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January 17, 2017 - Special Guest: Julianne Brienza of Capital Fringe

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  • The first of our Lifestyle Playlists is now up!  Check out the Easy Listening Jams Playlist, linked from our Find-Browse Artists Page.  Great for while, you're at work, have friends over, or anytime you need good background music.
  • Send me the links to DC Artists Tiny Desk Videos, I'm putting together a youtube playlist of them!  Tag/share them with @dcmusicrocks or send us a note.


  1. Chasing (feat. Matt Beilis) - Tabi Bonney (Pop/Electronic)
  2. Hallelujah (feat. Birds of Chicago) - Domenic Cicala (Rock/Country)
  3. Arroyo (feat. Don Zientara) - Nina Heart (Indie/Slacker)
  4. Free Fall - Will Eastman (Techno)
  5. Impala - Near Northeast (Indie/Folk)
  6. Sweet and Sour - Janel and Anthony (Indie/Avant Jazz)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Julianne Brienza

Video - Bio - Photos - Links


Julianne is a passionate, inspiring, and unconventional arts leader and community builder. She is a founder of Capital Fringe, leading the award-winning organization since it's inception in 2005. For over a decade, Julianne has guided Capital Fringe’s vision, evolution, and growth, plus community development. In the process, she has grown the organization’s budget from $300,000 to $1.7 million and designed, shaped, and implemented programs that have engaged adventurous audiences, along with local, national, and international exploratory artists.

Under her leadership, Capital Fringe has won numerous awards, including two Mayor’s Awards and the Washington Business Journal’s “Non Profit of the Year.” Julianne is a recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership.

Prior to founding Capital Fringe, Julianne moved to Washington, DC., in December of 2003 in order to manage Cultural DC’s Flashpoint project. She programmed Flashpoint venues, managed their arts incubator program, recruited participants, and managed the facility. While at Cultural DC, Julianne started the Mead Theatre Lab Program, an intensive mentorship program for the performing arts that is still in existence.

Julianne came to Washington, DC., from Philadelphia, where she created and ran the Greenfield Elementary School artist-in-residency program for Mum Puppettheatre, which is still in existence. She also served as Managing Director of 1812 Productions, a non-profit theatre company, that focuses on comedy. Also, she worked with FringeArts for three years in various capacities from venue manager and box office, to performing in Festival productions. Previously, she was a Professional Apprentice with the Arden Theatre Company. Born and raised in Dillon, Montana, Julianne is a graduate of Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts-Theatre, and Minors in, Philosophy and Visual Arts, Magna Cum Laude, and The Sandglass Theatre’s Puppet Residency at Marlboro College.


Interview Transcript

Brian:     Julianne Brienza is a passionate, inspiring, and unconventional arts leader in, and a community builder. She is a founder of Capital Fringe, and has been leading the award winning organization since it started in 2005. She's guided Capital Fringe's vision, its evolution, its growth, and its community development. Under her leadership Capital Fringe has won numerous awards including two Mayor's Awards and the Washington Business Journal's Nonprofit of the Year. Julianna herself is a recipient of the Mayor's Arts Award for Visionary Leadership.

                  She was born and raised in Dillon, Montana and is a graduate of Viterbo. Am I saying it right, Viterbo University?

Julianne:                It's Viterbo.

Brian:     Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She moved to DC in 2003 and prior to founding Capital Fringe she managed Cultural DC's flash point project. Also, while at Cultural DC, Julianne started the Mean Theatre Lab Program which is an intensive mentorship program for the performing arts that is still in existence today.

                  I came across Julianne at the Building the Music Capital Conference a few months back because Capital Fringe is doing amazing things with the music scene here in town. Listeners it is with great pleasure that I introduce Julianne Brienza.

Julianne:                Hello. All right. We're going to get to some of the DC artists that I've chosen to play. Is that right?

Brian:     I want you to share, but first I want to get to know you.

Julianne:                Oh I'm so sorry.

Brian:     Can we talk to you first? Is that okay.

Julianne:                I was listening to the second thing. I'm so sorry. I was so ready to play the music. Yes.

Brian:     That's cool. We're going to do it.

Julianne:                Yes. Let's talk it out.

Brian:     Talk about you first. Let's get to know you.

Julianne:                Okay.

Brian:     Now, you are, tell us about Capital Fringe and how did you get tied into that and tell us how that began.

Julianne:                Okay. Well, I moved here in December of 2003 to work for Cultural DC and it was really dead. It was a lot of gray suits. I wondered where the young people were with keys on their belt. I had lived in Philadelphia for three years before I came here and they had a fringe festival and it was really a great time where everybody got together, very unofficially to just be a community and know each other. I thought that was what was missing and so a group of us sort of got together and muscles the first Capital Fringe festival in 2006.

Brian:     When you say muscled, what does that mean?

Julianne:                I mean using physical muscles

Brian:     You forced this to happen. You were carrying the load on your back?

Julianne:                It was a pretty big undertaking for all of us that were involved at that time. I mean, right when we started, it takes a lot of money. You have to have money to do this. None of us were really independently wealthy so I think within our first year, our budget was about 300,000 and that was getting grants for something that had not existed before, kind of on a hope and a prayer and making it happen. Then the first year we had 96 groups in the festival.

Brian:     Holy smokes.

Julianne:                You know, we thought it would be awesome if we had 50.

Brian:     Now, this is a film festival, right?

Julianne:                No, no, no. It's a live performance, performing arts festival.

Brian:     Live performing arts, okay.

Julianne:                It's dance. It's puppetry. It's theater. Then really when we got into 2009 is when we really started inserting music through it.

Brian:     How has the music become part of Capital Fringe?

Julianne:                We first started just doing it during the summer festival, the fringe festival in July. We had a tent that we put up at the time and so we'd really just offer free concerts. It was just awesome. It was so great. We'd have the old theater guys being like, "I've never seen anything like this before." I'd be like, "No, because you're not going to the Velvet Lounge or DC9 at midnight on a Tuesday or something." Then it's just really since 2009 we've just continued to sort of increase how we present DC musicians. We really do try to focus on DC musicians. A lot of it is that we pay them or we set up a revenue model that isn't just about bar sales and all of that which is typical in the industry.

Brian:     Wow. How do you guys find, if there's musicians listening or something. How do you find the talent and how does the music side of Capital Fringe work?

Julianne:                It's ever evolving as we continue to sort of flail out into what we will eventually be and then keep evolving. A lot of the way that we do it is we have curators that do a lot of the curating for us. Jim Thompson who's a founding member of Gwar, he does other things too. It was a long time ago, but he's a great guy. He does a lot of music programming for us and Luke Stewart who's also in a lot of different bands does a lot of music curating for us as well.

Brian:     Curating meaning they decide who's going to come and play the venue?

Julianne:                Yeah we kind of do it as a collaborative effort because it can't be something where Capital Fringe just has to eat it. The curator is a paid position and then typically we'll either do tickets and then we'll do some sort of revenue share, or we pay the band a certain amount and it can also be we pay a band a certain amount and it's totally free, or we pay the band a certain amount and we do a ticket and we get to a certain point. If we sold tickets then we go into a revenue sharing there.

Brian:     Got it. Now, for listeners who've never been to Capital Fringe, tell us about the venue. Where is it? What is it like?

Julianne:                We purchased a building at the end of 2014. It was a really big deal, still a big deal. It's the Logan Fringe Art Space. It's at 1358 Florida Avenue North East. We're just one block off H Street. If you've been to the Atlas Performing Arts Center, just come on over one more block.

Brian:     Nice.

Julianne:                We have a little theater. It's called the Trinidad Theater. You can fit in about 200 people in there. We do a variety of things. We got a full service bar that's open and you can drink.

Brian:     Wow. How many nights a week in the music there is?

Julianne:                We have done a lot of different things since we first opened. Right now we're really just kind of an event space. We are going to be doing a big renovation in October. We're going to be closing for a year and doing a huge renovation that will actually get us a really awesome music venue and theater venue and full restaurant kitchen when we're done. Right now, we're really, when we first opened we were open all the time, but we got to build up ourselves a little bit more until we can do that and have proper equipment and all that stuff. We're on the track.

Brian:     Sure.

Julianne:                We're on the track to get there.

Brian:     Now, with everything going on with Capital Fringe, you've got a lot going on, clearly. When yo do get some free time, tell us about that side of Julianne. What do you do with yourself when you're off?

Julianne:                Well, I will just be really honest. I don't really have a lot of free time, which is just, you know, the career things I've chosen to do. I often bite off more than I can chew. I really do love feeling inspired to see the performing arts and so I love going to the 9:30 Club. I love going to U Street Music Hall. I love seeing shows. Theater, I love doing that. I also really love to travel. Actually, I've found that with my current endeavors, it's often just I get out of town, just to really feel like I'm not in my zone of oh I've got to work this angle and this environment so I can get this thing to make something better. Yeah. I don't know. I really love live performance as a way that humans can communicate to each other in a way that you can't really do in any other way. I just really like to take that in. I do that personally and professionally.

Brian:     What about funniest moments in what you've been doing with Capital Fringe? What comes to mind? Funniest moments.

Julianne:                Funniest moments. One that may be funny right now. I guess it was like in May, I don't know. I was sort of stressed out so I dyed my hair. I dye my hair a lot but I totally went like white blond. I didn't really think much of it because I've had my hair that color before, but people really did not recognize me and it was awesome.

Brian:     Say more about that. It was awesome, because why? 

Julianne:                Sometimes when I'm in certain situations, I have to like talk to a lot of people and sometimes you might not want to. I did get in sort of the habit of wearing like sunglasses, but that didn't really work. The hair dye a lot, like even on Sunday night I was at arena stage seeing a show and a guy that I know walked right by me, did not recognize me at all. I was like, wow, this is still going ton.

Brian:     This has been how long now? How long has the hair been blonde? 

Julianne:                It's been since May and I don't know what I'm doing with my hair. It's not really. It's been really funny. I think it's probably for me, to chuckle about it and maybe some of my staff that I get to tell them stories about, oh my god that person just walked by me.

Brian:     What about a time that you tried and failed? What's an example of that one?

Julianne:                Like all the time. I really love failure, which is probably not a normal response. I actually think if you get failure it means that you're getting closer to actually getting to something real. I don't know. I fail all the time. I fail at using my computer. I've been having a lot of issues with my computer that has made my work a little bit slower recently. I apologize if you haven't heard from me. You know, I feel like I don't have a big, like I fell down and I failed but I really do fail all the time. What I'm doing right now, I'm trying to do this huge renovation on our building. It's a lot of money to do it. To do the renovation is going to be about 2.7 million and while I have good stats and all that stuff, and the trajectory seems logical and everything, but it could totally fail. I believe in the DC arts community so I don't think it will totally, but it might.

Brian:     Got it. Yeah. Then, and a time when you succeeded then? Big success moment? You're trying and maybe not trying and failing but so what about succeeding? What comes to mind?

Julianne:                I really feel success when people come to stuff at fringe and they're just hanging out, and it's not fancy. It's all different types of people and they get to talk to each other and they get to see things that they normally wouldn't see. The other night at the space we had, there was that concert at the 9:30 Club for the guy who died from the Urban Verbs. They all came over to the space afterwards to look at Bill Worrell has an art exhibit. Bill Worrell is the founder of DC Space and then a co-founder of the 9:30 Club. He's also a local artist and he has his first visual art show in our space. They all came over. It's a bunch of old dudes living it up, talking about the times and then we got loading in a birthday party for a local theater artist and just watching people kind of exchange looks and like, who are you? Well this is my space. Well what are you doing here now? Then the people coming together. That's a success to me. I like stuff like that.

Brian:     Awesome. I love stories like that too. It's amazing how arts can bring the community together. It really does. Now, what's one piece of advice that you would offer?

Julianne:                To who? About what?

Brian:     To the DC community in general. If you had one piece of, this is my favorite last question for the guest. What's one piece of advice you would offer?

Julianne:                I think you know what? A time where our nation is just really, it's crazy times right? I think it's really important to pay, and I think no matter where you're at, just pay attention to your neighbors. Be kind to your neighbors. Realize that you are in a community and you can make an impact in your community.

           I think to really start, to have that be your start position versus getting overly obsessed with everything that's national all the time. If we really just start working at stuff that we could touch, we could look at our neighbors in the eyes and say something nice to them, and invite them to do something, that's going to really create change. I would really, that's my advice.


January 3, 2017 - Special Guest: Jonny Grave, Blues Guitarist

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  1. Age of Trains - The U-Liners (Rock/Americana)
  2. Cry to Yourself - Two Ton Twig (Bluegrass)
  3. Circles - Timberbrooke (Rock/Alt-Rock)
  4. Wade - Jonny Grave (Blues)
  5. Rocket Science - Maryjo Mattea (Rock/Pop)
  6. Real Steel - See-I (Reggae/Funk)
  7. Big Sur - Janel and Anthony (Indie/Avant Jazz)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Jonny Grave is a guitarist, songwriter, singer, bandleader, teacher, musical historian, journalist, photographer, and Bluesman from Washington DC. Growing up in a very musical family, Gravewas introduced to the sounds of American traditional folk music early on. At age fifteen he found himself learning slide guitar techniques from old Blues records, and by seventeen he was performing them live.





Brian:     Jonny Grave is a guitarist, songwriter, singer, band leader, teacher, musical historian, journalist, photographer, and a bluesman, from Washington DC. He's grown up in a very musical family and he was introduced to the sounds of American traditional folk music early on in his life. At age 15 he found himself learning slide guitar techniques from old blues records, that the musical family that he was in had around the house and by 17, he was performing them live. The first time I ever saw Jonny he was on stage with The Tombstones and I had seen him perform three or four times before I actually got to meet the man, and good gracious, between the slide guitar and the energy, and the jumping around. If you haven't been to a Jonny Grave show, you are in for a treat when you see this man. Check him out on YouTube if you're not in the area to see it. I should stop talking so that I can introduce you to the guest of the day and my special guest. I'm excited. It's great. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Jonny Grave. Say hi Jonny.

Jonny Grave:       Hi. How are you?

Brian:     One more time, you've said hi three times now. Thanks for that. Now tell us more than hi. Tell us about you. Tell us about Jonny Grave the artist, the quick background.

Jonny Grave:       I'm a hack.

Brian:     Oh come on.

Jonny Grave:       No, I play blues and because that's a remarkably old style of music. It goes back several decades in this country, there's a lot of source material to draw from. Even those tunes that are only 75, 80 years old, those go back to older, and older, and older tunes so there's a lot to draw from. I've kind of got my work cut out for me, really. It's less a matter of working hard. It's a matter of collecting songs.

Brian:     Got it. Now, tell us about you outside of the music. Well first of all, before we do that. I ran through this whole list of all the things that you do. Run me through some of that stuff here. Share with the listeners some of the stuff that you're doing.

Jonny Grave:       First and foremost, I'm a musician. I'm a guitar player. I'm a singer, a song writer. I tour for that as well. I'm on the road a lot performing, but in addition to that, I'm also a photographer and a writer for a DC based online magazine and blog called Brightest Young Things. They tend to write a lot about new, current events, bars that are opening up, new restaurants, new things that are happening around town, and I write the history columns. I write about the old stuff, about the stuff that's not so contemporary, not so new.

Brian:     Got it. That's that music historian stuff you were talking about.

Jonny Grave:       Now, that's another side of the coin too. Because of the kind of stuff that I play, a lot of it comes from, called traditionals. They're not necessarily cover songs. I'm not playing a song the same way that let's say Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters would have recorded. I'm playing it in a new way, sort of carrying the song forward. A lot of that requires research. A lot of that requires digging into old recordings from the 1920s and 1930s, which is a lot of fun, but also takes a lot of work too. That's the musical historian side. I did some of that work with, I did a little bit of work with the Clara Barton sessions last year, a Civil War music project we did over at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers office in Chinatown.

Brian:     Wow. I heard about the Clara Barton thing. Folks, if you're looking for that, if they want to find out about the Clara Barton thing specifically, is there somewhere online they can find that?

Jonny Grave:       They can go to

Brian: Check that one out. That was a really cool project that Jonny did here. Now, what about, so outside of the music thing now. Johnny on the personal side, where do we find Jonny? What does Jonny do?

Jonny Grave:       Probably find me at home with my dog. I had a really busy year in 2016. I traveled more in 2016 than I ever had in my whole life combined.

Brian:     Wow.

Jonny Grave:       It was a great year. I traveled a lot and had a lot of fun. Now I've got a very slow winter. I'm going to be home until March. I've got a couple projects to work on while I'm home. You can find me at The Coupe on my laptop, working away, booking-

Brian:     Got it. The Coupe in Columbia Heights and if you're looking for a good coffee shop, check out The Coupe.

Jonny Grave:       Yes.

Brian:     That's right near Jonny. Working on different projects and the dog.

Jonny Grave:       Yes.

Brian:     Which the dog's name is?

Jonny Grave:       Stella.

Brian:     Stella.

Jonny Grave:       Stella is a dog.

Brian:     Got it and Stella, #stellaisadog? I think?

Jonny Grave:       My girlfriend made a hashtag. Yeah. The day we got her she said, "Are we going to create an Instagram account for the dog?" I said, "That's not an option. That is not, we're not going to do that."

Brian:     No social media profiles for the dog. Okay.

Jonny Grave:       No sorry. She is a dog. We compromised as intelligent partners are one to do in committed relationships. We compromised on a hashtag for the dog, so the hashtag is Stella is a dog, all one word. If you go look for that on Instagram, or on Twitter, you can find pictures of my mutt.

Brian:     Check out Stella online. I love it. Now, tell us about funniest moment that comes to mind.

Jonny Grave:       Funniest moment, on stage or with the dog?

Brian:     Let's go onstage. I'm sure Stella's got a lot of funny moments but talk about the performer side.

Jonny Grave:       Funniest moment onstage, looking back, I could have easily hurt myself, but-

Brian:     This is how every good story starts Jonny.

Jonny Grave:       Yeah. Not to get sidetracked here but I don't believe that I'm getting old. I do think that I am getting older and think one of the joys of getting older is looking back fondly on the times at which you could have died and didn't. That's near brushes with death.

Brian:     They don't talk about that in the AARP material they send out but okay. Now, tell us one of these then?

Jonny Grave:       We're playing at the, this was May of 2011 and my band and I were playing at the Silver Spring Blues Festival, which was a big, outdoor concert. We were one of 10 or 12 bands that played throughout the day. We were somewhere in the middle of the day. It was a big crowd. It was a lot of fun. We're having a great time. We're on a stage that was elevated about maybe five feet off the ground. Not like a big, European festival kind of stage, but this is a reasonably sized regional concert. We're having a ball and somebody made the mistake of giving me a wireless guitar unit, so I'm flying around the stage.

Brian:     All over the place.

Jonny Grave:       I'm having a ball. It's great. I jump off the stage. I'm dancing in the audience. We're all having a great time. Then I get back on the stage and we're finishing up our last number. We got the two minute warning from one of the sound guys at the festival there. We're wrapping things up. We're trying to go for a big finish. I already jumped off the stage, so I figured I can't do that again. How do you top that? I figure, the best way to top that is to climb on top of the speaker stacks and do a Pete Townshend style split kick in mid air, which I did. I landed.

                  It was great, but while I'm on this speaker stack, my heel slipped. I caught myself. It was fine, but then I suddenly realize I'm about maybe, the speaker stacks were about five feet off the ground. I'm already five feet off the ground with the stage. That's about 10 feet in the air, maybe 12 feet. I'm tottering back and forth. I can see my father in the crowd. It's 2011, so it was flip camcorder, and he's holding one of these things. He's holding it trained on me, but he's looking away for the entire time that I'm on the speakers as if to say, I can't watch this. This is terrible, but I really hope I'm getting it.

Brian:     Okay.

Jonny Grave:       I couldn't stop laughing. I found it just uncontrollably hilarious. Looking back on it, I easily could have slipped and cracked my skull.

Brian:     Oh Jonny you had me going there. There was no slipping.

Jonny Grave:       No. 

Brian:     There was no falling.

Jonny Grave:       No.

Brian:     After that whole story? Oh my god you are such a tease. I love it. Holy smokes. All right. I was ready for the big climax, man. I love it. At the same time, 12 feet off the ground, no ripping pants. That's amazing. All right.

Jonny Grave:       Totally fine.

Brian:     Next time you see Jonny, make sure you ask him about pants ripping and some of the other fun stories as well, because he's got a lot from all of his time. That's for sure. What about biggest success moments? You've been at this for a while now. What comes to mind? Biggest success moment?

Jonny Grave:       There's too many to count. No I'm kidding. I think, one of my proudest moments was when my buddy Chris Naoum from Listen Local First, shoehorned me somehow into the Kennedy Center. This was after playing months and months at Madams Organ and Adams Morgan, which is a bar in sort of one of our big going out neighborhoods. If any listeners in Nashville, Tennessee, it's just like our Broadway. Any listeners in New Orleans, it's just like Bourbon Street. It's kind of touristy, but it's a happening neighborhood. We're playing there every week and this is after years of playing at rickety dives and awful bars and just walking out smelling terrible and just a lot of physically sticky situations. You walk out of that bar and you feel sticky. Not just Madams, there's a bunch of bars we played, but we got a call to play over at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and we played there in the afternoon. It was a spectacular show, and there was a show that we had to almost cancel at Glen Echo Park in Maryland. We were able to do a double header that day.

                  We went from Kennedy Center to Glen Echo in about half an hour flat. We hauled it. It was fantastic. It was for a blues dance on this big bumper car pavilion. There's about 120 folks that were dancing. The thing at the Kennedy Center, they're all seated. They're sitting down. They're appreciative. They clap, but they're not really moving around a whole lot. We got to Glen Echo park, and it's like they're performing for us. That whole day was so much fun and I felt really proud. I felt proud that I was able to pull off a double header, to pull it off with a band that I worked hard with, to pull it off with songs and music that I wrote or that I care about very much. It was a really solid, good experience. I've played the Kennedy Center six times since then.

Brian:     Wow. Kennedy Center is one of those. I feel like people talk about some of the venues around DC like the 9:30 Club, as a status thing, if you've played 9:30. I also feel like Kennedy Center is up there for musicians. If you've played the Kennedy Center, it's a different caliber and a different feeling.

Jonny Grave:       It really is. That hallway there, here's your fun DC architecture, history fact. The grand hall of the Kennedy Center is so long that if you took the Washington Monument and laid it on it's side, you would still have room to spare inside the grand hall of the Kennedy Center. It's that deep. Hearing the snare on sound check was just, that was fun. Hearing the ricochet take five seconds to come back to you.

Brian:     Absolutely.

Jonny Grave:       One of the great things about that, not just the venue but particularly the Millennium Stage, which that opened in 2000, the staff at Millennium Stage has been putting on a free concert every night, 365 nights a year, putting on free music not just for locals but for out of towners. If you're in town, and you want to go see a show at the Kennedy Center for free, you can. They're hour long performances and they happen every night. It's a great mix of DC based national, international and a wide swath of genres. They're good folks. I really enjoy what they do.

Brian:     Now, one of the last things I love to ask in the interviews is, what's one piece of advice that you'd love to offer.

Jonny Grave:       Oh, don't give up. That's easy. If you've got an idea, polish the idea. Make sure that you've got a clear image of your idea, something that you can explain in about 30 seconds. Then, do it and don't stop doing it. Don't quit. Do not give up.

Brian:     What's that been for Jonny Grave?

Jonny Grave:       Just playing gigs. I record a lot. I don't sell that many. I don't sell a whole bunch. I sell some at shows and I sell some online, but for me, I play. I play gigs. I perform and I perform about maybe three to four times a week. I did a final count for 2016, I played 185 shows in 2016.

Brian:     Good gracious.

Jonny Grave:       That's more than every other night. I was very happy about that, but that's a lot of that was my own stubborn perseverance.

Brian:     Got it. To bring it to a close here, I know you said you had mentioned before the show, that there was something exciting you had coming up and then also, folks if they want to find out more about Jonny Grave, where do they go?

Jonny Grave:       Well, if you want to find out more about me, just go to That's Jonny J-O-N-N-Y G-R-A-V-E .com. Johnny with an H, Johnny Grave is a guy in the Netherlands who sometimes answers my mistyped emails. There's a couple cool things that are coming up. I've got a winter off. I'm going to be in town until March. I'm going to hit the road again, head south in mid to late March, back through North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, but the fun gig in town, in Washington DC proper or sorry in Clarendon just up the road from the studio where we're sitting right now, has a great club called IOTA.

                  They're doing another classic albums night. Jason Mendelson, a buddy of mine who's a multi-instrumentalists and a composer, great guy. He's putting together another classic albums show where he pics a year, and then he picks some DC based musicians and they play classic albums from that year live. There's going to be a great DC based band called Oh He Dead playing Abbey Road from the Beatles, Alex Vance and his band are playing Hot Rats from Frank Zappa, and my band Jonny Grave and the Tombstones are playing Led Zeppelin II from 1969.

Brian:     Wow. That sounds like a phenomenal night.

November 15, 2016 - Special Guest: Veronneau

^^Episode Is Live Now - Click Above (might take time to buffer/load, refresh page if issue)^^

National Podcast:  iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherPocket CastsPodBeanPlayerFM, or THIS URL in your app of choice




  1. Cover Up - The SomeTimes (Rock/Country)
  2. Johnny Stone Stole My GIrl - Braddock Station Garrison (Rock/Power Pop)
  3. I Could Be The One - Vegas With Randolph (Pop/Power Pop)
  4. Waiting In Vain - Veronneau (Jazz/World)
  5. Sweet and Sour - Janel and Anthony (Indie/Avant Jazz)
  6. What's Going On - Mark G. Meadows (Jazz/R&B)
  7. The Persistant Elephant - Cristian Perez (Jazz/World Fusion)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Veronneau DC Music Rocks

Award-winning, international band VERONNEAU have been captivating audiences across North America and Europe with their vocal and guitar based world-jazz. A delicious blend of bossa nova, jazz, samba and swing performed in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Their recent releases, Joie de Vivre – Joy of Living, and Jazz Samba Project earned rave reviews and climbed into the top 10 of leading jazz and world music charts around the world.

VERONNEAU's passion for musical creativity has been honored with awards, grants and commissions. VERONNEAU curated Strathmore Music Center's Jazz Samba Projec festival, produced music documentaries, a musical play, and created a live interactive performance with contemporary dance troupe Company Danzante.

"Alluring and enthralling!" Ricky Kej - 2015 GRAMMY award winner

"Music for big crowds and bright lights" Canadian Audiophile

 "Veronneau is the jazz vocal version of the sexy little black dress...

.....welcome to the land of rhythm and groove" Critical Jazz

Veronneau DC Music Rocks
Veronneau DC Music Rocks


Brian:     That was Veronneau and their track, "Waiting in Vain." With that it is, well let me just tell you, they're an award winning international band that has been captivating audiences across North America and Europe with their vocal and guitar based world jazz. A delicious blend of bossa nova, jazz, samba, and swing performed in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Bring your A game when it comes to the listening because they bring it on four different languages. Their recent release, "Joie de Vivre," the joy of living and jazz, samba project earned rave reviews and climbed into the top 10 of leading jazz and world music charts which was an unbelievable accomplishment for these folks that are right here in D.C. Veronneau's passion for musical creativity as been honored with awards, grants, and commissions. They've curated the Strathmore Music Center's jazz samba project festival. They produce music for documentaries and a musical play and created a live interactive performance with contemporary dance troupe Company Danzante here in D.C.

                  I personally came across these folks because they also are host of Music Alley, which is a phenomenal, phenomenal show about D.C. Music here on 96.7 FM and they are all about the music scene here in D.C. When I heard about them and then I heard their music, it was a no brainer that I definitely wanted to get them on here so that I could share them with you because they are just phenomenal. Listeners, it is with great pleasure that I introduce Lynn and Ken from Veronneau. Say hi guys.

Lynn:      Hey Brian, how are you?

Ken:        Hello there. How you doing?

Brian:     God, it's such a treat to have you guys here. Such a treat.

Lynn:      It's a wonderful pleasure to be here.

Brian:     Tell us about that track that we just played. Tell us about that.

Lynn:      "Waiting in Vain," so that's a Bob Marley tune if you listeners might've recognized it. A beautiful, classic reggae and we decided to play with it a little as were embarking on the jazz samba project which brought us into deeper, deeper into bossa nova and samba. We thought, "Hey, how about we try to do a little bossa nova with that tune," and this is what came out of it. You know, another piece of it was the horns which normally, we don't perform with horns. This is a treat for to bring on horns. I just knew that I had to have the horns on that piece.

Brian:     They sound so good, it's true.

Lynn:      That's Jim McFalls on trombone and Jeff Antoniuk on sax and it's just so lush. I just love it.

Brian:     Wow, phenomenal track. Tell us about you guys now and the band. Where did it come from? How did it start?

Lynn:      Ken, You tell again how the band started and all of that. 

Ken:        This particular band, because Lynn and I have both been playing music for a long time in Europe and over here in America. We'd been doing in America a lot of acoustic folk stuff and hop things just as a duo. We kept on saying, "You know, it'd be really nice to play nice venues or a decent venue," and so on. Maybe even actually get paid and so on. Lynn had this feeling that-

Brian:     The dream. It's the dream. Uh huh.

Ken:        Jazz, jazz could do it. I met another guitar player, David Rosenblatt. I put off meeting him for a long time because everyone said, "You should play with David. He plays guitar," and I kept thinking, "Yeah, he probably knows like three Eric Clapton songs and that's it." I'm not very hopeful.

Brian:     Some people may think that status but apparently that's not status. Okay.

Ken:        You know, maybe "Stairway to Heaven" but just the intro.

Brian:     Oh okay.

Ken:        When I actually went around and met David, my jaw dropped. He's just this stunningly good jazz guitar player, particularly in the Brazilian style. He was brought up as a kid in Brazil.

Ken:        He went back there on a scholarship to study jazz guitar in Brazil. He brought that Brazilian side to what we do. We got together very, very quickly, about six years ago, something like that.

Lynn:      Yeah.

Ken:        We played our first gig in December. We were in the studio, recording the album by March. It's been non-stop ever since.

Brian:     Wow. Now I know you guys do original music and you also play a lot of covers or great interpretations of great songs that most folks know. The decisions, where does that come from? Who makes those calls?

Lynn:      I think the band and everybody together brings material to the band and then we decide if we like it, if we can arrange it. We do the same for the originals too. It may start from a rhythm, it may start from a riff, it may start from some lyrics, and then we get together and we arrange together. It's very difficult for one musician who specializes in one instrument to write for everybody convincingly.

Brian:     Right.

Lynn:      Right. I think I appreciate the fact that we're all very open minded about that. I would never dare try to write a guitar lick.

Ken:        That works the other way as well. I'll come up with a great song and lyrics and Lynn will go, "That's un-singable. It simply cannot be sung." 

Lynn:      There's too may words.

Ken:        She would go through there and red line the, a, if, and, and get rid of those extraneous words so that it's pronounceable.

Brian:     Right. That makes sense. What about outside of the band? Yeah, outside of band. Tell us about you guys, personally.

Lynn:      Oh when we're not playing music. We're married.

Brian:     In case you didn't know. Public service announcement, they're taken, sorry guys.

Ken:        I liked the vocalist so much I went and married her.

Brian:     Yeah you did. You're a lucky man, you. You're a lucky man.

Ken:        Yeah, I always tell people I married, I overachieved in the marriage state so you know it was-

Brian:     You married up, I think I heard them say, yeah?

Ken:        I'm married up, yeah.

Lynn:      I think he's taking advantage of being on the air to say these sweet things.

Brian:     Uh huh, absolutely. As he should.

Ken:        We do music full time outside of this.

Lynn:      Yes.

Ken:        We do music full time and we both did have day jobs and we left them at six years ago and things snowballed. It started off as being let's just leave the albums are doing well, let's just do performance and so on and look after our little boy. It snowballed into all the other things you mentioned, the plays, the films, the dance. I also mentor musicians for the Strathmore. Lynn and I have doing a second time with curating a series of local world music at the Creative Cauldron Falls Church. We found ourselves involved in so many different aspects of music that we never imagined.

Lynn:      I'm also a session singer on certain projects. Yeah, earlier in the show you were saying how incredible the pool of talent we have in the area. I agree with you, I don't think we'll ever get to the bottom. It's rich, it's interesting, it's diverse and we're extremely lucky that we have the time and energy to be involved with so many people. 

Brian:     What is your favorite part about the D.C. music scene specifically?

Lynn:      Wow the incredible wealth of talent. Sheer, raw, deep talent.

Brian:     Wow, yeah definitely. Ken, any thoughts there?

Ken:        I think also particularly in the genre, you know it's interesting, we're listening to the records you're playing. The records, I'm showing my age there, the records. Your old school.

Brian:     Uh huh.

Ken:        It's a breath of fresh air to hear that because we don't tend to hear that as much. We tend to be listening to world and jazz music more.

Brian:     I see.

Ken:        Within our world, a lot of those musicians, there's a lot of cross fertilization. We'll see a guitar player or bandoneon player or a vocalist popping up on each other's albums all the time. That's really nice. It's really nice that you can say, "We'd like to collaborate. Would you be interested?" and it's usually yes. There's not a competitive sense in D.C.

Brian:     That's awesome.

Ken:        I have been told by some musicians who've lived and worked professionally in New York that they either came back to D.C. or they came to D.C. and fell in love with it because there was the possibility. It was a much less pressured, much less competitive situation. There's work, there's money, not a lot, but there's money. They really enjoyed either coming back home or setting up home here as musicians.

Brian:     Now what about the best show you've ever played? What comes to mind?

Lynn:      Oh wow, what comes to mind, that would have to be the Strathmore Music Center, the large stage there.

Brian:     Yeah, that's a big one up there too.

Lynn:      That's a big one, yes.

Brian:     For those who have never been to the Strathmore that are listening, where is that one? What is that one?

Lynn:      It's in, is it North Bethesda or is it Rockville there?

Ken:        It's North Bethesda. North Bethesda.

Lynn:      North Bethesda, Maryland. It's just on the outskirts of the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. The center's about 10 years old and it really is the state of the art facility.

Lynn:      The sound is phenomenal. It is actually very beautiful. It holds about 2,500 people.

Brian:     Wow.

Lynn:      We've had the opportunity to perform there in an extravaganza. I call it Lynn's extravaganza. It was a jazz samba project festival that we had curated and Ken was deeply involved with the entire two weeks of workshops and documentaries and exhibits and tons of concerts of course. It was the finale and I thought, "I need a big finale. I want a big finale," so I had the whole horn section and wonderful players. I had a Latino choir and I had a samba dancer. It was fun.

Brian:     Oh man, what a treat.

Ken:        Oh and a harmonica player. We brought in one of the world's top harmonica players from New York who has played with us a few times.

Lynn:      Oh yes, yes. I forgot.

Brian:     Wow.

Ken:        He too loves to come down to D.C. Jumps on the bus when he's not touring in Brazil or Japan or something to play with us.

Lynn:      Right.

Ken:        We had Hendrick as well, Hendrick [Meurkens 00:10:48].

Brian:     What about a time when you guys tried and failed?

Lynn:      Do you want to tell, Ken?

Ken:        Yeah, when we tried and failed. I think the biggest, the most surprising thing, we went to a venue out in Shenandoah Mountains and one thing we do all of the time and always have to is we promote. We really do the work to do the work in this field is so important. You're in a partnership with the venues and you can assume they're not going to do the promotion. If they do it's a bonus. We go to radio, we go to newspaper, we do the social media, we do the whole thing. We did our work, go to an area we've never been to in the Shenandoah Mountains and we went out there and there were five people in the audience.

Brian:     Oh my goodness.

Ken:        We've never had that before. That was a real shock to us.

Lynn:      A gorgeous venue. The sound was absolutely amazing.

Brian:     Oh man.

Lynn:      But nobody came.

Brian:     Nobody came.

Lynn:      You know they say if you build it, they will come. No, they didn't come.

Brian:     It's so true. I think every musician's got that story where you're just playing to the sound man. That really, oh man, okay.

Ken:        They were a very receptive five people. At the same time, you're thinking, "Are they staying because they'd be embarrassed to leave or are they actually really enjoying it?"

Brian:     Yeah. I got one last question that I love to ask and that's if you have one piece of advice to offer, what would it be?

Lynn:      Ken is always about do the work and be diligent and promote and support the venue as much as you are supporting your audience too. I'm sorry, I'm speaking for you, Ken, now. I would like to like to add, as a band leader, I support my band. I look out for my band. I make sure they have the material that they need to work. I make sure they have schedules. I make sure they know where to go, how to dress and what to expect. I like to look out for my band and Ken likes to look out for the business.

Ken:        For the business. We do tour. We tour out in Europe and when we go there it's like a military operation that put together. We got a sheet that says this is where you need to be at this time, this is the time we'll pick you up in the car.

Brian:     Preparation is key, it sounds like.

Lynn:      Yeah.

Ken:        Yeah. Here are the phone numbers of where we're staying and all the rest of it. We really do the work in advance for those tours.