Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Well, it's that time of year again- time to put another log on the fire, trim the tree, toe your missiles, and drop a few eggs in your nog. The Holidaze are upon us! Where, oh where, did 2008 go?

We three Wise Guys have followed the star hither and yon, to and fro, only to find ourselves back in beautiful downtown Merrifield, that steadily- growing metropolis that straddles the boundaries of Falls Church and Fairfax, and home to the mighty Fairfax Public Access Media Empire, from whence we bring you our weekly barrage of sometimes topical, occasionally entertaining and even more rarely educational musical insights, pop culture meanderings and semi-political observations, to tickle your fancy and boggle your beans.

For the last 3 years you've allowed us into your homes each week, greeted us at shows, in the stores and in the pubs, laughed at our gags, gaffes, and fanbelt moments, even joined us in Fairfax Detention Center lock-up on drunk and disorderly and public nuisance charges after one too many jello shooters! (And thanks for covering our bail- we'll pay ya back, no kiddin'! As soon as our folks raise our allowances!) All seriousness aside, the reception we've received and your friendship and support really DO make our day. Thanks for that, and for being our willing co-conspirators in all this silliness--we couldn't do it without ya, and hearing back from you mugs is always appreciated! We hope to renew acquaintances with some of the new friends we've made, and catch up with more of you when we're out and about in '09!

There's so much to be thankful for this year, even in the face of our seemingly never-ending crises: wars, financial uncertainty, Madonna's latest divorce, K-fed's battles with Britney, another Fleetwood Mac farewell tour- WILL IT EVER STOP???? The humanity, the humanity. Fortunately, we all still have our health (and quite likely, no insurance), a new administration on the way in (36 days and counting!), the pantry and liquor cabinet are stocked, gas is cheap again, the Caps are playing great hockey, the NY Giants are going back to the playoffs, and Frank Miller's The Spirit comes out on Christmas Day! Femmes fatale RULE!!!!

And we're especially thankful for the great folks we've had the privilege of spending time with this year. The Smithereens. Richard Thompson. Grace Potter. John Previti. Billy Hancock. Robin Trower. Elbow. Peter Hammill. Matt Caws of Nada Surf. The Waco Bros. Thee Maximalists. Judith Owen. Thank you one and all for sharing your insights and being yourselves with us. You're welcome to look us up anytime you're in town! And thanks to our pal John at the Birchmere, the 9:30 Club, Graham at Wolf Trap, Fritz at the Rock n' Roll Hotel, Lisner Auditorium, Jammin' Java, and John at the State Theater in fabulous Falls Church VA! We couldn't ask for more hospitable hosts!

But THIS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19th, we'll say thanks and adios to 2008, reflecting on the year that was, and where we're going next with another GINORMOUS, LIVE, TWO-HOUR CHRISOLSTIKWANZAKUH SPECIAL!! Once again, we'll roll tape at 9:30 pm EST until we ring the curtain down at 11:30 pm, have a call-in number to take your questions and comments, and suggestions for subjects YOU want to hear us take on! So tell your friends, drop a dime on us, and put your evening on hold to celebrate the season with your pals from 1600 for our annual holiday hoedown THIS FRIDAY NIGHT on CHANNEL 10, available through our cable partners at Cox Communications and Verizon FiOS TV! And if you can't get us where you live- picket your local carrier 'til you do, spread the word, and sponge off your friends and neighbors 'til you can! In the meantime keep those cards and letters comin' in-

We'll see ya in the funny papers!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If your election last longer than four hours, call a doctor

America's Finest Hour (not available on Fox)

Well, if you weren't doing time last month, you probably saw us call it- again. Landslide. Repudiation. The end of an error. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. In a voice that cannot be denied. Yes, we can; yes, we did; and yes, we will. Emphatically. It seemed as if the whole world breathed a sigh of relief, the outpouring of approval and sincere good wishes from around the world was palpable. Like throwing off a weight, or a yoke. Not only that, but it seemed to kickstart the beginning of the end of eight long, ugly years almost immediately, with people waking up to a world of possibilities when a few hours before, there was only dread and fear.

And although January 20th still seems like an eternity away, the misleaders who have done their utmost to defy the will of the people and openly thwart our intentions by every means at their disposal have apparently accepted the inevitable and appear to be content to slink quietly out the door so the wheels of progress can begin turning again. It reminds me of when Rumsfeld was thrown under the bus the day after the disastrous 2006 elections. Or Brownie. Or Gonzo. Or Ridge. Or....Just another long and poorly written chapter in this epoch of failure.

Subtle, Mr. President Elect. Subtle.

But believe it or not, I have come not to bury Still President Bush, but to thank him, and his party. For they went to such extreme lengths as to terrify all but the most diehard Kool Aid drinkers, and prove beyond a doubt that the conservative values and promises they claimed to represent had been abandoned long ago. Their mad dash for money and power has finally come home to roost, and the emperor and his court stand exposed by their arrogance and ambition. Using fearmongering and negative tactics, they were willing to stop at nothing to continue marching this country straight off a cliff. I only hope we managed to put the brakes on in time.

But out of this, somehow, a weird coalition was created. Certainly, the Democrats were united, energized and organized in a way that they hadn't managed to pull off since JFK made Nixon a punchline in 1960.

Blue collar workers, students, academics, actors, musicians, vocal Alaskan housewives and even proud "Rednecks for Obama" who stood up to be counted, negating the much feared "Bradley effect" that neocon pundits hyped and hoped in a vain effort to defeat this amazing rainbow coalition. But all for naught. The fear and hatred, innuendo and dirty tricks, the shrill and increasingly irrational calls for investigations of his birth certificate, contributors, and religious beliefs ended disastrously for the old guard.

McCain: Returning to his senses, and showing the leadership we remember

To his credit, John McCain's early and gracious concession speech (and subsequent pledges of cooperation and loyalty to the President Elect) certainly seemed sincere. McCain, after consorting with the same heinous ward healers who used slander, robocalls, and racism to get George Bush the Republican nomination in 2000 over the party's 2008 candidate, seemed to find his way back to the high road he'd once aspired to, after seeing his fever dream of residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW elude him for perhaps the final time. In recent days, McCain has even further distanced himself from his running mate and free wheeling rogue shopper, Sarah Palin, signaling that maybe her selection was never his choice, that it was not a wise one, and that he really didn't think she was right for the job all along. Asked point blank, he refused to give her his endorsement for 2012, although she's done her best to keep in the public eye and continue to stir the roiling emotions of hate and distrust of the intransigent 28%, and vow to attack, filibuster and spread every unsupported rumor and innuendo, and keep bitterly pulling our country apart for the privilege of being able to say "there, I told ya so" rather than accept and work with "That One." We sincerely hope Ms. Palin will be back in the igloo soon, making mooseburger sloppy joes for Trig, Track, Willow, Piper, Pooper, Slapshot and her fast approaching grandchild, little Puck. They need you a lot more than Alaska, or America does.

Strangely, even Bush has been uncharacteristically conciliatory and has met with the President Elect, even brokering a meeting with all living ex-Presidents (including Carter, Clinton and of course, his Dad) at the White House on January 7th. Perhaps he seeks to make that legacy- his place in history and not eternal infamy- one of the guy born on third base who recognized that it took a real clutch hitter to bring it on home. But before we go throwing bouquets to the lamest of lame ducks, I offer a word of caution to Mr. Obama: bring someone (perhaps Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is free?) to sample the menu that day (after all, we know how much GWB admires his good buddy Putin!), and wear something that's appropriately presidential, like a nice three-button kevlar suit. Dick Cheney may be hunting quail in the Rose Garden.

Mr. Still President: "Clearing brush is a lot tougher than you'd imagine."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Greetings fellow kids!

1600 will take a temporary hiatus from our rabid election and political reporting to give you an up to the minute overview of some of the great artists heading to the National Capitol region in ROCKTOBER, NOVEMBER, and the near future!

THIS FRIDAY: October 3rd, the Birchmere in Alexandria presents an evening with TUCK and PATTI, with special guest the ever-vivacious JUDITH OWEN! Ms. Owen and her talented trio take the stage at 7:30, tickets still available at $29.50- so get there early!

NEXT THURSDAY, October 9th- The PAT McGEE BAND, with Andrew Ripp live at the fabulous Birchmere, 7:30 pm Tickets are $27.50

SATURDAY, October 11: WIRE, with special guests TONE, at the 9:30 Club early show, 7:00 pm doors, tickets $25

TUESDAY October 14th, vocalist extraordinaire JULIA FORDHAM (from JUDITH OWEN's touring troupe), live at the Birchmere, 7:30 pm tickets $29.50 and on sale NOW!

THURSDAY, October 16th: SECRET MACHINES, bringing their blend of technopopartrock to the 9:30 Club, tickets $20!

WEDNESDAY, October 22: Montreal's mightiest music ensemble, BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE appear at The State Theater in Falls Church, 8:30 pm. Tickets still available at $25

THURSDAY, October 23rd: NC Swingers The SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS will perform at the State Theater, 8:30 pm, tickets are $25

THURSDAY, October 23rd- SATURDAY October 25th: the BLACK CROWES perform for three wild nights, at the 9:30 Club, tickets $45

MONDAY October 27th- ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA "You Can't Fit That On Stage Anymore" Tour, 7:30 pm at the Birchmere. Tickets $115.00, includes a digital download of the show, and a chance to win a Hagstrom guitar!

MONDAY, November 3rd: Join HENRY ROLLINS on Election Eve for a night of thought provoking commentary as he says goodbye to Mr. Bush and delivers the "Recountdown Tour 2008" on stage at the Birchmere, 7:30 pm, tickets are $25

TUESDAY, November 4th: Celebrate Election Day 2008 with HR and BAD BRAINS, Dr. Know, and Daryl Jenifer and Earl, at the 9:30 Club, tickets $25. Early show- doors at 5:00 pm

FRIDAY, November 7th: Join MARK LANEGAN and GREG DULLI, A.K.A THE GUTTER TWINS, with Afterhours, at the Black Cat, 9:00 pm. Tickets are $20

SUNDAY, November 9th: the legendary ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO with Amy Cook, at the Birchmere, 7:30 pm at the Birchmere, tickets are $25

FRIDAY November 14th- Rock pioneer BRIAN WILSON's triumphant return to Washington, at the Warner Theater. Tickets on sale this Friday (Oct. 3rd) at 10:00 am!

WEDNESDAY, November 19th: Songsmith, humorist, actor LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 8:00 pm, tickets are $22

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, November 21st and 22nd: Fan favorites and Friends of 1600 UMPHREY'S McGEE return for two shows of original music, crazy covers, and extended jams at the 9:30 Club. Tickets on sale soon

AND IN OTHER BREAKING ENTERTAINMENT NEWS: Janet Jackson hospitalized in Montreal before a concert (possibly saving the audience from even greater calamity!)...Blink 182's Travis Barker and DJ Adam Goldstein injured in South Carolina plane crash that left four dead...George Michael arrested AGAIN in a public bathroom, this time for possession of drugs...founding member of Pink Floyd, keyboardist Richard Wright dies of cancer, at 65...Grammy winning pop/country singer and actor Jerry Reed dies at 71 from emphysema...and the world mourns the loss of famed actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, from cancer, at 83.

Cool Hand Luke lives...FOREVER.


PHISH is reuniting! Trey, Page, Jon, and Mike will perform 3 nights March 6th- 8th, 2009 in the Hampton Auditorium, Hampton VA! Remember, you heard it here FIRST!! (Thanks to Jay for the timely notice!)

Monday, September 15, 2008


"Reformers" McCain, Palin belly up to the bar to swap a few tall tales

Hurricane Ike Aftermath; Merrill Lynch Sold; Lehman Bros. Goes Belly Up

Sorry, nothing about music this time, either. Except to say that we seem to still be following the Pied Piper's merry tune as we march straight off a cliff.

More signs of the struggling economy. Some fresh evidence that Phil Gramm's "mental recession" may have legs in the real world that the rest of us- (those in the middle class or below, pulling in less than the $5M a year John McCain thinks rich people make), as opposed to the exclusive, platinum card world his brain trust of advisers- seem to occupy.

Unemployment: at 6.1%, the highest its been in six years. Even after they finagle the statistics to take out people that have been unemployed for more than 18 months, people that are no longer drawing unemployment benefits, (if they were ever eligible in the first place!) and temporary workers with no job security or benefits, this is still undeniably bad news. Our "robust" economy has hit a "downturn," a real "slowdown," all right- W said today that it's "painful," and "in a pinch." Strong words for the guy who still swears it's fundamentally sound! Well, he isn't worried about being on the unemployment line in January. He'll be busy clearing brush and building the George W. Bush Memorial Library in Crawford, TX. to house the last book he read, "The Pet Goat."

I understand it's autobiographical in nature.

And gas is right back up as high as it was Memorial Day, rising .50 overnight as Ike blew through the Gulf. The funny part about it is, the gas we're buying now was already bought and paid for in August. So we're paying the price for what they think it will cost after the admittedly less than expected damage to the offshore rigs that are offline. But don't complain about prices here- it's up $2 a gallon in Texas, because distribution is now limited. And oil is down about $50 a barrel from where it was in July. So how does this all become the consumer's problem? Don't you wish you were a fly on the wall during Mr. Cheney's "Energy Summit" (you remember- the one where he withheld all his documentation and defied subpoenas by first claiming Executive Privilege, and then argued that it was part of his "legislative discretion?")? Dollars to donuts that this little plan went into effect then, and they've been rolling in growing piles of cash ever since then, like school kids jumping in piles of fall leaves...only a lot greener.

The housing market and mortgage crisis: Figures suggest we may not have hit bottom yet. Sales of new homes were down another 6.1% last month, the lowest level in 17 years (when King George I was still on the throne!), values were down, and millions more homes empty, with foreclosures skyrocketing. But on that front, some new breakthroughs in low income housing: can you say "Hooverville?"

Then, the government has to bail out AIG to the tune of $85 Billion today. Or about the same amount as it takes to pay for seven months of the war in Iraq. Can't they just hold some bake sales and be done with it? Oh, that's right- WE'RE the ones paying for it. Just like with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. So now we can rest easy, right? What do you mean, you didn't want to invest in an insurance company? What are you, unAmerican? Suck it up, whiners!

Conspicuous Failures on Wall Street: After the rampant speculation and backing of questionable deals led to the demise of Merrill Lynch before it was gobbled up by Bank of America (who in recent months has also consumed Fleet Bank, MBNA and Countrywide Mortgage), we've also seen JP Morgan/Chase Bank absorb another Wall St. luminary, Bear Stearns, and Goldman Sachs declare bankruptcy. The Dow fell over 500 points in one day, and is off almost 1,000 points just this week, the lowest it has been since 9/11. Investors are fleeing the markets with their tails between their legs.

The Bull Poops HERE. Watch your head!

Which somehow reminds me of this conversation.
Walter Brooke (as Mr. McGuire) to Dustin Hoffman (Benjamin Braddock)in The Graduate:
McGuire: "I want to say one word to you. Just one word."
Braddock: "Yes, sir?"
McGuire: "Are you listening?"
Braddock: "Yes, I am."
McGuire: "Plastics."
Braddock: "Just how do you mean that, sir?"

McGuire was right. Plastic is ubiquitous, and eternal. One look at Ms. Palin (and for that matter, Ms. McCain) and you can be confident we'll never run out of plastic, whether it's in the form of botox, silicone, or other cosmetic surgery enhancements, not so long as millionaires and movie stars abound and care more about appearance than substance. 'Cause everybody knows: beauty is only skin deep, while ugly goes to the bone! And those two look like they just walked out of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Nearly lifelike!

Then, there's the upcoming election. And ya know when Karl Rove says that your campaigning has "crossed the line" from being arguably true to plain, bald-faced out and out smears, distortions and LIES, he knows what he's talking about. And even Spin Doctor MC Rove, the Obfuscator General, the Duke of Disingenuousness, that Prince of Prevarication, shudders at the latest bilge strewn from the McCain/Palin camp. The "Straight Talk Express" has been permanently mothballed while the candidates instead choose to ride hell bent for victory atop the Mighty "Flying Bullshit Special" into electoral history, with claims and promises described by some critics as the "dirtiest, most dishonest campaign in history." And without Karl Rove at the helm, that is no small accomplishment!

In fact this week, even ultra-conservative pin-up boy George Will came out with a statement that McCain is unfit, and that Palin has no credibility (even though she can see Russia from the turret of the Governor's Castle!) While I hate to agree with Will on any subject besides baseball, this demonstrates that even the hardiest rats are grabbing life preservers and diving headlong into the drink as the GOP ship heads to a watery, and long-deserved, grave. RIP.

But let's be honest here, gang: I'm sure they can (and will) go lower. After all, there's still almost 2 months to go! The Swift Boats still have many black ops missions to run before they go back into hiding to await the 2010 elections! But finally the Dems seem to have learned (from the debacles that occurred in 2000 and 2004) to hit back. And hammer on issues, not personalities.

Will it work?

And what's next?

I don't even wanna think about it!

I just can't wait 'til it's over....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bush Vows Support for Georgia, Sends Blackwater to Atlanta

President Bush admiring a US volleyball player, making a mental note of how to duplicate the position for future summits with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin. "Heavy on the KY, Vlad!"

An incensed President for life George W. "Dada" Bush made strong comments Tuesday after leaving Beijing for a hasty gathering in Washington condemn Russia's invasion of neighboring Georgia. "First the dog fighting scandal with Michael Vick, now this!" an emotional W, still wearing his "USA #1" t shirt and finishing off a random bowl of stir fried pork rinds stated. "How much can these poor people take?"

Bush calmed down considerably upon learning that it was the former USSR satellite nation, and not the state just north of Florida, that had been invaded. Undeterred by evidence to the contrary, Blackwater operatives immediately began interrogating and waterboarding all registered Democrats in Atlanta, Macon, and Augusta, and set up a barracks on the Augusta National golf course. Still, stern words for sometime ally and fellow sociopath and backstabber Vlad ("The Impaler") Putin were offered.

"I have looked into his eyes and seen his soul. And I told him that I strenuously object to Russia's hard line stand against dissent from this sovereign nation. They must accept the outcome of free elections. Unless we don't, and then all bets are off."

Bush and invertebrate Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice were soon even more incensed after learning that the occupying Russian forces had also stolen American Humvees that had been positioned in Georgia as part of a recent US exercise in that beleaguered state. "That's absolutely the last straw," Bush said. "We hadn't even finished paying for those hummers yet. They were loaded- DVD players and everything! And Condi negotiated such a great financing deal on them from Cadillac, too! And my Cabinet is taking this seriously: we're all holding our breath and having a tantrum until Russia leaves. Cheney's even going on a hunger strike! And Attorney General Mukasey has declared martial law in Athens and Savannah, just in case."

A frustrated President Bush retreated immediately to his ranch in Crawford to undergo sedation and spend the remainder of his term doing what he does best- "clearing brush." More brush is being imported for Bush to clear from all over the country, including driftwood salvaged from New Orleans following its complete abandonment by FEMA and other federal agencies after Hurricane Katrina.

In a related story, the city of New Orleans is now negotiating directly with Putin to be occupied to restore order and enhance their quality of life. Governor Bobby Jindall was quoted as saying: "Why not- we can't get anyone here to do it." Putin could not be reached for comment, but is allegedly interested in oil reserves along the Gulf Coast not currently being utilized by American companies, too busy counting their record profits to actually produce more oil, which could jeopardize the ridiculous price gouging that has occurred in the last 6 years of the Bush Cheney maladministration.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Just say...CHEESE!

L to R: Bobby Ricotta (keyboards), Richard Cheese (vocals and vodka), Frank Feta (drums), Charlie Limburger (bass)


Apologies to all interested parties regarding the untimely delay for this entry, too...

June was a busy month for shows. And where better to close it out than among a crowd of friends for a night on the town at the illustrious 9:30 Club? That's where the relentless 2/3 of the 1600 team (yep, Steve's still under the weather, but getting better) waited expectantly for an unusual seated show and for an act that defies categorization, part stand-up, part jazz virtuosity, and all 100% cheese. That's Richard Cheese, and Lounge Against the Machine, a primarily west coast act that has been on a favorite with talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, to sold out performances in Vegas, New York and across the country. And naturally we were there, ready to dig the cheesy goodness and sing along.

In their first Washington appearance, the band (musical director Bobby Ricotta on keyboards, Frank Feta on the drums, and latest member Charlie Limberger on bass) played nearly all their hits with great gusto and the skillful proficiency you'd expect from these lounge lizards par excellence, backing crooner Richard Cheese's melodic murmurs to the max, and making fun of all your favorite alternative rock, hip hop, metal and pop tunes with great glee. No target was spared the patented Cheese treatment, "swankifying" beloved songs from Radiohead (both Airbag and Creep were recast as Vegas lounge numbers), Snoop Dog's classic Gin and Juice (a hilarious video of this can be found at the band's My Space page,, the Beastie Boys' Brass Monkey, Nena's 99 Luftballoons, and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, and dozens of other "lounge standards of the future."

In addition to the favorites that Richard Cheese and LATM have become famous for, there were also some new tunes in the repertoire that night. Buckcherry's Crazy Bitch was perfect fodder for the band's lounge treatment as well as AC/DC's You Shook Me. He also introduced a L'il Wayne song "the band just learned," holding up a supposed sheet of lyrics and incoherently mumbling his way through them, except for the occasionally-audible F-bomb or other slang. No doubt L'il Wayne would have been proud! But the song that brought down the house for our entire mad crew was Nine Inch Nails' Closer, Mr. Cheese's romantic delivery only accentuating the risque lyrics even more.

The rowdy, raucous show was a real crowd pleaser, whether for the newcomers in the audience, or the hardcore fans (like myself) that rushed to get tickets the moment they went on sale. And even though this was an all-ages show, they didn't spare us a single filthy word, nor a salacious aside. At one point, after gathering up a group of women to sit in the front row to provide him "inspiration," Cheese made smalltalk with a younger-than-average lady in the audience, who eventually said she was there with her Dad. "Nice parenting," he observed. Clad in a series of quality tuxedo jackets, including his signature tiger striped coat, RC came through loud and clear, his dulcet tones punctuated by many four letter words and other scandalous phrases that kept the audience on its toes. Whether high-kicking with a group of spirited attendees in the back of the house, or making overtures to any (and all) women who crossed his path as he worked the room, RC was a true lounge lizard unleashed, unashamed, and unrepentant.

The many quick retorts and ready repartee contrasted with the serious bona fides of Lounge Against The Machine as impressively-skilled jazz musicians. The intro to Chop Suey was one of many spots where the band, and pianist Bobby Ricotta in particular, showed that they could keep up with pretty much any "serious" jazz combo touring today. The band had no trouble keeping everyone's attention even as RC wandered through the crowd, causing no delays in the bouncing, fast-paced set.

1600's enthusiastic entourage included the triple Italian onslaught of muscle for hire Luca Brazzi, Consigliare Galluch, and our illustrious benefactor Pimp Daddy G, he who first told us of RC & LATM, and many of our other twisted friends who were on hand for an evening of familiar melodies and R rated punchlines. Seeing several of these characters as he proceeded through their row, RC remarked "All dudes. I'm outta here," as he spun on his heel and reversed his course. It was a truly ribald and randy event, and the gang all seemed to enjoy the hijinx, including new converts to the Cheese legacy like Pinky and Ellen, Sheryl, and co-host Jerry, who guffawed with great vigor as the show wore on...We were also gratified to have the high turnout from the legal profession by music mavens Dynamo Dave and the elusive Texas Stu (making his first 9:30 Club show and first live music event in many moons!), which assured merrymakers that at least someone would be able to come up with a bail bondsman if things got really out of hand. And just in case, Mike had Jen on speed-dial to bail us out in case the barristers were all dragged in, too...

But fortunately, the call never came. And we retain our perfect convictions.

An email from the fan club revealed yesterday that RC will have 3 new CDs out next year, "Lavapalooza," "Viva La Vodka," and "OK, Bartender." Check in with the Man Himself at to find out how you can pick them up before they are released to stores!

He said they'd be back here again. And with the reception they received, I have no doubts they'll return. Maybe next time, we can get them in for that interview!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peter Hammill Rocks the House

And in the midst of the busy summer concert season, yet another venue hosted a great show by an amazing performer and longtime singer/songwriter, Peter Hammill. At the last minute, about 2 1/2 weeks before the show, I finally noticed that he was coming, and emailed him on the slim chance he might have time to talk with us. I could hardly contain my glee, when Mr. Hammill emailed back to me, and agreed to an interview with the 1600 team in the familiar red room at Jammin' Java last Sunday!

And you can see that interview in 2 installments over 2 ALL NEW weeks of 1600 in July! It will also be available right here after it airs on Channel 10, so keep your eyes peeled for a very intimate and thoughtful conversation with one of the most prolific musicians of the progressive rock scene for the last 40 years!

Peter Hammill is a rarity in the world of music: an auteur, who has experimented with opera (The Fall of the House of Usher) and prose; a writer, illustrator, and musical visionary, to whom bands as diverse as the Sex Pistols to Nine Inch Nails acknowledge their debt. An incomparable singer-songwriter and storyteller whose style is distinctive, unique, thoughtful, inspired, uninhibited, and imaginative. His band Van der Graaf Generator, critical favorites at the dawn of progressive rock era in 1968, have reunited in recent years for several successful and highly- acclaimed recordings (the most recent of which, the outstanding "Trisector," features three of the four founding members- Hammill, drummer Guy Evans, bassist and keyboardist Hugh Banton, but without saxophone and flautist David Jackson). He has been a frequent contributor on projects with other noteworthy artists including Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, David Thomas, and Stuart Gordon, among others. A multifaceted musician that plays guitar and piano with equal skill, on "Singularity," his most recent (2006) solo album, Hammill plays all of the instruments, in addition to writing, producing, and providing the vocals on each of its tracks.

But its the lyrics, and the voice that brings them to life, which are the key elements that set him apart from his contemporaries. With unrestrained, electrifying emotion, and an unflinching glimpse into his bared soul, Hammill's work is often challenging stuff, not for casual listening over dinner, but demanding the listener's active attention. The audience that evening came from far and wide- Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York- eager to attend Hammill's first American date in nine years, in the cozy, intimate atmosphere offered by Jammin' Java. And all of us sat riveted, as this modest, genial artist graced us his insights, and spun some true to life stories in the classic Hammill manner.

An offhand comment I made during the interview about "not doing a lot of (mundane) songs about cars and girls" earned an animated gleam from Peter's eye, and his response that "I've actually done quite a few songs about cars and girls." Not knowing what would follow, I was mildly embarrassed and then heartily amused when he announced to the audience that he reorganized his set to devote at least half of it to songs about cars, girls, and songs about cars and girls. But his warm smile throughout the show assured me that his good-natured nudges and winks were all well-intended.

So, I'll take credit for "helping" Pete select a great set! He led off the festivities with The Siren Song, reaching waaaay back, from Van der Graaf Generator's 1977 release "The Quiet Zone, the Pleasure Dome." Too Many of My Yesterdays, from "As Close As This," and Time Heals followed, the latter an solo early track of melancholy and regret about love never quite realized. But the anguish never gives way to self pity, only self realization, and allowed us all to share the sentiment of the moment. (I find many of his most introspective and personal songs, like this one, certainly apply to my own experiences. In that way, Hammill's work is refreshingly cathartic as he succinctly captures sometimes vague and unresolved feelings with a few well-chosen words.)

Hammill also offered Friday Afternoon, a song about tragically losing a friend to a drunk driver; His Best Girl, from 1991's "Fireships," a song about the uncertainty of love; Comfortable, examining faith and hypocrisy; and Shingle Song from 1975's "Nadir's Big Chance" (the Ricky Nadir persona Hammill put on a la his contemporaries David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" or Peter Gabriel's Rael in "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway").

As the evening went on, we were treated to many more great, raw, emotional performances of songs from throughout his career. Driven, from his all acoustic 2002 release "Clutch" (yet another car reference) was next. It was followed in short order by Sitting Targets, from the album of the same name, another all-time favorite. And it still sounded as good as it did when I first heard it, nearly thirty years ago. (Note: since Caroline Records wasn't one of the distributors I could get when I was working at Kemp Mill Records, I special ordered it from Tower....before I even owned a CD player!) Happy Hour was also outstanding, an ironic story about acting out under the excuse of intoxication, not a mindless drinking song. But what else would you expect from him? And Meanwhile My Mother, from his latest solo release "Singularity," evinced the introspective nature of an artist who has the rare honesty and confidence to look at himself and the world around him without ever sugar-coating what's there.

Chatting and playing to the crowd, who had responded they preferred him to finish the show on guitar, he gave us Faculty X, from another of his earlier solo releases, 1979's "pH7." He also played A Way Out, and doubled up on two more great selections from "Sitting Targets," closing with Stranger Still, and an encore of one of his finest ballads, Ophelia. (For those seeking to replace their well-worn vinyl copies, most of these albums are newly remastered and available directly from the artist at

Finally, some regrets: I wish we'd been able to stick around and thank Peter again for delivering such an inspired performance after the show. No doubt, those who stayed were treated to a rare opportunity to speak to an intense, personable, and thoughtful gentleman who has been at the center of some of the finest progressive rock music being made over the last 40 years. And I am equally sorry that it took so long to get this review to the blog. I plead overcommitment and exhaustion! And my sincere apologies for the delay!!

However, some good news- 9 more North American dates have been announced on this tour! So, beginning on September 30th in San Francisco, with other dates in several US cities and Canada already booked and more to come, you still have a second chance to catch Pete's one man show as he comes back for a second round! I'll see ya at the Club Cafe in Pittsburgh on October 11th (for more dates and cities, go to and click the "touring" tab). And the interview will be on the air soon!

So ciao for now, see ya in the funny papers, or on the road, again.........

Suddenly....the Smithereens!

Summer is festival season in Washington. People come for miles around to eat, drink, and celebrate the season at the Smithsonian mall, Wolf Trap, all the sheds, and of course, in scenic Old Town Alexandria. That's where the Red Cross recently celebrated the 25th Waterfront Festival, an annual gala which featured rides, food, and live music. Saturday, June 14th featured local faves Virginia Coalition, The Smithereens, and Toad the Wet Sprocket.

And like last year's Memorial Day visit, the 'Reens seem to have developed a nearly Radiohead-like capacity for bringing the rain along with them when playing at outdoor venues (I understand that the same thing also occurred at a show this spring in Virginia Beach, as well). But the crowd was well- prepared this time, sporting slickers and umbrellas, and the band played a solid 90+ minute set before several hundred soggy fans who braved the weather to hear them perform the many hits featured on their recently released CD, "The Smithereens Live in Concert- Greatest Hits and More!" And even under less than ideal conditions, I think everyone was satisfied with the end result.

Pat, Jim, Thrilla, and Dennis took the stage pretty much as scheduled, but blowing wind and rain delayed their start for a few minutes while they worked out sound with the folks manning the board. The band immediately launched into one of their signature tunes, Behind the Wall of Sleep, from their 1986 debut "Especially For You." Largely following the track list from the new album, the band delivered solid performances of Drown In My Own Tears, Miles From Nowhere, Room Without A View, Only a Memory, and House We Used to Live In, getting the crowd into it and inviting them to sing along with the band. Spellbound, from the second album "Green Thoughts," was featured next, a long overlooked but great song that has recently crept back into the band's live sets. Another new addition and personal favorite that has been revived in recent live dates is She's got A Way, a gorgeous ballad Pat wrote for his daughter, from their 1999 set, "God Save the Smithereens."

The band also mixed in a couple of tracks from Pat's recent solo release (which featured both Jim Babjak and Thrilla), and his resonant tenor voice crooned with characteristic aplomb on Since You Went Away, and Any Other Way. Throughout the show, Pat and Thrilla joked with the audience, remarking about the unforgiving weather, reminding the audience to give generously to the Red Cross, and talking up their new label "Koch Records. Doesn't have the same kind of panache as Capitol or RCA Victor, does it?"

Still, the weather and occasional technical difficulties notwithstanding, the boys played another typically inspired show. After Pat broke a string about halfway through the set, the band relied on Jim Babjak's guitar to carry them the rest of the night, and as always, his Strat rang true and delivered with flying colors. In fact, he laid down some of the best leads I've ever heard him play live, prompting me to think that he should be turned up a little more in the mix generally. Thrilla and drummer Dennis Diken were solid as always, and though Pat seemed a little disappointed at not being able to jam along, he channeled his focus into vocals and sounded none the worse for the experience.

By the time the band finished Blood and Roses, the rain finally relented, and the crowd was then entertained by Toad the Wet Sprocket. They performed some of their better known tunes, including All I Want, Come Back Down, and Walk on the Ocean, which is largely what the area in front of the stage resembled by then. Good but languid, while I've always enjoyed the band, it was definitely sleepy and low key after the Smithereens' buoyant performance. However, by that time, I had more than enough, and I was drier than most! Once the Smithereens finished signing autographs and renewing acquaintances with some diehard fans, I tagged along to Bilbo Baggins' Pub in Old Town with Thrilla for a few cold microbeers (I strongly recommend their fine pale ale) and some good conversation with some of his friends.

The good news is that the band will be BACK in VA on August 22nd, playing a FREE, ALL AGES SHOW at the 46th Annual Surfing Championship in Virginia Beach! Be there or be square...and just in case, bring an umbrella!

The Smithereens: Dennis, Jim, Pat and Thrilla- Please consult with the local meteorologist before the next show!

Adrian Belew Power Trio- Got Live If You Want It!

A ride to beautiful Annapolis during rush hour from the 'burbs of Northern Virginia can make for a daunting (and protracted) trip- but not without its rewards. As good as the entertainment in metro DC always is, sometimes ya just have to think outside the box.

So, off we went to the Ram's Head On Stage, a cozy little club with good chow, some fresh micro brews, and comfortable seating, for another opportunity to hear some cutting edge improvisational rock n' roll music by one of the world's finest touring bands, the Adrian Belew Power Trio. As usual, Adrian, Julie and Eric made it a special evening, performing a smoking set, and premiering two new songs (E and Planet E) before an enthusiastic audience.

After two years of seemingly non-stop touring, writing, and recording together, the Power Trio is in fine form. Tighter than ever but equally capable of sudden changes in directions, spontaneous solos, and jamming out a song in a unique and fluid style every night, Eric, Julie, and Adrian never lose track of each other. Constantly looking, anticipating, and subtly alternating leads, the band is amazing to watch in its non-stop action, as they share the stage without any pretension or self consciousness: it's all about the music.

And what music they play (or perhaps, plays them?)! Opening up with an inspired reading of Writing on the Wall, the trio played with a vengeance, romping through a set which included Ampersand, Young Lions, Beatbox Guitar, Matchless Man, A Little Madness, Big Electric Cat, Dinosaur, and a host of other songs from the band's outstanding live release, "Side Four."

As always, Adrian's solo medley was characteristically excellent. Flavored with an Eastern sound, and filled with nuance, sometimes gentle at others more abrasive, Mr. B's guitar took the audience on a dizzying ride across time and space, the club silent as the awestruck audience watched in admiration. Eric and Julie soon rejoined them after their brief break, turning up the amps and building momentum to a fever pitch for an encore of familiar tunes, including Crimson era compositions, Three of a Perfect Pair, Neurotica and Thela Hun Ginjeet. And after the last echoes of feedback died out, and the three had sufficiently recovered from an exhaustive set, the band stuck around to greet old and new friends and sign autographs.

Adrian mentioned that the trio had already recorded a number of tunes for a new record, and would be returning to the studio (probably the one at his home in Tennessee) to work on more arrangements and produce the rest of the disc ("Side 5?"). He said that when you listen to "Side Four," the band has already matured beyond that material, in less than a year. And it's true- the Adrian Belew Power Trio is constantly stretching its wings to discover emerging creative challenges and to develop the budding compositions that have grown out of their intense, dynamic pursuit of new musical frontiers.

If anyone can take musical possibilities to the next level, and explore what's over a distant sonic horizon with the ardor of astronomers finding new stars in faraway constellations, it's these guys. And we'll be watching when they bring life to new songs, still undreamt but continually taking shape in their wild, inventive, and prolific imaginations!

The Wild 'n Wooly WACO BROTHERS!

It was a fine Thursday evening that found 2/3 of the intrepid 1600 team (Steve was temporarily missing in action- but that's a story for another day!) back at the Rock 'n Roll Hotel in downtown DC for an evening with the fabulous Waco Brothers! We soon found ourselves in the midst of a deep and enjoyable conversation with several of the Brothers- Jon Langford, Deano Schlabawske, Tracey Dear, and Joe Camarillo, who spoke with great candor about the band's roots, history, influences, politics, and opinions about the country music establishment and the state of the recording industry in general.

The Brothers, and the kind folks at their label, Bloodshot Records, were also so generous with us to allow us to record their show that evening IN IT'S ENTIRETY! So look for yet another EXCLUSIVE 1600 CONCERT SPECIAL to be broadcast soon on channel 10 in scenic Fairfax, and surrounding areas, with airtimes to be announced as soon as we have the schedule nailed down...

Of course, the show itself was also a gas. While we unfortunately missed local country band the Starlingtons while we gulped down some of the Rock N' Roll Hotel's tasty bar cuisine, we were downstairs in time to catch Chris Mills, who performed solo (he mentioned he usually has a band) but his singing and guitar playing did not seem to lose anything in the translation. Chris looked every bit a seasoned entertainer, and was joined onstage by Wacos Langford and Camarillo, as well as Waco bassist Alan Doughty for a grand finale. Keep an ear out for his next visit to the DC area, it will be time well spent!

The Wacos give you raw, high energy, no-hold-barred rock n' roll with a twang, and get the audience singing and bouncing along in unison. From the opening chords of Waco Express, from their excellent, newly released live document "Live and Kickin' At Schuba's Tavern," to revved up yet faithful renditions of seminal country selections including George Jones' Girl at the End of the Bar, and White Lightning, and the immortal Johnny Cash's classic Big River, the Waco Bros. exuded their earnest respect and dedication to what country music was before becoming co-opted by corporate radio and the ham-fisted, profit-obsessed recording industry.

For Jon Langford's art and commentary on the Death of Country Music, see his labor of love, "Nashville Radio" available from better bookstores now!

The Wacos fired several pointed volleys at those culprits, as well as at the current administration, with songs like Cowboy in Flames, Do What I Say (Not What I Do), and Blink of an Eye, featuring the line "The President's just half a man/Riding in some giant's hand/He's gone in the blink of an eye." That couldn't happen soon enough for me! Other standouts that night included Too Sweet to Die, Hell's Roof, Fox River, and Revolution Blues, performed in a balls-out, freewheeling and high octane style that erupts in equal parts perceptiveness, amusement, and rebellion.

The Waco Bros. lyrics are a throwback to a day of outspoken, raucous gusto, deftly skewering modern complacency with the Langford's old outfit, the Mekons, and the blue collar populism of a Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, or perhaps a 21st century Woody Guthrie. Brother Mark Durante added yet more inspired mayhem to the mix with his familiar pedal steel sound, as did guest fiddler and sometime-Waco sister Jean Cook, further augmenting the old school country meets folk/punk sound.
Also highly recommended: Live and Kickin' at Schuba's- captures the band in all their loud and lively glory!

All in all, it made for one hell of a show, filled with onstage hijinx (at different moments, the Wacos appeared to have been in a temporary time warp, moving in faux slow motion a la Keanu Reaves as Neo in the Matrix, or high-kicking in joyous precision like the Radio City Rockettes fuelled by Guinness and Jamesons at the OK Corral. Our gratitude once again to the Brothers and Bloodshot for their cooperation and courtesy, and our hosts Fritz Wood and the staff at the Rock N' Roll Hotel for a most enjoyable evening. We'll be looking you up again, and soon!

Friday, May 30, 2008


There's just never enough time to take in all the great shows in DC any given summer concert season (and you thought it was duck season? Or maybe wabbit season??) but here's just a few highlights of the shows coming your way in the next few weeks...stay tuned for more news and the latest additions as they become available, ciao for now, 1600 Nation!

The WACO BROS. ARE COMING! The wild n' wooly Chicago cowboys invade the Rock 'N Roll Hotel in Washington, DC on June 5th! CD RELEASE PARTY for their new disc, Live and Kickin' It at Schuba's Tavern! For tickets, call 1-877-725-8849, or go to

RETURN OF THE (TWANG BAR) KING: THE ADRIAN BELEW POWER TRIO Friday June 6th, Adrian, Julie,and Eric take their sonic barrage to the Ram's Head in Annapolis, MD Tickets available thru

DC's MIGHTY SKA KINGs, THE PIETASTERS!!! Dance all night to the funky soulful sound Friday June 6 at the Rock 'N Roll Hotel in Washington, DC! For ticket info, call 1-877-725-8849, or go to

THE SMITHEREENS KICK IT FOR THE WATERFRONT FESTIVAL! Oronoco Park, Alexandria, VA Saturday June 14th! A benefit for the American Red Cross! Give blood, give donations, enjoy the party, and have a blast with New Jersey's favorite sons!

THE ONE AND ONLY PETER HAMMILL! Solo show on Sunday June 15 Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA
One of only 5 US appearances currently scheduled- legendary Van Der Graaf Generator singer/songwriter/storyteller, one night only! For ticket info call (703) 255-1566 x8 or!

PETER (BAUHAUS) MURPHY! Rockin' the Ram's Head Live, Baltimore MD on a manic Monday June 30th! For ticket info, (410) 244-1131 or look 'em up at

THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE OF YOUR COMMERCIAL-FREE ROCK N' ROLL MADMEN- THE 1600 CREW. Friday night at 10:00 pm on Channel 10 in Fairfax, VA and taking over the airwaves throughout the rest of the DC-MD-VA Metro area before they can stop us!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008


All photos courtesy of Joel Didriksen, Go to his website for more, or drop him a line at And many thanks from the 1600 crew!

"Into each life, a little rain must fall."

Or a lot. At least if you live near Washington DC, and ever have tickets for Radiohead playing at an outdoor venue. You can count on it. Not that it made a lot of the sold out Nissan Pavilion crowd turn around and leave as Mother's Day 2008 slogged on, but they couldn't be blamed if it did. For a show that was supposed to kick off the summer concert season, sunny skies and warm weather couldn't have been farther away.

Our area has seen nearly six inches of rain in the last 4 days, and I swear that Morgan Freeman was in our section wearing a brilliant white cloak, holding a staff, and telling me to start rounding up the animals and to get to work on the ark. It would have come in handy to get through the parking lot...You were soaked walking to the gate, drenched by the time you reached your seat, suffering from hypothermia if you were one of the folks on the lawn that stayed through both encores, dog paddling through the wind driven cascade and the muck. It was bad enough under the Pavilion, where plastic bags for makeshift ponchos were a most valuable commodity. Nearly a week later, and I'm just starting to feel warm and dry again.

The Liars kicked off pretty close to on time, despite the hellacious deluge. If you were there to see them, I suppose you enjoyed the set, but the vast majority of the crowd would have gladly skipped the Liars in exchange for Radiohead getting on a few minutes earlier, and being spared the brutal weather that was driving the crowd away. Frontman Angus Andrew seemed something of a poseur, strutting with grand, dramatic gestures and trying to look like a foppish cross between Mick Jagger and David Bowie in a business suit. I didn't buy it. Jerry, who actually owns their first record and was looking forward to seeing them thought they sounded like a "second-rate Public Image wannabe during their experimental period." If Radiohead must have an opening act next time we see them, I hope it's someone better than this.

Colin Greenwood, laying down the bottom end

But somehow, through the gale winds and nonstop downpour, Radiohead managed to provide another stellar show, playing a wide selection from "The Bends," "OK Computer, "Kid A, "Amnesiac" "Hail to the Thief," and their latest masterpiece, "In Rainbows." With a deceptively simple but unique light show and a screen behind them showing live shots of the band as they played, Thom Yorke was his usual effervescent self, and the band was perhaps the best I've ever seen them. Ed O'Brien's harmonies stood out and added to the mix more than I had remembered, and he, Jonny Greenwood, and Yorke relied mostly on their more guitar driven material. Yorke did play a number of songs on (primarily) upright piano and also some electronic keyboards, as Jonny did as well. But for the most part, it was back to basics, wrapping the crowd in a dense layer of feedback and mining their early catalog with a tremendous set, with all the hooks, grooves, drones, effects, soul, delicacy, crunch, joy, playfulness and sheer beauty that is characteristic of their finest work. They actually raise the bar when they walk onstage to perform, over and above whatever they produce in the studio, a hallmark of any great band. But these guys? Words fail me.

The band opened with an excellent rendition of All I Need, from "In Rainbows," and never let up. They paused only briefly between songs, Yorke making occasional comments, and the band stopping only long enough to applaud the crowd for braving the unforgiving weather. Among the highlights of their 25 song set were Pyramid Song, 15 Step, Idioteque, Paranoid Android, Karma Police, Just, Everything in It's Right Place, and Fake Plastic Trees, which Thom dedicated to the ticket holders that never made it inside for the show, marooned on 66, 29, or in the parking lots. There were a lot of them. And in the second encore, The National Anthem got the crowd all fired up again, bouncing along with the signature guitar lick and squeezing every iota of feedback and energy out of the song. By the end of House of Cards, and giving everything you could expect (and then some!) and after several sincere acknowledgments of the crowd's tenacity by the band, an exhausted- looking Yorke finally told the crowd to get out of the downpour and pleaded for us to "go home." Once again, I had forgotten how wet, cold and miserable it was, the band having transported us away to a different plane. That had to be the shortest 2 hours and ten or so minutes of my life, but equally rewarding. And about as riveting a show as anyone could ever imagine. Did I mention just how incredibly fucking talented these guys are?

Ed O'Brien added solid chops and harmonies

A few words about Nissan Pavilion, the clowns that run it, and their handling of the show under the disastrous conditions that day. No doubt, you've seen rants in the local and national press, as well as online from ticketholders that were turned away, became ill, or who encountered the beyond-abysmal conditions and tried to get out before the 2 hour crush in the parking lot that would follow the show. People were disappointed not by the band (although Radiohead's goal of an eco-conscious tour could not have been undermined more thoroughly by their selection of this venue), who was in rare form. But we all knew this storm was heading our way by no later than Thursday, and the brain trust at Nissan did NOTHING to modify their procedures, make parking and access any easier (the $30 charge for preferred parking nearer to the venue should have been suspended and utilized by early arrivals, which would have also cut down on the delay getting in. Like the $6 ALREADY tacked onto each ticket wasn't enough?!?), or even simply allowing people with seats to cross underneath the Pavilion to get to them, rather than making them walk another 5 or 10 minutes around the perimeter in the typhoon that day so they'd certainly be soggy by the time they reached their destinations. Another friend of mine who made it underneath suggested that handing out (or even selling!) the cheap slickers that were there would have helped, and been a gesture of goodwill by Live Nation to acknowledge the conditions and the dedication of the fans to see this band.

Thom Yorke, in the eye of the storm

But, the incompetent tools missed the boat, as usual. And when the police started turning people away when the road flooded, and were ordering the drenched souls trying to warm up out of their cars in the parking lots, they had a recipe for disaster. It wasn't exactly like they were tailgating, like any other decent venue in civilization allows (yet Nissan will not permit, so we can be gouged an additional $10 for a 24 oz. Miller Lite- thanks again, guys!!) once we get inside their Gestapo- patrolled penal colony. In fact, several released prisoners from Guantanamo who were there complained that being waterboarded was preferable to what we put up with that day! Live Nation, you were seriously fortunate that people didn't riot and start trashing the place. It would have served you right. I saw one stand handing out Hefty trashbags (presumably for people to wear over their soaking wet clothes) as we were leaving. Had someone thought of that about 6:00, it might have been a different story...but that was the ONLY indication of thoughtfulness or charity I saw out of ANYONE on Live Nation's staff all day. It was just business as usual, they already had our money. Well, you won't be getting any more from me!

Phil Selway delivered precise percussion

And the half-hearted attempts made by them to appease angry concertgoers (offering lawn seats for Pavilion ticket holders at a Radiohead show this summer in Camden, NJ? or tickets "based on availability at a later Nissan show- you're kidding me, right?) are ludicrous. Most of the people I spoke with after this fiasco swore they would NEVER attend a show at Nissan again. Those who didn't vow to boycott Nissan altogether said they'd only suffer it again for Radiohead, or maybe Led Zeppelin, as Katy suggested, IF they came through there. I'm only going back when the Beatles reunite (all four) and Jimi Hendrix opens. Unless of course, Radiohead plays there again. Because then I'd have to go. But even on a good day, getting to and surviving a visit at Nissan is like Dante's Ninth Circle, with worse accommodations. I'll bet the beers there are colder, and cheaper!

Jonny Greenwood, master of the melodic drone

Which again points out the urgent need for a first class INDOOR arena in the DC metro area, something that is sorely lacking for a part of the country that constantly sees some of the best entertainment in the world coming through. The Verizon Center has some of the worst sound I've ever heard anywhere, you need binoculars if you're not next to the stage, and it only holds about 17,000 people. The GMU Patriot Center is far better, but even smaller. The Crap Center was a big room, but although a few bands managed to deal effectively with the crummy sound (the Grateful Dead, Phish, and Stevie Ray Vaughan all sounded pretty good there), it was marginal at best, remote, had lots of dead spots, and is now a shopping mall owned by Magic Johnson. I guess after his late night show, he can't sink much lower...unless, of course, he owns a piece of the Nissan Pavilion.

I can't imagine why no one has suggested this before, but a lot of people would support a new initiative by the city to build a stadium in town that had public transportation available, and that really would be appropriate for music rain or shine. To our many multi-billionaire philanthropist viewers out there. please take note: A real concert hall with good sound that holds 35,000 or so people will be SOLD OUT every time a good band tours the east coast.
"If you build it, they will come..."

Mr. Gates, Mr. Buffet, Mr. Jobs, Mr. Case, and any other aspiring philanthropists: "Go the distance."

Sorry for the extended rant, but it all needed to be said. My pal Greg, a tough crowd if ever there was one, described the band's music that night as "transcendent." My friend Mike said anywhere, anytime these guys play, he's in, and they're at the top of his list of any bands he's ever seen live. My friend Jon, who scored our tickets during the pre-sale (otherwise we would have been back in 301, even more wet and freezing that night) is seriously considering trying to catch them in San Francisco, while I look at the Toronto, Massachusetts, NY and NJ dates coming in August as being within reach if I can make time for them....

No doubt about it: Radiohead is absolutely phenomenal, and as good as their recordings are, they are one of those bands you really need to see live to "get" entirely. I still maintain they are the best band in the world today, bar none. The sound, even in the deluge, was clear and precise. The stage and light show, although modest, were still unique, well-choreographed, spectacular. Their musicianship defies description, just as their music can't be categorized. Rock, techno, trance, prog, alternative- it is enough to simply say that no one else in the world can do what they do, seemingly without any effort, as if caught up in the droning but harmonious soundscapes they create. Just don't try to see them here. They know they bring out the worst the elements have to offer whenever they set foot near the Nation's capitol.

I can't wait 'til the next time. But if it's local, I'm gonna borrow the Pope-mobile!

thanks again to Joel Didriksen for permission to use these images! more can be found at

we'll see ya at the next show (maybe we can piggyback on your press passes next time around, 'cause your seats were way better!!)