Author Archives: Dulani Wallace

TVD Recommends:
The James Brown 80th Birthday (all vinyl) Tribute at Tropicalia, tonight 5/1

Tonight, May 1, celebrate James Brown’s 80th birthday at Tropicalia DC with the rare gift of an all-vinyl evening. DC DJ Underdog joins Damu the Fudgemonk and Sam “The Man” Burns at what’s been dubbed “The Big Playback.”

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.

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TVD Recommends: Nappy Riddem, Asheru, and Fort Knox Five at Tropicalia, 4/20

420 party Sao Funky_ALT(1)

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.

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TVD Live: The Skatalites at the Howard Theatre, 2/27

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.

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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.

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TVD Recommends:
The Skatalites at the Howard Theatre, 2/27

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.

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TVD Recommends: Future Times Presents Sal P of Liquid Liquid at Tropicalia, tonight (2/7)

If taken literally, the proverbial rule applied to books doesn’t apply: you might regret it if don’t judge a vinyl album by its cover. Sal P would tell you likewise. Moreover, he wouldn’t expect you to assess his music contrary to what it has become: part of the fabric of golden-age hip-hop and dance music.

DJ. Vegan chef. Sal P’s musical tastes are as eclectic as his resume. And his love of music flows to a new generation of funk-heads. Today, February 7, Sal P will bring his inimitable style of minimalist bass-fusion  to the District. He took some time out of his schedule to chat with me in advance of his set at Tropicalia tonight.

Salvatore Principato is the percussionist and bebopish voice behind Liquid Liquid, a New York City-born band categorized as “no-wave.” Active before just before the genesis of MTV, Liquid Liquid is best known for “Cavern,” a bass-string-driven groove with an accelerated dub rhythm. Released by 99 Records, Cavern’s bassline is known to mainstream audiences as Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It).”

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TVD Ticket and Vinyl Giveaway: The Funk 4 Peace Ball at UHall, 1/20

Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock, the founders of DC Brau Brewing Company, have a reputation that transcends the art of microbrew and hops. As a special event aligning the Inauguration and MLK, Jr. holiday weekend, Skall and Hancock partnered with Fort Knox Five Recordings for the Funk 4 Peace Ball, at UHall. 

Jurassic 5 alumnus, DJ Nu-Mark marquees a lineup that features Fort Knox Five, Nappy Riddem, and Empresarios. It all happens this Sunday, January 20. And we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the show plus some vinyl.

Revered as one of the key figures in the late-’90s DJ explosion, DJ Nu-Mark is part of a pantheon of golden-age hip-hop DJs. Straddling between the avenues of indie and mainstream, Nu-Mark is on tour promoting Broken Sunlightreleased in December 2012. In a July 2011 interview with The Vinyl District, Nu-Mark, talks about his roots as a DJ hobbyist in his teens. Now he’s been associated with such acts as Dave Matthews; he also appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary Scratch.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Thievery Corporation
at the 9:30 Club, 1/19
(Sold out!)

To Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, the duo at the core of the Thievery Corporation, their music is designed to break the commercial mold. They’ve delighted fans for nearly 20 years in venues great and small. They’re back again, on a new mission to unite the sounds of the globe with the likes of you. So keep reading: You can win a pair of tickets to see them at the 9:30 Club.

On play mode for nearly two decades now, Hilton and Garza have crafted themselves as musical journeymen. Further, they’ve built a commune of diverse acts that bring the world’s hemispheres together.

Through Eighteenth Street Lounge and ESL Music — their nightlife hub and album label, respectfully — Thievery nurtures acts such as Congo Sanchez, Thomas Blondet, Mustafa Akbar, Ursula 1000 as well as their own. The label operates out of the basement of a three-level townhouse in Dupont Circle that was once the claim of president Theodore Roosevelt.

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Musical Artists Need Apply: The House Artist Grant Program

House Studio functions like an orchard: it intentionally plants and cultivates the seeds of creativity among rising musical artists throughout the area. And beyond the District—House Studio is headquartered here in DC—the program is open to aspiring artists wherever they live. 

The House Artist Grant Program, sponsored by House Studio, provides selected artists the chance to gain proprietary knowledge about developing and marketing their music.  Selected artists will have access to House Studio’s resources, including recording, mixing, mastering, photography, video production, and distribution. To give these chosen artists an even better trajectory,  in-house producers and engineers will make themselves available to mentor the artists, who will develop their own unique musical sound and visual identity during the process.  Alternative-soul singer-songwriter Desiree Jordan is an artist affiliated with the program.

The program is free for those chosen. All recordings, mixing, mastering, photography, video production, and distribution will be covered. Financial management, publishing and trademarking, booking shows, and time management are core workshops that are part of the program. Concurrently, the program also provides hands-on training for youth in the studio’s House Academy program.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Super Hi-Fi, Dub to the Bone

Like other Afro-funk influenced bands such as the Budos Band and Antibalas, Super Hi-Fi adds a unique tune to the growing live instrumental movement on the East Coast. Based out of Brooklyn, Super Hi-Fi is an “Afro-Dub” band led by songwriter-producer-bassist, Ezra Gale.

Their debut album Dub To The Bone, released by Electric Cowbell Records, blends syncopated dub and highlife rhythms with the innate zaniness of trombones. To give trombone impresario Fred Wesley a run for his money, Super Hi-Fi plays with audio fidelity to give the album a vintage feel.

Gale was generous enough take a moment to answer some questions about the band and their unique style. They played last Thursday night (11/29) at Tropicalia on 14th Street, here in DC.

Tell me how you discovered or came upon Afrobeat music?

I heard a Fela Kuti record in college.

Super Hi Fi is listed genre-fied as “Afro-Dub.” Describe this genre.

Afro-dub has dub techniques and esthetics, but with different music and rhythms than just reggae.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Public Enemy at the 9:30 Club, 11/28

In a thirty-year span, Public Enemy evolved into high-energy outfit that combined politically charged lyrics with high-charged beats. Instead of the glittery, commercialized oeuvre groomed for wider audiences, Public Enemy’s lyrics were set to the trajectory of race relations. 

Ironically, the group grew a wider audience and maintained staying power with a slant toward the polemic. The group comes to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, November 28. Guests include Monie Love, X-Clan, Schoolly D, Leaders of the New School and others.

Formed in 1982 with members Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X, Professor Griff, and MCs, the Long Island released their first album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show on Def Jam Records. Critics and hard core hip-hop heads approved of the album, but the effort failed to catch mainstream music lovers.

In their follow-up album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the mainstream got a dose of Flavor Flav’s physical antics and Chuck D’s baritone-rich lyrical tirades. The album spawned the hits “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Bring the Noise.” ​It Takes a Nation was a very distinct production as it contained excerpts from speeches made by controversial black activists such as Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. The album went on to sell more than a million copies.

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