Posts

Photo: Pierre Edwards
Photo: Pierre Edwards

A Day in the Life: Full Service Radio’s Jack Inslee

We could be corny and say he’s a jack of all trades, but indeed Jack Inslee is working hard to raise the bar in a variety of creative arenas in DC. After helping launch and then producing Heritage Radio out of New York City for several years, Inslee made his way to the District to team up with the masterminds behind the LINE Hotel to bring Full Service Radio to life. Inslee operates the live radio station out of the hotel’s lobby and brings guests and hosts from all cross sections of the city to a space where they can broadcast “the real DC” to the world. Inslee feels the station is starting to take on a life of its own, which is what he has hoped from the beginning. He likens himself to a traffic director, “trying to elevate what’s already happening in DC and what all the awesome hosts here do in their lives.”

When he’s not on-air at Full Service or traveling to promote DC’s creative community, Inslee can be found curating stages at Bonnaroo, DJing at Velvet Lounge, collaborating with local musicians, and hanging at Jimmy Valentine’s and Songbyrd, ever plotting new projects. And like the true DC convert he’s quickly become, he finds much-needed – though rarely gained – quiet time in the nooks and crannies of Rock Creek Park. We picked Inslee’s brain about Full Service Radio and his other ventures, and how he keeps a pulse on DC’s creative scene.

On Tap: You’re relatively new to DC from NYC. What’s the transition been like?
Jack Inslee: It’s crazy. I’m almost approaching two years in the District and I say this all the time: I’ve become like a DC evangelist. I’ve basically fallen in love with the city. It continues to surprise me constantly. It’s definitely much smaller [than New York], but there’s more room to breathe and space to think. And I think that the things happening in this creative community here in DC are wildly overlooked and underrated. It’s a special place right now, and a special moment to be in this.

OT: You’ve been working on the much-anticipated – and now lauded – Full Service Radio since before the LINE opened last December. How is it growing and evolving?
JI: I have been overwhelmed by the positive response that the network has gotten in these early stages. We are lucky to have a wildly incredible roster of hosts and collaborators that we’re working with. I couldn’t be luckier than to be in the LINE Hotel too, which is such an exciting space and place in the city. The energy here is just incredible. That public interaction is everything. But frankly, I’m not happy yet. It still feels like preseason to me. I’m never really completely satisfied, but that’s kind of what keeps things moving forward. I’m trying to improve every day.

OT: Do you have people walk into the radio station off the street and ask what you’re doing?
JI: Oh yes, constantly – for better or worse. All the radio shows stream live into the [hotel] rooms as well as on the Internet, so sometimes we’ll have a guest come down just having listened to a live broadcast and they get to interact with the host and the guests. There’s this real-time response that’s really neat and exciting.

OT: How frequently do you bring new shows on board? Do you have a goal to reach a certain number per week?
JI: I get flooded with so many requests and I want to embrace that enthusiasm. I don’t want to turn people away. I want to be a person that says “Yes” and welcomes those people in, but we’re definitely at capacity. We launched with 33 shows a week and we still have all of those shows. Come fall, we’ll have a handful more that will come on. My ears are always open for new ideas. At the very least, I want to accept every pitch and idea that comes in.


Can’t Live Without
Cold brew coffee with a tiny splash of milk and simple syrup
A solid (even if messy) “to do” list
Tea Tree Therapy Toothpicks, mint-flavored
Memes, jokes, good tweets – anything that makes me genuinely laugh and smile throughout the day
Relaxing music for a stressful day, energetic music for a shamefully lazy day


OT: Outside of Full Service Radio, are you still DJing and making music?
JI: I definitely stay busy with travel, DJing and producing music. A really exciting project that I’m over the moon about is a new album I made with Odetta Hartman called Old Rockhounds Never Die, coming out August 10. Odetta is an Americana artist and I do experimental electronic production and manipulate her voice and all kinds of weird things. It’s like this f–ked up, futuristic cowboy/soul kind of thing. I’m also working with some other DC musicians, and always DJing around town here and there. And I travel around and interview people in other cities [including visits to the LINE in Austin and L.A.] as well to bring it back to Full Service Radio. [We’ll be] doing little pop-ups in those cities and then finding ways to bring DC stories to those cities to expand our reach.

OT: You are a big part of DC’s art and music communities, but you also have a history in food. How does it influence your life these days, especially being at the LINE?
JI: It’s definitely become a real passion of mine over the years, and I think DC is starting to become known as a food destination as well. [James Beard Award-winning Chef] Spike [Gjerde] brought in [legendary Chef] Alice Waters as a guest on his show, so the food programming on Full Service is actually fairly robust and exciting. It’s one of the few places where policy conversations make it into the mix. And I do generally really draw from good food. Maketto is the first [place] I really fell in love with when I moved here. It’s like okay, I can get some really spicy bone marrow broth and some designer street clothes on sale? Cool. Yeah, that’s where it’s at. I just think that space is like a beacon for the city.

OT: You’re clearly excited about the creative scene in DC, but what concerns you most?
JI: DC seems to be really concerned with DC all the time. Often times, it can end up feeling like a silo here where it’s just everybody talking to each other. I just wish people would get out more and reach out to people in other places more. That kind of goes against this whole community thing that makes DC super special, so it’s not to say abandon that. But to put it in blunt terms, there’s this weird inferiority complex or something. When people feel like they’ve hit the outer walls of DC, rather than just getting down about it, [people should] push past them. It’s something I’m always trying to fight against and help people with.

OT: Who are some of the people in DC you think we should keep an eye on?
JI: Sir E.U and Tony Kill. They just put out an album called African American Psycho, and I think they’re both geniuses and they have been doing exactly what I was just talking about. They were just in L.A. and they’re pushing past the boundaries of the city. They’re crazy experimental and waving their own flag and I can’t say enough good stuff about that album. To me, that’s the stuff that’s giving me inspiration and part of why I love this city so much.

Learn more about Inslee and Full Service Radio at www.thelinehotel.com/full-service-radio.

The LINE Hotel: 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC; 202-588-0525; www.thelinehotel.com/dc

Photo: Elijah Jamal Balbed
Photo: Elijah Jamal Balbed

A Day in the Life: DC Drummer Isabelle De Leon

Encouraged by family, Isabelle De Leon has been playing music since she was four and the drums since she was seven. But hers is not a story of a child prodigy forced into a life of performance at any cost. De Leon has talent in spades, and she marches to the beat of her own drums. As an early teen, De Leon found a deep connection in writing music. She has since made it her mission to use the power of music to inspire and heal, and she does it in hundreds of different ways. On any given day, you can find her jetting from one gig to another, running jam sessions, teaching music lessons, serving as an ambassador to the DC music community and being the kickass lady drummer in a rock band.

At 27, De Leon has already played major venues including the Kennedy Center and DAR Constitution Hall, is the recipient of countless music scholarships and recognitions – including a stint as a Strathmore Artist in Residence – and still finds time to rock out with local synth-pop bands Prinze George and Paperwhite, and funk/soul band Lionize. Even with her many accomplishments, the local musician remains humble. On Tap caught up with De Leon to learn more about her  “constant learning journey” and how the musician incorporates her life experiences into the music she plays.

On Tap: You’ve played all over the country. What keeps you in DC?
Isabelle De Leon: I’m from Montgomery County, so not far. I’ve always loved the city, and it was always a dream of mine to move here and be more immersed in the scene. It’s great because the music scene is very active so there are a lot of opportunities to perform and meet other musicians. What’s cool about being here is that DC is a much smaller city but there’s still a lot happening, and I feel like I can be part of creating something here versus where it’s already oversaturated.

OT: You started out playing music at a young age with your family. How did your relationship with music develop as a child?  
IDL: It was always a family thing. My whole family played music. My dad was the one who taught us music when we were really young. He was teaching us all piano, guitar and bass. When I was seven, he brought home a drum set and taught me some basic things. At that point, he started asking each of us which instrument we wanted to take lessons for. I think he had a vision for what to steer us each toward. Our whole family played at church every weekend, and that was where we really learned about music theory, chord structures, arrangements and how to play in an ensemble – the nuances of improvising, taking cues and listening to each other. Those things are really valuable and hard to teach in a classroom.

OT: What drew you to the drums?
IDL: One of our favorite movies [growing up] was Selena, and it’s even more precious now because their story was very similar to ours. Their dad loved music and started them young, playing in this family band. I just remember that scene where he’s trying to get Suzette to play the drums and she’s adamantly protesting and she’s like, “Girls don’t play the drums.” And for some reason, I took that as, “Oh, I’m going to play the drums now and prove everybody wrong and show people that girls can play the drums.” So that was one of the reasons why I wanted to pursue it.

OT: It can be hard to make a career out of your passion. How did you make music both for you?
IDL: When I was really young, I didn’t know any other female drummers except [Santana’s] Cindy Blackman, who I idolized and still do. I realized that I was in a very unique position being a woman on a male-dominated instrument, and also being a woman minority in the music industry. I realized there was a power in that, in being able to inspire young girls to go out for things that people were telling them they couldn’t do. In a way, that’s really what my mission is. It’s one of the reasons why I feel like I can’t ever quit, necessarily. I yearn for that kind of figure I can look up to myself, and if I can be that for someone else who needs a role model, I would love to be that person for them.

OT: How does being a Filipino woman in this space affect what you do within the creative industry in DC?
IDL: Being a female drummer already sets me as a minority, and that’s something I’ve experienced my whole life. But one thing that I didn’t realize until I was much older was what my identity was and who I was. We grew up primarily around white people and because of that, I felt in a way more connected to American culture even though I know I don’t look “American.” But in Filipino circles, I didn’t feel like I fit in, in a way. That same kind of conflict came out when I started studying jazz music and participating in the DC music scene.

OT: What challenges have you faced breaking into the local jazz scene? 
IDL: Right now, I’m trying to get better at and play jazz, funk and soul music that’s oriented around really groovy drumming. There was an instance recently where it came to my attention that some people either roll their eyes at me when I come and play or they kind of judge me because according to them, I didn’t grow up in the “church” so I don’t really have a gospel background. That was hurtful because first of all, it’s not true. Also, music is supposed to be about camaraderie, sharing and connection. People who get hateful like that, or just bitter, defeat the purpose of what we do.

OT: You recently started a regular jam session at Pearl Street Warehouse. Is that a jazz series?
IDL: It’s called Southwest Soul Sessions. It’s not specifically jazz per se. I actually started the jam session with Elijah Jamal Balbed, who’s also an accomplished musician here, and our goal with the session was to bridge all of our music communities in DC. I’ve done a lot of work in the rock and pop scenes, and he’s very heavy in the jazz, R&B and go-go scenes. We realized that together, we would have a vast network of people and we really wanted to bring all of them together. The great thing about jam sessions is that you’re playing with people you may have never played with before and may never again. But in that moment, you’re just trying to create something that’s different and bring all of your influences to the table. We really wanted it to be like a dance party too, and Pearl Street Warehouse is perfect for that.

OT: You are very accomplished and constantly working on different projects. What keeps you focused and awake?
IDL: I’ve always known what my goals are. They’re pretty big, but I also have some that are more tangible like to be Beyoncé’s drummer. [Laughs] One thing that my mom taught me early on was to write down your priorities and goals and make lists of steps that you can take to get there. I make sure I check in with myself pretty regularly. My overall goals have been the same since I started to really pursue music, and I always keep that in the back of my mind. It’s really important to always remember your “Why?” It’s also important to take a break every once in awhile. There are days where I don’t do anything music-related.

OT: What do you enjoy doing on those days away from the music scene?
IDL: I really enjoy movies. I love being adventurous and trying new things, whether it’s an activity I’ve never done or something like bowling or just going on a walk in a park. I love cooking and catching up with friends. Relationships are really important to me, so I try to make sure I stay in touch with the people who are important and make time for them. I also really love shopping. I don’t mind spending money to beautify my room, because I’m creating music there and it needs to be a place of inspiration and a beautiful place that I can relax in and enjoy. My room is pretty decked out and full of plants.

Follow De Leon on Instagram at @isabelledeleon_ and on Facebook at @IsabelleDeLeonMusic. Learn more about her Southwest Soul Sessions with Balbed at www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com and sign up for drum lessons with her at www.7drumcity.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Folds
Photo: Courtesy of Ben Folds

Ben Folds Breaks Boundaries Because He Can

When Ben Folds rolls through Merriweather Post Pavilion on August 18 on his co-headlining tour with Cake, he’ll be nearing his 52nd birthday with 30-plus years of music business experience under his belt. Lots of musicians play their music for decades, and while it’s impressive to have the wherewithal to endure any extended stretch in a creative field, Folds is unusual in how he uses his reputation. He takes risks, he gets scared and he keeps pushing forward.

“It’s a big, organic mess,” he says. “Sometimes, I get really interested in something and pursue it. You never know the best thing to do, but the common thread in the whole thing is I follow what I’m interested in. That can be very different day-to-day, and I have to live with it. Sometimes I’ll be interested in something and agree to a future show, and then in six months, I’ll be like, ‘What the hell?’”

This “What the hell?” feeling isn’t new for Folds. In fact, it’s what motivates him at this point in his career. This is the reason he agreed to satirize himself on the FX show You’re the Worst, and the reason he’s done bizarre covers like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” over the course of his career. His range in musical interests is boundless as he bounces from rock band to piano soloist to orchestra composer. But before he jumps headfirst – or onstage – for new projects, he’s a little scared.

“Now I have to arrange all these weird things [for the show] and it’s exciting. It’s a slightly scary tour, and it doesn’t have to be big things – it can be small things.”

Folds is not a risk-averse artist based on his collaborations – William Shatner and Weird Al Yankovic among them – to the genres he finds himself dabbling in. Part of his confidence in floating from idea to idea comes from his longevity in the industry, which he says grants him more opportunities to be a little off the wall.

“I get more leeway every year,” he says. “After awhile, they’re like, ‘He wants to try that? F—k it, let him do it.’ Nothing is probably going to kill [my career], so I get to be less and less responsible really, and it serves me well. It’s what they call in U.K. politics a backbencher. It makes for a creative career that’s fun for me.”

This unpredictable path wouldn’t be as riveting to watch from the outside if not for his prolific nature in releasing projects and music.

“I don’t really have an answer. I don’t think I’m particularly superhuman. You’ll be doing one thing, and it’ll sit on the shelf for awhile, and then it’ll come out together with another project. Right now, I’m writing a book, so I’m spending my time on that and then I’ll go to next thing.”

Slated to be a biography full of advice for musicians, Folds says he’s gotten into a good groove with the switch from writing lyrics to penning prose.

“There’s an adjustment for sure, because when you have what seems like unlimited real estate, you have to find your pace and it takes a little bit of time. I think it’s true that you never learn how to write a book, just the one you’re on. Right now, I’m cranking out 3,000 words a day.”

As for more on what the words are about, Folds puts it simply with, “We’re all interested in a good journey, no matter what part you’re on.”

Learn more about Ben Folds at www.benfolds.com.

See Ben Folds and Cake at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, August 18. Tall Heights will open. Tickets start at $45. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.

Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; 410-715-5550; www.merriweathermusic.com

Photo: Kimberly Adamis
Photo: Kimberly Adamis

Lots of Heart On Ann Wilson’s Latest Album

Heart is one of the most popular rock bands of all time, with a catalog of hits like 70s and 80s radio staples “Alone,” “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda” and “These Dreams,” among many others. These classic rockers have sold more than 35 million records on the strength of Ann Wilson’s iconic voice and her sister Nancy’s exceptional guitar work.

While the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are currently on hiatus, Ann Wilson is concentrating on her solo career this summer. She’s set to release a new album in mid-September and is now on tour with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers in what the trio is calling the Stars Align Tour.

“Touring for me is exciting as it ever was, and I still love it just as much as I ever have,” Wilson says. “This show is about the mastery of Jeff Beck, the incredible bluesy voice of Paul Rodgers and what I’m doing, so people can be rest assured they will go away humming.”

The tour makes a stop at Wolf Trap on August 20, though Rodgers will be MIA with only Wilson and Beck performing at the Filene Center.

“I’m not going to be harking back to the Heart stuff almost at all,” Wilson says of her upcoming set. “I only have one Heart song planned on the night. I’ll basically be covering the songs on my new record and doing songs that I have written over the last few years. It’s going to be really different but a lot of fun.”

Even though some fans may be disappointed that there’s not more Heart tunes being played, Wilson expects everyone to still enjoy her performance as most will be familiar with many of the songs. She feels it’s more important to support her new record than to draw from Heart’s discography.

“What I wanted with this [tour] is to be able to be shown as a singer. So far, we’ve done one show on this tour, but we got a fantastic response. I of course pay tribute to Heart by doing the one song, but I wanted to be brave and live on the edge and do new stuff.”

Wilson’s new release, Immortal, is named after the concept of the album, which is a tribute to some of the legendary musicians who are making the band in rock ‘n’ roll heaven even stronger.

“One of the criteria [for the album] was that all of the artists had passed on in the last few years,” she says. “The expressions these artists left in these songs are really great work, with great lyrics and great poetry. They need to be passed down in an oral tradition, sort of like cave drawings. They need to be left for generations to dig.”

With 10 tracks, Wilson pays homage to some of her favorite artists on songs that aren’t usually the first ones associated with the late musicians. For instance, her tribute to George Michael is with the song “A Different Corner” from his Wham! days, while she chose “Luna” to honor Tom Petty.

“I didn’t want to just go and cover a bunch of hits. My main theme was to honor the artists, so I went back through their bodies of work and found songs that really resonated with me, and it was really satisfying. I wanted to get really personal with the artists’ work.”

Of all the artists, she knew Chris Cornell the best, and honors him with the song “I Am the Highway.”

“I really love that song, and I wanted to bring it into a slightly softer acoustic mood without going all acoustic. I even play a flute solo in it. I just wanted the song to have a swing and be something people could feel ‘up’ about. The song itself is part of [Cornell’s] heart, and a wonderful song.”

Other tunes on the album include “A Thousand Kisses Deep” by Leonard Cohen, “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse and “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. All three offer genres a little different than Wilson is usually associated with.

“I let the songs tell me what to do. The Cohen song is almost jazz and the Winehouse tune is almost gothic chamber music, so it’s definitely different for me. I welcome that and relish that. I’m always trying to push my boundaries out.”

Wilson is already thinking about what comes next after her tour ends. She’s formulating and developing an idea for an interactive storytelling tour and will continue writing when the mood hits her.

“I’m going to continue experimenting and moving ahead as long as I continue to enjoy it all,” she says. “I’m never going to become old and stale and do the same thing over and over. That’s not who I am.”

Catch Ann Wilson with Jeff Back at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on Monday, August 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35-$75, and can be purchased at
www.wolftrap.org. Learn more about Wilson at www.annwilsonofheart.com.

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

kina_grannis

Music Picks: August 2018

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1

Kina Grannis and Imaginary Future
High school sweethearts turned singing and songwriting power couple Kina Grannis and Imaginary Future (Jesse Epstein) are bringing their soft acoustic sounds to the Birchmere stage this summer. I expect them to perform a decent amount of duets together (they have quite a few),  and a few covers of other popular songs you may know. Grannis, a YouTube success story, has found her own niche in the music industry after being signed to Interscope and becoming independent shortly after. In 2017 Grannis created KG records, a label supported entirely by her fans via Patreon. Her newest release  In the Waiting is the first album to debut on the label. If you’re a fan, especially one that donated to this project, I highly encourage you to come out and experience her new music in person. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25. The Birchmere Music Hall: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com

Victory
After just one listen to her cover of Feeling Good, I can see that Victory Boyd has rightfully earned the comparisons to the great Nina Simone. Her unique blend of folk, soul, and  jazz makes for a refreshingly new take on all three genres. The Detroit-born singer/guitarist got her start busking in NYC after her family relocated to a nearby New Jersey suburb. After making waves on social media from a video of her singing recorded by a passerby, her music caught Jay-Z’s eye and she was signed to Roc Nation. Her newest album The Broken Instrument should serve as an inspiration to any musician that aspires to showcase their art on a larger platform. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-$20. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3

Sons of Bill
The Sons of Bill mean their name in all seriousness. Aside from the bassist and the drummer, they really are the sons of Bill, a theology and Southern literature professor at the University of Virginia. Their father is also a musician and taught his three boys to sing and play guitar, and they like to talk about how they had to because they had no TV or radio otherwise growing up, but listen to their songs and you’ll hear that his lessons weren’t limited to chords only. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3 –  SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival 
Working Order Records and Black Cat are coming together to host Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival. What’s so great about this festival, besides the fact that it’s called a “Dark Music Festival” and features acts like Hante., Kontravoid, Crash Course in Science, and more is that 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold go to Greater DC Diaper Bank. The nonprofit accepts donations to help get families the supplies they need for their baby, as well as providing personal hygiene products to those in need. Go and rock out for a good cause. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $20-$35. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai
Australian folk guitarist and singer Stu Larsen and Japanese harmonica player Natsuki Kurai recently announced a world tour in support of their latest EP together, Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai II, which comes five years after their first together in 2013. The unlikely duo first connected nearly eight years ago when Larsen first adopted his vagabond lifestyle in 2010. They met in Tokyo, Larsen spoke no Japanese and Kurai spoke no English, but they connected over music. Doors are at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

Takenobu
This folk string duo features Nick Ogawa on cello and Kathryn Koch on violin, both of whom have wide ranging credits. Koch is a regular member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Ogawa tours with Kishi Bashi and composes for NPR’s “Invisibilia,” which probably explains the Takenobu style. They call their music folk, and thought there’s only two of them, their final sound is almost more like an orchestral take on folk, because of the live-looping they do. Doors are at 7 p.m. Entry is free with a suggested donation of $5. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Wayne Wonder
Bliss Nightclub is throwing an outdoor music festival featuring a live performance from Wayne Wonder, the man who gave us the ever-iconic “No Letting Go” in 2003. In this song’s 15 year existence, there has never been a moment when I’ve heard this song at a party or in a club that the mood didn’t immediately change to summer vacation romance and whoever was next to you when it came on became the love of your life for the next three minutes. I don’t know if he performs often, so don’t miss this. Gates open at 2 p.m. Show at 4 p.m. Tickets $30. Bliss Nightclub: 2122 24th Pl. NE, DC; www.blissdc.com

Yung Bae
This one is a show which some people never imagined might happen. Yung Bae is an artist who like so many of his future funk contemporaries, e.g. Saint Pepsi, got his start on YouTube and it was unclear whether it would ever go beyond that, but also, like Saint Pepsi, Yung Bae has started to take his show on the road, and that he’s playing Flash shows the caliber of his purely-for-fun, purely-for-dancing beats. Doors are at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

Zigtebra
At Slash Run, in addition to great burgers you can often find undersold touring band playing alongside some up and coming DC bands. This time it’s Zigtebra, a dream pop duo from Chicago with sound that’s like a somewhat spookier Postal Service. And playing with them is Stronger Sex, another duo, making experimental electronic. The show will also feature Lambda Celsius and visionary artist Katie Macyshyn. Slash Run: 201 Upshur St. NW, DC; www.slashrun.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 5

Summer Spirit Festival
The folks at Merriweather have brought together your favorite R&B, rap, hip-hop, and neo-soul artists to celebrate the summer. There’ something for everybody when you’ve got classics like Erykah Badu, Nas, The Roots and Backyard Band sharing a stage with newer artists like Lizzo, Daniel Caesar, Phony PPL and many more. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. Doors at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $108. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5

Christian Loffler
If Christian Loffler couldn’t find the beat, you might find him a bummer. Unlike his German contemporaries coming out of Berlin, Loffler grew up in a remote part of the country and had to teach himself to make electronic music on his own, which he began to do as a sort of escape from and deep dive into his surroundings. Throughout his music you can hear a sort of melancholy, almost like if Bon Iver remade For Emma, only this time as dance music. Doors are at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

Juice WRLD
Riding off the high of his single “Lucid Dreams” hitting #3 on the Billboard charts, 19-year-old Chicago rapper Jared Higgins (a.k.a. Juice WRLD) will be coming to Echostage. Based on the success of his debut singles added to the ability to hold his own on the freestyle he dropped for HOT 97 back in mid-July, it’s clear that Juice WRLD is poised to make his mark in the rap world. His style lies somewhat in the vein of the sadboi rap that’s been circulating the airwaves as of late, but I’m looking forward to seeing what new elements he can bring to the genre. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $30-130. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

Lunar Vacation
This indie quartet is so young and yet has a style that’s so throwback that you might think they’re someone else’s brainchild. And if you only were to see the band’s pictures you might have had enough at that point, but once you hear their music, it’s hard to turn away from something so unabashedly gorgeous. It’s like 90s throwback indie rock with the production values of dream pop bands Wild Nothing or Real Estate. Doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9

Rae Sremmurd, Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa recently caught some flak for his hyper-masculine take on why straight men shouldn’t eat bananas (hint: they’re too phallic for his liking), but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support my faves Rae Sremmurd who have never not given us a bop since their 2014 radio debut “No Flex Zone.”  The co-headliners will be supported by O.T. Genasis and Lil Skies. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets $28-$183. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.bristowamphitheater.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

Alice Bag
Comet Ping Pong is another one of those venues around town that’s doesn’t receive enough attention as a music venue. Not only are the pizzas and drinks good, but you can also find some good music. This time it’s Alice Bag, formerly of the Bags and an LA-punk scene legend by this point. The Bags broke up in the 80s, but she’s been Alice Bag ever since and her latest music lacks none of the fury she first earned a name for. Alongside her will be local bands Homosuperior and Faunas. Doors are at 10 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

Shakira
After postponing a majority of her tour in order to heal her strained vocal chords, Shakira is back in the U.S. for her El Dorado tour, named for her Latin Grammy winning (and Anglo Grammy nominated) 2017 album. Her newest single “Clandestino,” featuring frequent collaborator and fellow Colombian artist Maluma, is a smooth and summery reggaeton-tinged take on secret love. Shakira is a versatile artist who has an incredible resume. She’s acted in soap operas (and voice acted in Zootopia), served as a judge on the Voice, and had hit singles with both Rihanna and Beyonce on top of her own solo tracks, many of which she had a hand in writing. Plus, you just KNOW she has to do “Hips Don’t Lie,”  which you and I both know would be so fun to see and dance to live. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $86-$450. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11- SUNDAY, AUGUST 12

Moonrise Fest
Even though it’s out in Baltimore, it would be remiss of us to skip over one of the largest east-coast tours to come to this area every summer. Showcasing some of the best EDM, DnB, hip-hop and house acts, Moonrise “touches all corners of the dance floor”. The festival also features art installations and vendors, not to mention performances from Diplo, DJ Snake, Marshmello, Cashmere Cat, Vince Staples, Phantogram, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Gunna to name only a few. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. both days. Tickets $99-$274.50. Pimlico Race Course: 5201 Park Heights Ave. Baltimore, MD; www.moonrisefestival.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15 – THURSDAY, AUGUST 18

Rock and Roll Hotel 12th Anniversary
To honor more than a decade of existing as a performance space in the renowned H Street Corridor, the DC area venue is bringing together an eclectic mix of artists to perform. Nothing, nowhere. , Bat Fangs, The Messthetics, The Love Language, and Sparta will be performing all ages sets on separate nights at Rock and Roll Hotel to celebrate. Tickets $15-$20. See website for full list of times. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16

Casual War
I’m trying to find where the “casual” part of Casual War comes in. In the what they publish about themselves they seem nonchalant, judging from not heavily curated Instagram, or the title of their EP, Demo, but the music’s a different story. Led by a frontwoman with a voice reminiscent of Nightwish and Evanescence, their take on indie rock can be dark and heavy. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

Cup
I have to say, this is one of the shows I’m most excited about this month. Cup’s music is a garage punk, very reminiscent of 80s punk music, but with a more angular and experimental approach. The Queens-based band will play alongside DC’s own Bottled Up who continue to rise through DC’s music venues and Ontario-based three piece rock outfit, Bike Thiefs. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

Trombone Shorty and Galactic
I don’t know how much there is to be said about Trombone Shorty that The Anthem didn’t already say by featuring him as one of their first acts. But he’s not the only artist to be featured this night, not even the only one from New Orleans. New Orleans funk jam band Galactic as well as the Preservation Hall jazz band will perform as well, and no doubt there will be some set overlap. It should be a night of nonstop ecstatic music and outrageous musicianship. John Williams has nothing on this brass. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Vacationer
After a four-year hiatus, (I’m doing my best not to say vacation), Vacationer returned in 2018 with his latest record Mindset. The album artwork very much fits the spirit of the music. It pictures the silhouette of a head in profile which get smaller and smaller in concentric circles, or heads rather. It could be read as a topographical map and a matryoshka doll X-ray. It’s dreamy much like Vacationer’s synth and sample heavy tracks. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Crushnpain
This show was another unexpected find. Velvet Lounge is known for having great DJs, but often they play downstairs unannounced, but Crushnpain is getting the full billing this time. He’s a DC-based DJ, who from the sound of his shuffling drum and bass and his more deep house sounding tracks, I might have thought to find him at Flash, only he has no Resident Advisor page. But that only means you’ll be ahead of the curve. See him at Velvet Lounge because shortly he’ll get picked up elsewhere. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23

In The Whale / Company Calls
Colorado-based duo In The Whale is celebrating 7 years of making their high energy blend of garage rock by going on a massive U.S. tour until mid-October. During their time as a band the pair have graced stages at Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, AfroPunk, and Warped Tour (RIP). Their supporting act Company Calls hails from DC, was formed in ‘08, and shares its name with a Death Cab for Cutie song. Fun Fact: Someone from my old church youth group’s eldest sister is a member of the band, too. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 26

Cyrus Chestnut
I’m sure you’ve heard jazz before, and maybe you think once you’ve heard, you’ve heard enough, but seeing it live is another thing, especially seeing someone of Cyrus Chestnut’s caliber. Georgetown’s a trip to get to, but Blues Alley is worth it. It’s in an actual alley and when you find yourself in the line out the door, you’ll realize you’re somewhere special. Plus, the po’boys are fantastic. Bring some good company, have some good food and watch Chestnut shred in the Oscar Peterson school. Shows are at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Blues Alley: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.bluesalley.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 28

New Order
The incredibly iconic post punk outfit, born like a phoenix out of the ashes of Joy Division, embarks on a short tour this summer and DC is lucky enough to be a stop. See the band responsible for producing numerous 80s bops and influencing a pantheon of younger artists in the flesh at The Anthem. 8 p.m. show.Tickets start at $55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthem.com

Slaughter, Beach Dog
Modern Baseball came on the scene in 2012 and shortly established themselves as one of the most dominant pop punk bands on the scene. But this is not them, this is the solo project Modern Baseball guitarist and vocalist, Jake Ewald. Ewald released his second record under the name in 2017. It’s less pop and less punk, and a little more straight forward gorgeous indie songwriting, somewhat like a tamed AJJ. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30

Lucki
Chicago-native Lucki was on the vanguard of today’s alterna-trap/mumble rap sound back when he was going by Lucki Eck$ in 2013. Since then, he’s collaborated with artists like FKA twigs, Chance The Rapper, King Krule and Danny Brown. After a series of setbacks and taking a hiatus from making music in 2018, Lucki is back posting new music on SoundCloud and working on new projects, the latest of which is a series of singles and his DAYS B4 II EP.  Though he’s only 21, I can tell he’s an artist that’s confident in his sound and style, and committed to re-distinguishing himself in the genre that many would argue he had a hand in making popular. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-$50. Union Stage:  740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Uzi Vert, G-Eazy
I’m going to be honest here and say that I was confused when I saw this lineup and was under the impression that G-Eazy was the headliner on this tour. According to Rolling Stone though, these three are co-headlining, which I can accept (even though we all know it should be Lil Uzi or even Ty Dolla $ign off the strength of his features alone). YBN Nahmir, P-Lo and DJ Murda Beatz will also perform at this show, which is sure to be a nonstop party from start to finish. Doors at 6:30 p.m.. Tickets $33-$160. Jiffy Lube Live:  7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.bristowamphitheater.com

Photo: Jolie Loren Photography
Photo: Jolie Loren Photography

A Q&A with Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins

For more than 20 years, John Driskell Hopkins has crafted country music hits garnering worldwide praise and respect. Popularly known for his role as one of the founding members of the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band, Hopkins has many tricks up his sleeve that may come as a surprise to the occasional country listener. While on the road during their seventh tour, which stops in DC at the Nationals Park, Hopkins opened up to On Tap about his new John Driskell Hopkins Band, burdens of balancing his life, and his deep roots in performing that led to his self-proclaimed and widely accepted title of entertainer.

On Tap: Hi John! How are things with the Down the Rabbit Hole Tour?
John Driskell Hopkins: So far so good. We’ve been playing a lot of baseball stadiums, which is really exciting. Have you gotten to see many shows at a baseball stadium? It’s really neat because you get to set up back in the outfield and the whole thing seems to be built just for this scenario, but it’s not. Especially the ones with open air. It’s like an amphitheater but beautiful. I just think they’re perfect for concerts.

OT: What’s the meaning behind Down the Rabbit Hole?
JDH: Well, I think it’s really an opportunity to dip into our past and take chances. And of course it may mean different things to different people, like the Alice in Wonderland connection for some folks, but we’re trying to explore our input and our musical nature. We really want to share what’s next for us.

OT: What’s your favorite baseball stadium for performing?
JDH: I think it’s Fenway Park. No offense to any other stadiums, but that’s one of the oldest. I mean Fenway and Wrigley have this incredible history and a lot of these newer parks, like SunTrust, which might be one of the newest parks in the country, is really cool too, but it hasn’t been around long enough to have that kind of nostalgia. All these great players have been through here for so many years. Plus, Boston is a really neat town. They are really receptive to the band and it’s been a great thing to be a part of.

OT: Congrats on the new Brighter Shades Studios.
JDH: Thank you! We’re on the cover of Mix Magazine for the Class of 2018 New Studios. It’s been a really great opportunity to get some cool things recorded up there.

OT: How long have you wanted your own studio?
JDH: I’ve had my own studio for twenty years but it’s been in different spots. They’ve been in warehouses, preexisting studios, guest rooms, three car garages. But this is a great spot because I know I won’t have to move around anymore and I can let it grow, develop and vibe over the next few years. It’s something I’ve really pursued outside of playing live.

OT: Have you hosted other artists there yet?
JDH: My drummer, Mike Rizzi, just finished recording his record up there, and we did some recording for Darrell Scott, who is a big friend of the Zac Brown Band and of mine.

I’m taking on projects that are personal to me, outside of the ones that I do. So if it’s something that someone else is a part of, then it has to be something that I am connected to personally. But otherwise, it is an opportunity for me to do more. I’ve done a Christmas album up there. I’m working on my original record now and I did all the stuff for the movie that we’re featured in as well. So it really is a great spot to work and be creative and host things that are dear to me, like the John Driskell Hopkins Band.

OT: What will the John Driskell Hopkins Band reveal that we don’t get from you in the Zac Brown Band?
JDH: I think the folks that follow me personally know what to expect already, but the Zac Brown fans need to understand what’s going on. They can expect a singer/songwriter that speaks from the heart and does more Americana than country. But also, I kinda grew up in a bunch of rock bands so this may be a little more aggressive than they might expect.

OT: Did you say you’ll be on the big screen this fall?
JDH: Yes, this movie called Adolescence is a really cool independent film directed by Ashley Avis. I was able to have a small part in it, but more exciting for me was being able to write a bunch of the songs that are featured in the movie.

OT: What’s the movie about?
JDH: It’s about a coming-of-age for a kid who comes from a broken home and he gets mixed up in some bad stuff and then finds his way back out. Then a relationship forms with a girl that he’s involved with during that time.

He’s not a typical adolescent, like most kids in a stable environment, so it’s kind of an interesting twist on the word. But it’s a cool picture and I think it is very well acted, very well written and I like being a part of stuff like that.

OT: What role did you play?
JDH: I was a biker, who also happened to be the lead singer of a band [laughs], which was easy for me to jump into. He’s actually the lead singer of a fictional band named the Bloody Wolves of Venice, which we will use to put out EPs for the movie.

OT: How did you get connected with the film?
JDH: Well, I have a theater degree from Florida State, so I’ve looked to get into movies and things since I graduated. Actually, just before joining Zac Brown Band, I was in a play called Lost Highway.

I’ve always loved acting, I grew up in musical theater in high school and was really involved on stage for a long time.

OT: What were some plays you remember having a role?
JDH: We had a crazy program. We probably did 10 shows a year, and two of them were always full-scale musicals. So I was in all kinds of stuff like Godspell, Pippin, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Odd Couple; I can’t even remember them all.

OT: What was it like creating songs for Adolescence?
JDH: Well, this was my first time ever writing something based on a script. Most of the time my songs are based on my experience, and I guess I borrowed from my experiences a bit for Adolescence.

I think this project really gave me an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. To go write based on a script, like having to put myself in the place of the character as I write, was kind of cool.

OT: Was it a struggle writing for this character?
JDH: Well, my character is a lot more aggressive than I am. I guess some of those feelings and emotions are still present in me but from an angst driven, rock and roll youth, so I was able to revisit those feelings by putting in lyrics that had to do with his character. It was kind of a merging of the two artistic endeavors and I would love to do more of that.

OT: Will we be seeing you in more films?
JDH: Hopefully, but I rarely have the time to spare for rehearsals and shooting.

OT: How are you balancing your time with everything now?
JDH: It’s my biggest obstacle. I have a wife and three daughters at home who I need very desperately to spend time with when I’m there. So during the summer we go to the pool a lot. We try to go to the lake or beach and just to do things together. When they’re in school and kept from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., that’s when I get my studio work done.

As far as taking on new movie roles, it has to be very specific. It’s hard because I generally never go more than four days without needing to be somewhere. It’s not very common for me to have two weeks to be a part of a shoot. So that’s the obstacle, but fortunately these opportunities occasionally materialize in many ways and hopefully other opportunities will present themselves.

You can see John Driskell Hopkins with the Zac Brown Band on Friday, July 27 at the Nationals Park. Tickets start at $43, and are available here.

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

Photo: Shervin Lainez
Photo: Shervin Lainez

Lindsey Stirling Shows She’s More Than A Violin Player

It’s not often someone known primarily for her masterful violin skills crosses over to the mainstream pop charts, but Lindsey Stirling is no ordinary star.

Highly skilled in dance, art and of course, her string instrument of choice, the 31-year-old innovative musician bolted to fame thanks to a series of choreographed violin performances on her personal YouTube channel a few years ago.

“The classical arts aren’t appreciated as they once were, so I think it’s exciting that I’m able to put my own twist on it,” Stirling says. “It’s a huge part of the arts that shouldn’t be forgotten and I bring to light classical elements with what I do, and brings to light the violin to people who maybe never thought they would love it.”

She found success with the release of her 2012 self-titled debut album and two other critically acclaimed works followed, including a popular holiday collection was released last year. She’s also won two Billboard Music Awards and finished second on last year’s Dancing With the Stars.

“There was this really cool moment when I was offered to play a show in Italy and my parents came with me and when we arrived, there were all these posters with my face on it, and it was the weirdest thing to realize these people in this small Italian town were looking forward to seeing me,” she says. “People were asking for autographs and giving me fan art and I just knew my life had changed.”

On July 24, Stirling will co-headline a show with Evanescence at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, both sets backed by a full orchestra.

“It’s something different from anything I have ever done on tour before, and that makes it really fun,” she says. “It’s been fun to reinvent the music and have it all orchestrated and it will be this cool fusion between live orchestra, rock elements and electronic elements all mixed together. That’s going to make it pretty magical.”

Stirling is excited to be coming back to the area, associating it with the first time she ever had Sweetgreen, her favorite restaurant, and is even more eager to be sharing this tour with Evanescence, as she considers herself a huge fan of Amy Lee and the band behind “Bring Me to Life.”

“I’m going to guest on Amy’s set and she will be on my set for a song as well,” Stirling says. “I have been a fan of hers for years and I wrote a song years ago with her in mind to sing it, but she wasn’t able to because she was on maternity leave, but I think it put me in the back of her mind that we should work together someday. She reached out a year ago and I played on their new album with the song ‘Hi-Lo’ and the reaction of the fans was just unbelievable.”

Touring throughout the summer at amphitheaters like Jiffy Lube Live has been a blast, she says, and she enjoys the “summer vibe” of people coming together as families and enjoying picnics and creating a more personal concert experience.

Although Stirling has been dancing and playing violin since she was little, her aspirations in college was towards a career in film.

“By the time I hit college, I was a little burnt out with music and didn’t know how I felt about the classical violin thing anymore, so I ended up studying film, which was another passion of mine,” she says. “I used to have editing software and was a real nerd about creating my own videos.”

She found the music and film worlds combined really seamlessly, which helped her become one of YouTube’s first breakout artists.

“One art really led the other and it allowed me to not only use my violin skills but also showcase it in a way that was really unique,” Stirling says.

Since then, she had a song on the soundtrack of Pete’s Dragon and also scored a song for a video game and hopes to get more involved with more scores in the years ahead.

Once her tour ends, Stirling will start writing some new music but is also going to pick up where she left off on a theatrical musical she started writing last year.

“I want to focus on that and maybe go to New York and really work on that for a while,” she says. “Until then, I am going to just enjoy this tour. I love putting on a show and anyone who comes out will have a fun time.”

Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence are set to play at Jiffy Lube Live on July 24. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $18.

Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; 703-754-6400; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live

courtney-barnett

Music Picks: July 2018

FRIDAY, JULY 6

Pusha T
The first time I heard about Daytona, the new Pusha T record, was at work. Everyone was talking about the seven-song album – and even the guy who never tweets had to tweet about it. The record is entirely produced by Kanye West, which may rub you the wrong way; however, this side of the studio booth may be better place for him at this point, and he entirely leaves the verses to King Push. The record is a crisp 21 minutes long, but fire from start to finish. This is the album we’ve been waiting for since the 2015 teaser Darkest Before Dawn. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

Shy Glizzy
Southeast DC’s own Shy Glizzy is coming to the Fillmore to remind y’all that the Young Jefe still runs things. His summer single “Do You Understand?” featuring Gunna and Tory Lanez premiered last month, and it’s one of the smoother beats he’s taken to rapping over, similar to the track “Dope Boy Magic” from 2017 release Quiet Storm. He may be slowing down the tempo of his music, but he’s keeping high momentum with constant releases, and I’m anxiously waiting to see what’s next for him. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $30-$100. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

Steve Bug
Steve Bug has been on the scene since 1991. That’s before I was even born, and yet his grooves have yet to grow tiresome. Born Stefan Brugesch in Germany, he’s become known over his career as the “Gentleman of Techno” for his professionalism, dependability and consistent sets. His body of work continues to strengthen with 2018’s Paradise Sold, a collaboration with Langenberg, another guru of the German deep house scene. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

SATURDAY, JULY 7

Airøspace
Airøspace, the Southeast DC raised MC, is one we’ve been waiting for– at least those of us spending too much time listening to lo-fi beat tapes, as the instrumental tapes tend to grow stale quite quickly though, but he gives them the breath they need. Not all his tracks are lo-fi, though. On his latest release Hitagi, Vol. 3.1, you can find tracks that cull together a range of influences from trap to OSTs. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

Honey
DC rock trio Honey has a sound that’s much fuller than their lineup of guitar, drums and bass alone might lead you to think. I got to play with them once and what I realized is they are perfectly balanced; none of the voices are competing with one another. The chorus heavy guitar gives a real sense of depth, allowing the melodies in both the bass and vocals to stand out and the drums fill in the space between. From that show at Looking Glass Lounge to their EP release, they’ve come a long way in a short while. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $8. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SUNDAY, JULY 8

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary Tour
For fans of hip hop and neo-soul, Lauryn Hill is a household name, along with Erykah Badu and D’Angelo. Hill’s debut record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill propelled her to international stardom in a way no one could have predicted. Twenty years later, Hill is touring the record most responsible for her enduring legacy once again. Her live shows have been said to lack the swagger you hear on the record, but hopefully the Hill from the studio will show up for this one. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Rd. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com

Rodriguez Jr.
Rodriguez Jr. is the latest project from south of France native Olivier Mateu. Previously he’s made music with the Youngsters, but Rodriguez Jr. seems to be the best iteration of his production yet. He makes dance music informed by both vintage synthesizers and avant-garde western art music, from Satie to Stockhausen. The latter influences are not clear, given how danceable the music is. Maybe they’re related in an emotional sense, but I find Rodriguez Jr. as more of a cinema-informed electronic musician. Doors at 4 p.m. Tickets $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

MONDAY, JULY 9

The Octopus Project
The Octopus Project, if you couldn’t tell from the name, are an incredibly hipster group, as hipster as the Wes Anderson movies their music videos feel inspired by. That said, I’m excited for these psychedelic rockers to come through DC. From Austin, Texas, they describe themselves as indietronica for the number of synthesizers they use and their role in shaping the sound – though it’s a label which only becomes apparent after you hear it spoken. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $13. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC;
www.unionstage.com

WEDNESDAY JULY 11

Dent May
The “softest boy in Mississippi” is bringing “Across the Multiverse” to our neck of the woods this month on his tour supported by singer, guitarist Shannon Lay. This is his first release since making the move to Los Angeles, and for the label Carpark Records; he was previously signed to Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label for his debut album in 2009. Across the Multiverse provides some chill, beachy summer vibes and May knows it. He even added some beer cozies and SPF 15 ChapStick to his merch offerings to emphasize the feeling, or perhaps as a nod to his own habit of applying lip balm every five minutes. Upon first listen to his newest album, this multi-instrumentalist, producer and self-described hotel bar lounge singer, gives me Elton John vibes with leading track “Hello Cruel World,” though his haircut and specs may have solidified that comparison a little more than I’d like to admit. Nevertheless, it’ll be a great show. 8 p.m. Tickets $12. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

SATURDAY JULY 14

Now, Now
After a few years of self-discovery and a battle with writer’s block, KC Dalager and Brad Hale (a.k.a. Now, Now) are back with their most heartfelt and personal album yet. Saved is the follow up to the almost five-year radio silence after Threads, a record that earned them a coveted slot performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012. I’m going to be completely transparent here and say I assumed this band had broken up before hearing of this show, but I’m glad to hear the duo’s new music. “SGL” and “Yours” are the standout tracks from the album, but “Know Me” depicts the evolution of the band’s sound, while hearkening back to the hollow production and airy vocals that made their first impression on me on the Neighbors EP. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SUNDAY, JULY 15

Halsey
You know her, you love her and you probably hear her singing whenever you enter a store geared to people under 30 or turn on the radio. Halsey is coming to Wolf Trap on the North American leg of her worldwide tour for her 2017 release “hopeless fountain kingdom,” which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 this time last year. Jessie Reyez is joining her on a majority of the U.S. dates, which makes a lot of sense because they both have a similar rawness to their lyrics, and feature a comparable vocal tone, despite being categorized as pop music artists. I’m looking forward to seeing what other surprises Halsey has in store for us, too. 8 p.m. Tickets $40-$80. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1645 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Outer Spaces
Balitmore-based Outer Spaces may be the headliner here, but this show includes a couple different acts, including DC’s Bacchae and Los Angeles-based Goon. Look for the post-punk band about as wild the revelry their name, ahem Bacchae, suggests. Goon’s provides a more downtempo way to follow up, but their songs are lush, even if not so Dionysian. Outer Spaces are more straight forward indie pop, but don’t let that be a deterrence; they’re the reason to be there. 9 p.m. Tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

Wild Moccasins
Could you start a band with the person you love? Could you be in a relationship with them for a decade all while keeping the band together? Could you end that relationship amicably and remain bandmates that still co-write songs that may or may not be about each other and/or your potential new flames, and then go on tour together? Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann could, in fact that’s exactly the basis of their new release Look Together that debuted on June 29. Just the backstory alone made me give them a listen, but their glamorous, catchy, synth-filled pop kept me around. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18

Jake Clemons
Saxophone player Jake Clemons comes to DC not too long after finishing up a tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That’s right, Jake Clemons is none other than the nephew of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, and he’s been performing in his stead since 2012, even playing his “Jungleland” solo. But the younger Clemons has his own music as well and released a solo record in 2017 titled Fear & Love. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Slum Village
If you’re surprised about this show, don’t worry, I was too. I had no idea Slum Village was still slumming. The group, now comprised of Young RJ and T3 are touring their 2018 release The Lost Scrolls, which contains previously unreleased “relics” from the twenty-year-old classic Fantastic Vol. 2. Of course, Young RJ was not part of the crew back then; however, T3 was, and Young RJ was mentored by Slum Village original J Dilla. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $22. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

TUESDAY, JULY 19

Mourn
Three things come across in Mourn’s music videos: they’re very young, they’re very punk and they’re unabashedly Spanish. The quartet comes from Barcelona. In fact, they recently released a song “Barcelona City Tour,” one of the three singles released in anticipation of their latest record, Sorpresa Familia. From the music videos to the singles, you can tell the quartet finally has a bit of cash flow, and with that you can feel they’ve really come into their own. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SATURDAY JULY 21

Deafheaven
This California-based sometimes duo, other times full band, makes a beautiful marriage of metal and shoegaze. The band has been camped out in Oakland recording their highly anticipated fourth studio album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Their live shows are known for being so intense, they’ve inspired fans to leap onstage and lick frontman George Clarke’s shoes, so if that’s something you might be into here’s your chance to make it happen. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SUNDAY JULY 22

DC101 Kerfuffle: Fall Out Boy, Rise Against, Awolnation, AJR, Robert DeLong, Mt. Joy, L.I.F.T.
DC101’s annual Kerfuffle returns with another stacked lineup. With legends like Fall Out Boy (who recently joined us here in DC to celebrate the Caps during the playoffs) and Rise Against, to the next great voices in alt-rock like AJR and Mt. Joy, there’s something for all music lovers at this all-day affair. Doors at 12:30 p.m., show begins 1:30 p.m. Tickets $55-$95. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

MONDAY, JULY 23

Del Florida
Del Florida, so far as I can tell, has almost little or nothing to do with Florida, and that’s ok. The half-neo soul, half-dream pop act was formed in Liverpool, and is now based in DC. The group is carried by the powerful pipes of lead vocalist Leela Dawson and the funky rhythm guitar. DC based Bottled Up will open for the group. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

TUESDAY JULY 24

Courtney Barnett
While one of her most biting lyrics may be “put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,” we’re sure you won’t be disappointed by Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett live. She returns in support of her incredible sophomore album Tell Me How You Really Feel. While her collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice with fellow folk rocker Kurt Vile brought her to the District in 2017, we’re excited to see Barnett’s solo guitar slaying and acerbic lyrics when she headlines The Anthem solo. Joined by Julien Baker and Vagabon, don’t miss out on this night of incredible talent. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $40-$60. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

WEDNESDAY JULY 25

Echo & the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes
Two iconic 80s acts join forces on the same bill for one retro night. What better way to cure your mid-week blues than by trekking to The Anthem on a Wednesday to sing along to classics like “The Killing Moon” and “Blister in the Sun”? Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $55-$75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

THURSDAY JULY 26

Shannon & the Clams
Cal Arts student turned bass guitarist Shannon Shaw and her band are bringing their 60s inspired psychedelic pop to DC for the release of their fifth album Onion, supported by Big Huge and Australian experimental pop band Gauche. Of the title track and album name, Shaw says, “I had this epiphany that was likening an onion to being human and how you’re nothing without layers of experience. Each time you have an experience it creates another layer in the onion […] Each song on this album is about problem-solving and having realizations about yourself.” 7 p.m. Tickets $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

FRIDAY, JULY 27

Frass Green
The bio for Frass Green on Spotify simply reads “joe tyler matt antonio,” which is about as opaque as their music or their artwork. But this lo-fi dream pop act is DC based and quite young. Joe Antoshak is the lead songwriter and began the project in his garage, the quality of which still seems to come through in the music. Be sure to check out their garage rockabilly tunes as they climb the ladder of DC venues. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $13. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Glue Factory
What I like about the lead single off DC band Glue Factory’s debut record S/T is the contrast between what’s being said and what you’re hearing. First there’s the post-punk verse, which feels good, even if it feels familiar, but then it goes into a similarly familiar chorus. It’s more melodic and more pop, but still has the feel-it-in-your-bones punk element. At the same they’re singing about having “maggots in your eyes.” I never thought I would be lulled into singing those words. The show also features Positive No and Warm Sun. Doors at 10 p.m. Tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

SATURDAY JULY 28

David Byrne
If you missed the Talking Heads frontman at his sold-out show at The Anthem in May, fear not! The icon is back and not to be missed. I was wildly lucky to catch him on the first run, and it was nothing short of magical. Byrne achieved setlist nirvana, with a healthy combination of solo songs, Talking Heads classics and more from his ever-growing catalogue. If you’re still not convinced, every ticket purchased online for David Byrne includes a CD of the new album American Utopia. You’ll receive instructions via email on how to redeem your album shortly after ticket purchase. Plus, he’s supported by Benjamin Clementine, who just happens to have the voice of an angel. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $60-$130. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SUNDAY JULY 29

Lightmare
From their first show at Looking Glass Lounge (with the aforementioned Honey), Lightmare has had a quick ascendancy on the DC scene. The six-person, soul-punk arrangement will ask if you’ve ever been in love and if you wonder where the wild things are, and then prompt you to look for their debut record soon thereafter. The show also features the Prabir Trio and Wooden/Apple/Heart. The Richmond based trio writes psych-rock rooted in the Beatles “drenched in enough Tequila to make it slouch,” while Wooden/Apple/Heart is another DC band with an innovative take on folk. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $10. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

Warped Tour
I feel old as hell writing about the absolute last Warped Tour in history. I never got to experience the magic of Warped when I was a teenager and then it would’ve mattered more to me, but if this particular music scene was ever important to you, you should come out for this bittersweet last hurrah. Close the book on your teen angst the right way with bands like Simple Plan, 30H!3, The Maine, Mayday Parade, Four Year Strong and August Burns Red with many, many more. Doors at 11 a.m. Tickets $39-$55. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 1

Rico Nasty
One of the most exciting new rappers to rise out of the DMV is none other than Rico Nasty. She’s a versatile artist with a killer fashion sense and several aliases who pioneered her own sound called Sugar Trap, which is sweet as pie and tough as nails at the same time. She takes inspiration for her music from many genres, citing Slipknot as one of her influences, and using piano samplings that eerily resemble Vanessa Carlton’s iconic “1000 miles” in one of her older tracks “Brandon.” Her show at the Fillmore is one of the first few on her “Nasty” tour, and this album marks her first release after signing with Atlantic last month. This is a can’t miss show, so come out and see her live because I already know it’s gonna be “Poppin.” Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $20-$50. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

THURSDAY AUGUST 2

Father John Misty
For those not familiar with his career, Josh Tillman went from unassuming Fleet Foxes drummer to sweet and understated solo artist before exiting whatever weird cocoon he had to live in to become his alter ego Father John Misty. Say what you will about his general attitude and reputation for making headlines throughout the blogosphere for his caustic comments – the man can write a damn good song. His most recent album God’s Favorite Customer sees him breaking character and getting a bit more personal. We’re still not entirely sure what to expect from this show, other than the excitement of knowing anything’s possible with this enigmatic and abrasive artist. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets $45-$55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group
Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Music Venues with a View

It’s no secret that DC is home to some of the best music venues in the country, attracting local to international acts and packing concert halls with fans every night of the week. Besides booking amazing talent, these venues provide beautiful spaces for music fans to congregate. From Frank Gehry-designed outdoor music meccas like Merriweather Post Pavilion to the retro-inspired personal touches of Villain & Saint, we picked a handful of our favorite spots offering more to look at than just the bands onstage.

9:30 Club

Photo: D-Hi aka Donnie G

Photo: D-Hi aka Donnie G

When celebrating 9:30 Club’s 35th anniversary, owner Seth Hurwitz had the idea to create a library of records of bands that had headlined the iconic venue in chronological order based on the album they had toured on. While initially part of their anniversary celebration, the visceral reactions the Hall of Records caused was enough to clear out part of the venue and make it a permanent installation.

“The time, effort and metal work put into the installation made it obvious that it couldn’t just be a one-week experience, especially when we saw the way people reacted to it,” says I.M.P. Communications Director

Audrey Fix Schaefer. The installation continues to draw visitors to the club, allowing them to reconnect with artists and reminisce on shows 9:30 has hosted over the years. 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Chrysalis Theatre

Photo: Richie Downs

Photo: Richie Downs

In partnership with the nonprofit Inner Arbor Trust, this gorgeous green structure tucked in the woods on Merriweather Post Pavilion’s Symphony Woods property – just 200 yards from the main stage – is a venue by day and lighted sculpture by night.

The Marc Fornes-designed stage is modeled after, you guessed it, a chrysalis, and is made of 4,000 aluminum sheets. While Chrysalis hosts events and concerts with a special focus on family-friendly and communty programming, it’s completely open for use when not hosting an event.

By day, you can sit, read a book, and enjoy the beautiful greenery of the space. By night, you can check out the captivating lights embedded within the structure. 10431 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.innerarbortrust.org

Gypsy Sally’s Vinyl Lounge

Photo: Josh Brick

Photo: Josh Brick

Gypsy Sally’s vinyl lounge is “a bit of a mystery,” according to owner David Ensor.

“The Vinyl Lounge is designed to be a getaway,” he says. “As you enter from the main room or back door, you are greeted by an orange 70s VW van in an all-white room with black curtains.”

The eclectic outpost within the Georgetown music venue features a wide range of acts and a retro feel.

“When you reach the end of the darkened red hallway to your left, you find a brightly lit, small stage flanked by a bright red bar,” Ensor continues. “The long, light gray wall ahead is hung with various sized of photographs of the Grateful Dead. It’s a place to explore, scratch your head and wonder what the hell you just walked into.” 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Photo: Danielle Lavis Photography

Photo: Danielle Lavis Photography

The roof of the Frank Gehry-designed outdoor amphitheater collapsed from tempestuous winds this past winter. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the new and improved roof is now ready for Merriweather’s summer season.

“Once you learn everyone’s okay, it just becomes a mechanic’s job,” says I.M.P.’s Audrey Fix Schaefer. “The roof fell on Saturday, and by Sunday, we were in our offices with new plans.”

While the roof is ready for outdoor concert season and lends an even better view to concertgoers with lawn seats, visiting artists also have a top-of-the-line experience in store for them. Recent renovations to the venue also include a 40,000-square-foot backstage area modeled after a 1950s motel that’s able to accommodate up to 10 bands – complete with a pool, cabanas and an onsite masseuse for visiting performers. 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

Pearl Street Warehouse

Photo: Joy Asico

Photo: Joy Asico

The multi-use space is one of three music venues that now occupy District Wharf, but its layout and design make it totally unique.

“We built a convertible space featuring garage doors that can open up the venue to the diner area, or close it off for a private event,” say owners Bruce Gates and Nick Fontana. “We also have the ability to open the doors to Pearl Street, creating an outdoor space where we can interact with the community and people exploring The Wharf, exposing them to great live music. “

The inviting space also features an upstairs seating area for a great vantage point during a live show. 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Rock & Roll Hotel

Photo: John Shore

Photo: John Shore

The intimate H Street venue has some spooky vibes, due in part to the fact that it used to be a funeral home. While that didn’t necessarily inspire the design, you can still see its influence in the dark, plush atmosphere of the three-level space. It’s also one of the few music venues in the country to offer a rooftop deck, enticing concertgoers to grab a bite before and after shows and providing a neighborhood hangout for H Street residents.

“We knew how unique it would be to have a music venue with a rooftop deck in DC – a first,” says co-owner Steve Lambert. “We wanted a space that was open year-round where people could socialize without having to go to the concert hall or to the DJs on the second floor.” 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Villain & Saint

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Owned by local chef Robert Wiedmaier, this Bethesda venue and restaurant takes a “music first, food second” approach to everything that’s done in its 60s and 70s-inspired space.

“It’s comfortable, worn-in and reminiscent of a bygone era, like Keystone Korner in San Francisco,” Wiedmaier says. “It feels familiar. When you walk into a place like Villain & Saint, you can tell a lot of acts have come through. It’s a place [where] musicians would hang out if they were not performing.”

He notes framed artwork of legendary musicians, a saloon-style bar and gramophone “horns” from England turned into lighting fixtures as some of the venue’s most unique design accents. 7141 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.villainandsaint.com

Wolf Trap’s Filene Center

Photo: Courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Photo: Courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap’s programming is as one-of-a-kind as its setting. The venue is also a national park, nestled into the lush forests of Northern Virginia, and is easily accessible to DMV residents.

“Every aspect of the pavilion is designed to enhance the experience for artists and audiences,” says Wolf Trap President and CEO Arvind Manocha about the Filene Center. “I think the extensive use of natural materials, like the Douglas fir, coupled with the setting – nestled in over 100 acres of permanently protected lands, including rolling hills and a forest complete with walking trails and ponds – makes Wolf Trap an urban oasis.” 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Photo: Courtesy of Knox Hamilton
Photo: Courtesy of Knox Hamilton

Knox Hamilton Breezes Through DC

Knox Hamilton’s vibe isn’t what you’d immediately expect from a band out of Little Rock, Arkansas. But the three bandmates aren’t claiming to play traditional Southern music. Instead, they’re drawing from all of their influences to make something modern and new.

“I think just like any band, our sound comes from combining the taste and styles of all the individual personalities in the band,” said lead singer Boots Copeland. “We grew up on 70s, 80s and 90s pop, and some of our biggest influences are The Killers, The Beatles, Michael Jackson [and] Mew.”

The band’s current tour, which brings them to Gypsy Sally’s on July 19, is called “The Beach Boy Tour.” In their photos, the musicians are decked out in brightly patterned Hawaiian shirts. There’s also a palm tree in their band logo, and their music is often referred to as “breezy.”

Knox Hamilton exploded onto the national scene in 2014 with their single “Work It Out” from their EP How’s Your Mind. The earwormy song climbed the charts, spread all over the radio and has now been streamed on Spotify almost 8 million times. When the tune became a hit, the band members were still working day jobs in Little Rock.

“We’d been writing for fun, just for friends and family to hear, but never tried to release anything like that,” Copeland said. “‘Work It Out’ felt like the one that could get some traction though. It’s still surreal to know that so many people have heard it all over the world. Crazy.”

Part of what makes Knox Hamilton work is the fact that there’s another Copeland in the band: Boots’ brother Cobo on drums. The two share an unspoken connection that helps to guide and shape the band’s unique sound and rhythms. Their dad was a Pentecostal preacher, and the boys played music in his church growing up. Their mom was also a singer, so music came naturally.

“We’ve been making our own music together since we could pick up drumsticks and guitars.”

The band has a new EP coming out this month, full of new songs with the signature Knox Hamilton sound. The first two singles, “Trade My Trips” and “Video Sunshine,” are already making waves. Their songwriting process is a collaborative one, Copeland said, also involving guitarist Drew Buffington.

“Typically, one of us will bring an idea for a song to the table and the band will put our collective Knox Hamilton sheen on it.”

The band’s live show has evolved since the early days, Copeland said, confessing that watching early footage of the band’s live performances is “cringeworthy.”

“We’ve gotten a lot more comfortable onstage.”

For the band members, who are now husbands and fathers, the touring life still takes some getting used to. When asked how they were prepping for the upcoming tour, Copeland joked that they were doing “a lot of push-ups.”

“It definitely takes our old man band about a week to get our sea legs,” he said.

The life of this indie band may not be as “glamorous” as that of other rockers, but their relatability makes them even more likable. And Copeland doesn’t let the band’s humble vibe keep him from joking about the band’s fortunes as Knox Hamilton prepared to venture out once again on the road.

“After this tour, we will probably have made enough money to vacation in Fiji,” he said, “or at least Branson [Missouri] for an extended weekend.”

Catch Knox Hamilton at Gypsy Sally’s on Thursday, July 19. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15. Learn more about the band at www.knoxhamilton.com.

Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; 202-333-7700; www.gypsysallys.com