John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting discusses performing an original song for Ukraine in front of the wreckage of Mriya and the band’s upcoming show at the Anthem with Barenaked Ladies with contributing writer Eric Althoff.
John Ondrasik would just as soon chat sports. In fact, even his stage name, Five for Fighting, comes from the world of hockey. When his face pops up on a Zoom screen, behind the singer-songwriter in his Los Angeles-area home resides not just his piano but jerseys of Pat Tillman and Luc Robitaille—the latter given to Ondrasik following the Kings vs. Ducks hockey game played at Dodger Stadium on a decidedly un-snowy California day in January of 2017.
“Not to rub it in, but I was at the final game when the Kings beat the Devils,” Ondrasik smirked of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. (I am from New Jersey.) When I shared that I am also a USC alum, Ondrasik, who attended cross-town rival UCLA, waxed about the dynasty of his alma mater’s basketball program under legendary coach John Wooden. Our conversation then turned naturally to both of our schools decamping from the Pac-12 in 2024 to join the Big 10.
Dave Mallen of Innovation Station Music: ‘I Didn’t Get Into This Line of Work to Just Set Up Mics and Hit Record’
Three-time WAMMIE Award winning producer Dave Mallen has contributed to some of the best music of the DMV, as evidenced by the 200 plus artists whose careers Innovation Station Music, his one-stop-shop studio, has advanced. Join contributing writer Cynthia Gross as she connects with Mallen to discuss his early starts, the circumstances that led him to transition from a full-time career in IT consulting to music production, how being a Highly Sensitive Person allows him to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for clients, and what Mallen considers his “why” beyond the music. Take us back to the beginning. Where did you get your starts in music?
DAVE: From age 2, I’m told I was always running to the piano at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was a trained opera singer and pianist and was probably my first inspiration for becoming a musician. She would always tell me to “play with feeling”, and to this day, I try to inject as much emotion into the music I play and produce.
John McCutcheon Returns to the Barns at Wolf Trap Again: Though Touring Behind His 43rd Album, the Prolific Songwriter Has More Tunes in the Works
Singer-songwriter John McCutcheon returns to the Barns at the Wolf Trap on April 20. “I have played at the Barns more than any other venue in the world,” said McCutcheon. “The first time I played there was 1981, which I believe was when they just opened up.” And excluding the pandemic, he has played the venue annually. Fans can expect tracks from McCutcheon’s latest album, “Leap!”, his 43rd record—equating to about one per year – as well as long-time favorites. Learn more with contributing writer Eric Althoff.
Her Body of Work Is a Wonderland: Carolyn Wonderland Will Bring her Texas Blues to Rams Head On Stage
When asked by her friend and collaborator Cindy Cashdollar who would top her dream list of producers for her first album on Alligator Records, only one name came to Carolyn Wonderland’s mind: Dave Alvin. “She called him up, and he said sure,” Wonderland said in a recent interview about such fortunate happenstance. “He would refer to himself as the ‘mad rearranger.’” That album, “Tempting Fate,” is the 11th record of Wonderland’s career. Her songwriting weaves the sounds of blues, gospel, and even some country into its sonic landscape. Learn more with contributing writer Eric Althoff.
Recent Articles If the name Peter Case doesn’t ring a bell, how about the Plimsouls? You might well remember their amazing song “A Million Miles Away,” featured ever so prominently in 1983’s “Valley Girl,” starring a rather young (and not yet quite so crazy but nonetheless a bit batty) Nicolas Cage. Despite the runaway success […]
Celtic rock artist Cat Doersch says one of the few things she has ever been so sure of is her lifelong love affair with the drums. Take a look at her passionate, riveting performances, where she becomes one with the instrument, and it becomes clear that they were made for each other. Join contributing writer Cynthia Gross as she connects with Cat Doersch to learn Doersch’s favorite song to perform with The American Rogues, the most important lesson she learned in order to be successful as a female drummer, and the story behind her affectionate nickname, “Hammer of God.”
If there’s one person who can blend the sounds of Southern soul with Texas blues, it’s Marcia Ball. Ball will be co-headlining two area shows of acoustic songs alongside Tinsley Ellis, first at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis March 28 and then the Pearl Street Warehouse in D.C. March 29. Each artist will perform a set and then jam together for the finale. Ball says the artists will share stories about the songs’ gestation, making the evening not just a concert but a conversation. Join contributing writer Eric Althoff, as he connects with Marcia Ball to learn more about what audiences can expect from her upcoming shows.
If you smell something rather unusual at the Birchmere on March 17, there’s at least a chance that the Smithereens’ fans have brought them…crabs. That actually happened once at the venue back in the day when the Jersey boys played the famous Alexandria stage. “One of our fans, a longtime fan, brought me a dozen crabs,” recalls guitarist Jim Babjak. “I had them [wrapped] in newspapers, and I stunk up the back! But the band tolerates me because they know I love Maryland crabs.” The Smithereens share memories of playing the Birchmere—and their hopes for a joyful present – with contributing writer Eric Althoff.
Suzette Dorsey doesn’t care for the term “tribute act.” Rather, her show “Forever T I N A” is a “salute” to the music and persona of the legendary Tina Turner. Dorsey grew up in a musical family in New Jersey. While in college at Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University, she would frequently head down to the capital region to visit her brother, who was studying at the University of Maryland. One of those fateful weekends, the siblings went to see Turner perform at the Warner Theatre, an event that changed Dorsey’s life. Learn more about Dorsey’s upcoming show at the Birchmere on Feb. 23 with contributing writer Eric Althoff.
Jeff Draco Goes from Intern to Co-Headliner in One Year, Shares the 9:30 Club Stage with Crystal Casino Feb. 9
Barely a year ago, D.C.-based artist Jeff Draco was interning at the 9:30 Club. But on Feb. 9, he is sharing the bill with the Crystal Casino Band. He will have a much different view of the venue from its stage, and the musician can’t stop pinching himself. “To be coming back playing is quite special. I’m beyond excited,” Draco said. You can have all the talent in the world, but without a network—and more than a little bit of luck—this gig might not have come his way. Learn more with contributing writer Eric Althoff, including details on Draco’s forthcoming single, “Letters,” which he cites as his most vulnerable to date.