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Go to the Music and Club Scene

3 Bands on the Run

By Eric Brace
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 5 1996; Page N09

It's an odd phrase, one that implies some unity: stylistic, geographical, emotional. The two words encourage the notion that bands all hang out together, sharing the stage with their pals at the same clubs, playing the same kind of music, communing for beer and coffee after shows, crashing on each other's couches.

But if there's one thing any Washington-area musician will tell you, it's that there's no such thing as a "scene." There are lots of scenes. Punk, rockabilly, go-go, blues. You name it. Every style has its practitioners, its clubs, its champions. And while the media scramble to find "the next Seattle" and determine where "the next big thing" will pop up, musicians everywhere are going about their business writing songs, getting their chops down, and hoping for a break.

On Sunday evening, we swell folks here at the Weekend section are offering you, the curious reader, a free chance to catch three bands from the Washington scene that have almost nothing in common except that they each have recently caught that brass ring of sorts, the Big Time Record Deal, and each works what some call the "alternative" wave of the rock spectrum. Beginning at 7 p.m. at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 16th and Colorado NW, you can see the Delta 72, emmet swimming and Tuscadero. Beat that with a stick. All three bands have a new release about to hit the shelves, so let's take a look, shall we?


New release: "The Pink Album," from Elektra, due out July 16. To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8136. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)

Hail from: Northwest D.C.

Story behind the name: Tuscadero was the last name of two very cool sisters in the T.V. show "Happy Days," Leather and Pinky Tuscadero. Leather was played by real-life rocker Suzi Quatro.

Members: Melissa Farris, guitar and vocals; Margaret McCartney, guitar and vocals; Phil Satlof, bass; Jack Hornady, drums.

D.C.-related song: "Mount Pleasant." Sample lyrics: "It might not be clean but it sure smells good/ Everybody's living like they should/ I wouldn't leave it even if I could/ Oh, Mount Pleasant, my Mount Pleasant."

Stuff: Tuscadero's sweet and noisy pop got a lot of attention when their debut, "The Pink Album," came out in 1994 on TeenBeat records. Elektra liked it so much they asked Tuscadero to fix it up for re-release. The band went back in the studio and recorded about half the songs from "The Pink Album" from scratch, and re-mixed the rest of the original recordings. "It was really nice to be able to give those songs the attention they deserve," says Farris. McCartney agrees: "We definitely did our first recording a little earlier than we should have. We just didn't know the songs that well at the time, so we didn't play them all that well."

Tuscadero is planning a U.S. tour to start by the end of summer.


New release: "Arlington to Boston," on Epic, due out July 16. For a free Sound Bite, press 8137.

Hail from: Fairfax.

Story behind the name: Band leader Todd Watts remembers the stories while growing up in Kentucky of the 1955 killing of Emmett Till, after the African American youth was shot and thrown in a river for allegedly whistling at a white woman. "It's a horrible case of injustice," he says. "It resonated for me."

Members: Todd Watts, guitar and vocals; Luke Michel, bass; Tamer Eid, drums; Erik Wenberg, guitar.

D.C.-related song: "Arlington." Sample lyrics: "There's beautiful people in the bar tonight/ Not much of a looker but she does alright/ He says he's an outlaw and he always scores/ They all have a motto, be rich dress poor/ It's the suburb of the week, Arlington." Watts, still a happy Fairfax resident, admits to having had such cool Arlington bars as Bardo and IOTA in mind when writing the song.

Stuff: The new CD will be somewhat interactive, says Watts. "It's this thing Sony's [Epic's corporate owner] doing with a lot of its releases, called CD-Extra. There's a lot of room, digitally speaking, left on a 40-minute CD, so you can add some multimedia applications to it. We chose to make it an extended album cover with photos from on the road, some studio outtakes from the recording session with [producer] Don Dixon, some notes from each member of the band. I hope people look at it."

Beginning with a swing through the South, where the band already has a strong college-based following, emmet swimming begins a six-week tour of the United States at the end of the month.


New release: "The R&B of Membership," from Touch and Go (along with 7-inch single, "Triple Crown") available now. For a free Sound Bite, press 8138.

Hail from: Northwest D.C.

Story behind band name: "We tell people it's from a terrorist airline explosion that happened in 1972," says band leader Gregg Foreman, "but the truth is that Delta is from the Mississippi Delta, because when we started out we were more blues oriented. And 1972 was the Year of the Rat, the most majestic and wise of all the Chinese signs." (Yes, Foreman was born in 1972.)

Members: Gregg Foreman, guitar, harmonica and vocals; Kim Thompson, bass and vocals; Sarah Stolfa, organ and vocals; Jason Kourkounis, drums.

D.C.-related song: "Capitol Contingency." Foreman warns that it's a stretch to call this a Washington song: "Don't take it too literally. It's not about politics, except maybe on a surface level. The point is that with anything you do, especially here in Washington, there's always something going on underneath, repercussions on another level."

Stuff: The Delta 72 has an agenda: "We're trying to bring back one thing," says Foreman, "and that's having the crowd be as much a part of the show as we are. We want to influence people to come out of their homes and dance." The band's groove-centered music sounds like punk and garage rock crossed with blues and R&B "There's a movement happening now that was bound to happen," says Foreman. "It's the combination of soul and punk. We want to bring an explosive element into our music, and that's soul."

The Delta 72 hits the road next week for six weeks in a van that needs a new starter. "At least I hope that's all it needs," says Sarah Stolfa, who on the side does promotions for the Black Cat club. "It'll be interesting. You put any four people in a hot van for six weeks and everyone gets a little off-balance. There are days when you're like, `Man, I love you guys,' and then days where it's not so great. But we went out for four weeks last year and we didn't kill each other, so I think we'll be fine."

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