

Ziggy the Labrador as told (barked?) to Haley McKey

I love people. I love it when they rub my belly, I love it when they tell me I’m cute and I especially love it when they give me food. And that’s why I also love bars. I don’t quite understand why, but it seems that after a few drinks, the belly rubs, compliments and cookies are extra abundant. It’s great! So, when my friend Haley asked me to come with her to visit some dog-friendly spots around the DC area, of course I went along. And reader, I was not disappointed.


DACHA BEER GARDEN in Shaw
People Perks: Serves beer, cocktails, wine and food
Pup Perks: Open rain or shine thanks to a giant canopy and heaters for cooler days

Haley took me to Dacha on a Sunday afternoon. I liked the place right away. We got caught in the rain earlier, so Haley and I walked in looking like wet rats (though I confess, I’ve never seen one of those) and really appreciated the heat lamps. There was plenty of water and (free!) cookies for all.

It wasn’t too crowded – maybe due to the rain – so I had plenty of room to stand in the way and wag my tail at people. Haley informed me that this is not usually the case, and sure enough, after awhile things got busy and she told me to lie down under our table and quit being a fire hazard (whatever that means). I obliged, and in a moment of weakness she slipped me a few of her friend Sam’s French fries. I met another dog too! She was a puppy. I forget how exhausting children can be.

Haley ordered a fancy bourbon cocktail called a Shawny and a cup of coffee, and Sam got a beer. Sam is a talented artist and drew a picture of me. Someone looked at his drawing and told me I had beautiful eyes. I wanted to kiss her, but I settled for enthusiastic wagging. It’s more polite. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

NORTHSIDE SOCIAL in Arlington, VA
People Perks: Serves wine, coffee, beer and food
Pup Perks: Dogs allowed on the outdoor patio

Haley took me here with her friend Courtney and Courtney’s dog Remy for a “work wine.” Haley tells me that Courtney is also a writer for On Tap, but to be honest with you, I have absolutely no clue what any of those words mean. Like, at all.

Anyway, the four of us got a table around the side of the building so Remy and I could relax in the shade. Courtney brought us some water and homemade dog treats, which are sold for 35 cents each. They were delicious, but I have been known to eat things I find in the woods, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Haley and Courtney each had a glass of wine while they worked on their laptops, and I greatly enjoyed the buttery smell of the croissant they shared. Remy fell in love with a beautiful bloodhound we met and, being a bluetick hound himself, he had a lot to say about it. Halfway through, Haley took me to a nice grassy area across the street, which I deeply appreciated (Remy and I drank a lot of water). People walking by, patted our heads and called us good boys. I was overjoyed. 3211 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.northsidesocialarlington.com

ONE EIGHT DISTILLING in Ivy City
People Perks: Serves gin, vodka, bourbon and rye whiskey, plus a rotating menu of thoughtful cocktails; bottles of One Eight’s housemade liquors are for sale at the bar
Pup Perks: Dogs are allowed in the tasting room, but not on distillery tours

My first impression was that this was a loud place. But then I realized it was loud because the people inside were having fun! Everyone was very happy to see me – even more so than usual. Haley said this was a side effect of something called “liquor.” Whatever the cause, I had a great time. People were fawning over me all night.

The best part of this outing was that Haley brought her dad Bill along! (I love her dad so much that sometimes I whine when I see him. It’s really embarrassing.) He got a flight of three different bourbons and Haley got a gin cocktail called a Detroit Radler. It smelled like grapefruit and had what I thought was a meatball at the bottom but alas, it was only a cherry.

Again, both the staff and patrons were very nice not only to me, but to Haley and Bill too! They had such a good time meeting new friends that they got another round. Haley ordered Untitled Whiskey #3, a bourbon made in coffee barrels, and Bill ordered an Old Fashioned.

Meanwhile, I set my sights on the giant pretzel people were eating at a nearby table. I tried to get Haley to order one for me, but she told me she’s supposed to be watching my weight. I tried to explain that she could still watch my weight while I eat a soft, delicious pretzel, but she said I was missing the point.

At the end of the night, we said goodbye and the folks behind the bar gave me my very own bowl of water for one last drink before the ride home. I felt fancy and important. 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com


People here love dogs, and my adventures with Haley prove that in almost every part of town, there’s a place to get a drink with your best friend. I hope she takes me out again sometime. And if she does, I really hope she buys me a pretzel. Check out some of our other favorite pup-friendly watering holes below.

Cotton and Reed: 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com
Just across the street from Union Market, this distillery allows dogs in the tasting room.

Liberty Tavern: 3195 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.thelibertytavern.com
This Clarendon-based bar and restaurant allows dogs in its outdoor patio area.

Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.volasdockside.com
This seafood restaurant and bar has a dog-friendly patio overlooking the Potomacin the heart of Old Town.

Photo: Catie Laffoon
Photo: Catie Laffoon

X Ambassadors Speak Truth, Change Sound on New Record

From the start, Adam Levin knew it was meant to be.

“It was a natural fit. I could just play the drums immediately.”

Levin found a place to exercise his passion with brothers Sam (vocals, sax) and Casey (keys) Harris when they formed X Ambassadors in 2009. Since then, the three-piece, alt-rock group has released a full-length album, VHS (2015), and toured with Muse, Imagine Dragons and Panic! at the Disco. As they continue climbing the ladder of fame and success, Levin says he and his bandmates try to appreciate the little things in life as much as possible. This mindset is central to their upcoming album, Joyful.

On June 7, X Ambassadors will play Wolf Trap’s Filene Center in Vienna, Virginia to promote Joyful and give listeners a taste of their new sound. The band has already released six singles to test the waters with fans who have been patiently waiting for another full-length album for three years now.

Although Levin says X Ambassadors is still the same band that created VHS, which featured hit singles “Renegades” and “Unsteady,” the band didn’t want to create a “VHS 2.0.”  Their latest singles, “Joyful” and “Don’t Stay,” reveal a transition into a bluesy, soulful sound that features layers unheard of in their previous style.

“As we grow as musicians and songwriters, our music is going to grow with us,” Levin says. “We embrace our soul influences and [Sam’s] voice with big choir vocals. There’s a lot more impressive vocal work on this record.”

X Ambassadors has been teasing Joyful’s release for quite some time, but has yet to announce a solid release date.
Levin says 2018 is a safe bet, and we’ll just have to take his word for it.

“It’s like a project that never ends because you write something new and it’s really cool and exciting, so it’s a constant shifting of songs,” he says. “We’re just trying to make it the best that we possibly can, and we want to take our time to put it out.”

When asked about the message of Joyful, Levin was reluctant at first, but eventually gave a few hints as to what listeners can expect from their new venture into a more soul and R&B sound.

“A lot of it is inspired by a friend of ours who’s going through addiction right now, and Sam’s been estranged from this person. I think a good amount of the record is speaking to that and Sam’s personal battle with it. It’s also about the message of taking a step to be joyful about the things that you do have.”

Levin says that much of X Ambassadors’ messaging comes from using their privilege as three straight white males to give a voice to marginalized people. Although many bands are afraid they might alienate listeners if they speak out politically, X Ambassadors decided long ago to provoke discussion and change with their music.

“People might disagree with our political viewpoints, but we don’t let that stop us from doing what we think is right,” he says.

Some examples of their recent political activity include performing a special show to benefit Planned Parenthood on International Women’s Day in 2017 and donating all proceeds they earned for six months after the release of their single “Hoping” to the American Civil Liberties Union beginning in March of last year.

“I think there are a lot of people right now who feel alienated and attacked, and we want to do what we can to represent them,” Levin says. “If that empowers them to keep fighting the good fight, then we’ve done our job.”

Since they began writing music together in 2009, the bond between Levin and the Harris brothers has flourished because of all the trials and tribulations they experienced together as rising musicians.

“There were so many times where this band felt like it wasn’t going to happen,” Levin says. “All of the different hurdles we’ve jumped have made us so much stronger.”

But to Levin, hurdles and failures are no more than signs to turn around and go the other way. This philosophy is part of what gives X Ambassadors the drive and dedication to put out the best music they possibly can for their fans.

“All of the things we’ve been through together and our ability to communicate is what it’s all about. The most important thing in any creative relationship is the ability to be candid and not afraid to say what you think, even if it might hurt some feelings.”

Along with their fearless, go-getter attitude, X Ambassadors embraces a “no bullsh-t” approach that they picked up from Imagine Dragons, who they credit for discovering them.

“One thing we learned from touring with Imagine Dragons is to be overly nice to everyone you meet because it pays to do that,” Levin says. “It’s not like we were
a–holes before that tour or anything, but we learned there’s no time for any of that rock star bullsh-t.”

With the upcoming release of Joyful and a national tour underway, X Ambassadors is steadily moving toward their dream of becoming the headliners of their own major tour and selling out arenas all over the States. But no matter how big they get, they want to continue giving their fans music that they can hold onto during hard times.

“We obviously want fans to love the music, but we also want them to feel represented or to find something that they can relate to,” Levin says. “A song can be written about one thing, but a person may hear it and they might not understand what it was originally written about, but it somehow relates to their life. That’s the beautiful thing about music and art, and that’s the message we want to bring with the record.”

See X Ambassadors open for Fitz and the Tantrums at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on Thursday, June 7. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30-$55 and available for purchase at www.wolftrap.org. Learn more about the  band at www.xambassadors.com.

Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; 703- 255-1800; www.wolftrap.org

 

Atish

Music Picks: May 2018

SUNDAY, MAY 6

Bullet For My Valentine
Come rock out with Bullet For My Valentine and hopefully hear songs off of their latest album, Gravity, set to release on June 29. With influences like Metallica and Slayer, lead singer Matt Tuck wasn’t kidding when he said BFMV is a “hard rock band with metal influences.” I’m secretly praying they’ll play “Tears Don’t Fall” and “The Poison.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $27-$81. The Fillmore: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

MONDAY, MAY 7

Panda Bear
Noah Lennox, a founding member of Animal Collective, has been making music as Panda Bear since his teenage years when people first noticed his penchant for drawing pandas on his mixtapes. His last record, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (2015), is a down-tempo electronic record. In its synths and drums, and even the progressions, it’s reminiscent of 80s synth pop, but in its overall mood it feels more like experimental chill wave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

TUESDAY, MAY 8

Braids
Braids hasn’t released new music since Companion EP in 2016, but they’re trying out new material on their latest tour. According to their Spotify playlist, Songs that are Inspiring LP4, their new record is taking influence from Joni Mitchell, Prince, Kendrick Lamar and Fleetwood Mac. I’m not sure how that mix will play out, but I’m sure it’ll sound close to “Joni” off of Companion, which shows ties to Joni Mitchell in the free-wheeling melody, but keeps the iconic Braids beats and production that sucks listeners in. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2745 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrd.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9

Kid Brother
With three guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboardist, this six-piece indie rock band really fills the room with their folk and blues-inspired sound. With just over a year of playing together under their belts, Kid Brother already has two quality albums out on bandcamp.com. Not only is their music complex and their lyrics riveting, but they’re also genuinely fun to listen to. Plus, they’re from Northern Virginia, so now you have even more incentive to come to this show. 21+ only. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

THURSDAY, MAY 10

Moon Boots
Moon Boots is a Brooklyn-born and now Brooklyn-based DJ and producer, so it’s little wonder that I was first introduced to him by a Brooklynite. After school, where he may have studied engineering but more likely Daft Punk, he moved to Chicago, the birthplace of house, and those Chicago days really shine through in his music. He was there on the floor experiencing Frankie Knuckles and Derick Carter and it shows in his music, but perhaps even more so in his live shows. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, MAY 11

Wye Oak
With their “most gripping and powerful set of songs to date,” Wye Oak created their biggest, boldest music yet on their fifth and latest studio album release, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs. Jenn Wasner’s mystical vocals float over complex rhythms and melodies in constant comfort, even though the lyrical content is heavy. For 10 years, Wasner and her musical partner in crime Andy Stack have been working towards a truly great album, and they’ve finally accomplished their goal. Head out to their show tonight to experience their surreal sound in the flesh. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SATURDAY, MAY 12

Frankie Cosmos
Their three-part harmonies, eclectic yet catchy pop melodies and deep, playful lyrics are out of this world. Frankie Cosmos, originally the brain child of Greta Kline, transformed into a four-piece masterpiece and really came into its own sound. The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork have already praised their sophisticated instrumentals and lofty vocals, so be on the lookout for great things from this group. And come see their live show at Black Cat while you’re at it. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Odd Mojo

This free Velvet Lounge show follows on the Funk Parade on Saturday, May 12. But don’t let the free tickets fool you. This show is worth way more than that and because it’s free, you definitely shouldn’t miss it. Odd Mojo is an MC from Maryland. Her music and flow recall old school rappers, though her verses boast a contemporary awareness and positivity. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Free. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

SUNDAY, MAY 13

Jorja Smith
The R&B singer-songwriter has been on the rise since her 2016 single “Blue Lights.” To give you an idea of where she’s gone from there, she collaborated with Drake on two tracks on More Life (2017) and wrote a track with Kendrick Lamar for the Black Panther soundtrack in 2018. Smith has also recently collaborated with Stormzy and Kali Uchis. She’s known for the jazz cadences to her singing, recalling at once Rihanna and Amy Winehouse, who England-native Smith claims as her biggest influence. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com

TUESDAY, MAY 15

The Artisanals
Picture 70s George Harrison – hair, mustache and incredible songwriting included. The Artisanals sound a lot like how you would picture Harrison, and they even take sonic inspiration from the rock ‘n’ roll icon himself. The Artisanals have a knack for crescendo in their American folk-rock music – building tension for over half of the song and releasing it to a euphoric combination of keys and the soft plucking of guitar strings. If you’re a 70s rock fan, you’ll love these guys. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

Fleet Foxes
The calming, ethereal and environmentally focused sounds from Fleet Foxes will take you away to another world of faeries and folklore, yet eerily similar to our own. Complex instrumentals, thoughtful lyrics and hypnotizing vocals will make you want to listen over and over again until you grasp all of the subtleties and hidden meanings beneath the surface. Experience this other-worldly sound for yourself live at The Anthem. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-$75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16

Mdou Moctar
From Niger, Mdou Moctar has become something of a star among Tuareg musician. Like Tinariwen, he is among the first Tuareg guitarists to adapt traditional Tuareg music to electronics. Among the crowded scene, he is known for his unique, genre-bending compositions and has become an underground success, playing sold out shows from small DIY clubs to Lincoln Center. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, MAY 17

Jukebox the Ghost
If feel-good piano pop tunes are your jam, you’ll love DC natives Jukebox the Ghost. With the release of their 2018 album, Off To The Races, Jukebox the Ghost now has five albums worth of uplifting lyrics and Queen-inspired music. Their top track on Spotify, “Everybody’s Lonely,” has an obvious “Bohemian Rhapsody” vibe going on and I absolutely love it. And the band’s little ghost logo is adorable. What’s not to love? Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$60. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SATURDAY, MAY 19

Quiet Slang
Beach Slang’s front man James Alex lets his vulnerable vocals soar in a new, softer project with Quiet Slang. Consequence of Sound writes that Alex put it this way: “Beach Slang is drunk, sweaty sins on a Saturday night. Quiet Slang is salvation on Sunday morning.” With only cello and piano resonating beneath him, Alex’s vocals standout as emotionally charged and meaningful. Depending on your taste, you might even like Quiet Slang better than the original. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

TUESDAY, MAY 22

American Pleasure Club
Formerly known as Teen Suicide, American Pleasure Club, led by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Ray, manages to blend music genres you’d think would go together as well as Chinese food and chocolate pudding. But somehow, they make a combination of American folk, Japanese ambient music, modern rap and 90s indie rock sound surprisingly amiable, laid back and moving. Check out Ray’s 2018 album, A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This, to see what I mean. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets starting at $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

FRIDAY, MAY 25

Atish
The Atish experience is “deep, emotive, ecstatic.” The Bay Area DJ actually got his start as a software engineer for Facebook, but soon gave that up for producing. Somehow, it makes sense that he moved from the tech industry to DJing the Robot Heart Bus at Burning Man, first in 2011 and for three years following. Since then, he’s made a name for himself for his melodic deep house and his strict devotion to DJing rather than producing. He’s also known as a charismatic performer, engaging the crowd and donning at least a wig, if not a full costume, for performances. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

SUNDAY, MAY 27

This Is The Kit
Kate Sables has been making music under the alias This is the Kit since 2008. Her music is a kind of alternative folk with a band consisting of regular contributors and ever-changing ones. Their latest record was Moonshine Freeze (2017), some songs of which they got to perform at a NPR Tiny Desk concert in December. For alternative folk, don’t think they’re along the same lines as Bon Iver. Their music is something more raucous and fun. If Ezra Furman gives a somewhat ecstatic take on Americana, This Is The Kit gives a more ecstatic take on British folk, though with little punk influence. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

TUESDAY, MAY 29

Michael Rault
Montreal-based singer-songwriter and producer Michael Rault makes music that toes the line between inspiring and plainly derivative. It’s music much like that of another Canadian contemporary, Andy Shauf. It’s heavy on shakers and clean, lush, stringy production. There’s more of a Laurel Canyon influence, however, which really comes out in the guitar timbres and some of the song structures. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

TUESDAY, MAY 29 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 30

John Fogerty and ZZ Top
Two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame icons, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and ZZ Top, blues rock legends since the 1970s, are coming to Wolf Trap for two straight dates. Fogerty will be performing his songs from CCR, and from ZZ Top, you can look forward to tracks like “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $45. Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast has traveled through DC several times over the past few years. They started by opening for bands like Mitski and Porches at Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street. On their last DC excursion, they played a Tiny Desk Concert and headlined at Black Cat. Now they’re headlining 9:30 Club. Get your tickets before they sell out or you’ll have to wait until they play at The Anthem. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SayWeCanFly
Braden Barrie, SayWeCanFly creator, singer and songwriter, began writing music in his bedroom in Ontario in 2009. Since then, his songs have streamed over 30 million times and he’s toured all over North America. Barrie brings out the 2009 emo kid in all of us with his angsty lyrics, smooth vocals and emotionally driven acoustic melodies. He reminds me of Christofer Drew Ingle (aka 2009 emo heartthrob Never Shout Never), but with darker sad boy vibes. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$25. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E, VA; www.jamminjava.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 1

Top Dawg Entertainment: The Championship Tour
The billing for this show should immediately speak for itself. Kendrick Lamar is, of course, leading the show and is easily reason enough to make it out, but other TDE highlights will be there, including SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, SiR and Lance Skiiwalker. TDE has been at the front of not just hip hop but also, arguably, music whatsoever. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $39. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Rd. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com

Artwork: www.billfick.com
Artwork: www.billfick.com

Outlaw Artists Take Printmaking on the Road

Outlaw printmaking. Those two words are not some sort of statement. I’m not standing on a step ladder in a free speech zone protesting the medium because a) Why would anyone do that? and b) I don’t know enough about printmaking to stand in front of random strangers on the street discussing the art form.

No, outlaw printmaking is a genre within the medium. Just as rock and rap provide a certain aesthetic in music, so does outlaw printmaking in the fine arts. Bill Fick is one of the members in the movement.

“I’m very comic-y and cartoonish,” Fick says about his work. “It can be just an iconic image. It’s not really telling a story, but people can form their own narrative from the images. Outlaw printmaking is not particularly defined. It’s a lot of artists working in print with a general rock vibe: sometimes satirical, sometimes edgy.”

The renowned artist and veteran teacher is currently on the Speedball Roadshow – U.S. Printmaking Tour. Joined by fellow printmaker Carlos Hernandez, the show is designed to ignite a fervor in people willing to learn about their styles and journeys. The Lee Arts Center in Arlington is set to host the duo on May 12 for a free, six-hour session.

“It’s an educational process,” Hernandez says. “We teach and show our audience the spirit of printmaking. You get your fingers dirty and you create something that people aren’t familiar with. We’re spreading the gospel, if you will.”

Though the art form doesn’t classify as a religion, these two live and breathe the process. Both began their printmaking journeys in college, and though they each approach the medium with a different background – Hernandez with typography and Fick with block carving – each exudes passion for their shared profession.

“When I was in college, I used to do a lot of gig posters with Xerox,” Hernandez says. “It had a punk rock quality to it, and all the great gig posters that were made in the 60s and 70s served as great inspiration. Graphic design and printmaking go hand in hand; it lets me use those [same] techniques.”

Fick adds, “[Printmaking] naturally became a medium I work with. I love the carving process when you transfer the block onto a piece of paper, and I love the history of graphic art.”

A combined offering of these radically different perspectives and approaches is a colossal component of the tour, as each stop includes a modified itinerary pending the wants and desires of the venue. The Lee Center sequences aren’t quite nailed down as of yet, but Fick and Hernandez are up for whatever is necessary.

“A lot of it is media-specific, so we’ll focus on screen printing and get technical,” Fick says. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the release print and take turns on the special piece. By the end, we’ll have a mash-up or [the students] will do a totally separate process.”

Hernandez continues, saying that sometimes the students want something different, and each artist has their own vision.

“We can introduce different styles, and we try to add to their existing programs,” he says.

The duo collaborates on pieces throughout the workshops, each taking turns like friends playing a single-player video game. The pair have worked in tandem on countless pieces at previous trade shows, conventions and tours, so stepping on and off on at different points has become second nature to them.

“[When] we started working together, we’d always have crowds wherever we were,” Hernandez says. “We’ve had universities and other centers interested in the way we present printmaking. There’s a mystery to the work we do. People want to know how to cut a block and burn a screen.”

Most of the time, Fick and Hernadez produce posters, which requires Fick to carve out an image on a block to be printed. Hernandez follows up with printed text.

“It’s all about recognizable imagery,” Fick says.

Join the printmaking outlaws on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Arts Center. The session is free, but registration is required. Learn more about the event at here, and about the individual artists at www.billfick.com and www.carloshernandezprints.com.

Doggie

Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. But based on the plethora of pup-friendly happenings in the DC area, the dog days are here to stay. We’ve hunted high and low for everything you and your four-legged friend can do together now and well into the year. From events and fundraisers to parks and places to adopt a new companion, we’ve got your definitive guide to DC dog life below.

Off-Leash Areas + Summer Spots

There are lots of places around town that are dog-friendly, but not as many where pups can legally roam free from the tether of a leash. The 35-plus fenced acres of Congressional Cemetery are a favorite, but membership is required and there is a yearly waitlist. If you’re not a part of the in-crowd, try Shirlington Dog Park or Glencarlyn Park, both in Arlington with access to creek areas for canine cool-off sessions. In the District, Yards Park has a small off-leash area, which is a decent option for letting the pup run off some steam if you plan to bring him along to an outdoor concert or al fresco dinner.

While Kingman Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the wooded area along the Potomac from Fletcher’s Cove toward Chain Bridge are not designated as off-leash grounds, they provide new scents and stimulation for a good trail walk or run. The nearby water and tree canopy provide ways to cool off in the hot summer months, making this a great set of locations for dogs and their humans alike. The canoe, kayak and boat rentals at Fletcher’s boathouse are pet-friendly too!

If you and your pup want to skip town altogether, head to one of the dog-friendly Virginia wineries like Three Fox Vineyards or to Delaware’s Dewey Beach where dogs are welcome to bask in the sun and play in the sand year-round. Learn more about these spots below.

Congressional Cemetery: www.congressionalcemetery.org

Dewey Beach: www.townofdeweybeach.com

Fletcher’s Cove: www.boatingindc.com

Glencarlyn Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Kingman Island: www.kingmanisland.org

Shirlington Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Theodore Roosevelt Island: www.nps.gov

Three Fox Vineyards: www.threefoxvineyards.com

Yards Park: www.capitolriverfront.org

Local Rescues + Adoption Organizations

City Dogs Rescue
City Dogs (and City Kitties) is a foster- and volunteer-based organization that helps place animals from shelters with loving human companions. The organization sponsors adoption events with local businesses like Dogma Bakery and Logan Hardware, and volunteers periodically host Yappy Hours at local bars to raise funds for the puppies and kittens. www.citydogsrescuedc.org

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Like the other great organizations in this list, Homeward Trails makes it their mission to find homes for abandoned, abused and high-kill shelter animals. Homeward Trails also wants to inspire kids to take the lead when it comes to rescue. During the organization’s Camp Waggin’ Tails summer camp in Fairfax, kids ages eight to 13 can “learn all about animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, positive dog training, hear from a variety of pet professionals, and work hands on with carefully selected adoptable dogs while engaging in fun games and projects.” www.homewardtrails.org

Humane Rescue Alliance
Two years ago, the Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society merged to create a mega resource for bringing people and animals together. In addition to adoption services, HRA also provides affordable veterinary care, free pet food for those in need, behavior and training classes, and education and outreach opportunities.  www.humanerescuealliance.org

K-9 Lifesavers
Located in Stafford, Virginia, “K-9 Lifesavers save lives ‘Four Paws at a Time.’” With volunteer drivers and boarding partners, K-9 Lifesavers rescues dogs from low-income rural areas throughout Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Dedicated volunteers drive the pups to the DMV where boarding partners help host the pups until they can be adopted. K-9 Lifesavers also strives to be a support group for adopters and all dog owners. www.k-9lifesavers.org

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Founded in 2009, Lucky Dog saves an average of 100-125 homeless and abandoned animals every month. And while based in DC, Lucky Dog’s outreach goes far beyond the DMV. This past January, Lucky Dog partnered with Southwest Airlines to deliver more than 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to animal rescuers in Puerto Rico and came home to DC with more than 60 dogs and cats who survived Hurricane Maria and were ready to be adopted. www.luckydoganimalrescue.org

Rural Dog Rescue
Rural Dog Rescue (RDR) is completely foster-based and run entirely by volunteers. The rescue works predominantly with several rural, high-kill shelters that euthanize over 70 percent of dogs, or euthanize within 72 hours in Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. When RDR finds dogs that are ready for their forever homes, they provide each pet with up-to-date vaccinations and a microchip. Forever true to “The Underdog”, RDR is dedicated to saving the lives of high risk dogs in economically challenged high kills shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue. This organization saves the dogs who are at most risk of being euthanized: the hounds, the black dogs, the seniors, the sick, the handicapped and the broken. RDR makes a commitment to reserve a minimum of 50% of the dogs they save to these underdogs.  www.ruraldogrescue.com

Dog Days of Summer: Wag-worthy Events

Congressional Cemetery’s Day of the Dog
Though the venue may seem morbid, it’s way more fun that one might think! This annual festival is a chance for all dogs, not just those who are members of the cemetery’s K-9 Corps, to join in a day of fun and games and romping around the cemetery’s 35-plus acres. Activities include contests, raffles, demonstrations, food trucks and local adoptions. Check out the Day of the Dog on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Historic Congressional Cemetery: 1801 E St. SE, DC; www.congressionalcemetery.org

Humane Rescue Alliance’s Fashion for Paws Runway Show
Few things could be cuter than a poodle strutting her stuff down the catwalk. For the 11th year running, Fashion for Paws’ Annual Runway Show will couple the glitz and glam of the fashion world with a great charitable cause. “Participants are Humane Rescue Alliance ambassadors who raise a minimum of $4,000 to benefit HRA for the honor of escorting their fashionably dressed dog down the runway,” according to the HRA website. Complete with celebrity host Carson Kressley from Queer Eye, cocktail attire and a glamorous afterparty, the event sells out every year. Dogs not participating in the runway show are not permitted to attend. Don’t miss Fashion for Paws on Saturday, May 5 from 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. Omni Shoreham Hotel: 2500 Calvert St. NW, DC; fashionforpaws.org

Pups in the Park
Summer in America means baseball, and at Nats Park, that includes all-American dogs! Throughout the season, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat for your dog in the pet-friendly outfield section of the park. As a bonus, the June 23 game will feature a special pregame pup parade around the warning track. Proceeds from dog tickets benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Check out Pups in the Park on May 19, June 23 and on multiple dates in September. Nationals Park: 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC;
www.mlb.com/nationals

We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March
You wouldn’t be a DC dog if you didn’t participate in political activism. You and your pup can make friends across party lines while supporting a great cause at We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March on September 23, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds donated to local dog rescues. Bipawtisan March: Location TBD; www.wethedogsdc.org

Home Sweet Home: DC’s Dog-Friendly Digs

Let’s face it, even in a town as dog-friendly as DC, the traditional rental market offers slim pickings when it comes to finding a place that allows four-legged friends. But the recent uptick in development has also brought an influx of property managers who see this plight as a niche market opportunity, offering amenities specifically targeted at residents with dogs – granted you can afford the perks.

2M Street

Neighborhood: NoMa
Petmenities: Private dog park, grooming station, community yappy hours and a resident bulldog, Emmy
www.2mstreet.com

City Market at O
Neighborhood: Shaw
Petmenities: Rooftop dog park, dog washing stations, pet walking and grooming referrals, and quarterly yappy hours
www.citymarketato.com

The Hepburn
Neighborhood: Kalorama
Petmenities: Onsite pet spa and a pet wash station
www.thehepburndc.com

Park Chelsea at The Collective
Neighborhood: Capitol Riverfront
Petmenities: Dog wash station, rooftop dog run, and easy access to Garfield, Canal and Yards Parks
www.thecollectivedc.com

Pro Tip: Pup-Friendly Hotels

Friends and family heading to town with Fido? There are lots of great pet-friendly lodging and hotel options, including Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar, Hotel Madera, Liaison Capitol Hill, The Carlyle and many others!


Illustration: Haley McKey

Illustration: Haley McKey

Telltale Tails What’s in a Wag?

When many people see a dog wagging his or her tail, they immediately think that dog is happy. But that is not always the case. Dogs use a different language to express how they’re feeling than people do, and their tails can really talk. What’s most important for humans to know is that not all wags mean the same thing. Here are five common wags and what they can indicate.

1. Broad-sweeping, loose and generally side-to-side at a moderate speed: This is the one we like to see! It means, “I’m pleased,” or that there is no sense of threat or challenge.

2. Tight, circular motion at moderate to high speed: This is generally an indicator that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation, unsure how he/she should act or may be a bit high-strung. This wag should be taken as a sign of caution, though not necessarily aggression.

3. Low, tucked and slow to moderate speed with half of the tail in motion: This wag is a classic sign of submissiveness. If your dog is using this wag, he or she isn’t necessarily having the best time, but may just be trying to signal that she “comes in peace.”

4. High, stiff, and fast-paced or vibrating: This is usually a sign of an active challenge. Pay close attention to the situation and extract your dog if necessary.

5. Half tail at a moderate speed: This one is a little vague. It means, “I’m a little tentative here, so not going to put on the full-works display.” It can be a warm up to a hello, or a show of a bit of insecurity.

Common wag facts were originally sourced from Psychology Today here.