Interview: William Martin Doyle of Palma Violets (@ Rock and Roll Hotel, 5/11/15)

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Palma Violets (Photo courtesy Press Here)

Palma Violets perform at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Monday, May 11, in support of their new album, Danger in the Club, which just came out last week. In anticipation of the show, Mickey McCarter chatted with Palma Violets drummer William Martin Doyle, and he was everything you would expect in a member of the Palma Violets — quick witted, convivial and down to earth! I asked him about the new album, touring and his reputation as part of a great live band.

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Sports Park: Nationals “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” on Mother’s Day, 5/10/15

Nationals Park: Cardinals at Nationals

Check out the Nats this Sunday!

Nationals’ Press Release: ‘Major League Baseball has announced the winners of the 2015 Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The Honorary Bat Girl for the Washington Nationals is Tracy Lustig of Alexandria, Va. She will be recognized on the field and will be responsible for delivering the lineup card before the team plays the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, May 10.

On Mother’s Day, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms, along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Games will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball, the official ball of MLB, as the official game ball. Many MLB players also will use pink bats, and pink Louisville Slugger bats, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. Many authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother’s Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.

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Food Park: Grand Opening @ SpinFire Pizza — 5/5/15

SpinFire Pizza co-owners Fouad Qre item and Pierre Garçon by Joy
SpinFire co-owners Fouad Qreitem and Pierre Garçon (Photo by Joy Asico)

The gregarious and gracious Pierre Garçon, Washington Redskins wide receiver, greeted guests personally inside his new SpinFire pizzeria (1501 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.) during its grand opening party Tuesday evening.

The renowned football player was joined by his partner in the pizza business, Fouad Qreitem (founder of Paisano’s Pizza), as well as fellow Redskins Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Grant. The Redskins teammates were happy to sign autographs on footballs and pictures, charming more than 500 people who passed through the doors of the pizzeria, the second SpinFire location.

SpinFire offers specialized individual pizzas, salads and calzones at a very reasonable price, starting at $9 for most selections. The pizzeria centers on a process by which its pizzas are made in 90 seconds in its specialized pizza ovens. Guests also can enjoy gelato, fountain drinks and several bottled beers from local Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria, Va.)

During the grand opening celebration, I had the opportunity to sample several of the “classic” pizzas off the ready-to-order menu, and they were delicious. I tried the Meat Lovers Pizza — with classic red sauce, shredded mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, smoked ham and oregano — and the Prosciutto Arugula Pizza — with arugula, prosciutto, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and citrus vinaigrette. The Meat Lovers was heavy and filling while the Prosciutto Arugula was light and zesty. Both pizzas bore a crispy crust and a softer middle, an apparent signature of their 90-second cooking process.

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SpinFire’s Meat Lovers Pizza

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SpinFire’s Prosciutto Arugula

I also enjoyed sampling several gelatos, including standouts cookies and cream, peanut butter cup and stracciatella.

With its rapid pizza firing, and convenient Metro-friendly location in a block that’s really been booming with the additions of restaurants like the Heavy Seas Alehouse, SpinFire is sure to be a hit for lunch and dinner alike for anyone working in or passing through Rosslyn.

The first SpinFire opened in Ashburn, Va., in October 2014; this second eatery opened last month in Rosslyn. For more information and to see the full menu, visit http://www.spinfirepizza.com.

Garcon and Kerrigan posed for photos and sign ed autograps for partygoers by Joy Asico
Teammates Garçon, Kerrigan and Grant signed autographs and posed for photos with partygoers. (Photo by Joy Asico)

Music Park: The Juan MacLean @ U Street Music Hall — 5/1/15

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John MacLean and Nancy Whang of The Juan MacLean

Anticipation. That’s what happens before a The Juan MacLean show.

Doors opened at 10:00pm at the U Street Music Hall for the modest line that had formed outside. Once inside, the sign at the ticket counter hinted the band was scheduled to go on at 11:30pm.

With time to kill, with a drink and a conversation, one could groove to Tommy Cornelis owning the DJ booth. He gave the growing crowd, many fitted with full backpacks, amble reason to dance.

And dance they did, because 11:30 came and went. Tommy kept the momentum going. Finally, just after midnight, the members of The Juan MacLean, including it’s namesake John MacLean, took positions. After building even greater anticipation, Nancy Whang, formerly of the disbanded LCD Soundsystem, appeared on stage and began to sing in earnest.

Yet it was as if the sound was on mute. Singing was evident, but none of the lyrics escaped the stage.

Partway through the second song, something snapped and the sound came alive. The crowd let out a riotous cheer. Dancing took over, and unconvinced head nodding was a thing of the past.

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Don’t Miss: VinoFest DC @ Storey Park, 5/9/15

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A pour in the winetasting room at VinoFest DC 2014 (Photo by Sung J. Shin)

After a successful inaugural year in a lot at Union Market, VinoFest, a celebration of music and wine, moves to Storey Park (1005 First St. NE, DC) in NoMa for its second year. More than 1,800 wine and music appreciators attended last year, and the festival aims to grow beyond that in its new space this year.

Vinolovers, an e-commerce and festival experience company, hosts the VinoFest Wine and Music Festival in addition to providing an online wine subscription service with monthly wine deliveries.

The headliner of VinoFest DC 2015 this year is none other than globetrotting DJ Questlove. Here is the full lineup of performers:

Questlove
Trouble Funk
White Ford Bronco
Alison Carney
Alma Tropicalia
Black Masala
DJ Adrian Loving

VinoFest DC 2015 will offer wines from around the world, including local Virginia wines, and classic wine regions such as South Africa, Italy, France and California, in addition underappreciated regions like Brazil, Romania and Greece.

“Most of these will be summery wines… high acidity, lighter alcohol, very easy to drink of a beautiful spring day,” said the organizers of VinoFest.

The festival also will team up with charities, including Make A Wish Foundation Mid-Atlantic, DC Central Kitchen and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, each of which will receive a portion of the proceeds from the festival.

Tickets are available online. Today, May 5, is the last day for general admission tickets!

Use the hashtag #VINOFESTDC to discuss your experience on social media.

VinoFest DC 2015
Storey Park
Saturday, May 9, 2015
3-10pm
GA, $59.99
VIP, $84.99
Designated driver, $30
21+ to drink

Music Park: The Wombats @ 9:30 Club — 4/30/15

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Matthew Murphy of The Wombats performs at the 02 Academy in Oxford, England on April 15, 2015.

“We have a roadie named Grossman,” said Matthew Murphy, the lead singer of The Wombats. “He eats four chocolate muffins a day.

“He’s the only man who can eat four chocolate muffins a day and still get thinner!” Matthew declared.

The audience caught and ran with the irreverent banter about Mr. Grossman during the sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Thursday evening. At various points throughout the evening, they would shout, “Grossman!” — both spontaneously at the beginning of a song or at the behest of the lead vocalist.

“Actually, Grossman isn’t even his real name,” Matthew said later. “We keep calling him that in hopes that it will stick — like Reek in Game of Thrones.”

Erudite and entertaining, Matthew had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he led his band through a merry romp of songs from the three albums by The Wombats to date, including the latest Glitterbug, released last month. The new songs were very well received, and much of the audience already knew the words to quite a few of the songs.

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Music Park: Daryl Hall & John Oates @ Warner Theatre — 4/29/15

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Daryl Hall and John Oates during a show in Austin in February 2014.

Because their kiss is on your list, Daryl Hall and John Oates sold out the Warner Theatre again Wednesday night!

The talented gentlemen from Philadelphia brought along a six-man band to play 14 time-honored tunes from their catalog, including “Kiss on My List,” from 1980’s Voices. By the time they hit that number in their second encore, much of the audience in the orchestra had spilled into the aisles and lined up around the stage to dance the rest of the night away. It’s become expected that people will simply dance, regardless of where they are seated, at a Hall & Oates concert, and the folks at the Warner were pretty cool about letting the audience do its own thing.

Hall & Oates did their own thing as well, crooning through a well-received collection of ‘70s and ‘80s songs that everyone in the house loved. When I say they played these songs, I should instead say they emoted them! They jammed the night away. So when you hear they played 14 songs, they made a very respectable 90 minute set out of those 14 songs.

I was excited right away as Hall & Oates and their band walked to the opening notes of “Maneater,” the classic from 1982’s H20. They followed that up with a personal favorite song of mine, “Out of Touch” from my favorite album by the duo — 1984’s Big Bam Boom. Their blue eyed-soul was awash in the rising tide of new wave by 1984, and the blending of styles brought out some remarkably catchy creativity to my welcoming ears.

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Music Park: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club — 4/28/15

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Tony Hadley sings in New York City on May 2, 2015.

Wow, Spandau!

Golden-voiced Tony Hadley jumped to the stage of the 9:30 Club Tuesday night and nailed the lyrics of more than two dozen amazing songs by his band Spandau Ballet into the collective consciousness of everyone within earshot.

In the process, Tony and his bandmates *almost* had more fun than the audience at the very so nearly sold-out show. And they most certainly made certain that after a decades-long absence from the United States that they would not be forgotten here generally or in DC specifically any time soon.

Buoyed by the confidence of a band in the thick of strong friendships and camaraderie and confident in a catalog of songs unmatched in their strength and appeal, Spandau Ballet stormed the 9:30 Club with soulful new wave tunes that left men and women aged 20 to 50 screaming for more.

Spandau Ballet weren’t just good — they were superb.

Tony hit the right note immediately with new song “Soul Boy,” also the title track of a new documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, about the band, premiering tonight, April 29, at the IFC Center in Manhattan with the band’s participation. During the song, the audience gets its first taste of the indefatigable Steve Norman on saxophone.

Steve is everywhere — almost always with his trademark sax in one hand — appearing on bongos in one song, slinging a guitar in another and trading his sax for an oboe in a big finale. The man is a one-man band, and perhaps the strongest player in Spandau Ballet if not the entire history of rock and roll. (If that sounds like glib hyperbole, I dare you to watch him in action and then challenge me on that statement.)

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