Author Archives: Dulani Wallace

TVD Recommends:
The (Vinyl Only) Heavy Rotation at Liv, 2/8

I don’t know about you, but I see more wax-deejaying parties popping up faster than condominium projects in AdMo, CoHim and NoMa combined. That’s largely due to the rise of the wax-enthusiast and ultimately a winning streak in vinyl sales. But whatever becomes of vinyl in the future, it’s not slowing down event promoters like Thelonius, a DC-based event promotion team.

One part of the team is Martín Miguel, who gleefully balances the roles of event producer and deejay. With Thelonius, the young deejay will host “Heavy Rotation,” a vinyl-only party happening at Liv on Saturday, February 8.

The lineup includes Roz, John Jazz, and Rusty B, from All Good Funk Alliance. The DJ-event producer already has a small body of musical work brought to the fore by his mentors at Fort Knox Recordings. At first glance, you might see him as the dude with a prototypical kid-down-the-block demeanor. But measure the playlist, not the list player.

Martín Miguel lent some of his precious time to talk about “Heavy Rotation,” his budding interests, and the growing fanbase within the DC vinyl-party scene.

How did “Heavy Rotation” come to be?

The idea originally was to throw an all vinyl tribute to the year 1993—meaning the release date of any cut played had to be 1993—with emphasis on rap releases. We couldn’t find a date or place, and so I reformulated the party into “Heavy Rotation.”

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Generation Digital’s Vinyl Heart

Retail data in albums sales show the vinyl format is growing steadily year over year. According to, LP sales only made up two percent of all album sales. But if you lend your ear to the market, you’ll see two key relationships: 1) the US audiophile is undergoing a mass breakup with the CD, and 2) digital downloads aren’t proven to cannibalize vinyl record sales.

And the key segment that helps drive vinyl record sales is the 20-somethings, the so-called Millennials. Last year showed and proved that a renaissance in an “old” format carries its own weight within the music industry. Though vinyl sales accounted for only two percent of total album sales in the United States in 2013, the format leaped 32 percent in sales over the previous year.

Now about these 20-somethings and the vinyl boom. Though sales by age range aren’t available, a record store vendor might assure you high consumption by college-age students is more than likely. In an article published by the Kansas City Star, the uptick in demand for LPs these past few years is the first in a quarter-century.

The popularity might be (wrongfully) assessed as due to the new wave of “hipster” fixation with vintage trends (such as clothing, integral to my “hipster” generation.) But when a major retailer like Whole Foods Market, for example, begins retrofitting its image as an LP dealer (in five stores last summer, initially), it’s worth a second look to see the buying behaviors within the small but significant share.

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TVD Recommends:
Herb Records 2013 Release and Tour with Congo Sanchez

“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.

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Nine tunes that will scare you shitless…

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.

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Vinyl: A Source of Musical Inspiration
for Meso Creso DJs
at PEX, 7/4-7/8

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.

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TVD Recommends: Inject the Virus at U Street Music Hall, 5/19

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.

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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.


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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