On Tap takes a look at four local and touring bands each month. If you are interested in being featured, please send your CD along with contact information, including your website and a list of upcoming shows to On Tap Magazine, Attention: Four Play, 25 Dove St. Alexandria, VA 22314.
By Michael Coleman and on Kaplan
Album: The Way It Used To Be
Show: Wednesday, November 16 at 21st Amendment Bar & Grill
Sometimes amid all of the reminiscing about DC’s 80’s punk rock scene and the clamor for the latest and greatest indie rock bands, Washington’s young and hip music purveyors forget that the nation’s capital was, first and foremost, a jazz town. Keyboardist Patrick Cooper, a local jazz musician with a national following, does his best to remind us of the city’s musical heritage – and that jazz is still vibrant in Washington today – with his new record “The Way It Used To Be.” Cooper opens with the retro-funky “Struttn,” a lively, well, strut down memory lane with sophisticated piano runs and impeccable horn bursts. “I’m That Man” kicks off with the unmistakable hiss and pop of the needle on a record album. It’s also one of the sexiest tracks on a record full of them. Here, Cooper not only dazzles with his deft work on the keyboards, but also adds vocal harmonies reminiscent of the O’Jays or some of the finest Philly Soul. On “The Way It Used To Be,” Cooper gives fans a fresh-sounding album that does indeed, make us long for the way it once was, while proving that jazz is still alive and well in Washington.-MC
21st Amendment Bar and Grill: 550 C St. SW, DC; 202-479-4000; www.21stamendmentdc.com.
Album: When Fulvio Finds Celeste
Show: Saturday, November 26 at Bloombars
As one of three musicians to be awarded ‘Young Artist’ grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2010, big things are expected of Wytold, an unusual musician who manages to make the cello sound cutting-edge cool. “When Fulvio Finds Celeste” finds Wytold, a Washington native, playing the parts of both Fulvio – on six-string electric cello – and Celeste – on a traditional acoustic cello. The result is something that often approaches jaw-dropping beauty, while also sounding like it could be part of the score to a David Lynch film. Wytold used an electric cello with two extra strings, allowing him to capture the depth and power of a stand-up bass, the rich tonal timbre normally associated with the cello, and the bright crispness of violin solos and harmonies. Although the cello often conveys somber, even dark moods, Wytold manages to infuse his all-instrumental compositions with plenty of bounce and light. This is an original, captivating album by a local musician who is bound for stages beyond Washington, DC.-MC
Bloombars: 3222 11th St. NW, DC; 202-567-7713; www.bloombars.com.
Album: Fireflies and Cigarette Lights
Show: Tuesday, November 15 at Artisphere
When budget cuts forced Amber Dutton to make a change in her life and give up her teaching job in North Carolina, she decided her next job would be performing songwriter. Luckily for those of us who live here, she also decided her next move would be to DC. Dutton charged full steam ahead and landed a spot at the legendary 9:30 Club after winning a contest last year. That gave her enough confidence to keep going and eventually release her new CD, “Fireflies and Cigarette Lights.” The record is eleven tracks of quirky indie folk that calls to mind early Ani Difranco and even the Violent Femmes. “I can’t explain my need to run/but I need to run,” she sings on the plaintive but confident “Chasing Fireflies.” The next track, “In the Breeze,” mixes Dutton’s acoustic guitar with electronica sounds and a Sunday-morning-sunrise feel. Like the rest of Dutton’s promising debut, it would be a perfect track for a drive with no set destination.-JK
Artisphere: 1101 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-875-1100; www.artisphere.com.
Album: Things That Can’t Be Taught
Show: Friday, November 18 at Atlas Theater (CD Release)
Wendell Kimbrough’s new record, “Things That Can’t Be Taught,” has a lifetime of highs and lows contained within its ten tracks. There are climactic moments of choirs rejoicing and quiet moments of solemn contemplation. There are influences that run the gamut from Randy Newman to James Taylor, and to authentic New Orleans-style horns. In “Communication,” Kimbrough details the furtive beginnings of a relationship that may or may not really be one, depending on whether you ask the guy or the girl. In “The Longest Month,” Kimbrough sings of a perspective that many of us in DC, sick of what feels like a long winter, have felt: “February, how I hate thee.” Kimbrough has obviously put much thought and effort into every lyric and melody on “Things That Can’t Be Taught,” and that thoughtfulness—as well as his talent–pays off. All in all, there is something for everyone, and enough here that no one should miss it.-JK
Atlas Theater: 1333 H St. NE, DC; 202-399-7993; www.atlasarts.org.