Gold Leaf Studios,
A Retrospective

by Cesar Perdomo and Lauren Goddard

For the past two decades, Washington D.C. has seen some drastic changes. From streets over-run with crack to new high-rise high-priced condos punching through every open street corner and skyline available, D.C. is in a constant cycle of transformation. For the creative-minded person living in D.C. during this time of transition, it was difficult to find an inexpensive venue where artists could thrive in a city that is ubiquitously known for its landscape of Government buildings and National museums.

Enter Mike Abrams, the man behind Gold Leaf Studios. In 1998, Abrams, a local painter and sculptor, set out to create an alternative place that would cater to anyone who wanted to create. Abrams converted a rundown building in the northern outskirts of Chinatown into a sanctuary for artists and musicians alike to call home. In the past fourteen years, Gold Leaf Studios has hosted many of the top local musicians and has held countless shows, but at the beginning of February, Gold Leaf’s doors were shut for good.

Over the next few days, The Vinyl District will be looking back at some of the bands that called Gold Leaf home and the music they produced during their stay, as a reminder of the importance DIY spaces provide within a creative community and as an impetus to keep the existing spaces thriving.

In 2007, Gold Leaf opened its door to an ambitious ‘60s-style rock group named Fffever. Going through a variety of arrangements during their incarnation, the group finally settled with singer/guitarist Alex Clarke, singer/bassist Justin Rodermond, and drummer Aaron Baird. (Pictured here, drummer Sean Gavigan from Racoon Fighter.) In their two-year stay, Fffever was able to hone their unique raw revival rock sound and release a four-track EP dubbed Gold Leaf. Enjoy the photos and video of Fffever during their time at Gold Leaf Studios.

Fffever were just one of the various artists that used Gold Leaf as a place to thrive, create, and live. Another group, Laughing Man, was able to call Gold Leaf home for the past three years. A jazz-rock fusion ensemble, composed of vocalist and guitarist Brandon Moses, drummer Michael Andrew Harris, and bassist/saxophonist Luke Stewart, they used their studio to master their unique sound and released their debut album The Lovings (’63-’69) early last year via Sockets Records. Take a peek at a photo shoot commissioned by Sockets and designed by Nilay Lawson and Chloe Elizabeth, along with a video of Laughing Man prepping for last year’s Sockets Records Showcase.

More photos of Fffever:

More photos of Laughing Man, from last Labor Day’s BBQ:

Fffever Photos by Roxanne Turpen
Laughing Man Sockets Photos by Christopher Chen
Laughing Man Labor Day BBQ Photos by Cesar Perdomo
Top Gold Leaf Photo by Ben Droz

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