In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District. See previous dream days from Mayor Muriel Bowser, the BYT’s Svetlana Legetic, Story District’s Amy Saidman and more.
As a musician who has lived in Northern Virginia for three decades, Gordon Sterling, 40, spends the bulk of his time in D.C.-area music venues. On most Tuesdays, he hosts the Gypsy Sally’s Jam — an open session where anyone can put their name in a bucket and be called onstage to jam with other local musicians. But what would the Nappy Riddem guitarist do on a day without a gig? Find a way to play music. “Writing music and playing music is literally my favorite thing to do on Earth, so there’s not a whole lot more that I can think of that I would rather be doing,” he says. But Sterling — whose new “psychedelic soul” band Gordon Sterling and The People plays its first show ever Friday at Gypsy Sally’s (3401 K St. NW, 9 p.m., $15-$20) — does have some ideas.
I would get up, go for a walk in nature and clear my head. I’d go to Hemlock Overlook [in Clifton, Va.]. There’s something about nature that just brings me to center, specifically the woods and water. I go there a lot to write music, I go there to make business decisions.
I might go to Smith & Clarkson’s Deli, right behind my house [in Burke, Va.]. They make the most amazing pancakes.
It’s not a perfect day if I don’t go to Action Music in Falls Church — it’s the best music store. They always have such cool vintage gear. Every time I go in there I see something that I want to sell something else to get. My favorite times in there are not actually buying gear — it’s playing the stuff, just hanging out.
I’d want to talk to my daughter and see how she’s doing. She’s 15 so she has her own life to run around and live, and she’s also a musician. There’s this little cafe, Jireh Bakery Cafe [in Centreville, Va.], that’s near her mom’s house that she likes to go to. We talk about politics and social issues a lot.
I love the National Gallery of Art. There’s an exhibit I see every time called “The Voyage of Life” [by Thomas Cole] and it’s four paintings: “Childhood,” “Youth,” “Manhood” and “Old Age.” It always reminds me of my musical journey. I am definitely past “Childhood” and “Youth” and I am waist-deep in the “Adulthood” part, and that s— is heavy.
I would love to write and record with my band, Gordon Sterling and The People. We write a lot in [bass player TJ Turqman’s and keyboardist Gena Photiadis’] house in Takoma Park — that place kinda feels like home. After that, we sit and eat dinner together.
My favorite dive bar in the entire D.C. area is Showtime. They have combos that you can get: I go for a tequila and Natty Boh. The jukebox is the owner’s record collection and this dude has the best collection of blues and early rock ’n’ roll.
I would end at the Gypsy Sally’s Jam. A perfect jam for me is when the music is just on 10 and everyone is just vibing. The music community in D.C. is very incestuous. We all jam with each other, we all know each other and are friends which each other, and it hasn’t always been that way. D.C., being a political town, the scene can be political, but the jam has done a lot to blur those lines and make it OK for us all to be friends.