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Episodes 1-30

January 24, 2017 - Special Guest: Elena Lacayo, of Elena & Los Fulanos

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  • This is the 30th Episode!  Many more to come, proud to reach this epic milestone!
  • The Easy Listening Jams Playlist of DC artists is up!  Check it out on the Find-Browse Artists page
  • Tiny Desk Videos for NPR.  I'm collecting the ones for local artists for 2017.  Please share/tag me so I can add them!  Playlist will be posted on the Find-Browse Artists Page


  1. Lost Children - Sam Hesh (Indie/Indie Rock)
  2. Himalayan Honey - Tempercrush (Rock)
  3. Amor Migrante - Elena & Los Fulanos (Latin/World)
  4. Step in Line - Letitia VanSant & the Bonafides (Folk/Indie Folk)
  5. Amneshia - Thaylobleu (Hard Rock/Punk Rock)
  6. Allies - Fellow Creatures (Rock/Indie)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Elena Lacayo, of Elena & Los Fulanos

Video - Bio - Photos - Links


DC Music Rocks Elena & Los Fulanos 2

Elena & Los Fulanos is a bilingual, folk rock band based in Washington, DC. Since 2011, they have been creating music that ranges from twangy, heartbreak-themed, folk Americana, to soothing, introspective, violin-infused, Latin rock. Influenced by front-woman Elena Lacayo’s experience growing up in two cultures (Nicaraguan and American), Elena & Los Fulanos creates a world where language and tradition meld with catchy melodies and inventive chords to enhance appreciation for diversity in an increasingly multi-cultural world. Their debut album, Miel Venenosa, earned a Washington Area Music Association (WAMMIE) nomination for Best Latin Recording in 2014.

DC Music Rocks Elena & Los Fulanos 1
DC Music Rocks Elena & Los Fulanos (3)

Interview Transcript

Brian:     Elena Lacayo is the lead singer of Elena & Los Fulanos, a bilingual folk rock band based here in Washington DC. Since 2011, they've been creating music that ranges from twangy, heartfelt themed folk Americana to soothing, introspective, violin infused, Latin rock. Elena musical influences draw on her experiences growing up in two cultures, Nicaraguan and American. Elena & Los Fulanos creates a world where language and tradition meld with catch melodies and inventive chords in our increasingly multi-cultural world. Their debut album, help me with the pronunciation here. Debut album was?

Elena:    This one's the harder one, Miel Venensoa.

Brian:     Miel Venensoa earned a Washington Area Music Award or a Wammie nomination for the Best Latin Recording in 2014.

Elena:    Miel Venenosa means poisonous honey, just for the.

Brian:     Poisonous honey. Interesting. We just heard Himalayan Honey earlier from this so wow, we got all kinds of honey on this show today. I love it. I first came across Elena & Los Fulanos when I had, and her name escapes me at this moment when I need it, on the microphone, Maryjo Mateo was on the show. She was doing a show coming up with you guys and she said, "Oh you definitely got to check out Elena." I checked out Elena and my goodness, amazing things. Listeners, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Elena Lacayo.

Elena:    Hey. How's it going everyone?

Brian:     Now tell us about you Elena. How did Elena & Los Fulanos come about? Tell us the quick story.

Elena:    Oh the quick story. You were starting to ask me about me, and I was going to go into that.

Brian:     Oh we'll come back to that, I promise.

Elena:    We'll come back to that because that is a big part of what Elena & Los Fulanos is, but I was working here in DC like so many people on policy. I moved here 10 years ago and I've been doing music and creating original songs. I was playing out and a couple of my friends were like, "Hey. I can play with you." That's kind of how we started it.

Brian:     Nice.

Elena:    We started it kind of informally and I just realized with time that I liked a lot what we were doing and I quit my job and started doing it more seriously. That's where we are now.

Brian:     Wow, so full time musician. Now tell us what you were going to say about how the music came about in your life.

Elena:    It's just that I do bilingual music. You guys only heard a song in Spanish, but there's also songs in English. At this point, I mean basically when I started the project I was a little like, well what am I supposed to do? I have songs in English and I have songs in Spanish. Do I do separate projects? Are they the same thing? Eventually I came to the conclusion that if these two things existed in my own person that they should be able to exist in a music project. That's sort of what the point is, is that people will look at me and they'll think one thing, but I actually grew up in Nicaragua and that's where my parents live. I also grew up in the states. I was born here and then we moved back when I was eight. I really grew up between the US and Nicaragua. Those are both fully parts of me and I'm fully Nicaraguan and fully American. That's kind of what we do with our music. We show that identities are more complex than what meets the eye.

Brian:     Yeah. It definitely comes across that way. The breadth, I love the breadth of your music. It's a very, not every song. It's not the same each time. There's different feelings. There's different emotions. It comes across in the music you make.

Elena:    Yeah. I almost think I'm a little musically schizophrenic. That's how I kind of consider myself, which I've decided is a better place to be than listening to a band and feeling like every song sounds the same. I'd rather be more broad than not. Really, it's interesting. When I'm putting together albums, instead of trying to make things match with each other. It's almost more narrative and it's almost more about showing the diversity of things that we do. Making sure we kind of show. If songs are too similar, we don't put them on the same album.

Brian:     Right.

Elena:    Which is interesting.

Brian:     Smart. Okay.

Elena:    You know what I mean?

Brian:     What about you, so outside of Los Fulanos. What's life like for you? What do you do in your spare time I guess you would say?

Elena:    Oh man. Well, I mean I do a lot of solo shows, which is really fun. I do all kinds of stuff as a solo artist. Now that certain things have happened politically, I'm getting a lot of requests to play movement events. I play a lot of pro-immigrant events. This weekend was kind of crazy for me. I ended up playing planned and unplanned shows. People are really hungry for this kind of music. I also work at a café, a social justice café in DC called The Potter's House, which is awesome. They have a bookstore and I help run it because I'm into books. That's kind of what I studied when I was in undergrad. It's really cool though. I mean they are sort of similar. It's sort of related to be into books and into music, both in the inability to make money off of it unfortunately. Also, just like in the fact that these are things that really shape our culture and our collective consciousness as a people. It's really cool to be in the world of ideas like that.

Brian:     That's cool. You said into books. Does that mean you read a lot of books or you just are comforted by being around them? What do you read?

Elena:    All of the above. Since I work at a bookstore, I buy a bunch of books and then I don't necessarily always have time to get to them. Unfortunately I'm much better at going to shows. I'm much better about going to shows than I am about sitting down and reading books. I'm a bit of an extrovert and music is really my focus. It's really cool to be around the world of books because people always give you their opinions even if you haven't read them, or you learn about people that are important that even if you haven't read them, you know, oh this was a very important person in the Civil Rights movement. Sometimes those people come into the cafes too. Then they'll tell who they are. They're like, "Oh I'm a SNCC leader. I grew up in Mississippi" and she's like 92 or something. It's really cool to be in that world and social justice is kind of my background and so that's a lot of what also informs my music.

Brian:     Yeah. I realize you said SNCC leader, and for those who don't know what that is, what is that?

Elena:    Oh, what is the acronym. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. They were a big organization. John Lewis belonged to that. If you guys saw the movie, the one about MLK. [Some 00:06:53] I think it was called?

Brian:     Yes.

Elena:    The SNCC leaders are the younger folks who are kind of the ones who are the ones out on the.

Brian:     They come into the café. That's cool.

Elena:    They're pretty hard core, standing up for their rights. It's really cool to meet people who confronted such bigotry and such hatred to their face. You know what I mean? And stood up for it.

Brian:     What about you as an artist? The biggest success moment that comes to mind?

Elena:    Our biggest success, just happened the day after Thanksgiving we had this awesome opportunity to play at the Kennedy Center here. We played the Millennium Stage.

Brian:     Wow.

Elena:    It was something else. It's such a big stage in a lot of ways and nothing quite prepares you to do it until you do it. Then you realize, wow. You feel like the shoes are slightly too big for you to fill but at the end of it.

Brian:     You jump in and you say, "Absolutely. I'll wear them. Let's go."

Elena:    Totally, and it was so cool. I mean one of the things that I didn't expect from it as much is there's a lot of things I knew that would come with it. We had a huge crowd, like 500 people. It was the day after Thanksgiving so everybody was free and stuff. That was just amazing opportunity. They also had this amazing video that they did. They do videos of all of the Millennium Stage shows. They have multiple cameras and so they are-

Brian:     Awesome.

Elena:    A lot of people actually when I got off stage that came around and they were like, "Dude, the cinematography," or whatever you call the camera work, "was really great. You really need to watch it." Of course, as an artist, you take your time getting to watch yourself perform because you're very critical of yourself on stage, especially when you have to hear yourself talk. That was actually one of the coolest parts about the whole thing, is just having this really, super well produced video for your show, for your vision, for your art.

Brian:     Do you have that posted somewhere?

Elena:    Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Brian:     Can people watch that? Kennedy Center website or yours?

Elena:    Yeah. There's the Kennedy Center YouTube. You can also go to our band's website, it's, E-L-E-N-A-L-O-S-F-U-L-A-N-O-S .com, or if you Google Elena Los Fulanos, it'll be the first one to come up. There's a video part there and you can go to that. You can also see our video for Amor Migrante.

Brian:     Yeah check out the video. I've got those links on too so you can check them out after the show. Now what about your earliest memory with music?

Elena:    Well, legend has it. I'm the youngest of four.

Brian:     We started with a legend?

Elena:    Yeah a legend. It's because I don't know if to believe my parents on this. You know? I'm the youngest of four so when they talk about things that I did when I was, and we were like refugees. We had just come to the states from Nicaragua and we were fleeing war. I don't really think they remember my first anythings. I kind of feel like they make it up a little bit.

Brian:     Mom, Dad, we want to believe you but we're not sure. Okay.

Elena:    I was like, "Mom, Dad, what was my first word?" They were like, "You didn't speak you just sang." That's what they tell me.

Brian:     That sounds like something a parent would say.

Elena:    I know that my first song was The Blue Danube. That's kind of high brow but it's because my oldest brother is trained in French horn and I guess he probably was rehearsing and stuff. I don't know how I got The Blue Danube. You guys know which one that? La, dum, dum, dum, dump, bum-bum, bum-bum.

Brian:     Oh, and there's words to that?

Elena:    No. I would just hum it.

Brian:     Okay you were humming. Okay.

Elena:    Apparently.

Brian:     You were singing the horn part.

Elena:    They were like, "Oh cool. She's in tune. This one has potential."

Brian:     Real potential, and now look at you. You're here. You're performing the Kennedy Center.

Elena:    I know, well that wasn't. I was very rebellious towards my parents and their desire for me to be a musician. I really never took that role and I didn't really care for music classes. I kind of did it on my own terms, which I'm not sure I recommend because I'm pretty uninformed when it comes to music theory and a lot of the rules but, it hasn't yet effected my ability to write it. I think it more effects my ability to communicate with other musicians.

Brian:     Yeah I could see that.

Elena:    It works out.

Brian:     I was saying, it's working so far. Now, one of my favorite questions to ask is always, what's one piece of advice that you would offer?

Elena:    To other musicians?

Brian:     Sure. However, you want to answer the question.

Elena:    I think, I mean maybe it sounds corny but I think it's being true to one's self and being authentic to the person that you are. Try to figure that out. It's actually much more difficult than you think when you start the exercise.

Brian:     Say more on that.

Elena:    Just in the sense of like, music is an externalization of yourself. Art in general is an externalization of your interior world. You know? The more that you explore yourself and you know yourself the better you will be able to access that so as to bring your vision to other people. There's something about reaching the authentic point of yourself, that connects with other people. It's sort of like you access this universal concept and you put it out there. Other people will access that same thing, but through their own experience. The more authentic that you are, it doesn't really matter what form it takes. That's the thing about music, it's so subjective. There's really no formula to what's great and what's not. I think what clearly comes through is when you're being authentic to yourself and when you're rounded in a vision of what, kind of who you are. It's weird. I mean it's like kind of a [inaudible 00:12:59] to talk about.

                  It's the same idea of you know when people have gone in to buy guitars or to try out guitars at guitar stores. It kind of doesn't matter how much the guitar costs, or what it's made out of or all these other specs, what counts is when yo sit down and play the guitar, do you feel inspired by it? There are some guitars where you feel that and there are some guitars where you're like, eh not really. I don't really want to play that much anymore. It's like this intangible thing.

Brian:     Got it.

Elena:    Yeah.

Brian:     Wow, that's cool. Two questions then, together. One is, if folks want to find out more about you, and the exciting things going on wit Los Fulanos, where do they go for that, and you had mentioned to me before the show that there were some cool things coming up for you. Talk about that.

Elena:    If you want to check us out more, you can go to or if you want to just Google Elena & Los Fulanos. That has all of our info. It has our videos, also has our music video for Amor Migrante, which you can check out there. We are actually raising money right now through Indiegogo. We have a campaign going on for our next album. If you all are interested in that, you can check that out as well on our website. We have a fundraising show for that on February 9th at Haydee's in Mount Pleasant and you all can come to that and check out what we're planning to do and if you want to go to an actual show, that's open to everybody and mostly about fundraising. This Friday I will be at The Black Cat with the Nine Songwriter Series. That's Friday, January 27th at The Black Cat. I can do this. Oh look at that.

Brian:     There is video of this interview and if you check it out, she's holding up the card here so you can actually see her talking to you on video.

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

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



  • 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 10, 2017 - Special Guest: Stephanie Williams of DC Music Download

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  1. Mrs. Piano - Kenny Sway (Pop/R&B)
  2. Orca - Moogatu (Hard Rock/Jam Band)
  3. I'll Walk Away - Stone Driver (Rock/Hard Rock)
  4. Paused Parade - Young Summer (Indie/Alternative)
  5. Silurian Stomp (feat. Rachel Ries) - Fellow Creatures (Rock/Indie)
  6. The Greys - The El Mansouris (Indie)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Video - Bio - Photos - Links

DC Music Rocks Stephanie Williams


Stephanie Williams is the founder and chief curator of D.C. Music Download, D.C.'s largest outlet for local music news. An Ohio native, Stephanie moved to D.C. in 2009 and started D.C. Music Download in 2012 to spotlight some of the awesome acts she discovered while living in the city. Five years later, D.C. Music Download has grown from a small blog into a full-fledged media company that includes a flourishing editorial, events, and cinematography division.


DC Music Rocks Stephanie Williams Head Shot
DC Music Rocks DC Music Download Group Stephanie Williams

Interview Transcript

Brian:     Stephanie Williams is the founder and chief … Editor in Chief of D.C. Music Download. It’s D.C.’s largest outlet for local music news. She’s an Ohio native and moved here in 2009, and D.C. Music Download came around in 2012 to spotlight some of the incredible acts that she discovered while she was living in the city in the D.C. area.

                  Five years later, D.C. Music Download has grown from a small little blog into this full-fledged media company that includes a flourishing editorial events and cinematography division, so D.C. Music Download has grown and along with the great scene here. Listeners, with that, it’s my great pleasure that I get to introduce the founder and Editor in Chief of D.C. Music Download, Stephanie Williams. Say hi, Stephanie.

Stephanie:           Hey. What’s going on?

Brian:     It is such a treat to have you here, and tell us the story, the brief story about D.C. Music Download now. How did it start? How did that happen?

Stephanie:           Sure, so it happened a little serendipitously I guess you would say. Long story short, back in college, I was a broadcast journalism major, and I was doing a lot of the same things that I’m doing right now, covering a lot of the local artists and bands that were living in the city and just putting the word out there about some of the awesome acts that I was finding. That came and went, moved to D.C. in 2009 to start an internship at Discovery Channel which grew into a full-time job eventually.

Brian:     Wow.

Stephanie:           Yeah. That was good, and I was doing the corporate thing for a while, but I felt like there was something missing getting back into that element of getting back into the music scene, going to shows, and just putting myself in that world again, so around I would say like 2011, started going to more concerts, started meeting more people in the scene, started going to more D.C. shows, and discovering some awesome bands from there. Around that time, I was like, “You know what? I feel like this kind of clicks with what I want to do creatively, which is to get back into covering music again.”

                  The origin of D.C. Music Download’s name is actually because it was originally supposed to be a podcast, only outlet, and we didn’t have any writers like any of the people that we have right now in terms of like editorial, so it was just myself, my recorder, and just doing the thing.

Brian:     You blew my mind because I’ve been dying to know. I picked up D.C. Music Download in about 2013 or 2014. It just came on my radar, and I’ve been wondering, “It’s called ‘D.C Music Download.’ Why is there a ‘Download’ because it’s a news or it’s a …?” That’s so fascinating. It was a podcast?

Stephanie:           Yeah. It was a podcast, and so I bought the domain thinking, “Okay. All my podcasts are going to be on here, and you can literally just download it from the site,” and so that’s where it came from.

Brian:     Yeah. Wow.

Stephanie:           Yeah, and then from there, I started finding more people along the way who were interested in contributing more than just the podcast, so then it grew into what it is now which is a news magazine site that … It was just funny now because the podcast is input to the wayside for all the stuff that we do now, so we have a staff of around 30 people who produce all sorts of content.

                  Amazing, amazing contributions. Everything from show reviews to amazing interviews, long form features, events, and we even have a cinematography staff who creates amazing beautifully shot videos for us. It definitely have grown into something much bigger than I anticipated, but I mean, definitely, it’s been a pretty awesome ride in terms of just seeing it grow and just seeing where everything lies ahead.

Brian:     If somebody was curious if they’ve never heard of D.C. Music Download or we were to tell them to check it out, what are they … You were talking about some of the things that you do, but what are the things that D.C. Music Download does really well? What will they find?

Stephanie:           I think this is primarily what keeps me going with D.C. Music Download. It’s a pretty big effort, a large endeavor, and I think honestly what keeps me going is the fact of telling stories that we feel are really important, bringing to light issues, topics in the community, people who were doing awesome things here, and just bringing to light those people who may not get the attention or maybe the notoriety that they should get and just put it in the forefront and tell people like, “Hey. I mean, this is something that you should pay attention to,” or, “This is a great band you should know or just a cool project that you might not even realize is happening right in your own backyard that you should check out.” Yeah. I think that’s honestly the most rewarding part of doing this is just being able to spotlight those stories that may not be as easily noticed to the public.

Brian:     Wow, that’s really cool. All right. Now, tell us about Stephanie outside of D.C. Music Download.

Stephanie:           Yeah. For me, I actually just started this as my full-time thing which is pretty exciting.

Brian:     Congratulations.

Stephanie:           Thanks.

Brian:     That’s … so full-time Editor in Chief like this is it.

Stephanie:           Yeah. This is it.

Brian:     Wow.

Stephanie:           It’s been pretty crazy. Honestly, it’s one of those things where it’s like you just do it and see what happens.

Brian:     Yeah

Stephanie:           Yeah. For a while, I was in the corporate sort of industry, doing that behind the scenes. In a way, I feel like my personal life and D.C.M.D. are very much intertwined. I see this as like my life and just all the stuff that I’m doing right now is stuff that it’s not like I separate the two at all. It’s all combined into …

Brian:     Does this mean you pretty much just work seven days a week and it doesn’t feel like work? Is that what it is?

Stephanie:           Yeah. Very much so in terms of it not feeling like work.

Brian:     Got it.

Stephanie:           Yeah. I try to go to shows as much as I can. I’m not getting any younger. I’ll say that. Going out to shows isn’t as easy as it used to be. Going out like multiple shows a night and like all that stuff. I’ve been trying my hardest, but just trying to go as many shows, trying to discover as many new bands and songs as possible, and just …

Brian:     Is it just music, or what other hobbies do you have? Tell us more about Stephanie.

Stephanie:           Yeah. For me, it’s funny because for me, I actually just … besides music, I like to also … I’m pretty artistic, so I like to do a lot of painting. Also, I love just going out and exploring art, going to …

Brian:     Wow. Yeah. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Stephanie:           One of my favorite museums actually that I like to go to, and just like meditate, and just be by myself is the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. It’s like you can go there all day, just walk around and …

Brian:     Is that the one with the courtyard in the middle too that …?

Stephanie:           Yeah, it’s a great place to go. I love being in the outdoors which like you can’t really do much of that now with …

Brian:     Right, since it’s winter and stuff.

Stephanie:           Yeah, yeah. I love going out, just being outside, and just being able to just meditate and just be able to relax, and so that’s what I like to do, just going hiking anywhere I can find that’s just a good place to be alone in that sense.

Brian:     Absolutely.

Brian:     When you think back to D.C. Music Download now, what’s the funniest moment that comes to mind?

Stephanie:           The funniest moment that comes to mind. I will say that we have a really awesome staff, and we usually … Every year, we go and do a bar crawl for the holidays, so we usually go …

Brian:     Awesome. Okay.

Stephanie:           We usually start at Satellite Room, and then we’ll see who’s left at the end of the night. It goes from like 20 people to like three people. Last year, we ended up doing this big pub crawl. Down U Street is where we usually go. It was funny because we went to … I think it was Cloak and Dagger which used to be Patty Boom Boom, and so one of our staff members wanted to … This is like towards the end of the night, by the way, so like people are having fun, whatever, and somebody want to do the rain dance, so they literally took the umbrella, started doing the rain dance in the middle of the club. Some guy and this … Literally, this like big bodyguard came downstairs and literally just like snatched the umbrella like full-hand just snatched it, and he’s like, “Sir, you got to go.” He’s like, “But it’s raining, and I don’t have my camera with me,” and he’s like … and I’m just like, “Dude, let’s just get out of here.

Brian:     Let’s just go?

Stephanie:           Yeah, and it was so funny because he was like all like stressed out, and he was like running out into the street in the rain. I’m like, “Oh, that’s … Poor, poor guy.”

Brian:     Oh my goodness. Wow.

Stephanie:           Yeah, he … Yeah, we have a lot of fun together. Besides doing like stuff for D.C.M.D., we always like to hang out behind the scenes. Yeah.

Brian:     Absolutely. What about … When you think about biggest success moments now, what’s like the biggest success moment that comes to mind with the project?

Stephanie:           For me, I would probably say our anniversary shows at 9:30 Club, so particularly the first one that we did back in 2014. Up until then, we only had done like maybe two small shows at Rock and Roll Hotel. Like we had like no track record with putting on big shows at that capacity, so that was the first big event that we did that we were like, “Okay. Let’s see how far we’ve come and what we can do,” and so we decided to put together this awesome lineup. We had Drop Electric play, The Sea Life, Young Rapids, and The Raised By Wolves at that time, and it was just … We also had Girls Rock D.C. involved, and it was a … It was like definitely one of … probably the highlight for me. There’s been a lot of other concerts have been awesome, but this one particularly stood out because we ended up selling out that venue that night.

Brian:     Wow.

Stephanie:           Yeah, 1,500 capacity venue that I did not think in my wildest dreams that we’d be able to do, especially at that early in our lifespan.

Stephanie:           It was just so cool to see so many people turn out. The thing is a lot of people didn’t know. They’ll come to see one band, but a lot of them stayed for the whole show just like checking out new music and just being supportive of the D.C. music scene that night.

Stephanie:           I think that was definitely, definitely a highlight for me that stood out.

Brian:     Definitely. I always love to ask, what’s one thing you have in your music collection that might surprise us?

Stephanie:           Okay, so my mom is Korean.

Stephanie:           She actually exposed me to a lot of K-pop which …

Brian:     Oh, yeah? Okay.

Stephanie:           Yeah, which is like … Like usually, in that, like I’m not … Like it’s one of those things where I would never have thought.

Brian:     I should … so if they don’t know what K-pop is, that’s just Korean pop? 

Stephanie:           Yeah, it’s Korean pop.

Brian:     Okay.

Stephanie:           Really like … It’s just like super poppy, very … What I love about it is just … It’s just so catchy, and it’s just like …

Brian:     Is this like Gangnam Style that …?

Stephanie:           Kind of. Yeah. I listen to a little bit of the girl groups. There’s like Girls’ Generation. There’s F(X). F(X) I love. It’s like this five-girl group that they each have like their own very distinct styles.

Stephanie:           They have like a very … not really so much pop, but more so like electronic, dance type of music, and they’re really good about like experimenting and diversifying their sound, so it’s …


Brian:     That’s cool.

Stephanie:           Yeah, and it’s just crazy because I feel like once I gotten to one band, it just segued into just knowing all these other bands that I like would never have discovered, so it’s …

Brian:     That’s awesome.

Stephanie:           Yeah, so it’s random

Brian:     So K-pop? All right. I dig it.

Stephanie:           Yeah, so K-pop.

Brian:     The last question I love to ask is, what’s the one piece of advice you would offer?

Stephanie:           One piece of advice that I would offer is to not psych yourself out when it comes to thinking that something, especially a goal that you have in mind is too big because I always feel like anything is possible, but it just depends on the time. Like sometimes, you might have a goal, and maybe you weren’t able to reach it at that time because it just wasn’t the right time or you weren’t ready for it yet.

                  I think with us, there’s just so many instances where I thought that was the case. Like 9:30 Club and us selling it out that year, like that probably wouldn’t have happened prior to it because we just weren’t ready yet, and we just weren’t able to be at that capacity to do it at that time, but I think … Yeah, I think just set what you want, and then just be realistic about how you’re going to get there. You’ll get there. It’s just a matter of when.

Brian:     Just figure it out and do it.

Stephanie:           Yeah.

Brian:     I love that. Great, great stuff. Now, for folks who want to find out more about you and the cool things that are going on and happening with you, where do they go? What are the best sources for them?

Stephanie:           All right, so the best one is obviously We’re also on Facebook at the same handle, D.C. Music Download. Twitter, same handle. Also, we’re on Instagram as well, same handle.

Brian:     Got it, so social media and the website? That’s the best …

Stephanie:           Yes, and on snapchat

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

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





  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.

December 27, 2016 - All-Music Episode

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  1. Insight - Fort Knox Five w/ Asheru (Funk)
  2. Haterz 24/7 - See-I (Reggae/Funk)
  3. Calabassas - Pleasure Train (Rock/Indie Rock)
  4. Sailing Empty Tonight - FuzzQueen (Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Hero - Heather Mae (Pop/Singer-Songwriter)
  6. Contact - ddespair (Pop/Indie)
  7. One More Good Thing - Uptown Boys Choir (Rock/Alternative)
  8. Nights At the End of the World - Ms. Fridrich's Messy Ann Band (Rock/Indie Pop)
  9. Baby Bought A Ticket - Lesson Zero (Rock/Indie Rock)
  10. I'll Make a Man Out of You - In Your Memory (Hard Rock/Post-Hardcore)
  11. Afraid of Living - Declan Poehler (Rock/Alternative)
  12. The Mob Goes Wild - Clutch (Hard Rock)
  13. Without a Hitch - The Beanstalk Library (Rock/Alt-Country)
  14. The Arrow and the Song - The Orchid (Rock/Post-Rock)
  15. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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December 20, 2016 - Special Guest: Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents

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  1. Prozac & Merlot - The Sea Life (Rock/Garage Rock)
  2. Sleigh Ride - Wylder (Rock/Pop)
  3. The Wild and Beyond - Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents (Rock/Folk Rock)
  4. Small Blade - Stranger in the Alps (Folk)
  5. Antelope - Louis Weeks (Pop/Electronic)
  6. Home - Cynthia Marie (Pop/Jazz Folk)
  7. Kool Kids - Justin Trawick (Bluegrass)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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DC's Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents released their new full-length album Foreign & Domestic earlier this year with a release show at Rock & Roll Hotel. The folk rock project originally formed in Austin, Texas where they were recognized by the Austin Mayor and City Council with their own official band holiday holiday. Since relocating to DC in 2013, they have opened for the likes of James McCartneyKawehi and Sam Amidon


aaron tinjum dc music rocks

The new animated music video they discussed in the episode:


Brian:     D.C.'s Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents released their new, full length album, Foreign and Domestic, earlier this year, with a release show at Rock and Roll hotel. The folk rock group originally from Austin, Texas, where they were recognized by the city mayor and the city council with their own official band holiday. They relocated back up to D.C., and we consider ourselves so lucky to have them here back in 2013, and are continuing that great tradition of awesome music up here in D.C.

                  Guys, I first heard of these guys when they ... I stumbled across them online, they submitted their stuff to me, I was listening. I saw the bit about ... If you haven't seen, there was a video, what we talked about on October 11th, is their official band holiday in Austin, TX. On October 11th this year, I did a little info about them and posted a video about that experience. Basically, just really cool stuff happening.

                  Bottom line is, listen, it's a great pleasure for me to introduce Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents. I've got Aaron Tinjum and Andrew Cote with me, so say "Hi" guys.

Aaron:   Hey Brian, thanks for having us. 

Andrew:                Yes, thank you so much. 

Brian:     Aaron and Andrew. Tell us about, I'm curious right off the bat, where is Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents? Where did the name come from?

Aaron:   We originally formed in Austin, Texas about five years ago. As I was putting together the project with some of the other members, we were doing what every band does, debating what we should call ourselves. 

Brian:     Yup, happens a lot. 

Aaron:   I don't think any of the members wanted full ownership over the song since I was writing over them, they didn't want to be associated with my saddest emotions.

Brian:     Oh, okay. 

Aaron:   We conducted a Facebook poll, and the Tangents was the ultimate winner. I'm not sure that's a solid methodology for selecting a band name, but that's what won and that's what stuck ever since.

Brian:     Got it, so it was a Facebook poll. I love that, all right. Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents. How did you guys come together. 

Aaron:   It's been a gradual process. Originally started with our latest album we released earlier this year, Foreign and Domestic. We had six players on that with Andrew on drums over here. Andrew was found here in D.C. at the Treehouse Lounge.

Brian:     Nice. 

Aaron:   He was playing for us and we were looking for a new drummer, having relocated out here. We had a violinist, Katie Smith. Bass player also moved from Austin, Andrew Berglund. Andrew introduced us to a great pianist, David Chavez, who plays on the album. Our banjo player who didn't move out to D.C., still in Austin, recorded remotely, but actually came up for the album release show.

Andrew:                We're working on getting him moving out here soon. 

Brian:     Very cool. How do you convince people to come to D.C. Is Austin ... I've heard great things about, in D.C., they talk about great things about Austin. What made you move to D.C.?

Aaron:   I'd love to take credit for convincing other people to move to D.C., I don't think I can do that. I think musically, compared to Austin, you have a very supportive community here. Not that you don't have that in Austin, but in Austin, everyone's a musician. 

Brian:     Got it. 

Aaron:   Your audience is full of musicians, whereas here, you might have a real, live listening audience that isn't critiquing your every chord.

Brian:     I guess that's good. It's a good place to move. What about on a personal side, you guys, outside of Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents, what's life like for you guys? What do you do?

Andrew:                I guess I can jump in here. I work professionally as a musician, but, you know, you've experienced Brian, that takes many different forms. I teach at George Mason University. I work in the School of Music there, as well as the Honors college. I teach classes ranging from ear training to Intro to Research Methods, and kind of everything in between.

Brian:     Wow.

Andrew:                Yeah, I do that, then I also work at church, in Fairfax, Virginia. I direct the choirs there. I'm sort of Composer in Residence as well, so I do a lot of arranging and composing and so-

Brian:     Got it.

Andrew:                Yeah. 

Brian:     Drums is your main instrument, but clearly you play a lot more.

Andrew:                Yeah. I'm trained as a percussionist, but in high school, I learned how to play guitar, kind of self taught. Same thing with bass and piano. Just from there, I studied music education and I kind of was on a one way trajectory to do music and had been able to piece together a living doing it.

Brian:     That's amazing. I love the fact that you're doing it. I'm a drummer too, but I got a day job. I can imagine that it's a big leap of faith to get started and probably a challenge and some struggles sometimes, but it has to be pretty rewarding too, and I admire you for that.

Andrew:                Thanks. Supportive wife has helped. 

Brian:     Shout out to the supportive wife.

Andrew:                That's right. She has a day job, so that's also helping.

Brian:     It's a team effort. 

Andrew:                That's right.

Brian:     I got it. I love it. Okay guys. Aaron, you skipped out on that, what about you outside of music? Are you [crosstalk 00:05:14] what else is there to Aaron? 

Aaron:   For my day job, you have to fund your musical and creative endeavors somehow.

Brian:     Got it.

Aaron:   I'm a writer full time working in clean energy. I actually work remotely in D.C.

Brian:     Wow. Where's the headquarters? 

Aaron:   Headquarter house in Ivy City.

Brian:     Ivy City? 

Aaron:   Yeah, it's a great, creative community up there. 

Brian:     It seems like it, absolutely. Where, for those listening who don't know where Ivy City is, which Ivy City are we talking about?

Aaron:   The one in Far Northeast Washington D.C.

Brian:     Got it. You're working remotely from a couple miles away.

Aaron:   Correct. 

Brian:     Okay, I'm clear. Okay. Very cool. Funniest moments from you guys performing, or funniest moment that comes to mind.

Andrew:                Really you kind of glossed over how we met Aaron, which I thought was pretty funny.

Aaron:   I'm sorry.

Andrew:                It's okay. I mean, it's a big introduction right? No. Anyways, I was playing drums that night for another D.C. based artist. A woman by the name of Sally [inaudible 00:06:17]. Her and I met, actually though the church that I work at now. She's an amazing Singer/Songwriter, so definitely, I would recommend if you have some time, listening for her music.

                  Anyways, I was playing for her and Aaron come up to me after a set and said, "Hey, do you want to sit in a play drums with us?" I guess about a week prior to that their other drummer just didn't show up for a gig and that was just kind of the end of the time there.

                  Anyways, long story short, we end up meeting then and it turns out they were heading just the next couple of weeks, to go into the studio to start working on this album, Foreign and Domestic. A couple days later, we were in the basement of my townhouse at that time and we started writing this music.

Brian:     Wow. You literally started playing with them when you were on stage?

Andrew:                Yeah, absolutely. The fee was great on the first gig. 

Brian:     Love it, oh my God. What a crazy story. What about success moments that comes to mind? What's the biggest success moment?

Aaron:   Success-wise, I would say definitely being on your program today.

Brian:     Stop it. Stop it. That's, no.

Aaron:   This is as high as we get.

Brian:     You don't get away with that. Give me another one. I want a story. 

Aaron:   Back in Austin-

Brian:     I appreciate it. 

Aaron:   Like you mentioned, we wound up somewhat hilariously getting our own band holiday playing a wide range of random venues from furniture stores, to dive bars, coffee houses, the airport, used clothing shops.

Brian:     Holy smokes. All right. 

Aaron:   Keeping Austin weird, that's one way they do it. Every month, they give away one or two holidays by official proclamations by the Mayor and City Council. That's definitely been up there. Since we've been playing out in D.C., we've opened up for a few great acts at Jammin Java like Sam Amidon, who just played [inaudible 00:08:07] Festival in [inaudible 00:08:09] Wisconsin.

Brian:     Okay. 

Aaron:   Kawehi who's like a looping legend now on YouTube, just turning up the covers. Then Paul McCartney's son, James, we opened for him back in June.

Brian:     Wow, that's wild. I'm curious about the holiday thing. Do you get put in for that? Does someone nominate you? Do they pick names out of a hat? How does that work. 

Aaron:   They have their own, at least when we did it, there was an application system and we were ultimately chosen. You have to kind of show what you've been doing in the scene. All the places you've played, how often you've played. At that time, we were playing a very long string of gigs. 

Brian:     Right, go for it. I love it. What rules do you always break? 

Andrew:                That's a good question. Aaron, why don't you jump in first? 

Aaron:   I would say, unconsciously, first off, we do mostly soft rock. Soft rock isn't notorious for breaking a whole lot of rules, you know? We like to follow the rules.

But I would say, unconsciously, I'm probably the Jar Jar Binks of guitar rhythm. I'm very not good at that and that drive Andrew crazy. That's definitely one rule I'm breaking all the time.

Brian:     The rhythm rule.

Aaron:   I'm consistent with it.

Brian:     It's good, you're reliable about that, I like it. Okay.

Andrew:                I think, my go to thing is just adding more layers to it. Coming up with different string parts or piano, or adding, you know, they're just different layers always kind of being that ... I don't even know if it's just Devil's Advocate, but just always saying, "Okay, what can we do to shape this a little bit more." Yeah, Aaron beats up on himself a little too much with the rhythm thing. I'm the only one counting I guess.

Aaron:   Andrew's the one, and the rest of the band, all the Tangents make all the songs actually good. I just kind of come up with the idea and they polish and clean it for me.

Brian:     Got it. It's cool, especially when bands come together and they do that together, it's cool to hear. It's a cool effect too to be in those rehearsals I think.

What about one thing you've got in your music collection that would surprise us?

Andrew:                Well, I have sort of a weird, strange instrument collection, but my new favorite toy is an instrument call the Otamatone, which is a Japanese instrument. It's basically, if you were to combine a digitalized slide whistle with just this crazy, animated looking face, that's this weird sound. Long story short, it's a synthesizer toy that's like $20, that I've definitely gotten at least $100 worth of entertainment out of.

Brian:     What about artists or interesting music that you listen to that would surprise us?

Aaron:   I've been doing this whole, you know, the cheesy 30 things to do before you turn 30.

Brian:     Excellent.

Aaron:   I've been doing that more from an album perspective. I have a very eclectic mix going right now, where everything from Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, to if you've watched Westworld at all, they have a soundtrack with all of the player piano tracks, the cover songs going on in the background, which is pretty cool.

Brian:     Oh yeah.

Aaron:   Other than that, Bruce Springsteen's, Nebraska. Tim by The Replacements. I'm going for a wide range right now.

Brian:     The last question that I love to ask is, what's one piece of advice that you would offer?

Aaron:   Andrew's the professor so I'll let him take this one

Brian:     Profess to us Andrew.

Andrew:                That's another really big, tough question. I guess if, I know this is kind of a cliché, but just taking risks. I think a lot of the real fun that's come out of the recording process, working with Aaron and just really any musical endeavor I've taken, has been the uncertain ones that have gone it. There's never been anything really, that I've been super duper proud of, that came out of, "I'm doing this because I know this is safe."

                  I think it's just a matter of really just taking that sort of risk and seeing where it goes. Failing a ton, more often than not, and then just keep pushing and seeing where that leads. Everything is also connected as well. All the failure is connected to the positive stuff as well.

Brian:     That's true. You got to take those risks. For those folks who are interested in finding out more about you guys, where do they go if they want to follow you? What are the best places to find you guys?

Aaron:   You can find us pretty much everywhere. We've got our website, www.aarontinjum, or, or on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Itunes, Amazon, YouTube, Tinder.

Brian:     All those places.

Aaron:   Any of those places.

Brian:     Okay, got it. You got anything? I know you got some stuff over there. Andrew you got any places that if they want to follow you specifically?

Andrew:                Yeah, for sure. I'm on Twitter and Facebook as well. I have a website for those of you who are classical saxophone enthusiasts, I have an album coming out in the next couple of days of some of the chamber compositions that I have and that can be found at

December 13, 2016 - Special Guest: Daniel Schwartz

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  1. LanternFish - LanternFish (Folk/Americana)
  2. Stripmall Ballads - What Would You Say To The Woman With The Black Eye (Folk/Lo-Fi)
  3. Little Fox - Justin Jones (Rock/Folk)
  4. Remember Me - Robbie Schaefer (Folk/Indie)
  5. A Better Lie - The Cowards Choir (Rock/Folk)
  6. Unsung Hero - allthebestkids (Hip Hop/Rock)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Danny Schwartz is a DC native. He works as Production Manager at The Hamilton Live a block from the White House. He is also a professional musician playing around town with a number of artists and as a children’s performer. 

He is also a producer with BandHouse Gigs a local production company presenting shows over the last twelve years featuring hundreds of area musicians at the best venues throughout the area.



Brian:     Daniel Schwartz is a D.C. native. He works as the production manager at The Hamilton Live which is one block from the White House. He's also a professional musician. He's played around town with a number of the artists in town and also as a children's performer. He's also a producer with Band House Gigs which is a local promotion production company presenting shows over the last twelve years featuring hundreds of area musicians at some of the best venues in town and throughout the D.C. area. Listen as a I first ran into this guy when I was seeing a show at The Hamilton and the artist was like, "Hey. You got to come meet Daniel, or Danny as he goes by. Got to come meet Danny." I got to meet him and just, he's one of those you meet him and he's just one cool dude. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Daniel Schwartz, known as Danny from The Hamilton. Say hi to everybody and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Danny:  Hey. How's it going?

Brian:     Hey there. Tell us about Hamilton and your role at The Hamilton and what that is.

Danny:  I'm very fortunate to be working for the Clyde's Restaurant Group. I love these guys. I have some of the coolest bosses in the world. I, as a senior in high school, when I went to school, I grew up in Bethesda. I opened Clyde's restaurant in 2002 called Tower Oaks Lodge out in Rockville up in the woods.

Brian:     Wow.

Danny:  I was a server and the GM there when I got the job with Clyde's as the production manager, ten years later, said, "Danny is one of the greatest guys I've ever met, one of the worst servers I've ever worked with."

Brian:     I appreciate your honesty. This is good. All right. Okay. Not a good server.

Danny:  Not a great server. I was very quick to change into nice clothes and start being a host so I could walk older people to their table. I really enjoyed schmoozing with the customers and making sure they were happy. When it would be down time I would jump in and be sort of a manager and bus tables and make sure everybody was having a good time and really get to the heart of what Clyde's customer service is all about.

Brian:     Right. I've heard amazing things.

Danny:  This year I'm celebrating my eleventh year on the corner of 14th and F. For the five years prior to Hamilton opening, I worked for The National Press Club as a freelance audio engineer up on the thirteenth floor of the press building caddy corner from us.

Brian:     Sure.

Danny:  I was watching. I used to go into the Boarders that used to occupy our 37,000 square foot space and as I saw it coming together and there was a great article in the Washington Post interviewing our owner, our president Tom Meyer and he was talking about what he saw as the vision of this music venue and who he saw being down there I was like, man, I have to be involved. I have to do this. These are my heroes. I've taken so many of the lessons they taught me and invested in me as a server and a host, and all the jobs I've had between I've been like this is how in the best possible scenario how Clyde's would do it.

                  I happened to be working one day at The Press Club in a small conference room, maybe this size or double this size, fit 75 people comfortably, and a 125, 150 people showed up. The audio end of it, putting up a couple table mics and making sure they were on was pretty simple so I was running around turning down the AC, getting water, getting extra chairs, doing everything I could to be hospitable, and the young woman who was running it said, "You know really you were incredible today. You went above and beyond. It was so impressive. Where did you get that from?" I said, you know, I was an actor when I was a child. I feel like it makes me personable. It makes me unafraid to approach people and all that but that really I spend a lot of time in the hospitality industry mostly working for Clyde's for a number of years.

                  I'd come back from college every year and go back to work as a host. They'd give me shifts and I really appreciated them for that. I really got a lot from them. She said, "Yeah my husband works for Clyde's." I sort of said, well that's interesting but it's big corporation. Everybody's husband works for Clyde's in some round about way. She said, "but my husband Dave Moran is the GM of the Old Ebbitt Grill and he's going to be running The Hamilton." I was like, oh my god. Hi. It's nice to meet you. I gave her my card and all I wanted to do was be a sound engineer there, be another feather in my cap and a place that I could call a freelance home as an engineer. It took eight months but finally I got a call to be interviewed as the production manager. It turned out I knew a lot of people.

Brian:     What does it mean to be a production manager for those who don't know?

Danny:  As long as you don't want to have any relationships or too much. For the first five years, plan on not seeing a significant other and it's a commitment. It's 100 hours plus a week really just wrapping your head around all these details, keeping a cool head about when they change.

Brian:     So you're dealing with the logistics when a band's coming in?

Danny:  Right. We book a show. I luckily don't have to do too much in that regard. First we were booked out of Austin by a group called C3 Presents. That was a big organization that gave us a lot of clout and let us totally get big acts that shouldn't have been coming to our room as a new room, but they said if C3's repping you, then we'll give you the benefit of the doubt and they loved it. The crowd loved it. We really got a really auspicious start for five years in as a restaurant and a music venue.

                  I would get the advance. I would get the contract. I'd reach out to their advance person. I'd tell them all about what we do and how it was going to be an amazing experience, that they were going to get world class food. They were going to get a world class sound system and lighting system and really positive can do attitude from my staff. That was important to me was to build a staff that was Clyde's customer service. I'm really proud of the staff I put together and it's a small, tight knit one, and we work really hard. I keep the gear running. I keep the staff scheduled. I get them paid. I make sure that we-

Brian:     You're basically running the venue and the logistics with the bands and the staff from the time the band knows they're coming in, to the time that they're there and they do their show and then wrapping up at the end of the night, that's Danny.

Danny:  That's me.

Brian:     And the team.

Danny:  Unlike a lot of production managers I came from an audio background so I wanted to be hands on. I wanted to be running the show. If they didn't have an engineer, I wanted to be the engineer. I wanted to mix them so that meant that every day at a certain time I had to drop my office work and jump into the show, push their gear in, set it up, work with them to make the show as good as possible, and see them through all the way until they're pulling away from the dock at the end of the night.

Brian:     Now with 100 hours a week, so what's life like for you outside of The Hamilton?

Danny:  I sleep.

Brian:     Okay.

Danny:  I watch some television and I keep only snacks in the house. I get fed there twice a day and it's unbelievable food and it's delicious but it's also restaurant food that comes with all the fixings of a delicious and not necessarily nutritious diet. It's all over the map. I try to have different things just to keep me interested in the menu.

Brian:     Sure.

Danny:  I put on weight that first couple years and I couldn't find enough time in my 14 hours on my feet every day to want to go to the gym and work it off. It was a lot of work. I'd come home and just collapse. For a little while I was dating somebody and living with them and they'd be asleep when I got home. I'd try to get myself out of bed just to spend a few minutes with them before they'd leave in the morning. It was tough. It was very challenging.

Brian:     You're looking trim so have you figured out the gym thing?

Danny:  Trying to-

Brian:     The eating thing.

Danny:  Yeah it's just about managing your time and your diet and sticking to the healthy items on the menu and stuff like that.

Brian:     What about the funniest moment that comes to mind when you think about The Hamilton since you started there?

Danny:  Man, some of them have been just rolling around with my bosses who are great, great guys who love music, who take me to concerts, who hang with me. They really are buddies and they love. I get texts and calls at all hours of the day and night, being like hey man did you hear about this? This is so exciting. I really love those moments. I don't know funny maybe. I don't have time to stop and laugh at things because when I do stop I'm just sort of blown away by what I'm getting a chance to do.

                  I feel very, very privileged and we've had unbelievable artists through and we've unfortunately, not to go on a complete other direction, but in this year, this awful 2016 of losing artists, we've lost this year and last some great, great artists who came through my doors and played my stage and made me feel like I was the coolest guy in the world for getting to have them and interact with them. Leon Russel, Alan Toussaint, Michael Burks. There's some really, really great musicians who played the stage and came multiple times and are no longer with us and I cherish the experience.

Brian:     You've talked about these big names so then what about a biggest success moment that comes to mind?

Danny:  Biggest success moment in the last two months I feel truly privileged and I'm getting away from D.C. musicians here but in the last two months we've had private events and public events come through the room and surprisingly not have those artists carry a front of house engineer, meaning they were leaving it up to us to put whoever we thought best on the board. I've mixed Emmylou Harris, The English Beat, Hot Tuna which is Jorma and Jack from Jefferson Airplane. Those are D.C. cats. They grew up, born and raised here. This past week was Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. the couple that fronted The Fifth Dimension, sang Age of Aquarius and all those songs. Who's the last one? Dave Matthews, I should mention.

Brian:     Wow. Okay. Definitely a name that most of the folks listening definitely know. You've gotten to mix them and be the handler of their show.

Danny:  In fact with Dave, his guy came in, brought their own board, mixed Dave's guitar and vocal and then fed me his main outs into my board so I could mix it in with a band when Dave jammed with this large, five piece Cuban band that he had brought up. It was really, really cool.

Brian:     What a cool thing. Good god.

Danny:  Every day I feel very privileged to be the type of person who stops and steps back from the rush of a day and says, this is really cool. I hope that in 60 years I can remember doing this. This is really cool.

Brian:     With what you're doing, do you have any rules that you always break?

Danny:  Rules I always break? Well, I think there's not just one, but I always come at it from a production standpoint of the show must go on. Where a lot of people want to stand on their principles or on the rules that you've set out as a company, or as a venue, when that's getting in the way of doing good work or keeping an artist happy, I'm like forget it. Just get out of the way. I'll do it myself. Don't worry. I'm an advocate for the artists and I think that's often misunderstood as not caring about the people who I work with or my coworkers. That's not really it. I just-

Brian:     Is this like if the artist wants something, you give it to them?

Danny:  What ever it takes. If we don't have it in house, I'll send my guys out for it. I want the artist to leave with a smile on their face being like, already this is the nicest room with the nicest staff and the nicest gear and the nicest dinner, but they still went out of their way and do us a favor to make it happen for me and I'm going to tell everybody about it. Even the artists who don't draw very well and I'm not sure that we'll be able to have back, I worry I'll never see them again in my room, I treat them extra nicely. I'm like, whatever you guys want, let's do it.

Brian:     Make it an amazing experience. What about you as a musician? I know you also play tunes. Talk a little bit about that.

Danny:  As a musician, unfortunately the beginning of The Hamilton spelled the end of my playing career for the moment. Fridays and Saturdays are not my own, a hundred hours a week, all that stuff. You probably appreciate it as a drummer, I don't know how much franchise your band has let you buy into, but if you're a side man, which a lot of drummers and rhythm players are, you're just a hired gun. Once you're not available, they have to find somebody.

Brian:     You're a drummer and other instruments too? Drummer is your main?

Danny:  Drum is my main. Guitar and bass and piano and ukulele and a little bit of everything else, you know. I love picking up an instrument but I wouldn't call myself anything but a drummer and maybe a little bit of a guitar player.

Brian:     How far back does that go? Where did that start?

Danny:  I started playing piano when I was five, taking music lessons pretty shortly after my dad put some. I think one of your questions was about the first music I ever heard, or my earliest memory.

Brian:     First memory? Yeah tell us.

Danny:  Tie that in. My dad put a mix tape of doo-wop and 50's and that kind of stuff in front of me and when I wore that cassette tape out he gave me one of 60's and rock and roll. When I wore that out he gave me Please Please Me, the very first Beatles record that was released in the states. I used to go to the library at school and look it up in a book. This is for people who are old enough to remember, not using the internet, and I'd come home and I'd be like, "Dad. The next record they made was called The Hard Day's Night." He'd be like all right. He'd go to Circuit City on his way home from teaching at Montgomery College and pick it up and bring it home and by the time I was six I had every Beatles record. That's my musical bed.

Brian:     That's amazing.

Danny:  I think everybody deserves to have the Beatles as their foundation. I know there's a lot of argument of whether the Beatles are as significant as they claim to be, but I believe they are. I really think so.

Brian:     Now the last question that I love to ask is, if you have one piece of advice that you would offer.

Danny:  That I would offer to other people out there?

Brian:     However you want to answer it. That's good. What's one piece of advice that you would offer to the listeners?

Danny:  To the listeners, never close yourself off to new music. Don't think that you live in one genre or that your musical tastes are limited. Let other stuff in. Let it wash over you. Maybe you won't connect with it but like, the fact that lyrically and musically there is so much to be offered in the music scene in D.C. specifically and all over. What I love about D.C. is very few people I know move here to become a musician. You're either from here or you happened here after school or something, but the music scene is very supportive of each other and very inclusive. I played with a ton of artists in D.C. and everybody would show up at each other's gigs at the small clubs, at IOTA, which we're sitting just across the street from that I used to work at. That's where I met a lot of these artists for the first time and where a lot of them said, "Really? You're a drummer?" They hadn't even heard me but they had me out to rehearse and slowly we became friends and band mates.

Brian:     That's cool.

Danny:  It was great.

December 6, 2016 - Special Guest: Dave Mallen

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  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.

November 29, 2016 - Special Guest: Gordon Sterling



  • The Riverbreaks - Wylder - Bearcat Wildcat @ Gypsy Sally's on Saturday December 3.

  • Menage a Garage released a new EP, “Throw my doubts on the Fire”.  Punk fans, hope you’ll see their profile linked here and check it out!

  • Stations in the DC area like 96.7FM have Specifically DC Music segments.  If you know about music by DC Artists on other stations in the DC area, reach out to me, I want to know about them!

    To get music added the station library at WERA 96.7FM:  
    Email your CLEAN LYRIC VERSION/RADIO EDIT song files as attachments to  

    Subject should be: "Local Music Submission by Local Artist: _____".  

    Email message body should include your top 3 track names and "Recommended if you like" reference to big name artists you sound similar to.

    1) Send the final released versions of the song files, like the ones people get when the purchase your music online with all ID3/MetaData filled in (artist, album, title, etc).  
    2) Files can be in MP3 or WAV format.
    3) No cursing, lyrics must be absolutely clean.  
    4) a good guideline is emails with less than about 10mb in attachments.  Break it up into multiple emails if necessary.
    5) Don’t send all your songs, they'll only pick a few to play, that's why your top 3 tracks are helpful to focus their listening efforts when they’re previewing your tracks.


  1. Bring Back Hippy Jesus - Abu Jibran (Indie/Alternative)
  2. Poison Ivy - Den-Mate (Indie/Darkwave)
  3. Honest Abe - Milo in the Doldrums (Rock/Indie Rock)
  4. Angle It - Nappy Riddem (Funk/Reggae)
  5. Tread Lightly - Drop Electric (Indie/Shoegaze)
  6. Sentimiento Latino - Empresarios (Latin/Rap)
  7. Boat Party - Ryan Lucas, Ardamus, Reel (Hip Hop/Rap
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-

Gordon Sterling - Guitarist/Singer - Nappy Riddem



Gordon Sterling Nappy Riddem dc music rocks

Gordon Sterling is a DC based singer/guitarist. He started his career in 1996 as a founding member of the DC area jam band, The Ordinary Way. The Ordinary Way made a name for itself nationality playing many festivals, headlining clubs and theaters and opening for such acts as Blues Traveler, Derek Trucks, Warren Hanes, Rusted Root, and Ratdog among many others. After The Ordinary Way disbanded in 2006, he cofounded the progressive hip hop/rock band Future. That group quickly became a fan favorite in the DMV area and went on to influence many of the young and upcoming bands in the area at the time while touring the east coast. Gordon was, also, a cofounder of the short lived, but potent DC trip hop/rock band Crystal Youth. Gordon is currently in the DC reggae powerhouse, Nappy Riddem. Nappy Riddem is signed to Fort Know Recording and tours the nation sharing bills with such acts as Steel Pulse, The Wailers, Junior Marvin, De La Soul, The English Beat, and The Movement just to name a few. Nappy Riddem is releasing a brand new album in 2017. Sterling is, also, currently working on his first solo album. That album will be released in 2017, as well. Gordon hosts an open jam at IOTA Club and Cafe every Tuesday along with DMV are producer, Sean Gotkin. Providing a creative and down right fun atmosphere for musicians of all styles and stages of their respective careers to collaborate and bond. He has been a staple in the DC scene for many years. And, he strives to bring people of all walks of life together through music.


Brian:   Gordon Sterling. He is a DC-based singer and guitarist. He started his career in 1996, as a founding member of DC .... The DC area jam band, The Ordinary Way. Which made a name for itself nationally, playing many festivals. Headlining clubs and theater and opening for such acts as Blues Traveler, Derek Trucks, Ron Haynes, Rusted Root and RatDog, among many others. After The Ordinary Way disbanded in 2006, he co-founded the progressive hip-hop rock band, Future. Gordon was also the co-founder of a short-lived but potent DC trip-hop rock band, called Crystal Youth, which we had here on the show as well. We featured their music. He is currently in the DC reggae powerhouse band, Nappy Riddem, which you just heard. Which is signed to Fort Knox Recording and tours the nation, sharing bills with such acts as Steel Pulse, The Wailers, Junior Marvin, De La Soul, The English Beat, and The Movement, just to name a few.

 Nappy Riddem is releasing a brand new album in 2017. Gordon is also currently working on his first solo album, which he's planning to release in 2017 as well. Gordon also hosts an open jam at Iota Club and Café in Arlington, Virginia every Tuesday. After the live taping of this show, he's over there. If you like live jam sessions, this is it. He co-hosts with DMV area producer Sean Gotkin, who also was a guest on this show a few weeks ago. It's providing a creative and fun atmosphere for musicians of all styles and stages of their respective careers, to collaborate and bond. He's been a staple in the DC music scene for years. I am honored to have him here with me today and with us today. I heard about Gordon. He's been on my screen for a while. It is such a treat to have the man here with me. With that, listeners, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Gordon Sterling. Thank you so much for being here, man.

Gordon:   You’re welcome. You're welcome. Very, very welcome.

Brian:   One more time. Say it in the microphone. I have to turn on your microphone now. There we go. Hey you guys. So now ... So tell us about the first track was Angle It, and that's by the group Nappy Riddem. Tell up about Nappy Riddem and what's going on there.

Gordon:   Well Nappy Riddem, that song, is off of the first EP, One World Sovereignty. It actually was done in a different format back then. The two leaders of our group were Mustafa Akbar and Rex Riddem. At the time, it was them with different members, like Hash, the bass player from Thievery Corporation, is on that track, and a lot of different people. Now, we for the last couple of years, have been a full on live act. We're in the middle of recording our first full band album right now. It's going well. It's going well.

Brian:   That's amazing.

Gordon:   I can't wait to get it out, actually. I'm really excited about it .. 

Brian:   Yeah. I mean, that ...

Gordon:   We're really heavily behind it.

Brian:   When you say touring, are there places you love to tour? Is that a national tour? What do you have in mind when you say touring?

Gordon:   We'll be touring nationally.

Brian:   Okay.

Gordon:   We'll probably do the country in stages. You know? I love going to the West Coast.

Brian:   Got it, Okay.

Gordon:   I love going to the West Coast because, let's just say things are freer there. You know what I mean?

Brian:   Got it.

Gordon:   It's nice. It's a lot of fun. The crowds are really great. I love DC too. Don't get me wrong. I love my East Coast. I'm from New York, originally.

Brian:   Got it.

Gordon:   I'm looking forward to going out West. We will be definitely hitting both coasts for sure. As far as what we're doing in the middle of the country, we're going to figure that out as we go along. As it gets closer to the release.

Brian:   How many pieces does Nappy Riddem ... That you're recording with now? What does the band consist of?

Gordon:   Six.

Brian:   Okay.

Gordon:   There's Mustafa Akbar, who is our lead singer. Rex Rex Riddem, who also plays a baritone uke.

Brian:   Really?

Gordon:   It's an interesting thing. You got to check it out.

Brian:   Yeah.

Gordon:   It's pretty cool, yeah. He also sings. I sing a bit, and play guitar. Then we have Patrick Cheng, our bass player. Charles Flye, or my brother in stage right, doing keys. Right now, we've gone through a bunch of different drummers. Right now, our most steady one has been Paul Dudley.

Brian:   Got it.

Gordon:   He's recording on a record with another guy named [inaudible 00:04:32], who currently plays with CI. Also plays with Junior Marvin. He did a couple songs on our record, too. There will be other guests, but I can't say it because [crosstalk 00:04:42] 

Brian:   Okay. Fair enough. Keep those under wraps. What about the name? Where does Nappy Riddem the name come from?

Gordon:   Okay. It's Riddem of that Wicked Wickedness. Rid-dem of that wickedness, that's why it's spelled that way. Right? R-I-D-D-E-M

Brian:   Got it. Okay.

Gordon:   Rex Riddem, that was his DJ name.

Brian:   Sure. 

Gordon:   He along with Mu, like I said, are the leaders of the group. Rex basically made it his namesake.

Brian:   So Nappy Riddem was his DJ name also?

Gordon:   No. No. Well ... Rex Riddem was the DJ name.

Brian:   Right. Rex Riddem. Okay. Got it.

Gordon:   Nappy Riddem is Nappy Head's Rhythm of that wickedness.

Brian:   I get it now.

Gordon:   It's a lot to ... Yeah.

Brian:   I see. This is why we have you on this show. To find out these amazing things.

Gordon:   [inaudible 00:05:25] information you want to hear.

Brian:   Yes. Absolutely. Speaking about information, tell us about ... Information about you. When you're not playing amazing guitar and doing these musical things, what else is there? What else is there to you, Gordon?

Gordon:   Not much more, dude. That's really simple. I love playing guitar. I love playing guitar. It's my favorite thing. My daughter [inaudible 00:05:46], also ... She's 13. She'll be 14 actually, in January. She has taken up music as well, and theater. She's been playing bass for like 6 years. Now, she's moving more into musical theater and [inaudible 00:05:59].

Brian:   Yeah.

Gordon:   Honestly, my existence, as for the last year, I've lived in the studio. I went from record to record to record. All of them have been with Sean, which is funny.

Gordon:   Sean Gotkin.

Brian:   Sean Gotkin. I say, we heard about the Blue Hippo recording. He does some great work out there.

Gordon:   He does. He does.

Gordon:   He's recording the Nappy Riddem record and my solo record too.

Brian:   Wow. A lot of recording.

Gordon:   Lots. Music has been my entire life for a while.

Brian:   Just ... That means daily just going out to the studio and coming back. Also, spending time with your daughter when you can.

Gordon:   Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And writing. It's funny, she is better than me, man. She's like ... She can play ... I don't read music, right? I just can play it. She like, can sight read Mozart and play it and have a conversation with me.

Brian:   Holy smokes.

Gordon:   She's like, "Dad, can you do this?" I'm like, "Dude?!" So yeah.

Brian:   Tell us about the best show you've ever had. What comes to mind?

Gordon:   Off the top of my head, I've ... There's been a few. Joshua Tree. Going up there ... I've played Joshua Tree a couple times. My favorite time playing it was with Nappy Riddem. It was with Nappy Riddem and it was while we were on tour with Junior Marvin. We toured with him for the better part of a year. We went out there ... His band toured with us on the East Coast. Out West, we did a little differently for, you know, cutting costs and all that. We went up there as the opener and we also played as his backing band, when it was time for him to play.

Brian:   Wow. Okay.

Gordon:   We did two sets out there. We did our Nappy Riddem set. We did his set. My parents are Jamaican, so we did Redemption Song. There was about 7,000 people. I want to say about 7,000 people. Something like that. I was on stage with him. We were playing Redemption Song and the whole crowd was singing it back. I'm not going to lie, I teared up. It was crazy. It was really a beautiful moment.

Brian:   7,000 people. Holy smokes.

Gordon:   Yeah. I don't know if that's my favorite show, but it's probably my favorite moment.

Brian:   That's amazing.

Gordon:   I got a few.

Brian:   All right. What about ... Tell us a time that you tried and failed.

Gordon:   Other than that?

Brian:   There's a lot of laughter there. That means this is going to be good. Okay.

Gordon:   Wow. A time I've tried and failed. That happens a lot actually. I think, in the writing process, I try and fail a lot, before something gets out. I don't mind failing. It doesn't bother me. I don't ... Some people are afraid to fail. I think you learn a lot from failing.

Brian:   Absolutely. Would you say ...

Gordon:   I just remembered one time I was playing football, I was coming to sack a quarterback, and I wasn't watching myself, and got crushed.

Gordon:   That sucked. I know, you're talking about music though. As far as music, I would say ... Actually I got a good story with that. With Nappy Riddem, I've never actually talked about this in public before. This is ... I'm going out on a limb with this one. With Nappy Riddem, when I first joined, I was really used to kind of getting by on my talent. I know that's really obnoxious for me to say, but I'm just being honest. It was ... I had always been a front man. I had always been a band leader.

Brian:   Okay.

Gordon:   I never had to live up to the expectations of a band leader. When I joined Nappy Riddem, I kind of was just coasting. It's a longer story than I have time to tell now, but there was a point ... Literally, it lasted an hour, no joke. They were like, "Man, I think we're going to go in a different direction." I was like, "Oh. Okay." It was a weird thing to deal with. I never had to deal with not making the cut before.

Brian:   Right.

Gordon:   That never happened to me.

Gordon:   When it happened, I ... I really had kind of like a come to Jesus moment with myself. I was just like, "Yo. Do you" ... I was like, no. I really want this. I actually love this group of guys. I love playing this music. I want to do this. It made me, for the first time in my career, have to fight hard for my position. You know?

Gordon:   I wanted to fight hard for my band, but not for my position in a band.

Gordon:   It absolutely brought out the best in me. That was years ago. Now, we're killing it. It's ... 

Brian:   I was going to say, and you guys are killing it. Good gracious. The music's just amazing. One other thing I'd love to ask to kind of bring it to a ... One of the last questions that I'd like to ask is: what's one piece of advice you would offer? 

Gordon:   Stay persistent.

Gordon:   Don't get kicked down. If you do, don't stay down. 

Brian:   What does that mean? Say more.

Gordon:   Keep fighting in this industry. This industry is designed to use your talent, and suck you dry, and throw you away. You know what I mean? It really is.

Brian:   Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Gordon:   It's not even ... It's not made in such a way that musicians can really make money, unless you're at a certain level. It's not designed where you can, necessarily express what you want to say. You have some A&R telling you what to do, or somebody ... If somebody is financing you, then they get a say. You know. Sometimes it's hard to ... If you believe in yourself and believe in an idea, sometimes it's really easy to get deterred from that idea or that notion.

Brian:   That's right.

Gordon:   That's true for anything in life. I would say my best advice in the music industry, and also in life, is to just keep going. If you believe in something, and you believe in yourself, don't settle. You know what I mean? Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. Stay true to yourself, and learn. Keep an open mind and learn. Don't think you always know everything, but learn as much as you can every day and keep pushing, every day.

Brian:   Wow. If folks want to find out ... Follow you and find out more about you. I think you mentioned there's a ... Something you're excited ... Something coming up that you're excited about that you wanted to share. Tell us that part. Where do we find you and what's coming up for you?

Gordon:   You can find us at If you just type in, it'll go to our site, which is connected to our record label, which is Fort Knox Recordings. Shoutout, what's up guys!

Brian:   Got it. If your checking it out, it's Nappy Riddem. N-A-P-P-Y R-I-D-D-E-M. 

Gordon:   Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Brian:   That's

Gordon:   On that ... Nappy Riddem is also on Facebook and also on twitter. You can find me through Facebook. Just Gordon Sterling. G-O-R-D-O-N S-T-E-R-L-I-N-G.

Brian:   Got it. Okay. 

Gordon:   It is me that will talk back to you.

Gordon:   I had to deal with fans and stuff, and artists that I think I'm talking to them. I really did. Then to find out, "Oh, that was my manager." I was like, "Oh. Wow."

Brian:   Amazing. What's at Baltimore Sound Stage?

Gordon:   That's right. I was going to say. Baltimore Sound Stage on December 8th. We will be there with The Movement and The Holdup. It is going to be explosive. That show is going to be awesome. If you like reggae music and American reggae music specifically, please come check it out. Baltimore Sound Stage, December 8th. I'll point the camera. Baltimore Sound Stage.

Brian:   Yeah. I got it on video too. If you want to check out Gordon on video later, I got this whole thing on video. Check him out, because he's a good-looking man, I got to say.

Gordon:   Wow. Thank you. Thank you very, very much.

November 22, 2016 - Incredible Music Show

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  1. Tomorrow is Yesterday - Killer Deluxe (R&B)
  2. Mine, Mine, Mine - Backbeat Underground (Funk)
  3. Parallel Lines - Blue Skies and Death (Pop/Synth Pop)
  4. Enough is Enough - Rhestored (Rock)
  5. Humpty Dumpty - Katharine Key (Indie/Jazz)
  6. What Do You Say - Vim & Vigor (Pop/Indie)
  7. You and I Will Change The World - Shumaun (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)
  8. Mountain Man - The Virginia Southpaws (Rock/Americana)
  9. I Want You (But I Don't Need You) - Cinema Hearts (Rock/Doo Wop)
  10. Last Time - L.A.T.O. (Pop/Rock)
  11. Neko - allthebestkids (Hip Hop/Alt Hip Hop)
  12. Against the Rhythm - Billy Winn (Pop/EDM)
  13. Never Been Kissed - Owen Danoff (Rock/Folk Rock)
  14. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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November 15, 2016 - Special Guest: Veronneau

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  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.

November 8, 2016 - Special Guest: Jason Masi



  • Election Day!  Happy Voting!


  1. Neon Rays - The Internal Frontier (Rock/Acoustic)
  2. Uh Oh! - Flo Anito (Pop/Jazz)
  3. Love's Lips - Jason Masi - (Rock/Acoustic)
  4. Dirty Lies and Whiskey - Throwing Plates (Rock/Pop)
  5. Hey Baby - Taylor Carson (Indie/Pop)
  6. Oh, Legs! - Cynthia Marie (Pop/Jazz)
  7. Rolling Hills - Teddy Chipouras (Folk/Americana)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Jason Masi DC Music Rocks

Jason Masi is an American/DC based singer-songwriter.  He got his start with Richmond, VA based group, Jubeus, opening for acts like Blind Melon, Everclear, and SOJA and releasing two well received albums, "Two Tone Circles" 2004 and "Natural Mood" 2007, respectively.  The latter was named as a top DIY (Do-It-Yourself) release by Performing Songwriter Magazine (Issue 107 - January/February 2008).  

He stepped out as a solo artist in 2010, trading in the band's roots-jam driven rock for a more acoustic soul/r&b songwriter approach.  He has since released three solo albums, "Balance & Pull", 2010, "Life Is Wonderful", 2012 and "Power of a Woman", 2014. His transition has led him to supporting slots for hit songwriters like Bleu and Darryl Worley, and has kept him busy on the road performing over 250 shows per year.  

Masi's freshman solo record was released to noteworthy reviews, as well as significant radio airplay, charting in the top 200 college radio charts and being included on radio host, George Graham's, Best Albums of the Year list.  His follow up solo effort, "Life Is Wonderful", gained additional support and was licensed for use on a number of TV networks (Discovery, MTV, Oxygen) and placed in online commercials, tutorials, E-books and game apps.  

Influences in Masi's sound can be drawn between soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers, folk and blues icons like Van Morrison and James Taylor as well as modern songwriters in the vein of Mat Kearney, Damien Rice and James Morrison. His songs are often reflective and thought provoking, yet maintain a free spirited and light hearted tone. Masi’s songwriting explores the complexity of love and compromise from a unique, but relatable perspective. 

He approaches his music in much the same way he does life. His laid back and easy going personality translates into the lyrics and tone of his music yet his performances are energetic and portray him as the hardworking musician he is.   It's a contrast that suits Masi well, as he goes from hobnobbing with his new fans like they are old pals, and catching up with longtime fans before he takes the stage for an energetic and passionate set. 

Masi's newest record, "Power Of A Woman", released in October 2014, is smart, sexy, charming and reflective.  The approach revisits much of the soulful pop sensibility of prior releases, but brings a fresh clarity and edginess to his next collection of heartfelt tunes.  The tone and style of the album explores various genres, but maintains the honesty and focus that defines Masi's sound.   

Masi is currently in the studio working with producer, Mark Williams, for a released slated for 2017.

Jason Masi DC Music Rocks
Jason Masi DC Music Rocks
Jason Masi After Image DC Music Rocks


Brian:    Jason Masi is a DC based singer-songwriter. He got his start in with the Richmond, Virginia based group Jubeus. He stepped out as a solo artist in 2010, trading in the band's root jam driven rock for a more acoustic soul, R&B, songwriter approach. He has since released three solo albums, Balance and Pull in 2010, Life is Wonderful in 2012, and Power of a Woman in 2014. If you've been listening to the show, we've had Power of a Woman on here and if you check his profile on line on you can see the music video for that track. It's awesome. His transition has kept him busy on the road performing for two hundred and fifty shows a year, which his schedule is also on the site and man, there's so many awesome shows. He's a very busy man but I love it. I love it.

The influences in Masi’s sound can be drawn between solo artists like Marvin Gay and Bill Withers, folk and blues icons like Van Morrison and James Taylor, as well as modern songwriters in the vein of Matt Keirney, Damien Rice, and James Morrison. His songs are often reflective and thought provoking, yet maintain our free spirited and lighthearted tone. His approach and he approaches his music in much the same way he does life, which is laid back and easy going personality which translates into the lyric and tone of his music, yet his performances are energetic and portray him as a hardworking musician that he is. With that, guys I was first introduced by a coworker to Jason's music, and ever since then I've been a fan. It is truly a privilege and an honor and I'm just excited to actually have him sitting with me in the studio. With that I'm excited to introduce to you Jason Massey. Say hi.

Jason:    Hi. Brian thanks so much for having me. It's a real honor to be here. Thank you.

Brian:    Thank you for being here. 

Jason:    You have such a wonderful speaking voice on the radio. You just told my whole story man. I don't even have to say anything else. 

Brian:    Oh you're making me blush. You're making me blush. Tell us about Love’s Lips. I'm sorry about the mispronunciation there.

Jason:    tough word. Lots of syllables.

Brian:    Love, man. Everybody gets nervous about that word love.

Jason:    That's true.

Brian:    Tell us about that track.

Jason:    I was writing a lot of bittersweet songs at the time. I spent a lot of time at the wineries as you may know from looking at my show schedule.

Brian:    Okay.

Jason:    I was observing couples especially during the day that were enjoying a glass of wine together. They were just having a good time. They were casting their worries aside. I started with a line, loves lips like wine. That observation. Then I built this song about of it. It turns out it's just a simple love song about being present with the woman you're with and enjoying the moment. Sometimes that's actually really difficult especially living in this DC area with so many distractions of politics. A lot of people use that get away out to the wine circuit to kind of get away from the whole DC hustle and bustle.

Brian:    It seems like it.

Jason:    I was very lucky to get out that way and be able to perform for people and make that my niche.

Brian:    I was going to say, say more about that niche because you mentioned that your schedule that indicates that a lot, but for folks that haven't seen the schedule, how does it work with you're a full time professional musician?

Jason:    I'm a full time, professional musician. Believe it or not, sometimes I pinch myself. I actually convince myself that it's true. The wine circuit is something I kind of fell into. I was playing with the band Jubious for a long time. I had a day job for much of my twenties. The band came out with a couple records but the band was kind of fizzling because we had some personnel issues.

Brian:    Got it.

Jason:    Okay. Then I moved to this area and had my one connection which was Amber Trees Foster and she helped me get some gigs around this area and then I met a couple winery owners and they let me out to play. That's where it kind of spiraled out of control. I didn't realize there was such a growing scene out there, not just for wineries but also the music at the wineries. That's kind of the start of it and now I spend a lot of time out there.

Brian:    When you say a lot of time, what does that actually translate into?

Jason:    Probably more than I should. There's generally free wine at the shows.

Brian:    Oh that's a plus.

Jason:    As a form of payment. My wife always says, stop bringing bottles of wine home. Bring us more money. 

Brian:    I could see that being a thing okay.

Jason:    I spend a lot of time out there. I'd say out of the two hundred fifty plus, I play maybe sixty percent at wineries and then I do a lot of private events too for people. I meet a lot of those people through the wineries. I do clubs. Clubs are less and less these days.

Brian:    Right.

Jason:    It's more about a niche man.

Brian:    Well you found this new little niche man.

Jason:    I don't know.

Brian:    Four or five days a week? How often?

Jason:    I play shows. Yeah it can be that. I'd say the busy season is March through October. 

Brian:    Okay.

Jason:    I don't think I should even admit this but sometimes I'll play eight shows in a week. I'll get a double Saturday. I'll do like a Saturday at a winery and then I'll do a private party in the evening. I'll host a mic every Monday night. I'll play sometimes, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. The cool thing about being a full time musician and playing around this area in DC Metro is I can come home, spend time with my wife and actually sometimes get home early enough to even watch a Netflix show with her or something, and have some dinner.

Brian:    That's cool. Yeah. I guess wineries aren't a late night club kind of thing either. They got to have a benefit too.

Jason:    Their bedtimes are like nine pm so, they want to get out of there.

Brian:    Depending on how much wine they drank.

Jason:    Yes, that's right.

Brian:    Oh man. When you're not being a musician, tell us more about you. What do you do?

Jason:    Sure. I'm actually kind of an introvert when it comes to not being on all the time. I have to spend a lot of time with people, so when I'm on my own, I like to just cocoon and have some time to myself. I started yoga. I like to read books and just relax and have my own time, quiet time. Sometimes my wife is wanting to talk to me a lot and I'll start to daze off. It's not because I don't want to listen to her, it's just I need that time.

Brian:    Is it like recovering or recuperating?

Jason:    Yeah.

Brian:    You put it all out there when you're performing and so time to.

Jason:    To reboot.

Brian:    Okay I got it. I totally understand it. It's kind of wild to hear that too because you do spend so much time out there performing and stuff I guess you might automatically assume people are extroverts when actually maybe that might be kind of taxing and you come back, when you come home the recharge is not.

Jason:    Not to take any [inaudible 00:06:57], I love meeting everyone at my shows. I love talking to everybody and I love performing but the reboot process is something that, especially lately, since my schedule has been so busy, started to take seriously. My wife has started to take my cell phone away from me.

Brian:    You've got quiet hours.

Jason:    Quiet hours.

Brian:    What's one thing about the DC music scene that you love?

Jason:    There's so many things actually. When I moved here I had no idea what it was all about but one of the cool connections I've had is Justin Trawick. I knew him in college. We went to Lawland together.

Brian:    Oh wow.

Jason:    He has been a help in a sense of connecting a lot of musicians together. I did the non-songwriter series. I started that with him. I started playing that with him when he first got it off the ground.

Brian:    Okay.

Jason:    2009 and now I've met so many DC and touring artists from that and just the well of talent that I find in DC, constantly amazes me. Every time I do a show with somebody else, or do a songwriter showcase with somebody else, other musicians. I'm just kind of overwhelming. It a little humbling too. Dang, I need to go home and practice. These guys are good. I thought I was pretty good, but man.

Brian:    For folks who don't know what the songwriter series you were just talking about, say more.

Jason:    Justin Trawick puts on this songwriters series. It's kind of like a stories in the round but you have more singer songwriters so each artist will get two songs upfront and they can talk a little bit about each song. Then they do another round of one song. Then, lately he's been allowing the artists to collaborate with each other. You have somebody that plays saxophone, or somebody that plays banjo, or does backing vocals they can jump in with each other and it's all on the spot too.

Brian:    This is a live show.

Jason:    It's a live show. Yeah.

Brian:    Wow that's cool.

Jason:    He also does a podcast. The circus life. Its a really cool thing and getting some [inaudible 00:09:03] on it as well.

Brian:    Yeah definitely. We know Justin. We're fans of Justin on DC Music Rocks, that's for sure. 

Jason:    Cool.

Brian:    Play good stuff too. He's wonderful. So Justin shout out. Thanks for doing what you do and supporting the scene like we do here. Truly appreciate you man. Tell us the story about your best show. What comes to mind?

Jason:    I don't have any ah-ha moments where after the show I was just like, man that was it. That was my best show. That never happened to me.

Brian:    Okay.

Jason:    I play a lot of shows and you get this euphoria sometimes after it and it's awesome because music is therapeutic but I will say I was playing for the Walter Reid Society this whole last year from February up until a month ago. I'm on a break right now. The reason I do it is because sometimes you play music for people that actually need the music more than you do. That was definitely the case at Walter Reid. I would say the last time I played a show, just because this is a recent memory, I had somebody come up to me. It was an older woman. She said, "I'm going through chemo treatments right now. Just being able to sit here and listen to your music in the lobby, really made my day." I don't really need much, but I mean when somebody says that to you, you're like okay. I'm doing something that I should be doing. That to me is the ultimate reward.

Brian:    For the listeners that don't. You're playing music at Walter Reid?

Jason:    Yeah Walter Reid.

Brian:    You just show up and play? How does that work?

Jason:    It's the Walter Reid society. He's been actually bringing musicians in for the last couple years. I just started this last year. You go and they have this carpeted area in the lobby. You get a lot of foot traffic there but it's people that are being treated that were in the military and their families. You're performing for a couple hours and they have performers throughout the week. People waiting for their appointments or what have you and they get to sit down on a couches there while they're waiting in the lobby and just listen.

Brian:    It's you and your guitar for those?

Jason:    Just me and my guitar.

Brian:    Wow. That's awesome.

Jason:    A lot of times people come up and sing songs with me and sometimes that's good. Sometimes it's bad. It's always good to have a true professional and I see that Sarah Murphy, she came up and sang Hallelujah with me at a friend's birthday party. That was a very special moment.

Brian:    That is awesome. Very cool Jason. What about, so tell us a story about a time that you tried and failed.

Jason:    Okay. Well, I try and fail just about every day.

Brian:    Just one.

Jason:    Let me count the times. One I can laugh about, I guess this is kind of a funny story. A few years ago, when I was playing with Jubious, we continue to play up until, we haven't played in like a year together, but we kind of do little get together and so. We played Sine. We were kind of like the house band at that place for a while in Richmond.

Jason:    We had a packed house and one of the things that I always have to figure out the balance of is like how much I get into the music that I'm pulling because I'm not a good dancer.

Brian:    Oh?

Jason:    I wish I were. I put the guitar down and sometimes do this, and we were doing a cove of the song Brickhouse.

Brian:    Oh nice okay.

Jason:    You know the song?

Brian:    I know the song. 

Jason:    Okay. Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down now section. I was like getting my audience to like shake it down, get lower to the ground. 

Jason:    On the way down something ripped in my inner thigh and it was like this excruciating pain. I fell to the ground. In the middle of the song.

Brian:    Wow.

Jason:    That was embarrassing. You can fit three hundred people in there. It was capacity so.

Jason:    It was in front of everybody and I got back up, and I continued the song. I took a break. That was just one of those moments, I think it was just had the right amount of humility and just a reminder of not to do things that are beyond my capabilities. I'm not Chris Brown man.

Brian:    You can't get low?

Jason:    In my defense I wasn't doing many stretches at the time I was running a lot and not to carry my body around. Maybe if I tried again.

Brian:    That yoga man. If you had been doing yoga back then.

Jason:    If I had been, yeah. I probably would have bounced right back up.

Brian:    That's wild. What a story. Good gracious. 

Jason:    Take care of yourself. Lesson learned.

Jason:    Know your limitations.

Brian:    Don't get down unless you can in fact get down. 

Jason:    Get down.

Brian:    What about, what's in your music collection that might surprise us?

Jason:    Let's see. I'm not sure if it'll surprise you. It surprised me how much I listen to this artist on Pandora radio, but [inaudible 00:13:55]. Pandora send you reports of how much you listen to stuff. It was like eighty percent [inaudible 00:14:01] radio on the Pandora station.

Brian:    Really that's impressive. Which is soothing and you talked about your bringing it down.

Jason:    Soothing, sensual.

Brian:    Okay.

Jason:    Maybe that reveals too much about me right there but that's the kind of mood that I'm in. 

Brian:    All right. I see. Note to self guys, bring [inaudible 00:14:21] with you if you want to get Jason in the mood. Got it. Okay. What about do you have any rules as a performer? Are there any rules that you have and are there any that you always break?

Jason:    I do have rules. I try to make the rule not to play certain cliché songs.

Brian:    Like what? 

Jason:    Like Wagon Wheel, Brown Eyed Girl. I feel bad saying that because I have actually some things that really, really like those songs. I try to avoid it but I am so eager to please people. This is the truth man. Put a smile on somebody's face by playing a song. I'm sure you know this as a band member.

Brian:    Absolutely.

Jason:    You see the way people ...

Brian:    The joy they get from the music.

Jason:    The joy they get from these songs that maybe you've heard a gazillion times, maybe a gazillion times too many. They just eat it up. I'm just going to go and say it. I break that rule sometimes.

Brian:    Break that rule. Okay so Brown Eyed Girl might happen and inside as an artist you die a little bit.

Jason:    It's the same on the radio.

Brian:    We appreciate you sharing. Okay. Come up with a more creative request next time you see Jason, other than Brown Eyed Girl.

Jason:    No it's okay. It's alright.

Brian:    If you love that one, ask him for it anyway. The last question I love to ask is what's one piece of advice that you would offer?

Jason:    I would say it's easy to go through the motions sometimes, especially if you have a lot of shows, like I have a lot of shows. I think always bring one hundred and ten percent and always try to bring a good vibe to your performances.

Brian:    To say more, how do you bring a good vibe? What does that mean? 

Jason:    It does seem like a simple thing but say you're in a bad mood. You show up at the venue and you kind of go through the motions of your show. I've seen people do this. It's a human nature, you can do this. It's really contagious to your audience and then your audience to your venue. Sometimes I think just kind of escaping into the music is maybe the answer to that. Allow yourself to kind of get lost in it.

Brian:    One hundred and ten percent.

Jason:    Bring it, show up every time if you can. I'm guilty of not doing it every single time too. I try.

Brian:    You notice I. If you learn to recognize it, you can also fix it half way through too. You could realize, oh god I'm not doing it. I got to bring it. After that break, you can come back and bring some more.

Jason:    Bring it.

Brian:    That's awesome. Now, folks want to find out more about you. Where's the best place for them to find you?

Jason:    Say visit the website, if you can. Last name spelled M-A-S-I. That's kind of the hub where you can get the links to everything else, the Facebook, the Twitter, the Instagram. That's where I would say to start if you're just a Facebook person, and you want to skip the website, I try to stay up to date with my friend page. You can friend me.

Jason:    I put my regular shows, weekly on there where I'll be. Then I do my special events, I'll put it on my fan page. I'll invite people from the fan page.

November 1, 2016 - Special Guest: Jason Mendelson

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  1. Debbie Does Dancing - Jackie and The Treehorns (Rock/Alt Rock)
  2. Favour - French Admirals (Indie/Indie Rock)
  3. All Over the Map - Dumi Right (Hip Hop/Rap)
  4. We Were Here - Maryjo Mattea (Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Raining Down - Alex The Red Parez (Rock/Acoustic Rock)
  6. Velocirapture - Alex Vans (Hard Rock/Stoner Rock)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Jason Mendelson DC Music Rocks

Jason Mendelson is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, infusing the history of each location with a musical flavor all its own. When he's not playing electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the TombsTones, or Maryjo Mattea and a Pile of Dudes, and has performed on stages all over the area, like the Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. Jason's studio, An Undisclosed Location, is responsible for involvement in several local projects from bands like The Lucky So & So's, The Iris Bell, the Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons & a Cheetah, and more. 


Official Website URL:

Facebook URL:

Metrosongs Album

iTunes Link:

Spotify Link:

jason mendelson dc music rocks


Brian:   Jason is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist, whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, by infusing the history of each location, which metro songs it's the metro stops, each metro station with a musical flavor all of its own. They're different genres; it's incredible.

 When he's not playing the electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, or Maryjo and a Pile of Dudes. He's performed on stages all over the area, like Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. His studio called An Undisclosed Location and as well as performing there, that location is responsible for involvement in several recording projects from bands like The Lucky So and So's, The Iris Bell, The Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons and a Cheetah and more.

 Basically this man's musical resume is absolutely incredible because he seems to do everything. You heard him directing the Redskins marching band in a composition that he wrote, as well as performing around town with all different genres of bands. You can hear it on his MetroSongs, all different genres of music for each of the tracks. Basically I've seen this man on stage and I've heard about him and it is such an honor to have him sitting here with me in the studio today. So listen it is with great pleasure that I introduce Jason Mendelson. Please say hi to everybody.

Jason:   Hi everybody and thanks for having me here, Brian.

Brian:   Thanks so much for being here. So now break us down, I want to hear about you but first I want to hear about those tracks-

Jason:   Break you down?

Brian:   Did I say break me down? Break it down.

Jason:   Drill Sergeant.

Brian:   Yeah, yeah, let's not get that serious maybe but let's have some fun. Because Tyson's Corner and Landover - tell me about those tracks we just played.

Jason:   Okay. First was Tyson's Corner. That's off of the new forthcoming MetroSongs album. It's going to be Volume 7: Connections.

Brian:   So we had a sneak preview.

Jason:   Sneak preview. It's not out yet.

Brian:   Volume 6 came out, oh boy, I think earlier this week or last week. It's relatively fresh or it's been out a while?

Jason:   No, no, no, no. It came out like a year ago but it just got on iTunes.

Brian:   Got it. I see.

Jason:   Spotify and other computer-y things.

Brian:   Got it. Okay so we've got Volume 6 and there's still two more volumes to go?

Jason:   Yeah, seven and eight. I'm working on both of them right now.

Brian:   And Tyson's Corner... So when you're writing about the metro stops, do you actually go visit the stops or where do the songs come from?

Jason:   Well, when I first moved here six years ago, there was a lot of field trips involved. 

Brian:   (laughs) Really?

Jason:   The novelty hadn't worn off; I was still playing tourist. So my wife and I would go to different things around town and we'd take the metro a lot and so it was just natural that we'd end up taking trips that involved passing through all these metro stations. I have to admit I have not been to every single one that I've written about, but I do a lot of online research. I'll usually start with Wikipedia and then find actual credible resources that are linked there. So there's a lot of homework involved.

Brian:   The song Tyson's Corner seems to talk about a story. Is that one that you actually had or where do you draw from for that?

Jason:   That's a fictional story. I just had the idea of a guy who had maybe been shot down in a marriage proposal and then some time goes by and they happen to reconnect and maybe there's a second chance there.

Brian:   Wow, okay. So it's a story and it's set in Tyson's Corner. I'm following you now. Do you develop the song and the composition? How does it come together? Because you've got all these different genres ... I encourage you to listen to his tracks because all of them are different. There's some hip hop, there's some blues, there's some swing. It seems like every genre ... That one was almost reminded me of a high school - no I can't say high school musical - but a musical, like a Broadway musical. The way that it felt it was kind of, when I'm listening to it, that was what it reminded me of. Where do you get the idea for all the compositions?

Jason:   Well that one I wanted to do ... So part of the challenge that I've baked in the MetroSongs for myself is to do some of the songs as a pastiche of another artist. So that one I was going for Ben Folds Five.

Brian:   Aha, okay.

Jason:   And it features a few friends of mine who are part of the ... we're kind of a ... I hate to say band, it's more like a loose conglomerate of vocal musicians here in D.C. who we performed under the name Skin Folds Five.

Brian:   Oh man! Awesome, okay.

Jason:   That was Derek Evry on backup vocals, Pat Frank on drums and Kevin de Souza on bass and then I played piano and sang lead vocals.

Brian:   Well you guys seem to put some incredible things together. And are they featured on various other tracks throughout the albums?

Jason:   No just that one. But the theme of this next album is ... It's called Connections and so almost all the songs on this next albums they will be ... they're collaborations with other artists.

Brian:   Oh fantastic.

Jason:   Like Tyson's with those guys. So yeah all but a few of them ... that's why it's taken so long, I've been working on this album for like a year.

Brian:   Got it. Finding time for everybody.

Jason:   Coordinating schedules, it’s like herding cats, whatever you want to call it.

Brian:   (laughs) We won't tell the other musicians that it's like herding cats but yes probably like that. Yep, I would imagine.

Jason:   I think musicians understand that's how it is.

Brian:   (laughs) Do we?

Jason:   I don't think I'm hurting any feelings there.

Brian:   (laughs) Very good. I like it. Now what about Landover then? That was the track that you ... Tell me more. You directed the Redskins marching band? How did that happen? How did that come about?

Jason:   Oh okay. So a friend of mine at work plays sousaphone for the Washington Redskins marching band and so for years he and I have talked and mostly things like "Oh, I'd love to write a song for you guys," thinking in the back of my mind like that's awesome but is that going to happen? But it finally did. My friend Micah talked to the director and I guess they were keen to the idea so I got out my very best pencil and wrote a tune for Landover which is pretty close to the FedEx Field there. I think they normally direct people to Morning Boulevard Station but I didn't have a song for that station.

Brian:   Right, okay. So they got Landover.

Jason:   Yeah so they got Landover. And I just wrote a little tune, just went for that marching band college fight song feel and they were the nicest people. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to come and hang out at rehearsal and for playing my song. And I got to conduct the band which was really exciting, and we recorded it there at FedEx Field and you heard it.

Brian:   So let's transition into you now, because so now you're directing a marching band, and yet you also compose and do these other things. What's your background? Have you been a band director before or was that new? How does the music start or where does that story come from with you?

Jason:   Okay, well I first started playing on a little toy keyboard that my grandparents got me when I was three or four years old. And then fifth grade I started playing trombone with the school band. I played that all the way through college. But in high school I started playing piano and guitar. There was a piano in the band room so I would get to school early and just fool around on the piano and since I already knew sheet music I had a good basis to start running with. So I knew music. It's not like I was taking lessons. So many people say, "Oh I took piano lessons when I was a kid" and then they never play again. It's because they're forced to play things like Mary Had a Little Lamb and stuff they're just not interested in.

 So since I was totally self-directing the learning process I was able to just play the rock and roll that I was actually interested in so that's how I started playing piano and guitar and sadly I don't play much trombone anymore because it's the kind of instrument that you have to play every day or your muscles in your face just go to mush. I don't have that problem with piano and guitar and bass and accordion and mandolin and all that foolishness. So that's kind of what I do now.

Brian:   Wow. Okay and it came together. Tell all the musical things you're doing now. You're recording, you're performing ... What are they? 

Jason:   Yeah, I play with a few different bands in the D.C. area here which is pretty standard for D.C. musicians. I play bass and keyboard for Jonny Grave and I play bass for Alex Parez. I play lead guitar for Maryjo Mattea. And there's other various projects, one-off things I get involved with here and there.

Brian:   Got it. Okay. Now what about so now you not the musician, in your personal time are you a hardcore marathon trainer, are you a yoga fanatic?

Jason:   No

Brian:   Do you play chess? What is outside of music consistent for you, or is there?

Jason:   Well I'm pretty busy with music, so my free time is divided between the music we've been talking about and hanging out with my wife. We like to go and do things like nature-y kind of things like parks or nerdy stuff like museums.

Brian:   Got it.

Jason:   We've been doing a little bit of road trip stuff ... like day trip stuff lately.

Brian:   Wow, cool.

Jason:   We recently went up to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania which seems like the most random thing, but it's a cool little town so we had a lot of fun there.

Brian:   Wow, all right. Well now what's one thing you love about the D.C. music scene?

Jason:   Well it's a great community. Artists really look out for each other and it's just a really friendly kind of thing, which is nice for someone like me who is not doing music for a living. This is my hobby, so I appreciate that. But yeah it's especially great for those musicians here from D.C. who do make a living as artists. I think it would be very discouraging if it were any different.

Brian:   Yeah, okay. Tell us a story about your best show. What comes to mind?

Jason:   I had a really cool opportunity to host a show at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

Jason:   Jonny Grave had a project called the Clara Barton Sessions that was involved the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Chinatown in D.C. There was an acoustic recording that was made there and the musicians got to perform the songs at the Kennedy Center and I was the audio engineer for that so me and the video producer got to be the hosts.

Jason:   So that was a lot of fun and I really liked that I didn't have to haul any gear around. Just show up.

Brian:   (laughs) Anybody who's done any kind of sound or musicians, oh my goodness, sometimes there ... I'm a drummer ... there is a lot of gear sometimes.

Jason:   Yeah. You chose poorly.

Brian:   (laughs) When it comes to gear, definitely. But that's why you also get really good at the gear share. How can we share these things so not everybody has to bring everything?  Tell a story about the time you tried and failed?

Jason:   Well MetroSongs Volume 4. I tried to do a Kickstarter to raise just a few bucks to cover costs of that and it went horribly just because I was spread too thin, I couldn't really focus on it and I think because I play in so many different bands and stuff I don't really devote the time I should to promoting my own stuff. So I can't really say I have a huge drawing yet. But I've got a live group that's great and we've been doing some shows and we've been working on building that up.

Brian:   My god, you've certainly got ... in terms of if your resume is the songs you've got, you've got six volumes now, two more coming and the product's amazing. I love the diverse product that you come across with, it's incredible when I see you.

Jason:   Thank you

Brian:   Now, do you have any rules? Like with the band or as an artist? What kind of rules do you have and are there any you always break?

Jason:   Oh, well since I do so much recording there's always little things that I'm trying to remember to do, and then a lot of times I forget them. And a lot of it just involves going through the stuff and making sure it's really 100% perfect. There's one thing as a rule that I've tried to remember to do and I'm horrible, it seems like I never remember is when I'm recording a bass part I always try to remember to use an old Motown trick where they would double the bass with another rhythm guitar.  And somehow I always randomly think to myself, oh yeah next song I've got to remember to double the guitar. And I always forget to do it. It's out there, too late.

Brian:   (laughs) Old Motown trick; I love it. And the last thing I'd like to ask is so the one piece of advice if you were to offer, what would that be?

Jason:   Well for musicians I would say just learn as much stuff as you can and build up your skill set. A lot of musicians start out by just learning the guitar or whatever and then that's all they can do. Just take a little time and learn some other instruments or what's really helpful is learning recording techniques and the gear is so cheap now. I think even any MacBook computer comes with GarageBand or something for free. So the home recording is so much more accessible than it used to be. It's really worth the time to learn some techniques there.

Brian:   Wow, very cool. Well thank you for your thoughts and your insights.

October 25, 2016 - Special Guest: Sean Gotkin

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  1. The DMV Musician facebook group - one of the places to find the musicians and those interested in DC music:


  1. The Night Is Ours - Turtle Recall (Rock)
  2. Chasing Highs - Higher Education (Reggae/Punk)
  3. Big River - Oh He Dead (Indie/Indie Soul)
  4. Strawberry Moon - Sean Gotkin (Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Scorched Earth - Crystal Youth (Rock)
  6. Busted Cars & Broken Fences - Annie Stokes (Indie/Folk)
  7. Looking For Water - Lauren Calve (Folk/Roots Rock)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Sean Gotkin DC Music Rocks

Sean Gotkin is a Washington D.C. based recording engineer, producer and live sound engineer. He works as FOH lead sound engineer at local, iconic nightclubs the Black Cat and Iota Club and Cafe. As owner and independent operator of Blue Hippo Recordings in Centreville, he has several recorded projects out so far this year, including local rock/R&B group Crystal Youth and singer/songwriter Annie Stokes. Currently he is working on an album with reggae bastions Nappy Riddem. In his live incarnation, Sean has worked with local, regional, and national touring acts, such as Old 97’s, Rogue Wave, Sean Hayes, Kelley Deal (R. Ring), The Peach Kings & Quiet Company. Sean continues to strive to be the best at what he does, his focus and passion constantly trained on the local music scene and the raw talent it has to offer the collective. 



Sean Gotkin DC Music Rocks


Brian:     The track is Strawberry Moon and that was the music of Sean Gotkin. Let me tell you, Sean Gotkin is a fixture in the Washington DC. music scene. He's a Washington DC. based recording engineer, a producer and a live sound engineer. He's lead sound engineer at local and iconic night clubs in DC, The Black Cat and Iota Club and Café. He's the owner and independent operator of Blue Hippo Recordings in Centreville. He has several recorded projects out so far this year including local Rock/R&B group Crystal Youth and singer/song writer Annie Stokes, which we'll hear from a little later. Currently he is working on an album with Reggae Bastians Nappy Riddem, who we've proudly featured on the show, an incredible group. As a musician Sean has also worked local regional and national touring acts such as, Old 97's, Rouge Wave, Sean Hayes, Kelly Deal, The Peach Kings and Quiet Company. Sean continues to strive to be the best at what he does, and his focus and passion are constantly trained on the local music scene. The DC. music scene and the raw talent that it has to offer.

Brian:     The first time I met Sean was running sound at Iota, and he did an incredible job. I've been out to his house, I've seen the amazing things he's done with the recording space, and music is this man's life. It is such an honor and with great pleasure that I introduce to you Sean Gotkin. Say Hi.

Sean:      How you doing man?

Brian:     It is such a treat to have you here man.

Sean:      Thanks for having me here.

Brian:     Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Sean:      I appreciate the invite man. Thank you.

Brian:     That was Strawberry Moon and that was the music. So tell us about Sean Gotkin and the music and tell us about the professional.

Sean:      With Strawberry Moon basically, it's part of an EP I've been currently working on for the past 3 or 4 months. I'll probably be done by early next year and released by the early spring time. This was kind of a fast track single because it was just one of those songs that kind of just came to me very quickly, and there wasn't any waiting around it just kind of flowed out, so I just wanted to get it done and get it out there as fast as possible.

Sean:      As far as professionally, I do music really only part time now because sound pretty much takes up the rest of my free time that I might have.

Brian:     Run us through a week then. If sound takes up most of the time, what does that mean?

Sean:      During the days I'm always in the studio working on something, whether I'm mixing an audio bar, live studio project or one of the bands I'm working with, or just trying to tinker with something or play with sound and see what I can get out of the room. The rest of the time usually 6 sometimes 7 nights a week I'm either at Iota or The Black Cat doing live sound.

Brian:     Wow, so 6 or 7 nights a week, and then during the day. My goodness. Did I see on, I believe I saw on Facebook or something that there's a little one on the way too?

Sean:      There's a little baby girl coming in about 2 to 3 weeks. Cassidy Rose, very excited.

Brian:     Congratulations, that's really exciting.

Sean:      Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

Brian:     A new one on the way which means that your time is just going to get even more precious it sounds like.

Sean:      Even more precious, yes.

Brian:     What about you personally? So we got the sound guy, we've got the musician, now we're finding out that your going to be a papa bear. Tell us about ...

Sean:      For the second time.

Brian:     Already a papa bear, gonna add another one to that, which is no small feat. Tell us more, when your not doing those things what else are you doing?

Sean:      Usually hanging out with my kid Fynn, he's a little 5 year old boy, and he's one of the greatest things in my life, and I just love spending time with him, and talking with him. He's really big into music, I think he's going to be a drummer himself one day. We go down and play in the studio or he has his little toy corvette he loves driving down the street, we take that out.

Sean:      Also, I'm going out scoping out bands I love to go to shows and see new talent, see what's going on, keep my finger on the tab of what's happening here in the scene.

Brian:     You're at Iota and your at The Black Cat all the time, so when your going to shows are you going other places too?

Sean:      I am.

Brian:     Where have you found, is there a hidden gem that you found among the travels at all that you've ...?

Sean:      There's always the hidden gems. I definitely have my favorites out of those hidden gems, but I try to get around to the whole area as far as the bigger venues and the smaller venues, kind of see what's happening in both.

Brian:     Got it. Tell me one thing you love about the DC music scene?

Sean:      DC music scene, what isn't there to love about it? It's pretty amazing it really ...

Brian:     I said one thing.

Sean:      That's the problem it's so hard to narrow it down. I've been engrossed in this scene for a very long time and I grew up in an age where the DC. scene was really blowing up in the late 80's early 90's. Fugazi had made there mark on DC., GoGo had come out of here. I remember that explosion, and then it dried up for a long time. Now the well is just pouring out again with all these amazing artists.

Brian:     Every week on the show there's just so many more, it's so exciting to see them all coming out. Tell us about your, either a best show or a success moment that you have? You said you've been in the business for a long time, so talk about a big success. What comes to mind?

Sean:      A big success, probably one of my favorite shows, probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do and it came out as close to perfect as possible, was a show that local drummer Ben Tufts put together back in the spring. Itwas an almost tribute show. They were doing two albums back to back and it was 50 interchangeable musicians.

Brian:     50, like 5-0, 50.

Sean:      50, and on top of that a packed sold out room. It was interesting, trying to manage that and get everyone sounding as best as possible and trying to get as faithfully sounding to the records as possible. It was a blast. It flew, flew by.

Brian:     I bet stuff happens really quickly in that kind of scenario, just constantly. That's amazing. Beatles tribute show, amazing one. Tell us about a time that you tried and failed?

Sean:      I've had a few of those moments and through those moments I've found ways to push through and find success. When I first started off I was really hungry, and I was kind of concerned with the amount of people that where in my field and whether I was going to break through. Especially since I started in my mid 30's. I made the mistake that a lot of engineers make at first which taking on way too much at first. Cause you think you can handle it all. Then you kind of realize after awhile, well I'm just a human being and I only have so many hours in the day, it's more important to focus on several bands or one band at a time than it is 5 or 6 bands at a time, and try to manage that with a live career at night.

Brian:     I take it you mean, when you say taking on too much, that means you had 5 or 6 bands that you were trying to record as well as the sound gigs at night.

Sean:      It was a lot. I thought for the longest time, Hey, this is no problem, I got this, and then your just like, okay, I'm kind of letting people down, I'm letting myself down so I need to reevaluate.

Brian:     At what point did you realize this isn't good, this isn't it?

Sean:      It was pretty much the moment that I was brought into the The Black Cat, which was early spring last year and I new that that was going to take up a lot of my time. I kind of quickly reevaluated my situation and ... It's all learning experiences, especially something like this. There's no rule books and you kinda of halve to make it up as you go.

Brian:     Make your way. See how it goes.

Sean:      That's it

Brian:     A lot of tries and fails and experiments and learning it sounds like. You said in there, you mentioned that this was, you started in your 30's. What were you doing before?

Sean:      I've always been into music and sound. My first job doing sound was at The Old Bayou in Georgetown when I was 20 years old. My first night there was Anthrax, Motorhead, and The Deftones playing.

Brian:     That sounds like a night.

Sean:      It was. That's where I got my start and I kind of did it off and on, but then I started doing carpentry for a long time and I owned my own carpentry business. I really just wanted to learn how to build my own house one day or build my own recording studio. After the market collapse I reevaluated that situation and I went back to school to learn Pro tools professionally and that's where I'm at now.

Brian:     That was your late 20's or early 30's?

Sean:      When I owned my construction company it was my mid 20's through my mid 30's and I started picking this up around 30, 35, around when my son was born.

Brian:     Most people are slowing down when there son is born. Look at you go. What do you have in your music collection that might surprise us?

Sean:      That's a great question. I like movie scores, believe it or not.

Brian:     Movie scores, so like tell us a top movie score?

Sean:      For right now I've been listening to a lot of John Byron he was also a masterful producer. He's done Fiona Apple, Kanye West album and Amy Mann. He's done The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack. The things he does is unbelievable with the string sections and the back drops and texture and color that he uses, it's mind blowing.

Brian:     It is incredible, and it's a way to hear, people compose. The music comes after the show not before. They don't design the movies around the music. Music is designed around the movies, so it's amazing to see that creative element too. Do you have any rules, as a sound guy or whatever? Are there any rules that you have? There's some musicians that listen and there's some local music fans too. Any rules as a sound guy?

Sean:      Yeah. Supposing that you have a competent sound guy, which there's a lot if us out there. Try to take our advice about the room that we're working in, that's always an important thing. If we ask you to turn your guitar amp down on stage, if your a musician try not to think about that so much as, hey, we're trying to tell you to turn your guitar amp down, we're trying to control the sound as a whole and trying to get everything for the house. So just as an example.

Brian:     I want to go on record and say that I love that you used guitarists as an example. I'm thinking of a few guitarists of the top of my head who love those loud guitars. Sound men appreciate it when you turn it down, that's ... What other rules?

Sean:      Basically, try to come into the venue and not have any preconceived notions we've all as musicians had experiences with bad sound guys. And we know what's that like or less than favorable venues or sound systems. As an artist you have to go into a venue and make the best of the given situation. If your getting something less than desirable, push through and do the best that you can do. If your working in a good room with a good engineer, work with that engineer. Make sure that your, there's a give and take in the conversation there ... Because it's basically as an artist, it's your night. It's all about you and sounding engineer is just there to assist you.

Brian:     The favorite question I always love to ask is, what's one piece of advice that you have to offer?

Sean:      Work hard.

Brian:     Say more.

Sean:      The reason I've gotten where I've gotten, in kind of a short amount of time, is just because I'm out there and I'm doing it. Really is like you said, it's my life and I make it my life, because that's the only way to really be visible and to make a difference on the scene is to be out there, be doing it, work really really hard. Develop a reputation whether your a sound guy, and artist, whatever you may be. Try to be the best of that and if your really good people will start noticing.

Brian:     As evidence of the amazing career that you've had from your mid 30's on. your making tracks. That's amazing. Tell folks if we want to find out more about you and follow you, where do we go?

Sean:      You can go to, or there's a Facebook page for Blue Hippo Recordings that you can look up or search, or you can find me on Audio Bar on Facebook, which is a podcast that's run out of my studio.

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)^^

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



  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)

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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.


October 11, 2016 - Special Guest: Ménage À Garage

^^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. DC Artists can submit their projects released 10-01-15 to 9-30-16 for consideration for the Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards).  I'm leaving this link here in case it comes back online, the WAMA email said it should still work, but as of 10-11-16 I tried this link and it's no longer working
  2. Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents Day is today, Oct 11th.  A DC band now, the band used to be in Austin.  They had their holiday proclaimed by the Mayor in 2012
    See the Video Here:


  1. Tongues - Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents (Folk/Rock)
  2. Die in a Fire - Ménage À Garage (Punk/Pop Punk)
  3. Sweet Dreams - Sara Curtin (Indie/Pop Rock)
  4. Falling in a Dream - The Split Seconds (Punk/Pop Punk)
  5. Alone in the Seas - Calm and Crisis (Indie/Punk Rock)
  6. State Tengo Champions - The Hartford Pussies (Punk/90s Rock)
  7. Better Luck Next Time - Curse Words (Punk/Punk Rock)
  8. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

->Follow The Show's Spotify Playlist<-




Ménage À Garage DC Music Rocks

Ménage À Garage (MÀG) is an energetic poppy punk trio from Washington, DC. Since forming in 2015, MÀG has been immersed in the growing music scene in DC, performing at many local venues including DC 9 and the Rock & Roll Hotel. MÀG performs all-original music from the trifecta of rock storytelling (teen angst, corrupt politics, and outer space), and have become known for their energetic and heartfelt performance style, affecting melodies, and meticulous attention to song-craft and lyrics. MÀG is Jenny Thomas on bass, Alyson Cina on drums, and John Nolt on lead vocals and guitar.



Ménage À Garage DC Music Rocks


Brian:  Ménage á Garage and their track, "Die in a Fire." So guys, tell us about that track.

Jenny:  John. What it was with that track, it has a long story, but we'll make it short.

John:  We have another song called "Ugly Duckling," which is kind of about someone who's been bullied. 

John:  During one of our practice sessions, the gang was like ... Well, we had some new chords and we were kind of running through these new chords, and I asked, "what should this song be about," and it kind of turned out that everybody said, "Well, what if we did a response to another song?" It turned out to be "Ugly Duckling," and so this song's lyrics are kind of a response as if we are responding to someone who wrote us a letter about the song "Ugly Duckling."

John:  "Ugly Duckling" being about bullying, this song, these lyrics, to me ... There's always been a little bit of tension in my mind about peoples' tendency to tell folks when they're troubled that it gets better.

Jenny:  It gets better.

John:  Because there are certain people who their outlook on life, they don't believe you, right? You can say, "No, it'll get better, don't worry, kid, it's going to be fine," and that kid's going to say, "You know what, don't tell me that." Adults always say things like that, and there's a certain mindset that responds better if you say, "Well, I don't know if it's going to get better; this is just the way life is. Life doesn't owe you anything. What are you going to do?"

Brian:  I see.

John:  "Are you going to give up? Are you going to turn tail and run? What if it never stops raining? What if it never rains again?" All of this stuff is an unknown, so that's kind of what the song is about. It sounds on its surface like it's very pessimistic and down, but it's really kind of a call to action about, what are you going to do if things don't go your way?

Brian:  I dig that message, and let's get to know you guys. So what I want you to do is, if you would introduce yourselves. I want to find out about who's John and who's Jenny, and then also tell us about Ménage á Garage and where the ... The brief history. You don't have to give me the long ones here, but the brief story about the band.

Jenny:  Oh sure, sure. Well, we met at Flash Band, which is an amazing little organization in D.C. It's a great resource for musicians, and it the theme was trios, so hence Ménage. It has actually no other overtones. It's just about three people.

Brian:  Got it, okay.

Jenny:  But music, we're a trio, a power trio, and both John and I have our long musical histories. I've been in a couple bands, and he's been doing all sorts of really educated musical things.

Brian:  So does this go all the way back? Are we talking like, elementary school, and ...

Jenny:  I think probably so, yeah, for both of us.

Brian:  Back there. 

Jenny:  Lifelong learning.

John:  Oh yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Brian:  Got it, and at what point did you guys decide that, even as adults, we're going to keep doing this music thing, or has that always been the case? Did you stop and then come back to it?

John:  I never considered ... It never occurred to me that I could stop.

Brian:  Yeah, yeah. I don't believe in, like, "once a musician, always a musician." Sometimes you may have like a dry period, where you're just, whatever, not plugged into whatever you're ...

John:  I could see people stopping and doing other things, and I used to do that, and I've met plenty of people that have done that. It just never occurred to me to do that.

Jenny:  No. Doesn't occur to us.

John:  Nothing wrong with it.

Jenny:  That's why we're middle-aged people who play rock music and just embarrass ourselves publicly, and that's just what we do.

Brian:  It's a calculated embarrassment.

Jenny:  It's a skill. No no no.

Brian:  It's a skill. That's even better.

John:  It's owning our skill.

Jenny:  It's a true talent.

John:  Owning my embarrassment.

Jenny:  You know, yeah. It takes extra-special skill.

Brian:  There it is. So, briefly, then tell ... How did you get into music, way back in the beginning?

Jenny:  Okay. Well, my older brother ... I was always surrounded by music. My older brother listened to a lot of really great albums, and he was kind of into the punk scene in southern California, and so I got to listen to things like Hüsker Dü and all those things like, way back in the day. I've always just been attracted to music, and went to my first concert, Roxy Music, when I was 14, and that was a pretty good start. So both just being a musician, and I always ... Music has been a survival mechanism. I mean, it's like I can't live without it. So there was just no question.

Brian:  Wow. Okay. Committed to it. What about you, John?

John:  Well, my mother started me on piano lessons in second grade, and then she started me on cello lessons in third grade, and then I started myself on drum lessons in fourth grade.

John:  To get back at her for making me play the piano and the cello. I played all three of those things the whole way through high school, and into college where I went to Millersville in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for music education. So that was until I was 21, 22, something like that, and after that, played a lot of weddings, played a lot of string quartets, church cantatas, that sort of things. But I love pop music and taught myself guitar when I was working at a movie theater, running movies, and when you run the movies, you usually have a lot of down time, like 45 minutes while everything's playing.

Brian:  That does make sense.

John:  So I would bring my guitar in and be up in the booth, just playing and writing songs and teaching myself how to do that, which is what I really always wanted to do while I was learning how to play Mozart on the cello.

Brian:  That's amazing. All right. So what do you love and appreciate, I like to ask folks, what do you love and appreciate about the D.C. music scene?

Jenny:  Sure. Well I mean, I don't even know if this is unique to D.C., but it's just been my experience of D.C. which is, there's so many good people in the scene. Maybe we've just been fortunate to plug into various musical communities. I just find people are very welcoming and supportive of each other as musicians, so one of the best things, which is why I love that we're here today; one of the best things is just getting to listen to all of this D.C. music and learning about it, because otherwise, I mean, we're not very ... Or a a show, and the live shows that happen around town, you know we wouldn't know about all this great music.

Brian:  That's true. John, what about you? What do you love about the scene?

John:  Well, there are, like Jenny said, there are a lot of talented, generous people in the scene, such as yourself and your band mates, and some of the folks, well I guess all of the folks that we're going to play today.

Jenny:  No, no just some. We're going to call them out.

John:  Well, there's one ...

Jenny:  Who will remain unnamed.

John:  But that's really what it is. The quality and the level of proficiency of the music in D.C. is very high. Historically, D.C. has a great tradition of a professional level of music, and the even the DIY and amateur scene keeps that level up, which is what I appreciate because I don't consider myself a hobbyist. I mean, I aspire to a professional level of quality, even though it's not how I make my living. I think that's what you have to do if you're a passionate musician, unless you're just going to be at home playing the guitar and playing Jimmy Buffett, which is perfectly fine, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's not me.

Brian:  Right, and what you say is really true also. I've got to say, in doing this show, I've gotten to hear so many of these really talented people who, they do this on the side, and they're professional caliber. But they do it on the side as their hobby, and they make their living another way, and it's truly incredible to see.

John:  It's an avocation versus a vocation.

Brian:  Exactly. Exactly. Well, very eloquently put. I dig it. Tell me about your best show that you've done here in town. Well, not even in town, just in general. What's the best who you've done? 

Jenny:  Well, I mean, we're having a little debate about this, but ... So John ... There was one particular show at Wonderland Ballroom where we were, just because stuff happens, we were forced to really ...

John:  We had a hard stop.

Jenny:  We had a hard stop. We were the last band, and suddenly there was just no more time left at all, and we had to pretty much figure out how to play our nice, cozy 35-minute set in about 20 minutes.

Brian:  Oh my goodness.

Jenny:  We were just like, you know, jumping on stage, and we just said "Let's do it," and we just throw down ...

John:  [crosstalk 00:08:48] tucks. No pedals, no nothing.

Jenny:  The crowd that was there, they were great. They went crazy. They were bouncing off the walls dancing. They thought it was just amazing. I mean ...

John:  They knocked the monitors over.

Jenny:  Our music is well-suited to having to go really fast anyway, so it worked out okay.

Brian:  This is true. The punk genre, it definitely ... Good upbeat tempos, upbeat energy; I can imagine that was one heck of a show.

Jenny:  Right, right, and I would say we're definitely more in the pop-punk realm, just not to mislead anybody. But punk in spirit, all the way, so you nailed that.

Brian:  Got it. Now what about ... What's the future look like for you guys? Let me just ask it. What's the future look like for you guys?

Jenny:  Long. There are a lot of years.

Brian:  A lot of years, so you're not going anywhere, okay. So is there a goal you're working toward, or just want to keep making music?

Jenny:  Always, yes. That is the point. Oh, and now we've got our trailer guy, right behind us, so we're ... Yeah. He's trying out.

John:  We aspire to play at every venue in D.C.

Jenny:  That's right.

John:  It would be a great achievement. That would be a milestone for us.

Jenny:  Yeah.

John:  We've still got some to tick off that we're working on, but that's what I think the future would hold for us, and more recording. We're kind of thinking about different approaches to recording and how to put out music in 2016, like how does it work today? What's the best way? We've recorded and EP, and we've watched a lot of our friends, including Fellowcraft, release their EPs, and we're trying to learn from that and figure out, what is the modern ...

Jenny:  Exactly.

John:  What is the way for the 90s to do it, you know?

Jenny:  So we do have an EP coming out, and we want to continue to record because we already have a bunch of songs that we are chomping at the bit to like get to the studio, and even if we're just doing one at a time, just getting them out so folks can enjoy them. As for all those venues that we're going to play, venues out there, we're looking at you.

Brian:  Very excited.

Jenny:  Yeah, here we come.

John:  We write a lot, and it will be great to have our songs out there for people who come to the shows to be able to hear in advance and maybe look forward to them, rather than a more traditional approach of recording it and then working on it, and then six months later, you release it, and then you play those songs. We're just thinking about different approaches to that. So I think that's in our future; some experimentation.

Brian:  One of my favorite questions to ask is one piece of advice you would offer to musicians?

John:  Join Flashband.

Jenny:  And be yourself.

Brian:  Best, most succinct answers yet. Join Flashband, and be yourself. What about a special message for your fans?

Jenny:  All of our fans, so wait, how many is that? 

John:  Jenny's fans?

Brian:  All of those fans out there. 

Jenny:  We love you. I think I'm going to try to get this guy, who's drilling the door, to be our fan. We were super excited when actually ... Just so you know, the inner workings of a musician's brain, right, that we were really excited when we met our first fan who we did not know.

Brian:  Ah, yes

Jenny:  They were not someone's friend, or ...

Brian:  It's the transition.

Jenny:  I mean it, ended up it was somebody's friend, but she legitimately said, like, "No no no, I came because of you guys, not just because I know your friend over here. That's just a coincidence." So...

John:  I don't think she's been to a show since that one.

Jenny:  That's true. Oh well, we're working on it.

Brian:  There's been so many others since then.

Jenny:  So we're asking, won't you be our fan? Please?

John:  She just did that to get us to buy her a beer, I think. I'm in a band.

Brian:  There you go.

John:  It worked.

Brian:  Clever. Clever. I dig it guys. For those folks who want to find out more about Ménage á Garage, where do they go? What are the best