OTHER LIVE MUSIC RESOURCES
While District Concerts strives to be a comprehensive resource for live music in Washington, DC, we can’t be all things to all people. So here are some other DC music resources – some of the best local music sites, as well as some of the best venues that lie outside of DC yet don’t necessitate a terribly long road trip.
Hometown Sounds is a terrific resource for anybody who wants to get a flavor (or perhaps even a flood) of local music. The site has three main components – an internet radio stream, a series of podcasts, and a blog that provides videos and brief descriptions of the corresponding artists and their music. All of the artists that are featured on the site are local – Hometown Sounds plays “music made by people living in DC, or the surrounding suburbs. There aren’t defined boundaries of what qualifies, but Baltimore and Richmond are definitely out.” The internet radio is 24/7 and works via the free TuneIn app. We personally adore the podcasts – hosts Tony and Paul are a lot of fun and have excellent charisma, and they offer a nice sample of local music fare. Check it out at www.HometownSoundsDC.com.
D.C. Music Download
D.C. Music Download is an online music magazine that highlights the best and brightest acts located in the Washington, DC, area. It offers music reviews, interviews, news, and posts about the local music scene. The website has been consistently recognized by both regional and national publications such as NPR and The Washington Post for its in-depth coverage of the local music scene. It also sponsors major music events regularly at local venues such as 9:30 Club, The Howard Theatre, and Songbyrd. Check it out at www.DCMusicDownload.com.
CapitalBop, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz in the District. They build audiences in order to build community around this music, not only because jazz is important to the city’s historic identity, but also because jazz is ever-changing and contemporary. CapitalBop.com is designed to help everyone from newcomers to jazz die-hards find live music that will fit their preferences. CapitalBop hosts monthly DC Jazz Loft shows, two annual festivals, and other presentations that reach diverse audiences and present jazz in outside-the-box scenarios. The CapitalBop website offers interviews, news, album profiles, album reviews, and a list of area jazz musicians. Check them out at www.CapitalBop.com.
Folk Music Sites
The DMV is a mecca for folk music – if you love bluegrass, Americana, roots music, etc., a plethora of such fare can be found all around DC. And when we say all around DC, we do mean around it – DC is like the hole in the area’s folk music doughnut. If the area’s folk music calendar has 40 or 50 events, we’re lucky if a couple of those events fall within the friendly confines of da District. So if folk music is your thing and your yen ain’t gettin’ sated in DC, then you might need to venture a little bit beyond the Capital. Two of the best resources for the area’s folk music scene are The Folklore Society of Greater Washington and The World Folk Music Association.
If we ever expand the District Concerts site beyond DC, it will be to include Arlington. Why? (1) To complete the diamond. (OK, admittedly, to truly complete the diamond, we’d need to add a big chunk of Alexandria as well.) (2) To add Iota Club into the mix. And of the two, the latter is the bigger motive. Iota’s a delightful music venue – it’s quite cozy and unassuming, yet attracts truly top-notch acts. It ranks among the favorite performance spaces of area acts. It’s also Metro accessible. So if you do venture beyond the District to go to a show, put Iota at the top of your list of destinations. You can get more info at www.IotaClubandCafe.com.
The Fillmore is the music cornerstone of the arts district in downtown Silver Spring. It’s not a mammoth venue but is still pretty large – it has an audience capacity of 2,000 – and programs a lot of big-name touring acts. It’s not terribly far from the Metro, is in a neighborhood that doesn’t feel uncomfortably suburban, and there’s a decent selection of restaurants in the general vicinity. You can get more info at www.FillmoreSilverSpring.com.
The Birchmere is a legendary music venue that has showcased some of the biggest names in music during the course of its history. It’s not a tiny venue, though it’s cozy nonetheless due to its dinner theater layout. A drawback to the venue is its location. It’s not terribly far away – a crow could fly to it from the National Mall almost as quickly as it could fly to Columbia Heights – but it’s… get this… five miles (5!) from the closest Metro. Yikes. Still, the venue does draw some noteworthy names, so you might want to give it a look at www.Birchmere.com.
A bit farther out for the crow but somewhat easier to reach by Metro, the State Theatre in “downtown” Falls Church offers a nice slate of acts* in a former movie theater. The vibe is essentially a suburban edition of the 9:30 Club – similar layout, but a bit more polished and sedate, and not quite as big. State does provide food service, which is a good thing since other dining options nearby are, umm… …not particularly extensive. For more info, go to www.TheStateTheatre.com. *The Google street view shows a KMFDM poster, which got us pretty durn excited. Ooh!
Strathmore offers world-class facilities and performances, decidedly worthy of a central location. Instead, it’s way the honk out in North Bethesda. That’s right – not Bethesda, but North Bethesda. Outside of the Beltway, if you can imagine such a thing! Still, Strathmore is accessible by Metro, and they have some amazing offerings year-round. So if you’re willing to hop in the car or travel nearly to the end of the Red Line, then you might want to check it out at www.Strathmore.org.
Google Maps offers the best synopsis of the problem with Wolf Trap: “Sorry, we could not calculate transit directions… to The Barns At Wolf Trap…” Wolf Trap is a great place to see a concert, particularly if you snag a picnic event. But if you’re using transit, you need to take a bus to get to the outdoor venue, and the “Barns” are not accessible by transit at all. Still, you might wanna take a trek out there at some point. Location aside, it’s spiffy. Find out more at www.WolfTrap.org.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a couple of the other noteworthy venues that bombard the District with advertising. Jammin’ Java regularly delivers a tantalizing music slate, and Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts some of the biggest events in the DC/Baltimore megalopolis. But Jammin’ Java is not only in a distant suburb and a long way from the closest Metro, it’s also located in an unpleasant little strip mall (does that sound snotty?). Merriweather, on the other hand, ain’t even in a DC ‘burb – it’s in Columbia, closer to Baltimore than to DC. If you’re gonna go there, you might as well keep driving and instead opt for, say, Baltimore’s Fells Point or Charles Village. Jammin’ Java and Merriweather do have merit, but it’s pretty easy to find music options that are just as good or better that are a lot easier to get to.