Oh He Dead perform at 9:30 Club on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photos by Mark Caicedo)
“Poppy enough for ya…bitch?”
Those words, spoken in jest years ago between Oh He Dead’s CJ Johnson and Andy Valenti, actually signaled a dogged determination to never compromise on their dream. Saturday night, during their headlining 9:30 Club debut, the two Oh He Dead (OHD) founders related the story of demoing one of their new songs, only to be told that it wasn’t “pop” enough. That long ago, unnamed producer might be a little humbled to find that OHD has amassed an exhaustive repertoire of original and cover songs, has legions of fans around the world, and this past Saturday played to a packed 9:30 Club (only the first, no doubt, of many such appearances to come).
And judging by the crowd of swaying, dancing, and singing fans, not a single one would accuse OHD of not being “poppy” enough.
Two of the finest DC area musicians performed this past Friday evening at Pearl Street Warehouse. Elizabeth II opened with a subdued but nonetheless passionate solo acoustic performance while Jonny Grave’s blues rock provided a raucous counterpoint.
Anyone who’s familiar with the DMV’s music scene knows Cathy DiToro, an incandescent ball of energy whose bands So Fetch (aughts covers), The Legwarmers (’80s covers), and Party Like It’s (ska/dance) clearly don’t occupy enough of her time.
A songwriter in her own right, Cathy has assembled a fresh quartet, the aptly named RoseRiot, to perform original songs, and the band made a long-awaited return to live performance with an outdoor appearance at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia this past Friday.
Dominique Bianco performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
There is a unique joy to experiencing emerging musical artists. You can see their determination, feel their ambition, and hear the purity of their performance. Or as music critic David Ackert says, “[giving their] lives to a moment – to that melody, that lyric, that chord or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be.” No matter the genre, or level of talent, new artists have an utter lack of cynicism, almost naivete, that embodies the drive and desire to be acknowledged and accepted on their own terms-an attitude that virtually guarantees a pure, energetic performance.
This past Sunday, an enthusiastic Pearl Street Warehouse crowd watched and heard Dominique Bianco exemplify that passion and determination. Backed by an equally talented quartet of local DC musicians, Dominique reminded us that training, hard work, overcoming setbacks, and “serving the song” are the ingredients of a successful artist.
DC indie music fans may well be familiar with the music of Maryjo Mattea, the effervescent local musician known for her love of The Beatles and wry lyrical observations on life and love. Over the pandemic, her solo act has grown into a band called Dear Daria, a power pop quartet that offers a catchy sonic mix of elements.
Parklife DC recently interviewed the band via Zoom about their origins and their pending debut album.