Luke Lalonde (left) and Born Ruffians (Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records)
Canadian post-punks Born Ruffians are known for their high-energy shows, full of bright guitars and biting lyrics. Frontman Luke Lalonde formed the band with his collaborators in 2004, and they have released seven full-length albums and at least another three EPs. In 2020, Born Ruffians released two albums — Juice and Squeeze via Yep Roc Records — after crafting a bunch of songs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually, Born Ruffians are often on the road, including regular stops in DC, where they appear at venues like Black Cat and Rock and Roll Hotel. Indeed, Parklife DC considered Born Ruffian’s 2015 show at the Rock and Roll Hotel to be one of our Top 10 Concerts of the Year. While the pandemic has sidelined touring bands, Luke has been passing the time at home, and he chatted with Parklife DC about the lifeline of touring, creative writing, and the two new Born Ruffians albums.
Walking up to U Street Music Hall (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Today, U Street Music Hall announced it is closing its doors effectively immediately due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Although primarily a DJ club, Parklife DC covered a number of exciting live shows at U Hall, as it was affectionately known. For much of its 10-year run, U Street Music Hall hit the sweet spot as a space for upcoming touring bands with its 500-person capacity and easily accessible location.
Still Corners (Photo by Bernard Bur)
Today, Still Corners announces the duo’s fifth studio album, The Last Exit, for release on Jan. 22, 2021, via Wrecking Light Records. Alongside this news, the band shares the beguiling and wanderlust title track and its stark, captivating video.
Broke Royals (Photo courtesy the band)
DC heartland rockers Broke Royals release a new single, “U + Me + WWIII,” on Friday, Sept. 4. The song focuses on anxiety-related insomnia largely stemming from the political and social unrest facing the world today.
This track sprang from Broke Royals’ Alone, Together series where the band creates a new song every week. Season 1 of Alone, Together, a livestream chat and music series, wrapped on July 31 after 10 episodes and 10 accompanying new songs. Broke Royals launches Season 2 of Alone, Together on Sept. 18.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Philip Basnight and Colin Cross of Broke Royals in advance of the new single and upcoming livestream series for an inside look at the band’s creative process. And of course, Parklife DC readers named Broke Royals as the Best DC Band of 2018 in our inaugural Thrushie Awards, so you know the gents started out strong, and they are only getting better.
Karen Jonas (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)
The voice of country music in the DMV is a big, bright voice that belongs to Virginia native Karen Jonas. A regular sight on DC concert stages, Karen releases her fifth album, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams, on Friday, Aug. 28 via Yellow Brick Records.
On past tours, Karen has visited Texas, New Mexico, California, and their neighbors, scribbling notes while on the road. She drew upon those memories to animate the characters of The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams. The results are a little bit peppy and a little bit sad but always full of life.
Prior to the new album’s release, Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter chatted with Karen about the record, her band, and her desire to get back on the road. And Karen plays a free outdoor album release show with her full band at Jammin’ Java on Thursday, Sept. 10.
Steve Kilbey (Photo courtesy the artist)
The indefatigable Steve Kilbey is best known around the world as frontman for the fantastic neo-psychedelic ensemble known as The Church. And in his homeland of Australia, Steve also keeps busy with a variety of projects, releasing solo albums, collaborating with other musicians, and writing poetry, among other pursuits.
On Sept. 4, Steve is releasing a new solo album, Eleven Women, via Foghorn Records. And he’s working on a new album with The Church. He’s meanwhile collaborating with musicians like Gareth Koch and performing concerts, live and virtual, including an upcoming performance with supergroup The Winged Heels (along with Gareth, Barton Price, and Roger Mason)
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter had the pleasure of catching up with Steve Kilbey via email to ask him how he spent his lockdown days in Australia, what’s new with The Church, and his plans for the future.
Carla Bruni (Photo courtesy Press Here Productions)
Internationally renowned singer-songwriter and fashion icon Carla Bruni returns with the official video for her new single, “quelque chose,” from her forthcoming fall album (Verve Records/Universal Music Group).
The cover of “You!” by Peter Godwin (Photo courtesy the artist)
Singer-songwriter Peter Godwin is best known for his new wave hit “Images of Heaven,” which continues to fascinate listeners, as shown in its recent power ranking in a Facebook poll called the ’80s Synthpop Singles World Cup 2020. Only weeks ago, Peter released a new single — “You!” — and Johnson Somerset, a regular collaborator, remixed it for release a few days ago.
In the ’70s, Peter began his career in the glam rock outfit Metro, which gained even more notoriety when David Bowie covered the band’s song “Criminal World” on his album Let’s Dance. After Metro, Peter took off on a solo career, although he became a master tunesmith for a variety of other artists, ranging from German synthpoppers Camouflage to fellow Englishman Steve Winwood.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter phoned Peter at home in Nice, France, where he dedicated part of a relaxing evening reminiscing about his career and looking forward to the future.
Lauren Calve (Photo by Shane Gardner)
DC Americana and blues artist Lauren Calve releases Wildfire, her new EP, on June 23. She recently released the first single from the album — a song called “Better Angels.” As Lauren has said, she took inspiration for the song from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, which prompted her to reflect on the courage of people today dealing with modern challenges like COVID-19.
And, of course, as everyone has been in a pandemic lockdown, Lauren has been a regular performer in livestream concerts, spreading the word about her new music and finding creative outlets where she can. Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter recently caught up with Lauren to ask her about getting music out during the lockdown, her approach to unique arrangements in her music, and her spiritual connections to the places that gave birth to roots and Americana.
Visit Lauren Calve’s website to grab her new single!
John Taylor performs with Duran Duran at MGM National Harbor on Dec. 31, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Pandemic lockdowns globally generated a surge of creativity from music artists seeking ways to connect with their fans in a time when people are urged to stay at home.
Of all the virtual concerts, listening parties, and chats, my favorite lockdown series by far has been a tutorial and interview combo by John Taylor of Duran Duran. On nearly a weekly cadence, John regales the viewer with tales of a favorite song and how it came together, with a focus on his bass playing, and then he interviews a friend and fellow artist in a program dubbed Stone Love Bass Odyssey.
On Wednesday, June 10, John walks us through “Some Like It Hot” by his side project Power Station, and then he chats with none other than fellow English rocker Billy Idol, on Duran Duran’s Instagram!