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Local Listens: Anthony Fiacco of the Blackjacks

Welcome to Local Listens, where we profile some of our favorite Washington musicians. This week, we shine the spotlight on the Blackjacks.

The Blackjacks’ music is a whiskey-infused take on classic rock. Lead singer Anthony Fiacco’s voice is a gritty and powerful add on to the band’s driving guitar riffs, compliments of Buddy Spier. While the majority of the Blackjacks’ songs are raucous and heavy (listen to “It’s Alright” and “Lights On”), the band can bring it down a notch to create a dreamy love ballad.

According to Fiacco, “Situation” is one of the first songs the band would play for a new fan, especially if the fan was a female. The song’s gentle and affectionate qualities usually appeal to ladies more than men (who, Fiacco says, would first be introduced to “It’s Alright”). Lyrics such as “Gotta make it last tonight / Baby it will be alright,” showcase the quartet’s softer side. It’s not hard to see why ladies might swoon.

But enough of the mushy stuff—the Blackjacks are headlining Whiskey Nights at Jammin’ Java tonight at 9. Ponderosa and Pawnshop Roses will share the bill of the all-ages show. Twenty-one-and-older fans that arrive between 9 and 10 get a free shot of Jack Daniels (how appropriate!) with their $10 admission fee.

Fiacco stepped away from his guitar for few minutes to answer some questions for us.

Name: Anthony Fiacco.

Age: “Two years—for the band, that is.”

Hometown: DC.

First song that made you want to play music:

“ ‘Hey Jude.’ ”

First instrument:


Local spot to seek inspiration or write music:

“I like to go to the Black Cat on Mouse Trap night. Everyone is sweaty, drunk, and dancing, so that’s pretty inspiring. I go to the bathroom and hum music ideas into my cell phone on my breaks.”

Best local venue:

“It’s hard to beat the 9:30 Club because they’ve been at it for so long, and it sounds so good. However, I’m kinda partial to Jammin’ Java in Vienna. Those guys are genuinely supportive of all kinds of musicians, artists, social rejects, and misfits.”

Best bar to hear music:
“If I’m just gonna stand there with a whiskey and listen to music, then it’s Iota Club & Café in Arlington when Last Train Home is playing. When they kick in to Waylon Jennings, it’s all over for me.”

Favorite local band:
“Hard to say just one. I love Justin Jones’s vibe and his songwriting. US Royalty puts on a fun show, and the lead singer sings his ass off. It’s hard because we’re friends with so many musicians around here and everyone’s so unique. Ask me in five minutes and it could change depending on who’s buying the next round of shots.”

Best thing about the Washington music scene:
“It’s rather easy to distinguish yourself because it’s so small.”

Worst thing about the Washington music scene:
“It feels a bit isolated from the rest of the world, maybe because the area is so transient.”

Craziest tour or show memory:
“We were recently in Philly, and after we were played, I was enjoying the other bands. Next thing I know, our guitarist and drummer are having some kind of drunk fight. The drummer goes outside across the street and wonders into a graveyard. I try to find out what’s going on and our guitar player throws a beer bottle at my head, then he falls to the floor and passes out. I look around for the bass player and apparently he was in the hospital because he had been hit by a car loading our gear while all this was going on. Moral of the story: Don’t show up to a gig three hours early with nothing better to do than sit at the bar and drink. Lesson learned.”

Finish this sentence: “When not making music, you can find me . . .”
“. . . sleeping. (As in, I’m always making music).”

Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
“That’s an evil question because it depends on your mood at the time. But I’ve gotta go with the Beatles if it’s a desert-island situation.”

Digital download or hard copy?
“Who cares as long as people are listening.”

Rolling Stone or Spin?
“I’m usually more interested in what’s going on in Rolling Stone.”

Club show or festival?
“A club show. It’s usually louder and a better venue for rock music.”

When did the Blackjacks begin?
“I met Buddy when both of our bands were on the same bill a few years ago, and I thought he was the best guitar player I’d seen in this area. We stayed friends. Years later I went into the studio and asked him to come play on the record. When the Blackjacks entered Last Band Standing in 2008, we put this lineup together. Buddy knew Nate (bass, vocals) and Mike (drums) from previous projects, and it just kinda stuck.”

What musicians, bands, or performers influence your music?
“Classic-rock bands initially turned me on, but we’re inevitably inspired by everything we’ve ever heard including the ‘Happy Birthday’ song and ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game.’ ”

What’s your favorite music scene from a movie?
“The guitar duel between Eric Clapton and Robby Robertson in The Last Waltz.

What would be your dream lineup for a show?
“We would open for Queens of the Stone Age, who would open for Foo Fighters, who would open for Tom Petty.”

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
“Toss up between the Beatles’ White Album and Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.” 

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