|2015's unhappy endings depressed local music lovers.|
I'm happy to report that as we transition to still another new year, the pendulum seems to be swinging back in our direction. Rather than the end of DC music as we know it, 2015 ultimately gave us some going away gifts like great new venues, an exciting new band or two and a new local radio show--any one of them important enough to revive this blog for a new chapter. Welcome back. Happier New Year! As you find your way through 2016, keep these on radar. They're the four new DC music forces we're most excited about heading into the New Year. We'd love to hear yours: Comment below!
Songbyrd Music House (Adams Morgan)
|Margot MacDonald helps launch live music at Songbyrd.|
Sehkraft Brewing (Clarendon)
|Margot also performed at the Sehkraft Brewing debut of The 9.|
Sehkraft has a unique revenue model currently based almost exclusively on beer and food sales. So far, I haven't seen more than a nominal cover charge of about $5 for the exceptionally good live music they present. The very best shows I've attended there (like The 9 Songwriter Series pictured) have all been free. This appears to work well for them, because the place is always packed. I see this as a go-to bar for a lot of people, because in addition to being in a great, Metro-accessible location, Sehkraft's customers aren't held captive. There's no need to go through the hassle and expense of finding a show online, buying and printing a $10 to $20 or more ticket or worrying about being told at the door a show is sold out. See a new band on Sehkraft's music schedule that looks interesting? Just go. Have a seat. Drink a beer or two or three. If you like the band and want to stay, stay; if not, leave and come back tomorrow, because the only thing keeping you here is a good time. Talent buyer James leverages his experience booking bands for Gypsy Sally's to ensure you'll still be there at closing time. Word to the wise: Study the beer list beforehand; so, you'll have a clue about what you want to try when you arrive. My current favorite is a Dunkles Weissbier brewed in Freising, Germany called Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel (5.3% ABV). If you find yourself lost on the way to discovering your own favorite, bar manager Drew is an absolute expert. If he's not around, you can get much the same information in a somewhat more colorful format from bartender Moayad. Check the live music schedule often too; so, you don't mess up by skipping a show you'll be sorry you missed.
The El Mansouris
This favorite new band burst onto the scene out of nowhere as an immediate front runner in the 2015 Tiny Desk music video contest with debut song "Walden." The collaboration seemed more of an experiment than a serious attempt to start a new band. The musicians involved already belonged to mature, successful main acts--bands of the stature of Young Rapids to Cigarette to Rival Skies to DC's most popular solo acts. Originally comprised of two females (Fiona Kohrman and Margot MacDonald) and three males (Alex Braden, Drew Hagelin and Sam Raymond), the mix was evened out by the addition of Lies About's (originally Lies About Butter) Sarah Schaffer.
The now complete band is in the studio actively working on their debut album to be released in 2016, potentially DC music's brightest highlight for the coming year. Part of the excitement of this release will be to see what its format will be. While DC music artists have tended to settle on compact disk as the physical embodiment of their albums (to complement digital streams), bands associated with Babe City Records (as The El Mansouris are) tend to prefer less mainstream music delivery technologies--like cassette tape. Yes, we will definitely purchase this album, but will it come on CD, cassette, vinyl or (pretty please) all three?
I love this band, but I do worry it might be abandoned in its prime like previous musical experiment Bella Russia. It would be particularly heartbreaking if this happened not because The El Mansouris weren't wildly popular but because their popularity threatened a higher priority band. Give the band a listen, and if you love them as much as we do, join us in a 2016 priority (as lovers of exceptionally awesome DC music) to be strong in our support for The El Mansouris and their longevity; so, we can enjoy this band live for years to come.
Our next opportunity to show our support? LIKE/follow The El Mansouris' Facebook page for announcements of shows happening sooner, but definitely save your February 12, 2016 for their free show with Elena Lacayo at breathtaking Smithsonian American Art Museum. Also be sure to follow @TheElMansouris on Twitter & Instagram!
Music Alley Radio
|MAR Staff: Marco, Ken Avis, Lynn & Carol Campbell|
Fans can LIKE https://www.facebook.com/MusicAlleyRadio/ for updates. Local musicians can visit that same FB page for music-submission guidelines or to find out how to guest on the show. The application process is expected to be fully spun up by early 2016. I hope you're as excited as I am about this new creative outlet--probably the best thing to happen to DC-music-focused media since The Circus Life podcast.