Music Park: VinoFest Wine and Music Festival 2016 @ Yards Park — 5/7/16

Vinofest 21 Jon Batiste leads Stay Human in a march across Yards Park during VinoFest on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Jon Batiste saw an opportunity, and he took it.

The natural-born band leader leapt from the stage and onto the field at VinoFest 2016, after he and his band Stay Human performed a full set of originals and classics. And they began to jam out in a spot first at stage right, but then they took advantage of the layout of the space around them.

Winding around the stage and between pavilions serving wine tastings, Jon Batiste and Stay Human led a merry parade across the field and back again, playing music all along.

For those who know Jon and Stay Human, this comes as no surprise as the band are famous for their “love riots” where they take their show to the streets or even the subways. All the same, the audience at VinoFest were delighted and enthusiastic at the prospect of interacting with Jon as he played his famous melodica and the band kept pace, playing right alongside him, in a little whirlwind of zippy musical activity.

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Ticket Giveaway: VinoFest @ Yards Park, 5/7/16

Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human
Jon Batiste and Stay Human (Photo courtesy VinoFest)

VinoFest, the DC metro’s top festival for bringing together music and wine, returns for a third year this Saturday, May 7, from 3-10pm at Yards Park. And you have a chance to win a pair of tickets to go with Parklife DC!

VinoFest DC Wine and Music Festival has been at a different location each year so far, first at Union Market, then at Storey Park, but its new home in the attractive and well-maintained Yards Park is the best location for the festival yet! Yards Park is big, clean, and easily accessible by public transportation.

The 2016 edition of VinoFest also features its most ambitious music lineup to date, with the likes of The Original Wailers, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, and Trouble Funk, among others, providing the festival’s entertainment! And of course, guests enjoy eight 2-ounce wine tastings from a selection of 20+ vineyards with their admission.

Here is the full VinoFest music lineup:

  • Jon Batiste and Stay Human
  • The Original Wailers
  • Trouble Funk
  • Paperhaus
  • Tigers are Bad for Horses
  • Anastasia Antoinette

You can buy tickets online, but Parklife DC is giving you a chance to win a pair of general admission tickets right now!

For your chance to win these tickets, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address between now and 5pm on Wednesday, May 4. Feel free to leave any comment, but perhaps share your favorite song from the festival musicians! One entry per email address, please. Tickets for VinoFest are also available online.

For the rules of this giveaway…

Comments will close on Wednesday, May 4, at 5pm, and we will randomly select a winner. The winner will be notified by email. The winner must respond to our email within 24 hours, or they will forfeit their tickets and we will pick another winner.

Tickets will be available to the winner at the check-in desk at VinoFest 2016. The tickets must be claimed with a valid ID. The winner must be old enough to drink (21+ years of age as of Friday, May 6). You can see the full list of wine offerings on the VinoFest Eventbrite page.

Good luck!

VinoFest
Yards Park
Saturday, May 7
3-10pm
General admission $55
VIP $99
21+

RIP, Prince

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Prince performs at the Warner Theatre in DC on June 14, 2015. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

We at Parklife DC are shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of the legendary musician Prince, who was found dead today at his Paisley Park studio complex in Minnesota.

Reportedly, Prince was hospitalized with the flu a few days ago. You can read the latest on the situation via the Associated Press.

Last year, I saw Prince twice — once on my birthday weekend at Warner Theater in DC on June 14, and prior to that at Royal Farms Arena for the Rally 4 Peace concert in Baltimore last May.

I ranked the DC show as my #1 concert of 2015, describing it as follows:

“Soon into a 2.5 hour set, Prince reached down into the audience and grabbed the hand of my favorite lady Yasmin –- and then Prince brought her up out of the front row and ONTO STAGE TO DANCE WITH HIM. Yasmin kicked off her shoes and danced up there with Prince for three songs or so as he sang through ‘U Got the Look,’ ‘Shake!,’ and ‘Cool’ (covering the Time).

If that wasn’t enough to set the night on fire, Stevie Wonder snuck onto stage during our late-night show at the Warner Theatre to take over keyboards at some point, perhaps around the time of ‘Controversy,’ the title track to the amazing Prince album from 1981. Stevie stayed on stage for the strongest segment of Sunday’s late show, rolling from ‘Controversy’ to ‘1999’ to ‘Little Red Corvette.’ Prince himself was full of delicious swagger, and the audience ate it up. The man often took center stage during his performances, dancing up a funky two-step or thrashing away on his guitar while strident before his microphone. He was in good form, and he sounded fantastic and looked as fit as fuck.”

We loved your music, Prince, and we loved how you broke barriers from soul to funk to R&B to new wave. Bless you, my friend.

Music Park: Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers @ Verizon Center — 4/8/16

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John Taylor signs my copy of his autobiography during a soiree at Il Gattopardo in New York City on Nov. 4, 2013. (Photo by Eddie Malluk)

Observers of Duran Duran, as well as the band itself, have often cited its primary inspirations as English glam band Roxy Music and New York disco funksters Chic. Listening to the sounds of boyhood friends Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, you can even discern how the primal elements of the two bands fused into the new wave gem of a band they started in 1978: Nick, stylish to synthy; John, fun to funky.

As John noted in his 2012 autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran, his prized possession is the bass left to him by the late Chic bassist Bernard Edwards, who helped him form Power Station while on a break from Duran Duran circa 1985. It is of course then absolutely meta that Nile Rodgers, the artistic mastermind behind Chic, opened for the band on its latest tour, The Paper Gods Tour, undertaken in celebration of the 14th album by the UK trendsetters.

Nile, for his part, knows what makes Duran Duran tick, and he mixed “The Reflex,” which became Duran Duran’s first #1 hit in the United States. And of course, Nile took to the stage with Duran Duran for several songs Friday night in a big, bright show at the Verizon Center to play two incredible songs he produced for the band — “Notorious” from the 1986 album of the same name and “Pressure Off” from last year’s Paper Gods (but sadly not “The Reflex,” despite an intense audience rally from the very full house on behalf of the ever-popular song).

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Music Park: The Arcs @ 9:30 Club — 12/14/15

The ArcsDan Auerbach of The Arcs (Photo Credit: Monelle Chiti)

When a band features two drummers, a keyboardist, a bassist, a chorus line from an all female mariachi band, and a lead singer who shreds his guitar in a state of estatic bliss, you know you’re in for something more. Something alive. Something visceral.

Dan Auerbach’s project, The Arcs, because it is clearly no one else’s, is raucous and funky and unique in ways that are not just about music, but about life. Living to the fullest. Not giving a shit what anyone else thinks. Crying out “this is who I am, thank you coming, but I’ll still enjoy what I do, whether you do or not.”

That The Arcs exist, is a testament to Auerbach’s need to create, to express himself passionately, to find outlets where he can bare his soul, and experiment musically outside of The Black Keys.

And The Black Keys are great. I’ve seen them three times already (unfortunately, most recently at the first Firefly Music Festival), so I was intrigued to discover what The Arcs were all about. What they represented in comparison and in contrast.

The Arcs still have Auerbach’s garage rock and blues sensibility, with his unmistakable voice. It would not be a stretch to mistake The Arcs’ sound for The Black Keys.

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Music Park: Electric Six @ Black Cat — 10/11/15

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Electric Six with Dick Valentine (left) (Photo by Frank Nash)

Much of the appeal of the Electric Six comes from the band’s desire to have fun and to make you dance by any music necessary.

And that sense of fun was on full display Sunday night at the Black Cat, where frontman Dick Valentine (born Tyler Spencer) and company absolutely packed the backstage beyond capacity. To be fair, the band originally were slated to play on the larger mainstage, but were moved backstage for some reason as the DC federal holiday weekend approached.

“The Electric Six were demoted!” Dick proclaimed early in the set. “Write to the Speaker of the House, whoever that may be, and have us remoted!”

I personally have never been in a more crowded show backstage, so I fully embrace Dick’s sentiment. At the end of the day, however, the Electric Six brought everything it had to bear in a genre-bending stampede of music that went from funk to punk to metal and even to country. It was a double-barrel shotgun blast of raucous dance music.

At a midpoint in the concert, Dick declared that it was time to break out the dance music, although 99 percent of the show consisted of dance music, as evidenced by an audience that was actively bopping and hopping. The declaration came as an intro to a medley of the band’s songs “Improper Dancing” and “(Who the Hell Just) Call My Phone,” one song from the band’s popular debut album Fire and another from their 2014 album Human Zoo.

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Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

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Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.

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Don’t Miss: Hot Chip @ Echostage, 6/5/15

HotChipWeb_Credit Steve Gullick6737
London quintet Hot Chip (Photo by Steve Gullick)

Last month, nu disco juggernauts Hot Chip released their sixth studio album, Why Make Sense?

After five good albums (several of which are outstanding), you might ask, “Where can Hot Chip go from here?” And Hot Chip apparently asked themselves that same question in the making of this album.

Part of the process of finding an answer for the band was to write and record “Huarache Lights,” a musical statement on what the band brings to the table. It’s a classic single for Hot Chip, pairing vocalist Alexis Taylor’s unique voice with pulsating rhythms and thematically addressing people and technology — but most importantly, doing so while being funky.

Watch the video for “Huarache Lights”:

In May, Hot Chip launched a world tour in support of the new album, and they bring the show to Echostage in DC this Friday, June 5.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip several times in the past, and their live show is itself a regular dance party. They have a sound, and surely an accompanying light show, capable of filling the large space of Echostage quite well.

And I daresay that the sound and vision of the live performance tells the other half of the story when asking where do Hot Chip go from here? So it’s well worth your time to get out there, check them out and dance your heart out.

Watch a full Hot Chip set from the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris:

Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab brings his soul quartet Sinkane along to open for Hot Chip. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the 9:30 Club.

Hot Chip
w/ Sinkane
Echostage
Friday, June 5
Doors @7pm
$45
All ages

Music Park: Funk Parade @ U Street, 5/2/15

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Members of Batala Percussion band performing at 2014 Funk Parade in DC on May 3, 2014 (Photo by Pabak Sarkar)

The second annual Funk Parade promises to be even funkier than the first.

The street and music festival certainly impressed enough people in its inaugural year to convince Mayor Muriel Bowser to close U Street NW on Saturday, May 2 for the daylong festival.

“The U Street Funk Parade embodies the spirit of the District,” said Mayor Bowser in a press release on April 3. “It brings our communities together and honors the city’s cultural heritage that we’ve all come to know and love.”

The Funk Parade organizers sought to close down U Street for their parade last year as well, but they were denied by then-Mayor Vince Grey. With this year’s closing, U Street will shut down for the first time in 17 years, according to reports.

“We’re grateful to the city and Mayor Muriel Bowser for acknowledging U Street’s historic significance to the District as the soul of music, culture and celebration, a place that’s unlike anywhere else in the city,” said Justin Rood, co-founder of Funk Parade, in the press release.

Rood and fellow co-founder Chris Naoum of Listen Local First have been running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $15,000 for the Funk Parade. As of this morning, it has raised roughly $9,300 toward that goal with only four days of fundraising remaining.

The organizes estimate last year’s Funk Parade drew more than 25,000 participants with more than 100 hours of music programming from more than four dozen acts in 30 locations throughout the day. The literal Funk Parade marched down V Street NW last year after Grey denied its application to march down U Street.

Funk Parade activities planned for May 2 include a day fair, the parade, and a music festival.

The following info is from the Funk Parade Indiegogo site:

Day Fair (12-5pm): Before the parade, the neighborhood will host a day fair, full of music, dance, art, and spontaneous acts of soul and creativity. It’s a chance to gather and celebrate and prepare for the mighty parade!

The Main Event – Funk Parade (5-7pm): See dancers, your friends and neighbors, a marching band behind them, and a drum corps. See costumes and getups and shiny things. Hear beat-boxers and junkyard drummers. See pot-bangers and clappers and kids on their parents’ shoulders. Horn players wander in and out of the crowd. A thunderous syncopated procession of groove, winding its way through the neighborhood, calling the city to the funk.

Music Festival (7-10pm): After the parade winds down, the U Street neighborhood’s historic venues open their doors for the city to hear some of the best music DC has to offer. One night, one city, one groove: the subatomic particle of love.

The Funk Parade
U Street Corridor
Saturday, May 2
12-10pm
Free
All ages

FunkParadePoster

Music Park: Spirit Animal @ DC9 — 2/25/15

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“Who came to dance?” asked vocalist Steve Cooper of Spirit Animal. He was about to play a dance song.

Despite occupying a very full room at DC9 on Wednesday night, the crowd gave a very noncommittal murmur.

“That’s a tepid response!” Steve said. “Then, this is a stand-the-fuck-still song!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The entertaining banter is part of the Spirit Animal stage show, as they bring their party rock and carefree attitude to any stage they play. Spirit Animal then launch into “Party in the Back,” a new song from 2014, and along the way they manage to get the crowd to indeed dance along, starting with the people in the back of the room.

Despite their position as the opening band (for Paper Route in this case), Spirit Animal’s lengthy repertoire and charisma demand co-billing status of any main act. The audience cannot help but unwind when the prolific Brooklyn quartet take the stage with such good chemistry and crowd-pleasing songs. With their infectious enthusiasm and funky anthems, they are kind of like a young New Yorker’s answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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