Now in its fifth year of operations, BloomBars—an alcohol-free, all-ages arts space—has grown to be essential to its community in a way that founder and “Chief Executive Gardner” John Chambers always hoped it would. “BloomBars was meant to grow organically at the pace of the people who are occupying it,” he says of the venue’s natural but robust development. But this is only the start, Chambers assures. “We are just emerging from the soil. It really truly is just the beginning.”
Punk icons Husker Du’s classic song “Celebrate Summer” brings back the joyful and youthful exuberance that the warmer months brought. There seemed to be no rules or boundaries to what you could do. For some young women, that includes starting their own band.
Every summer since 2008, Girls Rock! DC has provided a unique experience for a summer camp in the city. For one week, girls between the ages of eight to 18 are given instruments to learn, bond with fellow musicians and are introduced to new musical genres. The best part of all for these young women is getting the chance to bring their skills together in a big showcase that takes place at the end of their camp experience. Past showcases have been held at major music venues around the D.C. area, including the 9:30 Club. Thanks to local donors and volunteers, the camp provides these girls with guitars, drums and DJ equipment.
Digital distribution is one of the most contentious debates in music today. iTunes has become the online music store, and file sharing and torrenting are now a greater problem for the mainstream industry. The conversations about how artists are getting paid and who are the gatekeepers to great music is getting louder each week.
Throughout the U.S., major music festivals host some of the world’s most popular artists. But while bigger festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella might attract higher-profile artists, more regional festivals—think SXSW in Austin or New York’s CMJ Music Marathon—also don’t go unnoticed in the public eye. With more of these festivals sprouting across the country, it provides an open window for D.C.’s creative types to be proactive and stage their own music events in the nation’s capital in support of underground and alternative artists.
Sockets Records, the label owned and operated by Sean Peoples since 2004, made its last curtain call this past Saturday with a send-off showcase at the Black Cat. For Peoples, the label was not only meant to be a business, but to formulate a close-knit community.
“There was a small, but vibrant scene of post-punk bands in the area.” Unfortunately, those bands were leaving the region at a quick pace.
There’s a special chemistry in D.C.’s music scene-one that is gradually becoming more diverse and heterogeneous over the years. Over time, the burgeoning LGTB community has been making a larger presence within the scene. It’s a scene that is difficult to reduce to one theme or message. Sure, same-sex love can be heard in the lyrics of many of these artists, from punk rockers G.U.T.S. to R&B tinged The Coolots. But, the LGBT community’s recent evolution and popularity extends further beyond the confines of music.
Looking in hindsight over a decade ago, this expression was less an oasis and more of a leaky fountain.