Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Big names, small venues

Tom Jones @ 930

Tom Jones @ 930

So, last night I went with a couple of friends to see Tom Jones at the 9:30 club. Yes, knickers were thrown (but not by us). It was an eclectic crowd, with everyone from 18-year-olds to retirees in the mix! Tom had a great band, and sounded pretty darn good for someone who’s 68 years old. He’s perfectly aware of his abilities and his limitations and works to stay within them to give the audience the best possible sound. (Aretha Franklin, I’m looking at you.)

He’s out supporting his new album.

The show put me in mind of a couple of other big-name, small-venue shows I’ve seen in the fifteen years I’ve lived in the DC metro:

  • Tony Bennett at the old 9:30 Club (which was way, way, way smaller than the existing venue); he was playing an impromptu charity show and admission was the price of a can of food
  • David Bowie at Nation (about the same size as the existing 9:30 Club)

How about you, DC? What great surprise acts have you seen around town, and where was the show?

Photos from Manifest HOPE Party

I snapped a few shots of the main acts at the Manifest HOPE party tonight – Santogold, De La Soul, Moby

Santogold at Manifest HOPE

De La Soul at Manifest HOPE

Moby at Manifest HOPE

Full set is on flickr.

Preview: American History Museum

In three days the National Museum of American History reopens to the general public. I was fortunate to tour the renovated building yesterday.

The first thing I notice as I step through the Mall entrance of the American History Museum is how light it is. A skylight brightens the three story atrium and the artifacts, like a home computer circa 1985, that line the walls in 10 ft. cases. A grand staircase constructed of metal and glass connects the first and second floors.

As I walk into the Selin Welcome Center, videos preview some of the events and special exhibits on the four flat screens as helpful volunteers provide maps and membership information.


Ben Folds At Constitution Hall



I don’t go to many concerts.

When it comes to paying for concert tickets I mostly stick with my favorite artists: Dave Matthews Band, Guster, and Ben Folds. I recently saw the latter at Constitution Hall. Now it’s not that I’m not open to checking out new music or artists- it’s just that when I go to a live show, I appreciate knowing at least some of the material on display.

Sitting down at the show I expected to hear some new and unfamiliar material- but I didn’t expect an entire show of unknown songs. Folds played all relatively unknown material; waiting til the “encore” to play a few familiar tunes.

After the show I could tell that the general reaction from the audience was mixed. Some appreciated to hear the new material that will end up in Fold’s newest album (which was not released yet at the time of the show.) Others were angry they didn’t get to hear familiar songs like “Brick”, “Army”, and “Rocking The Suburbs.”

I identify myself with the haters.

Now I enjoyed listening to the new songs and I will try and recognize a few when I buy the new album, however I would of enjoyed singing along to some songs I knew- which is something I do at all the DMB and Guster shows I attend.

Josh Eiserike at Inside Nova attempts to defend the show by brining to attention how terrible a concert at Constitution Hall is:

Constitution Hall has to be one of the worst places in D.C. to see a rock concert. It’s a seated venue, which pretty much sucks all the energy out of the room. Folds show are best when everyone is packed like sardines, singing along and feeding off the energy on stage. Seats are for the National Symphony Orchestra, not a guy who plays piano with his stool.

I strongly agree that the venue wasn’t that great- my date couldn’t resist to the urge to dance and wasn’t used to being restrained to a seat. She spent a lot of the concert dancing in the aisle, attracting the attention of other patrons and security. So if you want to know who brought the weird girl that was the only one dancing at the show- that was me.

Constitution Hall is probably not the best place to see a show but I still have to put some of the blame on Ben Folds- he could of mixed the material up a little better. Perhaps play more of the crowd favorites in between new material. However as a fan of Ben Folds I will not jeer at him like others might have that night- I am a fan of his music, not just his hit songs.

Get your creative juices flowing on Saturday at the 2008 Arts on Foot

On any given day, if you’re craving a little art and culture, there is always an exhibit or performance or demonstration to quench your appetite.

Well this Saturday, plan to venture to Penn Quarter for an extravaganza of art and crafts and performances.  Bombard your senses with 2008 Arts on Foot, a one-day visual and performing arts festival that kicks off the DC fall season.

In addition to the outdoor festival on F street between 6th and 9th Streets, the following venues will also feature activities, exhibits and performances:

Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery: The museums will host booths at the street festival that offer hands-on activities for children.

National Theatre: Come to the inaugural performance of Saturday Morning at the National. Carrie’s Dream is a true story of an African-American girl growing up in the rural south. This interactive show features sing-alongs and reflects the humor and struggles of a family coping with life in a segregated society. Performances are at 9:30 and 11:00 am. Though free, tickets are required and will be distributed 30 minutes before the show on a first come, first served basis. The Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Warner Theatre and Woolley Mammoth Theatre: Take a back stage tour of the theaters. See the Arts on Foot events schedule.

Old Post Office Pavilion: Enjoy live performances by the Levi Stephens Band (alternative soul), Phaze II (smooth jazz), Uncharted Waters (smooth jazz funk), and Kirk Lamkin & Pulse Level (smooth jazz). Performances take place on the Pavilion Stage and are free to the public.

Canadian Embassy: Picture enthusiasts will enjoy a collection of 330 images entitled – 50 Years of American Photojournalism. The photos capture moments from the civil-rights movement, the various wars from 1939 – 1989, and famous people.

Landmark E Street: The DC Shorts Film Festival presents free family films with genres ranging from animation to sci-fi to comedy to experimental. Free tickets will be distributed at the DC Shorts booth at 10:00 am on a first come, first served basis.

National Gallery of Art: At 12:30 pm, catch “O Dia do Desespero (Day of Despair),” a documentary style film about the final hours of Camilio Castelo Branco’s life. The movie speculates on the creative process of the 19th-century Portuguese writer.  Then at 3:00 pm watch “The Last Conquistador ” which follows the  controversy over sculptor John Sherrill Houser’s most important commission, the world’s largest equestrian bronze of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. Filmmaker John Valadez will be present to lead a discussion after his film.

National Museum of Women in the Arts: Visit the NMWA booth on 8th and F Streets to create your own unique artist’s accordion book.  All materials provided for you to create a masterpiece.

In addition to all the arts activities, don’t miss the wine tastings and culinary demonstrations. A fun-filled day for all ages!

Friday Pick: The Jones @ The Rock & Roll Hotel


Get ready folks. One of my favorite local bands, The Jones, is headlining at The Rock & Roll Hotel this Friday. Self described as “a kind of bluesy rock and roll”, this solid trio has a unique throwback sound and raw musical talent that is hard to come by nowadays. Think Stones. Think Hendrix. Think The Black Keys. Think The Jones.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off your holiday weekend than with a killer show at one of DC’s best music venues. There’s nothing like seeing local bands before they hit the big leagues, as these guys are sure to do.

The Jones
The Known Unknowns
In Technicolor
No Compromise

Friday, May 23RD @ The Rock & Roll Hotel
1353 H ST NE

Doors @ 8, Show @ 9, $10 cover

Swell Season At Meyerhoff

Last night, we went up to Charm City to catch The Swell Season (Warning, Plays Music) at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, nominally the home of the BSO. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, fresh off their win of the Oscar for Best Original Song from Once.

Hansard & Irglova brought three instrumentalists from The Frames, making for a sextet of considerable talent. Colm Mac Con Iomaire joined the group on violin, as well. I was incredibly impressed by the balance in the Meyerhoff. I’ve seen amplified shows in concerts halls go horribly awry, but last night’s sound was nothing short of incredible.

I’m excited to pick up the show when it ends up on Played Last Night later this week, as it featured multiple new songs, and a killer cover of Van Morrison.

If you missed the show on Saturday night at the Meyerhoff, don’t fret, they’re playing V Fest at Pimlico in August. And, of course, if you just want to see the great space at the Meyerhoff, the BSO is playing all summer.

Swell Season — Originally uploaded by girlzone41

Free Concert @ Farragut Square 5-7pm

Sounds in the SquareThe Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (or GTBID for short) is having their kick-off in a series of “Sounds in the Square” this evening at 5pm. I’m not sure how much foot traffic of commuters it will draw away from the mass movement of people to and fro as they rush home, but at least it may be an attention getter away from the razing of the building at Connecticut and K Streets Wayan had such fond memories of.

This evening’s affair will star Justin Jones & The Driving Rain, but other concerts will follow from May 22 and June 5, 12, 19, 26 (and a reschedule from last week’s rained out performance on September 4). I’m sure it will be an interesting experiment for GTBID, who were also, if I remember, one of the first areas in downtown D.C. to offer free WiFi in the park a number of years ago. And you know they’re hip and with it, not just because they dress in gold and black, because they have a MySpace page!

Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion: FAIL


I’m getting too old for this crap. Yesterday was a day I’d been waiting for, a chance to see one of my top 5 favorite bands. Radiohead has turned out so much amazing music over the years that is just my style, a little bit of rock and a little bit of electronica, all tied up with an eerie, melancholic bow. Whenever I hear the first few seconds of “Kid A”, chills shoot up my spine. It’s the type of music that is absolutely made for a gloomy, rainy day.

But not this kind of rain.

Not only did I decide to suck it up and make the trek out to the Nissan Pavilion, something I said I’d never do, but my friends and I endured a torrential rainstorm for three and a half hours. Even in full rain gear we were miserable and cold as were most of the people around us. Of course there were the young kids wearing shorts and t-shirts who thought it was cool to be soaking wet in 50 degree weather, as if it was adding to their concert experience somehow, but I’m no kid and I experienced no addition of fun. We kept debating about whether we should just leave before Radiohead even came on (the opening act sucked BTW), but the longer we waited, the longer we thought, “Well we’ve stayed this long. Let’s wait until they come on, hear a few songs, then head out.” Which is exactly what we did.

Their set design was cool and their performance pretty much mimicked what you hear on their CD’s, but after three songs we decided that we’d heard enough, endured enough misery, and decided to head back to DC. Via Taco Bell that is, because I mean, “When in Rome.”

Overall it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in a long time, but it could have been much worse and it had nothing to do with Radiohead themselves. Well, aside from choosing to play at the Nissan Pavilion rather than some place like the Verizon Center or RFK Stadium where the masses could have used public transportation instead of driving out into the middle of nowhere. At least I can say that I’ve seen them in concert, albeit for three songs. If they go on tour again, rest assured I will be buying tickets for one of their indoor performances.

Photo by myjacketisinthekitchen.

Drummers in Meridian Hill Park

This video doesn’t make the day any warmer, but at least we can remember what warm sunshine is like. It’s on the way, for sure, but in the meantime, enjoy this video shot at Meridian Hill Park by Giganova. This is the type of thing that makes DC great.


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