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Alex The Red Parez

2/13/18 - Special Guests: Alex, Paige, & Dan of DC's Open Mic Scene

Many thanks to Alex, Paige, and Dan from DC's thriving open mic show scene for being with us in the studio this week!  SCROLL DOWN to see the video, info, and transcript

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  1. Long Way Back to Shonot, by Eli Lev ( Indie, Indie Rock)

  2. Chemistry, by Paige Powell (Indie, Jazz)

  3. January Silver, by Alex The Red Parez and The Hell Rojos (Rock, Acoustic Rock)

  4. Too Many Times, by Colourtheory (Punk, Pop Rock)

  5. Listen, by One Way Out (Hard Rock, Rock)

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Our 2018 New Releases by DC Artists’ Spotify Playlist:


Higher Education - Gift Called Life

The making of Prinze George’s new track, Dividends

Rare Essence ft Kacey Williams of Black Alley - How I Wish You Could Love Me

Our ‘DC Artists Official Music Videos’ Youtube Playlist:


So many shows everyday!  Click this calendar link to see them all!

Fri Feb 16
Handsome Hound @ Union Stage at The Wharf by Waterfront
Vim & Vigor, Justin Trawick, & Oh He Dead @ Rock N Roll Hotel on H St NE
Two Ton Twig @ Songbyrd Music House in Adams Morgan

Sat Feb 17
Surprise Attack EP Release Party @ Pearl Street Warehouse by Waterfront
Wylder @ U Street Music Hall on U St

Sun Feb 18
Eli Lev @ Milkboy Arthouse in College Park, MD

Wed Feb 21
Bottled Up @ Black Cat on 14th St


Would you support us?  We'd love to grow and do more!  We're giving away shirts, access to our private facebook group, and more!  We also intend to set aside 10% to contribute directly in the DC Local Music Scene through charities, sponsorships, events, etc.  We want to continue to pay it forward!

HUGE shoutout to our current Patrons! 
**Daniel Warren Hill**    **David Mohl**    **Eli Lev**
**Sarah Byrne**   **Music 4 The Revolution (Abu Jibran)**

Alex, Paige, and Dan 


Paige Powell's Bio:

Paige Powell serves on the Board of Directors of the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW) and hosts 2 open mics each month in the D.C. area for the organization. Paige has a real passion for songwriting, having written more than 150 songs, recording more than 60 of them, generating 2 CDs and 20+ singles released on iTunes and

Two of her songs, "Blackeyed Peas" and “Give Me A Beach” won honorable mentions from the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest. She continues to study songwriting, participating in many of SAW's workshops and seminars, which has included a 2-day workshop with Pat Pattison, lyric-writing teacher from the Berkley School of Music.

Open Mic Episode.jpg

Dan's Bio: 

Dan Magnolia: Singer / Songwriter / Storyteller / Speaker / Soundguy / Photographer

DAN MAGNOLIA is a contemporary troubadour who draws on his love of folk, outlaw country, Americana, and pop music to create unique and unforgettable songs that touch the heart, stimulate the mind, and move the soul.

Heavily influenced by singer-songwriters such as Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Josh Ritter, Dan’s music explores an array of timeless themes including life, love, family, history, nature, and the human condition. Dan has been an artist, a teacher, a guitar repair tech, a writer, and an entrepreneur and from these diverse experiences he has found that his passion in life lies in creating something from nothing. Whether he is using his hands and his toolbox or his imagination and his guitar, Dan has a unique gift for creating one-of-a kind works for the whole world to enjoy.

Among his career highlights, Dan has sung The Star Spangled Banner for The First Lady of Maryland, performed at the Jefferson Memorial, contributed a song to The Acoustic Guitar Project, told a story at The Moth, and appeared on the NPR game show, Ask Me Another with Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton. Currently he hosts the open mic at The Black Squirrel Dunn Loring Va (1st+3rd Tuesdays) and the popular Marble & Rye Open Mic in Arlington Va until the bar shut down at the end of December 2017.

Web Online Links in order of most-to-least used:

Alex's Bio: 

Alex The Red Parez aka El Rojo has been bringing acoustic rock and old-time country to the Washington DC Metro Area since 2006. Whether performing original music or classic material, Alex’s voice is “reminiscent of Johnny Cash, though often sung with Jello Biafra’s inflection” (Matthew Stabley, and “sounds like Nick Cave reinterpreting the early songbook of Bill Callahan” (The Big Easy - “El Rojo” to his friends, Parez takes inspiration from epic troubadours Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and local balladeer John Bustine amongst various other artists. In trio mode, Alex is flanked by accomplished harmonica sideman Terry Boes and prolific bassist Jason Mendelson of MetroSongs notoriety. Alex has also performed with several other local musicians for various tribute shows.


Brian:     On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the greatest songs, artists and incredible people behind the DC region's local music scene. Paige, Dan, and Alex all host open mics in the DC region. These type of events are happening all over the city every week, almost every day of the week, and mostly are pretty much unknown except for those who happen to have stumbled across them at some point. So today on the show, we're shining a spotlight on it, and I want to talk more about this largely unrecognized and intriguing open mic community that's here in our city. So guys, thanks for being here.

Dan Magnolia:     Thank you.

Alex Parez:     Yeah, thanks.

Paige Powell:     You're welcome.

Brian:     This is such a treat. Now, for those folks who share a little bit about what, describe, once again, share with them where the location and time of your open mic, and then share what makes your open mic special and or different in your opinion. So Alex, we'll start with you.

Alex Parez:     Well, I host the open mic at Roadside Grill every Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. We do two sign-ups at 7:30 and 10:00. We have a featured artist, usually as well. I guess, to me what really makes all the open mics special because I go to a lot of different open mics, including Dan's open mics. I haven't been to Paige's yet. I'm sorry, Paige.

Paige Powell:     That's okay. It's okay.

Alex Parez:     Is the people there and how much love they have for the open mic and coming and supporting it. I think that's special to every open mic. They all have that certain group of people that just love being there and the camaraderie, I think, is what really does it. And that's with every open mic you go to really.

Brian:     Absolutely. It's such a great community. It really is. Paige, talk about yours.

Paige Powell:     Well, the one coming up this Friday on February the 16th is sponsored by the Songwriter's Association of Washington. And one thing that makes these open mics that I host a little different is that we really encourage people who are writing original songs. They can come and they can kind of test their song that they wrote maybe this week or last week, and see how the audience reacts to it, and see if there's a line that really rings with one of the audience members. So you can also go to the Songwriter's Association of Washington website and SAW sponsors a lot of open mics in the area, more than I host. That would be a good thing for local songwriters.

     Then also, sponsored by the Songwriter's Association of Washington is the one that's in Greenbelt at the New Deal Café. And that's on the fourth Thursday of every month. And the next one is gonna be February the 22nd. Now that starts at 7:00 PM. We encourage original songwriters, but you can play a cover song.

Brian:     Sure.

Paige Powell:     That's allowed. Yeah. And I encourage people who've never done it. It's okay to come and just do one song. You don't have to do three just because three are allowed. You know, you just maybe want to take a baby step and do one song, and maybe your first time out, just come and attend. Just see what the scene is like.

Brian:     Awesome. And Dan, talk about yours and what you've got going on.

Dan Magnolia:     I host the open mic at the Black Squirrel. Like I mentioned earlier, there's one at Adams Morgan and there's a new one in Vienna Dunn Loring right by the metro, so it's super convenient. There's parking there, but you can easily take the metro. It's on the first and third Tuesdays of the month so far, but we're gonna increase that to every week soon. Not yet, since today is Tuesday. This is airing on Tuesday, so not tonight. February 20th.

Brian:     Well whenever you hear this, starting around February 20th.

Dan Magnolia:     There you go.

Brian:     Check with Dan Magnolia.

Dan Magnolia:     Exactly. We also do advanced sign-ups for that, which is nice for something that goes on during the week. So, if you're going to make the trek that you know that you have an exact spot with an exact time that you know that you have set down. So, that's something that we do online. You can sign up. One of the best things that I love about open mics, like Alex was saying, is that I think I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're unknown so much. They do have a niche market. You know, there's the rock market, and then there's the singer-songwriter folky market. And the thing that I love to do most of all is try to embrace everybody in the music scene. I used to host something called The Musician's Workshop, which would help get people out of their living rooms and into the public space. So my open mics are very similar the same. We love being able to welcome everybody, even newcomers and even young people. We have a lot of young kids that come in, too. So we always try to make it as open and accessible to everybody.

Brian:     That's awesome. And now, for those folks listening who might not, what are the differences between different open mics? You talked about how you have advanced sign-ups versus only when you're there. You mentioned something about three songs versus just one. So if they haven't really done much open mics, what are the differences between them generally? Dan, start with you.

Dan Magnolia:     So, Ginny Hill, who is the singer in The Perfectionists, she has a new open mic. She relaunched the South House one in DC. So she came out to check out mine and asked me some questions and sort of get the idea. And what I told her was that every open mic reflects the host and the neighborhood. So you can have the same host in a different neighborhood, like I did. I used to do the Marble and Rye one in Arlington. And now I have one in Vienna. It does reflect my personality, but it also reflects the neighborhood. So, it's kind of an organic thing that develops over time.

Brian:     Got it. Now, is it always music? On all three of your open mics, is it welcome to any kind of art? I mean, poetry and rapping and all of that, or is it just music?

Paige Powell:     I've had a couple of poets come in. Although they're rare. The last open mic at the Church of Clarendon, we had someone who wanted to come and do a couple rap songs, and actually it was ideal to fit him in. I asked him if he could do a rap song while we were setting up for the next person who had a keyboard, and it was gonna take a few minutes, and he had it. He had a rap song that would fill that space. And another thing that's different between the two open mics that I host, one's real quiet. People listen to the music. There's candlelight and tablecloths and all that. And then over in Greenbelt at the New Deal Café, I mean everybody's talking. It's a noisy place. You just have to do your best to get people's attention.

Brian:     Got it. So it's that vibe can change, but really it sounds like at all three of yours, any kind of talent that you want to showcase, it really is an open mic. It's not just the music, it's an open mic for whatever you want to do.

Dan Magnolia:     Yeah, absolutely.

Alex Parez:     Yes, sir. For sure. Anything you want to do, come do it. That's legal.

Brian:     Now how far ... You said advanced sign-ups. How far in advance do people sign up?

Dan Magnolia:     So, the way that I do it, especially because it's unique in that it's not every week, so I will do it on the Wednesday before the next open mic, so that people don't have any confusion about when it's supposed to be, because if you give people too much time, then they forget or they might just freak out and not come, so you want to give them enough time that they can sign-up comfortably, but you don't want to give them too much time that they just end up forgetting about it.

Paige Powell:     Dan's right. About a week.

Brian:     And this isn't like an online sign-up thing.

Dan Magnolia:     Mine is, yeah.

Brian:     This is like in person, or it's online as well?

Dan Magnolia:     Mine is, yeah. I use a service called Calendly. I forget how you spell it. And I can specifically put the day and the time slots, and people will go in and they will pick a specific time that they want, and it actually reminds them twice, so it will remind them a couple of days in advance and then like eight hours in advance.

Brian:     Wow. That's very sophisticated, Dan. I love it. Do you guys, I take it, it's the sign-up in advance, but probably in person, or do you guys have an online thing, too?

Paige Powell:     Old fashioned email with me.

Brian:     Excellent. All right. Send an email. Alex, I'm taking it, show up and sign up, right?

Alex Parez:     Yeah, just in person. I've kept the same format as we had at Iota open mic. Just show up and I promise I'll get you up on stage.

Brian:     We'll figure it out.

Dan Magnolia:     It's true, because I've come very late on his and he's always gotten me on. Alex, you also do something else that's unique at yours. You do the lottery.

Alex Parez:     Yeah, yeah. With numbered guitar picks, so that it's kind of even Steven and it's not, "Oh you've got to hurry up and get here and sign up, so you can pick your spot." This way it's fair and square.

Brian:     So everybody puts-

Alex Parez:     You get what you get.

Brian:     Everybody puts their name on the list and then you draw for your order.

Alex Parez:     They're numbered guitar picks and we put them in a sack. You pull out a guitar pick. That's the number you go.

Brian:     Oh, cool.

Alex Parez:     I write your name on the chalkboard.

Brian:     That's awesome. And see, I love all the different personalities because everybody has one. I mean, I've heard great things about Ginny Hill's thing at South House, too. Now if somebody's looking for where do I find open mics, I'm gonna share these links on the page because I know Dan sent me there's a couple Facebook groups that talk about this stuff, but if somebody has never been to an open mic or they want to find these, where would you guys say is the best place to find them if you're looking for them?

Dan Magnolia:     I publish my open mics on two places, two websites specifically, which is I think, and then there's Open Mikes, like M-I-K-E, like the person's name, You know, it's up to each host to make sure that they're up to date. So, there's always that, but I try to keep mine up to date. There's a ton of others out there that you can actually sort by city. So even if you're looking for something outside of DC in other areas, they have those as well.

Brian:     Wow. Paige, what about you?

Paige Powell:     I would say especially if you're a songwriter, go to

Brian:     Yep, got it. And that is the Songwriter's Association of Washington.

Paige Powell:     That's right.

Brian:     And that's where you can find ... That'll be where you'll find yours and some other ones. I'm assuming they sponsor several.

Paige Powell:     Oh, many.

Brian:     Many in the area.

Paige Powell:     They've got like nine or 10 every week.

Dan Magnolia:     Actually all of mine, too.

Brian:     There you go. And Alex, any other ideas for where to find open mics, aside from those places?

Alex Parez:     No. I think you got it covered.

Brian:     We got a good place. Obviously social media would be another place to find out about them, too.

Alex Parez:     Social media, Facebook. There's the open mic listings on Facebook. The old Iota Facebook open mic page is still there. I update it regularly and put all kinds of stuff on there.

Brian:     Got it. All right. Now, what's ... We don't have too much more time on the interview, but my favorite question to ask and I don't want to miss it because I love asking this question, and that's for each of you. Let's start with down with you, Dan. If you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dan Magnolia:     Well, since we're talking about open mics in general, I think one thing that I would give people who are hesitant about open mics. Let's say that you're new to performing and you're not quite sure that you're ready or something is keeping you from doing it. My big advice to those people is always no one to date, as far as I know, has ever died of embarrassment. So no matter how bad you bomb, it's not gonna be the end of the world and you just go out and you try again the next day and the day after that, and the day after that. And you're just gonna get better and nobody's gonna remember how badly you bombed maybe that first time.

Brian:     I love it. You've never died from embarrassment. I love it. So, go try it. Dan says just go for it. Paige, what about you?

Paige Powell:     Yes, I would definitely say it's okay to just come and do one song. If you're not sure, just come and just attend. Just check it out. And sometimes you'll come and you'll say, "Gosh, I think I'm a little bit better than that guy over there that really bombed."

Brian:     Yeah, okay. I don't want you to compare each other to the worst.

Paige Powell:     We shouldn't. We shouldn't. And another piece of advice that I'd like to give everybody is that people are more important than things. And people are more important than your song. You've got to remember that you're singing to people.

Brian:     Yeah, so make sure you entertain. Include them. Talk to them.

Paige Powell:     Yeah.

Brian:     I love it. Alex, what about you, man?

Alex Parez:     I would definitely reiterate what Paige said earlier. Just into the open mic and checking it out first. I did that when I was first starting to play out. Went and checked out the Iota open mic, and the next week I went and played it, and then it turned out to be one of the owners' birthdays, Steven, and he was there. And all the other big hot shot local bands and musicians were all there. You want to talk about nerveracking experience? Having to play in front of those people for the very first time, that was my wonderful experience, but then I wound up hosting that open mic and working at Iota for over three years, and it turned into something really cool.

Brian:     So, go check it out first. You can always go observe first and then come back and do the performance. Now, really quickly, just share with folks where do they find, because we've got to jump back into the music, but where do we find, if they want to follow your open mic specifically, is there a Facebook group or where do they find about you specifically? Dan?

Dan Magnolia:     You can find me on Facebook at Dan Magnolia Music, but I also have a specific page for the Black Squirrel, which is Black Squirrel Music, and Black Squirrel VA is the restaurant slash bar's page, as well.

Brian:     Got it.

Dan Magnolia:     But I just want to point out one last quick note, and that I think a lot of people might gloss over for open mics is I think open mics are equally three parts, which is entertainment, practice, and networking. And I think a lot of people who are new to open mics or don't quite get them always neglect the networking aspect of it, and that is super important to be part of the music scene.

Brian:     Nice. I love it. And Paige, where do they find your open mic if they want to follow you specifically?

Paige Powell:

Brian:     There it is. And Alex?

Alex Parez: or the old Iota Facebook page.

Brian:     And we should note that it's Alex, Parez is P-A-R-E-Z, right?

Alex Parez:     For sure.

Brian:     Alex Parez.

November 1, 2016 - Special Guest: Jason Mendelson

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  1. Debbie Does Dancing - Jackie and The Treehorns (Rock/Alt Rock)
  2. Favour - French Admirals (Indie/Indie Rock)
  3. All Over the Map - Dumi Right (Hip Hop/Rap)
  4. We Were Here - Maryjo Mattea (Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Raining Down - Alex The Red Parez (Rock/Acoustic Rock)
  6. Velocirapture - Alex Vans (Hard Rock/Stoner Rock)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Jason Mendelson DC Music Rocks

Jason Mendelson is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, infusing the history of each location with a musical flavor all its own. When he's not playing electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the TombsTones, or Maryjo Mattea and a Pile of Dudes, and has performed on stages all over the area, like the Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. Jason's studio, An Undisclosed Location, is responsible for involvement in several local projects from bands like The Lucky So & So's, The Iris Bell, the Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons & a Cheetah, and more. 


Official Website URL:

Facebook URL:

Metrosongs Album

iTunes Link:

Spotify Link:

jason mendelson dc music rocks


Brian:   Jason is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist, whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, by infusing the history of each location, which metro songs it's the metro stops, each metro station with a musical flavor all of its own. They're different genres; it's incredible.

 When he's not playing the electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, or Maryjo and a Pile of Dudes. He's performed on stages all over the area, like Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. His studio called An Undisclosed Location and as well as performing there, that location is responsible for involvement in several recording projects from bands like The Lucky So and So's, The Iris Bell, The Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons and a Cheetah and more.

 Basically this man's musical resume is absolutely incredible because he seems to do everything. You heard him directing the Redskins marching band in a composition that he wrote, as well as performing around town with all different genres of bands. You can hear it on his MetroSongs, all different genres of music for each of the tracks. Basically I've seen this man on stage and I've heard about him and it is such an honor to have him sitting here with me in the studio today. So listen it is with great pleasure that I introduce Jason Mendelson. Please say hi to everybody.

Jason:   Hi everybody and thanks for having me here, Brian.

Brian:   Thanks so much for being here. So now break us down, I want to hear about you but first I want to hear about those tracks-

Jason:   Break you down?

Brian:   Did I say break me down? Break it down.

Jason:   Drill Sergeant.

Brian:   Yeah, yeah, let's not get that serious maybe but let's have some fun. Because Tyson's Corner and Landover - tell me about those tracks we just played.

Jason:   Okay. First was Tyson's Corner. That's off of the new forthcoming MetroSongs album. It's going to be Volume 7: Connections.

Brian:   So we had a sneak preview.

Jason:   Sneak preview. It's not out yet.

Brian:   Volume 6 came out, oh boy, I think earlier this week or last week. It's relatively fresh or it's been out a while?

Jason:   No, no, no, no. It came out like a year ago but it just got on iTunes.

Brian:   Got it. I see.

Jason:   Spotify and other computer-y things.

Brian:   Got it. Okay so we've got Volume 6 and there's still two more volumes to go?

Jason:   Yeah, seven and eight. I'm working on both of them right now.

Brian:   And Tyson's Corner... So when you're writing about the metro stops, do you actually go visit the stops or where do the songs come from?

Jason:   Well, when I first moved here six years ago, there was a lot of field trips involved. 

Brian:   (laughs) Really?

Jason:   The novelty hadn't worn off; I was still playing tourist. So my wife and I would go to different things around town and we'd take the metro a lot and so it was just natural that we'd end up taking trips that involved passing through all these metro stations. I have to admit I have not been to every single one that I've written about, but I do a lot of online research. I'll usually start with Wikipedia and then find actual credible resources that are linked there. So there's a lot of homework involved.

Brian:   The song Tyson's Corner seems to talk about a story. Is that one that you actually had or where do you draw from for that?

Jason:   That's a fictional story. I just had the idea of a guy who had maybe been shot down in a marriage proposal and then some time goes by and they happen to reconnect and maybe there's a second chance there.

Brian:   Wow, okay. So it's a story and it's set in Tyson's Corner. I'm following you now. Do you develop the song and the composition? How does it come together? Because you've got all these different genres ... I encourage you to listen to his tracks because all of them are different. There's some hip hop, there's some blues, there's some swing. It seems like every genre ... That one was almost reminded me of a high school - no I can't say high school musical - but a musical, like a Broadway musical. The way that it felt it was kind of, when I'm listening to it, that was what it reminded me of. Where do you get the idea for all the compositions?

Jason:   Well that one I wanted to do ... So part of the challenge that I've baked in the MetroSongs for myself is to do some of the songs as a pastiche of another artist. So that one I was going for Ben Folds Five.

Brian:   Aha, okay.

Jason:   And it features a few friends of mine who are part of the ... we're kind of a ... I hate to say band, it's more like a loose conglomerate of vocal musicians here in D.C. who we performed under the name Skin Folds Five.

Brian:   Oh man! Awesome, okay.

Jason:   That was Derek Evry on backup vocals, Pat Frank on drums and Kevin de Souza on bass and then I played piano and sang lead vocals.

Brian:   Well you guys seem to put some incredible things together. And are they featured on various other tracks throughout the albums?

Jason:   No just that one. But the theme of this next album is ... It's called Connections and so almost all the songs on this next albums they will be ... they're collaborations with other artists.

Brian:   Oh fantastic.

Jason:   Like Tyson's with those guys. So yeah all but a few of them ... that's why it's taken so long, I've been working on this album for like a year.

Brian:   Got it. Finding time for everybody.

Jason:   Coordinating schedules, it’s like herding cats, whatever you want to call it.

Brian:   (laughs) We won't tell the other musicians that it's like herding cats but yes probably like that. Yep, I would imagine.

Jason:   I think musicians understand that's how it is.

Brian:   (laughs) Do we?

Jason:   I don't think I'm hurting any feelings there.

Brian:   (laughs) Very good. I like it. Now what about Landover then? That was the track that you ... Tell me more. You directed the Redskins marching band? How did that happen? How did that come about?

Jason:   Oh okay. So a friend of mine at work plays sousaphone for the Washington Redskins marching band and so for years he and I have talked and mostly things like "Oh, I'd love to write a song for you guys," thinking in the back of my mind like that's awesome but is that going to happen? But it finally did. My friend Micah talked to the director and I guess they were keen to the idea so I got out my very best pencil and wrote a tune for Landover which is pretty close to the FedEx Field there. I think they normally direct people to Morning Boulevard Station but I didn't have a song for that station.

Brian:   Right, okay. So they got Landover.

Jason:   Yeah so they got Landover. And I just wrote a little tune, just went for that marching band college fight song feel and they were the nicest people. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to come and hang out at rehearsal and for playing my song. And I got to conduct the band which was really exciting, and we recorded it there at FedEx Field and you heard it.

Brian:   So let's transition into you now, because so now you're directing a marching band, and yet you also compose and do these other things. What's your background? Have you been a band director before or was that new? How does the music start or where does that story come from with you?

Jason:   Okay, well I first started playing on a little toy keyboard that my grandparents got me when I was three or four years old. And then fifth grade I started playing trombone with the school band. I played that all the way through college. But in high school I started playing piano and guitar. There was a piano in the band room so I would get to school early and just fool around on the piano and since I already knew sheet music I had a good basis to start running with. So I knew music. It's not like I was taking lessons. So many people say, "Oh I took piano lessons when I was a kid" and then they never play again. It's because they're forced to play things like Mary Had a Little Lamb and stuff they're just not interested in.

 So since I was totally self-directing the learning process I was able to just play the rock and roll that I was actually interested in so that's how I started playing piano and guitar and sadly I don't play much trombone anymore because it's the kind of instrument that you have to play every day or your muscles in your face just go to mush. I don't have that problem with piano and guitar and bass and accordion and mandolin and all that foolishness. So that's kind of what I do now.

Brian:   Wow. Okay and it came together. Tell all the musical things you're doing now. You're recording, you're performing ... What are they? 

Jason:   Yeah, I play with a few different bands in the D.C. area here which is pretty standard for D.C. musicians. I play bass and keyboard for Jonny Grave and I play bass for Alex Parez. I play lead guitar for Maryjo Mattea. And there's other various projects, one-off things I get involved with here and there.

Brian:   Got it. Okay. Now what about so now you not the musician, in your personal time are you a hardcore marathon trainer, are you a yoga fanatic?

Jason:   No

Brian:   Do you play chess? What is outside of music consistent for you, or is there?

Jason:   Well I'm pretty busy with music, so my free time is divided between the music we've been talking about and hanging out with my wife. We like to go and do things like nature-y kind of things like parks or nerdy stuff like museums.

Brian:   Got it.

Jason:   We've been doing a little bit of road trip stuff ... like day trip stuff lately.

Brian:   Wow, cool.

Jason:   We recently went up to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania which seems like the most random thing, but it's a cool little town so we had a lot of fun there.

Brian:   Wow, all right. Well now what's one thing you love about the D.C. music scene?

Jason:   Well it's a great community. Artists really look out for each other and it's just a really friendly kind of thing, which is nice for someone like me who is not doing music for a living. This is my hobby, so I appreciate that. But yeah it's especially great for those musicians here from D.C. who do make a living as artists. I think it would be very discouraging if it were any different.

Brian:   Yeah, okay. Tell us a story about your best show. What comes to mind?

Jason:   I had a really cool opportunity to host a show at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

Jason:   Jonny Grave had a project called the Clara Barton Sessions that was involved the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Chinatown in D.C. There was an acoustic recording that was made there and the musicians got to perform the songs at the Kennedy Center and I was the audio engineer for that so me and the video producer got to be the hosts.

Jason:   So that was a lot of fun and I really liked that I didn't have to haul any gear around. Just show up.

Brian:   (laughs) Anybody who's done any kind of sound or musicians, oh my goodness, sometimes there ... I'm a drummer ... there is a lot of gear sometimes.

Jason:   Yeah. You chose poorly.

Brian:   (laughs) When it comes to gear, definitely. But that's why you also get really good at the gear share. How can we share these things so not everybody has to bring everything?  Tell a story about the time you tried and failed?

Jason:   Well MetroSongs Volume 4. I tried to do a Kickstarter to raise just a few bucks to cover costs of that and it went horribly just because I was spread too thin, I couldn't really focus on it and I think because I play in so many different bands and stuff I don't really devote the time I should to promoting my own stuff. So I can't really say I have a huge drawing yet. But I've got a live group that's great and we've been doing some shows and we've been working on building that up.

Brian:   My god, you've certainly got ... in terms of if your resume is the songs you've got, you've got six volumes now, two more coming and the product's amazing. I love the diverse product that you come across with, it's incredible when I see you.

Jason:   Thank you

Brian:   Now, do you have any rules? Like with the band or as an artist? What kind of rules do you have and are there any you always break?

Jason:   Oh, well since I do so much recording there's always little things that I'm trying to remember to do, and then a lot of times I forget them. And a lot of it just involves going through the stuff and making sure it's really 100% perfect. There's one thing as a rule that I've tried to remember to do and I'm horrible, it seems like I never remember is when I'm recording a bass part I always try to remember to use an old Motown trick where they would double the bass with another rhythm guitar.  And somehow I always randomly think to myself, oh yeah next song I've got to remember to double the guitar. And I always forget to do it. It's out there, too late.

Brian:   (laughs) Old Motown trick; I love it. And the last thing I'd like to ask is so the one piece of advice if you were to offer, what would that be?

Jason:   Well for musicians I would say just learn as much stuff as you can and build up your skill set. A lot of musicians start out by just learning the guitar or whatever and then that's all they can do. Just take a little time and learn some other instruments or what's really helpful is learning recording techniques and the gear is so cheap now. I think even any MacBook computer comes with GarageBand or something for free. So the home recording is so much more accessible than it used to be. It's really worth the time to learn some techniques there.

Brian:   Wow, very cool. Well thank you for your thoughts and your insights.