Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: Paul Weller at the Lincoln Theatre, 10/7

Paul Weller has no time for nostalgia and he doesn’t dwell on the past (even though his is epic). Forty years into a stellar recording career that has seen him place number one albums in the UK charts in four different decades, he is all about the present and all about promoting his current work.

So, as his tour pulled into Washington, DC on Saturday night in support of his thirteenth solo record, A Kind Revolution, a heavy dose of new material was to be expected. True to form Weller played six of A Kind Revolution’s ten songs, while airing two-thirds of 2015’s Saturns Pattern album. Fortunately for everyone in attendance at the elegant Lincoln Theatre, Weller’s latest records are quite good and his five-piece accompanying band excellent.

Taking the stage a little after 9pm, following a well-received set from opener Lucy Stone, Paul Weller and band delivered a high energy, two-hour plus show. Highlights from the new material included “Nova,” “Long Long Road,” and “Woo Se Mama” (A Kind Revolution) and “Going My Way” and “White Sky” (Saturns Pattern). Rousing versions of “From the Floorboards Up” and “Friday Street” off of earlier solo albums kept the crowd on its feet in this seated venue, while versions of The Style Council’s “My Ever Changing Moods,” “Have You Ever Had it Blue,” and “Shout to the Top” were met with especially appreciative applause. The band went into full psychedelic blues jam mode on “Into Tomorrow” and “Peacock Suit” featured exquisite guitar playing by Steve Cradock and Paul Weller. The set closed with a raucous and raw “Porcelain Gods.”

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: The Secret Sisters with Mary Bragg at the Hamilton, 10/4

PHOTO: ABRAHAM ROWE | The Secret Sisters come off like a classic duo from the golden age of country music, or maybe before that—the string band era of the Depression days. Existing in the 21st century is a whole lot harder, they have found. But survival seems certain based on their reliance on the kind of sibling harmonies that bring to mind the Everly Brothers—and a wicked sense of humor promulgated by the elder sister, Laura Rogers.

At their headlining show at The Hamilton in DC Wednesday, she was the one that talked almost as much as they sang, with funny observations and off-the-top of her head dream interpretations that were meant to be the comic relief to a set that by their own admission relies mostly on balladry and sad songs.

They began with “Tennessee River Runs Low” almost as a warm up as how their lovely harmonies work. Laura often sets the tone for the melody and guitar-playing Lydia sings high or low as the song requires, sometimes within the same song. The two voices and guitar, as happens in some rare duos, create something bigger than the two, and it’s a lovely thing to behold.

Lydia’s guitar work—simple and strong—shouldn’t be dismissed, nor her crucial addition to the comedy, by playing the eye-rolling straight man to her sister, or adding sarcastic commentary like “Oh, that was a good idea.”

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TVD Live: Daniel Johnston at the Lincoln Theatre, 10/3

PHOTOS: ERICA BRUCE | To the devoted fans of Daniel Johnston, the troubled outsider songwriter behind “Speeding Motorcycle” and other indie favorites, an introduction would certainly not be necessary. But what’s being billed at Johnston’s final tour begins with a lengthy intro: The whole of Jeff Feuerzeig’s remarkable 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which chronicles the fascinating and heartbreaking story of the creative young man from West Virginia who is hit hard by unrequited love and even harder by bipolar disease and over-reliance on LSD.

Despite his extreme and sometimes scary personality quirks, Johnston is something of a pop music savant, able to turn out endless rough but tuneful songs based on his own devotion to the Beatles and other rock touchstones. (And when he wasn’t recording songs, he was tossing off thousands of charming cartoony drawings).

Abandoned in Austin by a traveling carnival where he worked, he grew to have a following there, and was able to shoulder his way into a Texas-based 1985 episode of MTV’s The Cutting Edge to gain his first national attention. People really looked him up, though, after some other MTV exposure—when Kurt Cobain wore his “Hi, How Are You?” t-shirt at the 1992 VMAs. By this time, Johnston was deep into his mental ailments. Nevertheless, record companies had a bidding war at a mental hospital where he had been committed. That Johnston is able to appear now—12 years after that movie wrapped—is a testament to the refining of psychotropic drugs.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live Shots: VetsAid featuring Joe Walsh, Zac Brown Band, Gary Clark Jr., Keith Urban at Eagle Bank Arena, 9/20

Last Wednesday night EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA played host to the inaugural VetsAid Charity Benefit Concert sponsored by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and multi Grammy Award winner, Joe Walsh. As if the Eagles guitar-man wasn’t enough, Walsh recruited a virtual powerhouse of guitar talent that included Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr., and The Zac Brown Band as support for the evening.

VetsAid is a non-profit organization whose annual concerts will support veteran centered charities that provide physical and emotional care to soldiers and their families. A Gold Star family member himself, Walsh is no stranger to the trials veterans’ families face, having lost his father in active-duty when he was only 20 months old. Over the years, veterans charities are something that Walsh has kept close to his heart, supporting various organizations and even having visited Walter Reed Medical Center offering free guitar lessons to wounded soldiers.

Working hands-on with his new project, Walsh has reviewed numerous organizations and picked the following as beneficiaries of the inaugural performance: Semper Fi Fund, TAPS, Hire Heroes USA, Warrior Canine Connection, Operation Mend, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Stop Soldier Suicide, and Swords to Plowshares.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

Read More »

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TVD Live: Take Me to the River Memphis Revue at the National Museum of American History, 9/19

Since Martin Shore released his 2014 documentary Take Me to the River, telling the story of Memphis soul while trying to introduce the genre to a hip hop generation, a number of its featured artists have died, including Bobby “Blue” Bland, Hubert Sumlin, and Teenie Hodges. But three other of its featured participants went on to win their first Grammys this year — singer and songwriter William Bell, bluesman Bobby Rush, and producer Boo Mitchell. The latter three are now part of a touring version called “Take Me to the River: Memphis Soul and Rhythm & Blues Revue National Concert Tour” that gave a taste of what they can do before a receptive but reserved audience at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

The event, which included snippets from the film that can now be found on Netflix, also offered BBQ, drinks, and a formal presentation to the Smithsonian of the spangly green suit Rush wore about the time of Porcupine Meat, what he calls his 374th album, which got him his first Grammy in February. But once the Hi Rhythm Section got on stage with the Stax Academy Alumni, the main event began, largely with familiar tunes made hits by Al Green and Otis Redding. (The director Shore was also on stage, adding negligible additions on conga).

Usually when this many members of the Hi Rhythm Section are in DC and start kicking into “Let’s Stay Together,” you always hope in your heart of hearts that city resident Barack Obama will step up to the mic and unleash his falsetto, as he famously did at a 2012 fundraiser at the Apollo Theatre. Instead, the lead vocals tended to be by workmanlike vocalists who were of the type you’d see on The Voice than in a juke joint. Things livened up, though, when Frayser Boy, formerly of Three 6 Mafia, strolled on stage to add a rap to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

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TVD Live: Randy Newman at the Birchmere, 9/18

At 73, Randy Newman is still writing sharp and funny political songs, elaborate and cynical set pieces about the state of the world and, in between them, the kind of stark songs that unexpectedly rip your heart out. At a wide-ranging, 2-set, 33 song panorama of his work of the past half century, fans responded to his oldest, most enduring numbers but were just as knocked out by the newest things, as collected on his new Nonesuch collection Dark Matter.

The new collection kicks off with a kind of mini-opera about science vs. religion, but he skipped it altogether on the first of a two night stint at The Birchmere in Alexandria, in place of several songs of particular interest to the politically-minded crowd.

Not only was there “Putin,” his opus to the preening Soviet leader, there was a new one imagining John and Bobby Kennedy in the White House talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Celia Cruz, and the head of the Washington NFL team, “Mr. George Preston Marshall” who “runs them like a plantation,” “for never has a black man worn the burgundy and gold.”

He almost forlornly sang “Political Science,” his famously sardonic call to “drop the big one now” because “no one likes us.” “It’s harder to sing this now,” he said, the day before the U.S. president would call for “the total destruction” of North Korea.

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