“It’s all about tickling people’s musical g-spots with the sound.” —Congo Sanchez
Herb Records is the brainchild of DC-based percussionist Congo Sanchez. The first album from the label—Herb Records 2013—released last week, includes the musical works of Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status. Together, the trio compiled a signature mix of electronic dub, trip-hop, ragga, shoe-gaze, and moombahton (to name a few).
This debut venture adds yet another unique layer to the DC music spectrum, a reflection of the diverse demographics of the mid-Atlantic. Chatting with Sanchez, he gives me the rundown on his music, his latest venture, and the tour.
Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status originate from Richmond, VA, an incubator for musicians ranging from Pat Benatar to D’Angelo. Like the femme rocker and buffed-out neo-soulster, the men of Herb Records show and prove a streak of individuality native to the Capitol City. Given the multi-hyphenate musician’s eclecticism, adapting sounds comes to him as naturally as a drumbeat. “I’ve used a lot more drum samples than I did before because I’ve been DJing a lot and…working along the lines of the DJ producer.”
The previous album featured more live instruments. Herb Records 2013 is not so much a contrast as it’s the next artistic challenge for the trio.
You’re alone in the dark, and the only voices of reason you have are your thoughts. Don’t be fooled; darkness is not a place of solitude. Sounds that are ordinarily mundane, like a dripping faucet or a creaky wood floor, become amplified, grabbing your undivided attention. If you’re devoid of light for too long, these sounds might completely betray you.
Welcome to the sadistic and moribund world of Halloween. Below we’ve compiled a list of song with lyrics and situations that will make you look behind your back and perhaps leave you scared…shitless.
Megadeth - Go to Hell
Don’t fear the reaper? That’s nonsense when your soul is wagered on a game of eternal blackjack. The Charon, the ghastly oarsman that shepherds souls, bears little comparison to the fateful entity that has dominion over the realm of fire and brimstone. Uncorrupted minds everywhere: if you hear Dave Mustaine’s verses, rebuke them immediately. Or damnation will be upon you.
This Fourth of July weekend, musicians and artists far and wide will participate in PEX Summer Festival. Held on campgrounds in Darlington, Maryland, it celebrates many of the idiosyncrasies of Burning Man—the festival from which it draws inspiration. No matter how they’re expressed, idiosyncrasies and quirks are welcome.
Diversity, too, takes many forms at PEX. One particular camp that sheds light on such variety is Meso Creso. Per their website, Meso Creso “cultivates creativity without boundaries.” The name, a coinage of Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent, “fuses the whimsy of the Burning Man community with DC’s cultural diversity and social consciousness.” And one of the co-founders, V:shal Kanwar is a vinyl-head with some colorful roots.
V:shal is a co-founder and resident DJ with Meso Creso. His connection to vinyl goes back many decades. “As a child growing up in Africa in the late 1970s, my parents… alternated between classical Indian records, fresh disco beats, and everything the Nigerian funk scene put out. My parents would host parties that featured a blend of American funk, European disco, and the deep African rhythms of legends like Fela Kuti, Ebenezer Obey, and King Sunny Adé.
This Sunday, May 19, Virus Recordings, 2Tuff and The Vinyl District present Inject the Virus. A celebration of the 15-year run of Virus Recordings, this eponymous event will feature drum and bass legends Ed Rush and Optical as well as artists of 2Tuff and local internet streaming station Expansion Broadcast. And this will all happen at U Street Music Hall.
Virus Recordings, the UK-born drum and bass record label, has targeted “techstep” and “neurofunk” sub-cultures around the world. Started in 1998, the legendary label made way for the futuristic, albeit clinical, sounds of techstep music. London-based DJ Ed Rush tweaked the dichromatic progressions of the genre with improvisational stabs and moody sound design to develop neurofunk.
While ghetto-house was making a name for itself in the States (Cajmere, “Time for the Perculator”), Rush and his frequent collaborator Optical were pioneering avant-garde dance rhythms in the UK. But the late ’90s, Virus Recording was associated with the unique form of thematic “dnb” that might score all things post-apocalyptic.
For the audiophile, this tribute will likely be a time capsule to the days of analog. In the 1960s, the golden age of vinyl took off with that mad trend we know as Beatlemania. Riding that same wave of through-the-roof vinyl sales, Brown’s Live at the Apollo album became a surprise hit. This validated the funk-tastic man from Barnwell, South Carolina as Soul Brother Number One.
This evening, the spirit of the emotive, foot-shuffling impresario sounds off through Underdog, Damu, and Sam “The Man”; all are tried and true fans of the late Godfather of Soul.
The 420 subculture is taking over Tropicalia’s Sao Funky Saturday! Billed as a post-Record Store Day event, incidentally happening on April 20, the night will get some help from all-stars from Fort Knox Recordings. This Sao Funky Saturday won’t skip a beat.
Located at 14th and U Streets NW, Tropicalia—the little party hut located underneath the Subway—will begin with an early show from 7pm – 10:30pm. Nappy Riddem and Asheru will be the hosts. After dark, the musical arc will change with a DJ set from Fort Knox Five.
Nappy Riddem, led by Rex Riddem and Mustafa Akbar, works from a diverse curriculum of reggae, dub, hip hop, and R&B. They’re full-length album One World Sovereignty showcases a range of skank rhythms, new jack swing, and hot-buttered soul. Having performed across the nation, at local DMV venues, and at music festivals such as PEX Summerfest, Nappy Riddem is true evangelism for post-funk music.
Last Wednesday, February 27, there was not one unhappy soul at the Howard Theatre. The legendary Skatalites headlined a night of happy music where ego was left behind. They played for the mods and the ska-heads. They played for rockers and the raggamuffins. They played for the old and young. They played for the ages.
But before the Skatalites started their act. The crowd got a double dose of Latin-Caribbean flavor. The opening act, Gallo (pronounced Gah-yo), fused skank rhythms with ballady vocals. The band, lead by two brothers from Los Angeles, adorned the stage with Rastafarian-themed flags. Their one-of-a-kind stage presence could’ve been a screen capture of the vibrant Venice Beach live music scene.
After Gallo exited stage, DC’s beloved Lucky Dub raised the happy gauge a little bit more with their caffeinated island ensemble act. Formed in 2008, the Wammy-nominated Lucky Dub made the rounds at venues all across District, such as the Black Cat and Jammin’ Java. Lead singer Gordon Daniels yet again proved himself a storyteller who uses his tenor as a compass, steering the band’s endless musical journeys to the groove of their audience.
The ever-flowing gift of reggae endures here in DC. On Wednesday, February 27, Howard Theatre patrons will hear old and new from the pioneers of ska music, The Skatalites. Their mission to bring back the heyday of Jamaican music continues with Walk With Me, the latest album release.
The Skatalites formed in 1963. The original members included Tommy McCook, Rolando Alphonso, Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Knibb, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Jah Jerry Haynes, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore, and Jackie Opel. It didn’t take long from the time of their live debut (in the summer of 1964) to gain a residency at a beach club in eastern Kingston. Their dance-inducing style of play made them a premier band, transcending their genre.
The influence of American popular culture—R&B music and Hollywood films—catalyzed ska bands such as The Skatalites. They’re known for a playful, walking bass-line remake of The Guns of Navarone theme song. The song’s inclination for accented rhythms on the upbeat was a clever revamp of mundane heroic tunes.