Punch Brothers is a hard band to peg. If you call it bluegrass, the members will bust out a raucous cover of “Reptilia” by the Strokes. If you call it strictly indie, they’ll figure out a way to flawlessly segue from Radiohead’s “Kid A” into Gillian Welch’s fiddle tune “Wayside (Back in Time).” The only certainties are the instrumental mix of fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and base—and that you’ll be surprised by whatever you hear.
For Chris Eldridge, the band’s guitarist, Washington is home. He was born in Fairfax and spent much of his youth in Falls Church and Fredericksburg before taking off for Nashville. Eldridge returns home with his bandmates in tow to play Strathmore in Bethesda November 12. Washingtonian caught up with him before the show.
It’s not everyday you see a Grammy nominee performing on the bus—but not every Grammy nominee is Christylez Bacon. As for that bus, the progressive hip-hop artist (who was recognized for his work on a kids’ album, Banjo to Beatbox) often rides the X2 Metrobus with his guitar, and he even plans on bringing a chamber-music ensemble along for the ride at some point.
A native Washingtonian, Bacon discovered a passion for performing at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and continued to hone his skills as an emcee at local open-mic nights. Sporting a blue velvet bow tie with a tweed vest and trousers, Christylez sat down with us to discuss his unique blend of genres.
From an early age, Rachel Feinstein imitated people. “I went to elementary school in Bethesda, and I had this pretty Southern teacher with really thin lips,” she says. “I wanted to be her. I’d try to make my lips look like hers all the time. In all my school pictures, I was doing this strange thing with my lips.”
Years later, the habit has come in handy. Feinstein placed seventh on NBC’s American Idol-style show Last Comic Standing this season and was the last female comic eliminated. The show averages four million viewers a week.
Much of her set relies on impersonating people she’s met—whether it’s a drunk guy hitting on her in Vegas, her mother trying to act African American, or her grandmother. She says she inherited the aping skill from her father, a blues musician and former George Washington University professor.
The voices come in handy offstage as well. “I’m not naturally very confrontational. If I call an airline, I call as my grandma,” she says. “They don’t want to deal with some old bitch and I usually get what I want.”
She wasn’t always so comfortable talking to people, though. After graduating from Thornton Friends School in Silver Spring, she moved to New York City. She held jobs as a telemarketer selling vitamins and as a sales associate at Fat Jean & Shoes on Broadway—for a few hours.
It started when Lauren Schreiber began writing poetry in middle school. Having been in her church choir, Schreiber found it only natural to pair melodies with her words, and then she progressed to collaborating with musicians, who added instruments. But that wasn’t enough.
Frustrated that she couldn’t fully communicate how she wanted her music to sound, Schreiber picked up a guitar and taught herself basic chords. “I had no formal training,” she says. “I figured out some chords and then put them together as fast as I could. I wanted to perform right away.”
Shreiber took her guitar and began performing at local venues at 18, becoming a self-described “coffeeshop girl.”
It was the DC-based rapper and promoter Tyrone Norris who thought she could branch out. After hearing her sing, he invited her to perform with him at Palace of Wonders—Schreiber’s first-ever gig at a bar: “It was a hip-hop show with emcees, a flame thrower, and a sword swallower—which is normal for Tyrone, but when I got there, I was like, ‘How does my music fit in?’ ”
Luckily it did—in fact, it struck such a chord with the audience that the crowd found a jar to pass around to leave tips for her.
Deeply involved in the DC hip-hop scene, the pink-haired singer has now made her mark among MCs and rappers as a vocalist, performing in a style that marries acoustics with soul and R&B. She’s currently working on two new projects, tentatively titled Love Sequence and Basement Dreams.
To find out more about Schreiber and her music, read on:
For more of our past coverage on Michaele Salahi, click here.
Michaele Salahi, former model and chair of the spring strutting ritual (and polo match) America’s Polo Cup, explains how to pose and what to wear to this season’s outdoor sporting events in Virginia.
Photo taken at the recent Leukemia & Lymphoma Society annual ball. (See more photos from the night here.)
Who: Michaele Salahi, makeup consultant, Oasis Winery owner with husband Tareq, America’s Polo Cup chair, and the “face” for Virginia.org’s Wine Getaways ad campaign.
What she’s wearing: Oscar de la Renta from Neiman Marcus.
How would you describe your style? “Classic and feminine with a slim rocker edge. I’m addicted to white clothes, and I love stilettos.”
Favored designers: “Cartier, Chanel, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Dior.”
What do you wear on a typical day? “Fitted skinny jeans, Dior or Prada boots, and a fitted top with a jacket.”
What will people be wearing to the America’s Polo Cup? “I love to wear a dress to the event. Women will wear dresses, pantsuits, hats, stilettos, flats. Hats are key for the ladies—you will see so many fantastic styles. That is what I love most about the event. Men will often wear a button-down and a jacket.”
Rachel says: Michaele always looks glamorous, and she definitely knows how to pose! It’s important to know that you can be a little bigger than life in a photo—shy never looks right. As for the spring events in Virginia, I think the general rule is the preppier the better. The hats are the best part.
Sidewalk Style is written and photographed by Rachel Cothran of street-fashion blog projectbeltway.com.
For more nightlife, fashion and arts & events posts, click here.
Lizz Winstead might not be a household name, but one of her creations—The Daily Show—has become a decade-long cultural phenomenon. Not surprisingly, her defunct weekly off-Broadway show, Shoot the Messenger, was also dedicated to exposing media fluff to biting sarcasm. Winstead will be in Washington performing standup at the Bentzen Ball comedy festival, going on from October 22 through 25. You can see her the first three days of the festival; her first show is Thursday, October 22, at 7 at Bohemian Caverns with Natasha Leggero, Chelsea Peretti, Hugh Moore, Chris Fairbanks, Ruby Wendell, and Jason Weems. Tickets for single shows and weekend passes are available here. We talked to her about the festival, some of her favorite comedians, and political comedy.
Brindley has received acclaim from the likes of the Washington Post, Paste, and Rolling Stone and has been graced with awards including Best Contemporary Folk Album of the Year in 2008 from the Washington Area Music Association. When he’s not recording, writing, or playing, he’s running Jammin’ Java, a venue which he owns with his brothers. Brindley is currently recording new music and hopes to release an album this fall.
Brindley has back-to-back shows at Jammin’ Java on July 17 and 18, where he’ll share the stage with Parliament Hill and Seth Glier. To sample some of Brindley’s tunes before heading to the show, check out his MySpace or follow him on Twitter (@lukebrindley) to see what he’s been up to.
Deleted Scenes has a simple principle defining the band: Never repeat yourself.
“It’s sort of the fear of looking at other bands that start repeating themselves and then start to suck,” bassist Matt Dowling says.
It’s an approach that the band took from Radiohead—not a bad band to model yourselves after. It requires jumping from genre to genre, however, which can have some unnerving results to the unacquainted. All the sonic shifts can have a dizzying effect, but it keeps the music—and the band—fresh.
“That’s the big criticism: that we jump all over the place,” Dowling says, “but it makes it fun for us—that’s just what we do.”
The quartet follows in the spirit of eclectic-minded groups of Washington’s past, such as the Dismemberment Plan, one of Dowling’s favorite bands. Still, Deleted Scenes is a band you can’t pin down, preferring to float in various stratospheres of the indie-rock universe.
Dowling’s best reference point? Modest Mouse. You could also say Talking Heads, though after a point comparisons become useless. This is a band forging its own path.
Deleted Scenes released its first full-length album, Birdseed Shirt, in March, and it received a very positive write-up from the taste makers at Pitchfork, meaning it can’t be too long before the band bursts onto the blogosphere.
But for now, Deleted Scenes is Washington’s band. “One Long Country Song” is about the Metro, after all. “It’s one long country song to the Metro / which is five blocks by anyone else’s count,” singer Dan Scheuerman croons. It’s a poignant acoustic track—like nothing else on the record, which is just way the band likes it.
Find out for yourself at the band’s 9 PM show at Velvet Lounge tonight, where it’ll be joined by the Fordists, Weekends, and Math the Band. Tickets cost $8. For the immediate fix, check out our full Q&A with Matt Dowling below.
Men have dominated our Local Listens feature, but we finally found a female-only group to introduce. Noon:30 is an indie-rock trio based in DC. Aissa Arroyo-Hill rocks out on guitar and bass, Vivianne A. Njoku hits the drum kit and keyboards, while Blue S. Moon’s robust vocals (with an impressive range) lead the group—and she dabbles on bass as well.
Njoku and Arroyo-Hill were roommates and bandmates before they met Moon. The three ladies decided to jam one day, and “the strength of the trio was immediately undeniable,” they wrote in an e-mail. They decided to pursue the band seriously about a year ago.
“I feel like once someone hears us, the fact that we’re women isn’t an issue because we rock the stage just like the fellas. I guess if we were super frilly with big pink bows, it’d be an issue, but we’re not,” Moon says. Njoku adds that it makes them more self-aware and empowered. She says the only time it’s a problem is when “dudes are trying to tell us about our instruments or just plain patronizing because they’re not receptive to being in the company of amazing women.”
Noon:30 has numerous upcoming shows, including one at Arlington’s Galaxy Hut on April 27 and another at Asylum in DC’s Adams Morgan the following day. Check out all of their tour dates on the group’s MySpace page. Before heading to a show, read on to find out how the ladies chose a name, their favorite local spots, and when to expect an album.
On the folk-laced pop of “Roman Candle,” Mark Charles Heidinger compares a friend’s wild youth to a trip into space. The song is a coming-of-age story—complete with stops to Mars and the moon—about a person who emerges battered, bruised, and changed from travel. Heidinger sings in the chorus, “You always had a Roman candle for a heart; / Now you’ve got a firm grip on things from the start; / I suppose that’s a part of growing old.”
Heidinger, originally from Kentucky, has spent time playing with rock outfits the Apparitions and These United States, but for now his time is invested in his own project—Vandaveer. Vandaveer is an old family name that most recently belonged to his great-grandfather and father. Heidinger decided to continue the tradition in 2006, when he moved to DC. “Instead of giving it to a child, I decided to give it to a musical project,” he says. “Songs are kind of like children. You don’t have to change diapers, but you do have to nurture them.”
“Roman Candle,” like all Vandaveer songs, is built around the acoustic guitar, a clever set of lyrics, and Heidinger’s voice, which hits both conversational tones and higher-pitched harmonies with ease. On the spry “However Many Takes It Takes,” an instantly accessible track off 2007’s Grace & Speed, his lyrics bounce with a quality reminiscent of early Dylan. Heidinger isn’t a folk-rock icon, but he has a clear talent for narrative songwriting, within which he’s able to sprinkle bits of insight and wit. Like all the best musicians, he performs the balancing act of borrowing from other artists while making the songs undeniably his own.
Heidinger, who’s signed to French label Alter-K Records, has a new record due out in Europe on April 6. The US full-length is still in the works, he reports, but a seven-inch record will be released stateside in the spring.
Check out Vandaveer when Heidinger plays the Black Cat on March 9. We also recommend his performance on La Blogotheque.
For now, learn more about Vandaveer with our Q&A below.