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Get all the latest music news and reviews in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Richmond, VA areas.Visit us daily and stay up-to-date on your favorite local and national acts.

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This NOVA Music Maker Started Writing as a Helicopter Pilot

The Northern Virginia artist who goes by the handle Music Giff has spared no influences on his most recent album, “Bad Love.” The touches of gospel, blues, R&B, funk, and even country are sprinkled liberally on a compelling new album from this unique musical talent.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Music Giff, who in a former life was an Army helicopter pilot. Even while serving the nation, he knew he someday wanted to be a songwriter.

“It started in flight school as a stress relief. I didn’t play the guitar at the time, so it was all lyrics and belting out melody into a Casio mini recorder. Yes, a mini cassette recorder,” Music Giff said. “Honestly, I surprised myself.”

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SAGA’s Jim Crichton: “Wound Up, Worlds Apart in Perfect Symmetry”

Since 1978, Canada’s second favorite prog rock sons SAGA have been rocking nonstop. Over their four decades in existence, they have sold over 10 million albums around the globe. In America, they are best known for their hits “On The Loose” and “Wind Him Up” from the 1981 album “Worlds Apart.” To celebrate the release of their compilation album, Keith Valcourt caught up with SAGA’s founding member (and longest running player) Jim Crichton from his home in the great white north to discuss SAGA’s long career, the effects of having a hit record, and why their U.S. label wanted a “Hot Chick” on the cover and not “an old guy with a map.”

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Data Recovery Project: “Shake It When You Hear It”

Like New Order? Depeche Mode or their less popular cousin band
Camouflage? How about early Nine Inch Nails without all the screaming?
Of course you do. That is why you need to know about the Washington, DC based musical collective known as Data Recovery Project or DRP for short. Led by synth head C.P. Kush (Keyboards and Vocals) and featuring Daniel
Hill (of Yellow Tie Guy fame) on additional vocals, keys and guitar, the duo play danceable retro pop through a series of programmed beats and keyboard riffs. Lyrically they are affected and reflective about the world around them. Providing a dark danceable soundtrack for these dystopian times. I caught up with CP at home in D.C. to input some data into the machine and discuss influences, vibing and a made-up character called “Safety Bear.”

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Juliana Hatfield: “Boston (Cambridge Actually) In Her Blood”

It’s funny how an artist can often be linked to a city or regional area. For Juliana Hatfield that area is Boston, Massachusetts or more specifically the neighboring Cambridge, Mass. It seems appropriate that the woman who started her career in the “College Rock” band The Blake Babies would be identified with a town known for two of the world’s most well-known institutes of higher learning Harvard and M.I.T. After going solo Juliana released a slew of cool records. She also spent time as a part time member of Boston’s favorite sons: The Lemonheads playing bass and singing backup on their breakthrough album, “It’s a Shame About Ray.”

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Jamie Darken Breathes New Life Into Solo EP, Burial.

When Jamie Darken first began writing the songs that would appear on his debut solo EP, Burial, he imagined he was crafting demos for Cherry Ames, a local Washington DC area indie-rock band that Darken performs as vocalist, guitarist, and bassist. With Cherry Ames on hiatus amidst the global shutdown and performing in venues unavailable as an option, Darken’s drive to make progress with the ideas on his own eventually brought the tracks to the place where it simply felt right to release as his own project. The result is five songs written, produced, and performed by Darken, with the exception of leading single “This Could Be Your Home” co-written with fellow DC area musician Christopher Mathews-Larsen.

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Get to Know The Frontier!

In 2015, Jake Mimikos formed the Frontier and he hasn’t looked back. He has been featured on NPR, Netflix, The CW, MTV and more! The frontier is a one-man indie/acoustic project emerging from the D.C. area that combines a number of different genres including indie rock and acoustic. The band currently works with producer Austin Bello and has been creating some really interesting music! We got the opportunity to interview him, and wanted to share what we learned.

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DC Music Summit Provides Empowerment With Local Industry Leaders

The 2021 DC Music Summit is going virtual! While I’ll miss the in-person opportunity to network, the DCMS team, headed by founder Dior Ashley Brown, is working hard to recreate the networking experience, live music performance, and educational workshops that attendees have come to expect from this Wammie Award winning annual event.

Organizations and events like DC Music Summit help put a spotlight on local music industry leaders and highlight the diverse and inclusive creative culture and community that has continued to thrive within the DMV music scene. I’m excited to be presenting one of the many educational workshops with topics ranging from music publishing to personal health and wellness taking place at the event happening May 21 & 22

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If You Haven’t Heard Kid Travis Yet, You’re Missing Out!

If you haven’t heard of Kid Travis yet, you are missing out. He’s also a neighboring member of the DMV as he hails from Bristol, PA, which is a bit North of Philadelphia. He started out making music in 2013, and has had some serious growth in the past few years. He has become somewhat of a YouTube sensation by making covers of famous artists tracks, and even got Post Malone to call him a “Gangster”. Lately he’s been focusing on creating his own original tracks, that have been gaining even more traction. We got the opportunity to interview him, which you can check out below while listening to one of his newest tracks, “WON’T LET ME GO”. (theirs a special treat at the end as well)

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DC Funk Parade Will Funk U Up

U Street knows how to party. When World War II formally ended in 1945, residents of Northwest took to the street, cheering and celebrating the Allied victory. The neighborhood had also erupted in joy in 1937 when Joe Louis became boxing’s heavyweight champion.

The 21st century has seen U Street continue its merry tradition of revelry, thanks to the Funk Parade, which began in 2013 thanks to an enterprising entrepreneur named Justin Rood. He had a dream of a “low rumble” coming down U Street that was soon accompanied by a marching band and his neighbors all cheering—almost as if New Orleans had come to the capital city.

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Yellow Tie Guy: “Finding Joy in Misery”

Discovering new things is one of life’s greatest gifts. Whether it is food or love or music, the thrill of being exposed to something you were otherwise unaware of and now have become fascinated with is a feeling that can’t be manufactured. As a music editor I have the pleasure of not only discovering new music but also exposing it and sharing it with the public. Case in point? The unsigned indie band Yellow Tie Guy. Catchy hooks and uplifting lyric themes are only part of the picture. I caught up with the band’s leader Daniel Hill to discuss the band’s growth, the origins of the name and their latest single, “Jailbreak.”

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A Musician’s Moment: With Azure Wolf

Out of the female-fronted bands in the DMV, Azure Wolf is one to give your undivided attention. With stomping grounds centered around Winchester, VA, the band began as a solo folk project and quickly expanded into the four-piece lineup that stands today. Azure Wolf’s ethereal brand of spacerock carries dreamlike qualities, with haunting vocals and an arrangement that’s sonically rich in time, timbre and rhythmic manipulation. Listeners of the band will feel real, defined emotions, as the band continues to write and produce new music that is sure to delight the ears and the brains in the space between.

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Chuck Da Arsonist Explores Connection Between Hip-Hop and Wellness, Shares Sneak Peek of Upcoming Album

Known to “set the stage on fire” with his hard-hitting lyrics and commanding stage presence, Chuck Da Arsonist, a pioneer of the DC hip-hop scene, knew he was destined to be a rapper the moment he discovered A Tribe Called Quest. Growing up, the DMV native was influenced by the best of the best, including Stephanie Mills, Miki Howard, Howard Hewett, Luther Vandross, and Lionel Richie.

If you’re looking for “raw, uncut hip-hop music,” then look no further.

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DC Indie Film Festival Highlights

Poetry is the currency of culture, and in this absorbing half-hour documentary, the poet Alejandro Murguía waxes on not only his years fighting for social justice, but on how the Beat generation (Ginsburg, Kerouac, etc.) bred a sense of rebellion against the way things “always” had been. Murguía was born in America but his family moved to Mexico when he was very young, so when they returned to California, he had to learn English—but soon had such a command of the language that he used it to fire up an ever-expanding circle of admirers. Little surprise he was drawn to San Francisco, where so many movements took hold in the ‘60s.

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Stray Fossa is Back!

We’ve been waiting and we know that you have too. Stray Fossa, a band that started out in Sewanee, Tennessee has released 3 new tracks recently and we’re going to review all 3! They’ve been featured on our page a bit before, but in case you’re new here and need a background, they took a bit of a break for some years after moving from Tennessee, and met up in Richmond, VA. They gained a lot of their inspiration from their parents’ record collection, which you can hear in the way brothers Nick and Will Evans, and Zach Blount combine retro-synths and reverb layered guitar chords.

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The DC Film Festival Will Go On This Year, Albeit A Little Differently

Last spring’s D.C. International Film Festival was among the last major in-person fetes prior to lockdown. Even as nervous planners nixed SXSW and other events, Maria Datch, chair of the board and director of international relations for DCIFF, and her team pressed on to make 2020’s iteration happen.
“Last year’s crew specifically thanked us, saying, ‘My film is not going to be seen anywhere live. You were it,’” Datch said of the “before” times.
Accordingly, this year DCIFF will be a hybrid affair, with many screenings and panel events taking place online, along with a few in-person events as capacity and social distancing restrictions allow. Several live events will be held at the Arlington Drafthouse in Virginia, where it is more feasible to space out patrons.

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