Citizen bands radio

November 21, 2013

Justin Trawick, left, and Sean Russell co-host “The Circus Life” podcast, which they record at Cue Studios in Falls Church. (Rafael Suanes/RCS Photography)

Usually, when D.C. music scene mainstay Justin Trawick steps to the microphone, it’s to sing. The musician has performed at nearly every club and coffee shop in the area, as a solo act, with his band, or as part of The 9, a singer-songwriter collective he started.

Now, Trawick’s using a mic and his voice for something that doesn’t require musical accompaniment: talking.

Since August, Trawick, 31, and sound engineer Sean Russell, 36, have co-hosted “The Circus Life,” a weekly podcast that mixes interviews with musical performances from local artists.

“This is all a grand experiment, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Trawick says. “I’m a full-time musician who puts on shows for a living, but the podcast is something we’ve been winging and doing haphazardly well at.”

Inspired by the talk radio shows Trawick listens to (like Adam Carolla’s “Loveline” and DC101’s morning zoo “Elliot in the Morning”), “The Circus Life” finds the two longtime friends riffing on D.C. life and showcasing performances from local musicians, such as The Pietasters and “Arlington: The Rap” star GoRemy. Episodes have included a discussion of D.C. dining and drinking with Mad Fox Brewing’s Charlie Buettner and a bit on the trials and tribulations of finding romance via technology with Justin Hinge, founder of D.C.-based dating app Hinge.

For Saturday’s first-ever live episode of “The Circus Life,” Trawick and Russell will ditch their normal recording space — Cue Studios in Falls Church — to throw a concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel with a few short interludes. The Justin Trawick Group is set to play, along with past podcast performers The Sweater Set, M.H. & His Orchestra, The Cowards Choir and Black Masala. They’ll also bring out old guests, including WJLA traffic anchor Amanda Meadows, who played the “Made Up Traffic Situation” game, featuring wacky but plausible local disasters (like beavers overturning a logging truck).

“I don’t want to subject people who are coming out just because of the bands to a whole lot of talking,” Trawick says. “But it’s a good way to get the word out that our podcast exists.”

Future live shows are in the works, and Trawick envisions a constantly rotating catalog of shows that will fall under a “The Circus Life Live” banner.

“We’re starting off with what we know,” Trawick says. “The next show could be all stand-up comedy, [or] a special interview with an influential person, another one could be storytelling. I think the potential here is really huge — we’re just waiting to see how it’ll evolve.”

Who the Heck Is …
Justin Trawick is the rare local musician who hasn’t had to leave Washington to make a living playing music. Solo, he’s a lot like Jason Mraz: along with his heartfelt, down-on-my luck tracks, Trawick often breaks into soulful rap verses mid-song. With his band, he turns up the tempo but plays many of the same songs.

Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; Sat., 6 p.m., $12; 202-388-7625.

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Rudi Greenberg · November 21, 2013