Continuing in my series of songs for musically under-represented holidays, here’s a short original song for Pi Day (3/14/16)! Enjoy.
Thanks to NPR for their January 3, 2016 report about my song “Stand Right,” which celebrates DC’s unwritten rule of escalator etiquette. I wrote the song in 2010, and recorded it in 2014 with Aaron Myers. We released a single of the track early last year, and included it on Aaron’s holiday album “Snowing In Vegas,” which was released in December 2015.
NPR reporter Yu Sun Chin interviewed Metro riders about their experience with this “escalator code,” and spoke to Aaron and me about the genesis of the song and our experiences performing it. She also stopped by Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill to hear one of Aaron’s live shows and record a segment of our live performance of this tune.
The result was an entertaining and informative 2-minute radio report, which I encourage you to listen to on the NPR site (if you didn’t already hear us on the radio).
I’m excited to be working with Jason Mendelson and the Open Doors on Volume 4 of MetroSongs, a musical journey inspired by the stations of the Washington, DC Metro subway system. For Volume 4, Jason plans to record the full Open Doors band for the first time, and include songs written or co-written by members of the band in addition to Jason himself. Our goal is to release a professionally mastered album, plus accompanying video on DVD to add visuals to that audio.
Jason kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to get us going with this project. I encourage you to check it out and help support this unique musical adventure. We’re accepting contributions small and large; we’re offering great benefits, including the opportunity to host a live MetroSongs concert in your living room!
I’ve had a blast playing MetroSongs with the Open Doors, and having the opportunity to write some MetroSongs of my own (you can hear “Cleveland Park” on Volume 3). I have at least two more station tributes in the works for Volume 4, starting with “Friendship Heights.”
I look forward to your support!
We had a fun time at Dahlak last night, when we welcomed special guest Glenn Donnellan from the National Symphony Orchestra to the second Sunday DC Jazz Jam. Glenn is a violinist with the orchestra, but for this gig brought along his electric “batolin.” This is not just a baseball bat turned into a musical instrument, but a custom Louisville Slugger made especially for that purpose.
I think we were successful in bridging the classical-jazz gap with a selection of standards that gave Glenn space to take the lead (and take some solos). I was also pleased that we had a chance to perform a new tune of mine, “Three for Three” (available on the original music page), and end the session with a super-fast rendition of the “18th Street Theme.”
By the way, there’s still time to vote for the DC Jazz Jam (“DC Jazz Jam @ Dahlak”) as Best Jazz Jam Session in DC in the Washington City Paper Best Of Poll.
Thanks to Jason for posting some video from our last MetroSongs performance at Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill
Here’s our techno opener, inspired by Rockville station on the Red Line:
…and a more folksy tribute to East Falls Church
This month’s performance schedule starts with a live MetroSongs performance by Jason Mendelson and the Open Doors, with me in the keyboard chair. We’ll be at Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill in DC on Thursday Dec. 6, performing about an hour of MetroSongs, including a new song about Union Station and my composition for Cleveland Park. DC singer-songwriter Amanda Lee is opening for the Open Doors. The coffeehouse is at 201 F St. NE in Washington, a couple of blocks from Union Station. Tickets for the show are $10, and doors open at 7:00 pm.
My regular Black Fox gigs with Aaron Myers and the Black Fox Ensemble continue in December, with with two performances on Dec. 7 and 21. As always, these Friday night shows start at 9:30 pm, and as always there’s no cover charge for the music. I have a new instrumental tune, “Three For Three”, that I’m hoping to play at one of these shows.
The DC Jazz Jam is going strong in December as well. I’ll be in the second Sunday house band on Sunday Dec. 9, 6:30-9:30 pm at Dahlak, joining the house band of Mark Caruso on guitar, Dahni Scally on bass, and Paul Jung at the drums.
There are a number of songs for Thanksgiving, but I think it’s fair to say that the holiday is underserved in the music department, especially when compared to a particular holiday later in the year (actually holidays: there are plenty of songs for Xmas as well).
I decided to fill this gap in Thanksgiving music last year with an original song for the holiday, “Thanksgiving With Uncle Rob.” (originally titled “No Thanks”). It’s dedicated to my Uncle Rob, who is always so happy to see the family at holiday times.
I’m not much of a singer (as you can tell if you listen to my demo of this number on Soundcloud), so I’ll be happy to welcome any vocalist who wants to give this one a try.
Update 11/22/2019: Aaron Myers performs this song so much better! Please enjoy his version:
If you have ideas for other underserved (or undersung) holidays that deserve songs of their, please let me know as well.
Photo by Sugar Daze from flickr
Three gigs in three days this weekend, starting tonight (Friday Sept. 7) with the regular first Friday show at the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle DC. I’ll be at the piano backing vocalist Aaron Myers along with the rest of the Black Fox Ensemble: Percy White on bass and Will Stephens at the drums. The show starts around 9:30 pm, and as always there’s no cover charge for the music.
The music continues on Saturday Sept. 8th at 8:00 pm, when I join Jason Mendelson and the Open Doors for a special MetroSongs performance at the Electric Maid in Takoma Park DC to celebrate the release of MetroSongs Volume 3: “Red Handed”. Harris Face and Zia Hassan are opening for our band.
As part of our set, we will perform my contribution to the metroSongs oeuvre, “Cleveland Park“, which is included in Volume 3.
Hope you can come out and hear the music!
I’m happy to be part of the second Sunday house band for the DC Jazz Jam, a weekly Sunday evening event that has grown into a very active jazz happening over the past year. The jam regularly attracts five or more guest horn players, plus plenty of rhythm players to sit in with the house quartet.
[Updated August 7] With those horns in mind, I wrote the “18th Street Theme” for the jam, hoping to capture an Art Blakey vibe, particularly if we can get a few of those sax and trumpet players to join in on the head. I hope we’ll get a chance to try out the new tune later this month (or next).
I’ll be back at the Black Fox Lounge tonight, Friday June 15, from 9:30pm, with Aaron Myers and the rest of the Ensemble, Percy White and Will Stephens.
It’s been a thrill to play with the same musicians on a regular basis for a long time (over a year); that’s given us the opportunity to work out arrangements and respond well to any surprises that come up in the show. For me, it’s also been an excellent opportunity to showcase some of my original material, like this tribute to the DC subway.
Hope you can join us at the show!