Every musician dreams of one day sharing the stage with their favorite artist. Saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed’s dream came true when he performed with Chuck Brown during the year before the Godfather of Go-Go’s death in 2012. “I got pulled into the go-go scene deeper,” says Balbed, 29. “After he passed away, I realized the importance in continuing the [go-go] tradition and keeping it alive.” The Rosslyn artist plays with various local projects, including The Chuck Brown Band and JoGo Project, a jazz and go-go fusion band he founded in 2014. Naturally, Balbed would squeeze some live music into his perfect day in D.C.
I would start at the National Arboretum. Living in the city, there’s so much happening all the time. But when you walk into the Arboretum, it’s like you’re leaving the city — although it’s right in the middle of it. It’s super quiet, there’s tons of plants and flowers and trees and nature, and they also have the columns that were removed from the Capitol Building when they extended the building decades ago now.
I would need some brunch after that, so I probably would go to The Coupe. They have a few things that are really good. They have a Shrimp Elote [Loco] that is delicious.
I also like this place called Northside Social Coffee & Wine for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Their ham, egg and cheese sandwich is really good.
One place that’s been on my bucket list for years but I still haven’t tried is Spa World. I’m going to be 30 in January, and I’m starting to feel it. And, just in general, I’m trying to be more aware about my health and wellness and taking care of my body.
I’ve already been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’ve actually played [there] more times than I’ve had the chance to see the museum. But it’s just such an in-depth museum that I think I need to take at least a few more trips to soak it all in.
I’ve never done this, but it might be fun to go to the top of the Washington Monument. Although, I am a little claustrophobic, so I don’t know how I feel about that. There’s another great view from Arlington called Top of the Town.
There’s a place in Cleveland Park that I went to with my girlfriend called Indique. It has really great Indian food, and their servers are super personalized and knowledgeable.
Every Wednesday, I play at Eighteenth Street Lounge with a reggae band [See-I] there. Especially for people who come from out of town, I like taking them to that spot because it’s kind of a niche venue — you can get live music, you can get several different types of DJs, and it’s generally a fun place.
If I’m just chillin’ by myself, I like to go to Sotto. It’s another music venue that I like. The reason why the lineup is so good is because the guy who used to book and manage Bohemian Caverns now books Sotto. He’s really well plugged into the music scene.