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He Loves DC: Jonny Grave

Photo by Rachel Levitin

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

It’s no easy feat pulling off a performance in honor of late Blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughn but that’s exactly what Jonny Grave and his band The Tombstones did this past Saturday night at Iota Club in Arlington, VA. The performance was part of the 1983 Classic Albums Concert featuring three other DC area acts and Jonny’s job was to close out the night.

Despite being a bundle of nerves, Jonny executed the performance with precision and passion. He went into the project knowing what musical challenges lied ahead and came out victorious on the other side by the night’s end.

Jonny was first introduced to American folk music at an early age by his very musical family while growing up in the DC area. By fifteen, he started learning slide guitar techniques by listening to old Blues records. By seventeen he was performing them live. Since then, he’s become a staple of the DC Blues scene.

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

Well, for starters, I’ve lived in the area my whole life. I was born in Silver Spring, very close to Sligo Creek. I spent a lot of time going downtown, seeing museums and galleries. When I was a teenager, I started venturing on my own into DC, away from the large attractions, and into the neighborhoods. Adams Morgan fascinated me. Eastern Market was like a dream. Michael Jantz got me to start playing at Wonderland, and the folks at Nanny O’Briens finally got me on their stage. When I was 21, I moved to 10th and S st., and that’s when I really fell in love with the city. I made friends with a lot of musicians, artists, bohemians, Hill staffers, and bartenders. I started playing more. The city kind of opened up for me. They say that home is where the heart is, and mine is right here.

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