more Reviews and Articles

Three Quarter Squeegee The Bayou, 1/16-17/98 Cool For August
Lake Trout Circle Six smartbomb 4/98
Laura Shawen All Mighty Senators Ballyhoo!
Avant Gaardvark Spring Break Fest back

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Three Quarter Squeegee @ Uncle Jed's Roadhouse, 1/30/99
I saw three quarter squeegee play last saturday night at uncle jed's roadhouse in bethesda, md. they smoked. opening up the first set with little feat's oh, atlanta!, the slide player sounded just like lowell. a few more highlights included blue sky, an original i didn't catch the name of, and a hot jessica to close the set. the second set they introduced a sax player and ripped through a few garcia band style motown and new orleans tunes. harder they come, second that emotion, fat man in the bathtub, boddhisattva, more originals and liz reed to close. by this point the whole bar was packed., sweating, and moving. they're final set had a few more great tunes by the grateful dead, little feat and some more of their own. i signed up on their mailing list, you can get a hold of them at . check them out, their worth it. --chuck.

The Circle Six @ The 8 x 10
This Circle Six show was also their CD release party. Everyone who walked through the door received a complimentary copy of their new "Six Shooter EP". I will say right up front that I have never been much into the Rap/Hip Hop music scene. So when I was invited to go to the Circle Six CD release party I wasn't sure what I was in for. The opening band, Thrift Unit, started their set sometime around 10:30 to a modest crowd. The band consisted of drums, bass, sax, and a very powerful vocalist. Without a guitarist the music had a strong jazz sound to it. Almost a Miles Davis meets the Beastie Boys sound. The vocals were delivered with an angry venom while at the same time you could see that the "rapper" was having a good time. For those who have been to the 8x10 and know the size of the stage you would be amazed how the vocalist jumped, leaped and worked the crowd.

Next up was another band from DC called Sampson. The best way to describe them is "rage". Loud rock riffs with vocals delivered just short of the neck veins bursting. The vocalist screamed his words at the other band members, at the floor, and at one point with his face right into the guitar amp. I not sure why. The sheer volume seemed to pull the people into the club. As they played the crowd grew filling the area in front of the stage with dancers and head bangers.

Some time after midnight The Circle Six hit the stage and the crowd was ready. It was a late start for a week night, but no one was leaving. Bill Resh called for the stage lights to be lowered so we could watch a collection of films by The Worthy Brothers projected on to the wall along the side of the stage. As the light dropped he told the crowd "you're at a CD release party so act like you're at a party," and with that the band tore into the first song. The Circle Six, unlike the first two bands, was more Hip Hop. Resh's vocals didn't have the anger laced into it, but rather relied on the rhythm of the music to weave his rhymes. While Resh told us of the world as he sees it, the band laid down heavy riff after heavy riff. Midway though the set Resh left the stage to allow Rubin (guitar), Caputo (bass), Frank (drums), and guest Pappano (percussion and trumpet) to jam. And jam they did, much to the delight of the crowd, especially the dancers. After the jam Resh returned to the stage with a guest mc, Da Bottum Line from Philly. Song after song, the two swapped vocals back and forth with the skill of two guitarists trading lick for lick. For not being much into Hip Hop, I left that night knowing I had just been at a great party. Try to catch a show soon and you too will know the meaning of The Circle Six.

Lake Trout @ the 8 x 10 Sept. 13, 1997
Watching Lake Trout perform is like watching the rebirth of jazz fusion. The five piece band has found the perfect blend of rock, soul, and hip-hop to flavor their distinct style of jazz. While songs like On My Way To Work have the call-and-response vocals that invite everyone to get caught up in being part of the show, no one can deny the band's forte is the extended improvisation. The dual guitars of Ed Harris and Woody Ranere and the sax of Matt Pierce reach out to find new avenues to explore while the bass of James Griffith and drummer Mike Lowry lay down a solid funk foundation. Audiences have come to know that they will be groovin' in a packed house all night long. --bb

From Feb '98 - As the weather changes in Washington, the local music scene remains cool, very cool. Jimi Haha said it best in a recent interview with Rock Love Magazine, "Baltimore and DC definitely have cool scenes, but they're just ignored nationally. . . So everybody just plays real music." It's the real music that keeps the area local scene alive and kicking. In late November I was introduced to two new bands at The Grog & Tankard, a small sports bar with a large horse-shoe shaped bar, two pool tables and a small open stage in the middle of the room. A very friendly atmosphere. First up was The Laura Shawen Band. This is a six-piece band with a lead violin! The set was a wonderful combination of rock with a touch of blues and country set off by Shawen's powerful vocals and the violin solos. This is obviously a very tight, well-practiced, original band. Next up was a club favorite, Avant Gaardvark. What a cool name. The show started out a little questionable with the keyboardist and the drummer coming out in nightshirts and nightcaps. Not bad if you're into legs! I never did find out the story behind this....if anyone knows please email me. Again, this was an original, more toward alternative, rock band. They had the dance floor moving all night. However, my favorite song of the evening had more of an Irish flavor to it and was the only song sung by the (red-haired) bass player, Larry Joseloff.

December 10 was a triple local bill @ the 9:30 Club. Opening the evening was one of my favorite bands, Underfoot (see previous review). If you weren't already a fan of the next band, The All Mighty Senators, when you came, you definitely were when you left. As they took the stage I thought I was seeing a reincarnation of the Tower Of Power. There were at least seven musicians on stage, including a four-man horn section. The two young teenagers we were standing near weren't sure what to think. This wasn't anything like Jimmie's Chicken Shack, the band they had come to see. The All Mighty Senators went straight into their classic boogie R&B and the pace never slowed. For this many musicians to put down this type of sound so flawlessly, and with so much energy, for over an hour shows what talented professionals they are. In addition, they became the highlight of the evening for the two young teenagers. The headliner tonight was Jimmie's Chicken Shack. This was their second area show since coming off of the road and it was no surprise that they packed the house. The crowd got what they came for...almost two hours of the rock/funk/rap sound that is JCS.

January 16 and 17 brought seven local bands to The Bayou in Georgetown. Well six area bands and one Pittsburgh band, The Clarks. I am including them because they had an incredible turn out. Despite the full house and the fact that almost everyone was singing along with them, it was obvious that this was an audience full of Pittsburgh natives when the band left the stage at the end of their set and the crowd began to call for an encore by chanting, "Let's go Steelers, let's go!"

Also on the bill that night were EBO, Outer Body Llama, and Wish (formerly For Mercy). EBO and Outer Body Llama hail from Northern Virginia. EBO played straight-ahead/alternative rock n roll. OBL played straight-ahead rock n roll with some very nice jazz riffs thrown in. I wasn't able to stay for more than Wish's first song, but I was impressed with what I did hear. Original rock with a female lead who had a beautiful voice.

The second night was the only area show for Modern Yesterday before they head back to Los Angeles to continue work on their first major label debut. Hopefully due out this spring, by the way! Their set was classic MY- intense! The range that singer Andrew Hellier has always impresses me. This was only my third time seeing Scott Schwertfeger play with them but I have to say that he is bound to become the next "slow hand."

Opening this evening were two more Northern Virginia bands, Strawman and Earth To Andy. Strawman had already started when I arrived. I was immediately drawn to their sound because it was so different from most of what I've been hearing lately. Definitely more on the heavy side with a metal/grunge/alternative sound. I know it's uncool to be associated with grunge/alternative rock right now, but these guys were original and different. I have to find out more...

March 14 was DC101's Spring Break Fest featuring four area bands at The Ballroom. It was like a night at the boardwalk with something for everyone. There were various tables set up with food, wares, and band paraphernalia. On stage the night started of with the raw energy of Foam, a new band out of Hagerstown, MD. Next was intense passion of Fairfax's Modern Yesterday. They opened their set with one of my favorites, "Capitol," and then played an even mix of old and new material including several songs from the soon to be released debut CD. And it wouldn't have been a Modern Yesterday show if they didn't close with the get-off-your-feet-and-jump song "Tink." Richmond's own Fighting Gravity played next with their blend of ska, alternative and world beat sound. This six-man outfit really lays it down with both acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, flute, trumpet, sax and keyboards, not to mention the awesome vocals. They have been around DC for quite awhile and if you haven't checked them out yet, go! Emmet Swimming brought the grand finale with their smooth, musical stories. All this without the pain of sunburn!

Cool For August @ the 9:30 Club, 3/22/98
Cool For August's third appearance at the 9:30 Club was without a doubt their best show here to date. Maybe knowing that the show was being taped for an HBO special was incentive for the band, or maybe they are just great performers as well as great musicians.

When Cool For August took the stage the drums, keyboards and amps were all situated so that the stage appeared virtually empty. As the show began, it became obvious that vocalist Gordan Vaughn needed every inch of stage available to him. He danced in his unique style, jumped, fought with the mike stand, and even crawled all over the stage. During the song "Hope I'm Wrong" he jumped off the stage into the crowd, never missing a beat. It didn't take long for the fans to get him up and surfing.

It was a very tight performance all around. With two encores, they played every single song from their debut album "Grand World," including the hidden track "Spinning." In the middle of the set they did a beautiful cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" with only Vaughn, Trevor Kustiak playing acoustic guitar and Shane Hills on drums. Throughout the night it was fun watching bassist Andrew Shives, originally from Maryland, trying to keep his concentration as friends in the crowd called out his name.

Intense music-with the recently added keyboards, guitar and violin; passionate vocals, strong lyrics and Vaughn's unique stage presence, all made for another excellent Cool For August show.

Smartbomb @ Fat Tuesday's April '98
We knew this was going to be a good night out. We went to Fat Tuesday's to meet some people for business, see some friends, and just relax. Then the explosion occurred. Smartbomb hit the stage for a two hour, take no prisoners, set. The quartet has a loud, non-apologetic, post punk rock sound with "in your face" lyrics. The rhythm driven by Jawn Long's drums and Scott Brotemarkle's bass was delivered at a volume to cause your heart to beat in time with every note while the dual guitars of Chuck Andrada and Chris Brownelle scream out, demanding your attention. It sounds like they are the type of arrogant band that they sing about in their song "Trackstar." "Get Drunk, Check the sound, Play the show, Drive all night" But they're not. They were just having a good time delivering a show you could get in to. They were playing for the crowd. The lead vocals are handled by both Andrada and Brotemarkle. Andrada gets in your face to deliver the message of the song, while Brotemarkle's remarkable range leaves you spellbound. The band opened with "Million Watt" and didn't slow down until an hour into the set. As the song list was played I looked around the room and saw which songs sparked something in the crowd. A headbang-a-long from a couple of guys at the bar during "Tank Farm Free," a little air drum on a table during "Japanese Boy," to a little bit of slow service from the bartender during "Hollow". Then we came to "Hey Babe" where we were treated to a fan dancing, falling on the floor, and taking the stage to sing along with Andrada. I left the show with a copy of their tape. It is now one of my favorites. If you like rock music, catch a Smartbomb show. This band is going to be THE local band to see.

I'm sure a lot of you wonder how those now famous bands first started off. Well you may be witness to one unfolding right now. I am talking about the locally known band called "ballyhoo!" I first saw them at Aberdeen High School's annual Earth Day Festivial. When I walked in I couldn't believe the huge mass of people all to see ballyhoo! and another band. The vibe was incredible; people dancing with a surge of energy, strobe lights blinking everywhich way, and the sound was just bouncing off the walls. The band definitly has a "Green Day" influence, though, they are not limited to that band. Their style consists of many bands from "Rage Against the Machine" to "Reel Big Fish." It is hard what to say their type of music is, just that it was enjoyable and the kids loved it. If your a kid who's tired of that "Spice Girls" CD and your looking for a group that writes their own songs then start listening to "BallyHoo!" -- Justin Davis



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