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FROM TODAY'S SHOW
- World Premier and exclusive preview for DC Music Rocks listeners of the hit new single, Get Back Up by Rachel Levitin, available 10/21/16.
- Never Gonna Change - Sub-Radio (Indie/Indie Rock)
- I Don't Want To Love You - Scott Thorn (Rock/Americana)
- World Premier - Get Back Up - Rachel Levitin (Pop/Pop Rock)
- New Release - Free - Exnations (Pop/Alternative Pop)
- Someday - The Fishermen Band (Pop/Reggae)
- Don't Make Me Feel - The DCeivers (Rock/Indie)
- The End - Yellow Dubmarine (Reggae/Rock & Roll)
- Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)
VIDEO - BIO - PHOTOS - TRANSCRIPT
Originally from DC, the early years were spent studying Technical Theater at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts which is where I first gained my appreciation for live music and stage performance. Fast forward a few years and you could find me spinning house and techno records (yes... vinyl!!) with my friends in my basement during my free time; earning the nickname "Crateworm" for my ability to dig through a stack of vinyl and come up with the best deep cuts. After a couple of years as an IT Professional, I ditched the business world and moved to El Salvador where I worked for three years teaching English before finally coming back to the DC area. Upon my return, I took up bartending at the old Austin Grill in Rockville where I also got my first experience booking talent. Many years (and several bars) later, I wound up at Acre 121 in Columbia Heights as their night manager. When the opportunity arose to take over the live music program, I jumped at the chance to put my skills to use. Aside from booking acts, I also serve as our in-house audio engineer and graphics designer which keeps me pretty occupied. Still, I find time to enjoy Miller Lites and Jameson with my friends, long walks with my pit bull Jamo, and riding my bike.
Brian: It's that time that I get to introduce to you my special guest. Today, I've got Mark Lyons, who is the talent buyer for Acre 121. Originally from Washington D. C.., his early years were spent studying technical theater at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, which is where he first gained appreciation for live music and stage performance. Fast forward a few years and you could find him spinning house and techno records ... Yes, I just said records. He was spinning records with his friends in his basement during his free time, and he earned the nickname "Crate Worm" for his ability to dig through a stack of vinyl and come up with the best deep cuts.
After a couple of years as an IT professional, he gave up IT, thank goodness. I did that too, Mark, by the way. He gave up IT, and he ran away. He ditched the business world completely and moved to El Salvador, where he worked for three years teaching English before finally coming back to the Washington D. C.. area. When he came back, he took up bartending at the old Austin Grill in Rockville, if any of you guys remember that one, where he also got his first experience booking talent. Many years and several bars later, he wound up at Acre 121 in Columbia Heights as their night manager. When the opportunity arose to take over the live music program at Acre 121, he jumped at the chance to put these skills to use.
Aside from booking acts, he wears a lot of hats. He also serves as their in-house audio engineer, their graphics designer, and, well, he's overall just an amazing dude. He keeps them pretty occupied. In his free time, you can actually find Mark enjoying Miller Lights and Jameson with his friends, on long walks with his pit bull, Jaymo? Jamo?
Brian: Jamo, and also riding his bike. Guys, the first time I met Mark I'll never forget because he's just such a laid-back, really cool dude, and at the same time, he's one of those people where, when you meet him, he's just got one of those hearts that you just, you believe that he is a good dude within ... It must have been less than two minutes, I was just convinced that he was an amazing guy. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Mark Lyons. Say hi to everybody, Mark.
Mark: Wow, thank you, Brian. Hello, everybody. I'm over here blushing now.
Brian: Mark, it's such a treat to have you here, such a treat. One of the mission of this show is also to shine a spotlight on the incredible folks and the talent behind D. C.. music. The things you do at Acre are just incredible stuff. I want to find out some more about you. Tell us about Mark professionally. Tell us about Acre 121 and Mark. Tell us about that.
Mark: All right. Acre 121, that's an easy place to start. We're a small little venue in Columbia Heights, right on the corner of 14th Street and Irving in Northwest D. C..
Brian: Got it.
Mark: Right over by the Metro stop. We do great food, barbecue. I believe someone here has a penchant for our barbecue wings.
Brian: Oh my God, the wings, guys, the wings are real. I am addicted to their barbecue wings. I come in at least every two, three weeks just to get a fix on the wings. Yes, wings.
Mark: Then when the lights come down, the music comes up. We do live music Friday, Saturday nights. We've got all kinds of events during the week. We do trivia. We do open mic nights, karaoke, basically anything to fill your bill for live music and entertainment.
Brian: Wow, that's awesome. Now, if folks want to find out about what's going on in Acre 121 in terms of what's happening and the events and who's playing, where do they go to get that?
Mark: You can always, you can like us on Facebook. We do have an active Facebook page. We also have our website, www.acre121.com. You can also go to /calendar. That will give you all the calendar of events.
Brian: Oh, you got the calendar. Now I know there are some musicians that listen too. If they're interested in potentially being on stage at Acre 121, how does that work?
Mark: It's very easy. You can just send us an email to bookings, that's with an S, plural...
Mark: Bookings@acre121.com. That ends up in my inbox. We definitely just ask that artists, if you have electronic press kit or some videos that we can check out, we're always looking to bring in Washington D. C.. music.
Brian: Fantastic. It's such a treat. Just in your intro, I got to talk about you got a pit bull named Jamo and riding a bike. What's Mark outside of the talent buyer at Acre 121?
Mark: Outside of work, I'm actually pretty mellow and quiet. I'm not out late at night. I mean I work most weekends so ...
Brian: I was going to say, "Wait a minute, you're out late at night almost every night, so hold on just a second." Okay.
Mark: Wild and crazy Mondays and Wednesdays, that's how I do it. That's how I do it. I just enjoy living life and meeting people and just having a good time, having a good time.
Brian: That's awesome. What's one thing you like about the D. C.. music scene, specifically here in D. C..?
Mark: There's so much of it. For a city that has a metro that won't stay open past midnight, we still have a very vibrant live music community, everything from country and bluegrass to rock and roll to pop music covers, you name it, you name it, it's out there. They're all very talented musicians.
Brian: I bet, definitely. I've been to Acre 121 randomly getting wings on a Friday or a Saturday night and happen to sit down and the music came on, and it was like just .. God, one night, there was an incredible cover band. There was another that was a guitarist, phenomenal stuff that's come across that stage, that's for sure. Now, tell us the story about the best show or a success moment you've had, tell us, in Acre.
Mark: See, I mean that's tough because in my opinion, they're all great shows. There is just something to be said about having, finding a band that nobody's ever heard of before and you bring 'em in and they bring their crowd, we bring our crowd, and next thing you know, you've got 100 people just dancing and having a good time. We've been blessed to have a few of those nights, and we look forward to each and every one of them.
Brian: Yeah. Well, we, as fans, do as well, that's for sure. It's going to be a good night when you go to Acre 121. I've had this experience as a fan and also as a performer. It's truly a good time. Now tell us the story about a time you tried and failed, something you tried and it didn't go over. Share one of those with us.
Mark: Oh, I mean there are lots of failures in my life, but you learn from each one. Probably one of my earliest failures was just out of high school, I moved out to the West Coast, I lived in Oregon for a little while, and I just-
Brian: Wow, way out there, okay.
Brian: Ran away as far as you could.
Mark: If you noticed, there's a theme, there's a trend in my behavior patterns.
Brian: Oh, okay.
Mark: I'm definitely trying to put some roots down now.
Mark: I was out on the West Coast, and this was still when I was into the house and techno and dance music. Actually, I started throwing parties out there. I had one really great successful party and thought I could duplicate it. I learned that, one of the biggest lessons is, is that it's also in the preparation. If you don't take the time to actually set these parties, these events up right, promote them, give them time, get the word out, you go from having 1,000 people at your first party to about 150 at the second one.
Brian: Oh my goodness.
Brian: Okay. The people involved in that second party were probably not as excited about 150 versus 1,000.
Mark: No, no, not at all.
Brian: Oh man. Mark, that must have been brutal.
Mark: But you learn. You learn from your mistakes.
Brian: Wow. What's one thing in your music collection that might surprise us?
Mark: I like country music.
Mark: I do like country music. This was a recent development through the last 10 years or so because I was always-
Brian: Really? Later in life country guy?
Mark: I was always one of those people who was, like, "Oh no, country, that's just 'my wife left me and my dog died' kind of music."
Mark: But I was helping a friend who would buy houses and then he would flip them. This was before the old, the market crash, so everybody was in on that. I would help him out, and so we were fixing up these houses, and it was just the two of us, and he would bring the radio. I don't know if anybody out there has ever worked in a contractor construction job, but whoever brings the radio gets to pick the music.
Brian: Oh, they get control of the radio.
Mark: They get to pick the music, yes.
Brian: It's a power role.
Mark: It is, it is. It's something that a lot of people don't know.
Brian: Okay, it's a power play. Whoa.
Mark: And he loved country music. For about three months, for eight hours a day, five days a week, I listened to country music, and I started to love it.
Brian: Country music.
Mark: Yes, so that's something that you would be shocked. You would be shocked.
Brian: I love that. All right, well, at Acre 121, do you have any rules that you live by while you're there? Are there any that you have them and then you always break them anyway?
Mark: No, I would say we don't like to set rules, aside from the obvious rules as far as don't be a, can I say "jerk"
Brian: A jerk, okay. [crosstalk 00:10:48]
Mark: Don't be a jerk, we'll leave it at that. We don't like to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre or into one style, so we don't like to set rules. Even if we did, I think rules are definitely made to be broken.
Brian: Amen to that because sometimes, sometimes they're good. It's always interesting to hear the rules that people have and then the rules that people break. Between the diets and there are so many things that people have rules and then they break 'em, so it's also nice to hear that you don't have any rules for Acre as a performance thing. What about personally? You got any rules personally that you have and then you end up-
Mark: Absolutely not, absolutely not. There are no rules in my life.
Brian: And nothing that you'd admit on the radio, got it, okay, very good. Now, this is one thing that I love to ask, and it's do you have one piece of advice that you would offer with your experience in your life that's brought you to here?
Mark: It's an obvious one, but just follow your heart. I've been in the service restaurant industry for well over 15 years. I've been behind the bar managing for almost seven. At Acre 121, I found that I was able to come back to what I love, which is the live music and the audio engineering and just the working with bands. There have obviously been times when the paychecks in the service industry aren't the greatest and I've thought about going back into the corporate world, but it's just, it's not as much fun.
Brian: I was going to ask is that how you ended up in ... How did you end up in the restaurant? Did you stumble across it? Did you just want to make some money and then ... How did you end up in the restaurant industry?
Mark: It's pretty well known the restaurant industry is pretty forgiving when it comes to past sins and transgressions.
Brian: I see, okay.
Mark: There was a long period of time when I was out of work and just wasn't ... There are a few gaps in my resume, let's just put it that way.
Mark: When I did come back to the D. C.. area, the restaurant industry has been very nice to me and treated me very well, so ....
Brian: Fantastic. I love how you pay it forward, Acre 121 paying it forward to you and you pay it forward to us each time with all these incredible acts that you bring in. I just love what you're doing over there, love what you're doing.
Now, where do we go, if we want to find out more about you and Acre 121, where do we go?
Mark: Like I said, you can find us on Facebook. I think you can find me on Facebook too. I don't know if my profile is public or not. I think you can. I think you can.
Mark: Or at www.acre121.com.
Brian: Easy enough.
Mark: Yeah, you can check us out.
Brian: Mark, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about you. It's a treat because I have known you for a little while, but I've actually never gotten to hear some of these stories about how you came to D. C.. I had no idea, so thanks for sharing about you too.
Brian: It was a treat having you here.