DC heroes Eastern Standard Time rounded up a lot of friends for a record release show recently at Songbyrd Music House, and the place was positively jumping for a big night of dance tunes.
After officially releasing Time for Change, the band’s most recent studio album, in April, Eastern Standard Time embarked on a successful European Tour. On May 24, they came home to find a crowded house of enthusiasts awaiting them for the Capital Ska and Reggae Review, which served as a hometown record release party with Baltimore’s Scotch Bonnets and DC’s The Fuss opening on the bill. The Loving Paupers also joined the fray for a late-night afterparty.
Songbyrd Music Houses’s small stage welcomed the big group of Eastern Standard Time, whose members include James McDonald (drums, vocals), I-Peace Unikue (vocals, percussion), Morgan Russell (saxophone), Bill Dempsey (organ, piano, vibraphone, glockenspiel), Zach Cutler (guitars), Reid Attaway (bass), and Alex Powers (trombone). Well dressed for the night and ready to jam, Eastern Standard Time presented an incredibly diverse slate of players for a bright evening of smartly tailored jazzy beats.
The title track of the new album, released by Jump Up Records, was a suavely smooth call for respect and equality. It wasn’t a preachy number at all but rather an earnest conversation with some friendly folks who know what’s up.
Stream Time for Change by Eastern Standard Time on Bandcamp:
Rocksteady and reggae band The Fuss arrived to open the show with harmonies, horns, and rhythm. The band released Ourselves, its most recent record, in 2018 via Chicago-based Jump Up Records as well. Led by vocalist Andi Leo, whose voice shimmered like silk and shined like steel, The Fuss also find strength in numbers. The other players include Adam Grise (trumpet), Julia Robey Christian (keyboards, vocals), Megan Nortrup (sax, vocals), Michael Corvasce (guitar), John Buck (bass), Keith Duncan (trombone), and Jason Budman (drums). The Fuss actually played with a substitute guitarist on May 24 as Michael was away due to a last-minute emergency, but the collective didn’t miss a beat.
Still, for our money, the ladies ruled the roost when it came to performance. Sophisticated sax from Megan provided The Fuss with its signature sound while surprisingly vital keys from Julia gave The Fuss distinction and depth.
The smooth “So Many Times” exemplified The Fuss’s easygoing island attitude while a surprise cover of Elvis Costello’s “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” demonstrated their taste for British Mod subculture.
Stream Ourselves by The Fuss on Bandcamp:
On the third Thursday of every month, The Fuss hosts BlueBeat DC, a ska and reggae show, at Wonderland Ballroom. Sometimes, The Fuss themselves perform there, so make sure to check them out next time they come around.
Here are some pictures of The Fuss performing at Songbyrd on May 24, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Paivi Salonen.
And here are some pictures of Eastern Standard Time performing at Songbyrd on May 24, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Paivi Salonen.