Tomorrow night, the DC Public Library Foundation is set to release a compilation album featuring several luminaries of the D.C. music scene. Entitled ALB’s Rock the Stacks and in tandem with a local music festival and release party at the MLK Library, it’s dedicated to the memory of Annie Lou Berman, an essential member of the D.C. creative community and board member of the DC Public Library Foundation who passed away due to cancer earlier this year. All proceeds will go to DCPL, a foundation she loved and supported. The project is headed by a committee that includes Anna Fuhrman (Proper Topper), Brendan Canty (Fugazi, Deathfix), Jim Thomson (Gwar), Ben Gilligan (musician and restaurateur,) Vida Russell and Jerry Busher (Deathfix, French Toast.) Members of the library and Berman’s family members, including husband MJ Berman, sister Johanna Howe and cousin Kevin Bayly (The Dance Party, Brett, Furniteur) were also closely involved. We caught up with Kevin to discuss the project and Annie Lou’s enduring love and contributions to the Library and DC music scene.
What was Annie Lou’s connection to the library and the local scene?
She was a member of the DC Public Library Foundation and an active contributor and archivist for the DC Punk Archive. She was incredibly active in encouraging the involvement of other like-minded people.
Growing up in northwest D.C., Annie Lou was a huge fan and supporter of local music from a young age – befriending bands, going to shows, throwing art parties, making videos – you name it. When I was first playing shows in D.C. she introduced me to so many amazing friends and musicians. Everyone enjoyed her company so she supported the scene by making important connections with sentiments such as, “Oh you love dance punk, my friend Ben loves dance punk, you MUST meet him,” or “Oooh you know what would be great? If all of us got together and threw the most amazing party in the library.”
So, you’re building upon and testifying to her legacy with Rock The Stacks.
These fun, irreverent, light-hearted concepts were her specialty. After she passed away, so many of her amazing friends came together to make one of her outlandish concepts come together. Rock The Stacks is a testament to her enchanting imagination and wonderful ability to make an impact while create lifelong friends with everyone she met.
How has the DC Public Library supported you in this endeavor? They seem to be uniquely supportive of this type of work with their punk archives and other programming.
DCPL has been so supportive. They let Jerry Busher, Ben Gilligan, and I make a mess in their unique recording studio, they helped set up meetings on-site, and they donated the entire MLK building to the project right before it shuts down for renovations. It’s a wonderful institution and resource that really goes out of its way to support the arts and creativity. Additionally, this couldn’t have come together without the wonderful people at the DC Public Library Foundation who work closely with the library on events like this.
What was the process to building out the lineup and vinyl contributors?
We started with friends of Annie Lou and moved forward to include a wide variety of DC based performers. There are two integral components with the vinyl record and the actual event. For the record, we were able to get contributions from established artists like Thievery Corporation and some of Annie Lou’s favorites like Short Stack. Then, in one of the most interesting aspects of the process, we had access to MLK Library’s recording facility. Ben, Jerry, and I engineered some really great stuff from Warm Sun, Furniteur, and Small Doses. The Small Doses cut included local MC’s and appears on the record as ALB All Stars – it’s really pretty rad.
Any plans for more events like this moving forward?
The good thing is that even if we destroy the place, they are closing down for renovations. That being said, I would love to make this annual!