Jazz in the District this Week

Jazz in the District this Week

by Michael J. West

Tuesday, May 7
D.C. tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker works with a number of different trio lineups, and he sounds great in all of them. Even so, there’s something magical in the configuration known as the TKQ Trio—and it takes about 30 seconds of their performing together to see why. Baker, bassist Kris Funn, and drummer Quincy Phillips add up to D.C. jazz’s equivalent of Cream: the mother of power trios. Each one of these men is a dominant musical personality, the kind of muscle player that would cause any of them to be regarded as the secret weapon in any other band. What you don’t get in this assemblage is the clash of titanic egos that tend to come with other such power trios. Each of these musicians has tremendous respect for each other; each also knows his role, but makes room in what they’re doing for the others to play their roles and give their input. That, my friends, is the way it’s supposed to work. I guess you could call them an exemplary jazz band. The TKQ Trio begins at 7:30 p.m. at JoJo’s, 1518 U Street NW. Free.

Wednesday, May 8
Benny Golson turned 90 this year, and if he’s playing anything like he was when he was 85 then his performance is can’t-miss. Golson was one of the behind-the-scenes architects of hard bop, the rootsy, bluesy iteration of bebop that dominated the 1950s. He is a splendid tenor saxophonist with a heavily melodic, gospel-inspired tilt. A good Golson performance is as much about the material, however. He is one of perhaps three greatest living composers, the author of such enduring jazz standards as “Whisper Not,” “I Remember Clifford,” “Stable Mates,” “Blues March,” and the unforgettable “Killer Joe.” But there’s still more to one of his evenings on the bandstand: What he says. Yes, in addition to being a great saxophonist and great composer, Golson is one of jazz’s great raconteurs. In between songs he’ll tell hilarious, often insightful stories about the songs he writes and plays, and about other musicians who played them. (Among others, Golson cut his musical teeth in Philadelphia alongside a young friend named John Coltrane). If you want to accomplish something to rival all that, look back over this discussion and come up with a reason not to go see him. Benny Golson performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $35.

Thursday, May 9
In March, D.C. trombonist Shannon Gunn led a quartet that opened the show for Carla Bley and her trio. It’s not easy to hold one’s own in the presence of royalty like Bley (another one of the aforementioned three greatest living composers). But Gunn, already one of the most visible and exciting performers on the scene, had a secret weapon. Alto saxophonist Rachel Winder, a Baltimorean whom this writer had never heard before that night, stepped up with a series of improvisations that were completely fresh and original. She was all but boiling over with creative energy and ideas. I couldn’t wait to find a reason to hear her play again. Well…here’s one. Gunn is apparently experimenting with quartet configurations these days (in addition to her ongoing work with the Firebird Organ Trio and the Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes big band), and Winder appears to be her go-to frontline partner. They’re appearing together at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.

Friday, May 10
It will be a long time yet before the jazz world recovers from the shock of the passing of Geri Allen in 2017, and perhaps longer still before that jazz world grasps the vast debt it owes to that piano genius. She offered wholly new and original ways of approaching harmony and phrasing that are now most apparent in some of the genre’s most forward-thinking practitioners: think Craig Taborn, Vijay Iyer, and, of course, Jason Moran. Moran is among Allen’s most outspoken apostles—and, given that Allen was one of the most outspoken apostle of jazz giant Mary Lou Williams, it was probably as inevitable as it is appropriate that Moran should fold a tribute to Allen into a tribute to Williams. The first of the two-night Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center is entirely given over to Feed the Fire, the salute to Allen that includes Moran and her friend and fellow traveler, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Also on hand will be bass great and NEA Jazz Master Dave Holland, a DJ, and a tap dancer. It’s not necessarily something you might have seen or heard out of Allen, but it’s surely in keeping with her visionary spirit. Feed the Fire: A Tribute to Geri Allen begins at 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $45.

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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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Interview with Maryjo Mattea

Interview with Maryjo Mattea

by Molly Guillermo

There are few ways to describe the genre of Maryjo Mattea’s music, mostly because she experiments with different tempos and chord changes, as well as rap features and guitar tones. But don’t mistake her music for excessive or muddled—her voice balances her music and creates a harmony very few artists can pull off. Her music is a hybrid blend of pop and rock, and her voice is the charismatic connection between the three. The local artist is a local indie rock icon—listening to Mattea is like listening to a significantly more refined version of Courtney Love. And if, you know, Courtney were also a social scientist and Zumba teacher. She’s backed by Scott Manley on drums, Joshua Hunter on guitar, and Eamonn Donnelly on bass, all of whom are essential to the mix—no one is ever truly a solo act.

Good storytelling is in the details, which is demonstrated by her lyrics, that are at times existential, and at times meditations on love and relationships. The emotional truth of her lyrics reveal the importance of women artists—they offer a fresh perspective of what it means to be a musician in the political context of DC.

Alchemical Records: How did you initially get into making music and how long have you been doing it?
Maryjo Mattea: If you want to start from the very beginning, I started making music when I was about seven. There’s a scene in the Tom Hanks movie, Big, where he and his boss play “Heart and Soul” with their feet on a giant floor keyboard at FAO Schwartz. Apparently, after watching that scene I went to my room and figured out how to play it on my Muppet Babies keyboard. My parents were then convinced that I was some kind of musical prodigy and enrolled me in piano lessons. I started singing in choir in middle school and wrote my first songs when I was about 13. I begged my parents to let me take a guitar class in 10th grade and they bought me a cheap POS junker guitar from a pawn shop for it (which I still own). I also started singing competitively in high school. Despite all these years of musical training and experience, I didn’t actually have the guts to play my original music in front of anyone until I was in my mid-20s. I was a grad student at Penn State in State College, PA and the owners of a tiny tea shop there offered me a gig and I haven’t stopped writing and performing since.

AR: What are the most important themes in your music?
MM: I’ve historically used songwriting as a vehicle for expressing emotions that are so intense, that I feel like I might explode if I can’t get them out of my brain and onto a page. Anger, infatuation, frustration, obsession—these states would consume me if not for the act of channeling them into music. I struggle with clinical depression and a fair amount of that finds its way into my songs–songwriting has been both a means of managing this condition as well as a way of communicating what the experience is like.

AR: Tell me about where you grew up and how that reflects in your sound.
MM: I grew up in suburban Fort Lauderdale, FL in the ’90s. I don’t necessarily think that geographic location informed my sound as much as the time period. I watched a lot of MTV growing up (back when it was MUSIC Television) and listened to a lot of alternative radio. Alternative, grunge, and pop punk are so inextricably a part of my musical psyche; these styles seem to subconsciously influence nearly everything I do musically.

AR: How does DC influence your sound and how do you see yourself in that space?
MM: I moved to DC in 2011 for a job. (I’m a social scientist by day.) Whether or not you work in politics, it permeates every aspect of the culture of this city. People here host watch parties for the State of the Union address rather than the Oscars. Bars name cocktails after controversial political figures and offer drink specials for each new salacious scandal. For the most part, I would say my music has been relatively apolitical, but I had such an intense, visceral emotional response to the results of the 2016 election–which was influenced largely by my election night experience at a neighborhood bar here in DC–that I had to write a song to express that grief and frustration. I’m not sure that I would have written that song had I not spent election night in a DC bar surrounded by other DC residents. Aside from that, I’d say one big thing I’ve learned since moving here is that the conception that people in DC “are what they do,” is wholly inaccurate. I can’t count the number of friends for whom I have no idea what they do for a living and it’s because it simply isn’t the only thing (or even the most important thing) that defines them. In that respect, I feel like I fit in pretty well here. I’m not just Maryjo, the social scientist; or Maryjo, the musician; or Maryjo, the Zumba instructor (yes, I do that too!)—I’m all of these things and no single one defines me.

AR: What is it like being a successful woman artist in a male-dominated industry, and what would be your advice to aspiring women artists?
MM: A pain in the ass! LOL. But seriously, it’s tough. I perform in a lot of bands and I’m the only woman in most of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been assumed to be part of an entourage as opposed to a member of the group. But times are changing and things do seem to be getting a little bit better for us. In DC and across the globe there are now groups devoted to supporting and advancing women in music and publications and playlists that focus exclusively on female and non-binary artists. In DC, I find a great sense of camaraderie with other female artists; we have each other’s backs and empathize with each other’s struggles. My advice to aspiring women artists would be to find these networks and embrace them because without them, it’s an intimidating, frustrating, and lonely arena in which to share your art and bare your soul.

AR: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
MM: I like to call it the perfect blend of polished pop and raw rock! There’s definitely some heavy 90s alternative influence as well. I get a lot of comparisons to Alanis Morissette, Liz Phair, and Jenny Lewis.

AR: What artists do you look up to?
MM: I am OBSESSED with The Beatles. I saw The Beatles Anthology on TV when I was in 9th grade and it changed my life forever. They are by far and away my #1 influence. Alanis Morissette is also another major influence of mine. She was a woman who made angry, angsty, intense music that didn’t sound like anything else like what other women at the time were doing and it was exactly what I needed to hear when I was fourteen years old. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard is also one of my favorite songwriters of all time; I long to see the world the way he sees it.

AR: Are you releasing new music soon?
MM: Yes! I have a new single coming out NEXT WEEK called “A New Normal,” another one due out sometime this summer called, “Candlelight and Roses,” and an EP that should be ready before the end of the year. I’m also supposed to get my hands on the live recordings from my solo set at last summer’s DC Music Rocks Festival at the 9:30 Club at some point and plan to release both the audio and video from that show. Finally, my band is recording a couple live in-studio songs this month. We’ll be releasing both the audio and video from that session as well.

AR: What are your biggest challenges as an independent musician in DC?
MM: I struggle with how to reach new people, expand my fan base, and get these people out to shows. For as supportive as the DC music scene is, that support is very insular, by which I mean artists support other artists, but generally speaking, the appetite for original live music in this town seems to pale in comparison to other places. Cover shows sell out while acts that write and perform original music have to be hounded by venues for their shows not having any advance ticket sales and barely earning enough to cover the costs of operating the event. I haven’t figured out how to address this issue. How do we incite a love of ORIGINAL music in this town? After all, the cover band scene can only be successful for as long as there is original music to cover! While many folks just re-locate to other cities to advance their artistry, that seems like a bit of a cop-out. I want to know how we can make things better where we are rather than simply throwing our hands up at the problem and concluding that “DC just isn’t a music town.” I’d love to hear from your readers if they have any thoughts on this issue!

maryjomattea.com

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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.

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Frat Stars Unite: The 5:55’s Latest Indie Pop Rock Single is a Must-Listen

Frat Stars Unite: The 5:55’s Latest Indie Pop Rock Single is a Must-Listen

By Molly Guillermo and Jasmine Ward

“Slow Down” is the kind of track you’d hear on the radio and think, is this Portugal The Man? Who are these guys? Lead singer Collin Steves’s muffled, high falsetto is reminiscent of bigger indie rock artists, some of which they’ve toured with or played with (Imagine Dragons, understandably, and The Black Eyed Peas, more confusingly.) The Washington DC based outfit includes Kevin Goldman, lead guitarist and rockstar in chief, Max Biskup, bassist who recorded with Austin Bello of Forever The Sickest Kids (emo turned indie kids rejoice!), and Ryan Steves, drummer.

After tiring out the Greeks at Virginia Tech, The 5:55 was invited to perform at different universities including Auburn University, University of Tennessee, University of Maryland, and University of Virginia. Soon they were booking gigs at The House of Blues, The National, PIANOS NYC, DC9, and Baltimore Soundstage. The band recently finished recording their single “Marquee” with the aforementioned Austin Bello, their first single since signing with Universal Music Group. “Marquee” is a pop rock jam that has earned the right to be blasted on your car’s stereo with the windows down—it’s the right mixture of feel good rock and high-pitched indie vocals to make everyone have a good time.

“Slow Down,” their newest release, is the surf rock influenced soon-to-be-hit that will make you dance, drink, and dream of summer. The guitar is so precise it’s hard to imagine their band was once a DIY-out-of-a-dorm-room project.

The pastel colored music video for “Marquee” is out now, and it pays tribute to their frat star origins with large Greek letters and fake-drunken antics. The girls fake-play guitars, hold the band members up for keg stands, and dump beer on the ground as they lip sync and pose. At one point the band has half-empty 40s clumsily duct taped to their hands (a tribute to the famed Edward 40-Hands college party theme), and even “slap the bag” (Franzia anyone?) The cutesy and incredibly staged parody of Greek life is silly and light-hearted enough to make college parties seem fun and memorable, and not bring any trashy recollections of puking in the bushes behind Sigma Nu to the surface.

Their biggest influences (musically, not collegially speaking) are The Foo Fighters, The Struts, Highly Suspect, Blink-182, and Maroon Five—and it shows. Their indulgences are “craft beer, loud music, and babes,” which is as believable as it is corny. But that’s the fun of it. Check out their music here.

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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.

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The 9th Annual Cooley’s Anemia Foundation Care Walk Will Show How Much the DMV Cares

The 9th Annual Cooley’s Anemia Foundation Care Walk Will Show How Much the DMV Cares

PRESS RELEASE

April 22, 2019

For Immediate Release

Pete Kimbis
(240) 780-2665
peter@peterkimbis.com

The 9th Annual Cooley’s Anemia Foundation Care Walk Will Show How Much the DMV Cares

Unique Walk-a-Thon Benefits Children with the Inherited Blood Disorder: Thalassemia

Where: Caroline Freeland Park, 7200 Arlington Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814
When: Sunday, May 5, 2019 from 10am-1pm

Entertainment by: Wammie award winning Eli Lev, and chart topping international singer/songwriter Emma G

The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation (CAF), the country’s only non-profit organization dedicated solely to battling the fatal genetic blood disorder thalassemia, has announced that the annual CAF Care Walk walk-a-thon will be held at Caroline Freeland Park on Sunday, May 5, 2019 from 10am-1pm.

Last year, the CAF Care Walk had more than 2,000 participants in different cities across the United States, raising over $310,000 for the Foundation’s medical research, patient service and public education programs. Unlike a traditional walk-a-thon, in which thousands of people gather in one place for a concentrated mass event, the CAF Care Walk includes several different events held across the nation. Each individual who registers for the CAF Care Walk can decide where he or she wants to walk and for how long.

The DMV Care Walk at Caroline Freeland Park will provide a unique opportunity for those in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area to learn more about the genetic blood disorder thalassemia. Event speakers include individuals with thalassemia who will give personal perspectives on how this blood disorder affects them and what community support means to them. The Care Walk event will also feature musical guests, fun activities for children, and food. All are welcome to this free event, and donations are welcome.

Children born with the severe form of thalassemia require lifelong blood transfusions as often as every two weeks, starting in infancy. They must also undergo a difficult daily treatment which for many involves sticking a needle in the stomach and pumping in a drug for 8-12 hours every night. In addition, complications such as diabetes, osteoporosis (beginning in teenage years), and pulmonary hypertension are common. Although there have been promising advances in gene therapy in recent years, a cure is still being sought.

Individuals who wish to participate in the Care Walk at Caroline Freeland Park on May 05, 2019 should register at www.bit.ly/carewalk2019 and select team “DC/MD/VA Baltimore.” Individuals interested in learning more about Care Walks, or who wish to register for a Walk of their own should contact CAF at (212) 279-8090 x 208 or email mary@thalassemia.org, or visit bit.ly/carewalk2019 to access additional information.

About the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation

Founded in 1954, the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation is dedicated to serving people afflicted with various forms of thalassemia, most notably the major form of this genetic blood disease, Cooley’s anemia/thalassemia major. Our mission is advancing the treatment and cure for this fatal blood disease, enhancing the quality of life of patients and educating the medical profession, trait carriers and the public about Cooley’s anemia/thalassemia major. CAF is a significant funder of medical research specifically related to thalassemia and its complications, contributing in this way to improving care and finding a cure.

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Jazz in the District this Week

Jazz in the District this Week

by Michael J. West

Monday, April 29
“You need to check out Jack Kilby’s Front Line record,” a musician on the scene wrote me several weeks ago. “That pocket is deep.” If anything, that text was understating things. Love is a Song Anyone Can Sing, the 2019 album in question by drummer Kilby and his band The Front Line, is ALL pocket. It’s not your ear-trickery or mind-warpery kind of jazz, just pure, unfiltered straightahead hard bop. Your Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley in-their-prime kind of stuff, applying fiendish swing to a repertoire that ranges from originals, to Disney songs, to Radiohead, to “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was certainly enough to draw the attention of the Wammies, which this year awarded Love is a Song Anyone Can Sing as best D.C. jazz album. The album features a warehouse full of guest musicians from around the DMV and up to New York. A gig in town can’t quite replicate those personnel, but does offer a sextet stacked with the likes of trumpeter John d’Earth, saxophonist Charles Owens, trombonist Elad Cohen, pianist Jacob Ungerleider, bassist Kris Monson, and of course the man himself. Jack Kilby and the Front Line begin at 7 p.m. at Marvin, 2007 Fourteenth Street NW. Free.

Friday, May 3
You hear the name Brasilian Vibes Trio and it sounds so simple, right? There must be more to it than that. Not really, though. Vibraphonist and marimbist Arthur Lipner leads a trio with guitarist, percussionist, and vocalist Nanny Assis and seven-string bassist Leonardo Lucini. Together they play a vast spectrum of Brazilian musical styles. Choro! Samba! Bossa nova! Brazilian funk! Even some musica popular brasileira (MPB). If there’s a surprise to the band’s name, it’s in just how far the “Brasilian” category can stretch. It’s no surprise at all that they do a tremendous amount of improvising (especially Lipner, though Assis does remarkable improv work too). You, even if you’re in your seat, will do a tremendous amount of moving. Incidentally, Lucini has a D.C. pedigree, having spent ten years as a musician here—those funky bass lines may speak as strongly of home as they do of Brazil. The Brasilian Vibes Trio performs at 8 p.m. at Montpelier Arts Center, 9652 Muirkirk Road in Laurel. $25.

Saturday, May 4
It’s not until you try to describe the music of Angelica Sanchez that you realize just how hard it is to describe the music of Angelica Sanchez. She is an avant-garde pianist, though she’s not of the torrential “mad jumble of sound” school that so comes to mind with avant-garde piano. At least, not when she writes for ensembles, which is most of the time. She is a careful composer and pianist, paying attention to sonorities, spaces, and decay. She actually doesn’t play terrifically often—not that she doesn’t perform often, but within a performance her playing is spare, often decorative or punctuative (even in smaller contexts, like Twine Forest, her 2013 duo with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith). She prefers to let the other instrumental voices in her bands take the lead while she puts off-kilter, otherworldly harmonic colors into the background. On the other hand, Sanchez has never worked with a nonet before…such a large group of musicians may lead to something entirely new. Isn’t that reason enough to see it? The Angelica Sanchez Nonet (with D.C. drummer Nasar Abadey opening) performs at 8 p.m. at Abramson Auditorium, 1307 L Street NW. $15.

Sunday, May 5
Here’s one you don’t see often: a trio that comprises an upright bass and two guitars. Even in your folkier contexts, bluegrass or blues or other roots music, this is a rarity. Of course Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio is none of those things, though it’s also all of those things. Bassist Crump’s group (with guitarists Liberty Ellman and Jamie Fox) certainly has a tendency toward folklike rhythms. They’re often stacked in counter-rhythms, however, so don’t go looking for hoedowns or hootenannies here. Even if you were, the advanced, often surreal (and at times even downright eerie) harmonies the trio creates would dispel you of that notion very quickly. This is delicately crafted, complex, avant-garde-ish listening music, heavy on improvisation and experimentation. The kind of music, that is, that D.C.’s Transparent Productions has specialized in presenting to Washingtonians for decades. Forget the presidential candidates: This is the most interesting of exploratory comittees. Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio performs at 8 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street NW. $20.

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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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Sounds of the Underground: Inside DC’s hardcore punk scene

Sounds of the Underground: Inside DC’s hardcore punk scene

By Molly Guillermo

Punk is influential in DC. Once there was DC’s own Dischord Records and Minor Threat, and now we have Trump’s former lawyer Ty Cobb thrashing to Copstabber. DC’s punk scene is more alive than ever, even with Ivanka Trump claiming to have been punk because she cried over Kurt Cobain’s death. With or without Trump’s cronies fist pumping to songs like “Butt Drugs” or sporting flannels, there is an underground hardcore scene in DC that is very much alive, and it’s not nearly as laughable as the elite make it seem. Though the irony is lost on Ty and Ivanka, the gutter punks and DIY garage bands of the nation’s capital are having the last laugh.

Music trends will come and go, but from a counter-cultural perspective, punk will always exist as an attitude. The musical and sartorial expression of the fans and artists at DC’s Damaged City Festival was “We are not a part of the status quo”, which is another way of saying “This is what punk looks and sounds like, and fuck you if you don’t like it.” The studs, the worn leather, the ripped t-shirts–every aesthetic that designers like Raf Simons have preyed on and ripped off to sell for thousands of dollars every season–were present, except here the only labels worn said “Nazi Punks Fuck Off!”

The DIY effect of punk is powerful and ultimately inspires people to be the change they want to see in the world–if this mediocre band can get on stage and expose their guts, why can’t we all? The artists were pretty much saying, “This basement is your outlet. Rage!” And what isn’t there to rage about these days, or any days? As long as there is injustice, hypocrisy, or fraudulence in the world, there will be punks who will get on stage and scream, and punks who will push and shove and yell until their voices are heard.

The Damaged City Fest After Show was held in the basement of a dive bar in Columbia Heights called The Pinch, where young people thrashed, moshed, fist pumped, and threw themselves recklessly into the pit. Part of rejecting the status quo is having a flagrant disregard for authority, which is demonstrated by the fighting, yelling, and total turbulence in the audience. At one point, lead singer of the Texas band Sex Pills threw a beer onto our faces and screamed “Hell yeah, motherfuckers!” The lyrics were yelled so loudly and rapidly they were undecipherable, but that wasn’t the point. It was all about the ear-shattering guitar, the screaming, the pushing people out of your way, and the raising of all hell. We were blowing off steam, but it was all in good fun. At one point a girl with blue hair grabbed my hand and we exchanged a look that communicated, “I got your back,” before we were thrown to opposite sides of the pit.

The first band was Syringe, hailing from Baltimore, MD. “This is dedicated to my friend who just OD’ed,” the lead singer said. “We’re passing out Fentanyl test strips to everyone who needs one,” he said. Though touching, the fact their name was Syringe made it a little awkward for the audience to cheer in response. Yet the band had the clear percussive precision of a metal band and a woman and a male lead singer, which produced an interesting harmony of yells and shouts. “I never really liked The Slits,” a guy next to me said. “But she’s hardcore.”

The rowdiest and most intense set was Sex Pills, which had a larger cult following than the other DIY garage bands. The guitars showed no regard for traditional techniques and were willfully antagonistic, yet the distortion was bumped up enough to forgive any mistakes. The drums held it all together and were fast, fluid, and intense. In a punk bad, the guitars can lack all the precision and clarity they want—but the drummers have to be on their best behavior. Lacking a stage, the singers were able to stand right in front of the pit and fans stood as close as possible while the artists screamed with garage-y inflection into their faces. Their cloth covered mics acted as pop filters, and most likely acted as a guard from their spit, which was indeed flying everywhere. It was animalistic, nihilistic, downright wild. Washington pride was represented by the DC flag on the wall, which featured skulls instead of stars, and the mural of the White House engulfed in flames that read “Equality” above it. The image of kids fighting in front of these murals demonstrated the inherent political resistance of the counter-culture.

Frisk, a band from the UK, reminded us all of the heady days of British punk and its radio waves that reverberated from the Queen of England to the hounds of hell. Sid Vicious wannabes head banged to the music, and the guitars had slowed enough to appear to be playing an actual melody. Perhaps more interesting than the British musicians themselves was the fashion, which seemed to be both British inspired and American, with its bulky Johnny Rotten blazers and Black Flag patches.

For a genre of music that has existed since the 80s, there is technically no freshness or newness to the punk fashion of today. What makes their recycled tattoos and studded Cuban heels interesting is that they exist in the suit and tie culture of the politically charged and power obsessed nation’s capital. Punk and its fashion have traditionally represented political resistance, and it does now more than ever–especially in the Trump era. Now, youth-culture is fighting back as our country’s political pendulum swings right. Much like how Reagan inspired dozens of punk bands and songs in the 80s, Trump is inspiring the anger of an explosive underground scene only 3 miles from the White House.

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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.

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Jazz in the District this Week

Jazz in the District this Week

by Michael J. West

Tuesday, April 23
I think we can safely accuse Andrew White of having plenty of personality. Indeed, personality often seems to have exploded all over him. He wears garishly colored and patterned clothes and Coke bottle glasses; mugs like a madman onstage or on camera; and, should you ever get the chance to hear it, has a truly hilarious outgoing answering machine message. Beneath all that, though, White has a very deep, even scholarly, knowledge of jazz (including hundreds of John Coltrane transcriptions) and a very long history of performing it in D.C. (since he was a college student at Howard in the early 1960s). His sound has as much personality as his persona does: a slate-hard, often coarse tone that fearlessly ventures in and out of the changes and a brusquely unique time feel. He’s taken any cues from Trane, and plays a great deal of his repertoire, but don’t let that fool you: Andrew White is Andrew White. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $25.

Wednesday, April 24
Colin Chambers is not an ostentatious piano player. Neither is he a subtle piano player, however. He has the ineluctable knack for giving the keys exactly the touch and tone that is required at any moment in the performance, neither more nor less. It may sound like I am describing plain old basic competence, but it is in fact quite a rare phenomenon. It’s a question of smarts, of familiarity with the material and the language, of taste. Taste, indeed, might well be the kernel of what I’m getting at here. Chambers belongs in company with Red Garland, Tommy Flanagan, or Eric Reed: players with extraordinarily clean concepts and tight but inventive harmonies who do what needs to be done, say what they have to say, and get back to the service of the song. (He does the same on electric piano, incidentally, when he works with Donvonte’ McCoy’s quintet—it just has a little more funk in it there.) Colin Chambers performs at 7:00 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW (downstairs). Free.

Thursday, April 25
The sultry sound of vocalist Changamiré (pronounced Chang-ga-MEER-ay) is one of the District’s unfortunately well kept secrets. That is to say, she’s a marvelous singer with a ginger, but detailed approach to a song, and some of the most beautiful articulation you’ve ever heard. And you haven’t heard her enough, because nobody does—her performances in the area are tragically few and far between. What a fine opportunity we have, then! Dupont Underground, the (literally) underground arts space that was D.C.’s central streetcar station in days of yore, has appointed Changamiré as its “jazz ambassador.” Among other, advocacy-related duties, this post provides her with a concert venue that she is accordingly making use of with her longtime sextet (featuring, along with herself, trumpeter Donvonte’ McCoy, trombonist Lincoln Ross, pianist Clifton Brockington, bassist B.T. Richardson, and drummer Steve Walker). Jazz musicians are always looking for new venues; well, this one’s a doozy. Changamiré performs at 7:30 p.m. at Dupont Underground, 19 Dupont Circle NW. $25-$28.

Saturday, April 27
It takes a certain amount of irreverence to put The Desertion Trio into a jazz picks column. Then again, The Desertion Trio are about nothing if not irreverence. Nick Millevoi, the band’s guitarist and leader, is a proud associate of John Zorn and his Tzadik label, meaning that he giddily mishmashes rock, metal, film music, contemporary classical, and free jazz. The same is also true of his bandmates, experimental bassist Johnny DeBlase (who a few years ago made a cacophonous but truly scorching recording with jazz trumpeter Joe Moffett) and drummer Kevin Shea (a member of the band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, one of the most jubilantly irreverent outfits in the jazz world). If that’s too irreverent for you…well, you’re probably not much into avant-garde jazz to begin with. But you can also go there for the other two acts on the bill: DC guitarist Anthony Pirog, another irreverent experimenter but one with great currency in jazz circles, and free-jazz drummer Nate Scheible in a duet with Cleveland saxophonist Alex Henry. They perform beginning at 8 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple 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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Kronedge: Coming to You Live from Facebook

Kronedge: Coming to You Live from Facebook

by Kimberly Shires

Kronedge is an original melodic hard rock band based in Ashburn, Virginia. Alchemical Records met with Rafi (vocals), Tony (guitar), Sharif (guitar), Amit (bass) and Enam (drums) to discuss their next single, to hear their thoughts on building a fanbase through social media and leveraging their tightly knit Bengali community for global reach.

Kronedge’s next single, “Utthan” will be released in April. “Utthan” translates to “Uprising” in Bangla. Enam explained that the song is about how “students driv a lot of positive change, such as safer streets and healthier drug free lifestyles from their college campuses.”
A number of Kronedge songs are steeped in current events and social change. Amit noted that they write about “the things that are happening around us.” Kronedge covers topics such as suicide awareness, immigration and the freedom of press using poetic lyrics, mostly in Bangla.

Kronedge calls the DMV home now but they were all raised in Bangladesh and were active in the music scene. Amit was the bass player for the band Icons, which was one of the best Bangladeshi rock bands according to thetoptens.com and Tony played with Koprophilia. The guys grew up on albums by western bands like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Pink Floyd, and Disturbed as well as Bangladeshi classic rock and popular bands. Kronedge is part of a wave of Bangladeshi bands that create music using a fusion of eastern and western influence and while building the new styles on top of old traditions. As a matter of fact, the band’s name “Kron” or “Chron” and “Edge” gives a nod to the idea that geographical borders and generational gaps are not a constraint in the language of music.

Kronedge hails from a tight knit community. Bengalis stick together. Enam said, “people will go see a Bengali band perform, just because it is in Bangla. We recognize that, respect it and try to cater to it.” Kronedge admits that it is a challenge to cater to a community of so many generations and musical tastes however. This challenge leads to an opportunity to create something new that connects them with their audience. While Kronedge is primarily focused on creating poignant originals, they use the familiarity of cover songs to connect with various market segments. For example, Kronedge may cover a classic Bengali song, but reimagine it “The Kronedge way” in their own melodic hard rock style. This keeps their traditional audience engaged. At the same time, Kronedge aims to connect with English speaking fans by covering some of their own western classic rock influences. Kronedge plans to continue to engage English audiences by also writing more in English going forward.

Kronedge’s target market are primarily Bangladeshis living in the DMV, but the band is relevant far beyond that. Kronedge has strategically decided to build their fan base through social media, where they already have over 10,000 followers on Facebook. Kronedge realized they needed to have a continuous social media presence to keep the page active and fans engaged. To achieve this, they made a strategic decision to release singles one at a time rather than develop a full album. Tony discussed how Kronedge reaches new fans in mass by connecting through relevant facebook pages such as DMV Bangla Band Music. Rafi also explained how they use tribute videos of popular Bangladeshi artists to expand their sphere. As a matter of fact, Kronedge covered the Bangladeshi band, Miles, who subsequently endorsed Kronedge as an artist. This important endorsement increased Kronedge’s social media popularity. Kronedge plans to use their social media analytics to improve their fan outreach in the future.

Kronedge performs regular Facebook Live sessions in favor of booking gigs around town.They realized that if they relied on live venue gigs, they would only capture a fraction of their fan base but Facebook Live sessions yielded over 4000 viewers. Kronedge would not have been able to achieve this reach through live venue sessions alone. The band described their choice to use Facebook Live as a tool as a “no brainer”.

Kronedge explained how they made their Facebook Live concerts happen. Kronedge worked with Mixit Studios, in Alexandria, Virginia, to set up cameras for a live online show. Mixit Studios has continued to use the same set up to help other local artists build a broader fan base using Facebook Live shows. One of the things that made the Facebook Live performances so special is that Mixit applied studio sound to the broadcast. In short, Kronedge played a live album over Facebook. Enam noted, “Somebody mistook one of our live sessions as a music video because of the quality of the sound.”

Going forward, Kronedge plans to start performing live venues to interact directly with the local fan base built through social media. They will link up with other local bands through the Bangladeshi American Band Alliance (BABA) and various other Bangladeshi associations which regularly bring the local community together for concerts featuring Bangladeshi artists.

Make sure to follow Kronedge on Facebook and check out their next single “Utthan”.

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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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Jazz in the District this Week

Jazz in the District this Week

by Michael J. West

Monday, April 15
Alto saxophonist Marshall Keys is one of the District of Columbia’s living treasures. His sound, well immersed in the Charlie Parker-Cannonball Adderley tradition of bebop playing, is as solid as it gets, his swing even more so. Though modest and self-effacing, he’s a true virtuoso musician who has something personal and erudite to say on the instrument. (That’s before we get into his work on soprano sax, or flute.) Keys is comfortable in any context, but there’s something special about seeing and hearing him in a duo setting. Say, for example, with guitarist Geoff Reecer, whose dulcet but lucid (and surprisingly sturdy) touch is a mainstay of D.C. music thanks to his membership of the US Air Force’s jazz ensemble (The Airmen of Note). Reecer is also a mainstay of happy hour at the bar of Dupont Circle’s Tabard Inn, where Keys will join him from 7:00-9:30 p.m. 1739 N Street NW. Free.

Wednesday, April 17
At least two major voices in the current jazz world, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and vibraphonist Warren Wolf, have told me that D.C.-by-way-of-Baltimore bassist Kris Funn is their favorite bass player. And why not? Funn’s facility on the instrument is nothing short of remarkable. The sound (which packs fearsome power into a remarkably soft touch) is immediately recognizable as his; the ingenuity is fresh on every attempt; and Funn’s very presence brings an injection of enthusiasm and energy to the music on every level. What’s more, though, the bass player has something to say. His band and 2017 debut album, both named Corner Store, make that clear. Funn’s built both a perspective and a vision as a young black man and artist who made his way through Baltimore and D.C.; it’s our good fortune that he’s eager to share it. Kris Funn and Corner Store perform at 7 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. $19.

Thursday, April 18
Guitarist, producer, documentarian and all-around visionary Ken Avis put together last year what may be the definitive (so far) document of our music with his CD compilation Capital Jazz. Among its baker’s dozen luminaries were songs by saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, pianist Mark G. Meadows, vocalists Akua Allrich and Rochelle Rice, and violinist David Schulman and his band Quiet Life Motel. But jazz on record only goes so far, as Avis knows—so he has also conspired with the good folks at Strathmore to produce Capital Jazz as a performance series. The aforementioned five acts are all on the program for the diptych’s kickoff installment. (Its second will be next month.) “Prepare to suspend your idea of what jazz is,” wrote Avis in the liners for the Capital Jazz CD. Rest assured, if you’re not at least casually familiar with the scene now, the live version will force you to do the same. Capital Jazz begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $30.

Sunday, April 21
Happy Easter! Observant or not, you can celebrate the holiday in style at Twins, with accordionist-pianists. Did you know we had such creatures in our midst? Why, in fact, we have two! Simone Baron, whom you may know from her position in the chamber-tango-jazz ensemble (yes, we have one of those in our midst too) Arco Belo, also leads a trio of her own with bassist Steve Arnold and drummer Lucas Ashby. Then there’s Amy K. Bormet, who plays just about everywhere, with just about everyone, and is always looking for an unusual new adventure. With Baron, she has found one. The two women will alternate on accordion and piano, playing some music by Brazilian female composers as well as their originals and “bizarre versions of standards.” In keeping with the theme of the holiday, they have titled the program “Marshmellow-Flavored Music”—and Bormet, who will also sing, is doing her best to make the gig in a pink bunny suit. The music happens 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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Mat Kerekes plays the Songbyrd Cafe

Mat Kerekes plays the Songbyrd Cafe

by Molly Guillermo

“Care-a-kiss,” Mat Kerekes, lead singer turned solo artist of the indie pop punk band Citizen, rasped into the mic as he tuned his guitar, on stage in the basement of Adams Morgan’s Songbyrd Cafe. “Not Kere-keys, it’s Kerekes. Care For A Kiss.” He introduced the artists next to him who form the band he tours with, and who electrify his acoustic albums for the stage. His girlfriend, Gabby Navarro, on bass; Jake Duhaime, drummer in the band Citizen; Brett Kaminski on electric guitar; and Jacob Sigman, a crowd favorite for his own solo EPs on keyboard. Kerekes’s live experience is nothing like his record experience, which showcases his softer side. Though Kerekes was still playing his signature acoustic guitar, each song also featured Kaminski’s electric guitar solos, which were nothing short of show-stopping, as he performed solo after solo to the audience’s cheers. Though the performance was unlike Citizen’s darker, more punk than pop feel, Kerekes’s sound was livelier, rowdier, and more light-hearted than his acoustic records. He started with “Ruby,” on of his most recent releases and a crowd favorite. The love song had a fun, bubblegum pop turned rock feel, and the audience cheered when Kerekes sang the bridge in a high falsetto over the sound of electric guitar. “Diamonds”, his other new single, began with a soft vocal run to the sound of Sigman’s keyboard. Sigman had some dedicated fans, who loved screaming “Jacob!” every few seconds. The simple song transitioned into loud drums in the background, complete with a chorus of opera-esque back up singing. Though the fans weren’t entirely on board with the lyrics of such a new song, it didn’t stop them from bobbing their heads along. The louder Kerekes shouted the lyrics, the more the audience echoed them back to him.

He debuted three new songs, which featured your standard pop punk elements—electric guitar distortions and power chord changes with light-hearted and at times trite lyrics. Though the genre hasn’t had significant mainstream success since the 2000s, pop punk is far from dead. Indie artists like Kerekes have a cult following of skaters, teenagers, and punks lacking political motivation, and those fans are truly dedicated. Serious Kerekes and Citizen fans will mosh like they’re at a Bad Brains concert (Bad Brains, a DC based-hardcore band, actually coined the term mosh, so perhaps moshing to pop punk is more acceptable if you’re doing it a concert in the District.) You won’t see Kerekes headlining Coachella any time soon, but intimate basement performances are typical of the genre, giving Kerekes a compelling underground status that makes you feels young and rebellious when you’re watching him sing. Bands like The Story So Far, whom Kerekes’s band Citizen has toured with, also perform in similar underground atmospheres like The Panda Studio’s Waiting Room. The genre’s cult following is mostly young, male, and white, and almost everyone in the audience had X’s on the back of their hands, yet everyone knew all the lyrics to each song, particularly “The Clubs / The People’s Attention”, one of Kerekes’s biggest hits. It was a rowdy performance, with Kerekes shouting into the mic for most of it. The guitar was rougher, coarser, than the other songs, riling the audience up. A Mac Demarco look-a-like standing next to me threw his beer on the ground and yelled “Fuck yeah!”

The show slowed for the song “Riding In Your Car”, which was his only acoustic solo. His voice was strained and even cracked at times, which made his vocal delivery passionate and sincere. His confessional lyricism didn’t come off as contrived, but vulnerable, like watching someone peel back a bandage and show you their wound. As he sang about loving someone, there was a vulnerability in that that made you feel as if it was you who was falling in love for the first time, and it was you who was wishing they “would sing along [to all your favorite songs.]” It was voyeuristic and intense to watch, but everyone in the audience swayed along. “My brother actually wrote this song,” he said beforehand. “I stole it from him. This is for him.” You’d never guess that after watching him perform it.

The kind of people who enjoy Mat Kerekes are mostly Citizen fans, who often yelled “Play ‘The Night I Drove Alone!’” a popular song by the band. Around me, though, I couldn’t help but notice that even the Citizen fans sang and danced along to every song. It was an energetic performance, and a set that was designed bring his slow songs to life and showcase the talent of Kerekes and the other musicians. At times Kerekes seemed truly connected with the musical overflow around him. Though it was his name, his act, there was no ego. He was part of a band, and even one of us. A guy with some angsty emotions, who apparently falls pretty quickly in love.

The final song was “My Lucky #3,” which is Kerekes’s most streamed song on Spotify and Bandcamp. Kerekes’ voice was nearly drowned out by the sound of his fans singing along, and it ended the show on a light-hearted note. “Last night I had my fair share of drugs,” he sang, which seemed like apt lyrics to be stuck in your head after the show. A guy next to me wearing Vans and cuffed chinos (a popular fashion choice in today’s indie youth culture) held up a peace sign and yelled, “Last night I had my fair share of love!”

matkerekes.com
matkerekes.bandcamp.com

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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.

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