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Hill Country

5/22/18 - Special Guest: Dustin, Talent Buyer for Hill Country, BBQ & Music Venue In DC

Thanks to Dustin from Hill Country, the BBQ Restaurant and Live Music Venue in Penn Quarter in Downtown DC, for hanging out with us in the studio this week!  Loved the story about the name!

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Podcast:  iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, TuneInPocket CastsPodBeanPlayerFM, or THIS URL in your app of choice




  1. ***Void, by Wandering Lies (Rock, Melodic Rock)

  2. Right by Her, FeelFree (Reggae, Alternative Rock)

  3. ***Buddy Love, by Jumpin' Jupiter (Rock, Rockabilly)

  4. ***Drinkin, by The 5:55 (Rock, Indie Rock)

  5. Told You What To Say, by Paperhaus (Indie, Alternative)

***The first time we've played this artist for you on the show, & a new artist profile added to our DC Artist Database!  There's new artists every week!

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-

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DC Music Rocks Festival at 9:30 News:
We created a Spotify playlist to preview these incredible artists!  It’s a few of our favorite songs by Kid Brother, Pebble To Pearl, Fellowcraft, Allthebestkids, and Black Dog Prowl.  We hope it adds to your day, and gives you an idea of the incredible music and talent you'll get to see at the Festival on Aug 18!

It's also the final days of DC Music Rocks Listener Appreciation Presale Window.  Tickets are public May 24.  It was important to us to make sure you all have first dibs on these.  We hope you’ll pick yours up, mark your calendar, and be there for this epic event on Aug 18!


  • Empresarios - Cambumbeo (4 Song Latin EP, RIYL Pitbull)

  • Luke James Shaffer - How Sweet The Sound (Indie Single, RIYL Mumford & Sons)

  • Clutch - Gimme The Keys (Hard Rock Single, RIYL Led Zeppelin

  • Handsome Hound - Mountain on Fire (Folk 10-song LP, RIYL Shovels & Rope)

  • Caz Gardiner - Stop (Pop/Reggae Single, RIYL Sharon Jones)

  • Odetta Hartman - Misery (Indie Single, RIYL Bjork)

  • Ras Slick - Late Night (Reggae Single, RIYL Wayne Wonder)

Our 2018 New Releases by DC Artists’ Spotify Playlist:


Here’s just a few highlights for the coming week, be sure to check out the calendar for the full list of all the upcoming shows!

PERSONAL NOTE FROM BRIAN:  I would really love a chance to meet some of you in person!  I'm playing Union Stage with my band, Fellowcraft, on Saturday 5/26, I go on right at 6:15pm. Details are below, it will be an epic rock show, especially if you like Soundgarden, AC/DC, Alice In Chains, The Black Keys, or Foo Fighters.  Hope you’ll come spend some time down at DC’s waterfront! It’s beautiful if you haven’t been!
Facebook Event:

Fri May 25
Be Steadwell @ 9:30 Club (Pop, RIYL Sade/Joni Mitchell)

Sat May 26  **Brian, the Host of DC Music Rocks will be behind the drums with Fellowcraft for this one!!  Come say hi!**
Black Dog Prowl, Fellowcraft, Stone Driver @ Union Stage *Early Show, doors at 5:30pm* (Hard Rock, RIYL Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Black Keys)

Sun May 27
Human Country Jukebox @ Pearl Street Warehouse (Country, RIYL a live country music Jukebox)

Wed May 30
Jackie & The Treehorns & Nah. @ DC9 (Rock/Indie, RIYL Queens of the Stone Age or Courtney Barnett

Thurs May 31
The Coolots @ Union Stage (Rock, RIYL 311)


Do you like what we're doing?  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)**

We're Looking For Advertisers/Sponsors

We're looking for local businesses to sponsor us!  Know One?  Would you introduce us to them?

Dustin, Talent Buyer for Hill Country

Video - Bio - Links - Transcript

Dustin's Bio:

Dustin Pet

In 2008, Dustin Pet left Maryland to attend Johnson and Wales University Denver campus to study culinary science. While attending college, he worked at Moe’s Original Barbeque Restaurant, Music Venue and Bowling alley as a pitmaster and line cook. During his time at Moe’s, he soon learned he had both a passion for music and food leading him to switch his major to Sports Events and Entertainment Management.  While attending classes, he interned and worked for Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and the world-famous Comedy Works Denver. After graduating from Johnson and Wales University, Dustin moved back to his home state of Maryland and started working for Rams Head Center Stage at Maryland Live! Casino as an entertainment representative. At the same time, he started his first production and entertainment company, where he booked shows with national and local artists in Baltimore venues also working with non-profit organizations and managed artists. From there he became a talent buyer for Gypsy Sally’s DC. Dustin’s motivation is a direct result of his passion for putting on great live music and combining his background in culinary science together with music. If he had one song on repeat while stuck in an elevator he would pick "Drivin' Nails In My Coffin" by Ernest Tubb. Dustin believes that “Great music and delicious food is medicine for the masses”. 



Dustin Pet
Dustin Pet


Brian:               On D.C. Music Rocks we're shining a spotlight on the great songs, artists, and incredible people behind the D.C. Region's local music scene. In 2008, Dustin Pet left Maryland to attend Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus. While attending college, he worked at Moe's Original Bar B Que restaurant, music venue, and bowling alley, as a pit master and a line cook. That's where he learned he had a passion for music and food. After graduating, Dustin moved back home to Maryland and started working at Rams Head Center Stage at Maryland Live Casino as an entertainment representative. At the same time he started his first production in an entertainment company where he booked shows with national and local acts in Baltimore venues. From there, he became the talent buyer for Gypsy Sally's, and how he's at Hill Country. Dustin believes that great must and delicious food is medicine for the masses, which that really speaks to my heart, sir. I love that man. Thanks so much for being here man.

Dustin:             Oh, thank you.

Brian:               This is cool, now, one thing, so right off the bat I want to know about Hill Country. Where's the name come from?

Dustin:             Well it's based off of the Hill Country in Texas, which is the region around the capital, which is Austin, Texas.

Brian:               Got it, and that's call the Hill Country, is the area around Austin?

Dustin:             That area and just generally just all around Austin based in the radius area.

Brian:               I see.

Dustin:             Yeah.

Brian:               That's the Hill Country.

Dustin:             The name, man.

Brian:               God I've always wondered. It's the Hill Country in Texas, around Austin. Now I feel like ... that's a mind blown moment for me. I'm like, wow, I get it now. Cool. Golly. Now talk about your earliest memory with music. Where does this come from, where does this start for you?

Dustin:             Well, you know when I was a kid, my dad took me to see the recreation of the Grateful Dead called The Dead, at Merriweather. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. All I could remember was, "I don't want to be here. Who are these strange people? Get me out of here. When is this show going be over? Why is it lasting four hours long?"

Brian:               Yeah.

Dustin:             I left the experience with my brother being like, "That was actually really fun." I started dancing, you know? I enjoyed it. I always played music as a kid as well.

Brian:               Nice, what did you play?

Dustin:             I started playing the saxophone, and then I ventured into guitar, then I ventured into the bass guitar, a little dobra, now I just strum the guitar.

Brian:               Wait a minute, if they don't know what a dobra is, describe that.

Dustin:             Well, it's a very complicated instrument that you put on your lap, and you use a metal component to it, that's a slide, and you slide, and it's used a lot in bluegrass music.

Brian:               Oh, so this is that it almost looks like a maybe on your lap, but some people have it set up as a table.

Dustin:             Well that's a lap steel.

Brian:               That's a lap steel which is different than a dobra.

Dustin:             Correct.

Brian:               All right, so you're going to have to Google this if you're really interested and get a picture ... that way you can get a picture of what a dobra is. Spell that.

Dustin:             D-O-B-R-A.

Brian:               Dobra, got it.

Brian:               You're from Maryland. Describe where you from in the D.C. region. Talk about that.

Dustin:             I grew up in Columbia. Just a little bit further away from Columbia. Right around Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Brian:               Got it. When you say grew up, that means born and raised, been there all your life until college, when you went to Denver?

Dustin:             Mm-hmm, born and raised until seventeen, and then moved to Colorado for about eight years.

Brian:               Wow, so you were there longer than just college, you stuck around a little bit?

Dustin:             I stuck around, I didn't want to leave.

Brian:               You got all that pit barbecue, and the music.

Dustin:             Oh man I also worked at a comedy club too. So I was just living it up with entertainment, my friends were also working for concert venues, it was just a onslaught of free entertainment. So every night was something.

Brian:               God, I love it. Now talk about you on the personal side. Outside of all this music stuff, what other things are you into?

Dustin:             I'm actually really into going to new nature areas where there's trails. I usually go by myself, I crank some tunes up and I walk and I just discover nature.

Brian:               Wow, that's amazing, and what kind of music are you listening to when you're cranking those tunes?

Dustin:             Oh man, that's a tough question.

Brian:               Yeah?

Dustin:             I gotta be honest, I have a lot of pride in new bookings that I do at Hill Country or whatever it is that I'm booking at the time, and so I start to obsess about some of the artists that I book and I venture really deep into their discography. That's what I'm usually cranking.

Brian:               I see, okay.

Dustin:             I make a little Spotify playlist.

Brian:               All their other stuff that they've got?

Dustin:             Yeah, the stuff that wasn't the million hits song.

Brian:               Right, the one with the fewer plays, one of the B-Side tracks, what they used to call it in the old days. That's amazing. So, funniest moment that comes to mind when you're thinking about your time specifically at Hill Country.

Dustin:             At Hill Country? Something that's really funny is pretty much like a Texas singer-songwriter legend, his name is John D. Graham, he showed up to the gig about fifteen minutes late, but it wasn't really that late, you know, and he was so-

Brian:               Wait, what does that mean? So the gig started at 8:00 and he showed up at 8:15?

Dustin:             He showed up a little bit after the doors, so sound-checking wasn't an option, it was only line-checking.

Brian:               Oh, okay.

Dustin:             Yeah, he was super apologetic about it, I became kinda good friends with this guy and he left me a note on the wall in the greenroom, and he makes children's books on the side, and he drew like a polar-bear-looking bear, and he wrote on there "I never miss a gig unless I'm in the hospital or I'm in jail. Love, pretty much, John D. Graham."

Brian:               So did you find out whether he was in the hospital or in jail?

Dustin:             Oh no, he made it to the gig.

Brian:               Oh this was just straight up canceling?

Dustin:             He just wanted to reiterate that even if he was fifteen minutes late that he apologized, and that if he was ever to miss any gig I ever booked it would be those two reasons.

Brian:               Okay. Got it.

Dustin:             And that he would pin it on the wall so that I would have it later.

Brian:               That way you could always reference it later.

Dustin:             My boss framed it, it's on the wall downstairs in the club level at Hill Country, so you can go up and see it at any time.

Brian:               That's hilarious. Now, you talked about the different things that you do because it's come up in conversation that you do some managing of artists, but then you're booking at Hill Country, so talk about the different aspects of Dustin.

Dustin:             First hand, I'm talent buyer, I'm booking for Hill Country Live, D.C. and Manhattan.

Brian:               Wait, there's more than one location?

Dustin:             There's two locations, friends, so if you're ever in New York City, and you need a place to see either some really awesome live music that could be free, could be ticketed, but for the most part free, come on down.

Brian:               Wow, Hill Country. So it's a basement venue here, in D.C., you walk into Hill Country and go downstairs, is it the same thing in New York?

Dustin:             Same model, but bigger.

Brian:               Bigger?

Dustin:             Yeah.

Brian:               Okay, next time I'm in New York, I'm gonna have to check out Hill Country. So you do booking, I'm sorry I got totally distracted by the fact that there's now two locations, my mind is blown at the moment, so there's some talent buying for there, and then what else?

Dustin:             I'm also managing a couple bands, and I also do some freelance work, I help people out who need guidance, and I sometimes donate my time for the most part, but I'm managing a Brass band out of Brooklyn named High & Mighty Brass Band. I'm managing a bluegrass/newgrass band out of Baltimore named the Dirty Grass Players, FeelFree, which we were just talking about. I also help out an Almond Brothers tribute, called the Almond Others Band.

Brian:               Wow. And when you say managing, if people don't know what that means, what does that actually mean on a day-to-day basis?

Dustin:             It's kind of like you have five full grown babies that you're taking care of.

Brian:               Oh, so it's like being a father? I see.

Dustin:             It's like being a father to a bunch of people who may be older than you, younger than you, all walks of life, and you're controlling a lot of e-mails.

Brian:               So what on Earth made you want to do that? I'm not sure if you don't have a kid already, I'm not sure I would sign up for multiple babies. I don't know, tell me more.

Dustin:             I guess passion, man, I just-

Brian:               You love the music that they're making?

Dustin:             I like the human spirit behind them, and the music they're making, and they push me to do things that I wouldn't do and pull my hair out sometimes, get a phone call at two in the morning, "Hey we're playing a gig in the mud, and I dunno if we're getting paid," you know, bad stuff.

Brian:               So that means you're the guy who, as the manager then ... you are doing the booking, or you're not doing the booking? For the band, or is that something else?

Dustin:             So the Dirty Grass Players, the High & Mighty Brass Band, they both have booking agents currently, national booking agents. FeelFree, they're independent, I help them out a little bit, but I'm teaching them, and then Almond Others is kind of the same thing, they're very local. They're trying to get out a little more, so if you live in a different town and know anybody and love Almond Brothers, figure out a way to get a hold of me.

Brian:               So I'm trying to figure out then is what you're doing for the bands as the manager, then.

Dustin:             Everything from advancing every show that they play to marketing on their Facebook, updating their websites, making sure they're making music videos, discussing strategy about how can we get our name out there further into different markets that we're trying to perform at. It's a endless list of tasks honestly, and I didn't realize it until I got knee deep in it.

Brian:               There's like a constant checklist of things you need, and you mentioned music videos, why are music videos important?

Dustin:             It represents what your band is, and what you're trying to display to the world, and why can people relate to you.

Brian:               Oh, so it's that visual piece? It's not just the music, it's like, oh here's these guys.

Dustin:             Yeah, it's "hey who is this band? FeelFree. What's the next FeelFree music video?" I'm not gonna tell you, but it's gonna happen.

Brian:               Nice. Well I'll make sure we share it whenever that does happen, 'cause I'm excited about it. Their first videos I really enjoyed. I follow them on YouTube too, and I've enjoyed what they've got so far, so that's a sign of things to come, you're teasing me now. I love it, alright. Now, one of my favorite questions that I always have to ask, is that if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dustin:             For band?

Brian:               In general, however you wanna answer the question.

Dustin:             Work harder, and then when you think you're tired, work a little harder.

Brian:               Okay, say more, what does that mean exactly, like just do more, or? I feel like that could be spinning your wheels or what?

Dustin:             Put more energy out, man. Put some more energy out into the world, that's what I think. I think a lot of people want to achieve a lot in their life, but they're not putting the energy to do that.

Brian:               I see.

Dustin:             I'm a person who believes in the idea of what you put out is what you get.

Brian:               Got it, alright it's that hustle. Bring on that hustle. Now, one other fun question, then. Talk about your biggest success moment, that comes to your mind in your career talent buyer-wise. What comes to mind when you think about that?

Dustin:             I would actually have to say the time I booked my Colorado legend band. Leftover Salmon at Sally's. Definitely. I remember when I booked that, I literally threw paper up in the air, I was like, "It's happening, Leftover Salmon's coming to town at Gypsy Sally's." It's just an honor to book a band that I've seen at Red Rocks.

Brian:               Nice, that is cool. Was anyone around to see you throw paper? Is this like in the middle of an office with a few other people, or is it in a room by yourself?

Dustin:             There was one other person in the room. The other booker there.

Brian:               So there's more than one?

Dustin:             There is. I think there's more than one now.

Brian:               What's the team like at Hill Country?

Dustin:             I have a boss in New York, his name is Seth Rothschild, he's awesome. He comes to D.C. here, there. I'm gonna go up to New York, for the most part I work with a bunch of restaurant managers, and I'm a talent buyer, so it's a different situation than I thought when I got in there, but I love it and all the people that I work for are some of the nicest people I've ever worked with.

Brian:               That's been the really funny thing- funny's the wrong word, really fun thing that I've discovered working in the local music scene is that there's so many amazing people in the scene. It's one of the reasons I love having you on the show and I always have different people on the show, it's not just artists right? There's so many people behind the music scene, and I love getting to know those people, because they're some of the most amazing, salt of the Earth, nice people. It makes sense that your coworkers at this place are also really awesome people, because you're an awesome person, and we got everybody together, that's just cool to me.

Dustin:             Yeah, it's kinda like the Brady Bunch.

Brian:               It's one big happy family. Yep, there we go, the Brady Bunch, I'm gonna try not to get the song stuck in my- if you're listening, do not get the song stuck in your head. Don't do it. Don't do it. So, one more time, for those folks who wanna follow you and find out what's happening at Hill Country and all that information, where's the best place for them to go find that?

Dustin:             You can either go to the Facebook, which is Hill Country Live, or you can go to, for the D.C. venue, and if you by chance are in New York or have friends,

Brian:               It's either D.C. or NY, we're talking about D.C. on this one, so, and you'll check out the work that Dustin's doing, setting up amazing shows. And the type of shows they'll see at Hill Country are?

Dustin:             We go all over the place, Americana, Folk, Honky-Tonk, Bluegrass, Alt. Country. Like I mentioned I had an all Metal tribute to the Bee Gees called Tragedy.

Brian:               So basically, if you ever thought Cowboy boots were cool, everything about Hill Country you're gonna love?

Dustin:             Pretty much, yeah. To a T.

Brian:               That's amazing. I love it.