by Nathaniel Torres
This Thursday at Jammin Java, Eskimo Bands invites music lovers to come celebrate a venture made possible by the assembled power of local musicians. The night will feature not four, not five, but six artists based out of the DMV area, rocking the stage at Jammin Java. The undertaking is brought to live music seekers by the freshly minted brand, Eskimo Bands. The booking company is headed up by Red Medicine’s Michael McDermott. McDermott put Eskimo Bands in motion when, after a cancellation November 7th, Jammin Java offered him the last minute opportunity to fill the bill. With ill to nil experience as a booking agent, McDermott boldly took on the commitment, trusting that the local scene would come through for their local musicians.
Venues and artists are involved in a symbiotic relationship that revolves around bringing music lovers together under one roof. For artists, this usually means months, if not years, of opening acts in sticky dive bars. No disrespect to those venues, as some of those spots are our second home, where everybody knows our name. There comes a time, however, when bands must leave the nest for a place that offers something more, like table service or a sound guy.
Many musicians can relate to the trouble of needing a considerable amount of influence before being able to showcase their work on a stage as renowned as Jammin Java’s. Sometimes it can even take a while for venues to realize what an artist and their message is really about, as featured artist Emma G explains. When she first started out, “People were just like, ‘Why? You should be doing pop, or soul, or R&B music.’ Not many people saw the quality or the actual product.” After the intensive work of writing and perfecting a collection of original music, upcoming local artists must act as their own social media managers, booking agents, merchandisers, street team, and more, while simultaneously holding down a day job. What Eskimo Bands is doing is offering bands in positions like these to group together and play in front of new audiences while being on a stage that enhances their live show.
McDermott and his band are relatively new to the scene. As a matter of fact, Red Medicine’s Facebook page is less than a year old, making this initiative all the more impressive. McDermott became inspired after Red Medicine was invited to play at Baltimore Soundstage, saying, “Hearing the way we sounded on a stage meant for a rock and roll concert instead of a small bar was eye opening. It felt so good.”
The bill for Baltimore Soundstage that night included nine other bands, each playing a half hour set. Only 30 minutes of the bigger stage life, and it sounds like McDermott was hooked, asking, “How can we do that again!?” Red Medicine, being a newer project and lacking a large established fan base, didn’t exactly have an inbox full of invitations like the one that got them onto Soundstage. What McDermott figured out was that the power was in the numbers. The more bands, the more fans, the more willing a venue will be to book you, so he said, “We’ll do what what the promoter did at Baltimore Soundstage, except I’ll do it.” Easier said than done.
McDermott’s first attempt to pitch his idea didn’t get a response. Fortunately though, that didn’t stop him from giving it another go, and this time Jammin Java replied with better news. A touring band had cancelled, leaving a gap in their “live music 7 nights a week” schedule. Given only three weeks, McDermott was now on the clock to gather six local bands to put on a show.
Jammin Java has a great reputation among artists. Emma G, who opened for Noah Guthrie at Jammin Java, commented on her experience. “Incredible! The sound engineer there is amazing. I love that their green room is so intimate, and their staff really looks after musicians.” According to Jammin Java’s website, it’s family owned and family oriented, and run by three brothers who are all musicians themselves. The venue space has been recognized in magazines such as Pollstar and Paste as one of the top spots to see live music. Perhaps most telling is their mission statement. Jammin Java claims to have a real reverence for artists, and they follow these words with actions. Not only do they host great shows in the evenings, but they also host a music school during the day! Seemingly, Eskimo Bands’ premiere show couldn’t take place in a more fitting environment.
The show will feature, in no particular order, Touch the Buffalo, Mona Speaks Mountains, Lil Whiskey Kids, Emma G, Yellow Tie Guy, and of course, Red Medicine. Each band will perform a 30 minute set, allowing show goers to get a healthy variety of great local music. Eskimo Bands is a forward thinking project that hopes to be able to continuously provide music lovers with great show experiences. This Thursday, the stars have aligned to allow musicians of all calibers, in different industries, acting under different hats, to bring this show together. It will be up to you, live music seekers, to come together as well and show your love and support for our DMV musicians.
Based in DC by way of Austin, TX, Nathaniel has a background in photography, broadcasting, and live production. His vision is for to be able to provide for others in the purest way that he can: sharing knowledge and information.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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