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FROM TODAY'S SHOW
Clarendon Grill in Arlington, VA now features DC area original music. They call it the Thursday Circus, and the evening generally features at least 2 original bands: Our host, Brian Nelson-Palmer, will be there this Thursday with Fellowcraft, joined by The Forever Agos with Cathy Ditoro and Derek Evry. Come say hi! Next week is Pleasure Train and Escaper, Following that is Olivia Mancini, VA Southpaws, and Nova-tones. Linked bands we've featured on this show!
We're up to 20 videos from DC area talent who've shared their Tiny Desk videos for NPR with us! Check them all out on the Find-Browse Artists Page!
DC Music Resources Page on this website, continuously updated list of: Venues, Festivals, Event Series, Media, Radio, Blogs, Podcasts, Organizations, Facebook Groups, Record Stores, Labels, Management, Studios.
- Aaron's Blues - Aaron Myers (Jazz/R&B)
- Serious - Roof Beams (Folk/Indie)
- Sensory Insensitivity - ShowPony (Indie/Instrumental)
- Cairo - Paperhaus (Indie/Alternative)
- Ashe - Nitemoves (Techno/Electronic)
- Hounds of Thoughts - The Sea Life (Rock/Shoegaze)
- Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)
Alex Drewenskus is a broadcast technician at WAMU 88.5, Washington, D.C.'s NPR member station, and currently engineers WAMU's 1A, a daily talk show that takes a deep and unflinching look at America to bring context and insight to stories unfolding across the country and the world. He has previously worked on The Diane Rehm Show, Ken Rudin's Political Junkie, and has worked at the famed electronic music venue U Street Music Hall. In mid-2016, Alex helped launch WAMU's Capital Soundtrack project, an initiative that showcases local music on WAMU's airwaves in order to connect the station and its listeners to the music of the region. Since Capital Soundtrack's introduction, WAMU has played nearly 2,000 songs by artists from all over the D.C. area and encourages artists to submit their own music to become a part of the project. Alex graduated from American University with a degree in Audio Technology and is a native of Washington state.
Brian: Alex Drewenskus from WAMU's Capital Soundtrack is a broadcast technician at WAMU 88.5 FM which is Washington DC's NPR member station. Currently engineers WAMU's 1A which is a daily talk show which brings context and insight to stories unfolding across the country and around the world. He previously worked on the Diane Rehm Show.
Alex: Rehm Show.
Brian: Rehm Show. Yes, please give me these pronunciations right. I got the Diane Rehm Show, Ken Rudin's Political Junkie, and at the famed electronic music venue, U Street Music Hall. In mid-2016 Alex helped launch WAMU's Capital Soundtrack Project which is an initiative that showcases local music on WAMU's air waves in order to connect the station and its listeners to the music of the DC region. Since Capital Soundtrack's introduction WAMU has played nearly 2,000 songs by artists from the DC region and encourages artists to submit their own music to become a part of the project.
I first came across Capital Soundtrack with my band, Fellowcraft. We were looking for ways to spread the ways about Fellowcraft and I heard that on 88.5 they played local music. We came across Capital Soundtrack and they've played Fellowcraft along with, like it said, several thousand songs. Listeners, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Alex.
Alex: Thank you, Brian.
Brian: Thanks so much for being here.
Alex: That was an extensive introduction, thank you for that.
Brian: Well, I want to give them the background so now you can tell us more. Now, tell us about the Capital Soundtrack, let's start there. Capital Soundtrack. Where did that come from? What's the story behind that?
Alex: Yeah, so a team of us at WAMU have been working on Capital Soundtrack for about the last eight months, we launched it about six months ago. Essentially, what it is is an initiative that wants to play as much local music as possible so that we can ... Sorry, DC region music as possible so that we can further associate WAMU which is a public media station, it's a public radio station. We want to associate our station with the sound of the region so we don't want WAMU to just be a part of the region, we want it to sound like the region as well.
Brian: That's ... And I really, I think it does, it's really ... I can't tell you how many times I've seen on Facebook somebody say, "Oh my God, my song was just on 88.5 FM." It really is, it's wonderful that you're making that connection with the region. Thank you guys and thank you WAMU for starting this initiative and for doing this.
Alex: Well, you're welcome.
Brian: Now, what's the ... You said it's an NPR affiliate. What's the MPR connection to you guys?
Alex: Essentially the way NPR works is NPR produces shows and they distribute those shows to NPR member stations which are community radio stations, public radio stations throughout the country. Most major cities have an NPR member station in them. The one for the DC area is WAMU 88.5 FM. If you tune in each station might have different content and they might have shows that they create. Then they might also play the shows that are the flagship programs of MPR. Shows like All Things Considered, Morning Edition. Then, it's up to stations to determine how much of those programs they want to play and what they want to play when those programs are not playing, so they can make their own content.
Brian: Got it. How much is the ... How much is you guys here locally, and then how much of the ... What's the proportion of, like, NPR and you guys here at 88.5?
Alex: The majority of our programming is bought from several public media organizations. NPR, American Public Media is another large one, that they abbreviate their name to APM, so you may have heard of their stuff. Then, several other production companies. We pick a lot of shows for the weekend, that we only play an hour of that organization's programming a week because they only make maybe one show a week, that kind of thing. During the weekdays the majority of our programming is bought from NPR. We also have our main programs, the Kojo Nnamdi Show and 1A which is another program that I work on.
Brian: Capital Soundtrack then, how will people ... Tell more about what that actually means? They're going to hear little clips of music behind what somebody's saying? What are they going to hear if they hear the Capital Soundtrack specifically?
Alex: Each day we allocate 20 songs, 20 songs that are by DC area musicians. We allow our engineers and hosts to play those songs during our local breaks. During a show like Morning Edition they'll hear content made by NPR. Then during the break which we know comes at certain times, agreed upon times, during that time we have the ability to play that under our host talking. Say if the host wants to, really likes the track or something they can just fade it up and they can play that track for as long as they want. If it's a one minute long break they might talk for 30 seconds and then you might hear 30 seconds of a local musician.
Brian: Got it. This is in between the breaks in NPR, this is where you'll hear the Capital Soundtrack stuff.
Brian: During other times of the day too? Is it throughout the day?
Alex: It's throughout the day. It's 24 hours a day. Even though we go into automation basically we allow our computer system to play our program shows overnight. We have basically programmed it so that it will take snippets of Capital Soundtrack songs and it will insert them into those breaks as well. It's all throughout the day. The Kojo Nnamdi Show, they use that music as their break music. They use it as not only a transition away from their host but the vocal host who's talking during that time might also use that music. It's a lot of different opportunities for people to hear local music, local DC area music.
Brian: That is so cool. Now, talk about ... On 1A, you're working with that show now. What is 1A? Tell us about that?
Alex: 1A is the successor show to the Diane Rehm Show. Diane Rehm was a staple of public radio for almost four decades. She stepped away from the microphone, she's 80-years-old.
Brian: Oh my goodness.
Alex: She's been doing this for a really long time and she's become one of the flagship programs of NPR. She's really widely recognized as one of the greatest female hosts and hosts in general of NPR. 1A is the successor show to that. Our new host, Joshua Johnson, he's about half her age, half of Diane's age.
Brian: Which makes him an incredibly young and handsome gentleman I'm sure.
Alex: Yeah. Yeah, he's great. He came from California and he just joined us. We just launched our show on January 2nd of this year. Basically, we're a two hour talk show and we look at the issues of our time, the culture reporting, arts reporting, politics, news events, all different kinds of things. 1A essentially stands for the first amendment. We encourage free speech, free expression, and we want our listeners to engage with us on the show. We really call out for listeners and their input as much as possible.
Brian: How would they provide their input?
Alex: Basically, we have Twitter, we have Facebook, we have email. They can call us live. If you want to find us on Twitter we are at 1A. We're just the number 1, the numeral 1 and the letter A. It's just the two letter handle on Twitter, it's pretty rare.
Brian: That's about as easy as it gets.
Alex: We're very proud that we got that actually.
Brian: That's amazing.
Alex: Yeah. It's many, many different resources. You can go to the1a.org and you can also find more information about the show there.
Brian: Find it all there, that's so cool. Now, Alex, tell us about you and your story with the DC music scene.
Alex: I moved here about six years ago and I went to American Union University. I studied Audio Technology, essentially what is Audio Engineering. I was really interested in recorded music, live music, sound design. I found that DC actually had a great live music scene as you know, Brian, as well.
Brian: It certainly does, good gracious, yeah.
Alex: It's extensive. There are so many artists in this area and it's not just DC, it's Maryland, it's Virginia. It's up the river, down the river. It's an entire community of people that create what the sound of this area is. Yeah, that's how I got interested in music, I knew there was this big diversity there.
Brian: You mentioned in your bio about U Street Music Hall. What's the ... There's a connection there? What's the ... ?
Alex: Yeah. When I was in school I was lucky to get a job at U Street Music Hall. For those who don't know, it's a dance club and concert venue. It's on U Street of course, given the name. It's often voted as one of the greatest sound systems on the entire East Coast. It's a basement venue and it's about ... It can hold over a thousand people in there.
Brian: Holy smokes.
Alex: Yeah, it's a great venue.
Brian: Check out U Street Music Hall, that's amazing. Now, one of my favorite questions that I love to ask is, what's one piece of advice that you would offer?
Alex: One piece of advice that I would offer is go seek out live music. If you don't like live music go seek out recorded music. Go online. There are plenty of resources throughout the region. If you go to a place like Hometown Sounds they create a great radio show themselves. Shows like yours, DC Music Rocks. We have the DC Music Download. There's an incredible wealth of music and talent out there, you just have to find it. There are websites that aggregate all the venues in the area, all the events that are going on. Every night there's a possibility to see live music if you'd like.
Brian: That's amazing. I'll check out the scene. Now, for those folks who are interested in finding out more, and I want you to share about the submission process for Capital Soundtrack. Talk about the show and where they find you and how they submit, an artist if they're listening with submit music.
Alex: Yeah. If you go to wamu.org/music you can find all of our play lists. We post a daily play list of the songs that were heard that day.
Brian: Oh, so you can find it on the website.
Alex: Absolutely, yes.
Alex: On that page, wamu.org/music, you can also click our submit a track link. If you create music yourself or even if you've heard a track that you like you can recommend a song. You can submit those songs to us and we'll seek them out. If you provide a link to us that's even easier. We'll listen to it. We're looking for instrumental music or instrumental portions of songs at least 30 seconds in length. That's so that our hosts and our engineers can fade in and out of it, they can talk over it if they need to. It's tough with music with vocals because the vocals of the music can clash with a host talking over it sometimes. It's not the easiest so we look for instrumental music or instrumental portions of songs.
Brian: So cool. Listener, it doesn't have to be the artist. Listeners, if you know of an amazing band that you love in town then share that with WAMU as well because they're playing that stuff as well. Are you guys, so I heard the1a.org. Wamu.org?
Alex: Org/music. That'll send you to our bandwidth music site. Bandwidth is our music blog basically. It's our online music destination and it covers local and national music news.
Brian: That's the bandwidth.fm, I've heard that name before. Okay, so bandwidth.fm, check that one out. You guys, social media? I assume you guys are doing that stuff too?
Alex: Yes, of course.