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A D.C. Dream Day of new bands and cool art for Hometown Sounds’ Paul Vodra

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. Find more Dream Days here.

Paul Vodra is a longtime fan of D.C.’s music scene, to the point where he decided to amplify his love to the world. Hometown Sounds is a website and podcast started by Vodra in 2011 that shines a light on local musicians who might have slipped under the radar of Spotify and other big streaming platforms.

“We just want to get the songs from people who live here into people’s ears, get them to buy music and go see live shows,” says Vodra, 43. “We just want to raise the profile of everybody in D.C. that makes music.”

When the Arlington resident isn’t running his website or curating “Luce Unplugged” shows at the American Art Museum, Vodra would spend his dream day checking out new bands around the District.

Brunch in Arlington is crazy and terrible. But there’s one place that I truly love for dinner and brunch, which is Ambar. [It has] Balkan food and an all-you-can-eat tasting deal. You just try everything on the menu, and it’s so much fun.

From there, I think we got to go to Glenstone. It’s an amazing place, but the tickets are a little hard to come by because they want to limit the number of people that are there at any time. You park kind of far away and then it’s a long walk through the beautiful grounds to get to the art. They got some sound installations outside, Andy Goldsworthy art and they’ve got all this beautiful stuff inside.

The next place I would go to is Big Planet Comics. It’s a small chain with four stores. My home base is in Vienna, where I’ve been a subscriber since 1993. But there’s also one on U Street [NW] that is very good. They are now publishing things — their graphic novels are really cool. But they just have the best selection of stuff; the graphic novels and all the stuff coming out from Image Comics these days is just blowing my mind.

From there, we got to get some coffee. My current favorite coffee shop in Arlington is Northside Social Coffee & Wine. It’s got a real nice vibe. [It has] have an upstairs bar where [it has] a good wine program. I’ve been living in Arlington since 1997, and I have been to that coffee shop as it’s evolved from one coffee shop to another coffee shop. It seems like it’s just improving all the time.

Recently, I visited Mount Desert Island Ice Cream for the first time. [It has] regular flavors, but when I have the chance to try some weird flavors, I’m always going to go for that. I got this Salmiakki flavor, which is a Nordic-style salty licorice ice cream. It turned my tongue a really gross green color and it grossed everybody else out, but I liked it.

Now we have to go see some live music, of course. The place I want to go to see some of the weirdest, most interesting stuff is Rhizome. It’s a house venue in Takoma [Park] which has an art gallery space in it and a performance space where they have jazz and punk bands and experimental ambient kind of stuff. I feel like I’m constantly plugging shows that are happening there on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, [when it] sometimes can be hard to find something good to recommend on those nights. But I feel like Rhizome just always has cool stuff going on. I love that place. I love [its] energy.

Then, I’ll check Instagram and see if Robin Bell is projecting somewhere in D.C. I feel like what Robin Bell is doing, projecting onto buildings in D.C. with very pointed messages, [he] is doing the emotional work that the punk rock of D.C. in the ’80s did, channeling our anger into creativity. I’d want to go to his projection and do some Instagram stories, or maybe broadcast live from it to highlight his work, because I think it’s really cool.

I think finishing up my dream day with a drink is a good way to wrap things up. My favorite bar in the whole area is Galaxy Hut. [It has] live music on Sundays and Mondays; there are always great D.C. bands. It’s so chill, with . . . two bands and a $5 cover. But the other nights of the week are just as great. They always have cool music playing; [it has] the VHS tapes playing old silly movies. . . [and] an amazing beer selection. I love that it is like the last outpost of coolness happening in that part of Clarendon and they’re still in business.