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Nightwatch - Live

Hosted by Eric Brace
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 9, 1999


Eric Brace
Eric Brace (By Mark Finkenstaedt/TWP)
On Friday, July 9 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Post Nightwatch columnist Eric Brace was online to dish and diss the local music and nightlife scene. The transcript is below. Until next time, you can reach Eric by email at nightwatch@washpost.com.

From backstage at the annual Wammies (Washington's own Grammy Awards) to metal night at Phantasmagoria to waltz night at the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom, every week Post staff writer Eric Brace throws himself on the front lines of the bar-n'-music beat in the Washington, D.C. area. A Washington resident for nearly 30 years, Brace started with the Style section in 1990, where he wrote live music reviews and filed longer feature stories on the likes of Fugazi, Jawbox, Pearl Jam, Stephane Grappelli and many others. Then he created the Nightwatch column, which appears every week in The Post's Weekend section and on washingtonpost.com's Music & Nightlife page. He also plays rhythm guitar for the country rock band Last Train Home.

Eric Brace: Hi gang.. welcome to another Nightlife discussion...
first thing I wanna say is that there is a great FREE concert tonight at the Carter Barron Amphitheater, in Rock Creek Park.. (entrance is at 16th St and Colorado Ave. NW)..
Tonight at 7:30 it's the first of "Weekend's Weekends".. that is, concerts by local musicians, sponsored by the Weekend section of the Washington Post..
The show this evening features the superb sou/blues/R&B band The Hardway Connection... They sing and play and deliver the goods like few bands I've ever seen... with the weather cooling off a bit (not to mention that Rock Creek Park is always 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city) I'd say that music amid the trees tonight is the hot call.
Opening the show is the Crow Valley Band, followed by excellent blues guitarist Cathy Ponton King and her band...
I'll be MC-ing so feel free to come and heckle.. there'll be Post door prizes too!!!!!! woooweeee!!!
So now let's get to the questions..

Arlington, VA: I heard through the grapevine that America at Tyson's is closing and a brew pub is popping up in its place. Why and when?

Eric Brace: Yes, we're about to lose one of the funnest scenes in the area.. believe it or not, one that exists in a shopping mall...
The restaurant America , in the Tysons Corner Mall has been sold to a big brewpub chain (now I've forgotten which) and is closing down on July 24...
It has been the scene of much swing dancing lately.. with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra holding forth every friday... there were dance lessons there from Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg... they're all bummed out.. searching for another place to hold their big friday night parties..
there's nothing as well suited.. nothing with a huge dance floor ... and room for a big band. Neither Tom & Debra nor Tom Cunningham knows what's next. They're looking for spots.. This coming weekend (16th and 17th) there's a big band throwdown between Tom Cunningham and the Bill Elliott Orchestra.. and lots of dance teachers..
Then the final weekend will feature Tom Cunningham as well as Indigo Swing (from S.F.).. That's just the 23rd..
be there..

Arlington: Eric,
Have you been surprised with the lack of festivals -and the quality of the talent- making their way to DC this summer? Also, why don't more of the local promotion companies put together "super bills" of local talent?

Eric Brace: It's all about money.. lots of planned festivals and multi-bill shows have canceled or cut back on account of poor ticket sales.. everything's so friggin expensive. Givin that truth, it's surprising that more effort isn't made to putting together big local bills.. But the tuth is, despite efforts by,say, yours truly, and say, this whole web site.. the general public isn't all that aware of that fact that there are excellent local bands.. so clubs can'r charge a lot at the door for local bills.. etc etc.
I wonder of the effect of that big booking company, SFX, buying up everything (Nissan, Merriweather..)

Columbia Heights, DC: Are we likely to be able to get tickets tonight before the show? Or are they likely to be all gone by the time us working stiffs get home?

Eric Brace: I think there will be tickets at the box office still available if you get there by show time..

Arlington, VA: Eric, do you have any previous MC experience? Remember, picture the audience in their underwear if you get nervous...

Eric Brace: funny.. that's what I'm thinking about all you folks signed on right now...

DC: What's up, Eric. Is there any kind of comprehensive Open Mic listing for DC?

Eric Brace: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/music/features/openmike0818.htm
here's a site from a year ago on this web site that had a pretty good listing.. and I did a story aboug two years ago in the Weekend section.. a pretty long cover stoty that you should be able to find in the archives.. but there's no ongoing listing in the Weekend section or on this site.. sorry..

Fairfax, VA: Hey Eric - Now that all the 'buzz' about Buzz has died down, do you know if it will be opening back up any time soon?

Eric Brace: Hey !! Where have you been..
Sting took the place of buzz beginning on June 25... It's the return of most of the same people.. the same DJs, but Natino and the folks that run it, Scott Henry (who's was a guest on one of these chats a couple of months ago) and Lieven.. but they say that this is NOT the return of Buzz.. despite the similarities.. entry is now 19 and older instead of 18 and older and they're pretty tight with security now.. Sting is bringing in big names in the world of techno DJ/elecronica etc.. like paul Oakenfold tonight..
It's every friday from 11 pm til 6 am saturday morning..

Potomac, MD: Every time I go out to a club in DC, the sound system is so awful. How can club owners charge the outrageous covers they do if it sounds like the band is playing inside a tin can? Isn't anybody concerned with quality anymore?

Eric Brace: depends where you go... sound systems at the 9:30, the Birchmere, Nation, State Theater, and a couple of other places are world class... dance clubs seem to take the PA issue more seriously, oddly enough, than many live music places (speaking of which.. WHAT the heck happened at Poll Esthers last week???? were any of you there when the beam carrying lots of PA speakers and lighting gear collaped.. injuring many... No one has returned my calls there.. the PA at Plly Esthers was excellent, sound-wise)
But way too many smaller clubs have sound problems.. and tha main reason is $$$.
It really costs money to get a good system in a spcae.. because it has to be custom designed for that space.. you gotta get real sound engineers in there to figure out where the soundd waves will bounce around..
it's hard and costs mont, but I wish club owners would understand that it's worth it in the long run.

Adams Morgan: Eric,
How easy is it to bootleg a show in DC? I've always wanted to go see a band live and walk out with the perfect recording...

Eric Brace: Well.. if the sound system sux then any bootleg you make is gonna suck.
It the PA is great and your recorder sux, then yout booleg is gonna be lousy.
I don't know how HARD it is to do.. depends on how open you are about it.. there are probably some jam bands who'd think it was cool in a Deadhead kinda way to be bootlegged.. but most bands would probably prefer NOT to be recorded without their permission..
A perfect recording will NEVER be what you walk out with..at best it wuold be an imperfect document of that particular evening

DC: Are there any DC bars or clubs that feature live Brazilian lounge music or Tropicalia?

Eric Brace: Oh yeah.. lots in adams morgan these day.. Mo Bay, Tom Brazil, Cities, and down the road, Origem plays every week at Chi Cha, as does BossaLingo.. Check listings for singer Patrick De Santos, Ricky Llosa (sp???)Origem, others.. brain lock..

Alexandria, VA: Re: bootlegging - I've actually had decent success plugging into boards and taping shows. But you definitely just have to be cool with the guys at the sound board and check it with the performers. If they're local and not as huge, they probably won't care. But, say, Pearl Jam.... fugeddaboutit

Eric Brace: yeah.. check with the bandf and they may let you plug into the board.. but even then, you're gonna get mainly vocals and the kick and snare drums, since people always crank their guitar amsp so loud that they're not running through the pa.. you'll get a weird mix.. again.. it'll just be a document, and not generally a capturing of magical musical moments

Washington, DC: Speaking of ridiculously expensive shows, Whitney Houston -whose show was canceled- was charging $75 to $100 per ticket. and Maxwell at DAR in September or August is $45 per! are you kidding me? who do they think they are?

Eric Brace: the combination of SFX booking these shows with a monopoly on the venues, and the greed of these acts is hurting everybody.. I'm happy when they cancel.. they mihgt learn something.. of course it hurts the fans who want to SEE these people play..

st. petersburg, fl: did you catch the show last weekend and state theater? or hear anything about it? I'm an Arlington native, and am dying to find out how that place turned out......thanks!

Eric Brace: I wanted to try to catch Driving n crying at State last week but I couldn't make it.. so I don't know how it went.. I admit to being a bit worried about that place.

Tysons, VA: I've just crawled out of a hole -not quite, but close . . - and wonder
if this rumor is true: Have emmetswimming broken up? What's da scoop?

Eric Brace: come out from that hole! emmet swimming got its lawyers to get it off its Sony contract and has just released a brand new record on the bands own label, Screaming Goddess, I think.... it's live.. recorded in january (i think) at the 9:30 club.. it's pretty cool.
They played at the downtown 4th of july festival last week. They're around.. just lying a little low.

Washington DC: Not only was Whitney's show expensive, the ad's small print said the a-c could be turned off at her request. No thanks Whitney. I'll go elsewhere.

Eric Brace: Did it REALLY??? I didn't read that.. methinks Whitney is a little off her rocker frankly...

Falls Church, VA: Eric, why are you "worried" about the State Theater? quality of bookings? i think it's a great venue!

Eric Brace: Ah don't misunderstand.. I LOVE the venue. It's one of the finest spaces i've ever seen to see/hear music. What has me worried is the state of the music business, that would conspire to prevent the State Theater from getting plenty of acts. There's plenty of behind the scenes machinations that we never hear about among bookers, managers, talent buyers (that's the term for the venues's bookers).
Places like the Birchmere, Jaxx, the 9:30, Wolf Trap, Nation etc, are all worried about theSTate taking away some of its acts so I'm sure there are deals being struck to lock certain acts into certain rooms etc.. I just hope the State can hold its own... that's all I meant..

Washington, DC: Re: Whitney being off her rocker, SHE DID MARRY BOBBY BROWN DIDN"T SHE?

Eric Brace: Oh you're right.. hmmm. Case closed

washingtonpost.com: Here's the URL for washingtonpost.com's OWN fab swing site:

Eric Brace: in the question asbove, you'll find the washingtonpost.com's amazing page for swing info.. so to the person who was wondering where NOW to go for swing stuff ...

Washington, DC: Whatever happened to the Local Music Store? Are they still around? Just curious...

Eric Brace: The actual store they used to run in Fairax closed.. but there's a www.localmusicstore.com.. it's a national site but you can click on the map in their U.S. Tour page, the click on the little Wash DC symbol and it'll hook you up with some local stuff... it's pretty limited, but 'sokay..

Washington DC`: Hi Eric
what is your feeling about Uncle Jed's these days? Are you liking the Saturday night dinner and music deals?
I used to go there a lot and have some friends coming in to town and wanted to know if it is still as much fun as it used to be and if the music is still as good as it was last summer.

Eric Brace: The have a good blues series this summer, and their AC was crankning the last time I stopped in, so that's all I need to hear..
The dinner and music thing is a cool idea.. you don't pay cover, but instead you just pay $15 or so for a full dinner and you stay for the tunes.. pretty cool deal for folks who just wanna hang out, and who've got a good parking place and don't feeling like going somewhere else that evening.

Bethesda, Md: Do you think John Popper of Blues Traveler will explode? Isn't he like 400 pounds or something?

Eric Brace: He won't explode.. but gee.. he might be hindered in his abiity to play 2000 non musical notes per measure. Don't get me started on that hack.

Rosslyn, VA: Re: swing, know American's closing down, but any word on Tom and Debras' Swing Night at Nation? I think it's a great venue, but they were just holding it on the wrong night -Saturday-. Move to a weeknight, and they'll probably do better!

Eric Brace: I strongly doubt you will ever see Swing Nation back at Nation. Even when it cools down.. they were just not able to get their crowd down to that neighborhood. Even with secure parking..

Washington, DC: Yo ERic, so what's happening with the space where the Bank used to be downtown? Are they filling it with another Eurotrash hangout?

Eric Brace: mmmm yes and no... I head it was the fellow who owns DC Live who bought the lease.. paying a ridiculous $/sq/foot for the priviledge... So I think it'll open in September.. multi-ethnic, euro,latin,black, we'll see

Washington: Can you still go into Jed's if you don't want to eat dinner? Do you still have to pay the $15?

Eric Brace: Yes I think you can just pay the cover... and not eat the dinner.. it's around $5 or something

HErndon, VA: I recently read a Post story by Shannon Henry on some new bars and or clubs that were opening in the Herndon area to service all those AOL worker ants toiling out there. Any word on what the places are and when they may open?

Eric Brace: Steve Zarpas (crow bar's owner)is opening a place in the fall that will be a groovy coffeeshop kinda place and which will presumably also sell booze.. gonna be called Hop-N Java ... There are other places in the works for Fall openings I hear, but no more details. Hop-N Java is gonna be in downtown herndon I think.

Washington, DC: Eric - Enjoy your "column" much. Tell me. I'm not very knowledgeable about the punk scene but I'm curious and I have a friend in town from California for the summer. I guess there is a wide spectrum of punk -as any other genre- but can you point me in the right direction for live shows or a place to start. I'm willing to travel to say, Baltimore or New York, too. Please, briefly educate me...

Eric Brace: oh jeeez... too short a time for too long an answer..
stop into the Black Cat or the Velvet lounge for the current state of the art of punk music.. but we're living in the Post-Punk world now.. so what does that really mean? Political rock? loud guitars? Less than stellar playing? I dunno.. hmmm too many parts.. but THANKS for reading

Vienna, VA: Eric, I am constantly amazed at how famous some performers become with apparently NO talent, compared with some extremely talented performers who get nowhere. In terms of local acts, I'm thinking of Mary Ann Redmond, Pam Bricker, and the late Eva Cassidy. What is it that these ladies are NOT doing, that some other unnamed so-called singers DO that got them to the top?

Eric Brace: That's another dang good questionwith too many facets to the answer.. part of the problem is being from DC..frankly.. and part of it is the material, and part of it is management issues, perhaps these folks you mention don't have the burning desire to be STARS and thereby put EVERYTHING else aside..
The ones you mention are really fine singers who deserve wider audiences..

Rosslyn, VA: So Eric, any idea on what's opening in the spot that formerly housed Blue and Gold in Clarendon? I thought you mentioned a sports bar before...

Eric Brace: It'll soon become a big chain sports bar.. though I have yet to see any work done on it..

ok folks.. I couldn't get to all your questions and I'lve run out of time.. so I'll catch you next time..
If there are questions you';d like to ask me directly or suggestions or any miscellaneous comments, send em directly to me at nightwatch@washpost.com.. see you next time..

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