The DC Jazz Festival is on Full Blast

The DC Jazz Festival is on Full Blast

by Michael J. West

The DC Jazz Festival is on full blast this week, including the weekend—which is not listed below. That’s because there’s really only one place you have to be: on The Wharf, where free music will be happening all weekend, all day Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the week you can be more selective, as follows.

Monday, June 10
Tenor saxophonist Jordon Dixon has a deep old-school sound—a reservoir of swing and swagger of a kind that by and large doesn’t exist anymore. It draws from a time when jazz musicians were either dabbling in or wholly transitioning into R&B and soul, your Stanley Turrentines and your David “Fathead” Newmans (both at one time regulars in D.C. jazz venues). His new CD On! exploits that very sound, giving his music a tried-and-true crowd-pleasing spin—but, on the sly, also throws in some smart, subversive concepts that drop a wink at those of us trolling for individuality. He also does something even smarter: He surrounds himself with the best players possible. Pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, drummer C.V. Dashiell, and guest trumpeter J.S. Williams are all on hand for the recording. They’ll also all be on hand for the CD release show that the festival puts on offer. It begins at 7:00 p.m. at the UDC Recital Hall (Performing Arts Building, 46 West), 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW. Free.

Wednesday, June 12
SPAGA has a funny name. But fans of the electro jam-rock band The Disco Biscuits might know it as a song title, and they might also know it as the acoustic piano-trio side project of Disco Biscuit mastermind Aron Magner. When I say acoustic piano trio, I do mean the conventional jazz trio instrumentation of piano, bass, and drums. It will be no surprise, though, to hear that the acoustic jazz context offered by that trio also offers a little bit of the Disco Biscuits element. It just has some glitchy grooves and some light electronic coloring that serves it quite well. Still, any fan of straightahead piano-trio jazz will be more than satisfied with what Magner does therein: He knows the language and works it for all it’s worth, and molds it into his own form as well, just like any jazz pianist would. SPAGA performs at 8 p.m. at City Winery, 1350 Okie Street NE. $25.

Thursday, June 13
How to put a finger on what William Hooker does? You can’t, really. Seemingly every time he steps onto the bandstand, whether behind the drum kit, or into another percussion context, or to the microphone, or whatever else might come into his head, Hooker has something different in mind. Ever experimental, the drummer bandies about rhythmic, textural, color, and even dramatic possibilities on his axe. His work is generally free, though again it varies so widely it’s hard even to put that qualification onto it. Hooker’s current trio is another example of his expansiveness. To wit: it features (along with bassist Jair Parker Wells) Ben Goldberg on trombone. This writer has been listening to Ben Goldberg for years on clarinet and saxophones and other woodwinds; I never knew he played trombone. That’s the kind of unpredictable odyssey you get with Hooker. Still, he’s a legendary figure for very good reason—no matter what he does, it’s deep, unusual, and absolutely fascinating. The William Hooker Trio performs at 8 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street NW. $15.

Friday, June 14
There’s a strong argument to be made that Snarky Puppy has taken up the entire evolution of jazz fusion, from the late ‘60s and into the present, and filtered out most of its more unfortunate developments. (Read: smooth jazz.) They stock it to the brim with funk, groove, rock attitude and texture, and jazz experimentation and improvisation. Sure, it’s a little unruly, but what do you expect from a 19-piece collective? At least, that’s the number of musicians who appear on their 2019 album Immigrance. (It could have been a full 20, too: This is Snarky Puppy’s first album in almost a decade without pianist/organist Cory Henry, who has built a substantial career of his own in the gospel-jazz realm.) Snarky Puppy is a longtime staple of the DC Jazz Festival, but this is their first appearance in the new, cavernous environs of the Anthem, at The Wharf. Their enormous sound should prove a complement to the enormous venue. Snarky Puppy performs at 8:00 p.m. (with opener Jose James) at The Anthem, 901 Wharf Street SW.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

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.

More to explore

Stone Driver with Smash Mouth at Celebrate Fairfax

Stone Driver will be performing at the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival this Saturday, June 8th, from 6:45PM to 7:45PM on the Devil's Backbone Brewery Stage. Please come out and have some fun in the sun, and catch Smash Mouth headlining the festival immediately after our set.

Stone Driver will be performing at the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival this Saturday, June 8th, from 6:45PM to 7:45PM on the Devil’s Backbone Brewery Stage. Go have some fun in the sun, and catch Smash Mouth headlining the festival immediately after their set.

For more information about Celebrate Fairfax, please visit: http://celebratefairfax.com/things-to-do/smash-mouth/  
For more information about Stone Driver, please visit 
http://www.stonedriver.com

CapitalBop’s present: futures featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow and more

CapitalBop’s present: futures featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow and more

One night. Two stages. Half a dozen acts. Food, drink, painting and vibe all night.

Join CapitalBop for present::futures, a showcase of young giants in the world of creative music, at the DC JazzFest.

Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 6:30 PM – Sun, Jun 9, 2019, 1:00 AM EDT

The Sandlot Southwest
1800 Half St SW
Washington, DC 20024

eventbrite.com

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

More to explore

The DKTM Collective

The DKTM Collective

by Dylan Naumann

The Baltimore based Hip-Hop group DKTM (“DON’T. KILL. THE. MOVEMENT.”) Collective started to form around the year 2014. The founding four members – “Pope,” “BLKLEXX,” “Ninety-N1ne,” “Mouse,” and “Lucy Mourn” – were already bouncing ideas back-and-forth to each other by sending unique “ciphers” through text message. The content of ciphers ranged from unfinished sections of featured raps to short phrases known as “bars” (a way to communicate how to measure the music). Upon receiving the ciphers, the members would attempt to put their own unique style into the rap/bar. That inspiration among the collective hasn’t slowed down at all. Up until now (a half decade later) the collective has welcomed members from the names of – “Baat-Choy,” “MellO,” “Slovak,” “Morgan Marsh,” “Reem-unknwn,” and “Aghori.” All bring their own individuality under the collective’s roof; implementing their own aesthetic to current and future works.

Recently DKTM released the EP titled Metropolis, with featured tracks such as – “Chop!” and “City Lights.” The project is credited towards “Blklexx” and “Mouse,” with additional production by “Baat-Choy,” and featuring “Morgan Marsh” on “Chop!” Noticing every member apart of DKTM isn’t on the project, or every project for that matter, won’t bring a surprise to anyone that’s familiar with the collective. For instance, when the members release new material it’s under the DKTM label, but they’re also representing themselves – the collective acts as an umbrella for whole and the artist. Like the recently released EP love tapes by “Baat-Choy” or the future release of Sides by “Pope.”

Since everyone represents DKTM as a whole, all their music is found in one place – eliminating the problem of searching for everyone separately. Needing to only make one search to find everyone’s music, seems a bit more convenient, logistically speaking. Making it clearer and easier to find everyone, also gets straight to the point of discovering local music around the area. All the releases by the members help sustain everyone’s own unique persona. Making the creation of their own music, highly valued between everyone, especially when collaborations happen. The freedom of not being bogged down by one style, or have to obey by one aesthetic, influences artistic diversity within DKTM. When collaborations do take place, when the masses come together, that diversity presents itself once a week at the DKTM lair located in Baltimore, MD.

The weekly meet-up/jam cultivates the environment mentioned earlier, and also strengthens a song writing process that’s positively inherent between the individuals and the whole. From the point of view of “Blklexx,” it seems to be more of an organic process now than before. “Members would come to the jams with multiple aims to write together and to produce together by bouncing ideas around…for example, you’ll write a verse then I’ll write a verse would be the mentality between us…and no one is explicitly stating that you have to write about one thing either.” That type of collaborating reinforces the organically driven process that DKTM thrives on. The collective stretches that process by welcoming other talent from the area to come to the meet-up/jams. Giving the invitation to others – that aren’t part of DKTM – enhances the beauty of working spontaneously through each other. But more importantly, the collective goes “beyond the music making” in terms of opening a space where collaborations between different kinds of artists can happen. “Baat-Choy” even states that, “it’s a part of the DKTM experience of opening the jams to other local artists…to come by to record and jam. In that way we try to establish a form of community building.” To create a sense of community like “Baat-Choy” stated, opens a platform where an artist can come and participate, among the collective, and have an outlet to establish themselves and their art. Being able to host an that type of artistic outlet, creates freedom of expression between the artist and the art; doesn’t have to be measured against a preexisting pedestal. Together they all want the opportunity to create, to inspire, and to enjoy the beautiful process of making music with others. Coming to the jams allows the opportunity to unfold – between the members of the collective and the array of artistic energy that walks through the door.

By the time that energy has walked through the door and out, DKTM utilizes that energy when they record and to write. But also, it plays an integral part for their live performances, and its more fuel for their attempt to “take over the world,” “Mouse’s” laughter echoes next to mine. You’ll see the collective stretch up and down Interstate-95 – playing anywhere from unconventional venues such has house shows in College Park, Md to more conventional ones such has Sidebar and The Crown. Regardless of the venue, DKTM’s energy remains the same wherever they perform. Setting your eyes and ears towards the stage, you’ll defiantly witness the essence of a hip-hop show but there is something more radiates from the stage. From the words of Mouse: “our energy during shows have been described as sharing the same energy as a punk band…an outpouring of energy.” Combining the two energies – a hip-hop show with elements of a punk show – keeps a diversity of taste between audiences. Whether they like a lo-fi aesthetic or a moshed-filled frenzy, DKTM will surly produce! The energy you’ll hear on their recordings may be a little different from their live shows. The reason why that is because the integration of live drums played by “Slovak” and “Mouse” breaks out his 404 to get more of a DJ vibe.
Their performances favor a sight and sound that’s different from any other collective in the area. Establishing the benefits of artistic diversity between the artist and the whole collective; the ability to curate a stimulating live performance – sonically and visually; and being the builders of an artistic community. Underneath all the bars, raps, beats, moshes, grooves, and Twin Peak references is seen as a collective of friends that simply enjoy making music with one another, enjoying of having the opportunity to grow alongside each other – artistically and non – to strive together, and most importantly….to have a good time. Be sure to check out the DKTM Collective on Soundcloud for their latest releases and their Instagram for show announcements!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

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.

More to explore

Eli Lev: Songs Reimagined

Eli Lev: Songs Reimagined

by Kimberly Shires

Photo: Michael Zhang

Eli Lev quickly won over our hearts as a respected singer/songwriter from the DC Metro area. Eli made the decision to be a full-time musician just two years ago, but modestly retracted, “I think music eventually just chose me”. Prior to shifting careers, Eli was a Language Arts teacher and finishing his Master’s in Language Studies. In his last semester Eli decided to take a solo camping trip to Mexico. Eli thought back to a moment where he sat in his tent and said, “I’ve had an amazing life up until now. I have nothing to complain about and I have done everything I thought I should do. Now I am just going to…and I know it sounds silly…let whatever needs to happen just happen instead of thinking that I know what’s best for me.” Eli continued, “I knew music was part of that.”

 

Eli played his first show as a solo original artist at Tryst in Adams Morgan in early 2017 and he just kept going from there. Shortly thereafter, Eli’s first release, “Chasing Daylight” won Best Song from a Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW) contest. This win validated that people like his work and thus the journey began.  Eli added, “There was an intention that was set. Once that intention is set, everything falls into order and the world just says ‘OK. This is it.’” Before his mindset change, Eli said, “I was a guy with a guitar.”

Photo: Michael Zhang

Eli is actively working on his four EP series called The Four Directions Project. In the meantime, Eli is releasing alternative versions of “One Road” listen and download, “See the World” and “Water”. “Oh My Lord” will be released soon but in the meantime you can Pre-save “Oh My Lord”. Eli said “songs aren’t only just how they are recorded. They have lives of their own and they can be reinterpreted, even by the same artist.” Eli continued “There is a point where you can get out of the way enough so that the true meaning or message of the song gets through. You get unattached to that one lyric that you thought was amazing, because it doesn’t serve the message, or you change the melody a little bit to actually get to what is happening.”

 

Eli’s longer-term project honors the Native American belief that each of the four cardinal directions provide a unique quality that creates a strong foundation for both personal and communal growth. Eli fell in love with these principles during his stint as an Eighth Grade Language Arts teacher with the Navajo Nation. Eli was welcomed to the tribe as part of a cultural immersion program associated with his Master’s Degree and remained with the Navajo Nation for three years. The experience left Eli rich with the teachings of the Navajo Nation and a perspective on life that will remain in his heart forever.

 

Each album in The Four Directions Project has their own character and wisdom reminiscent of the principles behind Native American teachings. Check out Eli’s first two albums https://eli-lev.com/music/.

 

The first album, All Roads East, is characterized by an Americana sound. East symbolizes the start of anything new, such as a new life, or in Eli’s case a new career, making it very fitting as the first album in his project.

 

Photo: Tasbir Binta Wasim

Way Out West is the second album. West symbolizes action, doing, and creating. Eli explored West as he pushed the boundaries of his expression to create a masterful production. Way Out West won the WAMMIE as the Best Country/Americana Album this year. Eli said, “There are a thousand decisions when developing an album, so each one of those decisions being validated with a ‘Good Job’ is crazy.”

 

Eli just started work on his third album, Deep South. Eli laughed, “they say that you’ve got your whole life to write your first album and you’ve got a year to write your second one. It’s kinda cool because all of these songs are brand new and from this moment in my life or hasn’t happened yet.” South, according to Navajo teaching, focuses on empathy, trust, inclusion, love and emotional wisdom.

 

The final album in the Project will pay respects to the cardinal direction North. The principles of North are rooted in mental wisdom, reflection, and illumination. Let’s see what Eli will imagine in his journey north!  

 

Eli loves to combine unexpected sounds into both live performances and production. Eli can be found on stage with a collection of unique and indigenous finds such as a woodrow, which is a three stringed instrument that sounds like a banjo, a Native American wooden flute, a mandolin, a harmonica, a melodica or even a bagpipe. Eli says, “New instruments and new sounds give me inspiration.”

 

Eli’s thrives on collaboration. Eli said songwriting is “a very mystical process which is why it is so interesting working on it with other people. There is something to be said about sitting down by the river my woodrow and I’m just singing to the river. But, working with someone else is really good for making your work cohesive.”

 

Most recently, Eli brought an idea, a melody and a mandolin to Daniel Strauch of House Studios in Washington D.C. The two riffed off each other as Daniel made a video of their collaboration. The video will be part of a YouTube series Daniel is producing about songwriting. Eli says, “other people challenge me and I like to see what I am putting out through somebody else’s lens.” Eli thought about the resulting song and reflected, “Really, it’s not ours. It might come from us or it might come from some place we think is within us, but it’s not ours. I don’t know where it comes from.” Eli has plans for collaboration with wide array of songwriters, musicians, and producers in some capacity so far in the development of The Four Directions Project.

 

Collaboration led Eli to many opportunities. Eli connected back to his teaching roots by holding master classes with kids. Eli is also starting a consultancy to help other artists achieve their goals, whether it be help with songwriting, distribution, booking lives shows, generating income from music, building a fan base, streaming, making videos or building a strong community of friends, family and fans who support him on Patreon: patreon.com/elilevmusic.

 

Eli keeps grounded with daily meditation. Eli said, “It’s really balancing. We shower every day, but don’t always think to cleanse our insides, you know our spirits. Once I started doing it, I realized it is what I had been missing.” He continued, “When performing on stage, you pick up a lot of people’s stuff. There is an energy interaction between you as a musician. It’s a lot to deal with. The meditative practice has been helpful. It allows me to separate myself from all the stuff that’s happening because as a creative person working with our heart outside our sleeve, we are literally just exposing ourselves to the world. It’s dangerous not having a way to process that.” Eli participates in an annual silent retreat to practice Vipassana meditation and mused “in the first three days you just learn how to sit”.

 

Eli’s calm comes across on stage, where he earns the love of new fans with his understated, yet captivating style. Be sure to check out Eli Lev at a venue near you and download his latest reimagined tracks https://eli-lev.com

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

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.

More to explore

Check Out Jonny Grave Quartet New Album “Impala”: Release Party June 15 at the Black Cat

Check Out Jonny Grave Quartet New Album “Impala”: Release Party June 15 at the Black Cat

Jonny Grave is a Washington D.C. based blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. Jonny is a true performer, gigging more days than he takes off. This year, Jonny Grave developed his first entirely instrumental album called “Impala”. The album includes five tracks, all of which were recorded live, straight to the board at Hill Country Bar-B-Q in Washington D.C. The show was mixed live on site, re-mixed for high fidelity, and then lovingly mastered by Anthony Fowler. Jonny loves to tap into venues like Hill Country and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage due to the amazing sound equipment these venues have on hand. We can look forward to the release party for “Impala” at the Black Cat Mainstage on June 15th, 2019. The full lineup for the slow includes Pleasure Train and Maryjo Mattea. Tickets for the show can be purchased by clicking this link https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1865409-jonny-grave-quartet-washington/.

Jonny says, the making of this album was “exciting fun and a little bit daunting”. The album is rounded out with Scott Schoem on keys, Benjamin Rikhoff on bass and Marty Risemberg on drums. 

 

Jonny wanted to do something different with his newest release, which is rawer than his eponymous album released in 2018. There are no overdubs or double tracking and plenty of room for some wicked tricks that Jonny wanted to share. This was a contrast to Jonny’s first self-titled album, where he took a conventional studio approach, with Ben Green of Ivakota in Southeast D.C. The dynamic collaboration with Ben Green was one of the most positive experiences Jonny has had to date in his career.

 

Instrumental songs leave a good deal of room for the listener to interpret and retrieve whatever message is meaningful to them. Jonny thinks dance will be an intriguing way to aide in the interpretation of the songs on stage but laughs, “I can’t dance. My rhythm stops at my elbows.”

Many of the new tracks have a cinematic feel to them and are largely inspired by Jonny’s travel. Throughout his adult life, Jonny visited some great places including Puerto Rico, Brazil, Ireland, England, South Africa and the Middle East. For his twenty-eighth birthday Jonny’s girlfriend Maryjo Mattea, who is another incredible local musician, rallied to send him on a trip to Berlin, Grenoble, and Paris. While in Europe Jonny took in the inspiration around him. While Jonny gigs constantly at home in D.C. and around the states, he intentionally keeps his guitar in the case while travelling abroad. Instead, he opens his ears and mind to be influenced by the cultures surrounding him. By doing so, Jonny picks up little bits and pieces along the way to incorporate into his own art. Jonny feels grateful and lucky that he has been able to see more of the world in the last three years than he ever imagined.

Jonny reminisces back to Puerto Rico, where one of the most common phrases on the street is “Una Medalla Por Favor”, which translates to “Another beer please”. Medalla is a common local brew. The phrase, “Una Medalla Por Favor”, became the title to one of his new tracks inspired by the all-night parties and constant dancing in the streets of Santurce.

The track “Golly, What a Dream!” is a salute to Danny Gatton, Bill Kirchen and G.E. Smith, who played on a rudimentary guitar called a telecaster. Jonny, also a guitar technician, built his own telecaster which is featured on this tune. During the set at Hill Country, Jonny decided not to tell the band that the song was being recorded for the album, so what they got was a fun, high energy and authentic track recorded in a great venue.

“Paris, 1947” was inspired by the stories told by WWII vets who stayed in Paris after the war and the notion that music provided a common language among the men. One listen of the song will tell a sobering story of how these folks got together and then ramps up to a fun party that gets the night rolling in a basement jazz club in Paris. Jonny loves the stories told by American musicians who played USO and underground shows in Paris with French jazz musicians who were in hiding due to their Jewish and Romany heritage. Jonny reflects that these events in the 1940s forged a new a new sound that went on to inform the future of R&B and rock in the States.

The album also features the title track “Impala”, where an entertaining conversation between lead guitar and organ gallop through the Serengeti and “The Gospel Holdover”, where the soulful sounds take listeners to church.

Jonny’s love of stories and fascination with anything old has fed his interest in music history. Jonny muses that the further back we go in history, our stories tend to repeat themselves. Jonny believes that history “offers several universal truths and lessons.” Consequently, he is really hooked on Blind Willie Johnson’s “God Moves on the Water”, which is a song about the sinking of the Titanic. Jonny reflects that the song is a “very haunting warning about careless ignorance and it sounds just as haunting today as the day it was recorded”.

Jonny tends to throwback to the tunes from past decades to shape and inspire him today. This is reflected in his own compositions, where he often hears from listeners, “My dad would love this”. Jonny finally gave into streaming music, but digs back to older sounds such as Jimmy Smith, the great jazz organist, cinematic sounds such as David Holmes’ soundtrack to Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, and a bunch of Irish folk music such as the Chieftains and The Dubliners.

Jonny reflects that the last five years have been incredible. Jonny has created a steady music career for himself in Washington D.C.  He averages about 165 shows per year and topped out at 185 shows in 2016. More than once, Jonny has played four gigs in a single day. Jonny laughs “I can do whatever you got with enough coffee.” He adds, “I love D.C. This is home. This is where my musical family is.”

Jonny tells us that he likes to live one day at a time just to see what unfolds. He finds that this approach has never failed him. Purposefully allowing himself to let go and live in the moment helps to ground him from a constant stream of worry that results from his struggle with anxiety. Jonny values patience and stillness more and more with age, further allowing him to enjoy the experiences life and travel has afforded him. He gets to reflect on the world and write songs from his 11th Street apartment, play with his pit bull, and contribute meaningfully to Washington D.C.’s thriving music scene every day. Jonny is truly grateful for every second of it.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

More to explore

Zen Warship’s Got That Swing

Zen Warship’s Got That Swing

by Jasmine Ward and Molly Guillermo

Coming to you live from WERA 96.7 FM and hot off the district’s music scene, Zen Warship’s unique blend of funk, rock, disco, soul, and pop are bringing sex and sax to Washington, DC via New York City.

Tyler Moselle, guitarist and founding member of Zen Warship relocated to the District in 2016 and teamed up with jack of all trades and master of all Phil Marnell, the lead singer, drummer, and keyboard player. Throw in Italian bassist Roberto Giberti; drummer Reuven Sussman; trumpet, guitarist, backup singer Ben DeVries; trombonist Richie Hertzberg; and saxophonist Michael Liss and you have the double entendre Zen Warship.

The name was chosen to represent the duality of life and music—according to the band, people seek condolence and truce, but also aggression. Zen Warship hopes the “Zen Clan” always wins, and they aspire to use music to help people pursue their “Zen Life.”

The ska influence in their three track EP Sonic Butter, is most prominent in their song “BDSM Blues”. The smutty lyrics are underscored by the trombone, which blasts as they yell out “make her twist and shout.” Their lyrics laugh at other bands, telling them you “ain’t got that swing.”

Zen Warship’s first EP, Sonic Butter, was recorded in 2017 at Blue Room Studios and the band had since had gigs all over the DC area. In late 2018 they released a new single, “Robins Calling”, in February 2019 and it since has been featured on several local DC, VA, and MD radio stations.

Zen Warship aspires to sharpen their craft and continue performing throughout the DC area. They recently performed at the Mardi Gras show, and have a new single called “Robins Calling”. The single was recently played on the radio station WERA 96.7 FM, giving them an underground local status.

They went on tour this year, and have a total of four singles on SoundCloud. Not only did they have two events this year, but they also had previous ones in 2018. A few of those events that were last year at Cosmic Romp at Pearl Street, and later at Bossa Bistro in DC.

Lyrically, the group addresses a range of topics: some of the songs explore relationships, BDSM, the poetry of Mary Oliver, and local DC figures like the controversial Mayor, Marion Barry, who was convicted of smoking crack. Their lyrics seek to entertain, inspire, and inform all at once.

The group has been interviewed by DJ Danny Griffin of Takoma Radio, and Bossa Bistros blog. Their musical influences are wide and diverse which inform their eclectic sound–everything from Miles Davis and Bill Evans’ jazz, to Ravi Shankar’s Indian music, to Nile Rodgers’ disco, to Bad Brains punk, and Fugazi’s post-punk. The band members listen to diverse sounds across the music spectrum that it’s difficult for them to define their style.

They are a DIY band, producing their own music and writing their own music. Their music can be found on Youtube and SoundCloud. The amount of positivity they get from fans is staggering. It’s just a matter of time until they are well known from Maryland to all over Virginia. It will be exciting once they come out with a full-length album.

ZenWarshipBand

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

Molly Guillermo

Based in DC by way of San Francisco, Molly originally hails from southern California and has a background in English. She aims to explore music’s inextricable tie to pop culture and its evolving relationship with politics.

More to explore

La Dispute Plays the Rock and Roll Hotel

La Dispute Plays the Rock and Roll Hotel

by Molly Guillermo

The heady days of Warped Tour have gone and past, and if you shopped at Hot Topic and had Taking Back Sunday on your iPod in middle school, you probably miss the emo musical festival and its sweaty mosh pits. But 2006 scene kids rejoice—La Dispute is on tour, and now you’re old enough to go see them without your parents.

The Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington’s Northeast used to be a funeral parlor, which is an apt locale for a band screaming the lyrics “Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself?” The gritty venue is a step up from a DIY basement show, and has three floors, one of which is a rooftop patio. And yet, the vending machines sell tarot card readings and psychic readings, not Snickers. As La Dispute would say, “There are ghosts in the wall and they crawl in your head through your ears.”
Now, let’s settle the genre dispute—La Dispute is a hardcore band, not an emo band or a punk band. Lead singer Jordan Dreyer yells with a strained voice, but doesn’t scream. Not quite metal and not quite screamo, some of their songs on their new album Panorama are shouted spoken word.
In fact, many of La Dispute’s songs pay tribute to poetry, such as “Such Small Hands” and “Nobody, Not Even The Rain,” which are references to the ee cummings poem “somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond”.

There was a small mosh pit, but mostly every person in the crowd pushed toward the stage, reaching with their hands to touch the lead singer’s hand, and I had PSTD flashbacks to the sweaty mosh pits of Warped Tour again. Most of the songs were old, in spite of their new release. Spoken word doesn’t make for the kind of craze fans wanted.

Everybody in the audience knew the words, proving La Dispute’s undisputed significance in the lives of angsty teenagers everywhere. The music itself is pure, unadulterated angst. If you love La Dispute you know the lyrics “Tell me what your worst fears are, I bet they look a lot like mine. Tell me that you’re struggling, tell me that you’re scared…Tell me that it’s difficult to not think about death sometimes” and you will raise your arms and shout them in an ex-funeral parlor like a true fan.

Vocalist Jordan Dreyer took a minute to slow down and make a short speech about the inclusivity of the punk and hardcore scene. “What this scene is really about, who it’s really for, is for those with nowhere else to go. And this scene supports you, your gender, your sex, your skin color, your history, your safety. We all have stuff we deal with, things we go through. We all have a place here, except for racists, homophobes, or sexists.”

Dreyer’s shirt read, “No More Dysphoria: n.- a state of discomfort or distress due to one’s gender or physical sex.”

He then picked up a crate of water bottles and passed them to the audience, and even paused the show again later because somebody lost their glasses in the mosh pit. “We have to look out for each other,” he said.

The production was significantly more professional than other punk and hardcore shows, due to La Dispute’s fame and success. Yet they share the same values as other punk and hardcore bands, and maintain an indie status that shields them from being labeled sell-outs.

The inclusivity of the show made me think about punk and hardcore in a different way—we’re all equal in the most pit, but some people are getting their teeth knocked out at gritty DIY shows. At the La Dispute show we were also all equal in the most pit, but we were also looking around for someone’s glasses. Hardcore as a genre is not the same definition of word hardcore. The guy found his glasses.

Panorama’s “FOOTSTEPS AT THE POND” was a crowd favorite, a song about reckoning with your flaws and a failing a relationship with someone you let down. “We bleed because we need,” he shouted. And La Dispute is all about letting people know they’re in pain and bleeding—figuratively, anyway.

Perhaps there was another common denominator among the fans in the audience other than loving La Dispute. The angst, the inclusivity, the vulnerability, the song actually titled “All Our Bruised Bodies and the Whole Heart Shrinks,” all demonstrated how music can be an outlet for pain of any degree. The entire concert was a motley crew of people shouting, and La Dispute was the conductor.

Teased hair and Warped Tour might have fallen out of fashion, but the music that made them trends in the MySpace era lives on. La Dispute’s cult following is proof, so unearth those fishnet arm warmers. There might be an ex-funeral parlor show near you.

ladispute.org

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

Molly Guillermo

Based in DC by way of San Francisco, Molly originally hails from southern California and has a background in English. She aims to explore music’s inextricable tie to pop culture and its evolving relationship with politics.

More to explore

New EP From Wake the Ancient

New EP From Wake the Ancient

Progressive metal band Wake the Ancient, out of Northern Virginia, has just released their first EP, a concept album telling the story of Gilgamesh, a mythological figure from ancient Mesopotamian culture. 

Check it out! waketheancient.bandcamp.com

Check out the full band story featured in Alchemical Records debut comic book by joining Alchemical Records mailing list here.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

More to explore

District Jazz This Week – Spoiled for Choice

District Jazz This Week – Spoiled for Choice

by Michael J. West

Wednesday, May 29
If you’re anything like me, you hear the words “French gypsy-jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel,” your first thought is of Stéphane Grappelli, who was a member of the original French gypsy-jazz ensemble: The Quintette of the Hot Club of France. Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re a dummy, too, because Grappelli didn’t play guitar. That was Django Reinhardt. Stephane Wrembel, however, plays gypsy-jazz guitar in the Reinhardt mode—if you saw the Woody Allen films Vicky Cristina Barcelona or Midnight in Paris, and heard on the soundtrack that guitarist with the distinctly old-world European flavor? That was Wrembel. Inside that flavor, though, is a flawless time feel and beautiful, crystalline articulation—even on those twisty tendrils, you can make out each and every note. On a solo performance it’s a wonderful thing; in a performance with his quartet (second guitarist Thor Jensen, bassist Ari Folman Cohen, drummer Nick Anderson) it’s even more beguiling, with the complex harmonies and pronounced rhythms. Try it; you’ll like it. Stephane Wrembel performs at 8 p.m. at City Winery, 1350 Okie Street NE. $20-$28.

Friday, May 31
The great drummer Art Blakey was also the great teacher Art Blakey. The man dedicated his life to leading bands (the Jazz Messengers) that he staffed with young musicians that would receive tutelage from him, then go on to spearhead new generations of jazz greats. The list is vast, running from Jackie McLean to Ralph Peterson. That last is a special case: One of only two drummers whom Blakey took on as protégés. Peterson is one of the many who has paid their debt to him forward, becoming a respected educator alongside his career as a spectacular drummer. This time, though, Peterson pays direct tribute to Blakey, who would have been 100 years old in October. He leads an ensemble called the Messenger Legacy, stocked with veteran Jazz Messengers from several eras: saxophonists Bill Pierce (tenor) and Bobby Watson (alto), trumpeter Brian Lynch, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, and bassist Essiet Essiet. All of them are great, and together they are fire. Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy perform at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $30-$40.

Saturday, June 1
Portland, Oregon-based pianist and composer Darrell Grant wrote Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite in 2012—a dramatic, choral, large-scale piece of jazz in honor of the brave little girl who desegregated New Orleans public schools in 1960. What better venue for a piece like this to be performed than D.C.’s own National Museum of African American History and Culture? In accordance with its heavy gospel influence, this performance features the choir from All Souls Unitarian Church alongside a group drawn from Howard University’s a cappella jazz ensemble Afro-Blue, as well as a stellar group of instrumentalists that includes the great drummer Brian Blade. Joining Blade are saxophonist Rahsaan Barber, guitarist Lindsey Beth Miller, cellist Cremaine Booker, bassist Clark Sommers, and composer Grant himself on the piano. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful piece that evokes not just Bridges but the entirety of the Civil Rights movement—well worth your time and attention. Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite will be performed at 1 and 4 p.m. at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1400 Constitution Avenue NW. Free (but preregistration is required at nmaahc.si.edu).
AND
In jazz circles, Carlos Henriquez is not an easy fellow to miss. He’s the longtime bassist for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as for JLCO leader Wynton Marsalis’s own quintet. If his instrumental choice makes him a somewhat unlikely candidate to lead a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, his high placement within New York’s monument to straight-a-head bebop mitigates that. The 40-year-old bassist last year recorded and released Dizzy Con Clave, an octet treatment of nine Gillespie staples that turns up the amperage on Afro-Cuban rhythms, voicings and other styles. (Lest we forget, Gillespie was one of the founding fathers of Afro-Cuban jazz in the late 1940s.) What, you thought nobody could squeeze more latin flavor into “Manteca”? Henriquez and his ensemble, now expanded to a nonet, welcome the opportunity to prove you wrong. You’d be smart, jazz fan or jazz-curious reader, to welcome it too. The Carlos Henriquez Nonet performs at 8 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I Street NW. $35.

Sunday, June 2
Lena Seikaly is one of our favorite jazz vocalists. She engages in flawless precision and subtle manipulation of time—she lands her phrasing just behind the beat on ballads, just ahead of it on uptempo tunes, dead center of the beat on mid tempo tunes (though quite ready to throw change-ups into any of the above, as the song demands it). These are the underpinnings of the most obvious trait in her singing, that full-bodied, slightly husky voice that sounds out of place with her relative youth. Seikaly is a regular at many different venues in town, but one of the best and most consistent is at The Alex: a small bar and restaurant in the basement of the Graham Georgetown Hotel. Each Sunday night, pianist Chris Grasso (D.C.’s go-to piano accompanist for singers) hosts a Jazz Night series that features a different vocalist. It’s Seikaly’s turn, giving her the good fortune of Grasso’s and bassist Michael Bowie’s backup. (The good fortune is mutual.) They begin at 6 p.m. at The Alex, 1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW. Free (but with a $20 minimum).

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google

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.

More to explore