This past week, DC’s Office of Tax and Revenue sent out the FY 2015 (which begins in October 2014) appraisals for property taxes in the city. That means: if you own a house or a condo or a plot of land, the city assesses the value of that land and property so it can tax it appropriately. Property taxes represent about a third of the annual budgetary pie for the District, and the largest single revenue line item on the city’s budget. This year, I got the assessment from the city and had to go find a place to sit down.
My assessment had gone up 20%, a growth of about $80,000 in assessed value, and at current property tax rates, about $680 in additional taxes. Now, I’m no Tea Partier, and I’m certainly a believer in the necessity of taxation, but it ought to be on a fair market value evaluation of the property, and this new figure just wasn’t coming up as kosher to me.
Fortunately, you can appeal the OTR’s assessment of your home, and the process for that is pretty straight forward.
Last night, playing in front of a sold out crowd at the 930 Club, Phosphorescent laid down a poignant, vibrant, and captivating show.
Matthew Houck, the sole member of Phosphorsecent, donned a cream white, eagle crested bolero jacket paired with a straw cowboy hat and glistened in front of the stage’s shimmering floor to ceiling metallic curtains. Backed by a seven person band, Houck pulled from his six albums to lay down a serious jam session set along the lines of the Allman Brother’s Jessica and Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir; one seriously got lost in the wonderous, free-flowing sounds Houck and his band created.
Got cabin fever already? Wow…jeez….yeah…..us too. Here are a few spots to escape to – that is if you can make it there safely. Yes, all listed below are open. I checked. If you’ve got other recos, post ‘em in the comments section or reach out to me @digibec
It was 2010 and music virtuoso, producer, remixer and collaborator, Jean-Philip Grobler was stuck. The rock project he currently belabored on felt forced, unnatural; he turned to the past, looking for inspiration from Peter Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna – potentially DC’s very own Thievery Corporation, for a jolt of inspiration. At this moment of stuckness, the young South African found both the inspiration he was looking for and birthed the idea for a new project that would become St. Lucia.
St. Lucia’s sound is distinct with a solid grounding in the best music from the 80s and 90s, with a constant freshness and an eye towards the future. Think a harmonious, fun mix of Cindy Lauper, Lionel Richie, Rick Astley, John Secada, and All Saints. Throughout my first listen to their first record, When The Night, I was consistently noting rifts, sounds and harmonies that were clearly inspired from previous artists, although I was hard pressed to get specific to the artist or their track. Their sound draws on the past, but evolves it, making it their own.
St. Lucia will be at the BlackCat this Tuesday, and although the show is sold out, I highly recommend going the extra mile to snag a ticket because from my Q&A with Grobler it sounds like the band is going to BRING. IT. Continue reading
Yeah we’re a little late with our monthly concert round-up, but hey even we need a little R n R from concert going and writing. Nevertheless, there are still PLENTY of solid shows left in the month of January, so keeping reading after the jump for recommendations (St. Lucia, Cate Le Bon, Phosphorescent, Delorean, Pixies and MORE) on how you should kick off the first month of your 2014 DC concert goings.
So far, my life has pretty much followed the trajectory of this Oatmeal comic about celebrating Christmas. Last year, the only way any of Tom’s gifts got wrapped is if I paid Amazon to do it, and we had a Christmas tree primarily because friends of ours with a kid were going to get one and we wanted to hang out with them.
This year, when we are a family of three, it’s like we’ve suddenly rediscovered Christmas. Must light the Advent wreath! Must find the perfect Baby’s First Christmas ornament and stocking! Let’s all stomp around together in the mud at the Christmas tree farm! WE ARE MAKING MEMORIES, DAMMIT; never you mind that the Bridgelet is not actually capable of forming specific memories yet.
But even with me still home on maternity leave, between the demands of baby care, the minimum of housework needed to keep our home from sliding from “happily imperfect” into “abject squalor,” Tom’s job, and then Christmas prep on top… we haven’t had that much time to engage in actual, you know, holiday fun.
So, as they say, we need a little Christmas. Right this very minute, even. Here are my picks for some stroller-friendly ways to celebrate Christmas DC-style (or just look at some pretty lights, if Christmas is not your holiday) as a family without wearing yourself out (and with the weather forecast looking positively balmy this weekend, it’s a great time to get out there). Continue reading
Oh DC, how I’ve loved keeping you my little secret. But unfortunately, it couldn’t last. The odd weekend rendezvous was fun, but it’s time to get serious. It’s no secret anymore, I do love you. For a long time DC was my secret little weekend getaway. Hop on a train, bus, plane, anything to get me away from sleepy Rhode Island for a few days. Of course, there was a girl too. That didn’t last but I fell in love with DC, at least. Or more specifically, the drinks.
I’ve always been fascinated with spirits and cocktails. The culture, the camaraderie, the artistry, I’m completely intoxicated with it. Cocktails are the language that I speak and I learned to speak it in DC. We have an incredibly talented food scene in Providence and I’ll fiercely defend my home turf to the end, but I’ve got to hand it to DC, it’s my favorite place to get a drink in this country. No surprise really, The Gibson was the first cocktail bar I had ever been to. I would’ve sold my soul after a few bitter slings under that sultry low light. No surprise then that after that night my top priority was to move to DC and tend bar.
The rest is a short story. Tidy up a few tiny details: finish college, say goodbye to all my friends, family, and beloved co workers, jaunt around Europe a bit, try to make a name for myself on the competition circuit, and then it was straight to DC. And oh my, that’s when things got interesting Continue reading
Given the craptastic weather this week, let’s start your weekend a little early with two tickets to ASTR at U Street Music Hall Thursday night. The duo is opening for Ghost Beach and The Chain Smokers making this a kill-a-rific show that will rage until the wee hours of Friday morning. Get the coffee ready for your Friday morning wake up.
FYI: ASTR is poised to release their first EP in the new year and is already getting heavy buzz for their track “Operate.”
For your chance to win these tickets, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address between 10am and 5pm today. Feel free to leave any comment, but please limit yourself to one entry per email address, please. Continue reading
Do you like dancing? Do you like disco? Do you like flashing lights? Do you like live ensemble bands? Then Escort at the Blackcat this Friday is for you.
The ensemble (we’re talking like 17 people!) released their first album last year and made it onto Rolling Stone’s top 40 albums of 2012, so they’re legit. The album is chock full of disco-based tracks that artfully take the musical genre modern with tribal beats, synth-based remixes and electrifying energy. But make no mistake this is a disco, so if that’s not your thing, this isn’t your show. If you’re looking to get your weekend started with a live music dance party, then I’ll see you there.
Today, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see Ha Ha Tonka at the Rock N’ Roll Hotel on Saturday, November 16th. Simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address by 9pm on 11/14. Feel free to leave any comment; they are VERY MUCH appreciated. One entry per email address, please.
Unfortunately, I’m unable to catch the crisp guitar pickings and fast paced tempo of this veteran band who just released their fourth full-length album. BUT YOU can experience the part Americana, part indie rock, part modern country act that is Ha Ha Tonka. The band showcases tried and true vocals, musical prowess and instrument dexterity –think Arcade Fire and Trampled By Turtles with a twist of Langhorne Slim.
For the rules of this giveaway… Continue reading
Today, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see Cat Power at Sixth & I Synagogue on Wednesday, November 13th. FYI Tickets are – somehow – still available. Scoop them up now!
Admittedly, I was late to the Chan Marshall – stage named Cat Power – scene, but I’m super pumped to catch her on this stop in DC. Her latest album SUN is her and her alone, as Marshall wrote, played and produced the entirety of the album. A seasoned artist and performer, SUN showcases Marshall’s confident, evocative personality and her profound exploration of life’s challenges, failures and triumphs. A favorite of mine on this album is “Silent Machine.”
For your chance to win these tickets, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address by 9pm today. Feel free to leave any comment, but perhaps share your favorite song by Cat Power! One entry per email address, please.
Last night, despite a 10pm set time, a frigid Monday night and a developing cold, I bundled up and hit the 9:30 Club to check out the Seattle group The Head And The Heart (THATH).
Had THATH been some sort of electronica, disco-pop, techno-ish band, then I would have been tucked away in my apartment downing Nyquil, but as I was familiar with the group, I knew to expect country/indie folk ballads with a kick of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” The Beatles “A Day in the Life,” and Dexy Midnight Runner’s “Come On Eileen.”
The band took the stage shortly after 10pm, played about an hour and 15 minute set and produced a show identical to their recorded albums. Now when I see someone, I don’t expect a group to sound incredibly different or even “better,” but I do expect something – a tone, a sound, an energy, a vibe, a connection – that differentiates the performance from what I can listen to in my living room. Personally speaking, this show was a bit of a let down.
Heeeyyyyyyyyyyy kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiddddz! It’s time for Mickey, Rachel and I to give you our thoughts and recommendations for the DC shows you should check out this month. I have to admit that October was a killer month in the DC music scene. But we think November can hold its own as there are WAY too many solid acts and they all seem to be coming back-to-back. So, get your daytime naps in, get your proper nutrition and hydrate well because you’re going to need to be in peak concert going form.
After the jump, Albert Hammond Jr., The Limosines, Kate Nash, Steven Kellogg with St. John, Minor Alps, Tiffany Thompsen, and many, many more.
Today we have a pair of tickets to give away for tomorrow night’s San Fermin show at DC9.
San Fermin, pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN], and their self-titled, debut album is the brainchild of Brooklyn music composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone who wrote the album in the Canadian Rocky Mountains over the course of six weeks. Tracks on the album alternate between female and male lead vocals allowing Leone’s concept for the album – a dialogue between an earnest, unhappy man and a cynical, elusive woman – to come to life. The inspiration for this concept was Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises which explains the album’s title, the bull-theme photos and the Spanish song titles.
Not surprisingly love anchors the issues explored in the album, but there is also a strong Biblical tie, in particular to forgiveness, hopelessness, lamentation and pilgrimage. These themes are acutely emphasized by the musical deftness of the eight-member group composed of Allen Tate and Rae Cassidy on lead vocals, Rebekah Durham on vocals/violin, Stephen Chen on saxophone, John Brandon on trumpet, Mike Hanf on drums, Tyler McDiarmid on guitar and Ellis Ludwig-Leone on keyboard. Whew. Hope I covered everyone there. Continue reading
If you’re like me, you’re in love with infographics because they take spreadsheets, lists, tables and large amounts of data and make them meaningful, useful and sometimes – when done right – beautiful. Case and point are two interactive infographics created by Casey Trees that are a leaf peepers dream.
The first infographic, which for me is the more useful of the two, suggests DC routes leaf peepers should take for maximum fall color viewing. On hover over, users are given the route’s length, walk or drive recommendations, number of colored trees along the route, types of trees along the route and expected level of color users will see.
I’m straight off the plane from Austin City Limits, where I had planned on catching White Denim on Day 3. Unfortunately, Day 3 was cancelled due to severe flooding and thunderstorms, which was a total bummer, but totally understandable. Fortunately, White Denim is playing this Friday at Rock N Roll Hotel, but you better act fast because tickets to see this awesome American rock band are limited.
White Denim, an Austin grown group, has put out a handful of records since they formed in 2005 with the upcoming Corsicana Lemonade to be released later this month. The group’s tracks are heavily based within the Southern rock genre with prominent percussion and bass riffs and vocal male harmonies. In my opinion the group gives off a Dire Straits and Eagles vibe but with updated, modern influences and signatures.
This show will definitely be a good start to a chill Fall weekend.
October has shaped up to be a killer month in the DC music scene – largely delivering tried and true favorites to a wide variety of Washington-era venues for a live music fan. So Mickey (our resident music buff) and myself (avid concert goer/reviewer in training) are offering up our thoughts on the acts you should put on your schedules and get your little tucki (plural of tuckus???) out there to see.
Details on Daryl Hall and John Oates, The Naked and the Famous, Islands, Sparks and more after the jump. Continue reading
While the Federal Government is currently shuttered over the two-year-old Affordable Care Act (known by its pejorative, Obamacare), the new DC Healthlink insurance exchange is now open and accepting applications for insurance beginning on January 1st. Individuals and Families living or working in the District of Columbia are eligible to apply. To know what rate you might be paying under the DC Healthlink exchange, you can use their calculator to estimate costs, or browse through plans from 30 different insurance providers in the exchange.
The plans are separate into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum, running from lowest cost to highest cost, and each level carries a different structure of benefits. In addition, the program offers help finding advice concerning which plan will be best for you, through their find-an-expert option.
Plans vary in cost by benefit-level, insurer, and deductible, but if you either don’t have insurance at all (and you’ll need to, under the new law, have some come January), or your insurance is expensive through work, it might behoove you to go look at the rates that are on offer. From my own personal experience, my insurance cost was quoted at approximately half what we’re currently paying for me to be on my wife’s plan at work, for service that is roughly equivalent to what we’re getting from the exact same insurer.
Might as well go look at what’s out there, it could save you a bundle.
This the hardest season for those of us who love this city. We watch as the strife on the Hill begins to tear old friendships, hurt local residents who can’t fight back at the ballot box, and put a $200M crippling choke hold on the region. We watch as our federal workforce goes into the office today, told only to shutdown what they must and go home, there to stay until a compromise can be reached.
It’s hard to imagine this situation abating quickly, given how entrenched both sides are. Democrats are unwilling to stop the implementation of the President’s signature achievement from his first term, especially since it has only just come into effect; a faction of influential Republicans are dead-set against the expansion of government into the healthcare marketplace. There’s no endgame here that comes into existence quickly.
There’s still a lot going on in Shutdownville, DC, with wide arrays of targeted promotions, and all of the museums that aren’t free (read: The Spy Museum, the Crime & Punishment Museum, the Newseum etc) are definitely still open and running amid the government shutdown. What’s closed is all the National Parks and the National Zoo, as well as Capitol tours and White House tours.
As you go about your day, shut those Facebook windows, and ignore Twitter for a bit, as the country rages against the strife. The blame for this will be sorted at the ballot box. Best we can do as a city is to keep the doors open, keep the trash taken out, keep working if we’re allowed, and keeping our hands busy if we’re not. If you’re looking for something to keep your hands busy while they sort it out, you can always check out Serve DC.
From a ticket perspective, the upcoming Thursday and Friday night Walk The Moon shows at the 9:30 Club are the definition of a “hot ticket” as both are sold out. But don’t be dejected about the ticket situation because this “hot ticket” goes WAY beyond mere paper tickets.
If you’re unfamiliar with Walk The Moon, it’s likely you’ve heard their most popular track “Anna Sun” which spent a good while on top of the charts in 2012 and was featured in an HBO Go Campaign. You may have also seen the viral YouTube music video. Continue reading