Washington, D.C., has given much to the musical world beyond its best-known exports, Duke Ellington and the punk and go-go scenes. In a new series of programs, musician, broadcaster, and historian Ken Avis uses film and anecdotes to explore more of the area’s lesser-known, remarkable, and fascinating musical avenues and why they could only have developed here.
This time around, Avis shines the spotlight on acoustic folk and blues traditions; soul, funk and go-go; and takes a look at the changing nature of music and the local scene during the 21st century. The story is interwoven with observations of how social change, technology, and business innovations shaped the sounds that emerged from D.C.—a political town with a serious music habit.
Avis is a regular presenter at Strathmore Music Center and DC Music Salon. He performs with the award-winning world-jazz band Veronneau and is a music writer and broadcaster in the Washington area.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.
NOV 1 Acoustic DC: Folk, Blues, Protest, and Traditions
From blues to bluegrass, acoustic folk to world-traditions, and the rise of the singer-songwriter, Washington has made rich contributions. Acoustic highlights from 150 years of popular music present the sound of the city’s acoustic musicians and songwriters as it resonated through the capital’s coffee-houses and performance halls—and went on to capture the awards podiums of American music. Prepare to be amazed by the strange-but-true stories of Acoustic D.C.!
NOV 15 Sweet Soul Music: DC in the ’60s and Beyond
The rich African American popular culture of Washington took root with jazz and fed into the 1960s, taking the sound of D.C. to Motown and stepping up the funk through the ’70s and beyond. From Marvin Gaye to Roberta Flack, the Blackbyrds to Chuck Brown—and with many highlights along the way—the music train keeps on rolling.
NOV 29 DC Now: 21st Century Popular Music in the Nation's Capital
Music streaming, industry conglomeration, and gentrification have impacted popular music everywhere, presenting challenges and opportunities. D.C.'s music scene continues to change and adapt, and no doubt will respond to the impact of the recent pandemic. In the midst of these changes a multi-genre musical renaissance has bloomed in the Nation’s Capital. This final episode features a sampler of some of the current sounds filling Washingtonians’ ears and charts the impact of the digital musical revolution.
Photo caption (upper right): Clockwise: Ken Avis, John Fahey, and D.C. Jazz and go-go fusion ensemble, The JoGo Project and Marvin Gaye (photos: Bill Crandall, Pascal P Chassin, and Nick Moreland) (Marvin Gaye Image: digitally altered by Brandt Luke Zorn/mechanical scan or photocopy of a public domain original)
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