By Alex Tebeleff
Hey everyone, my name is Alex and this column is called DC DIT. I find the DIT mantra of Do It Together exemplifies more of what I hope my participation in the DC music scene will contribute as opposed to Do it Yourself. My goal is to connect people with creative ideas and interests and help grow a scene that features a remarkable amount of intelligent and talented musicians.
Mostly, this column will center on the DC music scene. I’ll strive to expose both local and national bands that are coming through town that are worth exploring. With so many resources for information in the 21st easy to feel lost. There’s more music being made and more resources to find out about it than ever before. I know how difficult it is to find the real musical gems among the muck of repetitive mediocrity that litters the current music press. There are so many great musicians and bands around that it’s hard to decide who is worth your time to listen to and go see live, I hope this column helps you find something you appreciate.
But who am I to tell you where to go and who to see? I’ve been playing and organizing shows in the DC area since 2004, and I’ve been especially active since 2010. I hope my love and enthusiasm for local and national music will serve as a guide for the uninitiated to start exploring the local music scene and will help expose some new music to those with more experience and knowledge who are looking for something new.
Trying to explore the local music scene in DC can also be particularly difficult. There aren’t many centralized and consistent media sources for the subject right now, though that seems to be changing as the scene keeps getting better and better again. However, there are some notable and worthy exceptions, including DC Music Download, DCist, Washington City Paper, Chunky Glasses, Hometown Sounds, Listen Local First, DC Showspace, and DC Showlist.
So, what’s going on this week that’s worth your time?
Tuesday, March 4
Tuesday features two great shows. The first is Baby Bry Bry, Slothrust, and Wanted Man at Rock & Roll Hotel. All three of these bands are fantastic live acts that make vital and emotionally powerful rock and roll, which is something I find increasingly rare these days. Baby Bry Bry and Wanted Man are both local bands involved in the DC house show scene.
Speaking of house shows, over at The Beehive (a house venue in Petworth run by the members of local band Pree and songwriter Dave Klinger), Landlady will be perform on Tuesday. Landlady frontman Adam Schatz is one of my favorite musicians in the country (you may have seen him before with Man Man or Father Figures, and he’s been featured on countless worthwhile records over the past couple years including the most recent album by Those Darlins from Nashville). Both shows are definitely worth checking out. Landlady is also playing the Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center early in the evening if you’ve already got plans for later at night.
Wednesday, March 5
Continuing on the subject of rock bands, newly Merge Records minted 3 piece Ex-Hex plays The Black Cat on Wednesday. I haven’t been able to catch them yet, but judging from the energy of the recordings they’ve release so far, and the fantastic catalog of records that frontwoman Mary Timony has been involved with over the years, I wouldn’t hesitate making a decision to come to this show. I’m not very familiar with second opener Teen’s music, but on first listen it sounds very well made and should be interesting to see how they pull it off live. The first opener Foul Swoops are from DC and they are a sure fire bet for a great show. Definitely get there early for them!
Friday, March 7
On Friday, a couple of my favorite active bands are playing at The Paperhaus, the house venue I’ve booked, lived in, and practiced in for the past 3 1/2 years with my band Paperhaus (the house is name after the band, we all used to live in the space together). Young Rapids are certainly one of the most interesting bands to emerge from the rapidly growing DC music scene, and they are probably my personal favorite out there locally right now. They make thoughtful and emotional music that feels like it’s made from the collective unconscious of the members, without an ego in sight. And damn those arrangements are tasteful! I love seeing a band with this kind of maturity and restraint, it makes for a much more dynamic sound when they do rock out more intensely, especially live. Zula, one of my favorite bands from Brooklyn right now, is also on the bill, and they are a fantastic representation of the rapidly emerging creative music scene up there that also includes bands like Celestial Shore, Ava Luna, and Friend Roulette, a group of great musicians who are also on the bill that night. Joe DeGeorge: Sax Machine, a member of Harry and The Potters from Providence, RI, rounds out one of my favorite bills I’ve ever booked at the house.
Saturday, March 8
On Saturday, I have the privilege of hosting the band Cuddle Magic over at The Dunes in Columbia Heights. They put on one of the best performances I’ve ever seen at The Paperhaus a year ago (you might have also seen them over the past year at The Hamilton or various other house venues in DC), and I can tell you that the ingenuity and musicianship they showcase is a seriously rare find. They make beautiful music with incredibly interesting arrangements, and seeing it all done live is very impressive and engaging. Also on the bill are three fantastic songwriters, Sam McCormally (from Ugly Purple Sweater and Paperhaus), Rachel Reis (from NYC), and Dave Klinger. This is the kind of bill that makes all the insanity of booking shows worth it for me.
Please let me know what you want featured on this column. I wanted to give a general briefing of my thoughts on the DC and national music scene with this article, along with the weekly band and show recommendations. I’ll go deeper in to specific topics on local and national music in the future. The world of music locally and nationally is vast. You can listen and look every minute of the day and still miss something wonderful worth exploring. My ears and eyes are always open.