Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

Congo Sanchez, seeing 20/20 on the new Dealin’ With This

Percussionist. Producer. Humanist. Congo Sanchez has many issues on the dome. He uses his musical talent as an unapologetic way to speak to the social maladies of recent times. And the facts will inevitably outweigh the opinion. Listen to his latest effort, Dealin’ With This, in its entirety. It’s a very introspective album that challenges ideas of social exclusion, isolation, and marginalization.

Dealin’ is the first full album released under Sanchez’s label Herb Records. On it he assembles a crew of talent that represents the signature diversity of the District.

Sanchez oversaw the production of Dealin’ under the spiritual influence of talents such as Beck and Pink Floyd. Further, he says he views Miles Davis as an inspiration. About Miles, “his licks on the trumpet were the same, but he surrounded himself with musicians with different styles.”

On the subject of varying styles, the album features the vocal talents of band members Flex Mathews and Haile Supreme. Sanchez maintains a solid, fraternal relationship with the two vocalists. He says of the two, “We respect our musical intuitions very much, and there is no beating around the bush.” Mathews and Supreme’s mix of respective hip-hop and ethereal vocals are the center of the album’s narrative. In the track “Stand Beside Yourself,” Supreme’s meditative voice encourages the listener to look at DC from the outside-in.

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TVD Recommends: Fellow Creatures, Baby Bry Bry, and Gully Waters at DC9, 11/22

With the demise of local band Ugly Purple Sweater, former members Will McKindley-Ward and Sam McCormally knew they wanted to start a new project together. They knew that they wanted the new band to feel like a departure from their previous work, and shortly after the final UPS show, they got to work on a new batch of songs.

Tomorrow, November 22, their experimental work in their new band, the self-described “swampy indie rock band” Fellow Creatures, will be showcased at DC9, along with supporting bands Baby Bry Bry and Gully Waters.

I had the chance to ask Sam McCormally a couple questions about the new band, the show, and Fellow Creatures’ first single, “Allies.”

How is the music you’re making with Fellow Creatures unique?

I bought a toy piano that a young mom was selling on Craigslist and stuck a pickup on it. You can hear the toy piano solo in the middle of “Shuka Shuka,” a demo that we released on Bandcamp last month. Will took pieces of Duke Ellington songs, sped them up so that they were unrecognizable, and then learned to play them on guitar.

We spent a lot of time doing vocal exercises. For a couple of months, we decided to make music that sounded like a re-imagined soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are—but if it were set in a futuristic swamp—and while I don’t think that is actually what we sound like, it was a useful conceit for a while.

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TVD Recommends: Girls Rock! DC Benefit with Drop Electric, Cigarette, and Young Rapids at the Black Cat, 11/22

DC has a long history of collaboration between bands and community partners, enriching the city in the process. The Godfather of Go Go, Chuck Brown once said, “People are looking for a way to take action, to do something other than donate on the Turnpike on their way to work, which seems impersonal.”

Look no further than this Saturday night to take action! Three local bands, Drop Electric, Cigarette, and Young Rapids take on the Black Cat mainstage to raise money for Girls Rock! DC—an organization that exists to inspire and cultivate through music.

Girls Rock! DC aims to create a supportive, inclusive, and creative space for girls to develop their self-confidence, build community, stand up, and rock out! It was founded in October 2007 by an all-volunteer collective of DC metro area musicians, teachers, artists, and community organizers—based on the Girls Rock! mission across the nation.

Headliners, Drop Electric, have a history of being philanthropic in their personal lives. Ramtin Arablouei of Drop Electric tells TVD, “Over the last few years we’ve gotten to know a few people who have worked with Girls Rock! DC and totally believe in their mission. We really think there should be a space for young women to learn, write, and play music together. This must continue to be encouraged. Given the history of people discouraging young women from playing instruments we want to see the trend reversed. If we can even do something small to help we are eager to do it!”

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Death From Above 1979 at the 9:30 Club, 12/1

The boys are at it again! After announcing their break-up in 2006, Death from Above 1979 reunited in 2011 to appease the public demand for a performance, embarking on a year long tour. Three years later, the duo found themselves back on the road and back in the studio.

A decade since the release of their debut album You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, the Canadian punk-rockers announced the release of their second album back in June. Titled The Physical World, Death from Above 1979’s latest release hit the online shelves this past September. According to Death from Above 1979 members Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler, the album was “written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 in some real life Rorschach test where past and present are perfectly symmetrical and equally terrifying.”

In support of their album release, Death from Above 1979 is embarking on an international tour. The duo recently announced UK tour dates, but prior to crossing the pond, Grainger and Keeler are performing across the U.S. and Canada. Among their stops is a show at the 9:30 Club on Monday, December 1. Don’t have tickets yet? No worries, we’re giving away a pair!

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: The Dismemberment Plan with Priests at the 9:30 Club, 11/28

After a long interlude to pursue other careers, indie-rock band The Dismemberment Plan reunited back in 2010 to play a few shows and inevitably revive a new wave of dance punk music. Last year, the reunion extended into the studio, which produced comeback D-Plan album, Uncanney Valley. 

Formed in 1993, the DC indie-rockers paved the way for an era of dance punk, and even after the band—composed of Eric Axelson, Jason Caddell, Joe Easley, and Travis Morrison—called it quits in 2003 to pursue other goals, the fanbase they established in their prime years grew, allowing them to pick up where they left off eleven years later.

A comeback is not an easy task for most bands, but the four-piece makes it look simple. Between reissues of previous albums, the release of Uncanney Valley, and touring all over the world, The Dismemberment Plan is having a resurgence, continuing with the addition of three shows to a small string of performances. Among the three added dates is a show at the 9:30 Club on Friday, November 28—and we’re giving away a pair of tickets.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Hailu Mergia and Low Mentality at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 11/22

Beloved DC-based Ethiopian musician and superstar Hailu Mergia and his backing band from Brooklyn, Low Mentality, will grace the Atlas Performing Arts Center stage in Washington, DC this Saturday, November 22 for a rare appearance. Following his critically acclaimed reissue, Hailu Mergia’s Shemonmuanaye/ Classical Instrument reissue on Awesome Tapes From Africa last year, the legendary keyboardist and accordion player has had quite a busy year performing on stages across Europe and North America to very warm receptions.

Hailu started making headlines again when another reissue from his past, Tche Belew, featuring The Walias Band, was released in October, 2014. The album is significant in that it represents “a critical chapter in Ethiopian popular music, taking place during a period of music industry flux and political complexity in the country,” not to mention that original pressings can fetch upwards of $4,000 on online record auctions.

On Saturday concertgoers will be treated to Hailu Mergia’s music as he takes center stage at Atlas surrounded and supported by his current co-conspirators, Low Mentality from Brooklyn. Expect to hear many of Hailu’s Ethiojazz classics reworked and delivered with funk-laced enthusiasm by this younger cast of musicians that he’s been working with in the last year.

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TVD Live Shots:
Johnny Marr at the
9:30 Club, 11/09

Touring to promote his 2014 release, Playland, Johnny Marr kicked off an extensive North American tour at DC’s 9:30 Club with gusto—unleashing his groundbreaking guitar fury on an audience of fans who spanned generations, enthralled with Marr’s celebrated catalog of work.

Marr embodies the true English rock star persona with a sound that you hear from few artists these days, minus perhaps Marr’s pal Noel Gallagher, who recently joined him on stage during Marr’s set at London’s O2 Academy Brixton gig last month. Gallagher also recently announced that Marr will be featured on his upcoming March release, Chasing Yesterday.

With his signature melodies and his punctuated rhythms, Marr’s playing is part genius and part innovator. In my opinion, Marr is quite possibly one of the best guitarists of our time and with his incredible solo body of work and his brilliant legacy with The Smiths, Marr is certain to live forever in hearts—and on turntables—for ages. (NME “Godlike Genius,” indeed.)

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TVD Live: Chrissie Hynde at the Lincoln Theatre, 11/7

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | If you’re under a certain age, you might be forgiven for wondering why anyone would go see Chrissie Hynde today. At 63-years-old, after decades of fronting the Pretenders and only just releasing her first solo album this summer, it would be easy to assume Hynde’s voice is shot, her songs dated, her energy low.

You would be wrong.

Playing a mix of material from her solo debut Stockholm and classic Pretenders hits, Chrissie Hynde proved that she’s still at the forefront of making and performing genuine rock and roll. With a voice that is somehow still pristine and a look that screams anglophile musician, there is no doubt that she retains her position as rock royalty.

Shortly after the lights dimmed at the Lincoln Theatre on Friday night, with Sam Cooke’s version of the “The Great Pretender” playing on the soundsystem, Hynde swaggered on stage to an overwhelming roar of excitement from the audience.

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TVD Live: Ian Hunter and the Rant Band with Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, the Hamilton, 11/2

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | I won’t deny it; I’ve been in love with Ian Hunter since I was 14. Since the first time I heard Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes,” in fact. I played the hell out of that song, listened to it again and again, and I still love it every bit as much as I did the first time I heard it. And that’s all I have to say about that, except that I want it to be duly noted that I’ll be really truly pissed, as in sit up in my coffin swinging pissed, if it isn’t played at my wake. And played very loud at that. I bet it’ll sound great on church organ.

Ian Hunter is a real rarity in so far as he is still making vital music despite the fact that he’s 75. Think about that for a moment. At 75 my maternal grandfather was collecting and freeze-drying stool samples (mostly but not all his own) as a hobby. Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather was convinced that Adolf Hitler was alive and well and living in his bedroom closet. Closer to home, the live Dylan (almost an oxymoron at this point) sounds like a frog who has just gotten his tonsils taken out, while Mick Jagger makes a geriatric fool of himself every time he struts about on stage like Mike the Headless Chicken.

But Hunter has managed to age gracefully without going the adult-contemporary route or just trotting out the oldies. He’s still rocking like he means it because he does mean it, and is still writing new songs that actually matter because he lives and breathes rock’n’roll, has ever since the first time he heard Little Richard.

Ian Hunter the former glam rocker never made a very good glam rocker, because at heart he was a down-to-earth punter. He never could have played the polymorphous perverse rock’n’roll Martian like David Bowie or played the teen idol card like Marc Bolan. As for his band, Mott the Hoople, they always looked a bit ridiculous in their glam finery, like factory workers on Halloween. In short, Hunter outlived glam because he wasn’t at all about fashion but was an ordinary earthling whose real talent was for making great music, first with Mott the Hoople and then as a solo artist working with the late, great Mick Ronson and some other excellent collaborators.

The platform boots are history, but Hunter still has his trademark look—dark shades and that great mane of curly hair of his—both of which I was fortunate enough to finally see in the flesh on Sunday, November 2 at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.

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TVD Live: Pete Yorn
at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 11/2

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | On Sunday evening, an enthusiastic crowd gathered for an early show at Sixth & I historic synagogue where Pete Yorn‘s banter and rock- and folk-inspired music lived up to the tour’s claims of “You & Me Acoustic.”

Yorn, dressed in slim jeans and a plaid shirt, his shaggy hair obscuring his eyes, sauntered through the pews from the back of the room, climbed on stage and perched on a stool, where he sat alone with a couple of guitars and a harmonica.

He is unassuming in person, and seemed genuinely excited by the crowd’s energy. Looking around the venue as many artists do, perhaps a bit perplexed finding himself in a synagogue, he remarked, “This isn’t the 9:30 Club. This is something else.” It was just the start of an unusually intimate show. Without a band backing him, Yorn took advantage of his freedom. He was relaxed and playful, offering anecdotes and sound bites throughout a set that spanned his entire catalogue, and more.

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