Viewing entries tagged
Rachel Levitin

7/24/18 - Special Guest: Kid Brother

This week on DC Music Rocks, Kid Brother, an independent band from Leesburg in Northern VA, stops by for a chat with host Brian Nelson-Palmer.  The episode also features great tracks by Rachel Levitin, Dr Robinson's Fiasco, Milo and the Doldrums, and The Duskwhales.

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

Kid Brother Bio:

Kid Brother

Kid Brother is an independent band from Northern Virginia, founded when the celestial space gods called upon Richard, Dylan, Lindsey, Sam, and Christian to go forth and create a band in the spring of the year of our lords, 2016. Focused on originality and genuine lyricism, Kid Brother fuses together elements of rock, indie, folk and blues to create a sound that truly is their own.

Kid Brother
Raw Social Selfie Kid Brother.JPEG

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  1. Save Myself, by Rachel Levitin (Pop, Rock)

  2. Pastels, by Kid Brother (Indie Rock, Folk)

  3. ***Did You Find What You Want?, by Dr Robinson's Fiasco (Hard Rock, Alternative)

  4. Built For No One, by Milo in the Doldrums (Rock, Indie Rock)

  5. Fight Back by The Duskwhales (Indie, Gypsy)

***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<-


Nominations came in, almost a thousand of them, we’ve tallied the results and have put up the ballot.  Votes accepted now through Saturday 7/28.

Have you bought your tickets yet?  Hundreds of tickets have already been sold, they’re only $15, go ahead and buy your tickets right now.  We’re having a party and we want you there!



  • Prinze George - Mind Over
     Smooth Indie-Electro Single - RIYL Metric, Purity Ring, London Grammar

  • The Colonies - Bound To Be Something Good
     Classic Rock Vibe Single - RIYL The Strokes, The Black Keys, Hippocampus

  • Billy Winn - Dreamland I
     Electro Pop 5 Song EP - RIYL Icona Pop, Pet Shop Boys

  • Menage A Garage - More Human Than You
    5 Song Pop-Punk EP - RIYL Pixies, Green Day, They Might Be Giants



Our 2018 New Releases by DC Artists’ Spotify Playlist:

Our ‘DC Artists Official Music Videos’ Youtube 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!

Jul 27 - Fri
The Duskwhales (Indie/Rock) @ MilkBoy ArtHouse in College Park, MD
Two Ton Twig (Bluegrass/Folk) @ Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington, DC
Chris Cassaday & The Cassaday Concoction (Funk/Blues) @ Solly's in Washington, DC

Jul 28 - Sat
Virginia Creep (Hard Rock) @ DC9 Nightclub in Washington, DC
Pressing Strings  (Folk) @ Hill Country DC in Washington, DC

Jul 29 - Sun
Caz Gardiner (Pop/Reggae) @ Jammin Java in Vienna, VA

Jul 31 - Tue
Makeup Girl (Hard Rock) @ DC9 Nightclub in Washington, DC
The Sea Life (Rock) @ Union Stage in Washington, DC

Aug 1 - Wed
Eli LevChris Cassaday & Justin Trawick (Folk/Bluegrass @ Jammin Java Presents: Former Best Friends in Vienna, VA


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?

March 21, 2017 - Special Guest: Rachel Levitin

^^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. Rabbit Hole by the Woodshedders (Indie/Americano)
  2. Lucky Penny Blues by Rachel Levitin (Pop/Rock)
  3. Tell Everyone by Derek Evry (Rock/Pop)
  4. Turn Away by Paul Santori's Random Opponent (Rock)
  5. As You See It by Taylor Carson (Indie/Pop)
  6. Lighter bones and eyes that see for miles by Ms. Fridrich (Rock/Indie-Pop)
  7. Art Acord by Zia Hassan (Folk)


  • Arlington's IOTA Club and Cafe is at risk of being redeveloped. The developer, Regency Centers, is holding public meetings to present their plans.  Join the facebook group to stay up to date and find out how you can support this local music icon.
  • Moral Hangover's 2nd Annual Latin Rock Tribute at Tropicalia
    2nd Annual Latin Rock show on Friday, March 31st, featuring local band Moral Hangover, Indigo, and Latin Velvet @ Tropicalia. 100% of the money we collect will be used to help fund a Startup in South America that will help get out-of-school children back to formal education, by teaching them math through music.
  • has been updated so now one full page is dedicated to the DC Artists Database.  The incredible music and video playlists are broken out on their own page now.  Continuing to make DC's Music easier than ever to find and follow.
  • It's Rachel Levitin's Birthday!  Her Birthday party is Thursday 3/23 at Tortoise and Hare in Arlington, VA.  
    Ladies Night on Stage Presents: Rachel's Birthday Show

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-

Rachel Levitin

Video - Bio - Links - Transcript


"Rachel Levitin embodies passion," or so its been said of her. 

Levitin's performance career started in middle school with chorus and expanded with school plays, school music festivals, and talent shows before picking up guitar and trumpet at the age of nine. 

A few years later, while home alone on a Saturday with her just her dog by her side, Rachel took her first stab at a original songwriting after finding inspiration while watching a Backstreet Boys special on ABC Family Channel at age twelve.

Solo performances of her original music started at age fourteen and she hasn't looked back since.

Known for her high-energy performances, thoughtful lyrics, and positive storytelling, Levitin released her debut EP "Nearly Broken" with great support. The five-song EP even reached number one on Amazon Music's Adult Alternative New Releases Charts in October 2015.

Levitin's most recent release -- "Get Back Up" -- made its world premiere on WERA 96.7 FM's DC Music Rocks and is the song that kicks off her next chain of events. Her hope is to have a new EP of motivational, feel-good songs ready for a release around this time next year.


Brian:     Rachel Levitin's performance career started in middle school with chorus. Solo performances of her original music started at age 14, and she hasn't looked back since. She's known for her high-energy performances, her thoughtful lyrics, and positive storytelling, which I can vouch for personally because I have seen her on stage many times. She released her debut EP Nearly Broken, which reached number one on Amazon's music adult alternative new releases chart in October of 2015. Then her most recent release, "Get Back Up," we actually did the world premiere here on DC Music Rocks. My favorite memory about that is that Rachel was, you were in an Uber-

Rachel:   I was.

Brian:     And she took video or Instagram Live or whatever it was.

Rachel:   Whatever it was.

Brian:     She did video. I got to see video of her sitting in the car with her Uber driver listening to her world premiere on the show, which was, as a host, that was one of my favorite memories that I have so far is seeing that. That was amazing. Thank you for sharing that and for letting me do the world premiere because that song, check out "Get Back Up" by Rachel Levitin because it's awesome. Now I've talked too much. Listeners, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Rachel Levitin.

Rachel:   Yes.

Brian:     Thank you for being here.

Rachel:   My pleasure.

Brian:     Tell us about now, the music started, there's trumpet and guitar, we talked about that. But I just said that it started with chorus.

Rachel:   Yes.

Brian:     How did the revolution happen to where you are now from then.

Rachel:   Basically, I was lucky I went to a bunch of good schools growing up. When I was in middle school, I went to the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago, Illinois. It wasn't the biggest school, but they had a really good supportive community of teachers. I was into the arts, and in fourth grade, that was the year that you could sign up and start doing chorus or band, so I decided to join both, although band was my preferred choice just because I really enjoyed playing trumpet. What happened was, you know how when you're in school, you get to pick your instruments?

Brian:     Yeah.

Rachel:   I was trying out things. I tried the flute, couldn't get a peep out of it. Then I was trying to decide "Do I want to play drums or trumpet?" Looking back on it now, either one was going to be equally loud. Either one.

Brian:     It's so true. In different ways, yes.

Rachel:   In my mind, I decided "Oh, no, trumpet would be the better choice." So I tried that one, and I could play it right away. That, plus the other afterschool activities was the guitar class, and I just started within a few weeks of each other, and I've just been playing them ever since. I was nine then.

Brian:     Now do you still play trumpet often?

Rachel:   I do.

Brian:     Or guitar more frequently now?

Rachel:   Yes, guitar much more frequently. But from ages nine to eighteen, trumpet was really more my primary ... I started songwriting at 12, so high school was kind of like peak songwriting time, I guess. But trumpet was my big thing for middle school, high school, and did some in college at AU, American University, but really, my trumpeting days were more of a high school thing. I loved it, and now I get to ... You'll hear some trumpeting on a track we'll play later on in the show.

Brian:     Yeah, we got a sneak peek coming. You get to hear Rachel play trumpet on another artist's song, which is really cool. Tell us about you outside of the music then. Are you a homebody? Do you hang out a lot? What's life like for you out there?

Rachel:   I'm a definite extrovert, but I need time to sleep and recharge those batteries. I think it was a couple weeks ago I was either playing a show, going to a show, or helping with a show every single day in one week. I've learned that I can't do that. I got very tired, but I made it out okay. Extroverted definitely. Outside of music, I would say I'm a music fan, so I go to a lot of shows. You can find me at Jammin Java, or IOTA, or 9:30 Club, or DC9, or wherever more often than not.

Brian:     Which is, I can say, I have seen ... One of the great things about the DC music community is you start going to shows, and then you start seeing people you know. There's so many times where I've gone to shows, and I didn't know Rachel was going to be there, and there she is, and now I got another friend who's at the show. I love it. She is definitely a music connoisseur and an awesome support artist. By the way, she kills it on the trambo ... Tramboline, that's a trampoline and a tambourine together if you didn't know, it's called a tramboline.

Rachel:   Very fun.

Brian:     She actually played the tambourine, although you know we should have you play the tramboline.

Rachel:   Tramboline.

Brian:     Bring a trampoline on stage, that would be-

Rachel:   Let's do it.

Brian:     Anyway, I've spent enough time on that. All right. Tell us about a funniest moment that comes to mind from your performing memories that you've got.

Rachel:   Funniest moment. Well, this is pretty funny. In April a few years back, I forget what year, it's kind of irrelevant to the story, I saw a post on Facebook. One of my friends posted that her friend was organizing a pop-up chorus to sing with Damien Rice at the Lincoln Theatre as part of his sold out show.

Brian:     Whoa.

Rachel:   And we were the surprise to end the concert, to do his, what's it called, the encore. He surprised everyone with this chorus at the end of that specific tour. So me and my friend Jason Mendelson of the MetroSongs-

Brian:     Yes, he's been a guest on here, too. He's awesome, yup.

Rachel:   Yes, yes, yes. We ended up in that chorus together, but a day before I was supposed to do that, I was transported to the ER because I had a kidney stone.

Brian:     Oh my gosh.

Rachel:   I'm pretty young, so-

Brian:     Right.

Rachel:   Stress, it happens, folks. Hydrate. It's the most important thing you can do for yourself. When you're stressed and drink coffee like I do. Drink water. Don't Gilmore Girls it. Drink water.

Brian:     Public service announcement by Rachel Levitin.

Rachel:   Yes.

Brian:     Drink water. Okay, got it.

Rachel:   I drank a lot of water after that, but I did sing on stage with Damien Rice with a kidney stone in my body at a sold out show on a Friday night at D.C.'s historic Lincoln Theatre.

Brian:     That is amazing and hysterical at the same time. Wow.

Rachel:   And painful.

Brian:     There you go. Yeah, I can only imagine. I drink a lot of water, so I'm hoping-

Rachel:   Good man.

Brian:     I can't ever relate to that story actually, but we'll see what happens. All right. Tell us about what's something in your music collection that might surprise us.

Rachel:   Oh, I'm a big dixieland and big band jazz fan.

Brian:     Really?

Rachel:   Yes.

Brian:     Like what?

Rachel:   Benny Goodman, all that old school, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, anything that you would hear on the street in New Orleans with those marching bands for the weddings, that kind of stuff. The first reason I fell in love with trumpet was Louis Armstrong.

Brian:     Well, there we go. Yeah, and boy, he's got ... That's, wow, cool stuff. All right. So she's kind of a pop indie amazing performer herself, and yet, there's big band, dixieland jazz. I love it. All right. Your earliest memory with music, what comes to mind?

Rachel:   Oh, that's easy. My dad was a singer-songwriter and guitar player, although I don't think I ever heard any of his songs, so I don't know if he actually did that when we was an adult, but when he was younger. When I was a little kid, we had this tiny, mini red guitar that my grandma got me. I thought it was a real guitar. I thought I was playing it when I really wasn't. My dad would play guitar, and then we would write songs about like farm animals or something. I remember one was called Pink Flamingo. I don't remember how it went, but I remember that it happened. So I have that memory. So it goes back as far as my memory actually takes me.

Brian:     Wow. The Pink Flamingo memory with your dad. That is cool. I love it. All right. What about the first memory performing? What comes to mind?

Rachel:   Oh boy. Well, the first time I performed an original song, I don't remember where it was because there's a few different examples I can think of, but I know that my legs ... I'm pretty confident. Now, you would never know that I would ever be nervous. Every once in a while, I get a little stage excitement, I wouldn't call it stage fright, but excitement like-

Brian:     Stage excitement. I love it.

Rachel:   You're a little bit buzzed, all naturally and everything. But my legs used to shake underneath me. Mentally, I was good to go, but my body was saying "no, no, no." They would start tremble beneath me, and I had to learn how to push through that. The first few times, I definitely almost like fell to the ground because my legs were not going to hold out underneath me.

Brian:     Wow. Do you have like a tactic or something that you use to work through it? Or you just learned over time to work through it?

Rachel:   I just learned that I have nothing to worry about.

Brian:     Got it. That is pretty cool. Wow. What about a funniest moment on stage? What comes to mind?

Rachel:   Oh boy. I should've thought about it. I should've done my homework on this one. Funniest moment on stage? That's tough. I think recently, well, I don't know if it was funny, but my band and I have a good time. We only just formed this July, and every time we end up taking on-the-stage selfies or things like that. It's not exactly funny, so that's kind of not an A-game story, but we have a good time. We're a bunch of jokesters.

Brian:     Taking selfies on stage.

Rachel:   It's fun.

Brian:     I love it. Yeah.

Rachel:   I don't have a selfie stick or anything like that, but you know what, we like to goof off.

Brian:     There's still a chance. You can still make that happen, you know.

Rachel:   Well, I called them a bunch of goofs because you should see the Facebook message group that we have. It's basically just a bunch of emojis that we keep sending back and forth to each other. Shout out to Graham, Kendall, and Alex. You guys are hilarious.

Brian:     Oh my god. Have you stepped into the GIF game yet?

Rachel:   I feel like I need to, but we haven't gone that far. We've added some bitmoji to our game.

Brian:     I'm going to tell you a secret. If it's a Facebook group, there's a button that says GIF.

Rachel:   Oh, there is?

Brian:     Go in there. Try it.

Rachel:   I've just never pressed it. Oh boy.

Brian:     Your group will just one-up on the GIF situation.

Rachel:   Oh, they're going to love it.

Brian:     It's going to be amazing.

Rachel:   Get ready, fellas.

Brian:     Tell us about a time you tried and failed?

Rachel:   Tried and failed. Well, let's see. Good question. I feel like I'm using dead air. Tried and failed. I remember I really wanted to be a first chair trumpet at the jazz band. I went to Interlochen for two summers in Traverse City, Michigan to study jazz. Looking back on it now, yeah, did I want to want first chair or whatever? Yeah, I did, but I wasn't like the rest of the kids there. I was, but I wasn't. Whereas they all planned on being professional instrumentalists when they grew up, which I'm not opposed to it, I just at that point in my life wasn't so sure about my route in life. And being there as a trumpet major instead of a songwriting major, it kind of changed the game for me. But I love jazz. I auditioned, and I ended up, I think, getting fourth chair. At first, I was disappointed, but then I realized "You're not practicing. That's your fault. If you want to be a higher chair, you should probably practice."

Brian:     Yes, this is good.

Rachel:   So here I am at a world-renowned camp for instrumentalists, and I wasn't practicing. So, yeah, of course I would get fourth chair. Then I started practicing. That was just the ... I went back for two summers, so that was just the start of the first summer. Then I practiced it, and I think I got up to third chair, and maybe even sat in on some second at that point. But you have to remember, these are kids from all over the country, all over the world who-

Brian:     Right, in a really competitive thing.

Rachel:   This is what they want to do.

Brian:     [crosstalk 00:11:37] you're a fairly gifted trumpet player, too. We hear you on guitar on stage a lot, but you with a trumpet is also a really good thing it sounds like.

Rachel:   Yeah, I got to get my chops back, but I have a few concertos in my bedroom that I can probably still play if I practiced.

Brian:     I feel like that's a "That's what she said" thing. I don't know.

Rachel:   Right, work it in.

Brian:     Anyway. Concertos in the bedroom. I love it. Anyway.

Rachel:   Ba-dum-bum.

Brian:     All right. One of my favorite last questions to ask is what's one piece of advice that you would offer?

Rachel:   Just don't compromise yourself, and don't be afraid.

Brian:     Say more on that. Don't compromise yourself.

Rachel:   Know what you're capable of, and don't sell yourself short. Confidence is hard to come by. I know a lot of people who struggle with it, but I know a lot of people who don't, and I really just comes down to knowing that ... When I sing, I know that I'm supposed to be doing that, and it feels good to me. So if you're doing something that feels good to you, do it, and don't let anyone inside your head and make you think that you shouldn't be doing it or you're not good at it. Just do it.

Brian:     If folks want to follow or find out more about you or follow you, where are the best places for them to go?

Rachel:   Best place to go is I love Instagram the most just because I'm a, I would like to say, a novice photographer or something of that nature.

Brian:     Nice.

Rachel:   I do like to take photos of animals and concerts. So if you like cute animals or music, follow my Instagram. It's R-H-L-E-V-I-T-I-N. I'm also on Twitter, and I have a Facebook page for my music, and then just

Brian:, that's the magic spot. You had mentioned earlier, and I want you to share with the listeners about Tony Lucca and the story that you were saying.

Rachel:   Oh, Tony Lucca. Yes.

Brian:     Yeah, talk about that real quick.

Rachel:   Tony Lucca. We go way back now. I became a fan of Tony Lucca in 1999 when the Disney Channel was airing a Mickey Mouse Club marathon because that was peak NSYNC years. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling, they were all on the show, but so was Tony Lucca, who was also on The Voice season two. I've been a big fan of his music for a long time. I first saw him open for NSYNC back in, I think it was 2001. We met back then. I have an autograph and picture from then. Fast forward to 2010, got to interview him for a website I was writing for at the time called We Love DC. Fast forward a few years, there was a chunk of time I think I saw him more throughout a year than I saw my own family just because he would come here for concerts, and I wouldn't go home that much. We just go way back, and he became a good influence on me.

                  This past weekend, I flew home to Chicago to celebrate my birthday, a milestone birthday, with my immediate family. We had Tony come, and we played a little house concert for everyone, then went out to dinner. For the first time, I got to play two original songs with someone who had a really big influence on me. I'll never forget it, and I'm really grateful. Tony's back here on April 9th, I believe, yes.

Brian:     Well, Tony, shout out to you. I love that story. That's amazing.

December 6, 2016 - Special Guest: Dave Mallen

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





  1. Make Me - Black Dog Prowl (Hard Rock/Rock)
  2. Come On Over - Joshua Rich (Pop/Solo Piano)
  3. Leave the Light On - Ken Francis Wenzel (Rock/Roots Rock)
  4. Talk to Me - Dan Fisk (Pop/Acoustic)
  5. Silence Comes Easy - Hari Vasan (Indie/Alternative)
  6. Nearly Broken - Rachel Levitin (Pop/Rock)
  7. Dance Across the Sky - Kipyn Martin (Folk/Americana)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Dave Mallen is an award-winning Producer/Engineer, Multi-instrumentalist, and Music Business Consultant. In 2006, he founded Innovation Station Music, a "one-stop-shop" recording studio known for its highly collaborative and personalized approach to music production. Dave has also helped dozens of DC area artists forge a path to success in the music industry through customized strategic planning. In 2009, he co-founded the Metro Music Source, a series of meetups, panel discussions, and showcases that has provided local musicians and industry professionals with numerous opportunities to network, learn, and collaborate.

In recognition of his work with the local music community, Dave Mallen received a 2013 WAMMIE nomination for "Most Supportive of Washington DC Music”. He is a voting Member of the Recording Academy (the GRAMMYs), and holds a Masters Certificate from the Berklee College of Music in Music Business and Technology. He performs live with many of the artists he produces, and is the keyboardist for the band Ken Wenzel & Cross Kentucky. Dave is currently building a new, state-of-the-art recording studio in Northern VA -- set to open in March 2017. Info on this project can be found on Dave's Indiegogo page,

Studio Website:

 New Studio Crowdfunding Site:




Brian:     Dave Mallen is an award-winning producer, engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and music business consultant. In 2006, he founded Innovation Station Music. It's a one-stop shop recording studio known for its highly collaborative and personalized approach to music production. Dave's also helped dozens of D.C. area artists forge a path to success in the music industry through customized, strategic planning.

                  In 2009, he co-founded the Metro Music Source, which is a series of meet-ups, panel discussions, showcases, that provided local musicians and industry professionals with numerous opportunities to network, learn, and collaborate. In recognition of his work with the local music community, in 2013, he was actually nominated Most Supportive of Washington, D.C. music.

                  He's a voting member of the Recording Academy, the Grammys, and holds a Master's Certificate from the Berklee College of Music in Music Business and Technology. He performs live with many of the artists he produces and is the keyboardist for the band Ken Wenzel & Cross Kentucky. You'll hear them later. Excited to share them. Dave is currently building a new, state of the art recording studio in Northern Virginia. It's set to open in March of 2017.

                  Guys, I stumbled across Dave ... Shout out to Eric "Soup" Campbell, he's a phenomenal bartender over at Hamilton. Just an all around amazing guy. Introduced me to Dave and I'm so thankful, Eric, for that introduction. The stuff that Dave is doing is just absolutely phenomenal. Listen, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Dave Mallen. Thanks so much for being here, Dave.

Dave:     That's my pleasure. How are you doing? Here we are. Yeah, no I got to give a shout out to Soup, as well. He's a guy that really gave me a boost in the local music scene. I'm from Jersey, originally, a small town in Jersey. Came to D.C. in 1995 for college, and Soup was one of the first guys I met and was just a great friend. He worked at all the local haunts here, and just found a way to get me playing in the D.C. scene. I can't say enough about him.

Brian:     You know, I just realized...

Dave:     My mic was off?

Brian:     A little bit of a mistake with the mic there. What I do want to say is, thanks so much to Soup and thank you for being here. Tell us about you. Tell us about Dave.

Dave:     Well, you know, maybe you heard this, maybe you didn't, but I am from New Jersey, originally. I bring the small town feel to what I think is ... D.C. is a big city with a small town feel. It's one of the things I love about being here. I've planted my roots here, and I just feel that music, for me, is the way for me to connect with other people.

                  What I've learned about myself is that I'm all about the community. I'm all about making people feel as good as they can. When they're playing music and we're all playing music together, there's a magical thing that happens. I experienced it last week, actually. We had some guys wiring the new studio. One of them was up from North Carolina. We just had this amazing connection. She had played D.C. in the past, actually in a band that I was a super fan of, called Cecilia, back in the day.

Brian:     That's amazing.

Dave:     Turns out, we had all these things in common and we just started jamming together and had this musical connection. It reminded me that that's what it's all about. It's not about money, it's just about people connecting and making their lives a little bit better through music.

Brian:     That's amazing. I introduced you with a lot of different things that you're doing. Just give us a brief rundown. Run us down on those things that I was talking about.

Dave:     Right, well, so, just breaking it down, what I do during the day is I'm a producer engineer. I run Innovation Station Music, which is, at the moment, a small recording studio, about to be a lot bigger. The idea behind that was really to create a place where musicians could come and feel comfortable to create, collaborate. It's a highly collaborative environment. I play on a lot of the records, I'm constantly composing, writing, and bringing in different elements of my background in music, but also others. We're just trying to create the best music we can.

                  The twist on that is I wanted everyone to understand their potential. I'm unrelenting in making sure that we make sure that the music is the best it can be. Then, what do we do with it? Let's work together to actually chart a course for your music. I started, after my program at the Berklee College of Music, I learned about the industry, and I took it from there. Keeping up with the very latest trends of how people are consuming music. What are we going to do together to actually find some success with this music? There's so much music out there, as you know, how do you get heard and connect with the people? That's been the vision, from the beginning.

Brian:     Tell us about Dave, outside of the studio. There's that part. Do you have any hobbies? What's the personal side of Dave like?

Dave:     It's a trick question because I don't really do anything outside of the studio anymore. No, I love, actually, going out to the wineries out in Virginia. That's my happy place. We go out there, my wife, Emily, and I, and just sit and listen ... Of course, there's music involved.

Brian:     Of course.

Dave:     I can't escape it entirely.

Brian:     I'm sensing a theme here, okay.

Dave:     There's a theme. Just sitting there. I love wine, I love sitting out in the country, in the mountains. I wish that were a little closer and I could do that every day. 

Brian:     Got it.

Dave:     You know?

Brian:     Wine country and the incredible wife. That's the outside. What's one thing you love about the D.C. music scene?

Dave:     I have to say, I've traveled around, I've talked to a lot of folks about this. Everyone I've talked to has confirmed this. D.C. has a very cool sense of community. Obviously, I'm trying to push that, with the work that I do through the studio, through Metro Music Source, which you mentioned earlier. It's native to D.C. and it's natural. There's a spirit of camaraderie and service to others. This is the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily come through, when you hear about what's happening in Washington, politically. This is the underground indie artist scene. Everyone helps each other out.

                  I love to see ... There are tribute shows that are formed, just organically. I'm actually playing Jammin Java on December 23rd. There's a Christmas show that a guy named Todd Wright, who's an amazing singer-songwriter. You might know Todd. He's a singer, songwriter, producer.

Brian:     Yeah.

Dave:     He puts them on ... This is 14 years running.

Brian:     Holy smokes.

Dave:     It's a cavalcade of great local musicians. A lot of them don't live in D.C. anymore, they've moved away, started families, whatever. They come back every year from L.A., or whatever, because they just love the community here. If I had to say what I love about it, this is a place where people can feel like it's not competitive. At least that's my take on it.

Brian:     Yeah.

Dave:     It's a great community.

Brian:     Yeah. That's amazing. Tell us about the best success story that comes to mind.

Dave:     Wow, best success ... Every day, I have many successes and failures. I don't feel like I've hit the big time yet, per se. I don't even know if there is a big time anymore. My successes are, right now, related to my studio. The fact that I'm going to build a world-class studio in this area, with one of the top designers in the world, I pinch myself that this came from an idea that I had 10+ years ago to even do recording. Now I'm expanding. It's been a ton of work, it's nearly killed me, but I'm still standing.

                  Now I'm in excitement mode, because things are happening. I think that's the success is the staying power. Now, to know that I've got this ... I've talked to my wife about this concept of escape velocity. I don't know if you're familiar with this. It's basically the amount of energy required for anything to escape Earth's gravity.

Brian:     Sure, okay.

Dave:     I look at my life that way. I'm always trying to escape my own gravity. This studio, I've put the energy in, and I'm about to hit that escape velocity.

Brian:     Escape velocity.

Dave:     Yeah.

Brian:     That's cool. You've mentioned it now. Say more about this studio then. Where is it at in the stage? Is it coming? What's going on with that?

Dave:     Right now, it was over a year of design, painstaking design. Working with one of the top designers, Wes Lachot. He's built studios ... The Jimi Hendrix studio up in New York, Electric Lady. He's one rooms there. Chris Daughtry just did a room with him. REM's producer, Mitch Easter. I'm really excited to work with him and his team. Right now, we're halfway through the construction phase. We're looking at about another three months. Then a little bit of finalization and we should be up and running in March.

     Yeah. We're doing a crowd-funding campaign, just for a tiny piece of it. Costs have gone up and I'm just an indie musician trying to do this, just like everybody else. We did an Indiegogo and if you want to check that out, just to see what's going on, or support, that would be great. That's

Brian:     Supportdavesstudio. Got it. We'll make sure we put that in the notes for this episode, as well, so you can get back to that later.

Dave:     Yeah.

Brian:     Check out the amazing things that are going on with the Innovation Station Music, and the cool things that you're doing.

Dave:     Yes. It's going to be a multi-room studio, fully soundproof. All the rooms will be connected with audio and video screens, so everybody can see one another, with great line of sight. Totally state of the art. I'm psyched.

Brian:     Wow. Sounds like a kid at Christmas, man. You've got this new thing that's coming along. I absolutely love it.

Brian:     What's one thing you have in your music collection that might surprise us?

Dave:     Oh goodness. Well, I don't know if it would surprise people who know me, necessarily, but I basically grew up in the 1950s. When I was a kid-

Brian:     You look so young, Dave. I find that so hard to believe, man.

Dave:     I know. Well, I use a special Korean skin cream.

Dave:     Anyway, I grew up listening to the records that my parents listen to. I would sit there and every morning, instead of watching cartoons, I would watch Ed Sullivan broadcasts that I had recorded on PBS.

Dave:     I would study what they were doing. I love '50s rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis, all that stuff.

Dave:     You know, of course, people love that. I literally felt like I was living in that decade.

Brian:     Wow.

Dave:     It influenced me so heavily.

Brian:     1950s rock. I love it.

Brian:     All right. The crazy thing about that is there's no new 1950s rock that's going to come out. That classic stuff is so good.

Dave:     Yeah.

Brian:     It almost never seems to get old. I love it.

Dave:     I think there are a lot of groups that are trying to throw back to that. You look at like a Nathaniel Rateliff, Ray LaMontagne is definitely throwing back to the '60s.

Dave:     There's some stuff. No one's going to ... Even you talk to the Beatles, the Stones were all influenced by these guys. That's where I get my inspiration.

Brian:     Do you have any rules, as a studio professional, that you follow? Are there any that you always break? 

Dave:     Well, I'll tell you, I run my studio very democratically. The one rule that I have, above all else, is to treat everyone with respect and as if they are ... They are, truly, the most important people to me, when they're in the studio or out of the studio. I don't ever want to think, "Well, this guy doesn't have quite as much talent as the other guy, so I'm going to give him less." No. For me, everyone gets my absolute best because you never know. It's a matter of disrespect, and you get that back too. I just feel like everyone's got such potential. I am the guy that wants to see everyone reach their potential.

Dave:     You treat everyone fairly and democratically, in that way. That's my big rule.

Brian:     Got it. Now, if folks want to find out more about you and the things that you have going on, where can they find you?

Dave:     My main studio website is 

Dave:     The crowd-funding site which, actually, has some great video stuff that I put together, and a lot of content about what we're doing, going forward. That is Between the two of those, you can get a lot of information. On the Innovation Station Music website, you'll be able to hear tracks that I've produced. I don't know if there's any repeats of what we're going to hear here today, but you can hear a lot more on that site.

Brian:     Are you a social media guy too? Is there anywhere they'd find you there?

Dave:     Yep, I'm on Facebook. Just go to Innovation Station Music, you'll find me. Twitter, I'm @MallenMusic on Twitter.

October 18, 2016 - Special Guest: Mark Lyons of Acre 121

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

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  1. World Premier and exclusive preview for DC Music Rocks listeners of the hit new single, Get Back Up by Rachel Levitin, available 10/21/16.


  1. Never Gonna Change - Sub-Radio (Indie/Indie Rock)
  2. I Don't Want To Love You - Scott Thorn (Rock/Americana)
  3. World Premier - Get Back Up - Rachel Levitin (Pop/Pop Rock)
  4. New Release - Free - Exnations (Pop/Alternative Pop)
  5. Someday - The Fishermen Band (Pop/Reggae)
  6. Don't Make Me Feel - The DCeivers (Rock/Indie)
  7. The End - Yellow Dubmarine (Reggae/Rock & Roll)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-




Mark Lyons DC Music Rocks

Originally from DC, the early years were spent studying Technical Theater at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts which is where I first gained my appreciation for live music and stage performance. Fast forward a few years and you could find me spinning house and techno records (yes... vinyl!!) with my friends in my basement during my free time; earning the nickname "Crateworm" for my ability to dig through a stack of vinyl and come up with the best deep cuts. After a couple of years as an IT Professional, I ditched the business world and moved to El Salvador where I worked for three years teaching English before finally coming back to the DC area. Upon my return, I took up bartending at the old Austin Grill in Rockville where I also got my first experience booking talent. Many years (and several bars) later, I wound up at Acre 121 in Columbia Heights as their night manager. When the opportunity arose to take over the live music program, I jumped at the chance to put my skills to use. Aside from booking acts, I also serve as our in-house audio engineer and graphics designer which keeps me pretty occupied. Still, I find time to enjoy Miller Lites and Jameson with my friends, long walks with my pit bull Jamo, and riding my bike.


Mark Lyons Acre 121 DC Music Rocks
Mark Lyons DC Music Rocks


Brian:  It's that time that I get to introduce to you my special guest. Today, I've got Mark Lyons, who is the talent buyer for Acre 121. Originally from Washington D. C.., his early years were spent studying technical theater at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, which is where he first gained appreciation for live music and stage performance. Fast forward a few years and you could find him spinning house and techno records ... Yes, I just said records. He was spinning records with his friends in his basement during his free time, and he earned the nickname "Crate Worm" for his ability to dig through a stack of vinyl and come up with the best deep cuts. 

After a couple of years as an IT professional, he gave up IT, thank goodness. I did that too, Mark, by the way. He gave up IT, and he ran away. He ditched the business world completely and moved to El Salvador, where he worked for three years teaching English before finally coming back to the Washington D. C.. area. When he came back, he took up bartending at the old Austin Grill in Rockville, if any of you guys remember that one, where he also got his first experience booking talent. Many years and several bars later, he wound up at Acre 121 in Columbia Heights as their night manager. When the opportunity arose to take over the live music program at Acre 121, he jumped at the chance to put these skills to use.

Aside from booking acts, he wears a lot of hats. He also serves as their in-house audio engineer, their graphics designer, and, well, he's overall just an amazing dude. He keeps them pretty occupied. In his free time, you can actually find Mark enjoying Miller Lights and Jameson with his friends, on long walks with his pit bull, Jaymo? Jamo?

Mark:  Jamo.

Brian:  Jamo, and also riding his bike. Guys, the first time I met Mark I'll never forget because he's just such a laid-back, really cool dude, and at the same time, he's one of those people where, when you meet him, he's just got one of those hearts that you just, you believe that he is a good dude within ... It must have been less than two minutes, I was just convinced that he was an amazing guy. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Mark Lyons. Say hi to everybody, Mark.

Mark:  Wow, thank you, Brian. Hello, everybody. I'm over here blushing now.

Brian:  Mark, it's such a treat to have you here, such a treat. One of the mission of this show is also to shine a spotlight on the incredible folks and the talent behind D. C.. music. The things you do at Acre are just incredible stuff. I want to find out some more about you. Tell us about Mark professionally. Tell us about Acre 121 and Mark. Tell us about that.

Mark:  All right. Acre 121, that's an easy place to start. We're a small little venue in Columbia Heights, right on the corner of 14th Street and Irving in Northwest D. C..

Brian:  Got it.

Mark:  Right over by the Metro stop. We do great food, barbecue. I believe someone here has a penchant for our barbecue wings.

Brian:  Oh my God, the wings, guys, the wings are real. I am addicted to their barbecue wings. I come in at least every two, three weeks just to get a fix on the wings. Yes, wings.

Mark:  Then when the lights come down, the music comes up. We do live music Friday, Saturday nights. We've got all kinds of events during the week. We do trivia. We do open mic nights, karaoke, basically anything to fill your bill for live music and entertainment.

Brian:  Wow, that's awesome. Now, if folks want to find out about what's going on in Acre 121 in terms of what's happening and the events and who's playing, where do they go to get that?

Mark:  You can always, you can like us on Facebook. We do have an active Facebook page. We also have our website, You can also go to /calendar. That will give you all the calendar of events.

Brian:  Oh, you got the calendar. Now I know there are some musicians that listen too. If they're interested in potentially being on stage at Acre 121, how does that work?

Mark:  It's very easy. You can just send us an email to bookings, that's with an S, plural...

Mark: That ends up in my inbox. We definitely just ask that artists, if you have electronic press kit or some videos that we can check out, we're always looking to bring in Washington D. C.. music.

Brian:  Fantastic. It's such a treat. Just in your intro, I got to talk about you got a pit bull named Jamo and riding a bike. What's Mark outside of the talent buyer at Acre 121?

Mark:  Outside of work, I'm actually pretty mellow and quiet. I'm not out late at night. I mean I work most weekends so ...

Brian:  I was going to say, "Wait a minute, you're out late at night almost every night, so hold on just a second." Okay.

Mark:  Wild and crazy Mondays and Wednesdays, that's how I do it. That's how I do it. I just enjoy living life and meeting people and just having a good time, having a good time.

Brian:  That's awesome. What's one thing you like about the D. C.. music scene, specifically here in D. C..?

Mark:  There's so much of it. For a city that has a metro that won't stay open past midnight, we still have a very vibrant live music community, everything from country and bluegrass to rock and roll to pop music covers, you name it, you name it, it's out there. They're all very talented musicians.

Brian:  I bet, definitely. I've been to Acre 121 randomly getting wings on a Friday or a Saturday night and happen to sit down and the music came on, and it was like just .. God, one night, there was an incredible cover band. There was another that was a guitarist, phenomenal stuff that's come across that stage, that's for sure. Now, tell us the story about the best show or a success moment you've had, tell us, in Acre.

Mark:  See, I mean that's tough because in my opinion, they're all great shows. There is just something to be said about having, finding a band that nobody's ever heard of before and you bring 'em in and they bring their crowd, we bring our crowd, and next thing you know, you've got 100 people just dancing and having a good time. We've been blessed to have a few of those nights, and we look forward to each and every one of them.

Brian:  Yeah. Well, we, as fans, do as well, that's for sure. It's going to be a good night when you go to Acre 121. I've had this experience as a fan and also as a performer. It's truly a good time. Now tell us the story about a time you tried and failed, something you tried and it didn't go over. Share one of those with us.

Mark:  Oh, I mean there are lots of failures in my life, but you learn from each one. Probably one of my earliest failures was just out of high school, I moved out to the West Coast, I lived in Oregon for a little while, and I just-

Brian:  Wow, way out there, okay.

Mark:  Yeah.

Brian:  Ran away as far as you could.

Mark:  If you noticed, there's a theme, there's a trend in my behavior patterns.

Brian:  Oh, okay.

Mark:  I'm definitely trying to put some roots down now.

Mark:  I was out on the West Coast, and this was still when I was into the house and techno and dance music. Actually, I started throwing parties out there. I had one really great successful party and thought I could duplicate it. I learned that, one of the biggest lessons is, is that it's also in the preparation. If you don't take the time to actually set these parties, these events up right, promote them, give them time, get the word out, you go from having 1,000 people at your first party to about 150 at the second one.

Brian:  Oh my goodness.

Mark:  Yeah.

Brian:  Okay. The people involved in that second party were probably not as excited about 150 versus 1,000.

Mark:  No, no, not at all.

Brian:  Oh man. Mark, that must have been brutal.

Mark:  But you learn. You learn from your mistakes.

Brian:  Wow. What's one thing in your music collection that might surprise us? 

Mark:  I like country music.

Brian:  Yeah?

Mark:  I do like country music. This was a recent development through the last 10 years or so because I was always-

Brian:  Really? Later in life country guy?

Mark:  I was always one of those people who was, like, "Oh no, country, that's just 'my wife left me and my dog died' kind of music."

Mark:  But I was helping a friend who would buy houses and then he would flip them. This was before the old, the market crash, so everybody was in on that. I would help him out, and so we were fixing up these houses, and it was just the two of us, and he would bring the radio. I don't know if anybody out there has ever worked in a contractor construction job, but whoever brings the radio gets to pick the music.

Brian:  Oh, they get control of the radio.

Mark:  They get to pick the music, yes.

Brian:  It's a power role.

Mark:  It is, it is. It's something that a lot of people don't know.

Brian:  Okay, it's a power play. Whoa.

Mark:  And he loved country music. For about three months, for eight hours a day, five days a week, I listened to country music, and I started to love it.

Brian:  Country music.

Mark:  Yes, so that's something that you would be shocked. You would be shocked.

Brian:  I love that. All right, well, at Acre 121, do you have any rules that you live by while you're there? Are there any that you have them and then you always break them anyway?

Mark:  No, I would say we don't like to set rules, aside from the obvious rules as far as don't be a, can I say "jerk" 

Brian:  A jerk, okay. [crosstalk 00:10:48]

Mark:  Don't be a jerk, we'll leave it at that. We don't like to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre or into one style, so we don't like to set rules. Even if we did, I think rules are definitely made to be broken.

Brian:  Amen to that because sometimes, sometimes they're good. It's always interesting to hear the rules that people have and then the rules that people break. Between the diets and there are so many things that people have rules and then they break 'em, so it's also nice to hear that you don't have any rules for Acre as a performance thing. What about personally? You got any rules personally that you have and then you end up-

Mark:  Absolutely not, absolutely not. There are no rules in my life.

Brian:  And nothing that you'd admit on the radio, got it, okay, very good. Now, this is one thing that I love to ask, and it's do you have one piece of advice that you would offer with your experience in your life that's brought you to here?

Mark:  It's an obvious one, but just follow your heart. I've been in the service restaurant industry for well over 15 years. I've been behind the bar managing for almost seven. At Acre 121, I found that I was able to come back to what I love, which is the live music and the audio engineering and just the working with bands. There have obviously been times when the paychecks in the service industry aren't the greatest and I've thought about going back into the corporate world, but it's just, it's not as much fun.

Brian:  I was going to ask is that how you ended up in ... How did you end up in the restaurant? Did you stumble across it? Did you just want to make some money and then ... How did you end up in the restaurant industry?

Mark:  It's pretty well known the restaurant industry is pretty forgiving when it comes to past sins and transgressions.

Brian:  I see, okay.

Mark:  There was a long period of time when I was out of work and just wasn't ... There are a few gaps in my resume, let's just put it that way. 

Mark:  When I did come back to the D. C.. area, the restaurant industry has been very nice to me and treated me very well, so ....

Brian:  Fantastic. I love how you pay it forward, Acre 121 paying it forward to you and you pay it forward to us each time with all these incredible acts that you bring in. I just love what you're doing over there, love what you're doing.

Now, where do we go, if we want to find out more about you and Acre 121, where do we go?

Mark:  Like I said, you can find us on Facebook. I think you can find me on Facebook too. I don't know if my profile is public or not. I think you can. I think you can.

Brian:  Awesome.

Mark:  Or at

Brian:  Easy enough.

Mark:  Yeah, you can check us out.

Brian:  Mark, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about you. It's a treat because I have known you for a little while, but I've actually never gotten to hear some of these stories about how you came to D. C.. I had no idea, so thanks for sharing about you too.

Mark:  Absolutely.

Brian:  It was a treat having you here.


August 9, 2016 - Special Guest: Christian of Capital City Showcase

^^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. Native Deen - M-U-S-L-I-M (Hip-Hop/R&B)
  2. Nappy Riddem - Rastar (Funk/Hip-Hop)
  3. Bells and Hunters - Weddings and Funerals (Rock)
  4. Rachel Levitin - Secret's Safe (Pop/Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Yellowtieguy - War (Should I Be So Surprised) (Rock)
  6. Adrian Krygowski - Elbow Grease (Country/Bluegrass/Folk)
  7. Justin Trawick & The Common Good - Goodbye (Bluegrass/Rock/Americana)

Live Music Venue Spotlight (as discussed on the show, site of this week's Capital City Showcase): Atlas Brew Works

Christian of The Capital City Showcase

Video - Bio - Photos

Christian Hunt DC Music Rocks

The Capital City Showcase is the variety show that features the best performing artists in the DC area.  Hosted by comedian and life-long Washingtonian Christian Hunt, the Showcase has featured some of the best stand-up comedians, improv comedians, storytellers, rock and funk bands, acoustic singer-songwriters, and hip-hop artists in the scene.  For over five years, we have put the spotlight on DC's vibrant arts scene and shown the DMV is a premiere place for top-level talent.  Showcase performers have toured across the country and been featured on national television programs such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Conan, Last Comic Standing, and The Voice






Snapchat: CapCityShowcase