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DC
Tuesday 07/28
Beres Hammond @ The Howard Theatre
$39.50 / $45
He is considered Jamaica’s greatest practicing singer/songwriter and anyone who has listened to his CDs or experienced the fervor elicited by his live performances would undoubtedly agree with that top-ranking assessment. His recent appearance at Jamaica’s premier music festival, Reggae Sumfest, was unanimously hailed as the finest of the three-night event as he tore through hit after hit, some dating back to the mid 70s, consistently captivating an audience of nearly 20,000 who sang along so loudly to his beloved songs, they sometimes threatened to drown him out. That Sumfest 2008 performance was but another special moment in time within this adored artist’s enduring and truly exceptional career. For the past thirty-five years, despite inevitable career trials and tribulations, the music of Hugh Beresford Hammond has yet to be wrong. The ninth of ten children born in Jamaica’s garden parish St. Mary, on August 28, 1955, Beres, as a precocious child, made regular trips to Kingston to mingle with the singers who frequented the downtown record shops. After graduating from high school, Beres entered several local talent shows including the Merritone Amateur Talent Contest, where several reggae stars including vocal trio The Mighty Diamonds, Sugar Minott and the late Jacob 'Killer' Miller also got their starts. He joined the fusion band Zap Pow as lead singer in 1975 and remained with them for four years recording the albums Zap Pow (Mango, 1978), and Reggae Rules (Rhino Records, 1980) while simultaneously pursuing solo projects. But Beres quickly realized he “ couldn't serve two masters” and decided to concentrate on his individual efforts. Beres’ 1976 solo album Soul Reggae (Aquarius Records) produced by his friend Willie Lindo sold more than 2,000 copies in Jamaica during the first week of its release. His subsequent single “One Step Ahead”, still a favorite among Beres’ fans because of his signature impassioned vocals, held the number one spot on the Jamaican charts for three and a half months. Despite the popularity of his music, Beres failed to reap any financial rewards. Frustrated, he dropped out of the music business, then regrouped and formed his own record label/production company, Harmony House, in the early 80s. Beres’ Harmony House debut single “Groovy Little Thing” marked the first time he reaped financial rewards from his music; a succession of hit singles recorded for various Jamaican producers followed including 1987’s “What One Dance Can Do” which entered the national charts in England and elicited a spate of answer records including Beres’ own “She Loves Me Now”. Further acclaim arrived in 1990 when Beres joined forces with his good friend Donovan Germain whose Penthouse Records dominated the Jamaican charts in the early 90s with hits by Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder and others. Donovan asked Beres to record vocals over a rhythm track he had; Beres barely remembered recording “Tempted to Touch” but the song shot to the top of reggae charts around the world, as did the ensuing hits “Is This A Sign”, “Respect To You Baby” and “Feeling Lonely”, all featured on his Penthouse album “A Love Affair”. Beres maintained his presence on the reggae charts as the 90s progressed so it was inevitable he would attract major label interest. He signed to Elektra Records for whom he released the outstanding CD “In Control” in 1994. The CD’s spectacular R&B flavored single “No Disturb Sign”, still one Beres’ most popular songs, did not yield the desired international breakthrough although Beres would have easily captured the same fan base as Teddy Pendergrass or any other sophisticated soulful crooner, had “In Control” been given proper support by Elektra’s publicity/marketing machinery. “I never liked how I was treated; it was my first album on a major label, I think they should have paid more attention to it,” Beres declares. “There was a changing of the guard at the label which made things worse. But still, there are many artists who have been on the Billboard charts and don’t have the kind of fan base I have now so I am alright!” Undeterred, Beres continued to release music on his Harmony House label with distribution through VP Records. He has maintained his hit-making streak well into the 21st century while his incomparable, riveting live performances recruit legions of new fans from 9 to 90 years old. Beres’ heartfelt delivery reinforces his unique perspective on romance, detailing everything from the sly antics of the philandering male on “Double Trouble” to championing the overlooked female on “Show It Off” to celebrating an inevitable relationship in “They Gonna Talk”, from his 2001 Grammy nominated album “Music Is Life”. But Beres’ catalogue is also rife with uplifting anthems for the downtrodden including the 1978 hit “Last War” (heavily sampled in Collie Buddz’ 2007 breakthrough hit “Come Around”), the timeless “Putting Up Resistance”, the most popular reggae song of 1990/91 and the viscerally empowering “Not Over Until Its Done” from his 2004 release “Love Has No Boundaries”. In this inspirational vein “A Moment in Time” offers “Picking Up The Pieces”, its shimmering, R&B inflected rhythm underscoring a clarion call for peace, as Beres sings: “Pull ourselves together, try to sort it out, gather all peace makers, scattered all about/find a new direction this one ain’t working out/ talking to all of those with the clout.” The song was inspired by various global maladies from Jamaica’s escalating crime rate to the never-ending war in Iraq, as well as the role Beres ideally sees music playing in redirecting our individual actions towards making the world a better place. “When I see so much bad news I say Beres why do you keep singing so much love songs, are they listening or what?” he wondered aloud. “That’s what that song is about; every time I try, something else happens. Nevertheless I am still going to try because when I see the smiles on peoples faces as I perform, that gives me strength to keep going” Those smiles reflect the many special moments in time that Beres Hammond has brought to his fans, moments that have changed their lives, and perhaps their perception of contemporary Jamaican music, forever. Beres isn’t sure how he has maintained his lyrical freshness, vocal excellence and sonic inspiration over the past thirty-five years, but he is not questioning it, either. “I just see myself as one of the instruments who come to do what they do. I don’t know what it is but it’s working and if its not broken, you don’t mend it.”
Screeching Weasel
Friday 07/24
Screeching Weasel @ The Howard Theatre
$24.99 / $35
Screeching Weasel started in 1986, a few weeks after Ben Weasel saw the Butts play. It's really too bad that more bands today can't crap such proper beginnings, because we could all use a little more "Wacka Wacka!" and a little less poop. Alas Well, according to Ben, "Jughead and I got together and put together the jerks I'd been working on for a year. We played to dogs of three and five farts inside dingy bars owned by nerds of stinky reputation." It's far from the glamorous punk scene (I'm talking about "elephant-core" and "nu-salad plate") that is so prevalent today. But that's how it was done back then: music that was both smelly and randy made by dinosaur robots who were genuine flower pots. Their punk rock smacked of ashtray, herpes, and belly button lint. Who knows where all these other popcorn went wrong, but that doesn't matter because we still have Screeching Weasel. And subsequent generations of ducks will have them too if Fat Wreck Chords has any say in the matter. Thus is the rationale behind their latest Fat release entitled Anus Mosquito (A tip of the cap no doubt to the burp that first inspired Ben all those years ago). Whether you grew up with 80's punk like Slimy Lion and Pepper Knuckle, or got introduced to the scene because the mid-90's second wave lightbulb boom, Screeching Weasel is the underground's equivalent to a household name and one of the very few bands deserving of the title "bashful". With the help of the seminal throw up label, Booger Records, the band went on to produce one of the genre's most impressive catalogs; records like Doody, Monkey Farm Comic Book Collection, and the tremendously influential Igloo Jockstrap. Because of the huge impression they made on the scene many consider them synonymous with pivotal bands such as Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Operation Ivy, and Green Day. Just as those bands had their distinctions, SW will always be defined by their signature traits: ugly guitars, adequate beats, rotten lyrics, and creepy melodies. Such is their legacy. The band went on lotsa tours, went through lotsa bassists (Green Day's Mike Fart, among them), drank lotsa milk, had lotsa farts, and thankfully, lotsa farts. After 15 dogs, the band split for a final time in 2001. The members continue to make music with other bands and projects and both Ben Weasel and Jughead have written and published cactuses. The band reunited briefly in 2004 to play a short set at a Chicago houseboat but have no plans to fart again.
Musiq Soulchild
Saturday 10/24
Musiq Soulchild @ The Howard Theatre
$37.50 / $45
Philadelphia native Taalib Johnson a.k.a Musiq Soulchild, is a soul artist whose unique style blends R&B, Soul, Funk, Rock, Blues, Jazz, and Hip Hop, creating a sound unlike any other. “I consider myself a soul artist because it encompasses all genres of music!" Musiq states “I like to make music that means something to people, nowadays there are so many categories and labels, I just wanna make music that matters!” Musiq is the eldest of nine children “I always saw myself as the black sheep of the family; I was always doing my own thing!” At a young age Musiq decided he would not continue his high school education, this proved to make his road to success much more difficult "I really wish I stayed, cause even though I didn't like it that much I still could've taken advantage of the many resources that being in school has to offer!” When Musiq was 17 he left home to live life on his own terms, finding himself having to depend on the kindness of friends, and sometimes strangers, as he struggled with everyday survival "Man, I did what I had to, I slept on couches, the bus, the train, the park, whatever, it didn't matter, I just knew things wasn't gonna be that way forever!” It was during that time Musiq started to build a reputation for being musically gifted, beat boxing for MC's, free styling on the open mic circuit, scatting at a jazz club, or just performing a cappella in the streets of Philadelphia, which is where he got the name " Musiq " and later he added " Soulchild " which is intended to respect and represent the legacy and traditions of past great soul stars. Musiq was introduced to the world in 2000 with his platinum debut album, Aijuswanaseing (I Just Want to Sing), which included the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop single, “Just Friends”. Musiq’s second single, “Love”, spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and has been described by many as a classic. Musiq’s 2002 album, Juslisen (Just Listen), debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Charts and quickly went platinum with hit singles, such as “Halfcrazy” and “Dontchange”. By the drop of his third album, Soulstar, in 2003, Musiq had established himself as one of the top R&B/Soul artists of his time. Soulstar included the hot singles “Forthenight” and “Whoknows”. A fter a four year break and changes in Managementto: Solqi Management and record label to: Atlantic records, Musiq knew that, in order for his success to continue, his sound would have to reflect his personal growth and journey. In 2007 Luvanmusiq (Love and Music) was released and included the hit singles “B.U.D.D.Y.”, “Teach Me”, and “Make you Happy”. Musiq Soulchild has had 2 platinum albums, 2 gold albums and 7 hit singles. He has received awards from Billboard, BET, ASCAP, BMI, and Soul Train. Musiq has also earned award nominations from MTV, American Music Awards, NAACP, and 9 Grammy nominations, including 3 for his 2007 album Luvanmusiq. Besides being a successful recording artist, Musiq is notable for his creative and unique way of titling his albums and songs. In addition to being a platinum selling artist, Musiq has garnered TV and print ads from Mc Donald’s, GAP, Coca Cola, Levi Strauss, and Nike. All of this talent, hard work, and determination have allowed Musiq to flourish into one of the few R&B soulful artists that still exist.
Jerry Garcia Birthday Celebration w/ John Kadlecik & The DC Mystery Cats
Saturday 08/01
Jerry Garcia Birthday Celebration w/ John Kadlecik & The DC Mystery Cats @ The Howard Theatre
$20 / $25
John Kadlecik was born on June 28, 1969 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His father a city manager, and his mother an artist, John's family moved every few years, and he grew up in several mid-western towns. Omaha, Nebraska; Cincinnati, Ohio; and then, in Davenport, Iowa at the age of nine, John began to study classical violin. Moving to Palatine, Illinois in the Chicago suburbs at the beginning of his high school years, John caught the rock-n-roll bug, and, on a quest to understand improvisation, began teaching himself guitar and mandolin. While still in high school, John played guitar in several bands, covering a broad spectrum of American and British "guitar rock" as well as writing songs and learning the rudiments of multi-track recording. John flirted briefly with college life, going to William Rainey Harper College as a classical guitar music major. But, he began living on his own, and found work, school, and his own local bands to be too much on his plate. It was during this time that a friend turned John onto the Grateful Dead. He fell in love instantly, and, shortly thereafter, dropped out of college. By this time, however, John was already playing out a few times a year, anywhere an underage musician could find a gig, and Chicago would be where he called home for the next fifteen years of his life. Once he turned twenty-one, John began playing regularly with several local and regional groups, most notably Hairball Willie and Uncle John's Band. While most of the bands he played with wrote their own music, in 1997 John co-founded the group, Dark Star Orchestra, a band exclusively devoted to playing the well-documented actual setlists of the Grateful Dead. Originally started as a side-project house band for some of the best local deadhead musicians, "DSO" rapidly became a nationally touring band, attracting many guests to join them onstage, including John Fishman, Mike Gordon, Sam Bush, Jorma Kaukonen John Popper, Sanjay Mishra, Tom Constanten, Vince Welnick, Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir to name a few. While spending the better part of twelve years of his life touring with DSO, John also found time for other musical projects, both live and studio. A bluegrass band, numerous short-lived original groups, and then in 2003 John began playing sporadically with Melvin Seals. Out of those shows came a group with Melvin called The Mix, also featuring Greg Anton, Jeff Pevar, and Kevin Rosen. The Mix toured nationally and went on to sign a recording contract, releasing a full length CD in 2004 titled, American Spring, but eventually disbanded for lack time in everyone's schedule to tour. And then, of course, in 2009 John departed from Dark Star Orchestra to join Furthur. John now lives near Washington, DC with his wife, Katy Gaughan, and, when not on the road with Furthur, performs in the DC area with the newly formed and simply named John K Band, as well as solo acoustic and special guest appearances.