Entertainment, Music, People, She/He Loves DC, The Features

He Loves DC: Ted Garber

Photo for Patch--Ted Garber

Photo Courtesy of Ted Garber

She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.

Ted Garber is a DC native. These days, he’s an award-winning “BluesAmericanaRock” singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentatlist. Ted’s also a perpetual student who frequently travels the globe in an attempt to absorb as much about the world’s cultures as he can. His curiosity is contagious.

What is it about DC that makes it home to you?  

That’s an easy one.  I was born in DC at Washington, DC hospital.  My late father made his living all his too-short life playing music in and around DC. I grew up in and around DC. My mother worked at the Justice Department. In spite of a few fascinating years in New Orleans, West Virginia, and L.A., DC will always be the place where both my family and I are from. I mean, my Dad sang on the now-defunct official Redskins Singers choir. It was commensurate to blasphemy to take the ‘Skins name in vain or to disparage them in any way, especially during a losing game. That particular violation usually resulted in a grounding or a night spent taking dinner alone in my room. To be fair though, I am an Orioles fan. The Nats did not exist when I was growing up here, so we drove to Memorial Stadium and later Camden Yards for games. (That’s probably going to bring me grief for admitting, I know).

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Business and Money, Downtown, Education, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, Opinion, People, The Features

A Conversation on Culture and Change Regarding the Washington [blank]s

Photo courtesy of BrianMKA
FedEx seats
courtesy of BrianMKA

By now, local Washington media has covered the internet with their summaries of a timely – yet still largely ignored – issue involving a particular football team located in this area. While Racial Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports spoke to the broader issues regarding Native American culture and peoples and their use as sports logos and traditions, make no mistake: the local NFL team’s moniker was a lynchpin in the discussion. The topic was subject of one-third of the day’s symposium, and itself is well-covered elsewhere. (You can watch the recording online in its entirety.)

I couldn’t attend in person, so I settled for the live webcast. And I’ve spent time re-watching the panels as well, because there was so much information and passion involved I couldn’t catch all of it the first time around. I could probably write several blog posts about the topic, and may yet in the future.

But what I wanted to really comment here and now, since other outlets are more focused on the local team aspect, is some key comments made by Director Kevin Gover at the start of the day. Thanks to NMAI, I received a full copy of his remarks; they provide a context that is important to the background of the overall discussion. While I won’t simply copy them all here – you can listen to Dr. Gover online for that – I did want to point out some relevant comments. Continue reading

Interviews, Music, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Megan Jean & the Klay Family Band

photo courtesy of Megan Jean & the KFB

photo courtesy of Megan Jean & the KFB

What: A spitfire duo playing a fast and fiery blend of folk-Americana-punk-country-rock. Megan Jean sings, hollers, plays banjo, washboard, guitar & more, and her husband Byrne plays upright bass & banjo.
When: They’re on tour now and will be making a stop in DC this Thursday, February 7th, show starts at 9pm.
Where: Desperados,1342 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.
We Love DC’s Alexia got the chance to ask Megan Jean a few questions, and here’s what she had to say.
Alexia: How did you start playing music?
Megan Jean: I started when I was young, both my parents wrote music, sang, and played. I started on violin, sold it, and bought a guitar when I was 11. I didn’t really know I could sing until I was 15, and started doing musical theater. I went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for theater and got a lot of vocal training there, which I learned to apply in club settings gigging all over the city. I guess that’s when I knew I’d be a musician, playing original music.
Alexia: How did you and Byrne come to play music together/form MJ&the KFB?
Megan Jean: We actually dated for a year before we started playing music. I played solo shows, and Byrne split his time between a punk band called Dynamite Club, who’s lead singer was a Japanese man in his underpants, and a great original surf-rock trio called This Spy Surfs. We started playing together in 2006, and the name was originally Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. We kept my name, because I already had good gigs, and our last name is Klay. The idea was that anyone playing music with us was family. When we went on the road it was just the two of us, so we shortened it to KFB, cause club owners would get mad when they were expecting a full band. Continue reading
Entertainment, Interviews, Music, People, The District, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Ugly Purple Sweater

Ugly Purple Sweater

Ugly Purple Sweater is a indie-pop-folk group based in DC. Founded by Sam McCormally (vocals, guitar, & more)  and Rachel Lord (vocals, banjo, melodica, & more) in 2008, the band now includes Will McKindley-Ward on electric guitar, Rishi Chakrabarty on bass, and Mike Tasevoli on drums. Ugly Purple Sweater mixes mesmerizing guitar and banjo (and a bunch of other instruments) with beautiful soaring vocal melodies and dulcet harmonies. Their songs often blend darkness with light, minor keys and longing juxtaposed with a bright beat and jubilant vocals. Singer Sam Cormally’s clarion voice has a purity and depth at times reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright. Check out the video for their song “DC USA“, the title track from their brand new EP. Ugly Purple Sweater celebrates the release of said EP, DC USA at Black Cat this Saturday, January 12th, along with Kingsley Flood and Kindlewood!

This week We Love DC’s Alexia Kauffman had a chance to ask Sam McCormally some questions, and here’s what he had to say.

Alexia: How did you first start playing music?

Sam: I personally started playing and writing music when I was really little. I remember when I was about 8 starting to write songs, but having literally no idea how the music I heard on the radio was made. I had a little cassette tape boombox (remember that?) with a microphone, and I would set it up on top of my bureau and record myself singing and strumming guitar. I had a fantasy that I would slip the tape into my friend’s older sister’s tape player so she’d think it was the radio, and that way I could tell what she really thought of it.

Ugly Purple Sweater started 2008, when I surreptitiously intercepted an invitation for one of my other bands to play at a Barack Obama fundraiser. I had been writing some songs and posting them on MySpace (remember that?), and I thought it’d be fun to try them out. Rachel sat in on a couple of songs with me, and those were by far the most popular, so we started playing together all the time.

Alexia: What song or artist or album first made you fall in love with rock music?

Sam: Will (who plays electric guitar in the band) says his first rock and roll love was Jimi Hendrix. I wish I were as cool as that. My first exposure to pop music (and I’m using the “big tent” meaning of the phrase) were my dad’s Simon and Garfunkel tapes. But the first record I ever got excited about all by myself was TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool. I loved that album so much that I actually recited, in front of my entire 4th glad class, the rap in the middle of “Waterfalls.” I still kinda like that song, but needless to say it was not a canonical performance. Continue reading

Music, People, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Top Tracks of 2012, part 2

Coup Sauvage & the Snips

Part two of the top tracks of 2012. This year I decided to go to my fellow musicians of DC, and ask some of my favorite bands in the city what they’ve been listening to in the past twelve months. Yesterday we heard from Ugly Purple SweaterSilo HaloPaperhausScreen Vinyl Image, and E.D. Sedgwick. Today Shark WeekThe TorchesFoul SwoopsCoup Sauvage & the Snips, and Typefighter share what’s been in their ears, hearts & minds this year.

Coup Sauvage & the Snips:

1. “Certain Kinds of Trash” by Chain & the Gang
Musings on the nature of the detritus of everyday life. Enjoy that discarded Twinkie wrapper while you still can. Great male/female vocals with a driving beat.

2. “Guillotine” by The Coup
The best type of song: catchy, danceable and insanely menacing. Hey rich guys, The Coup are coming to kill you, just so you know. Threatcore is my preferred genre and this is a stellar example.

3. “The Consequences of Jealousy” by Robert Glasper feat. Meshell Ndegeocello
Just listen to it. you’ll feel like a grown up.

4. “Rollin” by House of Ladosha
The Haus of Sauvage will give credit to other houses where credit is due, and the House of Ladosha certainly brought the heat (and the wit) on this track.  HoL put on a series of electrifying performances at the Rock & Roll hotel and Ottobar earlier this year, delivering hardcore raps with the flair, sophistication and hostility of a true butch queen.

5. “I Love It” by Icona Pop (feat. Charli XCX)

6. “212” by Azealia Banks
2012 was the year that pop and dance finally stopped flirting with each other and entered into a loving and committed relationship. Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Azealia Banks’ “212” are the best products of this union. If “I Love It” – with its Euro- style synths and sing-along vocals – is the flirty one who hangs out at the mall then the stripped-down “212” is the weird kid who ran off to art school in the big city. Either way, they both made their parents very proud this year. Continue reading

Downtown, History, Interviews, People, Special Events, The Features

Crossing the Northwest Passage the Modern Way: Kite Skiing

Courtesy Sarah McNair-Landry and National Geographic

On December 6, an adventurous brother-sister team visits the National Geographic Museum to share about their experience kite skiing over two thousand miles through Canada’s arctic archipelago. Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry grew up with the Arctic Ocean and sled dogs in their backyard and have trekked across the polar regions since they were teenagers. Their journey saw them fend off polar bears and coping with extreme weather conditions along the way.

Their expedition traces the 1906 Roald Amundsen route through the Northwest Passage. That was the first time that it was actually successfully navigated by anyone following centuries of explorers hoping to discover a way through from the Atlantic to the Pacific north of Canada. The journey began in Tuktoyaktuk, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories and traveled east through Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, and Arctic Bay, before finally reaching the finish line at Pond Inlet on Baffin Island.

Sarah stopped by WeLoveDC to talk about their experience. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with The Young Rapids

photo courtesy of The Young Rapids


The Young Rapids are an indie-rock quartet based in Washington, DC. Their sound blends moody and melodic guitar, melancholic vocals, keys and percussion into an often dreamy, sometimes dancey blend. Check out their album Day Light Savings here.  The Young Rapids plays DC9 this Wednesday, November 5th. We Love DC’s Alexia recently asked the band a few questions, and here’s what they had to say.

Alexia: How did Young Rapids come together as a band?

Colin: We’ve all been musicians in one way or another in a lot of different projects, but Dan and Joe started playing music together in 2009. A year later they called Nick up to play guitar. As a trio, they wrote songs and played a few shows. About a year later, I crossed paths with them. The former sound of the band eventually gave way to a new and more ambitious one that’s still being explored and tempered with.

Alexia: How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t seen/heard you?

Nick: We’d probably call ourselves an “art rock” band. We definitely give 110% at our live shows, and try to have as much energy as humanly possible. I’d say check us out if you appreciate music that is somewhat challenging, yet rewarding in scope. We try to offer as much honesty as we can in every way. Instrumentally, lyrically, and even through our recording techniques.

Alexia: Was there one artist/song/album that made you fall in love with rock music?

Joe: Definitely not just one. I can remember the white album being played a lot when I was a kid. I was always so intrigued by the “number 9” song. I thought it was crazy weird, so it caught my attention. My dad was a huge Zappa fan. He used to tell me about these parties he’d have with all Zappa playing all night. That always sounded like my kind of party.

Alexia: Are you all originally from the DC area? If not, where are you from? What do you feel about DC’s creative community/scene?

Nick: I’d day Colin is closest to being an actual DC native. He grew up off Macarthur Blvd., which is only a few minutes from the city. The rest of us are from the suburbs. Rockville, Potomac, Germantown. WE LOVE DC :) Really though, we’ve met the nicest people, and played such awesome shows. We receive great support from the artistic community, and we think that people who say nothings going on in DC are crazy. Our favorite artists are from this city.

Alexia: If you could collaborate with one artist/band who would it be?

Dan: I think we’d all agree that it would be someone we actually know. Our friends are in awesome bands that blow us away every time we see them. If we could get some of the folks in PREE, some from The Sea Life, and some from Teen Mom, we’d have a pretty bangin’ lineup. Throw some Shark Week in there for good measure, and that would be pretty unstoppable.

Alexia: What inspires you?

Colin: Everything inspires us to be honest. We just recently moved out away from the city, in a kind of farm house, and it’s really invigorated our creativity. We’re also very inspired by each other. Often times, another persons input can be the most awakening perspective, and that usually gets everybody really excited. All of our newer material is extremely collaborative.

Alexia: Any bands you’re listening to right now that really excite you?

Dan: New PREE songs are stuck in our head right now. Deleted Scenes has been on repeat since we saw them at Red Palace a few months back. We’ve all been delving pretty deep into our record collections which have become communal. Recent mainstays include Donovan, Oscar Peterson, and Paul Simon. Those are literally just pulled right off the top of the record stack. I also just saw this awesome band called Caddywhompus from New Orleans at Paperhaus and they were unreal. Unbelievable.

Alexia: What’s on the horizon for Young Rapids?

Joe: Touring! We’re working on solidifying road partners and a route, and we’ll be on the road in February. We’ve also been writing a lot of new songs, so I’m sure we’ll give a go at recording some of them soon. We have to develop a new recording scenario in the new house, and we’re excited for that. We might try to do some Zeppelin-esque drum recording in our foyer. We’ll see. But yeah, TOUR!

Check out their song “Goods” here. See The Young Rapids play this Wednesday, November 5th at DC9!

The Young Rapids

w/Villains Like You

The Kickback

& Bobby E. Lee & the Sympathizers

Wednesday, Nov. 5/8:30pm/$8



Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Shana Falana

photo courtesy of Shana Falana

Shana Falana is a shoegaze/dream-pop band, currently based in New York. They mix dreamy female vocals, often looped and layered, with reverb-drenched guitar sometimes heavy, sometimes airy, for beautiful and sometimes hypnotic results. They are currently on tour, and play DC’s Comet Ping Pong this Friday, November 30th.  We Love DC’s Alexia got the chance to ask the group’s founder/front-woman Shana a few questions this week, and here’s what she had to say.

Alexia: How did you first start playing music?

Shana: Started playing in San Francisco in 1992- got an electric guitar and reverby amp to learn some surf guitar, The Cramps and Mazzy Star.

Alexia: Was there one artist or song that first made you fall in love with rock music?

Shana: PJ Harvey!!!

Alexia: How did Shana Falana come together as a band?

Shana: I have had so many bands for each of my projects with different band names, to separate out all my different songwriting sounds, but 2 years ago I decided to not pick them apart and to make them all one band with different sounds, under my own name Shana Falana. My sound is complex!!!

Alexia: You used to be in a Bulgarian Women’s choir, and mention that it has some influence on your music- can you tell us a little about that?

Shana: Dissonant harmonies are so interesting!!! For me it’s so much more stimulating to my senses and I use them throughout my music. I sang medieval harmonies as well and try to sneak them in there too! In the Bulgarian choir we would sing these chants that are very circular and layered, and when I perform my live vocal looping I incorporate that layering and dissonance.

Alexia: I read that you have more than two years sober now. I am also a musician, with a little over five years sober. I really admire hearing about musicians who are still doing their thing in the rock scene after finding sobriety. How did you realize you needed to stop using? Are there any challenges you’ve found?

Shana: There was a voice in my head four years ago telling me that I wouldn’t have a career in music unless I got completely sober. I will have three years December first! I do everything for my music so I did sobriety too. It’s not hard being around people that are drinking- I really don’t crave it at all, and I don’t lose my gear, and I perform better. The only downside is touring and staying at someone’s house who’s partying and waiting for them to get sleepy.

Alexia: Is there anyone you’re listening to right now that you are really excited about?

Shana: Thee Oh Sees, Naomi Punk, Mac DeMarco. Bands to “watch”: Breakfast In Fur, out of New Paltz, New York, and a band we tour with, Crawlbabies out of Brooklyn.

Alexia: What’s next?

Shana: Canadian tour in April, and Europe in May and June. Possibly a 7″ release with two new tracks this spring 2013.


See Shana Falana at Comet Ping Pong this Friday, November 30th!

Shana Falana

with The Deads

and Pinkish Black

All Ages/$10/10pm/Comet Ping Pong


Entertainment, Interviews, Music, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Jesse Tabish of Other Lives

photo by Jeremy Charles

My first exposure to Oklahoma’s Other Lives was at this year’s Coachella music festival. I had never heard them before, but had heard the name, and decided to check them out. I was blown away. The five-piece band’s sound is orchestral and lush, blending dreamy, melancholic vocals with beautiful and unconventional instrumental arrangements. Earlier in the year they spent some time opening for Radiohead on tour in the US and Mexico, and are now on their own US tour supporting their latest album, Tamer Animals- a gorgeous, dark, musical fantasy. They play DC’s Rock & Roll Hotel this Friday, November 30th. I recently got the chance to talk with singer Jesse Tabish, and here’s what he had to say.

Alexia Kauffman: How’s your tour going?

Jesse Tabish: Really nice! We’re about halfway through, and we’re headed to Austin right now, so I can’t complain. It’s been very nice.

Alexia: Cool! So how did you first start playing music?

Jesse: Well I started very young, playing the piano, maybe four or five, and you know played music my whole life. Picked up the guitar when I heard Nirvana, just like many kids, and I’ve been writing music for the last fifteen years. That’s kind of all I’ve ever done, from when I was little.

Alexia: So you mentioned Nirvana, who I love- was there any one artist or album that made you fall in love with rock?

Jesse: Oh yeah, I remember one Christmas, when I was very young, my parents got me a little single of “Hey Jude” on a tape. And I remember it was the first time I was really truly taken aback by something, and I listened to that the whole day. I probably listened to that song forty times, just on repeat and repeat and repeat. It was kind of the first moment I was like “Wow!”, really powerful.

Alexia: So do you feel like there’s a scene where you all are from?

Jesse: You know, it’s like an anti-scene, really. We’ve been doing music in Oklahoma for the last ten years, and I say anti in the sense that there’s no collective sound of bands. Which I think is really fantastic. Oklahoma’s a little bit of a lonely place- there’s not a whole lot of things coming in and out of it. In some ways it has this feel of isolation to it, and I think, you know, it can leave artists to kind of have that meditation and to be and grow individually from that, rather than sometimes you get too much of a scene, you get too many bands that are influencing each other too much. But in Oklahoma it’s kind of the opposite. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Silo Halo

photo courtesy of Silo Halo

Silo Halo are a DC-based trio that combines guitar, bass, keys and male and female vocals into a dark shoegaze-indie-dream-fuzz sound. Christin Durham(bass, vox), Christopher Goett (guitar, vox) and Greg Svitil (guitar, keys, vox) have all been players in the DC music scene for years (in bands including The Antiques, Girl Loves Distortion, Victor Victoria, Soft Complex, The Parlor Scouts…) but came to play together in 2010, first under the name Night and the City, and in 2011 as Silo Halo. They released their first album this year, titled Night and the City, on Etxe Records, an independent label founded by Goett. Full disclosure- I first met Greg when I joined the band Soft Complex in 2004, and have remained friends with him since then. I’ve always been in awe of his musicianship, creativity, kindness, and general awesomeness as a human being. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Christin and Chris through Greg in the past year, and one thing that really impressed me about the trio is their dedication to contributing to the creative community in the DC area, not just with their own music, but with tireless enthusiasm and support of others. You can see Silo Halo play Black Cat tonight along with The Mean Season and Golden Looks!


Alexia: How did Silo Halo come together as a band?

Christin: I asked Greg if The Antiques would like to play in my basement when I lived in Arlington. I was playing in a queer-centric 80s cover band at the time, and we would practice and play parties down there, so I eventually decided to put on more formal shows, calling the venue The Basement Speakeasy. That first show with The Antiques and Screen Vinyl Image was December 2008, and it ended up being The Antiques last show. Greg asked if I’d like to collaborate with him for a new project not long after that.

Greg: I saw Christin’s band Victor Victoria and was energized by hearing her sing and play bass, which suited what I had in mind as far as forming a band in which I wouldn’t be the main singer and songwriter.  At the same time I was connecting a lot with Chris, but his band Girl Loves Distortion was still pretty active, and so it was a few months before we could bring him in to write, play, and sing.

Chris: Greg and I met via a regular community potluck of musicians, independent music label types, and recordists.  We connected on several levels musically and personally.  As The Antiques reached antiquity, I became aware of the new musical project. Christin and I met at We Fought The Big One, and that was another strong and instant connection.

Alexia: What song or artist first made you fall in love with rock music?

Greg:  There’s a clear moment when rock n roll gripped me, which happened when I was ten years old, sitting two feet in front of the TV.  The Ronettes came on, singing “Be My Baby.”  Years later, I learned that the clip I saw was from Shindig in 1965.  Their time and place was mysterious to me.  At ten years old, I couldn’t place where or when they came from, and the music didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before.  It still doesn’t.  The sound was just enormous.  I was mesmerized by their voices and how they looked and how they moved.  A few months later, I discovered that my older sister had a tape of the song- it was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack- and I thought that she must be the coolest person on earth to have the capability to cue up the Ronettes at the drop of a hat.  During my teenage years, the whole Ronettes catalog became some of the most important music in the world to me, and as an adult, it still is.

Christin: Speaking of The Ronettes, one of the songs Greg saw Victor Victoria perform was “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, so seeing me sing Ronnie’s parts probably solidified his notion to ask me to make music with him, or at least that’s the theory I like, haha.  A friend at the Christian school I attended for grades K through 3 played me “Crazy For You” by Madonna on her walkman.  I’ve loved the devil’s music ever since.  My older sister got me into bands like The Cure and REM at an early age.

Chris: I would have to credit my older sisters with my musical tastes and exposure as well.  I have vivid recollection of my sisters and their friends sitting around and spinning their vinyl, socializing and discussing music.  Most of this would now be classified as “first wave” music.  However, the first really transformative musical experience for me was seeing Public Enemy play to a stadium full of people in 1992.  The visual imagery, the ferocity, the command of the crowd, and the message were amazing and changed how I thought about recorded music.  I’ve been an avid concert goer ever since.

Alexia: What inspires you?

Chris: My loved ones, friends, and neighborhood.  Ordinary folks doing extraordinary things in their own way, on their own scale.

Greg: People’s lives, whether they’re those who I know, or those who I see on screen or hear or read about.

Christin: I’m a highly empathetic and emotional person, so I’m easily moved and inspired.  Like most people, it’s easier for me to say what I don’t like and what doesn’t inspire me: indie brodeo, reality television, money, career, capitalism, suburbia, shopping malls…

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All Politics is Local, Featured Photo, Life in the Capital, News, People, Special Events, The Features

Election Flashback: Party At The White House

Whenever something big happens politically, locals always have an urge to flock to The White House. Even though President Obama was in Chicago to celebrate his victory over Mitt Romney in last night’s Presidential Election, people from all over decided that the best place for them to celebrate was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sure other neighborhoods celebrated with dancing and fireworks, but there’s nothing like reveling in front of the home of the President. When Obama clinched the Electoral College I grabbed my camera and drove down to see the crowds and they did not disappoint. Most of them were young, probably intoxicated college students who held up signs and climbed trees. Phones were out either for calling loved ones, taking photos, or checking in on Foursquare. Over 200 people were checked-in at The White House when I checked-in.

Here are a few images I took as I swam through the crowds.

Continue reading

Entertainment, People

We Love DC Hates Cancer – Join Us

When I think about Cathy, I picture her tending a sauté pan of scallops over an open flame. She is attentive, determined, fearless, and holding her own alongside one of our city’s best chefs.

In this memory, it’s early on a Saturday morning; I am the food editor here at We Love DC (a position I gave up in 2010), and she’s the cooking writer. We are conquering yet another recipe for the Capital Chefs series, a series we invented together where I would casually interview a local chef and they would teach Cathy how to cook a recipe from the restaurant.

We won over some of DC’s most bullish perfectionists this way, getting them to give us the scoop on what they love about cooking in the nation’s capital. In retrospect, I chalk most of that up to Cathy’s prowess behind a stove, and her appreciation for learning new techniques. Because of that charm, she and I were able to bring you recipes and stories straight from chefs across the city.

Outside the kitchen, Cathy is a great friend; one of those genuinely good people that you can’t help but like. She’s recently married and is attending Georgetown for her MBA. When I think of her, I think of a smart, fun, easy-going woman who can make a mean risotto.

I do not think of cancer. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Dark Dark Dark


photo courtesy of Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark hail from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but spend much of their time on the road. Their sound blends moody piano and clarion female vocals with understated percussion and layers of cello, accordion and horns to create a dark, dramatic and beautiful melange. Dark Dark Dark is currently on tour in support of their new album Who Needs Who, and you can see them play tonight, Monday, October 15th at DC9. We Love DC’s Alexia Kauffman got to have a little chat with Nona Marie from Dark Dark Dark recently, and here’s how it went.

Alexia: So how did you first start playing music, and singing?

Nona: Well there was a piano in the house, and we always just played.

Alexia: In your family house?

Nona: Yeah, in my family house, when I was a kid.

Alexia: And how did you start singing?

Nona: My mom sang a lot around the house just listening to the radio and, I don’t know, singing in the car.

Alexia: Are there any singers past or present that really inspire you?

Nona: I mean yeah, every singer inspires me. It’s my favorite thing.

Alexia: Are there any artists or albums that first made you fall in love with music?

Nona: Yeah, I guess I really loved listening to that Joni Mitchell Blue record- that was a good one.

Alexia: How did Dark Dark Dark come together?

Nona: We just, Marshall and I just started playing together in Minneapolis, um and then just started traveling around and meeting people and playing with different people, and sort of over time it became what it is. Continue reading

Entertainment, People, The Features, We Love Arts

Theater Spotlight: STC’s Costume Shop Sale

Some of the happiest moments of my undergraduate life were spent learning how to sew in the costume shop of CUA’s Hartke Theatre, under the warm tutelage of Gail Stewart Beach. It was an atmosphere of quirky calm, with bolts of fabric stacked by color and texture, drawers of buttons and hooks, and paper patterns hand drawn. The agony of getting that sleeve hung just right, the chiffon that simply won’t obey the needle – it’s sometimes hard to grasp the intense level of perfectionism that goes into garments audiences may see for just a fleeting minute on stage.

That perfectionism is apparent in every production by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. 80-90% of their shows are built from scratch by the costume shop, in a journey from designer’s rendering to draper’s pattern to stitcher’s needle. It’s an intensive, meticulous process that results in an enormous stock of costumes. Some of these are so show-specific they can never be recycled, and while many can be passed on to rental shops for credit, culling the stock and selling to the public is a necessity every few years.

This Saturday, September 29, your dreams of owning a once-in-a-lifetime costume can be realized at the STC costume shop sale. Held from 10am-3pm in STC’s rehearsal studios at 507 8th Street SE, prices will range from $1 to over $200, depending on the garment, and a number of props will also be sold. Halloween, Carnivale, everyday wearable art, or even an outfit for that mannequin in your living room – there are many possibilities from an artisanal trove of gorgeous treasures.

I was lucky to spend some time with Wendy Stark Prey, STC’s costume shop director, and Randi Fowler, floor manager, touring their sunny space and admiring the craft up close. The level of detail and dedication is simply amazing. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Laetitia Sadier

photo courtesy of Laetitia Sadier

French singer Laetitia Sadier has a beautiful, dreamy, captivating voice, and for about two decades was the front-woman of the London-based experimental/psychedelic/pop/lounge ensemble Stereolab. In 2010, after Stereolab went on hiatus, Sadier released her first solo album, The Trip. In July of this year she released her second solo album, Silencio. It is beautiful, introspective, lush, groovy at times, with political themes woven through. You can catch Laetitia Sadier live at DC9 this Tuesday, September 25th! We Love DC’s Alexia Kauffman was thrilled to have a conversation with Laetitia recently, and here’s how it went.

Alexia Kauffman: So what was the experience of making your most recent album, Silencio, like? And was it different from making your first solo album?

Laetitia Sadier: Oh yes, I guess it was kind of the same and it was kind of different from one to the other, but what do you want to know exactly?

Alexia: What went into making the new album, what inspired you on this album? I know you collaborated with some different people- just kind of what the experience was like?

Laetitia: Well, you know I guess the intent was to have a political content, because I find the situation – the political and financial and economical and social situation you know kind of getting worse. I mean especially the state of democracy, you know, is kind of worsening in Europe certainly, and in America, very seriously, and I thought that all should be voiced. So that was a very central concern regarding the album. But I didn’t want it to just be kind of aggressively political, you know, I have other centers of interest. I study Chinese medicine and we look at the human body, the human being in a kind of holistic way, and they are part of the universe, you know, so it is kind of on the other side of what capitalism teaches us to be, which is kind of selfish, self-centered consumer. It looks at people elementally, and I focused somehow on fire, on the fire element. And the fire in people, you know, the passion, the heart, the spirit, which are all kind of fire-related, and how these things are really essential to life, but they are things which can’t be bought. And the idea was to bring back the attention on us human beings as non-exchangeable, non-buyable beings that we are, you know, humans, and that’s a sacred notion around this that can’t be touched by money. So those were my concerns for this album, and, of course, the title “Silencio”, which, I don’t know if you heard the record?

Alexia: Yes.

Laetitia: The last track basically explains the situation as to how this title came about- it wasn’t, you know, “Shut up, everybody! Let’s have some silence around here!”, it was about connecting deeply with oneself because I think that to have a revolution you need to be connected to yourself, to your sense, to your better self, and your sense of it. And then you can derive some ideas to lead some kind of action for change, for progress, for moving forward, not being stuck in the system, which I think disconnects people from their deeper and truer natures, you see?

Alexia: That’s very powerful. I appreciate your album because I can clearly hear the political themes in it, but yet it’s beautiful and makes you want to listen to it, and I don’t know, it’s like the best kind of art where it has a message but it’s transcendent, you know?

Laetitia: Yeah, I mean to me art is about you know putting what’s the most important to you, and I guess transcend to some degree. Of course, transformation, I mean that’s the real alchemy of art. You know, art is alchemical, or it can be, it can transform your life. And I know it sure has mine. If you’re open to it, and of course it should be really kind of essential stuff, the stuff that really matters, and not the mindless stuff.

I mean listen to the radio- it’s just appalling, the quality of the music. I think it’s really about demolishing people, and their truer connection, you know their connection to themselves. It’s just soul-breaking and heart-numbing. It’s numbing, I want to protect myself from it, to not receive it, not feel it, it’s so obnoxious. I don’t know, I find it super-dangerous. So it’s true, I’m kind of reacting against that, in a way, you know, that’s my purpose, it seems.

Alexia: You have a very beautiful and distinct voice. Are there any vocalists or singers that inspired you when you were growing up or even now?

Laetitia: Yes, of course. Carmel– she was an Irish singer in the 80s, she kind of had semi-hits, but she never really took off, you know? But the first album she ever did was a six-track kind of experimental jazz piece, and it was very, very bare, and kind of badly recorded, but really good. I was fascinated, and it’s still one of my favorite records. So she was a real inspiration in terms of “I want to sing”, in terms of “Yes, this is what I want to do.” I guess Morrissey also inspired me to sing. He has an incredible voice, and I love that first album that they did, cause I’m a first album girl. And besides that, um, France Gall also really inspired me. And then there’s of course singers like Dionne Warwick- the perfection, you know? Like wow! I wish I could sing like that! Divas like that. I like distinctive vocals. I like white women that sound like black women- I really like that. And I like an open and sincere voice, you know? We can hear the heart and the personality of the person, rather than a super-trained voice, you know, a super-technically-apt, but kind of affected, rather than natural. So that’s what I am most attracted to.

Alexia: Are there any artists right now or albums or songs that really catch you currently?

Laetitia: I’m a big fan of the French band called Holden. They really, really touch me- their music really touches me. And they’re about to release a new record, and I saw them live recently, and they really really blew me away- so much grace and beauty. They played some new songs, and I’m like “Oh my God! They’re doing it again!” I played the record by Connan Mockasin, which is really interesting and fun to listen to.  Continue reading

Entertainment, History, Interviews, People, The Features

Tony Mendez and ARGO: The True Story

Author and Former CIA Agent Antonio Mendez (Photo courtesy Joanna Mendez)

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics that still reverberates today. But there’s a little-known drama connected to the crisis: six Americans escaped from the embassy only to remain trapped in the city, facing torture or death if the militants discovered their whereabouts. With time running out, CIA officer, Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them.

Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep-cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called Argo. While pretending to find the perfect film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees and smuggling them out of Iran right under the noses of their pursuers.

Such is the real-life setting for ARGO: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, which released in stores earlier this week. Mendez will be present at a book launch party at the International Spy Museum tomorrow evening. The former agent-turned-author took a few minutes to talk about the experience, the new book, and the upcoming movie Argo (starring and directed by Ben Affleck) releasing October 12. Continue reading

Downtown, History, Interviews, People, Scribblings, Special Events, The Features

AZORIAN and the CIA Visit the Spy Museum

Hughes Glomar Explorer; photo courtesy Dave Sharp

In February 12, 2010, the CIA declassified substantial information surrounding one of its more secret Cold War projects, Project AZORIAN. The code name referred to the Agency’s ambitious plan to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean in order to retrieve its secrets.

This Thursday at 10:15 am, the International Spy Museum, in cooperation with the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program, is hosting a special discussion on Project AZORIAN and the Hughes Glomar Explorer. The guest speaker is David Sharp, a former CIA employee who was part of the critical success of the Explorer’s mission.

The story of Project AZORIAN began on March 1, 1968, when a Soviet Golf-II submarine, the K-129 sailed from the naval base at Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula to take up its peacetime patrol station northeast of Hawaii. Something went terribly wrong in mid-March 1968 as the submarine suffered a catastrophic accident and sank 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii with the loss of its entire crew. Interestingly, the CIA history is silent on the cause of the accident, mentioning neither how the agency came to learn of the sub’s demise nor the exact location of its resting place 16,500 feet below the surface of Pacific. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Volta Bureau

photo by Jonathan Luna

Volta Bureau is an electronic trio based in DC. The group is made up of DJs/producers/instrumentalists/vocalists Will Eastman, Miguel Lacsamana (Micah Vellian) and Bernard Farley (Outputmessage). Almost exactly a year ago I had the pleasure of asking Miguel a few questions as the group was just starting to play out. It’s been a busy year for Volta Bureau, with live performances, high-profile DJ sets, and worldwide acclaim for their tracks. They’re in full-force and ready to kick off the next year with more live shows, new recordings and remixes. Tonight you can experience their magic live as they take over the mainstage of Black Cat.
Alexia: Just a year ago you were playing your first show as a live act- so much has happened in the past year for you- what have been some personal high points?
Miguel:Hearing Pete Tong, Annie Mac and Toddla T talk about Alley Cat was pretty ace, but the fact that we are getting to do this at all is probably the biggest high point for me.
Will: Aw man, the year has passed really quickly. As Miguel mentioned, Pete Tong playing our track and shouting it out on BBC Radio 1 was really amazing and surreal after following his show for so long. Playing live at U Street Music Hall‘s second anniversary was a really special moment for me. It was a culmination of a lot of things I’d be working very hard on for awhile. Going to Miami and playing WMC with the guys and just having lots of good times being creative and laughing and playing music with my buds has been the best part.
Alexia: Volta Bureau has done a lot of appearances doing DJ sets- is there a plan to do more live shows in the future? Which do you prefer?
Miguel: We are definitely planning to do more live shows. 
Will: We originally conceived of Volta Bureau as a live band. We’re all three DJs and doing DJ sets is important to us, but the live performance is something we’ve put a lot of thought and planning into. We’ve wanted to refine it and practice a lot before rolling it out. I think we’re now at a stage where we’re ready to do more live shows outside of DC and we’re looking forward to making that a priority for 2013. Continue reading
Downtown, People, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

Desert Air Opens Tomorrow at NatGeo

“Crossing Arabia’s Empty Quarter” by George Steinmetz; photo courtesy National Geographic

An exhibition featuring images of the world’s deserts by award-winning National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz will be on display at the National Geographic Museum from Aug. 30, 2012, to Jan. 27, 2013.

The free exhibition, “Desert Air: Photographs by George Steinmetz,” includes breathtaking photographs of sand dunes, human habitation, wildlife and vast expanses of the world’s last great wildernesses. The photos will be displayed in the museum’s M Street gallery. An audio component will feature Steinmetz telling the stories behind selected images. Continue reading

Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with JosaFeen Wells of E.D. Sedgwick and N’Digo Rose & the Nekkid UndastandN

photo courtesy of E.D. Sedgwick

This Saturday sees the convergence of two types of DC music in one place – longtime DC dance-punk favorite E.D. Sedgwick is playing with longtime DC soul favorites N’Digo Rose & the Nekkid UndastandN, at Ras Restaurant & Lounge on Georgia Avenue.

What seems like two groups from divergent genres actually have something in common.  JosaFeen Wells sings for both, and will be performing with both bands Saturday night.  She is also the one who put together the show, through her company Elliott Entertainment and Consulting Group, LLC, in what she hopes will be the first of many affordable showcases for local music.  She calls this go-around “Enter the Artmosphere Vol. I”.

E.D. Sedgwick is a four-piece band led by Dischord and Touch & Go records veteran Justin Moyer, whose previous band Supersystem helped put DC on the dance-punk map back in the Oughts when that music was a big thing in indie-rock-land, alongside acts like the Rapture, !!! and  LCD Soundsystem.   While Moyer has been performing under the E.D. Sedgwick name for many years now, with several CDs under his belt, his sound only in the last few years has taken its current shape, evolving from Moyer alone in the studio and on-stage (in drag with an iPod), to a four-piece, with jagged guitar bursts, rhythmic percussion rounded out by his unique speak/singing vocals and lyrics, interacting tightly with Wells’ up-front gospel/r&b inflected singing.  The E.D. Sedgwick live show is one of the funnest shows you might see in this city.  And it works on their recordings too, as Moyer is a master engineer – the last one, Love Gets Lovelier Every Day is a fine example of the current sound, and the next one, which is coming out in November on Dischord, should be even better.

N’Digo Rose & the Nekkid UndastandN is led by keyboardist/crooner Tony Hicks, whose 70s-influenced soul/R&B was a mainstay in U Street clubs, back when there were more clubs featuring local soul music, like Kaffa House, State of the Union and Metro Cafe.  Hicks’ vocals invoke a classic 70s style – think Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions – but his production is one of headphone-worthy atmospherics and texture.  Throw in a live show that has three backup singers, including Wells, and the house may come down Saturday with something as heart-felt and authentic as you would want from your local soul.

Hicks is reuniting with JoseFeen Wells and his two other singers from that period, Ginger Bleu and Deborah Bond, who is a well-known soloist in her own right.  Bond will be DJ-ing as well on Saturday.

As the organizer and nexus for a show that should be as diverse at it is funky, JosaFeen Wells is proud of her roster for this Saturday’s show, and proud to be singing in both.  Her roots are in the gospel church-singing of her childhood.  She is also a veteran of DC’s Go-Go scene, having performed with Lil Benny and the Go-Go All-Stars, Potential Groovers and Untouch.  She was also in a three-girl singing group that made it to Showtime at the Apollo, and, as Carla Elliott, she recorded vocals for some dance tracks for Rich Morel‘s “Pink Noise” project, that were unreleased.  While she was working as a singer for N’Digo Rose & Nekkid UndastandN, she met Justin Moyer, who was doing work with them as an engineer, and later joined E.D. Sedgwick. Continue reading