The 5×5 Songwriters Showcase Bethesda Lineup Announced

The 5×5 Songwriters Showcase Bethesda Lineup Announced

by Daniel Warren Hill

Alchemical Records Presents: The 5×5 Songwriting Showcase

Featuring musical performances by:

Elena Lacayo: https://www.elenalosfulanos.com/
Mike and Melinda Hamilton: http://mikehamiltonband.com
Jason Mendelson: http://jasonmendelsonmusic.com/
Petty Indulgences: https://www.pettyindulgences.net/
Master Sword: http://www.masterswordband.com/

The 5×5 Songwriting Showcase is a unique live event in that each event features an array of talent from around the Washington DC region. We film each live event in order to produce video and audio epsiodes which highlight each individual performer.

5x5 Songwriters Showcase featuring Elena Lacayo, Mike and Mel Hamilton, Master Sword, Petty Indulgences, and Jason Mendelson


About Elena Lacayo

Elena is frontwoman for Elena & Los Fulanos, a bilingual folk rock band based in Washington, DC. Since 2011, they have been creating music that’s from twangy, heartbreak-themed folk American, to soothing, introspective, violin-infused Latin rock. Influenced by front-woman Elena Lacayo’s experience growing up in two cultures (Nicaraguan and American), Elena & The Fulans creates a world where language and tradition meld with catchy melodies and inventive chords to enhance appreciation for diversity in an increasingly multi-cultural world. Their debut album, Poisonous Honey , earned a Washington Area Music Association (WAMMIE) nomination for Best Latin Recording in 2014 and their second album Volcano , (2017) has been hailed as”a bilingual folk album for the resistance” by the Washington City Paper .

About Mike and Melinda Hamilton

Melinda fell in love with the guitar at age 10. The folk/rock music of the 60s was perfect for learning to sing and play guitar. She loved the sounds of Peter, Paul, and Mary; Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Carol King, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. In the 70s and 80s she was heavily influenced by the group vocals performed by bands like The Beatles, The Eagles, CSNY and Fleetwood Mac. It was a magical time for music and formed the basis for her musical style. In 1981 she met Mike Hamilton and fell in love with his music. Melinda and Mike formed the bands Desire and No Doubt Crypto and were quite successful performing in the mid-Atlantic region throughout the 80s and early 90s.

Mike Hamilton grew up in Titusville, a small town in the mountains of Northwestern Pennsylvania. In the 1960s he was listening to Jimmy Rogers, the Carter Family, Hank Williams, Stanley Brothers, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the British Invasion. Mike started playing music in high school and formed a band and began writing songs. He formed the band DESIRE which evolved into the band NO DOUBT CRYPTO, recorded the NO DOUBT CRYPTO album featuring original music and founded the Joe Bag O’ Donuts (BMI) music publishing company. In the next decade he turned his talents to producing and engineering his own music and regional acts around the mid-Atlantic region. He was the chief engineer for Roar Productions Recording Studios in Columbia, Maryland and founded his own production company, BigHouse Productions. Mike opened Mission Road in 2003 to record his original music and engineer and produce projects for independent and regional releases.

Between 1995 and 2013 Mike and Mel recorded and released the following CDs: Beggars & Poets, Appalachia, Open Book and Pardon My Confusion, Can You Direct Me To The Other Side Of Nowhere?. In 2016, they released “2 Stupid 2 Lip Sink Chronicles”.

About Jason Mendelson

Jason Mendelson is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, infusing the history of each location with a musical flavor all its own. When he’s not playing electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez & the Hell Rojos, Maryjo Mattea & a Pile of Dudes, Motion Quotient, or Jonny Grave & the TombsTones, and has performed on stages all over the area, like the Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. Jason’s studio, An Undisclosed Location, is responsible for involvement in several local projects from bands like The Lucky So & So’s, The Iris Bell, the Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons & a Cheetah, and more.

In June 2019, Jason began releasing new music by way of a project simply called Scenes, which includes: “Where They Make Rum” as well as “Thief In The Night”.

About Petty Indlugences

Petty Indulgences formed in 2016 to play a benefit show supporting local artists in DC’s theater community. We stayed together because we love making music. Our goal always has been and always will be making the best music we can while telling stories that are too often left untold. Includes the talents of: Quique Cunningham on Lead Vocals & Effects, Phil Stack on Guitar, Christopher Herring on Percussion and Vocals, and Jam Grant on Bass and Vocals.

About Master Sword

A 5-piece American progressive power metal band inspired by music from The Legend of Zelda series, Master Sword celebrates Nintendo’s series in a way no one else ever has. Taking influence from an array of hard rock to progressive metal favorites, Master Sword has crafted tracks which uniquely capture the spirit of the games and molded that spirit into impressively rockin’ heavy metal tunes.

“If you like power metal you owe it to yourself to get down with the Master Sword.” – The Metal Observer

“If you are a Legend of Zelda fan, you owe it to yourself to check out Master Sword, even if you do not consider yourself a fan of rock or metal music. Zelda fans around the world have paid tribute to the works of Koji Kondo by putting their own spin on the music, and this is far more than just a rock version of the Zelda theme, or game music done with guitars.” – Christiana Skye/Script the Darkness

Following a successful kickstarter campaign, their first full-length album “Shadow and Steel” was released January 2, 2018. The band has presently launched a new Kickstarter campaign for their forthcoming Sophomore record: The Final Door.

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Daniel Warren Hill

Daniel Warren Hill is a songwriter, producer, and performer. He currently rocks guitar and vocals for Alt/Rock band YellowTieGuy, Produces, sings and mixes live video for Data Recovery Project, and lends his talents to Beach Boys Tribute Band “Back To The Beach”. When not performing, Daniel is actively engaged in family activities with his wife, two daughters, roommate,and dog. Daniel enjoys exploring creative and business outlets, spending time in nature, and is currently addicted to Star Trek Timelines.

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Wolfelt Discusses Inspiration Behind New Single “Wedding Day”

Wolfelt Discusses Inspiration Behind New Single “Wedding Day”

by Dylan Naumann

Quenton Clarke’s adolescence was surrounded by mountain ranges, fresh air, community, family, which was all encompassed by the intimate small-town aesthetic of Staunton, Virginia. Eventually coming-of-age, Quenton would end-up leaving the home to further his own endeavors – academically and artistically – by attending the University of Shenandoah. He traveled to Shenandoah with the idea of majoring in jazz piano. But as we all know college can be overwhelming process to say the least: the bonanza of degree programs to consider; the possible paternal burden of upholding linages, financial constraints, etc. All of those decisions and constraints are daunting, but ultimately, you have to step out and choose. Quenton decided to emerge the thought into the possible reality of trying out for jazz piano. But before any admittance into a university’s music program, there’s a pre-screening requirement that has to take place. In Quenton’s case – an audition. And unfortunately, he did not pass the audition.

Through the voice of failure Quenton continued onward with the idea of studying mass communications to eventually gain knowledge in music production. The idea carried throughout summer, up until he had a change of heart. A month out of from his first semester at Shenandoah,he decided to give the music program another shot. This time it’s an attempt to study music therapy. With no time to waste, he submits an audition video to the school. Rather trying to gain entry by playing piano, he instead submits a video that highlights his voice. Upon receiving the video, Shenandoah likes it and submits him into the program!

Wolfelt - Quenton Clarke

During his time at Shenandoah the musical project know as Wolfelt was born beyond Quenton’s aspirations. Named after the inspirational author and educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Quenton began composing electronic music to decompress. He wasn’t thinking anything of it at the time says Quenton – “It started as a way to decompress after the days of working in hospice.” At the time he needed a final project in order to pass the class. He declared his side project the one he would end up presenting during final presentations. The electronic compositions Quenton composed were a sonic representation of his personal experiences during his internship. He needed to figure how he wanted/how to perform Wolfelt to live audience. The previously gained knowledge from taking a MIDI class back in college, tinkering around with cheap MIDI controllers, learning Mainstage, and live looping on the fly gave him an enough fundamental information and experience to where he could figure the tedious processes to perform as an electronic artist. 

Tinkering your way through the muck of trial and error is a way to figure something out, but another way is through influence by the artists that are already doing it. Ingraining how they interpret the material, and through your learning you’ll find your own process of creating. Quenton did just that. He mentioned the names of artists such as: Animal Collective, Radiohead, Baths, and BinkBeats of who he looked up to in the realm of electronic music and alternative genres. Baths and BinkBeats were among the top of the list that shared a fair amount of influence for Quenton. Baths for example is known for his use of “unconventional” sound textures such as the clicking of pens or the snaps of scissors in his compositions. BinkBeats implements a rhythmic minimalistic feel to some degree within his compositions. The sounds BinkBeats uses from TV static or to a pair of air pumps puts him in the same spotlight as Baths by using “unorthodox” textures. But also puts a focal point on how he live loops the sounds. Those techniques implemented by those artists impacted Wolfelt’s compositions. When you listen to “Careful with your Confidence” (the second track on Haven), you’ll hear what appears to be a normal snare drum but you would be misled to think that. In fact, Quenton tells me that he was hitting a “bottle cap against a desk” to emulate a snare drum. “It was a different way to give off the texture of a snare without using one.”

I sat down with Quenton (actually leaning against a wall along Charles St.) before his album release show for Haven at the Metro Galley in Baltimore, MD. He was kind enough to tell me his story of how he got where he is today, and how his compositional process had developed over the years. 

As the evening progressed, Wolfelt’s performance showcased a couple of emotions that lingered with definition. One was a decadent, brooding landscape of ambience and the second was less on the introspective side-of-things, but more on the head-banging, move your feet till they hurt kind of vibe. The ability to contrast between the two – ambience and treading a measure –was refreshing to witness. Ambience alone, as a vehicle to texturize, can go a long way in adding substance to a composition. But it also carries the tendency to blur the other components of the song (melodic structure, harmony, tempo, etc.). Rather than complement, it can drive the song to an unfortunate repetitive annoyance. Wolfelt’s performance casted no annoyance whatsoever. The song “Wedding Day” – the single off the new album – for example, blossomed from a slow, wavy beginning, to an upbeat dance your socks off anthem. As the song started off, the crowd was hanging in the air with suspense as grainy, time lapsed noise (samples of conversations from a crowd) created a soundscape for an array of possibilities to come forth. The arrival of a melodic ostinato (a repeating sequence) came next and drove the song into the refreshing landmark of energy that featured head-banging and arms swaying. One of Wolfelt’s goals during a performance was to make people dance, as he tells me along Charles St. – “I just want people to come and dance!” He accomplished that goal, no doubt indeed. In fact, it was hard not to feel it when you glance up at the stage and the sight of Quenton dancing, just as much, if not more than anyone else in the audience, would inspire you to follow suit. 

The show Wolfelt put on had something for everyone – dancing, memorable melodies that anyone could hum/sing, inward-looking ambient moments, and of course the head banging –to take in and enjoy. Wolfelt is a must-see act to witness live, no questions about it. Watching Quenton scramble on stage to find the right button(s) to push on the MIDI controller, or to quickly, while keeping time, pick up the guitar to add texture is a sight in itself to witness – it’s an art form on top of an art form (inception!). As Quenton puts it – “the beauty of it all is trying to figure out how to perform it live!” 

Please give Wolfelt a follow-on Instagram or on Facebook to listen to his latest releases, and to catch where he’s playing next!

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Dylan Naumann

Dylan Naumann is a freelance musician, composer, writer, and improviser. Born and raised in Towson, Maryland, he’s currently finishing up his degree from Towson University for jazz commercial performance. He enjoys wondering around town, from local venue to venue, trying to find the inspiring sounds from local artists.

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Maryjo Mattea Releases 60’s Inspired Pop-Punk track “Candlelight and Roses”

Maryjo Mattea Releases 60’s Inspired Pop-Punk track “Candlelight and Roses”

by Daniel Warren Hill

Washington, DC-based songstress Maryjo Mattea just released “Candlelight and Roses”, which simultaneously evokes classic ’60s “wall of sound” vibes and early aughts pop punk feels. Complete with hand claps, Jerry Lee Lewis style piano, and Shangri-Las inspired backing vocals, this throw-back number is a song for the cynics. “The last thing the world needs is another tortured love song,” Mattea sings, and yet that’s what she’s produced–a snarky anthem for anyone who’s ever been fed up with modern courtship.

In its June 14th premiere, Hometown Sounds referred to it as “dark, cynical and yet still sweetly adorable.” You can read their full review at https://hometownsoundsdc.com/2019/06/14/maryjo-mattea-candlelight-and-roses

It’s understandable that Hometown Sounds would jump at the chance to premiere Maryjo’s latest track. In 2016, when they premiered “Getting Over You” from her debut EP Four Minute Symphonies, they rightfully pointed out that Maryjo “has the charisma and the songwriting chops to rise above lesser singers and develop a substantial following”, which she has proven in a short time.

Cover Art for Maryjo Mattea's 60's inspired pop-punk influenced track Candlelight and Roses.

The track provides some interesting credits as well. the concept for the artwork came from the mind of Joshua Hunter, who played guitar for recording of “Candlelight and Roses”. Joshua recently released a track called “Turing Test” via his solo project, Endless Winter. The photography and design work was done by Eamonn Donnelly, who also plays bass on “Candlelight and Roses”.

If you can’t get enough, you can follow Maryjo Mattea on Spotify or even purchase her full discography from Bandcamp

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Daniel Warren Hill

Daniel Warren Hill is a songwriter, producer, and performer. He currently rocks guitar and vocals for Alt/Rock band YellowTieGuy, Produces, sings and mixes live video for Data Recovery Project, and lends his talents to Beach Boys Tribute Band “Back To The Beach”. When not performing, Daniel is actively engaged in family activities with his wife, two daughters, roommate,and dog. Daniel enjoys exploring creative and business outlets, spending time in nature, and is currently addicted to Star Trek Timelines.

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This Week’s Jazz in The District

By Michael J. West

Monday, July 8
Alto saxophonist Trey Sorrells is fresh off of his June residency at the Mansion at Strathmore, which has been an important stepping stone for many a DC jazz musician. The sax man is actually a native of the Norfolk area who attended Virginia Commonwealth University—but he moved here especially to be a part of the DC-Baltimore jazz scene. That’s a positive for everyone, all around. Sorrells has a marvelous, full alto sound with a deep grasp of the jazz vocabulary, but also a penchant for fusion of the electric funk and R&B variety. (Think Donald Byrd and Blackbyrds, but with a decidedly 21st century twist.) He can go plugged-in or unplugged, in other words, and it’s not perfectly clear which of those styles he’s going to be wielding on Monday night—but that same sort of neo-fusion is also much beloved by the folks who do the venue’s bookings. Trey Sorrells performs at 6 p.m. at Marvin, 2007 Fourteenth Street NW. Free (but order something!).

 

Friday, July 12
Todd Marcus has built a cachet in the jazz world by standing at the forefront of a new upsurge in the use of bass clarinet in the music. That’s a good enough reason on its own merits, but it’s not good enough for Marcus, who has also become a tremendous composer and bandleader. Last year, he released the extraordinary On These Streets, a portrait of the culture and community of his native Baltimore that also complements his previous (and also extraordinary) recording Blues for Tahrir. He’s a musician who understands place. That makes him a perfect person to hold down the bandstand (or is it an altar?) at Southwest’s always-excellent Jazz Night, augmented by a magnificent band of area greats: saxophonist Marshall Keys, pianist Harry Appleman, bassist Blake Meister, and drummer Eric Kennedy. The Todd Marcus Jazz Ensemble performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I Street SW. $5.

 

Saturday, July 13
And then there’s Antonio Parker. He’s been a crucial piece of the District’s jazz puzzle ever since he came here more than 30 years ago, as a student at Howard University. “Tony P” is a man with bottomless soul and tremendous presence, both of which are belied by his diminutive stature and perpetual baby face. Don’t let it fool you: The man is a stone cold musical killer, with more swagger and swing at his fingertips than you can possibly imagine. He’s probably best known as a straightahead bebop and hard bop player—but don’t let that fool you, either. His most recent recording, 2016’s Planetentiary, captures the side of Parker that knows, understands, and loves the various permutations and possibilities of groove. Tony P contains multitudes. Hear some of them when he takes the stage at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $15.

Akua performs

Sunday, July 14
A lot of us who love jazz don’t necessarily love jazz vocalists. Certain vocal styles have developed into a kind of cookie-cutter pattern: predictable, singing the same twenty or so standards with the same sorts of embellishments. All of this is to say that Akua Allrich is no cookie-cutter. She is not like anyone else. That includes her two idols, Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba; both of those classic singers are readily distinguishable in Allrich’s own singing style, but she would never be confused with either of them. Jazz, R&B, gospel, torch singing, they’re all apparent in her music. None of them define her. No, Allrich is a stylist, and she has 100 percent ownership of that style, which should put her at the top of the list of DC cultural treasures. She will be fronting The Tribe (with pianist Mark G. Meadows, bassist Herman Burney, and drummer Tyler Leak) when she appears at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW (downstairs). $20.

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a freelance writer, editor, and jazz journalist who has been covering the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 2009. He spends most days either hunkered down in the clubs or in his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

Chris Urquiaga Performing at DC 9

Chris Urquiaga Performing at DC 9

by Logan Deiner

On Sunday, June 30th, Chris Urquiaga will be performing at the DC 9. Chris is a singer/songwriter with a very bold and unique take on music, with influences from all over the world. He has a very flamboyant and theatrical persona on stage, taking many cues from artists like Elton John in that regard. Chris takes these influences and Frankensteins a concoction that is super profound, yet easily accessible to anyone. Equally diverse is what he chooses to sing and write about. From deep and complex political issues, to uplifting and enjoyable love songs that are perfect for thinking about that special someone. Chris is the main singer and songwriter, with an ever changing cast of equally talented instrumental musicians. Currently, aside from Chris Urquiaga, there is Alexander Gallows on guitar, Andrew Musslmen on bass, and Joey Antico on drums. Chris is assuring concert goers that they can expect “a pretty high energy set” from him and the band, with lots of catchy pop songs and smooth romantic ballads, with perhaps even some commentary to enrich your mind.

Chris Urquiaga was born a first generation American immigrant, with ancestry from Spain and with a mother born in Brazil and a father born in Peru. Chris’s mother, who he takes a great deal of influence from, always listened to a lot of different types of music, including traditional music from countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba, with styles such as bossa nova and Mexican salsa. Alongside this, he also grew up with a lot of classic American music, such as Motown legends like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, and even more contemporary singer/songwriters from the 70s like Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder. This, naturally, allowed Chris to form a unique mix of several genres, allowing him stand out among the crowd.

So far, Chris has only released one album and a handful of singles. His debut album, 2018’s I’m Here contains a wide variety of different musical styles and lyrical topics. One moment you could be listening to a pleasant sounding love song, and the next a powerful anthem to protest a change in the geo-political world. Either way, his music is highly accessible and doesn’t alienate anyone who believes differently than him. The messages he strives for are more or less universal, and can bridge the gap of things like political party or culture. Even if you are somehow turned off by Chris’s political message, the rest of the album is definitely tough to top and offers a refreshing new and exotic sound. Even though he only has one album currently, Chris is actively working on new material, and plans on releasing his next album in late 2020 or early 2021. He says it will be more autobiographical, with a more clean production and a style leaning more towards traditional Latin American.

Speaking of politics, Chris is very intelligent in his opinions on many political issues. He is very much left leaning, and proudly brands himself with the label of “progressive.” He is also a major advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and always plays for pride events whenever he can. He even recently came out as bisexual himself. He said “I started out dating women up until college, and I liked it, but I started to feel like I wasn’t tapping into something inside of me. I felt the desire, sexually speaking, for men. I was exposed to many people as a child that told me that homosexuality is wrong and a defect, which I now know is false. I have worked with many gay musicians that have said that if they could choose to be straight, or take some kind of pill to cure them, they would, but that is not possible.” He said regarding his own coming to terms, “I was lying to myself, telling myself I was a straight man when that just was not true. Lying is a sin. Homosexuality is not.” On the subject of the trans community, he said that “It is hard to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who is marginalized like the trans community, who have suffered for expressing the sexuality that comes naturally to them. It is a tragedy that there is so much violence against them in my hometown. It needs to stop. If you disagree with people around you, you should embark on a meaningful debate and you will become wiser.” Finally, he left with a note to the fellow progresives, urging them to “do your research, stay open minded, stay factual, and always be respectful.” Chris plans to touch on some of these topics later on in his upcoming album and throughout his career.

As an artist, singer, and songwriter, Chris Urquiaga is not afraid to push boundaries. From a vocal style that is sweet and smooth as honey, to his distinct ability to be able to speak his mind, yet still have near universal appeal, to an instrumental style that takes influence from Latin America, Brazilian bossa nova, and 70s pop icons like Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder, but still sounds wholly original, Chris is a visionary that will be difficult to disappoint. Be sure to see him next Sunday, June 30th, at the DC 9. He will surely put on a show that is hard to forget.

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Logan Deiner

Logan Deiner is a writer and journalists who enjoys hanging out with friends and listening to music in his spare time. He enjoys most genres of music, and has a vinyl collection of over 500 records.

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Jazz in the District This Week

Jazz in the District This Week

by Michael J. West

Wednesday, June 26
Bill Heid is a legend. There are places around this country (and perhaps even outside of it) where his concerts sell out immediately, and where his name is spoken in startled, reverent tones when he’s not in town. It’s not easy for us to remember here in D.C., where we have a lot of pianists and a pretty hefty amount of Bill Heid (who also plays organ). But it’s not something to take lightly: This man and his talent have engendered extraordinary respect and admiration in the realm of the jazz fan. His music is exactly the reason why: Full of soul, warm, happy to mix up lyricism and the blues in rich, expressive, just-plain-happy ways. When he talks in between songs, perhaps switching from Yamaha baby grand to Hammond B-3, it’s as though you were just speaking to the guy in the next stool at your local bar. Which—except that it doesn’t sell alcohol—is just the kind of ambiance that thrives at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society. Bill Heid performs at 6 p.m. at AJACS, 2813 Franklin Street NE. $10.

Friday, June 28
You may remember that Lionel Lyles, whom I called “a swaggering, straightahead tenor saxophonist, deep in the pocket and steeped in the blues” and “quite harmonically daring,” was in these pages last week as the Friday night headliner at Mr. Henry’s. This column tries very hard not to be repetitive with its picks; Washington has multitudes of great jazz musicians, and you need not go hunting the same people down every week to stay plugged in. Sometimes, though, you get something special. In this case, it’s a tribute to Lee Morgan, the majestic Philadelphia trumpeter who next month would have turned 81 years old. Morgan’s music, as both an improviser and a composer, only seems more vital as time goes on. It’s fitting to have a straightahead (if yes, harmonically daring) group like the Lyles quintet paying tribute to him. That said, there is a special guest on hand for this celebration: tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, a legendary figure who was in Morgan’s last band (and witnessed his murder). They haven’t played a note and already this concert is pregnant with meaning. The Lionel Lyles Quintet with Billy Harper performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I Street SW. $5.

Saturday, June 29
You know, it might just be best to let Hope Udobi himself describe the sound he’s working with on his new album, In the Wild. “It’s jazz fusion,” he explained to me, “with elements of classical, soul, hip hop. Think ‘70s Herbie, Flying Lotus, Hiatus Kaiyote, Return To Forever, with a handful of synths and odd time meters a sprinkle of Hans Zimmer.” I’ve listened to In the Wild and there’s not much better description handy than that. Ten musicians strong, it’s heavy on atmosphere and is a textural playground of sorts, rich and kaleidoscopic in its emotional effect. If there’s anything of greater import than that, it’s the beautiful, sure, virtuosic touch of Hope Udobi, who’s a brilliant DC musician from whom we’ve long waited for a full-length recording that introduces him to the world at large. Well, it’s here at last—and it’s as wonderful as we D.C. jazz observers had all hoped. Hope Udobi plays with a quintet (trumpeter Theljon Allen, tenor saxophonist Elijah Easton, bassist Mikel Combs, drummer Charles Wilson) in a CD release party at 7:30 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW (downstairs). $25.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a freelance writer, editor, and jazz journalist who has been covering the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 2009. He spends most days either hunkered down in the clubs or in his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

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Local Music Draws Attention to Important Blood Disorder

Local Music Draws Attention to Important Blood Disorder

by Kim Shires & Daniel Warren Hill

Eli Lev and Emma G.’s success, talent and mindful charisma make them two of the D.C. area’s go-to artists for entertainment. Sometimes that entertainment is the focus, but for this event the two local artists were invited to provide the soundtrack to the Cooley’s Anemia/Thalassemia Walk-a-Thon held on Sunday May 5, while providing awareness to this family of blood disorders.

Eli Lev is a respected singer/songwriter living in Silver Spring, MD. His track “Chasing Daylight” won the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW) award for best song. Eli’s success continued when he won the WAMMIE for Best Country/American Album this year for his second full-length album Way Out West.

Now, Eli is actively working on his four EP series called The Four Directions. This project is inspired by the traditions steeped in the four cardinal directions observed by the Navajo Nation. Eli became intimately familiar with the teachings and customs of the Navajo Nation due to his three year stint teaching on their reservation. Eli is currently working on the third album in his series which he plans to title Down South. The third album of the series is expected to be released next year. In the meantime, Eli is releasing remixes of several of the tunes from his first two albums, All Roads East and Way Out West. Eli’s next release will be a remix of his single “Oh My Lord”, which is expected to be out in July.

Having just completed 35 days on the road for her 22 date Superhero tour, Emma G. is currently in the studio with tour-supporting musicians Silence Echoez, and DJ Reality Check who were with her from Maine to California and back up the southern road by way of Texas. The trio are already planning on their next tour, slated for this fall, which will be in support of this follow-up release to Emma’s 2018, Taking Flight. Emma is also educating other musicians who might be interested in booking a tour of their own through an upcoming indie touring workshop called, “Get Out Of Your Own Way”, at The Author Castle in McLean, VA on Saturday, August 3.

Eli and Emma put their positive music energies together for the Cooley’s Anemia/Thalassemia Walk-a-Thon. Cooley’s Anemia, or Thalassemia Major, is the most severe form of what is called “beta Thalassemia”, which is a blood disorder causing life threatening anemia. It was a rainy day, but folks came out in droves to support the cause and the community impacted by the disorder. As this form of the disease is the result of both parents passing on the genetic defect, the Walk-a-Thon raised funds for children who are affected by the disorder. Pete Kimbis was the organizer of the event and connected meaningful sponsorship for the event from the Redskins, Capitals and the Ravens.

The event featured a speaker who has Thalassemia. She spoke about how the research dollars have helped her. Eli commented that “It was really powerful.” Eli and Emma had a great time interacting with the crowd and connecting with the people who showed up to support a great cause. The kids were really into the music and the artists had fun playing with them and giving out stickers.

Eli noted, “This is something near and dear to my heart. Everybody was so willing to give their time and energy for a good cause and a great community. That’s also what the music is about for me. Everybody having buy-in and a mutual trust and respect to make something happen.”

While Eli and Emma do not have any personal relationship with the cause, they were eager to support any effort that helps children who suffer from any affliction.

“I didn’t know what Thalassemia was before being invited to support this event.” says Emma, “ I didn’t personally know anyone who has this condition. My goal was simply to do something positive for people who have to suffer the experiences of a medical situation like this.”

Neither musician are strangers to supporting important causes, especially where the youth are concerned.

Eli is involved with Musicians On Call through Children’s hospital. About once a month he goes into the ICU and plays songs for kids. Emma has performed for and continues to support the efforts of DCFYI a Washington DC Family & Youth Initiative focused exclusively on helping teens in foster care find adoptive families and make lifelong connections

Eli and Emma are not alone in their mission to use music to bring awareness to great causes. Many musicians in the region are making a difference through their art by supporting social change, bringing awareness to various causes, and raising money to help change the situations of those affected or simply to provide opportunities for those that might otherwise have none.

Stone Driver, voted as “The Best Original Band in 2018” by readers of the Washington City Paper, released their third full-length album “Chasing Demons” in 2018 completely around the platform of raising funds for and promoting the efforts of Rolling Thunder, a United States advocacy group that seeks to bring full accountability for prisoners of war and missing in action service members of all U.S. wars.

Just last month, local drummer Ben Tufts united with Kristie diLascio, Aztec Sun, Bobby Thompson, Holly Montgomery, and Hayley Fahey, as well as others, to raise money for The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund, which sends one child each summer to participate in an outdoor education and adventure camp connected with the National Wildlife Federation

To read our article on the recent Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund event, click here.

It’s important to remember how uplifting music can be, and what a powerful tool it is for healing and for inspiring community. Emma says humbly that her contribution is “Just sing songs and help celebrate survivors”. This attitude is common among musicians in the region who are striving to make their music about what it can do to more positively affect change in the world.

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Kimberly Shires

Kimberly Shires is a native of the DC Metropolitan area. Kimberly is a freelance writer, music degree holder, road bike warrior, songwriter, corporate ladder climber, and a Subaru driving nature enthusiast.

Daniel Warren Hill

Daniel Warren Hill is a songwriter, producer, and performer. He currently rocks guitar and vocals for Alt/Rock band YellowTieGuy, Produces, sings and mixes live video for Data Recovery Project, and lends his talents to Beach Boys Tribute Band “Back To The Beach”. When not performing, Daniel is actively engaged in family activities with his wife, two daughters, roommate,and dog. Daniel enjoys exploring creative and business outlets, spending time in nature, and is currently addicted to Star Trek Timelines.

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This Week’s Jazz in the District

This Week’s Jazz in the District

by Michael J. West

Monday, June 17
One of the hottest jazz residencies in town happens every Sunday morning. No, it’s not at brunch: It’s at services at the Washington National Cathedral. The erudite and magnificently talented saxophonist Marshall Keys, a lifelong D.C. resident, leads a septet at the city’s largest and most famous church, and oh, my (adding “Lord” here might be a bit on the nose), what a lineup. Keyboardist Federico Gonzales Peña, trombonist Reginald Cyntje, bassist Michael Bowie, drummer Mark Prince, vocalist Imani-Grace Cooper, and oh yes, Cathedral musical director and pianist Rev. Andrew K. Barnett all join Keys each week in an ensemble that they call “Soulful Path.” Yes, it’s religious music. Yes, it’s jazz. Yes, it’s early in the morning. That last complication, though, they’ve nipped in the bud for you by scheduling an outside gig at a more convenient time and a decidedly less reverential place. Marshall Keys and Soulful Path perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $25.

Thursday, June 20
After two years away, in that woodshed known as Ann Arbor, Michigan, tenor saxophonist Bobby Muncy has returned to D.C. to bring you the lean, muscular, tenor sax sound, with all its rhythmic jump, that you’ve missed so. Along with that sound, and Muncy’s otherwise rigorous reliance on his own book of original compositions, comes the sax man’s singular longtime cover project. The Radiohead Jazz Project is no lark: It’s been headlining venues hither and thither, in the D.C. area and beyond, since 2007 (inspired by Radiohead’s In Rainbows album from that year). It’s a fascinating study in texture and revelations about the richness of Radiohead’s compositions, and, while the lineup for this iteration (it’s been a while since Muncy graced these DMV bandstands, after all!) isn’t clear, past versions have almost always included trumpeter Joe Herrera and guitarist Anthony Pirog—adventurers who dig as deeply and eclectically into musical realms known and unknown as Muncy does. The Radiohead Jazz Project performs at 8 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW. $15.

Friday, June 21
On the surface, Lionel Lyles is a swaggering, straightahead tenor saxophonist, deep in the pocket and steeped in the blues. He’s all those things under the surface, too, mind you. But he’s also quite harmonically daring, setting up parameters in his strong, well crafted melodies and then boldly strutting outside them. It’s not just him, either: His longtime quintet, featuring trumpeter Michael Fitzhugh, pianist Deante Childers, and drummer Tyler Leak (with a steadily rotating bass chair) follows Lyles on these ventures into Destination: Out. It’s not a bug, but a feature, and a very significant feature indeed of his forthcoming album Simplistically Complex, whose title tells you a lot of what you need to know about it. Featuring Kris Funn at the bass, as well as some special guests (alto saxophonist Gabriel Wallace, trombonist Gerald Apugo, drummer Philip Thomas). Will any of these turn up at the album release party this weekend? With this music, all bets are off. The Lionel Lyles Quintet performs at 8 p.m. at Mr. Henry’s, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Free.

Sunday, June 23
Jeron White managed to get the avant-garde into Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society. For those of you who’ve just joined us, AJACS, the ground-floor and grass-roots jazz venue owned by jazz trumpeter/pianist/drummer DeAndrey Howard, is nothing less than a temple of hard-bop and soul-jazz, perhaps the last era in which the music had the for-the-people touch that Howard makes the lifeblood of that place. This tells us something about Mr. White, a Baltimore-based bassist and bandleader. Perhaps it’s that he is good at slipping more progressive ideas inside of a traditional, populist shell. Or Perhaps it’s that his music is thoroughly rooted in the jazz tradition in ways that you can hear and feel, ways that pay homage to the masters the way that Ornette Coleman’s did to Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk—or Cecil Taylor’s did to Duke Ellington and Bud Powell. Perhaps it’s all of those things at once—all of which argues for you to go see him, doesn’t it? Jeron White performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a freelance writer, editor, and jazz journalist who has been covering the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 2009. He spends most days either hunkered down in the clubs or in his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

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A Look At Monthly Mayhem and the Folks Behind It

A Look At Monthly Mayhem and the Folks Behind It

by Logan Deiner
Photography: Liz Peterson

On June 21st, Alchemical Records and Transcendent Events will be hosting Monthly Mayhem, a full night of fun games, free food, and of course, rock n’ roll. Thrillkiller will be headlining, and you can read more about them here. In short, they are a theatrical band that takes everything good about 80s rock and metal, puts it into a blender, adds music videos with action and horror movie elements, and builds a cocktail that is familiar, but still fresh and exciting. Other bands include Follow Your Bliss (a pop punk band, similar in style to bands like Blink 182, and who also promised a setlist of mostly brand new, never before released material), The Revived (a prog rock band with some amazing guitar work), Rise Among Rivals (a modern sounding hard rock band with electronic elements), and Flying Jacob (a hard rock group that tends to also flirt a bit with blues rock from time to time).

We got the chance to talk with Kevin Hock, founder of Transcendent Events. He, along with his wife Holly Hock, have played a major role in providing quality entertainment to Baltimore and the surrounding areas. According to Kevin, Transcendent Events started when he was 16 and trying to book gigs for his own band. He said, “when I was 16 years old, the only way I was getting shows was if I organized it myself. I would put together shows at VFW Halls and church halls, and make the flyers and advertise it myself. After a while, I really started to understand what people liked and what turned them off.” Aside from music, Kevin also puts together cosplay events, costume contests, street events, trivia, nerd luaus, and much more. Over the next few months, Transcendent Events will be hosting Storytime on June 22nd (a series of musicians doing unplugged versions of their music), Night’s Edge performing their new album on June 29th, and Bel Air Rocks on July 13th, with artists such as From Nothing and Great Fourth.

As previously stated, there will be a few different bands performing at Monthly Mayhem. We were fortunate enough to get an interview with two of these bands: The Revived, and Follow Your Bliss. The Revived started in 2013, branching off of a band called Fairgreen, a band with a more pop punk sound. The band is fronted by brothers Frank and Dan Hendrickson. Other members include guitarists Brian Melvin, John Amato and Rob Pallante, as well as drummer Jody Oliver. Of these musicians, Frank, Brian and Jody are the only people carried over from Fairgreen. Frank said his biggest musical influences are The Dear Hunter, Thrice, and Manchester Orchestra, along with a bit of pop punk influence left over from Fairgreen. So far, The Revived have recorded two albums, with the last one, Genesis, being released in 2015. “The book of Genesis has always been a very exciting idea for me in terms of lyrics, especially with this band,” Frank said. “These stories were part of my upbringing from a religious background, and has stuck with me through my adult years. There are a lot of interesting stories in the book and we thought people might be more interested in these stories if done in a different format.” The Revived have been working on a new album over the course of the last year, and are planning to release it “either late summer or early fall” according to Frank, promising heavier breakdowns and a new, more evolved sound. Also this year, The Revived are planning to release an acoustic album with all original material.After these albums, Frank said he might work on an album loosely based off of Thrice’s newest album, Palms, with a more conceptual, but less story driven sound. Unfortunately, the show at Monthly Mayhem may be one of The Revived’s last for awhile, as Jody Oliver is expected to move to Nashville in the near future; so see them while you still can.

We also got the opportunity to chat with the band Follow Your Bliss. The band is still very new, and as a result does not have very much recorded material, have been alternating members for the past few years, and what little material is available is not representative of their sound going forward. The birth of Follow Your Bliss started with a band called Over and Out, a group with a early to mid 2000s pop punk sound ala Blink 182. With Follow Your Bliss, they plan on changing their style to be more heavy and metallic, with influence from The Used. The band was founded by Charlie McCormick, who has played several roles over the years, but is now officially the lead guitarist. Other musicians include Patrick Zerilli as lead vocalist and secondary guitarist, Matt Buckmeier on drums, and Brian Wilson on bass. As previously stated, the band will be doing a setlist of mostly new material at Monthly Mayhem, and plan on releasing their debut EP over the next few months.

Monthly Mayhem is gearing up to be an epic showcase of the strength and talent of the Transcendent family. With five amazing bands, free tacos, trivia, and more, it will definitely be a night worth remembering. We forward to seeing you.

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Logan Deiner

Logan Deiner is a writer and journalists who enjoys hanging out with friends and listening to music in his spare time. He enjoys most genres of music, and has a vinyl collection of over 500 records.

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Hayley Fahey goes “Back to the Ocean”

Hayley Fahey. Photo by Eric Nielsen
Hayley Fahey. Photo by Eric Nielsen

Hayley Fahey goes “Back to the Ocean”

by Kimberly Shires. Photo by Eric Nielsen

Hayley Fahey is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Rockville, MD. Her next single, “Back to the Ocean” will be released on the first day of summer, June 21st along with a video (Pre-save here). The song will give us a nice summer soundtrack as Hayley takes us through a lyrical journey about finding your true self. We can expect this single to have more of a pop bend than what we have heard from Hayley in the past.

“Back to the Ocean” was co-written with Austin Bello, formerly of the pop/punk band Forever the Sickest Kids. Austin reached out to Hayley to suggest a collaboration. Hayley recalls that the partnership was so natural as they traded late-night ideas over voice memos. “It was like I wrote half a line and he wrote half a line.”

Hayley comes from a musical family. Hayley’s first music teacher was her grandmother, who fronted a band called, “Shirley and Her All Boys Band”. Hayley laughed, “Sometimes that’s what I feel like I am doing, you know ‘Hayley and Her All Boys Band”. Whenever the Fahey tribe met, they grabbed their instruments for an impromptu family jam. When Hayley was just twelve years old, they took their act to the open mic hosted by The Outta the Way Café, just a few miles from their home. Hayley fronted her first band with her dad on the guitar, uncles on the mandolin, and cousin on the trumpet.
Hayley identifies with artists such as Eva Cassidy, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera, Bonnie Rait, Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat and Maren Morris. Hayley’s music is a fusion of pop and soul. If Hayley had the chance to sit down over dinner with any of these artists, she would pick Kelly Clarkson. “She’s literally an Idol. She would have so much good advice as a woman navigating the music industry and just being the powerhouse that she is. Plus, she would just be really fun to talk with.”

Hayley constantly writes lyrics in her head as she goes about her day. Hayley’s phone is full of voice memos humming out song parts and hook lines for future development. In addition to writing solo, she enjoys the exchange of ideas and the energy created through good collaboration. Hayley regularly collaborates with her bandmates, John Trupp and Julian Lofton, who alternate playing guitar and bass. Hayley has also collaborated with Michelle Murray out of Washington DC and wrote “Just Believe” off her first album with Jon Sexton from Nashville. Sexton wrote the theme song for Smallville. If Hayley could dream big, she would love to enter into a collaboration with the Zac Brown Band. She loves their vocal harmonies and how they can take any song and give it their own signature sound.

Hayley considers songwriting to be a spiritual experience. It elicits an emotional response where it feels like she has tapped into a “universal energy”. This intrinsic response does not in any way mean that the song is a hit, but it does mean that she has found a meaningful landing point for the message she wants to communicate and provides a signal that the song is worth developing. Hayley added, “Sometimes you just write random words and metaphors down and think, what does that even mean?” Her collaboration with Austin Bello taught her to lean into the stream of consciousness. It is an opportunity to dig into those words to discover their meaning and their story.

Hayley, influenced by folk traditions, shapes the mysterious lyrical imagery from her subconscious into a coherent storyline. Hayley remarked, “I think storytelling is one of the best things you can do in a song.” Hayley shared the magic of this process from a recent collaboration. Her bandmate, Julian, was strumming through a melody and the line “Baby I’ll be waiting for the morning” just fell out of Hayley’s mouth. Hayley admitted that the words meant nothing to her at the time, but the duo dug deeper to find what that lyric might mean. Hayley and Julian decided it was about a person who wants to leave a difficult situation but feels stuck. The only resolution that the person can settle on is to just wait for the morning. Hayley and Julian crafted the storyline around that theme. Hayley’s lyrics come just as much from her personal experience and stories as they do from the stories inspired by her subconscious.
Hayley is a firm supporter of women and girls in music. Last summer, Hayley helped a group of young women write songs, which they performed at the DC Capital Fringe Fest. She has also volunteered coaching and filming for ProjectHERA. ProjectHERA is a non-profit started by Cathy DiToro. It provides workshops and a platform for women entering the local scene through open mics.

Hayley teaches private guitar, piano and voice lessons to kids and volunteers with her former middle school. Hayley attended their rock band program, which changed her life. She came back years later as a volunteer and guest artist. Hayley also gave the kids a special gift when she recorded an original song with them.

Outside of music, Hayley has a passion for animals and creating a sustainable environment. She demonstrates this through volunteer efforts and by living a plant-based life.

Hayley contributes to the local music village through her video production company, DC Music Video. When not performing, Hayley also produces videos for local artists. As a matter of fact, she said if she did not tell stories through song, she would tell stories as a videographer.

Hayley keeps it local when developing her projects. She has tapped into local graphic artists, photographers, videographers and web designers such as Dave Fimbres, Mark Webster, Ari Strauss, Good Foot Media and Sandi Redman to name a few. She is so grateful for everybody she has been able to interact with, especially her bandmates John Trupp and Julian Lofton.

Hayley added that the people in the DMV are hungry for music and have a diverse taste. “There is a very vibrant music scene here with a lot of talented people who are really well connected with folks in Nashville and L.A. A lot of people come to the DC area to make money from cities like Nashville quarterly because there are so many great accessible venues here like the 9:30 Club, City Winery, The Hamilton or Pearl Street Warehouse. I can name so many.”

Hayley frequently performs around the area. Check her out this summer and let Hayley Fahey take you to the ocean too! hayleyfahey.com

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Kimberly Shires

Kimberly Shires is a native of the DC Metropolitan area. Kimberly is a freelance writer, music degree holder, road bike warrior, songwriter, corporate ladder climber, and a Subaru driving nature enthusiast.

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