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Jason Moran (left) and The Bandwagon // Photo: courtesy of Jason Moran

Between the Riffs: Catching Up With Jazz Musician Jason Moran

The DC music scene is known for being the home of the go-go, however, it’s also more diverse and alive than ever. This includes its burgeoning jazz. To add to this, in May 2014, the Kennedy Center recognized Jason Moran, an accomplished jazz musician, for his talent and appointed him as the Artistic Director for Jazz. With his help, the Kennedy Center has expanded their jazz programs here in DC. On November 9, Jason Moran and The Bandwagon will celebrate their 20th anniversary, and along with Ingrid Laubrock, they will perform music from Moran’s album, Black Stars at the Kennedy Center. We got the chance to ask Moran a few questions and learn more about him and his thoughts on DC’s jazz atmosphere before his big performance.

On Tap: In 2016, you said you’re still trying to play like Teddy Wilson. Taking a moment to reflect on your musical journey, have you managed to play like him yet?
Jason Moran: If I referred to Teddy Wilson, it was that my teacher Jaki Byard had a father that loved Teddy Wilson. Jaki’s father said to him, “if you’re going to play piano, can you play like Teddy Wilson.” Wilson is a marker for not only technique but also in terms of being one of the “firsts.” To be the African-American musician that symbolized the breaking down of racial codes in the same way Jackie Robinson did for [Major League Baseball]. To answer your question, no, I won’t ever be able to crystallize quite like Teddy Wilson, but I am happy to be on the journey of musical excellence combined with civilian bravery.  

OT: What did it mean for you to be appointed as the artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center?
JM: The Kennedy Center continues to define its role as an arts leader and to know that how we cultivate the history of jazz under our roof is very exciting and challenging. I take the role very seriously, and only after a few years have I begun to understand the magnitude of such a position. The creator of the role, Dr. Billy Taylor, was an advocate for the music. His foresight brought much of what I hope to continue to preserve within the Kennedy Center. He continued to nurture the music in each state: past, present and future.  

OT: What has it been like to work with Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits for the 20th anniversary? What are some of your fondest memories from when you first formed The Bandwagon?
JM: Tarus and Nasheet are my big brothers. I depend on them to push and pull The Bandwagon to new territories. One of my fondest memories for us is around how we were actually fired as a band. We were the rhythm section for a few bands around the turn of the century (funny phrase). The bandleaders did not like us all together, so they usually fired one of us and kept two. Eventually, we figured out that we were a unit that was better left free to roam. Despite the criticism from the beginning, we remained a unit because we were forming a language as a band that would help define our era. We ruffled the edges, folded them in, then burned them and smeared the ashes along the wall. We tagged the music.  

OT: You performed with Sam Rivers on the sax for Black Stars. What was it like working with him?
JM: Sam Rivers was a revolutionary. He was free thinking in his playing and composing. He was also the band mate of two of my teachers, Jaki Byard and Andrew Hill. So, to create Black Stars with him was thrilling because it was as if he was my uncle. He took The Bandwagon on a ride that we are forever thankful, because it was the first sign that we were looking for history to tell us the future.  

OT: You believe in cross-genre collaboration. In Facing Left, you covered Björk’s electro-pop/avant-garde song “Joga” and paired your music with comedy. Is combining genres a personal preference, or does it serve a bigger purpose for your sound?
JM: I believe my compositions sound better when set against another composer. Björk is one, Albert King [is] another, Rachmaninoff, etc. Also, I think I look for themes in the music to find meaning. Sometimes the next best thing to playing a song you wrote is to play a song you love.  

OT: You reshaped and refocused the Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead professional development program. You helped create a curriculum to work with other DC art organizations. Can you share the results of collaboration?
JM: You would have to ask the students because the students continue to tell us about the value of Betty Carter’s program. Many of the students have gone on to create quite a stir. In recent years, Jazzmeia Horn has set quite an example as a student of Jazz Ahead and then striking out on world tours. I think awakening the students’ sensibilities toward the arts is important to keeping the music healthy.  

OT: What do you think of the jazz scene in DC? Do you think your work with the Kennedy Center has helped jazz connect with a younger audience? What more could be done?
JM: The DC jazz scene is profound. Watching musicians lead sessions nearly every night of the week, open new venues, create new jazz festivals, document the music with different online resources, historians abound and at all of the clubs listening. [Plus] DJs on the radio with all the history one would ever need, institutions preserving and continuing to employ the musicians, the universities pushing out great musicians. The scene in DC has always been vast, and at the Kennedy Center, we continue to promote the music, and the (hopefully young) audiences know they have space here to live and grow with the music. 

OT: What can jazz fans and people who frequent the Kennedy Center for events expect from the November 9th show?
JM: Openness!!!  

Moran is set to hit the Kennedy Center stage on November 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $29-$49. For more information about the show or Moran’s work at the Kennedy Center, visit here.

Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org

Niccolo Seligmann // Photo: courtesy of Strathmore

Fresh AIR: Up-and-Coming Artists Bring Cross-Genre Sounds to Strathmore

November 20 marks the debut of six budding DC area musicians in their new roles as Strathmore Artists in Residence (AIR), taking the AMP by Strathmore stage with their mentors for a cross-genre performance. From percussionist-composer hybrids to jazz violinists, the diverse 2020 AIR were hand-selected by the North Bethesda-based arts center to provide an opportunity for them to perform, create and teach workshops, and jumpstart their professional careers.

As far as AIR director Betty Scott is concerned, there is no other program like it.

“A lot of organizations have artists in residence,” Scott says. “[They are] usually established artists who come in for a couple of weeks and work with a class or community. But in this case, [artists] are with us for an academic year and we give them education, nurturing and networking. It’s very different in that regard.”

After working as an elementary music teacher for 40 years, Scott decided retirement wasn’t for her. Her second career began with volunteering weekly at Strathmore, and ultimately led to the development of the center’s AIR program. After 15 years and 88 participants, the program has become a revered feature of the reputable space.

AIR’s 2020 class will bring a range of genres to AMP – Strathmore’s music and dining offshoot – this month, spanning pop, jazz and folk among others. Their Fresh AIR show will provide concertgoers with a hint of what’s to come at their future performances and workshops over the next 10 months.

“We do a full-band cover song to start and end the concert,” Scott says of the show’s format. “Each mentor and each AIR have to choose a piece they think is indicative of what people should expect to hear from them in future concerts.”

Pop vocalist Ayo, who will perform Fugees classic “Killing Me Softly” at the concert, credits several pop icons as her major influences.

“I love Stevie Wonder’s songwriting style and how he tells stories,” she says. “Sarah Vaughan and Whitney Houston, as vocalists, know how to really paint a picture with their voices.”

In addition to her impressive vocal range, Ayo uses her music to process difficult moments from life while empowering others to do the same. After releasing a song detailing her experience with sexual assault, men and women began reaching out to her, inspired to share their own stories.

“These are people that I have known for years,” she continues. “But I wouldn’t have known that they had gone through that until they reached out to me and said, ‘I didn’t know that someone like you went through this. Thank you for sharing. Because you shared this, I want to share my story.’”

During her Strathmore residency, Ayo will teach the workshop “Songs from the Heart: Storytelling through Songwriting.” She plans to continue encouraging people to share their stories.

“[I know I] have a story to tell and people need to hear it, so they know they’re not alone in what they’re going through.”

Her AIR classmate, early folk instrumentalist Niccolo Seligmann, has been fascinated with unique instruments since age five. After seeing a viola da gamba played in concert, he knew it was the instrument for him. Eight years of cello lessons later and Seligmann finally got the viola de gamba he’d been waiting for. Now, the Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute graduate plays 20 instruments – including the medieval fiddle.

In keeping with the theme of his upcoming album, Kinship, his performances at Strathmore will be inspired by climate change and the ways humans interact with the environment, nature and animals. At the Fresh AIR concert, Seligmann will perform a 15th-century Italian ballo, or dance, called “Verçeppe.”

“I always think of [this dance] as the sounds of a big jungle cat prowling and pouncing,” he says.

His performance will feature triangles created by his father-in-law, who is a blacksmith. Seligmann likes to create his own instruments – but not in a traditional way that might be associated with early music. During his residency, he’s looking to blend his love for medieval music with the music he creates on his computer.

“Anything a computer can grab data from can be an instrument,” he notes.

Seligmann will be teaching a workshop called “Strings of Gut, Lines of Code: Early Music in Today’s World” that he hopes will “create a music environment that shows the best of both worlds.”

“The last song in the Fresh AIR concert is [Bob Dylan’s] ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ [by Bob Dylan], and I think that’s really the theme of all of our music-making,” he adds. “All of us in the AIR program are doing some kind of new thing, whether it’s new to us personally in our practice or new to the world. We as artists are changing with the times.”

Don’t miss Seligmann, Ayo and their four classmates at the Fresh AIR concert on November 20 at AMP by Strathmore. Tickets are $19. Doors at 6:30 p.m. and show at 8 p.m. For more on the AIR class of 2020 and their upcoming performance schedule, go to www.strathmore.org. Learn more about Ayo at www.ayoofficial.com and Seligmann at www.niccoloseligmann.com.

AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5100; www.ampbystrathmore.com

Evoken // Photo: Melissa Suarez-Skinner

Atlas Brew Works: DC’s Long-Needed Metal Venue

DC is home to some of the best concert venues in the country, hosting musicians from a variety of genres who play to crowds big and small. Even still, the city’s metal community has often struggled to find a locale that regularly books metal shows – that is, until a few years ago when Ivy City’s Atlas Brew Works expanded beyond beer to support the genre.

“There was no venue where you could just go hang out, have a beer and listen to metal,” explains Will Cook, brewer emeritus and director of heavy metal operations at Atlas, which opened its doors in 2013.

Hasan Ali, who books shows for Atlas and runs Ripping Headache Promotions, agrees with Cook.

“People would either have to go to Baltimore or Richmond to see a [metal] band,” he says.

But soon after Ali began booking for the brewery, “Atlas became recognizable as a legit venue [and] DC [became] a notable spot for metal on the East Coast.”

It all began in 2016 when Atlas – which has several metalheads on staff – agreed to host the holiday party for local blog DC Heavy Metal. When the event proved successful, the brewery began hosting more and more metal shows until eventually, it became a permanent fixture on the scene.

Since then, Ali says Atlas has hosted more than 100 shows with people coming from as far as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even L.A. to catch the bands. But this isn’t to say that the Atlas team ever expected to host this many shows when they started.

The brewery had no stage or music equipment to speak of, according to Cook, so artists brought in their own PA systems and light fixtures. But when the shows kept coming, Cook and his team bought the supplies necessary to become a more viable music venue.

Now, the stage is set up in the beer production area and taken down post-show so brewing operations can resume the next day. While balancing operations as both a music venue and a brewery has proven challenging at times, the Atlas team agrees that it’s helped give the brewery an edge – and brought people to their space who might not have stopped by otherwise.

“The fact that we have live music here definitely adds a lot to the atmosphere of the brewery and gives us some amount of identity that we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” says Blake Peterson, tap room general manager and singer/guitarist for extreme metal band Lyceum. “It’s something that sets us apart from other breweries in the area.”

It’s also fun to have the chance to hang around the brewery after work and catch a show, adds head brewer Dan Vilarrubi. Plus, Cook says they’ve had the opportunity to meet some of their favorite bands.

The team agrees that putting on shows has been a great experience for Atlas, but just as rewarding is the feedback they get from the bands who come through.

“I’ve heard when other venues host metal shows, attendance will be poor,” Ali says. “Or I’ll hear bands say the staff isn’t really pleasant or accommodating. And they’ll tell me, ‘I really wish you did the show and we played at Atlas instead.’”

Cook has also heard stories of bands who’ve had bad experiences at other DC venues.

“We didn’t want that here at Atlas,” he says. “We wanted to be as friendly to bands as possible.”

That includes not taking a cut of the ticket sales or taking money from the band in any way. Musicians are also offered beer and food on the house.

And the brewery’s noteworthy reputation isn’t just recognized in the States. Bands from across the world have looked to play at Atlas, including Conan from the U.K., Pseudogod from Russia and Sinmara from Iceland, to name a few. Notable DC bands like Genocide Pact and Ilsa and Richmond’s Inter Arma round out the brewery’s sterling reputation in the world of metal.

“Pretty much every band is so stoked to play here, and they love the beer – including bands from other countries,” Peterson says. “I never knew how special this place was until I heard bands from outside the country say this is the coolest venue they’ve ever seen.”

Some of the bands who’ve played Atlas have even had beer brewed specifically for their show. Ali mentions they had Batch 666 on tap for Chicago-based instrumental doom band Bongripper. Other beers, like Temple of Void and Evoken, have been named after some of the team’s favorite bands. When it comes to their individual go-to brews during metal shows, Peterson goes for NSFW, Cook enjoys Silent Neighbor or Ponzi, Ali likes Ponzi, and Vilarrubi drinks Batch 666.

As for the future of Atlas as a music venue, the team just hopes to keep improving the quality of shows and continue booking great bands to play the brewery.

“It’s kind of selfish because we get to have all these bands play at our brewery and we get to meet them,” Cook says. “I’m talking about the underground bands that you just love and want to meet. It’s cool to hang out with them, but also to hear they really enjoyed their time playing here.”

Catch metal shows at Atlas on November 2, 7, 14, 22, 23 and 29. For the full lineup and more info, visit www.atlasbrewworks.com. Follow Atlas on social media @atlasbrewworks.

Atlas Brew Works: 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE, DC; 202-832-0420; www.atlasbrewworks.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life with Simone Eccleston, the Kennedy Center’s Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music

When you think of hip-hop venues in DC, it’s probably fair to say that the Kennedy Center isn’t the first that comes to mind – but perhaps this sentiment is beginning to shift. In recent years, the nationally renowned institution has made exceptionally large steps toward taking hip-hop more seriously as a conduit for culture, including several festivals and concerts featuring performances by legendary stalwart Nas and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar. In 2016, A Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-Tip became the Kennedy Center’s first artistic director for hip hop culture, and less than a year later, the center announced the appointment of Simone Eccleston as its first-ever director of hip hop culture and contemporary music.

Since then, Eccleston has worked with Q-Tip and other members of the center’s hip hop culture council, which includes an impressive amount of star power and influence such as Questlove, LL Cool J, Big Boi, Common, MC Lyte and a score of others. Though Eccleston’s name may not evoke the same kind of awe from hip-hop heads as Q-Tip or Common, this doesn’t diminish her impact. Since taking on the mantle of director in this brand-new initiative, there’s undoubtedly been an uptick in programming investigating the cultural impacts of hip-hop, from workshops to film screenings and other intersectional events in-between. To learn more about her inaugural position at the helm of hip-hop culture, we spoke to Eccleston about her affinity for hip-hop, her ongoing mission and what she’s learned in the role.

On Tap: What are your earliest memories of hip-hop?
Simone Eccleston: The first song that I remember knowing word for word was LL cool J’s “Around The Way Girl.” I was age 10 at that point. There was something about the energy of the song and the video. It was fun and had an unapologetic New York vibe. I loved the way that it celebrated independent women and reminded me of women in my neighborhood. At 12, I heard Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s T.R.O.Y. and my whole world changed. It was so honest, vulnerable and familiar. I connected with it immediately. It’s still one of my favorite songs.

OT: Are there other artists who stuck out to you in your formative years?
SE: The artists that really helped me fall in love with hip-hop and see myself reflected early on were MC Lyte and Queen Latifah. They were both strong women with powerful lyrics. Their self-possession was inspiring. I remember seeing them and aspiring to be a woman of strength.


Five Things Simone Can’t Live Without
Prayer
Family
Purpose
Live music
A great DJ


OT: If you could’ve told that 10-year-old girl in the Bronx listening to LL Cool J, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte that in the future you’d be on the phone with these people, what would she have said?
SE: My 10-year-old self would bust out with The Running Man [Laughs]. I will say this: not necessarily when I was 10, but when I was 16 [to] 25 through now, there was a part of me that always knew I would be working in service of the culture. I knew my life’s work and purpose would be tied to celebrating the genius of people of color.

OT: Did you ever think you’d be in a role like this, focusing on the culture of hip-hop?
SE: I remember when [the Kennedy Center] announced their commitment to hip-hop culture as a program in 2016, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I want to be there.”  Who would have thought I would be the inaugural director, working with Q-Tip and our incredible council? They’re an incredible community that is so committed to being of service to the culture. They reflect the very best of who we are.

OT: Is it ever surreal for you to be working with some of the people you credit with your love of the genre?
SE: Yes, it can be surreal. But more than surreal, it’s incredibly humbling and gratifying. Being able to partner and collaborate with them to do this work is a gift and a blessing, and I don’t take it for granted. To be able to partner with someone like Q-Tip, who has deeply inspired my love of hip-hop and [A] Tribe [Called Quest] as a group – he’s such a visionary. He’s someone who’s so committed to ensuring that it’s never about him. It’s about the culture. You’ll never really see him trying to insert himself in particular ways. Instead, he’s like, “Use me so that way we can create space for others.”

OT: Why has hip-hop resonated with you in such a profound way, to the point that you’d dedicate at least this part of your career to it?
SE: There isn’t a place where hip-hop isn’t. Part of [the Kennedy Center’s] charge as an institution is not only to celebrate the tenets of the culture, but its intersections. You think about how hip-hop has informed fashion and film – it’s in practically all media content. Our role as an institution is to be able to create a space for all of that to be seen. Even if you think you don’t have a connection, you’re connected. Hip-hop not only shapes culture, it creates culture.


Five Work Must-Haves
Our incredible Hip Hop Council
A White board + time to ideate
My pod
A great soundtrack
Music + culture podcasts


OT: Why do you think it was so important for the Kennedy Center to make such a large commitment to hip-hop?
SE: When you think about America’s art forms and when you think about hip-hop as a culture – not just about the music – I think that adds nuance, complexity and dynamism. It’s one mode of our ability to tell our stories and make ourselves visible. I think it was a platform for us to resist, even if the resistance was just us saying, “Hey, I’m here.” Historically, when you think about how we’ve been marginalized and the dismantling of our communities, hip-hop was a form of resistance. It was an opportunity to declare our presence amidst a society that was trying to erase us.

OT: That being said, how have you approached the integration of hip-hop into the Kennedy Center’s programming?
SE: Part of the impetus for us here is a celebration of hip-hop culture. For us, it’s about celebrating the genius of the culture and the genius of the communities that created it. This is about a centering of community and in ensuring that in this space, known as the nation’s performing arts center, we are truly reflective of the nation. You think about jazz being one of our greatest ambassadors, but hip-hop is equal if not greater when you think about the way it provides space on a national, [even] global level. You can see it when you go to different communities across the globe. People are using it as an opportunity to provide voice and visibility for themselves, but also to resist.

OT: How have things grown at the Kennedy Center over the past two years?
SE: At every show, there’s always a handful of people that come up and say, “Thank you.” [They’re] people who had never come to the Kennedy Center that now do. The institutional commitment to hip-hop culture as an anchor program came in 2016, but that wasn’t without years of groundwork being laid. What I’m seeing is clearly a growth in programming, but [also] a presence across the institution. You’ll have intersections with our special events. You’ll have intersections with our education department. You’ll see all of these different ways in which hip-hop is continuing to undergird, imprint and transform the work of the institution.

OT: What are some things you’ve learned that you didn’t expect?
SE: Just the lesson that transformation takes time. None of us will truly know the real results of our work until 10 or 20 years after it’s done. It’s about being patient and understanding the work isn’t about us. It’s about the people we’re trying to serve and the change we’re trying to make. We’re here and we have an ambitious goal of being a 21st-century performing arts organization. It’s teaching us the ways we need to evolve our work and our processes in accordance with that. It’s a formidable challenge, but I think we’re up to the task.

For more about the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music programming, visit www.kenney-center.org/calendar/series/HHC.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org

Nah. Photo - www.nah.band

15 Local Acts You Need to Know

Looking to hyper-localize your playlist? The talented members of DC’s music scene have been hard at work creating and connecting through their music this year, and we rounded up some standouts to add to your Spotify queue, catch on tour and share with your friends.

Photo: Laura Dearden

Child Ivory
On Child Ivory’s Facebook page, there are only two influences listed: Beach House and Fleetwood Mac. While I’m sure other musicians have influenced them (and they do disclaim they rarely use the social media platform), it’s easy to hear the way both bands have inspired the DC outfit. Their witchy, dreamy instrumentation is sleek and electronic, while vocalist Caleb Darger’s clear tone is evocative of their 60s and 70s pop forbearers. The band, made up of Darger and Pica Nagano, released their Underwater EP at the end of August, a beautiful collection of five songs perfect to soundtrack the changing of the seasons. Follow @child.ivory on Instagram.

Photo: CJ Harvey

Clones of Clones
Clones of Clones have been making appearances on the DC music circuit for the better part of the decade. Three of their four members are DMV natives and have kept busy this year with no plans of slowing down. They kicked off a campaign to release a new single each month leading up to a new record, starting with the single “Mine,” which even landed on Spotify’s “All New Indie” playlist, exposing it to over 900,000 people who subscribe to that playlist. Since then, they’ve gifted listeners new tracks at the beginning of each month – and while the world eagerly awaits the album dropping in full, looking forward to monthly releases is a sure glimpse into another record full of indie rock gems from this beloved DC band. Visit www.clonesofclones.com for more, and follow @clonesofclones on Instagram for updates on new releases.

Photo: James Anderson

The Colonies
It’s been a big year for The Colonies. The band formed at George Washington University and started off playing shows in the basement of their dorm. They recently graduated (literally and figuratively) to bigger and better things – namely, opening for fellow alt rockers Judah and the Lion on the notably larger stage of The Anthem. Even while navigating post-grad life and a change in their lineup, the four-piece has been steadily releasing gems like “Potomac” and “Do Nothing With Me” while gracing stages large and small throughout the District. Follow @thecoloniesdc on Instagram for more.

Photo: Cina Nguyen

Color Palette
This five-piece band led by DC native Jay Nemeyer is rounding out the year with a celebration – they’ll be headlining Pie Shop for an album release show on Friday, November 8, marking the synth-pop outfit’s second record being gifted to the world. One fifth of the group, Maryjo Mattea, is also performing as the opener, for an EP release set around her solo work, before rejoining the group for even more new jams. If you’re a fan of pop in the vein of the synth heavy 80s greats and chill wavers of today, you won’t want to miss this show or new album. Follow @colorpalettedc on Twitter for updates and visit www.pieshopdc.com for tickets to the release show at Pie Shop on November 8.

Photo: courtesy of Company Calls

Company Calls
Loud and screechy but melodic: this DC punk-pop outfit combines several genres with tremendous success, but most notably is their affinity for old fashioned fast rock. Their latest release Diabólica is a blend of all their greatest strengths, especially their affinity for a quick pace, as most songs don’t top two minutes. Longer lyrics don’t necessarily make the music more profound or meaningful, however. I think we can all agree on one thing, if all company calls were less than two minutes, society would probably be a better place, so maybe this band is on to something. For more Company Calls, visit www.companycalls.bandcamp.com.

Photo: @heartcastmedia

Dior Ashley Brown
Dior Ashley Brown has been enmeshed in the DC music scene since long before her career took off. A native of the city, Brown got her start making creative waves at the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Now an advocate for local music, emcee, musician and poet, Brown graces the DMV with her powerful pipes and intense love for our city’s fellow musicians, making the erudite musician a threat of more than just three talents. Visit www.diorashleybrown.com for more.

Photo: @itstheexp

The Experience
I’m not going to lie or pretend I plucked The Experience’s All For You EP out of a local music bin at some version of a DC big box store. Instead, this smooth rapper found me, and through this serendipitous act, I was able to hit play, sit back and get some experience. The only way to describe his flow is easy-going and playful, and whether he’s tinkering with the volume or inflection of his voice, he’s always got a witty line and a dynamic hook. A lot of his All For You tracks stem from a stint recording in California, and that style of hip-hop (which I can only describe as sounding like palm trees look) suited the DC local’s sensibilities extremely well. So, while The Experience is early in his career, with only a few official releases under his belt, his sound is refreshing. Follow The Experience on Twitter @ItsTheEXP.

Artwork: courtesy of Glue Factory

Glue Factory
From the garage to the basement, Glue Factory (a nod to The Black Keys’ Rubber Factory perhaps?) provides a DIY sound reminiscent of those early days of DC rock. Though the band doesn’t have a punk pace, it’s imagery and lyrics aren’t much dissimilar from that very aesthetic. In their two EPs from 2019, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Lose Control, the group seems to be drawing influence from some 1980s rock vibes. Unafraid to tinker with their sound and to release it to the masses, I’d expect a ton more product from Glue Factory in the coming years. For more Glue Factory, visit www.gluefactory.bandcamp.com.

Photo: Mystery Friends

Mystery Friends
Mystery Friend’s debut record Past & Future Self came out this past May. The four-piece band uses the album as a vehicle to explore relationships with themselves and with others, and to get listeners off their feet and dancing. They’re on a self-described “mission to bring analog dance rock into the digital age,” and are doing a damn good job of it. If you want to see it in action, mark your calendars now – they’ll be in flesh waiting to play their new jams for you as they take the stage at Songbyrd on Friday, December 6. Visit www.mysteryfriendsmusic.com for more, and www.songbyrddc.com for tickets to their December 6 show.

Nah. Photo – www.nah.band

Nah.
My editor probably thinks I’m being a petulant child typing Nah. where a band’s name is supposed to go, but it is, in fact, a DC band. The five-person indie group with the most millennial name actually began with probably the most noble mission a band has ever had: to use music as a mechanism for people to be open about the variety of complications that come with mental health, and the discussions necessary for healing. While the subject matter is serious, it can also be silly and petty. Most importantly, the band has provided an open outlet, whether it be for themselves or their followers, and it all sounds pretty good. So, while you’re chanting, “Nah, nah, nah” at their next local show, what you really mean is “Yah, yah, yah.” For more Nah., visit www.nah.band.

Photo: Farrah Skieky

The OSYX
If you’re ever feeling discouraged about the representation of women, nonbinary and transgender people in the music world, The OSYX will give you hope for better things to come. The local five-piece established This Could Go Boom!, a label to showcase those voices and give them access to resources that may not otherwise be as easily accessible to them. Outside of their own advocacy and support, the band’s own brand of indie rock is celebratory itself. The five women who make up the band are musical forces separately, and altogether make up an indelible powerhouse. Listen on www.theosyx.bandcamp.com and learn more at www.thiscouldgoboom.com.

Photo: Sami Cola

Saturday Night
Who the hell doesn’t enjoy a Saturday night? It’s not a stretch to say that this might be the single most likeable band name in the history of music, perhaps only rivaled by something like Yawning Kittens (I have no idea if this an actual band, if so, congrats on your random name drop). DC’s Saturday Night is an indie rock band with a hint of power pop. However, the true beauty in this band is their use of vocals, as guitarist Cash Langdon and keyboardist Nora Button provide a melodic banter in perfect harmony. Also, I really like them because they use the word “alien” in their bio on Bandcamp. For more Saturday Night, visit www.saturdaynight.bandcamp.com.

Photo: Yusuf Kazmi

The Shmoods
More of a collective than a band or group, The Shmoods, formerly known as the DMV Hip-Hop Orchestra, are a large collection of musicians playing everything from string instruments to wind and brass. With a focus on hip-hop culture and how that sound is conveyed through traditional orchestral instrumentation it’s possible seeing this group live is one of the more authentic musical experiences one can encounter in the capital. The orchestra has already played venues like the Kennedy Center and been mentioned in The Washington Post, so they’re on the fast track to accomplishing local celebrity. The only catch with The Shmoods is there isn’t a ton of their music online, which means you’ll have to pay close attention to their calendar in order to hear the hip-hop magic. For more on The Shmoods, visit www.dmvhho.com.

Photo: Christopher Grady

Sneaks
Sneaks’ music sounds like abstract art looks, which is not to say that it isn’t a pleasurable listening experience. Never one to lack energy, Sneaks can seamlessly bounce from singing to talking to chanting to singing to rapping, all at once and within the same song. Her latest album Highway Hypnosis provides a fast track to her soul at about 80 miles per hour, and on the rare moments it slows down and allows you to catch your breath, the halt can be abrupt. Though you can add her to your Spotify playlists and listen to her on a Metro commute, the true allure of her work is in the live show. For more on Sneaks, visit www.sneaks.bandcamp.com.

 

Teen Mortgage

Photo: Mauricio Castro

With a sound that seems equal parts informed by the spirit of DC punk and the scuzzy garage rock sensibilities of West Coast garage, Teen Mortgage has an uncanny ability to produce powerful, danceable rock with just two members at the helm. With a new EP released earlier this year, they’ve kept schedules booked this year with an east coast tour circuit and frequently pop up alongside likeminded national acts stopping through the District like Bass Drum of Death and Surf Curse, winning over new listeners with their high-energy sound and impressive musical ability. Follow @teen_mortgage on Instagram for more.

Photo: courtesy of James June Schneider

Deep Cuts: New Documentary Delves into DC’s Punk History

You always hear how difficult touring is for bands. I’m not talking about large-scale tour buses rivaling the comforts of first-class flights you read about in Rolling Stone profiles. I’m thinking of the little guy: the DIY band making their first sojourn through the Midwest or a five-piece indie outfit huddled together in a minivan with a shaky air conditioner on an adventure through the South.

Over the past two months, DC filmmaker James June Schneider experienced a similar cross-country trip while showcasing his documentary Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement.

Following the film’s world premiere at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center this summer, the documentarian packed up his car with film in tow and drove across the country, hitting spots along the East Coast before venturing through the Midwest to California.

He wrapped up his road tour last month, looping through the Southwest on his way back to the District. In a sense, he mimicked his very subjects by touring art on a shoestring budget. Though he’s not in a band or a traveling musician, his mission to showcase the spirit of DC’s punk scene has taken him on somewhat of a journey.

“A film about DC punk done the way we do it really celebrates an American subculture that is a great chapter in American history,” Schneider says. “One that is still being discovered – an active history. This is a chance to celebrate a thread of American history.”

The film is set to return to the AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland for a three-night screening from November 9-11, including Q&A’s with Schneider, his co-directors Paul Bishow and Sam Lavine, and special guests like the Slickee Boys, Boyd Farrell, Anne Bonafede and others.

“I do think that people will be moved, whether they’re new to DC or grew up here,” he says. “They’ll get where it came from and hopefully be inspired by what’s happened. The great thing about DC punk is when you learn the ideas behind the scenes and the approaches to creativity, it can be applied not only to DC musicians but musicians anywhere.”

The film focuses on the early days of the capital’s punk scene, specifically from 1976 to 1983, and took more than a decade to produce. In the early development stages, the trio archived countless hours of interviews and gathered materials ranging from memorabilia to videos to photos. Combined with Bishow’s already extensive collection, the materials were so plentiful in volume that the team decided to narrow its focus to DC punk’s humble beginnings.

“It’s definitely an origin story,” he says. “As we were making the film, we discovered that there was a real need to investigate the earlier time period. It hadn’t been discussed in any great degree, the pre-hardcore scene. The history means a lot to a lot of people – not just in DC, but to people around the world.”

For a local like Schneider, the subject matter of the genre’s historic rise in the late 70s and early 80s hits extremely close to home. Ever since purchasing a Minor Threat album at 12 years old, the music has served as a soundtrack to his life, helping him remember a community that has remained important to him through adulthood.

“This is the music I grew up with. I had been in a bunch of bands and started making films in the 90s. When I discovered my friend Paul had all this great [footage] from the late 70s, it became evident that we should team up and do a film about it.”

Because of the uncharted territory and mostly forgotten material, Schneider says 95 percent of the people they approached about the film were enthusiastic about participation. Most interviews proved long and fruitful, which made editing the film down to its 88-minute runtime a difficult task. Like any labor of love, the filmmakers logged long hours piecing the documentary together, and watched various cuts several times before finally deeming it ready for public consumption.

“All three of us watched the film every few weeks, usually with other people in Paul’s apartment,” Schneider says. “Those were amazing screenings with hours-long discussions afterwards about the film and the community.”

Whether in their living rooms, at small-scale showings or at the bigger tentpole events like the three coming up at AFI, the resounding impact on viewers has been palpable.

“It is a music scene, so we have to say first and foremost that the music for the size of the scene is amazing,” Schneider continues. “What’s given it more longevity is the ideas behind it. The lyrics are fairly timeless. People weren’t just singing about [President] Reagan and current events. They were singing about their own trials and tribulations.”

The sentiment behind punk music will forever remain relevant to DC’s larger culture, as much as go-go and any other musical genre thrown into the mix. With the federal government sitting on most corners of the city, there will always be a need to protest – and no music has a reputation for antagonizing Big Brother quite like DC punk.

“It’s definitely continuing to this day,” Schneider adds. “There are a lot of great bands that have carried on from back then, and even musicians from back then that are playing today. It’s continued, but it’s transformed. Other people are just continuing to make music great music like they’ve been doing for 40 years.”

Don’t miss screenings of Punk the Capital from November 9-11 at AFI Silver. Showtimes and tickets are available at http://silver.afi.com. Learn more about the documentary at www.dcpunkrockdoc.info.

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center: 8633 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; 301-495-6700; http://silver.afi.com

Photo: www.fona.org

OAKtoberfest Promotes Community Through Music at National Arboretum

A quaint, intimate gathering along the grasses of the National Arboretum quickly turned into an excited musical experience as this year’s OAKtoberfest, an annual kickoff for fall, featured the multi-talented DMV Hip Hop Orchestra, The Shmoods. 

When you think of hip-hop, the cello and violin aren’t the first instruments that come to mind. Yet somehow, the instruments under a hip-hop flow create an entirely authentic sound. 

A collaborative group built on the spectrums of soul, hip-hop and, most importantly musical instruments, has create a sensational ripple effect for their respective audiences, and Saturday, October 19 was no different. Simultaneously bringing everyone to bob their head and gaze as each note left each instrument.

They parallel the past, present, and future of what collaborative music looks like. 

Numerous artists within this group including: The Box Era, Kaseem and Alex Von, all have a unique approach to music. The collective resonates with the crowd because each sound is different. Some are strictly instrumental, some soulful and others play a part in their own likeness. In each case, it connects and brings an entirely different perspective. 

The event was not only built for the music, but for the community as well. Craven Rand, Executive Director at Friends of the National Arboretum said, “it’s important to bring people out to the Arboretum, we want to share this wonderful place with all of DC, Maryland and Virginia. I think these concerts do a great job with sharing their music and sharing this wonderful place with the public.”

Concert-goer, Kelci Reedy echoed the sentiment, exclaiming, “it’s best to connect with your audience on a more intimate setting. I think it gives them a sense of community. They ultimately end up coming back when you need support, get more exposure and hopefully get bigger.” 

The comfortability amongst the crowd made more for a peaceful ambiance. Marcus Moody, the founder and composer of The Schmoods, tried to incorporate the crowd as much as possible.

“The point of the music is to make sure that everybody can feel it, not in a sense that it’s applicable to everybody, but it’s the core of everybody.” 

Allowing fans and members of the crowd to imitate their name, and bring other respective artists on stage helped build more of a community. In respect, he also asked for the support. Donations to undiscovered artists helped bring them on stage in the first place, and now that they’re there, they can create even more of a presence within the music industry. 

But what Moody stressed in his performance, is that it’s all about the music and the people.

“It’s not the surface, it’s not the superficial part. It’s the heart of what we do, and that’s being together on stage. Being together is the heart of the music.” 

For more information about OAKtoberfest and other events at the National Arboretum, visit here.

National Arboretum: 3501 New York Ave. NE, DC; 202-544-8733; www.fona.org

Photos: Kimchi Photography

The Black Keys Adapt Sound for Let’s Rock Tour

When a band like The Black Keys plays The Anthem, it raises the question: Could we see the end of arena shows? And would that be better for rock music? It was a fitting query during their set on October 12, which fell on the second anniversary of the waterfront mega-venue’s opening. 

To catch everyone up to speed, The Black Keys are a rock band – formed by guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney – that rose from the rust belt and rubber factory landscape of Akron, Ohio in the early 2000s as part of that era’s garage rock revival (The White Stripes were the most prominent flag-bearers). The duo’s first records drew on vintage sources and familiar soundscapes to color their raw, early records: sneering electric blues, fuzzy psychedelia, rubber-burning, hot-rod worthy rock n’ roll, and a sense of earworm melody and warmth derived from Motown soul. The group best packaged that sound for a wider audience on the 2010 release Brothers and have since expanded that formula to a more arena/classic rock breadth on their most recent three releases.

The Black Keys’ new album, Let’s Rock, is something of a “back-to-basics” record for the band, cutting out the added expanse of keyboards from their last record and producing it themselves. The current live show (which appears again at The Anthem tonight) holds a kind of similar ethos, attempting to balance stadium swell and rock club sweaty rave. In an arena, like Capitol One, the Keys are somewhat lost by the sheer distance, size and design of the space. But in a venue like The Anthem, their lies a possibility for the band to have the best of both worlds. 

Attendees of most-large scale concerts will tell you that hearing the music – the nominal ritual that you are partaking in, en masse – is one of the biggest challenges of the night (in addition to seeing your favorite performers, depending on your seats). So, when The Black Keys hit the stage with their five-person live band, the first thing I thought was “this is actually not loud” and that’s in spite of the group’s attempts to ensure greater volume. The Keys have this neat magic trick for playing the in the enormous spaces they do now, an illusion based on sound. Even though there are five musicians on stage – one drummer, one bassist, three guitarists – you are led to believe only Auerbach and Carney are playing. The backing musicians lock in tight with the leading men: guitarists Steve Marion and Andy Gabbard shadow Auerbach, making the one guitar roar with the strength to shake rafters while bassist Zach Gabbard does an intricate dance with Carney’s drums, hitting his bass notes off the bass drum and toms to give the rhythm some subwoofer oomph. The trick works as well for older cuts like “10 A.M. Automatic” or new ones from Let’s Rock like “Walk Across The Water.”

The condensed space – The Anthem holds about 6,000 max, half of most arena crowds – the crystalline, specific details in The Keys’ vintage sound came through like an unearthed vinyl on a turntable. Auerbach’s onslaught on pristine, wizened guitars could attack the airwaves with their full potential, hitting the crowd with a sharp but warm sound that bites like your favorite whiskey. On “Strange Times,” from the group’s 2008 album Attack & Release, Carney and Auerbach’s fingers flew across their instruments in an accelerated blur, leaving behind the distinct smell of burnt rubber from Akron’s Firestone tires.

Watching the sea of (thousands of) faces on the floor of The Anthem was like observing a human body undergoing a reflex test; some songs hit and made the limbs dance, others landed with a thud. The audience churned like a storming sea during the main-set close, one-two punch of “Little Black Submarines” and “Lonely Boy” but chattered through new material like “Eagle Birds” and “Fire Walk With Me.” Even though the songs of Let’s Rock exist in more of a continuation with the Keys’ leaner, earlier sound, why the disconnect? Could that explain why rock music seems to slump on a major cultural level, rarely present in arenas or on the Billboard charts?

This is where a venue like The Anthem comes into play – what if The Black Keys played more like it, cut down on the big visuals, bigger sound, bigger band and played just Auerbach and Carney again? There was so much rich detail in older numbers – like the hot rod rev-up into “Thickfreakness” or the lip-curling snarl of “Howlin’ For You” – that could be heard in this space. Both songs were made when the band didn’t have to stretch their sound into arenas that are acoustic nightmares; what sonic potential do they have revisiting a pared-down yet big enough sound? What if other bands followed suit?

The Black Keys gave a glimpse of that with their opening number “I Got Mine,” another from Attack & Release, where there were no fancy visuals, no projections. Just the start of the duo weaving an illusion it was just the audience and them, as it always was. That was an exhilarating moment.

The Black Keys are set to play another set at The Anthem tonight. For more information visit here.

The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; 202-888-0020; www.theanthemdc.com

Photo: Josh Cheuse

Tales Of America: J.S. Ondara Intertwines Kenyan Roots and Americana Style on Debut Album

It seems counterintuitive that someone raised in Nairobi, Kenya could tell such compelling stories of the American experience through song. And yet J.S. Ondara does so with such skill on his first album Tales of America, released this February, that he’s seen high praise from the likes of NPR, Rolling Stone and Billboard. Raised on 90s alt-rock like Nirvana and Radiohead, the 27-year-old musician discovered great storytellers like Bob Dylan and Neil Young in high school, forever altering his musical style. In 2013, Ondara moved from Kenya to Minneapolis where he taught himself guitar and was eventually picked up by a label. We had the chance to ask Ondara about his roots, moving to the U.S. and why he never gave up on his goals before he plays Sixth & I on October 30.

On Tap: What was it like to move to the U.S. and pursue a career as a musician?
J.S. Ondara: It certainly wasn’t easy, but really, I was just too far from home. There was no looking back. If home was a bus fare away, perhaps I would have given up at some point. I never really had a choice.

OT: Who influences your sound?
JSO: I am mostly influenced by music from the 60s and 70s – songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison and Tim Buckley.

OT: What was it about Minneapolis’s music scene that drew you to that city, and how has it affected your music?
JSO: I was initially drawn to Minnesota after learning it was [Bob] Dylan’s home but the scene and the people of Minneapolis are why I chose to stay. The city has a lively music scene, but it also has a certain quietness about it that is essential for writing and growing without too much distraction.

OT: Why were you able to tell such a compelling American story with Tales of America despite having grown up in another country?
JSO: I suspect it is because I was making observations about America as an outsider with no bias other than to draw a portrait of the America that I saw.

OT: What lead you to the Americana genre and why did you decide to make the album entirely acoustic?
JSO: As an avid fan of stories, I was drawn to the storytelling nature of folk music and I believe that’s why I found myself drawn to that kind of music. That said, the journey has just begun, and I most certainly intend to experiment with more sounds and arrangements as I make more records.

OT: What do you hope people will get out of listening to Tales of America?
JSO: I think art at its best is a mirror through which a society can observe itself and hence change course whenever necessary. I hope that people will see a mirror in Tales of America and gain insight into themselves.

OT: What can people expect from your DC show?
JSO: I am looking forward to playing some new songs live for the first time.

OT: Where do you go from here? What are some of your goals for the future?
JSO: I am currently working on my next record so the next step for me is to finish that and share it with the world. My goals change all the time, but this year my goal is to try to make it through 27 without dying unceremoniously.

Catch J.S. Ondara at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Wednesday, October 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20. For more information on Ondara, go to www.jsondara.com.

Sixth & I: 600 I St. NW; 202-408-3100; www.sixthandi.org

October Music Picks

Friday, OCTOBER 4

A Note Two Self
Mike Richards has traveled across the country performing for people, but his home will always be Virginia. His latest project is an EP called 1000 Days After. Richards sings about love, allowing your imagination wonder to a better place, and unity – all topics that anyone can relate to. Come support local talent and hear Richards sing about life 10 miles from his hometown in Arlington. Doors open at 6 p.m. Free to attend. The Bronson: 4100 Fairfax Dr. Arlington, VA; www.bronsonbierhall.com

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6

Steve Lacy
At only 21 years old, Steve Lacy is a young, but seasoned talent. He has an impressive track record and Grammy to prove it, contributing to songs from big artists like Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller and Solange. He even produced Kendrick Lamar’s “Pride” from his iPhone, and is a member of the Grammy nominated band THE INTERNET. Lacy’s hypnotizing voice and cool R&B vibe will put you in a trance you won’t ever want to leave with songs like, “C U Girl” and “N Side.” Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

MONDAY, OCTOBER 7

Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne was the punk rock queen of the early 00s, and had young girls everywhere singing about a “Sk8er Boi.” 17 years later since her debut album, Let Go, Lavigne is back and ready to share her music with the world. In 2014, the Canadian singer was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and spent the following two years in recovery. Her latest album, Head Above Water, encompasses strength and overcoming struggle. Her fans should be pleasantly surprised with the more serious, mature sound Lavigne has developed. The powerful lead single from the album, “Head Above Water” especially showcases her growth as a singer with passionate and relatable lyrics. One can only hope however, that she won’t leave out her classic hits from the set list. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Theater at MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD; https://mgmnationalharbor.mgmresorts.com

Elder Island
Elder Island’s music has many layers to it including, electronica, pop and indie music. Their unique voice unapologetically captivates your soul. Even a touch of blues and soul instruments can be heard briefly in the melody of their song “The Big Unknown.” This talented group consists of singer and cellist Katy Sargent, Luke Thornton on the bass, and mastermind behind the beats, and guitarist, David Havard. Elder Island takes their listeners on a one-way trip to a magical destination, and you might just get lost in the music on the way. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $16. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC;  www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11

The Cleverlys
The Cleverlys are not your typical bluegrass family band. Digger Cleverly and his four nephews put their own spin on hit songs from a variety of genres, producing a one of a kind show in the process. If you didn’t think a song like Flo Rida’s, “Low,” could become a bluegrass song, well, the Cleverlys will prove you wrong. At the very least, this family provides comedic, musical relief with their entertaining covers of mainstream songs. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC; www.thehamiltondc.com

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12

WMZQ Fall Fest
WMZQ Fall Fest is one of the annual times country music fans across the DMV travel 35 miles south of DC to Jiffy Lube Live. Even if you’re not a country fan, there is a good chance you’ll be convinced by your country music loving friends to borrow some cowboy boots and put on cutoff jean shorts one more time, before the temperature drops for good. Georgia native and “Bottoms Up” singer Brantley Gilbert, will headline the fest with performances from special guests Michael Ray and Lindsey Ell. Gilbert’s performance will come just days after the release of his highly-anticipated fifth album, Fire and Brimstone, so expect a high energy show. Show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets start at $39. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; https://wmzq.iheart.com

CHVRCHES
Pronounced “churches,” this pop trio has experienced fast climbing success since their 2013 debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. They are from Scotland, and therefore have a very prominent fan base throughout the U.K. They have become increasingly popular in the U.S., especially after they lent their talents on Marshmello’s hit track, “Here With Me,” which spent 16 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The group will undoubtedly continue to gain traction in the music industry. Don’t miss a unique opportunity to see the trio perform live at a smaller venue, as part of the All Things Go Fall Classic. Festival starts at 12:30 p.m.  CHVRCHES show at 10:30 p.m. Tickets start at $69. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;
www.allthingsgofallclassic.com/information

Post Malone
Post Malone is known for shaking things up in the music industry, and soon he’ll shake up the District. The Olive Garden loving and croc-wearing rapper brings his tour to the area after recently releasing his new album, Hollywood’s Bleeding. The album features a whirlwind of sounds of rap, pop, rock, and even a blend of the three, with features from Travis Scott, Halsey and Ozzy Osbourne. His new album made quite an impression on listeners, as all 17 songs on the record entered the Billboard Hot 100. There’s no question the 24-year-old Syracuse, New York native will continue to climb to the top. You don’t want to miss your chance to see Posty peform his hits like, “Better Now,” “Sunflower” and “Congratulations” at the Capital One Arena. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $145. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NE, DC; https://capitalonearena.viewlift.com

MONDAY, OCTOBER 14

Buddy Guy
Eight-time Grammy Award winner and blues legend Buddy Guy will bless Northern Virginia with a show in mid-October. Guy is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member whose career was influenced by other blues legends including B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Guitar Slim. Guy grew up in a small Louisiana town, playing these artists’ songs on his guitar. In search of a stable career, Guy moved to Chicago where he found great success with his music and his legendary blues, and rock and roll career began. Buddy Guy will certainly remind you that The Blues Is Alive and Well. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets $79. The State Theatre: 220 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA; www.thestatetheatre.com

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15

The Chainsmokers
The New York-based DJ and production duo initially found success in the pop music realm with their 2014 song, “#Selfie,” but really blew up after their 2016 collaboration with Halsey on the song “Closer.” This catchy hit was played at house parties, bars, in cars driving down the highway, other performers’ shows, and was essentially THE song of 2016. Since then, the pair released songs that have made their way on the top of the charts consistently. They will play all of their hits in the heart of DC for one night, and you don’t want to miss them, or the Australian heartthrobs Five Seconds of Summer who’ll open the night for The Chainsmokers. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $29. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; http://capitalonearena.viewlift.com

Peter Case
If you roll folk, blues and rock music into one, you would probably hear a song by Peter Case. Case is influenced by musical greats like Elvis, the Everly Brothers, and Ray Charles to name a few. Various sounds from these performers can be heard in Case’s own music. He is a true veteran, and played in the group The Nerves, and The Plimsouls, and not to mention, holds three Grammy nominations. Case will make you feel like your a local in a stranger’s place with his simple, yet passionate tunes. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

Ray LaMontagne
LaMontagne might sing “You Are the Best Thing,” but in reality, the best thing is his voice. It’s a challenge not to bop your head to the beat of LaMontagne’s raspy, smooth voice. His music is the perfect accessory to your morning coffee, long road trips or even a late-night lullaby. Come be mesmerized by the musical gift that is Ray LaMontagne. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $55. Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

THURSDAY, October 17

Pharoahe Monch
Pharoahe Monch has got a killer rhyme game. He earned a solid reputation as one of the most talented underground rappers of all time, and deservingly so. His music has evolved since his 1999 single, “Simon Says,” however, we all love vintage sounds and Monch definitely still carries that 90s vibe in his music today. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18

The Cactus Blossoms
The Cactus Blossoms bring a little bit of old, and a little bit of new to the music scene. Their music reminds you of something you’d hear in a retro-themed diner, yet also has a modern enough twang to it to make for easy, peaceful listening. Brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey voices’ fit together in a perfect, harmonic mold. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $17. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC;
www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Tower of Power
Finding their start in Oakland, California, this groovin’, American R&B band has been making music for 50 years. If you’re lacking soul, Tower of Power will put some right back into you. Emilio Castillo, Stephen Kupka, David Garibaldi, and the rest of the group will soon show DC “What is Hip.” Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $32. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

Jesse Cook
Travel overseas without ever having to leave your location with the beautiful strumming of Jesse Cook’s guitar. Cook has shown repeatedly that he is one of the most influential guitarists in Nuevo flamenco music, with many awards under his belt including three Canadian Smooth Jazz Guitarist of the Year awards. His music reaches audiences across the globe, and breaks the stereotype that good, flamenco-influenced music can only be found in Spain. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $42. Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22

Delicate Steve
His name is Delicate Steve, but there is nothing delicate about his ability, through instrumental talent, to shed light on the darkest of things. Also known as Steve Marion, he has consistently put out instrumental music that immediately gets listeners addicted. On his latest album, Till I Burn Up, Marion amps up his sound with a heavy synth bass and strong guitar riffs. The album will remind you of a time when rock bands ruled the 70s. Show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets $15. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

The Mighty Pines
Together, Neil Salsich, Gerard Erker, John Hussung and Mike Murano make up The Mighty Pines. The band is relatively young, formed in 2012. They hail from St. Louis, Missouri and attribute the city as their biggest musical influence. Their midwestern background shines through in their music, using instruments like a mandolin and banjo to accompany the band’s unique sound of a country, folk and blues cluster. And it’s a cluster you’ll definitely want to hear more of. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets $12. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Young Thug
Young Thug has collaborated with big names like Kanye West, Travis Scott, Camila Cabello and has built up quite a bit of fame from his notable collaborations. He is also known as a style icon, often sporting crazy and colorful outfits. The rapper released his album So Much Fun in mid-August, which showcases his continuous come up since his 2013 debut. Young Thug is further proof that Atlanta produces some of the best rappers in the game. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $50. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24

Sports Team
If you’re looking for a new indie band to root for, Sports Team is for you. They might only have one EP, but it’s packed with quirkiness and good tunes. Included on the EP is a song named after Ashton Kutcher, who is used as a metaphor in the chorus to speak about a messy relationship with an ex. The six member co-ed group met in London where their perfectly crafted, chaotic sound was honed. So far, their live performances have been high energy and eclectic. Anything can happen when Sports Team takes the stage. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26

The Commonheart
The nine-piece band dubs themself a “rock and soul” band, who prides themselves on spreading positivity through their music. The lead singer of the band, Clinton Clegg, didn’t grow up religious and doesn’t try to promote religion in the band’s songs, but a lot of the words can be traced back to having good morals and values. On their sophomore album Pressure, a gospel-like harmony can even be heard on a few of the songs. Come rock out with The Commonheart on the last Saturday of October. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27

Fantasia
Former American Idol and Grammy winner Fantasia Barrino has earned the utmost respect in the music industry from musicians and fans alike. Known for her powerful R&B delivery, she will bring her Sketchbook tour to Fairfax, Virginia after dealing with personal struggles and hardship for the past three years. When you’re down, you can only go up, and that is what Barrino will show her fan base on this tour, with special guests Robin Thicke and The Bonfyre joining her for the ride. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $59. EagleBank Arena: 4500 Patriot Cir. Fairfax, VA; www.eaglebankarena.com

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30

999
999 is a punk rock band from London, England, that found great success in the late 70s and early 80s across the U.K. The band has remained almost perfectly intact for the past 40 years or so, with only two member changes. Their music has stood the test of time, which is a testament in itself that this punk band is the real deal. Join Nick Cash, Guy Days, Pablo LaBritain and Arturo Bassick for a jammin’ show. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31

Chief Keef
Despire Chief Keef’s troubles with authority, his talent as a rapper was never in doubt. He quickly gained fame among younger crowds because of his own young age and enjoyed success from his singles, “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa.” He will perform in the DMV on the spookiest day of the year, assuming he has no run-ins with the law before then. Fingers crossed. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $29.50 The Filmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com