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.
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