Resolution - Break Into the Local Music Scene

(Ellen Mccarthy Twp)
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Jason Marrow, a 41-year-old Oxon Hill resident, has done most of his piano playing at church. But he's determined that 2009 will be the year he breaks into the local music scene.

Louis Scherr has three words for Jason Marrow: "Get out there."

"The only way to wade in that I know of is, you go out and make yourself known," says Scherr, who runs, a Web site dedicated to the local jazz scene. "You find people whose music you like, you introduce yourself and try to jam with them."

That seems like a leap, but note that Scherr doesn't say it all has to be done in one night. The first step is to start hanging out in clubs that play the kind of music you dig: Spots such as Twins Jazz, Bohemian Caverns or HR-57 are great for jazz lovers. Jammin' Java, DC9 and Iota, meanwhile, showcase a wide variety of genres.

Scherr suggests making a recording (even if it's a simple, homemade track) so that up-and-coming musicians can share something of their style with veterans they meet on the scene. And a Web site with snippets of songs has become the modern-day musician's calling card, he adds.

Scherr says that once musicians with regular gigs know what a new kid on the block can do, they'll often be invited to sit in on a set. Newcomers can also look for open-mike nights at favorite venues where anyone with their name on the list can get up and play a song.

But Scherr's main point is the best one: No one catches a break by sitting at home.

-- Ellen McCarthy

To find out about local jazz clubs and musicians, visit A good list of local open-mike nights can be found at

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