The beauty of playing rock-and-roll in a garage band is that you don't have to be good to be good. Enthusiasm counts more than skill, so instead of aiming high, the best garage bands don't bother aiming at all. And what a bummer that "aimlessness" carries such a pejorative stink in the nostrils of most overachieving Americans. It might be American rock music's most enduring mystery force.
1519 is a rock group born in a Capitol Hill garage way back in 2001, originally as a jam session among friends, and later as a song-minded outfit that finally released its debut album in 2015 — a self-released bundle of songs performed in a no-style that might resemble the music of the Rolling Stones, or the Meat Puppets, or Guided by Voices, but ultimately sounds like a group of middle-aged guys casually chipping away. "There's something inherent in playing electric guitars, bass and drums that's very rewarding," says Jon Haberman, one of 1519's singer-guitarists. "Just getting a rhythm going, that's something."
Or maybe that's everything. In a small way, 1519 — and every other garage band floating around out there — is living out a deeper truth: The great reward of making music is in the making itself. So why should the rest of us bother to listen? To feel the strange, dependable pleasure of eavesdropping on sounds that would exist whether we were paying attention or not.
Show: Saturday on the mainstage at the Clarendon Day Festival, Arlington. Show starts at 10:30 a.m. www.clarendon.org. Free.