Around Town: The Return of Awesome Con @ Washington Convention Center, 5/29-5/31/15

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Awesome Con, which debuted last year as DC’s biggest pop culture/comic book convention, has announced it will return again this year to the Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW, DC) on May 29-31, 2015.

Guests this year include no less than four actors from the original Power Rangers serial: Austin St. John, David Yost, Karan Ashley and Walter Jones. (And you can get a Power Rangers VIP pass if you really dig it.) Comic book professionals in attendance include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman, artist Mike McKone, artist Tom Raney and cartoonist Bryan Turner, among others.

Other celebrity guests include none other than Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob of course!), actress Dina Meyer and actor Michael Biehn (known for Terminator and Aliens, surely, but I kinda liked him in Topher Grace’s 80s coming-of-age tale Take Me Home Tonight). And DC’s own horror host Count Gore De Vol, who’s been screening scary movies since 1973, will return this year as well.

I had fun at last year’s convention, mostly hassling Dirk “Starbuck” Benedict and being wowed like everyone else by the R2D2 droids developed and displayed by the R2-D2 Builders Club. Let’s hope those guys are back again this year!

Tickets are available online for single day passes, weekend passes and VIP passes.

Awesome Con
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Friday, May 29: 12pm – 8pm
Saturday, May 30: 10am – 7pm
Sunday, May 31: 10am – 5pm
$30-$350
All ages

Stars and Bars: The Return of The Passenger?, 2/8/15

The Passenger - God Save the District

Update: Fritz Hahn, bar sage of the Washington Post, reports on Jan. 15 that the Passenger is holding a pop-up in its former neighbor Bar 7 (1015 Seventh St. NW, DC) on Sunday, Feb. 8 from 7pm-1am. Apparently, Tom Brown will hold a series of pop-ups.

“Brown promises live-band karaoke with the Hari Karaoke Band, a special cocktail menu and possibly tiki drinks in Bar 7’s lower-level lounge,” Fritz says.

Personally I don’t see the point. Tom could just go work at another joint and make his cocktails there while waiting for a new space for the Passenger?

The Twitter account of The Passenger, the popular DC cocktail bar that closed New Year’s Eve, suggests it may return to a new location faster than many anticipated.

Via Twitter, the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 13: “Mark Sunday, February 8th on your calendar! Deets forthcoming. #wemissyou”

Many mourned the passing of The Passenger, founded by DC mixologist Derek Brown, when it announced last fall it would close its old location (1021 7th St. NW, DC) on Dec. 31, 2014. For the previous five years, the bar sat on a block long-scheduled for demolition. Its inventive cocktails, dive bar atmosphere and gracious ambience appealed to a wide audience, including myself — and I’m a beer guy. I visited the bar on its last day around dinnertime and I found things as congenial and the cocktails as tasty as ever.

Derek Brown went on to co-found three new bars outside the Shaw metro station but vowed his brother Tom Brown, the popular and friendly face usually behind the bar at The Passenger, would reestablish the bar in a new location, hopefully in the Shaw neighboorhood.

It appears The Passenger may indeed already have found a new home?

Don’t Miss: The Vaselines w/ Amanda X @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 1/14/15

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Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly (Photo by Niall Webster)

The Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St. NE, DC) hosts one of the United Kingdom’s most engaging punk bands Wednesday when the Vaselines come to town.

The Vaselines specialize in refreshing short punk rock songs in the fashion of The Ramones. The Glaswegian duo of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee formed their band in 1987 but broke up soon after finishing their first album. After their breakup, the Vaselines reached wide exposure when Nirvana covered their song “Son of a Gun.”

Thankfully, they reformed and put out a new album in 2009, and they have stayed busy since. Last year, they released the album V for Vaselines through their own label, Rosary Music. Watch the video for the third single, “Crazy Lady,” below.

If you like great classic, melodic punk with a great beat, don’t miss this show.

Philadelphia’s punk rockers Amanda X open for the Vaselines. The chirpy female trio are a perfect opener for their tourmates from Scotland, so come early and hear the sweet vocals and rollicking guitars as featured on their album Amnesia. (Seriously, these ladies could have been on DC’s own Teen Beat Records, no?)



Tickets are available online and at the door.

The Vaselines
w/ Amanda X
Rock and Roll Hotel
Wednesday, Jan. 14
Doors @7pm
$20
All ages

Don’t Miss: Operators w/ Pleasure Curses @ DC9, 2/16/15

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Note: DC9 closed early last night due to a water main break, forcing cancellation of this show! Operators have been rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 16

DC9 (1940 9th St. NW, DC) hosts a pretty exciting electronic line-up — now on Monday, Feb. 16!

The main act Operators is the latest band from Canada’s Dan Boeckner, who formerly supplied guitar and vocals to Montreal quartet Wolf Parade. Operators puts a big emphasis on dance music and the band released its first offering EP1 last year.

For Operators, Boeckner has partnered with keyboardist Devojka, hailing from Macedonia, and drummer Sam Brown (the latter of whom he also worked with in Divine Fits). Their EP1 supplies us with five tracks, including the likes of “True,” a very new wave track with funky vocals and pleasantly pulsating electro.

Listen:

Opening for Operators is DC’s own Pleasure Curses in their first show of 2015. Pleasure Curses, hailing from the very electronic label Prince George Records, recently released the track “Burn,” a slinky single that shows off their increasingly polished, and dare we say seductive, sound.

The duo of Jahn Alexander and Evan Maxwell say they have big things planned this year, but catch up on their catalogue to date below:

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Operators
w/Pleasure Curses
DC9
Monday, Jan. 12
Doors @8:30pm
$12
All ages

Grapevine: Stanton & Greene Coming to Capitol Hill

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Stanton Park, Northeast DC

A new cocktail bar and bistro, Stanton & Greene, will soon take over the space previously inhabited by Pour House.

The name gets its inspiration from Stanton Park (in the NE, blocks from my home) and the dichotomy between the name of the park (named after Edwin Stanton) and the statue in the middle that instead honors General Nathanael Greene.

Fritz Hahn (of Washington Post’s Going Out Guide) reports:

‘The owners of three different bars on Pennsylvania Avenue SE are harnessing their talents to create a new bistro, cocktail bar and event space at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, the former home of the Pour House. Stanton & Greene, which could open by the end of the month, is a collaboration between Sonoma owners Eli Hengst and Jared Rager, and August Paro, one of three partners behind Beuchert’s Saloon.’

‘…the cocktail list, for which Stanton & Greene’s partners tapped Erik Holzherr, the owner of Wisdom, the gin-centric drinking den near the Potomac Avenue Metro, and H Street’s Church & State and Atlas Arcade.’

Music Park: Loud Boyz 7” Release Party @ Comet Ping Pong, 1/10/15

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The Loud Boyz (Photo courtesy of Cricket Cemetery)

The Loud Boyz, DC’s buzzy punk rock quintent, released a 7” record on Tuesday, and they are heading to Comet Ping Pong Saturday to play a vinyl release show.

The 7” disc includes two songs from Kenny, Mitchell, Devin, Rory and Alex: “Hard Feelings” and “4 The Ladies.” Catch the video of “4 The Ladies” below.

“Loud Boyz always bring the fight live, and aren’t afraid to crack a smile while doing it,” says their label Cricket Cemetery. You can order the vinyl, limited to 300 copies, from Cricket Cemetery or undoubtedly buy it at the show on Saturday (for $6).

The Loud Boyz debuted the “4 The Ladies” video on YouTube in December after filming it at the Gibson Guitar showroom in DC’s Chinatown. In the video, the band rocks out through a 2.5-minute jam for a room full of ladies. Listen to some of their songs on Soundcloud:

DC garage rockers Shark Week perform with the Loud Boyz Saturday. Tickets are available at the door.

Loud Boyz Release Party
w/ Shark Week
Comet Ping Pong
5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC
Saturday, Jan. 10
10pm
$12
All ages

Stars and Bars: Imbibe Names Derek Brown ‘Bartender of the Year’

DC cocktail mogul Derek Brown was named 2015 Bartender of the Year by Imbibe magazine Tuesday.

Derek currently is best known as the common partner in a string of bars by the Shaw metro station along 7th Street NW in Shaw: Mockingbird Hill (1843 7th St. NW, DC), Southern Efficiency (1841 7th St. NW, DC) and Eat the Rich (1839 7th St. NW, DC).

On New Year’s Day, Derek closed the Passenger and the Columbia Room (1021 7th St. NW, DC), previously located in Mount Vernon Square. Those low-key and high-end establishments respectively served to make him a household name in the DC bar scene over the past five years.

In a profile video posted by Imbibe (above), Derek says, “Cocktails are truly a conversation with the world. When I think about cocktails, I think about how they connect to nature; I think about how they connect to history; and I think about how they connect to the people who made them and the time they were living in.”

Imbibe, based in Portland, Ore., is a bimonthly magazine covering the gamut of the U.S. bar scene. “From wine, spirits and beer to coffee and tea, Imbibe celebrates the world in a glass. We feature the world’s top drink destinations, recipes and in-depth stories covering the people, places and flavors of liquid culture,” the magazine says on its Facebook.

Congratulations, Derek!

Grapevine: Chef Alex McCoy Departs @ Duke’s Grocery

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Chef Alex McCoy, one of Duke’s Grocery’s three founding partners

Alex McCoy, former chef and founding partner at Duke’s Grocery, left the Dupont Circle-area gastropub in December and plans to open a new restaurant focused on southeast Asian food, Tim Carman of The Washington Post reported Monday.

On his Facebook page Monday, McCoy said, “Friends, after a year and a half of working with my awesome partners over at Duke’s Grocery, I am excited to announce that I will be leaving to work on a new project in the DC area. You guys and gals have been legends and I appreciate all of the amazing support you have given myself and the Duke’s family. The team is still working hard in the Duke’s kitchen and the burgers are still flippin’! 2015 is going to be a very tasty year!”

Carman delivered the scoop on McCoy’s new project: “a restaurant that will focus on Southeast Asian cooking, continuing the District’s trend of opening eateries that channel the authentic flavors of Thailand, Laos and other countries.”

McCoy vowed to travel throughout southeast Asia over the next few months to refine his menu, which comes as no surprise to me, as the chef is very fond of traveling to a dish’s country of origin before he perfects it, as he told me a few months ago.

Daniel Kramer, another co-founder at Duke’s, announced Rick Koplau, who has been overseeing the late night food program at Duke’s Grocery, will become head chef. Koplau previously worked at Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Lake Tahoe and Sarasota, along with stints in England, Germany and Poland.

Music Park: U.S. Royalty Release “More to This” Video

DC indie rock stalwarts U.S. Royalty debuted a new video today for their song “More to This.” The video follows the band as they drive languidly along California highways, exploring Malibu, Venice and Mulholland Drive.

The song “More to This” takes the quartet down for a turn into hazy psychedelic rock, and the result is definitely quite easy on the ears. The song is about wanting out of a relationship where nothing more apparently is going to happen.

Vocalist John Thornley, guitarist Paul Thornley, bassist Jacob Michael and drummer Luke Adams report they have been writing new material. They have a few dates planning, including a stop at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, Jan. 22 with Dr. Dog, and another show in New York City’s Webster hall on Friday, Jan. 23.

Meanwhile, the band is planning to release a limited edition vinyl version of its first album, Mirrors, which is nearly four years old now. (Hard to believe!). Preorders of the vinyl include a digital download of the album and previously unreleased bonus tracks.

I last saw U.S. Royalty perform a little under a year ago after the release of their second album, Blue Sunshine. They were in good form then, and it will be interesting to see where a third self-released album and lingering major label ambitions take them this year.