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The Grey A

3/13/18 - Special Guest: The Fringe Benefits

Thanks to Bruce and Dave with The Fringe Benefits for hanging out with us in the studio this week!

^^Episode Audio/Post Is Live - Click Above (might need to buffer/load, refresh page if you have any issues)^^

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




  1. Until They Find Us, by The Grey A (Indie, Rock)

  2. Step Out, by The Fringe Benefits (Pop, Motown)

  3. Hurricane, by Hayley Fahey (Rock, Indie Rock)

  4. Diamonds Are Optional, by Vintage#18 (Blues, Soul)

  5. Someone Special, by Stephen Ascone (Pop)

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-


Brian was interviewed! Somehow word got around about DC Music Rocks, and I was contacted via Linkedin to do a "12 Minute Convo" (Podcast). Sometimes you just have to say yes and try things in life, and this was so random, I was skeptical, and turned out fun! Also fun to be the one answering the questions for a change!


We need your help supporting WERA 96.7FM, the station where the live version of our show airs!  Arlington County is planning to cut funding for the station by 20%, which would gut the station staff, drive up costs to the station’s community considerably, and potentially even cause the loss of the station itself.

The county board will vote on the proposed budget on April 21st. Here’s how we need your help before the vote:

  1. If you live in Arlington, or know someone who does, forward them this link and sign our petition - Urging the County Board to restore AIM's funding.

  2. Share Your Feedback on Arlington's FY 2019 Proposed Budget - This county survey asks Arlington residents to give feedback on the proposed budget. Must be completed by April 9, 2018

  3. Write your County Board members - - Tell them you want AIM's funding restored!! Sample letter here -

Speak with a County Board member at an Open Door Monday. Open to all Arlington residents.  No appointment is necessary to talk one-on-one with a County Board member on any topic. Mondays, 7 - 9PM, at locations around the Arlington. See schedule below:

  • Open Door Monday at Arlington Mill Community Center- Monday, March 12th

  • Open Door Monday at Central Library - Monday, March 19th

  • Open Door Monday at Aurora Hills Library - Monday March 26th

  • Open Door Monday at Langston Brown Community Center - Monday, April 2nd


Our 2018 New Releases by DC Artists’ Spotify Playlist:


Our ‘DC Artists Official Music Videos’ Youtube Playlist:


Check the calendar, linked below, for the full list!

Fri Mar 16
Karen Jonas & Skribe @ Lost Rhino in Ashburn, VA
Vim & Vigor @ The Ugly Mug on 8th St SE in DC
Sub-Radio @ Whitlow’s in Arlington

Sat Mar 17
Tabi Bonney @ Anacostia Arts Center
Justin Trawick and Pebble 2 Pearl @ Shamrock & Roll Festival in Loudon

Tues Mar 20
Mystery Friends @ Union Stage in DC

Wed Mar 21
Lavender @ Milkboy Arthouse in College Park MD


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)**

The Fringe Benefits

Video - Bio - Links - Transcript

The Fringe Benefit's Bio:

The Fringe Benefits.jpg

The Fringe Benefits began forming at the end of 2013 with talented and experienced musicians from northern Virginia. The 5 piece band based in Gainesville Virginia features drums, guitar, bass, guitar synth and 5 vocalists. Julianna Smith, lead vocalist has a big, powerful and soulful voice that makes the band’s recordings instantly recognizable.

The band performs regularly in Northern Virginia. Playing songs that draw ladies to the dance floor, the band creatively “mashes-up” covers of songs from 80’s to today. The band also plays a original songs including "You're On My Time Now" that went to #1 on the Radio Indie Alliance chart in 2017 and just released Oct 2017, “Step Out” which won an honorable mention in the pop category at the recent Songwriters Association of Washington. On March 3rd at our 4 year anniversary show, we introduced a new original “Mama Knows Blessed”.

Twitter- @fringebenefitsb

3yrCakePose Fringe Benefits


Brian:     On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs, artists and incredible people behind the DC region's local music scene. The Fringe Benefit's is a 5 piece band based in Gainesville, Virginia featuring drums, guitar, bass, guitar synth and vocalists. Five vocalists. I mean, everybody sings. We've got Juliana Smith, who's lead vocalist, has big, powerful and soulful voice that makes the bands recordings instantly recognizable. They were born in 2013. The band performs regularly around northern Virginia and they play originally music and creatively mash up covers of songs of the 80's to today. So, I first came across them when I was doing the show a while back and I've been A Friend's Benefit's fan. The album Step Out came out and I've just been following them and I love the stuff that you're doing. So, basically, for me, being the fan boy, it's an honor to have you here man. Bruce, thanks and Dave, thanks for coming down guys. Thanks for being here.

Bruce:     It's an honor to be here Brian and I've gotta tell you, you know, the things that you're doing for the local music scene. As I mentioned earlier, it's kind of like you're the Paul Shaffer of golden Virginia music. You know everybody now.

Brian:     Wait, they don't know who Paul Shaffer is, who's Paul Shaffer?

Bruce:     He's the guy that knows everybody in the music business and actually performed with everybody from James Brown to Aretha Franklin to on and on.

Brian:     God. Okay. I take that as a compliment then. Holy smokes. I like to say I know of them. I don't know all of them yet but I'm trying. Thanks Bruce. I appreciate that man. So, now, what is it that makes the Fringe Benefit's special? That's what I want to know off the bat.

Bruce:     I don't think this was on the list.

Brian:     There's a lot of bands out there. So, what is it that makes the Fringe Benefit's show or the Fringe Benefit's a little different from the others?

Bruce:     Yeah. So, I would say it's really stage presence. The covers consist of the core of the shore. We do the original songs as self promotion and give us something unique but really I would say, truly, honest, it's stage presence. We used to have different ones that were singing lead vocal and when you're singing to the people in the audience, they're looking at you and you make eye contact. So, a year ago John said you know, I'm singing lead vocal in the song. Nobody's looking at me. Everybody's looking at Juliana and I said well dude, I'm not gonna tell her to cut her stage presence. You gotta increase your stage presence.

Brian:     You gotta step it up buddy.

Bruce:     Yeah. Step it up and we have so, it's happening but yeah, we go from song to song well. We play popular songs that people know and enjoy and we mix in a couple originals but I think it's the stage presence. We do have a little bit different instrumentation. I'm sure you have some listeners out there that are musicians. I'm playing guitar synth. So, while you see me play guitar, you hear piano, organ, saxophone, different instruments and I do all that live. There's no track. Every note is played.

Brian:     That's amazing and Dave you're here with us too. Now, talk about, what do you think is special? You're working with the band, you're doing some of the booking too. So, talk about what you do and then talk about what you think makes Fringe Benefit's a little different? What are you booking for?

Dave:     Sure. Well, I like to work with them because they're just all about having fun and the music industry can be crazy and it can be hard to get gigs and how to get motivated to go out and knock on doors, make phone calls, and send emails. Working for these guys has been a privilege because I see just how much fun they have playing and how much fun their fans have coming out and dancing and grooving to their music all night long. I think that goes a really long way to have a group of people that are good friends, that enjoy each other's company and they just have a lot of fun.

Bruce:     You really get three aspects of playing in music. You get the gigs, the music and then the relationships and we take advantage and have fun with all that but as you talk about having fun, this is a big contrast to one of your artists that you played earlier. They're all political. We have nothing political in what we're doing unless it's in a popular cover tune. Then it's not us saying it.

Brian:     True. That's one of the great things I love about the DC scenes too is that you really get everything. [crosstalk 00:04:43] People sing about what's close to their heart and if you're writing, you're writing a song about step out - which is about your friends that are coming out and one of your other songs might be about something else that happened to you. For some people, this is how they air their political frustrations and for others it's where you get your inspiration from and it changes every time.

Bruce:     Beautiful.

Brian:     So, it's a cool thing. Now, talk about where does the name come from? Fringe Benefits. What's the story there?

Bruce:     So, my version of the story is we were coming together long about the time Obama Care was coming in and it was my belief that no one could afford health insurance for their employees. So, maybe they could provide some fringe benefits. Maybe one of those could be having the Fringe Benefits band at the company party.

Brian:     So, I liked to point out how you just talked about how you weren't political and yet that's the story of your name Bruce.

Bruce:     Well, I didn't ask the question.

Brian:     Man, that's funny.

Bruce:     There's nothing wrong with having Fringe Benefits, right?

Brian:     That's darn right. I enjoy Fringe Benefits. Fringe Benefit's are nice.

Bruce:     Yeah, I get dinged for that one. Okay.

Brian:     I just had to call you out there for a second because that's really funny. All right. So, your connection to the DC scene, how long have you guys both been in the DC area and what part of the area?

Bruce:     So, I've been here and gone and come back. So, I went to high school - Jeb Stuart, [Oakton 00:06:06]. We're on Wilson Boulevard now. So, down at Seven Quarters, the Eaton Center was [Lafiat 00:06:13] Radio and I worked there. A lot of people don't realize this but the CB boom, nationwide, started in that store and I was a witness to it. So, it was pretty cool but now I've been living in Manassas for 20 years.

Brian:     Got it and what about you Dave?

Dave:     I grew up in Gray Falls and went to Langley High School. My first concert I remember was at the Patriot's Center and it was with the Deaf Tones, Incubus and Tape Root and I just remember having the time of my life and I knew from then on, music was a passion of mine.

Brian:     Yep. [inaudible 00:06:52] I love it. Bruce, you brought up memory with music, Bruce, what's your earliest memory with music?

Bruce:     So, I think it's a pretty cool story. So, one of the kids in the neighborhood got a silk shier, several tone, acoustic guitar and one of the other kids came up and said hey, yo, Ed's got a guitar! We gotta go check it out!  So, we went over to Ed's house and we were pulling the guitar out of each other's hands playing The Lick From Dirty Water. It was a hit song.

Brian:     Okay.

Bruce:     By the Stand Bells and so, that was my earliest memory. Well, about five years ago, I had a beer with the bass player from the Stand Bells.

Brian:     Really? Oh my god.

Bruce:     Pretty cool.

Brian:     That's amazing. Wow. Oh, man. That must have been wild. Oh goodness and while we're on the topic of moments in history here, talk about the funniest moment for the band. What comes to mind?

Bruce:     Two years, maybe three years ago, we dressed up for Halloween. We wanted to do dead rock stars. I did Elvis and many of you may know that Elvis died on the toilet and so, at the end of my choreographed, heart break hotel, there's a turd on the stage. Juliana said I'm not going up there.

Brian:     Oh, that's awful. Oh, man. What did you do?

Bruce:     So, we had a good laugh. Well, actually one of our friends picked it up and pretended to eat it. So, that was [crosstalk 00:08:30].

Brian:     But this was supposed to be funny.

Bruce:     You know who you are.

Brian:     Oh my god. That's unbelievable. All right. Wow. So, when we're not talking about the music stuff then. So, on the personal side, talk about your hobbies and interests. What do you guys do outside of the music? Bruce you first.

Bruce:     Okay. The music is like a therapy for me and kind of powers me for everything else I do. My day job is internet advertising but I also have a company where I do software for printing companies and then community service stuff. I served on the board of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

Brian:     Oh.

Bruce:     And the Center for the Arts and the Candy Factory in Manassas. I'm a member of the Manassas Rotary Club and as a band, the Fringe Benefit's have cooked for the homeless a couple times at the serve shelter in Manassas.  So, I'm gonna sign us up and do that again. So, we have a lot of fun just doing stuff for other people.

Brian:     Man, community service stuff. I like that Bruce. Dave, what about you?

Dave:     I'm actually big on the gardening.

Brian:     Really?

Dave:     Yeah.

Brian:     Fantastic.

Dave:     I'm on 5 acres and just planting fruit trees and vegetables and we got chickens. Just big into that and connecting with nature and going hiking and traveling. I just got back from Costa Rica.

Brian:     Costa Rica.

Dave:     I was there for two weeks-

Brian:     Nice.

Dave:     It's an amazing place. I highly suggest it.

Brian:     That's cool. All right. Lots of stuff going on outside and now, I guess to tag onto that then, let's say it's the weekend and you've got nothing on the schedule, you actually have open time. What would you do? If it's Saturday, Sunday and you don't have anything on the schedule, what would you do?

Bruce:     Me? I'm working.

Brian:     What does that mean? For one of the companies or for-

Bruce:     Yeah. Doing ads for clients or either I'm goofing off. Actually, last weekend what I did was working on new technology for the guitar synth. So, that's a fun thing.

Brian:     That's right. You get your guitar synth. That's your thing. What about you Dave? What would you do if you had a weekend off?

Dave:     I will literally be in my garden at like midnight pulling out weeds and planting stuff. I'll have my head lamp on and you know-

Brian:     Oh my god. Those amazing head lamps? You have to see a picture. I took a selfie with them so you can see it and I'm just envisioning him with a headlamp on at midnight. That's really funny. I love that. Gardening.

Dave:     Gardening.

Brian:     Gardening's a thing. I love it.

Dave:     Very therapeutic.

Brian:     Okay, cool. Well, and this questions to both of you guys. This is one of my favorite questions to ask in these interviews is if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be? And I want to hear from both of you actually. So, Dave, why don't you go first?

Dave:     So, piece of advice for bands, correct?

Brian:     It's up to you. You can offer whatever piece of advice to whoever you want.

Dave:     Okay. Well, I mean the first piece of advice would be to have fun like we talked about with the Fringe Benefits. That's so important. If you're going to be in a band, you're going to be committed to being with these set of people and practicing and going to shows and be committed to this. Have fun and pick people that you're going to get along with and then practice. Really prepare yourself for the gigs, get your songs down, your set list and know what direction you want to go and have a clear vision. Have a plan.

Brian:     Yeah.

Dave:     And then execute it. Go out, get gigs, get a booking agent - someone that's going to represent you.

Brian:     What's the best way to get a booking agent? You just reach out?

Dave:     Yeah, you can give me a call.

Brian:     There you go. Go ahead and say your name is-

Dave:     My name is Dave. Dave [Maskatello 00:12:14]-

Brian:     And how do they find you?

Dave:     Planetary music is my company. You can go on I just bought a new domain. It's going to be, which I'm now building but Facebook's great. Anyway, Planetary Music but there's plenty of agents and you can find some great managers in the area and a manager, if you're an original band, is really important because they'll help you manage your day to day stuff and get the right recording study and get into interviews like this.

Brian:     There you go, yeah.

Dave:     A band called Foot Work that needs to get out here.

Brian:     Oh, there it is. Please do welcome Foot Work, whenever they want to come on, I would love to have them because Foot Work's a great hip hop. I love the hip hop scene in DC and man, Foot Work is one of the early ones I found and I love them so that would be cool.

Dave:     They're about to go on tour in April but anyway, back to the advice. Yeah, promote your shows.

Brian:     Yep.

Dave:     Definitely promote your shows.

Brian:     It's huge.

Dave:     Venues, yes, they're going to do their part and band's gotta do their part.

Brian:     And Bruce, what about you man? One piece of advice.

Bruce:     So, on the fun side, it's never go to a radio interview unprepared.

Brian:     Public service announcement. Thank you Bruce. I appreciate that and the man is prepared. I give him credit. He's got notes in front of him right now. This man is ready. So, I love it. I truly appreciate that man. I appreciate that. That's good. All right. One more time. For those folks who want to find and follow more about the Fringe Benefits and the things you're doing and where you're playing and all that stuff, where do they go?