The first-ever Capital Fringe Music Festival will be curated by Jim Thomson, a man who’s best known for co-founding Gwar, a metal band best known for spewing fake blood. But you don’t have to get out your prosthetic devil horns for this weekend’s event. The lineup Thomson has come up with is decidedly mellow.
“I like metal and loud, aggressive punk music, but I think anything really noisy would be at risk of getting shut down,” he says.
That’s because the festival will be at Old City Farm and Guild, an outdoor space in a residential neighborhood. Though there won’t be any hard-rock bands, plenty of genres are represented.
“I’m really into mixed bills, when genres collide,” he says. “I love that an indie pop band like Future Generations or Shark Week will be playing next to an Afrobeat band from Brooklyn or an Ethiopian jazz group from D.C., or Daniel Bachman, who plays an old form of blues. Maybe someone is going to get knocked over the head with something they didn’t expect to hear.”
Thomson has been booking stand-alone concerts for the theater and music organization for years, and is thrilled he got to put together Fringe’s first alfresco musical showcase.
“I love outdoor shows,” he says. “Being outdoors in the elements — it’s more primal and ritualistic, you know?”
It’s hard to listen to this 27-year-old, self-taught guitarist without feeling at least a tinge of jealousy. A Fredericksburg, Va., high school dropout, Bachman fingerpicks acoustic tapestries that are both timeless and personal. “He’s just a guy with a guitar, but he’s able to hold on to you with every note through the virtuosity and sincerity of his music,” Thomson says. “This is a guy who’s on his way to being a legend.” (Sun., 1 p.m.)
This trio plays moody instrumental music that would make a great soundtrack for a modern noir film, perhaps one set in the American Southwest. “That twangy Western guitar is just so evocative,” Thomson says. “I like to describe them as crime jazz.” (Sun., 2:15 p.m.)
This 10-piece Afrobeat band represents a melange of cultures and musical influences. Black Italian-American frontwoman Domenica Fossati grew up in Miami and Venezuela and brings musical influences from all those cultures (and others) together in her jazzy vocals and flute riffs. “They play funk with West African rhythms — they’ve kind of invented their own sound,” Thomson says. (Sun., 9 p.m.)
This D.C.-based group started as an Ethiopian blues band in 2014 and has since branched out to encompass a world of styles, including Afro-Cuban rhythms and traditional Algerian tunes. “They really represent the international flavor of the capital,” Thomson says. (Sat., 4:15 p.m.)
Vocalist Salvatore Principato was in the influential 1980s New York post-punk group Liquid Liquid; Tim Harrington is the intense, charismatic singer for Brooklyn art rockers Les Savy Fav. As 178 Product, they make music that’s “improvisational and experimental, and sort of groove-based,” Thomson says. “They never play the same show twice.” (Sat., 6 p.m.)
Old City Farm and Guild, 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW; Sat. & Sun., noon-10:30 p.m., free.
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