Mexo-Americana band David Wax Museum is pretty psyched to play U Street Music Hall on Nov. 21, but they’re definitely not above performing at a good house show. Though vocalists and instrumentalists David Wax and Susan “Suz” Slezak have roots in Boston, some of the duo’s fondest memories were forged during nights spent playing shows in D.C. living rooms.
We spoke with Wax earlier this week to preview the band’s upcoming show:
Borderstan: What are your expectations for U Street Music Hall?
David Wax: I think the sense I’ve got is that it’s like a little bit more of like a sweaty rock group than the 9:30 Club, which has a little bit of that kind of like majestic rock room feel. I think that to [perform in] a packed U Street Music Hall is going to feel really good.
Susan’s from Virginia, that’s where we live nowadays so we started coming to D.C. really early on and building up. One of the most unique ways of building up the band for us in terms of doing these 15 house concerts in D.C.
I feel like we’ve made a real personal connection with a lot of our fans there and [I] kind of really just won people over one person at a time and one living room at a time. There’s just a real special vibe when we play D.C. People who have got to see us from our earliest early stages have kind of grown along with the band.
Take me back to some of those house shows starting out. How did you get hooked up with them and what was your very first house show in D.C. like?
There was a guy I grew up with in Missouri who was living in D.C. and he organized the first one and he sat in with us. He was someone who played with us a lot when we were in D.C. And so he was kind of a real, you know, person that was super involved in community life there and was able to get 40 people together in a living room to see a band that nobody’s ever heard of.
It was kind of like a raucous party with 40 people in a room and a little house in D.C. and I think from that, three or four people that saw us there were like, oh, could you do this at my place? There was just like an instant like oh, I wanna have this at my house and have my friends come and see this.
And so it really like was this kind of viral thing that just something kind of resonated with people. And there was a high concentration of young people in their 20s that, you know, were connected and could get a bunch of people together. It really fit with what peoples’ interests were and there was just some kind of line that really clicked.
Has the comfort level changed now that you’re playing in actual music venues?
In some ways you’re almost more exposed than the house show setting. Both Susan and I have been really comfortable performing since we were little kids and that’s what really draws us to being in the band. One of the most sustaining parts of the stress is getting to perform every night. There’s lessons to be learned about what connected with people in the house concert setting and the feeling of community and intimacy that you have to work harder to create in the larger venue.
We’ve been in D.C. a couple times at the 9:30 Club where we just came out in the middle of the room and everyone sat down on the floor and I feel like we’ve been able to have that kind of intimacy in those experiences that feel like some kind of sense that there’s like a transcendence.
That’s why I play music and that’s why we go and hear music. That’s why live music is still relevant to people and matters in peoples’ lives.
This interview was edited for length and clarity. Photo by Todd Roeth.
Humidity, warm temperatures, a Nationals gaffe in the headlines. Is it summer again? Well, no. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pretend.
Capital Pride will take a page from the summer playbook by screening Disney’s “Maleficent” tonight at Stead Park (1625 P St. NW) at 7:30 p.m.
Though an outdoor film screening may feel July-esque, the film, which stars Angelina Jolie as the infamous Sleeping Beauty antagonist, isn’t. In fact, Capital Pride says tonight’s screening is meant to usher in that time of the year when winds howl, people wear cardigans and ghoulish skeletons drink pumpkin spice lattes.
Attendees are free to bring along picnic baskets, popcorn and blankets, but are asked to leave their pets at home.
Photo via Facebook/CapitalPrideDC
Musicians, artists, performers and crowds of onlookers filled the streets and sidewalks in five D.C. neighborhoods during this year’s Art All Night.
In Dupont Circle and Shaw, musicians played, shadows came to life, buildings changed colors and artists collaborated. Naturally, such a spectacle prompted a veritable tweetstorm of art:
— DC OCT (@OCTDC) September 27, 2015
— Matt Dunn (@MattDunnDC) September 26, 2015
— Laylaa (@Lay_Knows) September 27, 2015
— RUNINDC (@runindc) September 28, 2015
— Jenn Amur (@jenniferamur) September 27, 2015
— Cash Colburn (@CashColburn) September 27, 2015
— Matt Dunn (@MattDunnDC) September 28, 2015
— Mike K. (@gureala) September 27, 2015
— Evan J. Berkowitz (@TheEndOfMyWitz) September 27, 2015
— Mary Lord (@MaryLordDC) September 27, 2015
— DC OCT (@OCTDC) September 27, 2015
— KING BADÈ (@ManniBade) September 27, 2015
— Christina St. Clair (@ChristinaStClr) September 27, 2015
— RUNINDC (@runindc) September 27, 2015
— Kristi Love (@KLo202) September 28, 2015
Photo via Twitter/ArtAllNightDC
Morning commutes might be a little quieter for a while: The well-known public performers behind DuPont Brass are moving on from busking to become a “professional ensemble.”
The band shared the bittersweet news with its fans over the weekend.
“We are no longer the DuPont Brass that started out at Dupont Circle in the winter of 2011,” read an e-mail from the group. “With our brand continuing to grow and our members wrapping up their perspective degrees, we’ve decided to stray from busking and focus on developing ourselves as a performance group/service.”
DuPont Brass will play a “send-off show” for its fans tomorrow at the Marion Street Intergenerational Community Garden in Shaw at 2 p.m.
Flugelhorn and trumpet player Jared Bailey said his bandmates are looking forward to giving up early mornings and lugging heavy instruments onto the train.
“Doing it every day is very draining,” Bailey said. “As far as doing other things, we’re definitely ready for that.”
Bailey added the main reason for quitting busking was that the group — made up of mostly Howard University students — was on the verge of graduating. “We don’t want go out there and fool people that we’re raising for tuition,” he said.
Tomorrow’s show will be a blowout brass bash meant to celebrate the band’s four-year run as street performers.
“We’re trying to introduce people to our new sound,” Bailey said. “The send-off is meant to introduce them to the new sound that we’ve been working on.”
In addition to the usual brass and drums, tomorrow’s performance will pack the stage with a keyboard player, a guitarist and a second drummer. Expect the old arrangements and some new stuff, said Bailey.
“It’s probably something that you’ve heard before, but we’ve added to it to make it even better,” Bailey added.
The performance will also include other local performers, a food truck, live painting and an auction to kickstart the group’s professional career.
As for what’s next, Bailey said the band has some grand plans.
“We’re trying to raise money for a tour that we’re putting together that’s in the works, a college tour,” he said. “We’ll be going to colleges and putting on seminars.”
Bailey said he hopes his band can teach small ensembles across the country how to form their own DuPont Brass-like busking groups.
“Not just performing for them, but also showing them what we did to make it to where we are,” said Bailey. “That’s something we want to share for people, just how we did this.”
Photo via Facebook/DPBrass
Some parking spots throughout D.C. won’t be occupied by cars tomorrow. Instead, they’ll be home to pop-up parks.
PARK(ing) Day is a national event that businesses, organizations and residents celebrate throughout the District each year. The city celebrates the event by turning parking spaces into these pop-up parklets.
Dupont Circle-based Rails to Trails Conservancy is participating in the event for the first time. According to Director of Communications Elizabeth Striano, they’ll set up shop near at 1400 New Hampshire NW and host bike accessory raffles, free giveaways, a bike repair station and pass out drinks and ice pops.
Bicyclists can also stop and get a Polaroid picture in front of a backdrop of a bike trail the organization helped build.
“We’re taking up two spots, so this year we’re feeling it out to see what works and what doesn’t,” Striano said. “Being able to safely bicycle in the city is critical, so we’re excited to help promote healthy places and people.”
There are 10 parks expected to go up in northwest D.C. Each will have a different theme, purpose and activities.
The locations and sponsors for the parks are:
- 2000 M St. NW (Island Press)
- 1400 New Hampshire Ave. NW (Rails to Trails Conservancy)
- 1440 P St. NW (OCULUS)
- 1250 U St. NW (District Department of Parks and Recreation)
- 2424 18th St. NW (BicycleSPACE)
- 3407 14th St. NW (Washington Area Bicyclist Assocation)
- 2020 K St. NW (Golden Triangle BID, Gensler)
- 1830 K St. NW (ZGF Architects)
- 1612 K St. NW (Project for Public Spaces)
- 1200 K St. NW (HKS Architects, Inc.)
Many of the parks will be open from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year, there will be approximately 30 pop-up parks throughout D.C., more than double the amount from last year. Click here for a full list of where to find the parklets across the city.
Photo via Flickr user Aimee Curtis Photography
A D.C. man may have the chance to be crowned the greatest air guitarist in the world.
That man is Doug “Thunder” Stroock.
Last week, Stroock and three others strummed invisible guitars well enough to be awarded top honors in the Mid-Atlantic by a panel of judges at the 9:30 Club.
Next Saturday, they’ll compete in Portland, Ore., against 17 of the nation’s best faux-rockers for the chance to earn a spot among the air guitar gods.
Whoever wins will represent the U.S. in this year’s Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland.
Though he’s a tornado of ’80s fashion and creepy crotch-grabs onstage, Stroock is a fairly normal guy during his day-to-day life as a business consultant.
Stroock, who lives in Chinatown, says his persona is a “a sex figure that’s almost humorous.”
“I work out just enough to be in shape, but there’s no reason I should be kissing my bicep or pointing at it,” Stroock says. “It’s very opposite to my day-to-day persona. It’s like me, but a very outsized version of me.”
“I was not one of those guys who was rocking out to Metallica in my bedroom when I was 12,” he explains. “The theater of it is what drew me.”
Stroock says that although his routines change year-to-year, there’s always one constant: he’s going to rip off his shirt at some point.
“In every performance that I do, I know somewhere in there I am going to tear off my shirt,” says Stroock. “It’s my signature move.”
“When you play air guitar, you’re celebrating the essence of rock,” he adds. “You’re celebrating everything it means to be a rock star without actually being the musician part of the rock star.”
Will the overly macho moves and bare chest be enough to take home the world title? Stroock sure hopes so.
Until then: “I’m revisiting what my routine was and practicing,” Stroock says. “Definitely hitting the gym.”
The Keegan Theatre (1742 Church St NW) is almost ready to debut a new look after 10 months of renovations.
Starting this Saturday, patrons will enter the theater through a new glass and steel atrium, walk up the atrium’s bright staircase and take a seat in one of the new burnt orange chairs to watch the opening of famed Tennessee Williams play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Apart from the new atrium, the renovation also includes a new lighting grid, dressing rooms, bathrooms and a bar.
“It’s like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Jeff Klein, media relations manager for Keegan Theater. “We had a lot of obstacles that we overcame. There’s still work to be done in the basement, which we call the artist space, but everything else is pretty much ready to go.”
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” runs until July 25. Click here to view the theater’s 2015-16 season.
It’s that time again… a look back before we start 2013. Like last December, we’re listing the most-read stories on Borderstan by category. Today are the Top 10 from the Arts and Entertainment section.
Remember that the web is forever, so they say. Posted stories continue to get hits long after originally going up on the site. As a result, some of the most-read stories for the year were sometimes published the year before — especially if they were published late the year before.
Top 10 Borderstan A&E Stories of 2012
These Arts and Entertainment stories were Top 10 most read in 2012 on Borderstan.com. Assistant Editor Rachel Nania and Editor Luis Gomez each had three of the Top 10 stories while Bordertan Movie Fan Mary Burgan had two, and arts writer Eliza French rounded out the list.
- Margin Call a Great Explanation of Financial Crisis, Great Recession (Mary Burgan)
- Tropicalia: A Psychedelic Buena Vista Social Club at 14th and U Luis Gomez)
- Illuminate Connecticut Avenue: DCCAH Calls For Public Art Entries (Rachel Nania)
- A Bastille Day Salute: 10 French Films to See (Mary Burgan)
- Ibero-America Film Showcase 2012 Starts Jan. 19 (Luis Gomez)
- Adams Morgan Picked as One of “Prettiest Painted Places” in U.S. (Rachel Nania)
- Pics from 17th Street Festival: Did We See You There? (Luis Gomez)
- Tuesday at Stead Park Field: Watch “Grease” Under the Stars (Borderstan)
- Tonight! It’s the Annual 17th Street High Heel Race (Rachel Nania)
- Miguel Perez Lem: An International Artist with an Eclectic Approach (Eliza French)