Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"I never set out to be a musician; I just set out to a “good man” Q&A with TED GARBER, Singer/Songwriter

TED GARBER is a local musician who's been strumming and singing for as long as he can remember.  This self proclaimed Blues Americana Rock musician has a lot of heart, soul and fellow musician-friends ready to sit in to be part of the sound that is Ted Garber.  Get to know him and the new album he has coming out. 

Q.  Blues-Americana-Rock ("leaning more toward the Rock Side!") is how you describe your music.  For those who've never experienced one of your shows how does this translate?

A.  This is the best name I have been able to come up with for  describing my “sound” and my influences.  I grew up idolizing my late country-folk singing father, who taught me my earliest guitar chords, solos, and songs.  That’s the “Americana” end of things.  Additionally, like most kids growing up the 80’s and 90’s I consumed a healthy diet of the pop-rock of the day--that, along with a hearty portion of 60‘s and 70‘s classic rock (I wore out my parents’ “Woodstock” album).  However, things really came together when I went off to college in New Orleans.  All that NOLA old school rhythm and blues resonated with me in a profound way, and it brought out and continues to bring out some of my favorite compositions.  It only occurred to me after the fact that my self-styled classification spells “B-A-R,” which, coincidentally, is where I spent most of my 20’s (gigging and “socializing”). 


Q.  You have a CD Release party happening at The Mansion at Strathmore Hall on May 13th!  Congratulations!  Tell us about it..

A.  This coming Friday, May 13 at 8pm I am throwing a CD Release Party at The Mansion at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD.  The album is called “Live at Strathmore,” and like the name suggests, the songs were recorded at two SOLD OUT shows at Strathmore’s Mansion on January 12 and February 22.  There will be a $2 PBR Happy Hour from 8pm-9pm.  The Strathmore Fine Artists in Residence are decorating the hall special for the show.  Tickets are $15, available at www.strathmore.org and by calling (301) 581-5100.  Parking in the Mansion Lot is FREE for this show. Strathmore Mansion is at 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD 20852. 

Q.  You said that this album, Live at Strathmore, "is an album of firsts", tell DC Setlist readers what you mean by that.

A.  This “Live at Strathmore” album is the culmination of my year spent as a “Strathmore Artists in Residence, from May 2010-May 2011.  The first “first” is the fact that the album is recorded at Strathmore.  Until my residency began, I had never performed in that venue.  Also, the songs I wrote especially for this album pushed me in new directions, even ones I did not anticipate.  I wrote and recorded my first reggae song, “Hula Hoop Girl.”  The same goes for my first-ever duet, “Third Time’s A Charm,” which I wrote specifically to sing with a fellow resident artist, Chelsey Green.  There is my first rap song, “I Don’t Wanna Make A Baby, Baby,” my first commissioned work, “Keep It Movin’,” and this is my first live album of original material.  Last but definitely not least, this marks my first time working with my Strathmore mentor, the multi-Grammy winning, Jon Carroll (Starland Vocal Band, Mary Chapin Carpenter), who helped me arrange some of these songs, and who played absolutely stellar piano on all the tracks.

Q.  Tell us who your collaborators are on this album.

A.  I had an amazing team for “Live at Strathmore.”  My principal band members are some of the area’s best talent:  the aforementioned Jon Carroll, the multi-Grammy nominated Scott Ambush (Spyro Gyra) on upright bass and the ever-popular Eddie Hartness (Eddie From Ohio) on drums and percussion.  I also had some guest artists on some of the tracks including the multi-Grammy winning Cathy Fink, who plays ukulele on “Hula Hoop Girl.”  My live audio engineer, Trevor Higgins, did an amazing job capturing the performances because we worked without a net.  Normally, when a big band like John Mayer or Dave Matthews record live, they’re on a tremendous stage that allows for track separation, so little mistakes can be edited later.  Our stage was so small, we did not have that luxury.  We rehearsed our asses off, and any mistakes we made are on the record.  And that’s fine with me--it proves we played this stuff live.

Q.  You are an Artist in Residence (AIR) at Strathmore. Tell us about this program and how you got involved.

A.   Each year since 2005, The Strathmore Performing Arts Center  located in North Bethesda, MD invites area musical artists to submit their recordings and applications for consideration as a “Strathmore Artist in Residence (AIR).”  Following that process, invitations to audition are mailed, and dozens audition for the program.  Six acts are chosen annually.  The program is aimed at fostering creative collaboration among emerging artists and to increase the artists’ education through workshops and connection with veteran musicians who serve as official mentors.  Each artist must give two public concerts, an educational workshop and compose a commissioned work.  I’m extremely grateful for this program.  It really lit a fire under me.  I have had the opportunity to work with a group of incredible talents who have all inspired, encouraged and supported me this last year.  I hope I have done the same for them.  And, I hope we will continue to work together and remain good friends going forward! 
Q.  Congratulations on winning a WAMMIE this past February! For those who aren't familiar, what is a WAMMIE and what category did you win?

A.  A “Wammie” is the affectionate name for a “Washington Area Music Association” award.  Like the Recording Academy and “The Grammies,” The Washington Music Association (WAMA) holds an annual awards show called “The Wammies,” and local artists receive recognition for their work.  WAMA is a great organization because it recognizes the achievements of unsigned artists who would never even land on the radar of the National Recording Academy, even though they’ve sold thousands of albums and their work is outstanding.   Another “first,” I won an award this year, “2010 Pop Rock Recording of the Year,” for my 2009-2010 studio album “American Rail.”  I am also proud to have been nominated for the overall “Album of the Year” award and for “Pop Rock Instrumentalist of the Year” recognizing my guitar and harmonica playing.

Q.  You have a real connection with the people who come out to your performances and during the course of our interview said, "the audience is the uncredited participant in the shows."  What does that mean to you?

A.  The audience’s reactions on “Live at Strathmore” are actual.  The laughs, the coughs, the screams, the clap and sing-alongs.  It’s a VERY realistic and believable experience, and it’s a very, very entertaining album.  But, it’s more than that.  I said that the audience is the “uncredited participant” on the record because I am an entertainer who directly feeds off of the audience’s energy.  My best performances often come from an enthusiastic and eager group of particpant-observers who inspire my music in real time.  Having a sold out room that’s packed (literally) full of people rooting for you to play and sing your best--that brought out wonderful performances and a highly-charged dynamic.

Q.  We recognized some of the names of the members in your band, introduce the band and tell us about all of them. 
A.  Jon Carroll Piano, Backing Vocals and Guitar on “Sunshine in Fog”: --multi-Grammy winner, founding member of The Starland Vocal Band  (“Afternoon Delight”) and currently touring with Mary Chapin Carpenter. 

Scott Ambush Upright Bass:  Multi-Grammy nominee for his work with internationally renown jazz fusion band, Spyro Gyra, and like me, Scott is from Frederick, MD.  

Eddie Hartness:  drums/percussion:  Eddie is the namesake of the intensely popular NOVA-based folk-rock group, Eddie From Ohio.  Eddie recorded my first original song demo for me in late 2003 and has been my go-to guy ever since.

Guest Stars:
Cathy Fink:  ukulele--multi-Grammy nominee and mentor, it was Cathy who gave me the idea to make the album (and pushed me to do it!).
Jason Ager:  rapper--Jason and I have done several shows together.  He’s a super-talented singer-songwriter in his own right.  
Max Kuzmyak: trumpet:  Max and I know each other from Church.  He said he could play trumpet, but he never said he could play it SO WELL!  He’s also a singer-songwriter, and he’s opening the CD Release Show with his band.
John Penovich:  lap steel:  John actually ran front-of-house sound for the show (and did a wonderful job). But, he mentioned he could play lap steel, and he wasn’t kidding.
Chelsey Green:  duet vocalist:  Chelsey is the other half of my duet, but truth be told, her voice carries the song.  She’s amazing, and as a Strathmore AIR, she was brought in to play violin.  We only “discovered” she could sing. And she sings her ass off.

Q.  Music runs in your blood, your father was a musician.  Did you always know growing up that you would be in the music business? 

A.   As a boy, I wanted to be just like my Dad in every way.  He wasn’t just a musician, he was a community activist--mowing the lawn for the church and looking out for elderly neighbors, and shoveling snow for old ladies, and announcing at little league games.  My Dad’s music came from his humility, his gentle soul, and his profound love of people.  I never set out to be a musician; I just set out to a “good man” like him.  But, one day, he called my younger brother and I into the family room, and sitting next to my Mom, he told us that he had cancer.  Over the next 18 months, I watched my hero--a 3rd Degree Black Belt, Marathon running, non-drinking, non-smoking, 6’4” athlete--disintegrate into an emaciated melanoma victim.  I felt I needed to carry a torch for him.  Music had always been my passion and my first love, but it became a mission, a vain attempt to keep him alive.  It took me a long time to start playing and singing for myself, but I think he would be proud of the man and the musician I have become (and continue to become). 

Q.  What are the 5 songs & artists that have been looping on your iPod this week?

A.   This is going to make you laugh, but I almost never listen to artists who sound similar to me, so here is what I have been jamming to this week:
  2. “NO HANDS”:  Waka Flocka Flame
  3. “JUDAS”:  Lady Gaga
  4.  “FORGET YOU” Cee-Lo

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"The music is creation and thus it is sexual energy..." Q&A with FEDERICO AUBELE

FEDERICO AUBELE  played an amazing show last night at the Rock-N-Roll Hotel where Washingtonians got to experience his fourth studio album, BERLIN 13, live.  The elements of this album include dub, electronica, acoustic guitar with Latin & European undertones.  His voice and the music are sultry; now get to know the man...

Q.  Let's get down to brass tacks. Tell fans where they can find, get a taste of, and ultimately buy your new album BERLIN 13 (we haven't stopped listening to it by the way!)?

A.  They can check it out and get it on iTunes, Amazon, E Music, the ESL MUSIC SHOP.

Q.  You've said that you've always been fascinated by electronica and that this album has more of an "electronic element"  running through it then your previous albums. Do you ever feel pressure to make sure that your sound is constantly evolving?

A.  I like to make my sound evolve. It's basically a reflection of how you are. There are certain elements of you personality that always remain constant, and other aspects you change. With the music is the same, some elements define your work and others you change, thus evolving and changing. I don't think it's a good thing for an artists to remain static.

Q.  We loved it when you were explaining that you can manipulate electronica more like a painter then a musician.  Please share with our readers how that process works for you.

A.  I think technology got to the point where, if you work with electronic media, you can really create and finish your work, pretty much like a painter or a writer, without having to go through a lot of other people. Painters don't have to go through a sound engineer, a guy that mixes, another guy that does the mastering, etc. It's a much more direct creative experience and I think that is great.

Q.  You are on the ESL Music Label.  How did you originally hook up with Eric Hilton and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation?

A.  I sent them a demo, years ago. Eric wrote me back an email with notes for every song on the CD. He told me to send him more tracks whenever I was ready. I think i sent him about 3 demos total and then he said that they liked my work and that they wanted to have me on the label.

Q.  We love your video Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue .  Tell us what the filming of that video was like; you filmed it in England, no?

A.  We filmed in London, in Stock Newington, which is a really nice area. We shot mostly indoors, but there were some scenes we had to do in a Park. I remember that while we were shooting, there were some older guys that work in the Park looking at us. They were very curious with what we were doing and kept commenting and talking to us in such a thick cockney accent, that none of us could figure out what they were saying.

Q.  What is your studio at home in Brooklyn like?  You mentioned that you loved the fact that today's technology allows you to do it yourself.

A.  My studio is very computer based. I have a pair of really nice monitors, a nice pre-amp, a really good <Photo 2>mike, some guitars, a bass and a bunch of MDI controllers. The rest I do inside the computer, it's all good software. Some years ago technology was still not that good and you would need a lot more hardware. This works well for me because of how i work and the type of music that I make. If you have an acoustic Jazz trio, you might need to go to an actual recording studio, it's a different scenario.

Q.  Your tour has officially kicked off!  Where else will you be performing?

A.  We go to Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Aspen, then to the west coast, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Las Vegas and Austin, and we finish the tour in NYC, at the Gramercy Theatre.

Q.  During our interview it came out that you bartered guitar lessons for learning how to read tarot cards in your native Argentina.  You still read cards today.  What do you primarily use this unique skill for now?

A.  I use it mostly as a self analyzing tool. It helps you a lot to get in touch with your subconscious and figure out things. Most people relate it to seeing the future, or asking questions about love and fortune. But for me it works really well to communicate with myself.

Q.  We spoke a little bit about your interest in psychology and how you feel that both creative energy and sexual energy come from the same place.  How would you say this has manifested in your work?

A.  Sexual energy is what makes humans relate to one another and in some cases reproduce. It's a very powerful thing. I red somewhere that the energy that makes you want to have sex with someone and the one that makes you want to be friends with some people is the same, the difference is just in the dose, but it is all attraction. The music is creation and thus it is sexual energy, whether your music sounds obviously sensual or not, it's the same energy that powers it.

Q.  Caring for the environment is a top priority for you.  What is one way you think each American can make a big difference starting tomorrow?  One  little change that can have an impact?

A.  One little change goes a long way. Just simple things like using your own grocery tote bags when you go shopping instead of bringing back home a lot of plastic bags. That already helps a lot. Recycling is very important too, but ultimately, the less amount of trash you generate, the better.

Q.  What are the 5 songs and artists that have been looping on your iPod this week?

1) Actress - Hubble
2) Lone - Ultramarine
3) Gonja Sufi - Ancestors
4) A Certain Ratio - Shack Up
5) Mala - Don't Let me Go

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Folk songs in the debris..." Q&A with Aaron Thompson, DC singer/song writer.

Meet Aaron Thompson and his band aptly named, the Aaron Thompson band!  We met Aaron almost a year ago while he was performing at a local art maven's birthday soirĂ©e.  His soft, earthy sound was memorable and we're glad to see things taking root in this budding musical career.  Read on to see what projects he's got in queue.

Q.  So give us the details of the cool gig you have coming up this Thursday night at the Renwick Gallery in DC?

A.  The show we played at the American Art Museum in January worked really well, so the Renwick Gallery asked me to play at Handi-hour, an arts & crafts happy hour with home brewed beer from Churchkey.  Janel Leppin (janelleppin.com) and Lex Paulson will be playing with me and the boys on cello and piano.  We recorded parts separately for my first album (aaronthompson.bandcamp.com) and this will be the first time we're all playing together.  The show is next Thursday, April 28th at 5:30 and cover is $15.  Beer's included!  More info here - http://bit.ly/hOxjnd

Q.  How would you describe your bands style and who influenced you musically growing up?

A.  We play folk songs in the debris of the music we've listened to growing up.  Some may not be folk but they all tell stories and build on that, and we try to make all the parts work with the story.  Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley had a lot of influence on me growing up.  When I was a kid there was always classical piano music in the house, and I went through a punk phase in high school before I heard Jeff Buckley.  He covered Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and I knew that was the kind of music I wanted to play.  Only I had to shift it a little because my voice isn't so angelic:]

Q.  You mentioned that you've got a mini-southern tour coming up.  What towns & clubs are you hitting?

A.  It started Friday and we played at The Garage in Charlottesville.  Then there's Gillie's and a small show inside a silo in Blacksburg, The Billups Art Gallery in Nashville and then back up to DC for the Renwick show.  I have a show in Baltimore at Golden West Cafe May 7th and The Living Room in New York on May 18th. 

Q.  What was it like filming the video of your song A Record A Wheel Video?  The result was amazing. 

A.  Thanks.  It was cold, and it was hunting season:) Chris Keener is a great producer and working with him on this one was a lot of fun.  His family owns a cabin up in PA in the middle of nowhere, and we found some train tracks nearby that fit the mood of the song.  We played it a few times til the sun went down and went back to the cabin.  O yes, and I made it out of that wreck alive somehow.  The driver is probably scarred for life.

Q.  You recently returned from an epic trip cross country where one of the high lights was getting to play at SXSW!  Tell us about that experience. 

A.  I met up with the boys from Wandering Hat a few months ago to talk about making a music video and they mentioned they were getting ready to drive a Winnebago across the country and had an extra spot.  I immediately jumped on board.  We drove to California and back and I set up a few shows along the way.  The good people at the Blind Pig Pub in Austin let me play there during SXSW under the condition that I'd have a backing band, so I got in touch with a band from San Antonio and they were all in.  The day before they cancelled on me and while I was grieving to Jess Dye (myspace.com/lightfootva) she offered to sing harmony and play drums.  So she saved the day.  

The new video was shot by the house boats in Sausalito, CA.  Sonya Harway lives out there and sings the harmony part. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO of Houses In Water

Q.   What and who is behind Wandering Hat Production

A.  Wandering Hat is a few filmmakers from Falls Church who make some really great short videos.  One of my favorites is a video called December 15th (wanderinghat.com/?p=314).  Brian Stansfield started it and now they all work as one living, breathing organism that runs on coffee and microprocessors.  It's pretty incredible to watch.

Q.  For those who want to track you down please provide us with the name of your Youtube Channel  and the link for your website!


Q.  How do you find new music these days?  Pandora?  SoundCloud? 

A.  Mostly through good friends.  I've found a lot of great music on Pandora.

Q.  What are the 5 songs and artists that have been looping on your iPod this week? 

A.  Leonard Cohen - Chelsea Hotel, PJ Harvey - Battleship Hill, Tom Waits - Hoist That Rag, The Jesus & Mary Chain - Dirty Water, Wild Nothing - Chinatown

                                    FEDERICO AUBELE at the ROCK-N-ROLL HOTEL  4/25/2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011


What follows is a show log or tour diary of the past month! Different bands, different styles, different places! At the end of it all, what I really got from it was a desire to get my own thing off the ground! I’ve been playing the sideman role for the past 5 years and feel like it is time for me to get busy again. I’ve dug not having to deal with a band and being a bandleader, but it’s something that I know and am familiar with. After 10 plus years with GGGAH, I got a little burnt out, but the flame has been re-ignited!

March 5th: Sun Wolf at Sofar DC

Yeah, you can say “crazy show,” about this one. We arrived at the house party from American Ice Company and we were definitely in a rock and roll state of mind! Our fearless leader Kalani was in a very excited mood for the gig! The previous night he mentioned to me that he wanted to set his guitar on fire and I quickly had to tell him that was a bad idea for 2 reasons. First, you can’t burn a guitar anymore! Jimi Hendrix already did it and that’s that! Second, I happened to be in Rhode Island (that’s where my parents live) when the whole Great White fire fiasco happened! Pyrotechnics can be a good thing in rock, but you need to have qualified people around who know what’s up! If not, it can be a real bad idea! Here’s a clip of the first song we did… Since the pyro was out, we just got a little wild!

March 10th: Frank Mitchell Jr. at the W Hotel, DC

This is one of the projects I’m involved with right now that I’m very excited about! For those of you who are not aware of FMJ, he’s the sax player in Thievery Corporation and SEE-i. He’s been on the scene in DC for years and is now fashioning himself as a singer/songwriter. The vibe is a very funk, soul, and disco groove thing. This was his second live performance and it was a little awkward. I say this because the stage wasn’t really fit for a band. The hotel had a DJ booth directly in the center of the stage and we had to figure out where to fit. Yes, we were aware that initially it was only going to be the DJ duo Ancient Astronauts performing, but things changed at the last minute. We’re an 8 piece band, two horns, bass, guitar, congas, keys, drums and FMJ singing and occasionally blowing sax. I ended up playing on the floor because of the lack of space and the fact that I like being with the people! Stages sometimes take the audience participation away. It becomes more of a movie type thing where people stare and usually stand several feet away from the stage. Instead, I feel we should all be partying together. Which is why I’ll usually use that semi-circle in front of the band as a dance floor! If the crowd’s not using it, well, I will! I think the show was good, but it was hard to judge the crowd reaction. I think it had a lot to do with it being a party and not a proper show.

March 12th: Thievery Corp at The 9 Mile Music Fest, Miami, FL

Arrived on the 11th, barely getting sleep from the previous night’s FMJ show. We got to Miami and it was very chilly, I was hoping for a little warmth, but that wasn’t the case. On top of that, the promoter had us out in the suburbs of Miami by the mall. A solid half hour away from anything fun! That sucked! Usually we’re in a hotel on South Beach, but we happened to be in town at the same time as the The Winter Music Conference and hotels were either sold out or super pricey. Outside of the weather and lodging, it was a blast! We were playing what in essence was the Bob Marley festival. Julian, Kymani, Damien and the rest of the extended family were performing. The location was Bayfront Park.  We played there last October while we were on tour with Massive Attack, however instead of playing in the amphitheater we were set up in the actual park. Our set was super short! It was about 55 minutes, which compared to our 2 hour plus marathons, was as easy as taking a walk in the park (pun intended!)! I really like the short festival sets because we usually just destroy it! It’s pretty much all up tempo bangers and that translates well with festival crowds who tend to be inundated with bands and mood altering substances!

March 15-19: SXSW [AUSTIN, TX]

Tuesday the 15th, I arrived early in the afternoon and had a gig that night with Nappy Riddem at the Copa.  NR consists of DJ/producer/percussionist Rex Riddem and vocalist Mustapha Akbar. When performing live they are join by drummer Jeff Franca and sometimes myself. It’s funk, soul, and electronic based stuff. We played a Jeff Strange/Papa Chop party and all I can say is that those guys have there shit together!  My friend Marcos, who goes by the name Chico Man, played earlier in the night and was awesome! If you get a chance to check him out, do so!!! We went on last around 1 am and there was still a decent crowd there. The highlight of the set had to be when Rex started to play Jeff’s cymbals with his hand and accidentally knocked it off its stand. The cymbal ended up slicing my cable in two pieces. At first I thought I had pulled the cable out of the amp, I’ve been known to do that, but quickly realized what happened. Within seconds, which felt like minutes, we were able to change out the cable. At the end of the show, it was pretty funny, but living through it is a different story! Unnecessary stress!

Wednesday the 16th, this was the official first day of the music portion of SXSW. The film stuff happens the previous week. Yes, it was a complete cluster fuck as it has been in the past. I had already attended 3 of these back in 2002, 2004, and 2006 with my old band Gogogo Airheart. Back then we thought we were contenders and tried to do all the hustling and schmoozing shit that goes on with the festival. However, this time around I was playing in 3 different bands which I didn’t have any personal commitments to other than playing and having to perform my best! It was great not having to meet anyone for business purposes. I got to hang and meet people just because, without some bid agenda. That was nice! Early in the day I headed over to the Virgin/C3 house on Red River across from Stubb’s. C3 PRESENTS manages TC and our tour manager was performing there with his hybrid DJ crew Lance Herbstrong. Check these guys out if you get a chance. They’re pretty much a mash up unit, but live they have ex-Porno for Pyros guitarist Pete DiStefano with them. He does a pretty interesting Jimmy Page thing with the bow, but again like the fire thing, it’s pretty hard to swallow since Jimmy Page made it so famous. Who knows, maybe you can combine the burning guitar and bow thing together and make it something new.  Just need to make sure the bow hairs don’t burn. Rob Garza followed them with a DJ set and rocked it! I dig what he spins, most people expect mellow lounge-y shit and instead he drops a lot of heavy psych-groove stuff! Keep on fucking with them Rob!!! Later that night I performed with Sun Wolf at the Green Garage. This was a 4th Cut Presents showcase and unfortunately had to be relocated from their original space. Initially the spot was going to be right next to downtown, but the organizers and authority decided to shutdown all un-official parties. Which led to relocating further outside of downtown. We went on last and there weren’t many people there, but we did rock it!

Thursday the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, there was a lot of green all around! My first gig of the day was at the Virgin/C3 house with Frank Mitchell Jr. Eight of us were cramped up on a tiny stage, the energy was great even though the performance was a little shaky. It was pretty much a warm up for the evening ESL/Fort Knox/Tru Thoughts/Dubspot party that was set up once again by Strange and Papa Chop. The spot was killer. It was an outdoor rooftop bar and it was almost a full moon. I was a beautiful night! Opening the show was Nappy Riddem and I think it went very well. Musically we sounded great and the people who were there were receptive. It was early and not really crowded yet. By the time I played with FMJ again, it was on! The Funk Ark played before us and destroyed it! Those guys are on fire right now and if you get a chance to check them out, you will not be disappointed. Yeah, from the name you can guess what type of stuff they play, however right now they’re on a heavy afrobeat tip, it’s very tight and very danceable. The Funk Ark is FMJ’s backing band. Trading me out for their bass player. It’s hard for me to describe the energy of the FMJ set, we smoked it and we could tell, because the people loved it! Frank was on point, as was the band! Highlights of the night included Ocete Soul Sound and The Empersarios. Speaking of the Empersarios, have you listened to there debut release on FORT KNOX RECORDINGS? If not, go out and get it! You’ll be in for a heavy, funky, Latin, dance party! Right on, Javier!                                                                                               

Friday the 18th, during the afternoon I had a moment once again at the Virgin/C3 house playing with a good friend of mine Felix Pacheco on one cut with his ensemble Cilantro Boom Box. It was 2 horn players, a lead singer, plus Frank O. of Poi Dog Pondering/Thievery Corporation playing percussion and back up singing (Frank that Happy Mondays song you went into fucking rules!!!) with Felix playing bass and triggering samples! Very cool stuff!

Later on in the night I was part of the 2nd un-official showcase presented by 4th CUT PRESENTS, because of the change in location and distance from everything else happening in town, this show was sparsely attended. Regardless, it didn’t matter that it lacked attendees. The show that night had some amazing bands! I played with NR and FMJ that night. The Funk Ark, Empersarios and Ocete all performed too. However, I was really excited by The Echocentrics. It’s Adrian Quesada and several others from Ocete with vocals from NATALIA CLAVIER from TC and Brazilian Tita Lima.  As described on there website, they are “a southern-fried, laid back, and psychedelic-tinged” outfit. Keep a look out for these guys! 

Saturday the 18th, I flew back home after 4 days of some serious “partying” and lack of sleep! I went to bed at 8:45pm and woke up the next morning at noon! Was it worth it? I guess I can say yes, but only cause I wasn’t trying to push a product other than myself. I met some cool people who might help me out in the future, but even if they don’t, it was still great to meet them! Extra shout out to Strange and Papa Chop!!! Thank you guys!!!

March 26th: Natalia Clavier at the Gibson Showcase, DC

This was a 3 song showcase, where I played on 2 songs. It was a BYT party with hosts Matthew Hemerline and Seaton Smith. It was music and comedy! SARA SCHAEFER and Brooke Van Poppelen were the guest comedians. Sara is head blogger for Jimmy Fallon show and she was great! Very funny stuff! Brooke came on after her and continued the laughs! I love when music is combined with other forms of entertainment. Seeing a bunch of bands in a row can get tiring, especially when some bands just plain suck! Other than that, I really dig the Gibson Showroom! There are a bunch of them around the country and are usually invite only. Even though I’m not a user of Gibson basses, I do love looking at and playing them. Many, many years ago I owned a 1968 EBO and completely dug it. Mostly because I love Jack Bruce and Andy Fraser and they used to use them in Cream and Free for those of you who don’t know who they are. However, I’ve always had issues with the neck being kind of heavy and that’s why I don’t use any these days! Regardless, the spot rocks and you do too Lora! I hope to play more shows there in future!

March 27th: Mars Volta at the 9:30 CLUB (show review)

I know these guys from my GGGAH days. We shared the same label (GSL) and Omar eventually bought into it, so technically he was my boss. It was billed as the Omar Rodriguez Group, but in actuality was the Mars Volta. I guess it all depends on whether Cedric wants to sing or not. Got there as soon as they began and witnessed an hour and twenty minutes of what looks to be their upcoming record! These guys are pretty amazing! I remember seeing them when they started, and it was kind of a continuation of At the Drive In, you know short songs. However, these days they have become more jam based, but not the hippie type shit! More King Crimson and dare I say it, YES! Cedric reminds me of a cooler looking version of Jon Anderson! Sorry man, it’s just not that Robert Plant! If these guys come back to town, YOU BETTER BE THERE!

March 30 – April 4: SEE-I in Colorado

March 30, I finally got the weekly gig 18th Street Lounge gig. I’ve been playing with these guys for several years now, but only on out of town gigs. It’s nice to feel like you are truly part of the band and not just the out of town guy. However, this gig was like playing with the B team. Rob Myers (guitar) and Jeff Franca (drums) were out of town in Colorado with the Fort Knox 5 live band and that left us with a new drummer and guitar player. To sum things up, let’s just say it was a little loose! Not bad, just loose!

March 31st, left the lounge at 3 am and had to catch an 8 am flight. Didn’t get much sleep before the flight and didn’t get any good sleep on the plane. We flew to Denver and then transferred to Aspen. Seems like I’m up there all the time these days. I’ve been there 8 times for gigs in the last 2 years and I’ll be out later in the summer twice with Thievery Corporation again on separate occasions. We played at the Belly Up, which is a great intimate venue that everyone plays. It holds about 400 people and the owner Michael Goldberg rules! I’m not sure how aware you are these days about the Medical Marijuana situation in Colorado, but it’s like the wild, wild, west out there! Let’s just say that SEE-I is a reggae/P-funk band and… there was a lot of smoking and eating going on!!! If you know what I mean! We managed to rock the spot even though we weren’t fully rested, but again I think the medicine made it happen! Oh how I (we) love Colorado!

April 1st, we headed out to Fort Collins and played at the Aggie Theater. I always wanted to play here with my old band, but we never got around to playing anywhere outside of Denver before heading east or back home to San Diego. That said, we were doing this run of shows with Fort Collins local band Dub Skin and had hoped for more of a turn out, but who knows what else was going on that night. This show actually turned out to be pretty good considering the long drive from Aspen.

April 2nd, we played at Cervantes in Denver. This show was a private party put on by some company that supplies materials for hydroponic setups. We happened to be in Denver during the Cannabis Cup. Yep! You heard right! I was pretty crazy for all the right reasons! We slammed the crowd and it showed by the response in between songs! After we rocked it, Charlie 2na, from Jurassic 5 fame followed. He had a three piece band. Keys, bass and Fish from Fishbone on drums! They were amazing! I’d like to give a big shout out to Scott the owner of Cervantes! Great club and thanks for letting me crash at your place!

April 3rd, we were supposed to play in Breckenridge, but encountered a freak snowstorm. Less than 24 hours earlier it was 85 degrees in Denver, record temperatures. Now it was hailing which eventually turned into snow. The I-70 freeway was shutdown and that led to the cancellation of the gig. Thanks to local promoter Adam Stroul and our tour manager Andy Cerutti we were able to put together a last minute gig at Quixote’s. Wow, what a crazy place and crazy vibe! We were on after a Grateful Dead cover band in a venue that was filled wall to wall with Grateful Dead tour posters and stickers! Okay, I will admit, I love the Dead (!!!), but the guy who owned this place REALLY loves the Dead! This show turned out to be incredible! My rule throughout the years has always been Sundays and Mondays suck pretty much everywhere in the world unless you’re in a popular group, but we managed to have about 300 hundred people in there! The place was pretty much packed!!! It also turned out to be one of the best gigs that I’ve ever had with these guys. We played for 2 and half hours! Our second set was heavily improvised and the crowd loved it! What do you expect from people who just watched a GD cover band! That show, ended the 4 day trip with a trip!

April 4th, headed back to DC and played the Wednesday night lounge gig a couple of days later! This time with the A team!

Can’t wait to get out of town again!!!
Ashish Vyas (aka HASH) is a bassist currently residing in Washington, DC, playing with the aforementioned bands plus who knows who in and out of town! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A "dirtier type of energy with distinctive contradiction." Q&A with Don from Presto Bando!

Check out our latest Q&A with Don from PRESTO BANDO let us in on everything from walking the line between discomfort and joy to "male-to-male peanut butter/fluffer nutter regurgitation" to "crowd chants and horseplay."  Never a dull moment with this crew or their music!

Q:  How did you come up with the name of the band, Presto Bando?

A:  Presto Bando was a nickname that my father called me growing up.  I thought it was a good fit for a band being that I wanted to just show up, plug in, play, and entertain.  As a band, we only wanted to deal with absurdity in our music, we didn’t want to have to tune or return text messages or advertise ourselves in any way.  Our first logo was a play off of oxy clean.  At first we wanted the band to be experienced as an instantaneous aid and ode to existence.  Something to make your derangement a little easier because you see how worse off other people are.  Then the band sort of shifted to, “What if you ate the oxy clean? What if we were an audio emetic?”  We wanted to become a band that you go to shows to experience, to walk the line between discomfort and enjoyment.  To shake you loose of the soundtrack of your daydreams and the songs you play loud in your car or sing in the shower.  We wanted our performances to illustrate the old, dirtier type of energy with distinctive contradiction. 

Q:  Share with us how you came together as a band.

 A:  I previously played in an experimental improvisational band with our bass player Corey called Evokiai.  We met in school and played in this band from our late teens through our early twenties.  In our late stages we believed only in improvising songs.   Anything previously written was unacceptable.  We would come up with everything on the spot, lyrics and all, and hope the recorder was working so we could remember what we had played.  Our last performance as Evokiai came at Artomatic in 2009.  We wrote/performed/improvised a ballet that captured the beauty and abrasiveness we were always in search for.  Corey then moved south to Alabama to try and spill some oil.

 Following this, I played in a rockabilly band with our drummer Evan called Skin Pink Outfit.  Evan helped hone the wild sound so that other people might be able to enjoy our records.  As just a guitar and drum duo, we felt freer to experiment live.  I would take the mic and dance; Evan would pick up the guitar, strumstick, or keys.  Eventually our shows became performance art.  Some lucky readers may remember a night at Solly’s on U Street about a year ago that involved male-to-male peanut butter/fluffer nutter regurgitation.  We made a record that sounds so innocent now called “Shelves of People”.

Corey moved back a week before the gulf oil spill and we all decided to start a new group.  I was very unstable at the time, being that in the span of a few days I had seen a blackened dolphin gutted and scentless on a beach, and then a few days after saw a bald eagle in a tree in College Park, MD.  We carried this animal instability into our first group project, the Washington Post Pet Songs competition.  We recorded a rendition of a tune about my dog “Stella” being a four-legged vacuum cleaner.  We did not win or place in this competition, though I truly believed they never received our submission because we mailed it on the last possible day and I refused to donate change to the gulf cleanup cause.  We have been going strong ever since.    

Q:  We understand you have a new CD coming out in about 2 weeks, how exciting!  Tell us about it.

A:  We picked the ten songs that we felt had the most time to settle into the saddle.  We recorded them all live and only added backing vocals after.  We wanted to make something more understated than our live shows, something that represents the calmness and melodic density within each song.  Also, I wanted people to be able to hear what I was singing about.  The CD can be downloaded from our PRESTO BANDO WEBSITE starting on Sunday April 10th.  It is free on the internet and free at our shows.  The physical CD's will be hand-stamped and individually numbered to validate it as an authentic copy.

Q:  What was your first experience in the studio as a band like?  Challenges?  Pleasant surprises?       

A:  Our only disagreement was where to go for lunch on our main day of recording.  We decided on McDonald’s and I swear my Fish Filet had a piece of tail or some other nautical lump in it.  This only served as a Proustian moment, the dead dolphin and our beginnings returned to consciousness and reopened the doors of our original purpose.  It was then I realized that we were sitting in the middle of a bunch of youth soccer teams and their parents, babies being fed fries and then bottles the next minute.  We looked different.  We were feeling the eyes of everyone in the establishment.  We were making a record.
The hardest part of recording was finding the line between our over-the-top live shows and the song-as-a-precious-gift approach the studio can sometimes engender.  We enjoyed the rare experience of playing live and being able to hear what each other was doing.  It was the first real time we heard ourselves as a band and not just the screams and drunken fumbling we have come to expect from each other.  That we are all competent musicians was the most pleasant surprise. 

Q:  Do you Tweet?  What's your Twitter handle? 

A:  Yes we tweet.  Our band is @PrestoBando.  

Q:  For those who've never heard your music before, describe your style & feel.

A:  We play a variety of styles, all accompanied by the phrase "high energy".  We have a strong blues influence, as well as an experimental edge.  We sound a little abrasive the first time or two you hear us but once the melodies become understood people find we are a pop band.  Take a listen to the new record and decide for yourself.  We are an American band.  (Click here to get a taste!)

Q: When and where are your upcoming shows?

A:  On Saturday April 18th we will be playing a matinee show at Baked and Wired in Georgetown from 1pm to 3pm.  Come by and get some coffee and cupcakes at a spot that has been very supportive of us and other local artists.  Later that night we will be playing at The Red Door in Chinatown staring at 8:30 with our friends Paperhaus, Lithia Corsica, and Pree.  Then on May 7th we will be playing at The Alley Cat in Alexandria, VA at 9pm.  Check our website for addresses and more details.  

Q:  Tell us about the Ballet/Performance Art show you're putting together for June.  Sounds cool. 

A:  Our last ballet had live music and classical/modern dance.  The storyline was influenced by, but not parallel to, Greek and Roman spirituality, gender discomfort and domestic abuse/cunning.  This new project being performed on Saturday, June 18th will be more performance art.  It will be live music along with prerecorded clips and other theatrical elements.  The story will be based around a fantasy soccer player, Donald "Horsehair" Fabuelonna,  who has been an obsessive daydream of mine for the past two years.  I wanted to give these thoughts extension so the majority of my daydreams from my early twenties did not go to waste.  We are planning for it to be a stereoscopic experience.  There will be soccer balls on bungee cords, references to Denzel Washington's Oscar acceptance speeches, unnatural European sports narration, crowd chants and horseplay.  We will also have some great bands opening for us as well.  It will be performed at St. Stephen's Church in Columbia Heights.  The next two and a half months will be totally creatively devoted to this project.  We are excited about the possibilities. 

Q:  What are the 5 songs and artists that have been looping on your iPod this week?

Elvis Presley – I’ll Hold You in my Heart
PJ Harvey – The Glorious Land
Washington Phillips – Key to the Kingdom
Scars – Adult/ery
The Beach Boys – Don’t Go Near the Water

Sunday, March 27, 2011



See a taste of last nights show at DC SETLIST on FACEBOOK