Americana

Yesterday we played at a a BBQ for the White House Historical Association and friends at the Decatur House. It held that wonderful smell of a burning grill, ice cold lemonade, and the small town community feel that is often associated with the word.

A special guest graced us all with his presence. The Nationals newest running president, Calvin Coolidge, stood among the crowd - serving as our conductor, dancing to our beats, and giving great high fives.

As we walked outside, we started thinking about where we were. Steps from the White House, the Decatur House has its own interesting history. In 1818 Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. and his wife Susan built the first private residence in the White House neighborhood. Over time it would house prominent foreign and American dignitaries and even serve for a period as the unofficial residence of the Secretary of State.

The contemporary function of the Decatur House is equally interesting. It now houses the National Center for White House History, a research and educational institute devoted to understanding the history of the White House.

In fact, the work of the White House Historical Association opened our eyes to a past president and his role in a quintessential American sport - our buddy Calvin Coolidge and baseball!

And so our Americana afternoon was complete - BBQ, presidents, baseball and history.  We thought we were going to the Decatur House to give them a taste of our music, but to our surprise they gave us a taste of our country.

Busker

Noun. A person who entertains in a public place for donations.

Sometimes a definition oversimplifies the complexity of a word, don't you think?

To us it means much more than just entertainment. It is a form of expressing our talents to a seemingly endless audience. A stage somehow in the center of it all, yet an escape from the daily hustle that walks by. As our own trombonist Steve said, "these smiles and tears that people give us, that's priceless."

To hear more about what the hustle and busk is all about, check out WAMU 88.5's Lauren Ober piece about Spread Love! And, of course, we would love to know what you think.

http://wamu.org/programs/metro_connection/15/07/10/spread_love_making_busking_into_a_full_time_job

 

 

Adieu

Don't worry, the band is still up and running with a busy summer schedule ahead. However, the blog is taking a break (3 weeks to be exact).

In the meanwhile we would like to crowdsource our social media posts! Instagram us @spreadloveband, tweet us @spreadloveband1, facebook us or email us and maybe we will post...your post!

Adieu means until we meet again - hope it is sooner rather than later. Can't wait to see your perspective of us!

Posting Up - Police Edition

Lately we have been posting up near the White House. We love meeting new people and what better place to do it? Tourists, protesters, government employees, pedicabs and all with the sweet smell of street half smokes.

This past week our nation's capital housed some very special guests: cops from around the country for Police Week. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Law enforcement officers from around the world come to Washington D.C. converge on Washington D.C. to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In total there are approximately 40,000 people who come for the week!

On Friday, we were lucky enough to meet two groups, who graced us with their drumming talent: The New York State Corrections Emerald Society Pipe Band and the Cliffside PD (our Instagram has a picture of one of them!). Let us be the first to say, these cops brought the heat to our drum set.

More importantly, seeing them and so many other individuals in uniform made us think about their duty to protect citizens. It is not easy to put someone else before yourself. In fact, that kind of service is rare and often taken for granted. Yet, these brave individuals consistently put themselves at risk day in and day out to keep everyone safe.

Of course, no institution is perfect. Still, we already see how law enforcement is evolving to be more responsive to the changing needs of their communities. For that, we are ever grateful.

Weekend Update: May 8th - May 10th

We have a busy weekend ahead of us. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday May 9th

9 AM – 1 PM Silver Spring Farmer’s Market

2:30 PM – 6 PM Baltimore Harbor

8 PM – Vinofest (same stage as Questlove, White Ford Bronco, and Trouble Funk!)

Sunday May 10th

11 AM Brunch at Pansaari

It’s also our website two month anniversary and Edith, one of our managers, wrote about it!

With that, let’s see you take to the streets and spread love with us soon.

Smooth Sunday

A friend of the band had his last full day in Washington (for a while at least) and we made sure to show him a memorable time since he will be high and dry with a flight to California. It was a smooth start with brunch at The Hamilton. He had a southern classic (chicken and a biscuit) and a New Orleans staple (beignets with stawberry-rhubarb preserve) for the first time. His plate was clean so we can only assume he loved it (speak now or forever hold your peace).

True to Silicon Valley form he had some coding to do and needed a space to do it. Barnes and Noble seemed like the perfect place for him to set up shop. As we went in, vivid memories of the Sunday bookstore family tradition flooded back in view - the new book and coffee smell and shelves by topic with stacks alphabetized by author. Before our friend set to work in earnest, he picked out his very first vinyl, Bob Marley's Exodus, and perused the science section.

Since we didn't want to distract him (we do spread love loud and proud after all) we caught a drink, good company, and marvelous music at Boss Shepherd's. Karla Chisholm was wonderful live and, with some searching, we found a performance that captures her spirit. The Girl from Ipanema is "filled with grace and becomes more beautiful because of love". That beauty is the effortless and ethereal essence of Karla's voice. Jeff Reed on bass and Leonard Stevens on the guitar were perfect complements.

Simply put, we loved sitting at the bar and letting the melody meander over to us as we enjoyed the easy living. In the meanwhile, we started chatting with Erica, a lively and entertaining bartender, and Jonathan, a sharp and interesting waiter. Both had great recommendations for Boss' food and drink as well as books, music, and so much more.

Drink complete and performance over, we stepped into sunshine and walked around the heart of summertime D.C. - the Mall and Metro Center - and worked up an appetite in the process.

With his coding complete, we reconvened for dinner having bytes of Pi Pizza (get it?). Our personal favorite is the Berkeley with all the fresh veggies in a cornmeal deep dish. A movie in Chinatown and a walk through the ritzy CityCenter before a metro ride home polished off the warm summery night.

Today, as he packs his bags and heads west, we hope he has smooth sailing ahead. We will be here spreading love from our coast to his.

Reunited

Sometimes our blog sounds like sunshine, music, and cake. This post we decided to take off the rose-colored glasses and give you a sense of our individual and collective struggles. In a world of the innovation of loneliness, we think it is important for people to understand depth of character rather than simply sharing happy moments.

Individual

We don't know a single person who doesn't have a problem on their mind. It might be work, family, finances, world issues...you name it. Each of us are no different. There are days when we feel overwhelmed by the difficult of the issues in our lives.

Some have an easy time articulating what is wrong and have no issue sharing. Others internalize them and do not enjoy broadcasting their struggles. No way is right or perfect, but each time we face these dilemmas we learn something about ourselves and each other. It is wonderfully human and, thankfully, we do our best to be there for each other.

Collective

It is much easier to make lots of acquaintances than maintain a few close friends yet, we would argue, the latter is more rewarding. Admittedly, it is not always easy to have eight very different people and personalities managing the present and future of this band. 

We don't always agree and we don't always get along. And that's okay.

We do try our best to internalize and spread our central message of love each and every day.

Love

We were recently reunited with our rhythm and it felt great. All 7 of us played at the Capitol building and we got that deep and strong sound that can only come from all of us together. We are sure that there will forever be bumps in the road but here's hoping the path leads us to be more unified to spread love.

 

Beautiful and Boisterous

Abuzz with all kinds of able bodies, moving through Washington was a special pleasure yesterday. If you are familiar with this city you know that a nice day draws everyone outside. Since spring has blossomed, tourists, congressmen, lobbyists, consultants and academics are all converging on one opinion (how rare!) - good weather = good times.

On our walk we passed by a protest behind the White House that struck us. An orange banner extending half the length of the road loudly read "Demanding Community." Celebrating 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26th, 1990, the protesters shared their struggle to feel equality in today's American community.

The banner says it all

The banner says it all

As a group that is acutely familiar with said struggle, we were awestruck by the ability of these individuals to proactively work towards positive policies and programs.

Complete coincidence then led us to the original copy of the act, housed in the National Archives. It is "An Act To establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability." Former Senator Tom Harkin, who introduced the American with Disabilities Act on the Senate floor, delivered part of his 1989 speech in sign language so his deaf brother could understand.

Reflecting on our outdoor adventure and field trip to the house where Littera scripta manet (the written letter abides) a line from the Magna Carta of 1297 summed up our thoughts perfectly:

"To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice."

Since the Magna Carta inspired the founding fathers, the liberties from this 13th century document are centrally enshrined in the Archives Rotunda documents.

The Constitution. The Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights.

We the people seek to form a more perfect Union while we hold the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and hope that we achieve the equality and justice these and other protesters seek in this great nation.

Elementary (and Secondary) My Dear

It is always special when people approach us - sometimes it is a little girl, dancing while holding her mother's hand and walking to school, other times it is a busy worker trying to figure out how to get from A to B.

Yesterday was a bit different.

We were approached by a suited individual and asked to play at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library from 9:30-10 AM the next morning (which was earlier today).

Getting Educated on Education with Arne 

Getting Educated on Education with Arne 

The event, we learned, commemorated the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The act was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson who believed "full educational opportunity" should be "our first national goal."

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan followed our Civil Rights Era-inspired set with stories of educated children, civil rights progress over the past 50 years, and the work ahead. You can hear his remarks (by the way at the beginning of the video they were clapping for us!)

We feel honored to have been a part of this wonderful effort and hope that this country maintains President Johnson's vision into the future.

Here's to the kids: past, present, and future.

Youth Leaders for the Global Stage

Love spreading a good cause. The blog would be remiss if it did not mention the happy hour we attended last night at Policy.

Youth Leaders learning about Future Youth Leaders (Global Kids) at Happy Hour

Youth Leaders learning about Future Youth Leaders (Global Kids) at Happy Hour

Director of Global Kids DC Wida Amir told the crowd about the non-profit organization which is best described by the following quote (adapted from the 25th anniversary (2013-2014) annual report) :

Carole Artigiani founded Global Kids in 1989 as she saw a need to introduce students from underserved communities to civics, foreign policy and international relations. Inspired by the diverse communities in New York City where students were from different countries and spoke multiple languages, she felt they would be attracted to international issues. Global Kids programming is built on the belief that if youth became engaged and inspired they would be motivated to succeed in school.

We must also admit that we were pleasantly surprised by Policy. This space has the modern regal art feel with a DC mural on the rooftop and multicolored chandeliers. The white wine flowed freely and we enjoyed sips (and then some).

Most importantly, the people – both those connected to and friends of the organizations – are simply spectacular individuals. There was no dearth of interesting intellectual conversation and positive personalities.

Would love to hear about the causes and organizations you support whether they are local, global or something in between. Happy hump day everyone!

Revive

/rəˈvīv/ 

verb regain life, consciousness, or strength, origin late Middle English: from Old French revivre or late Latin revivere, from Latin re- ‘back’ + vivere ‘live’

Sounds like the definition of our weekend.

Here’s the day by day breakdown:

(Maundy) Thursday we feasted.

A stiff manhattan, potato skins, prime rib and key lime pie with “Somewhere Beyond The Sea” on the piano. A shopping spree at Fillmore & 5th Designer Consignment (it’s been open for less than 3 weeks!). Good food, good clothes, good life and...

(Good) Friday was…good.

A somber day was followed by a rooftop visit to Jack Rose with our new bartender friend, Lauren, and celebrating another friend who just got a new job and is in Europe for a week (his Instagram is tdf – to die for).

(Joyous) Saturday we made all things new.

Played at Pansaari (our favorite) and visited DC9 (Google describes it as a “Tri-level hipster hangout with snug basement bar, music stage with dance parties & rooftop deck”) and Nellie’s Sports Bar (we watched wrestling and rooftop dancing – the best spectator sports) for the first time.

(Resurrection) Sunday we were revived.

We arose from our packed weekend and attended mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. What a stunning place. Brunched at home. Gigged at Georgetown Piano Bar.

All our love for Hunter Lang and Spencer Bates, two incredibly talented piano players.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." To our bartender Daryl – those sweet tea lemonades and long islands went down like water at a baptism.

So that was our weekend. Tell us about yours. We would love to hear about it!

How Little We Know (Until Now)

In honor of a truly tragic street lamp which opened on this day in 1889 (126 years ago), we decided to share a quick list (in no particular order) of some of our old and new favorites:

  •  Sharón Clark (Jazz)
  • Quill (Bar)
    • The perfect place to savor cigars and cognacs. Our recommendation? What Lurks Below - a dark rum, cognac, and peach brandy based cocktail that is perfect for sitting on the patio in the quickly warming weather.
  • Rasika West End (Restaurant)
    • This Indian keeps par with our Soul and Sri Lankan...which is not a small feat. The Palak Chaat is life-changing. The biriyani reminded our manager of home. Dessert...to die for. Bo is the best on staff. Cheers to you with our fresh-pressed grape juice (no, it wasn't fermented...but we are drunk with delight).
  • To Have and Have Not (Movie)
    • Nominally based on Ernest Hemingway's novel, Slim (played by Lauren Bacall) is simply captivating, especially as she performs "How Little We Know" (Yes I titled the article after this song).

Try our recommendations and let us know what you think.

P.S. The "street lamp" is the Eiffel Tower

P.P.S. This week we're trying The Prime Rib, Round Robin Bar and have a busy weekend of Easter, our band launch performances, and Cherry Blossoms. Get ready with us!

Let Us Eat Cake

Dessert preferences tell a lot about a person (or so we'd like to argue).

Sweet or savory. Vanilla or chocolate. Citrus or berry.

Or maybe you don't like dessert. Yeah, right (someone could make a good buzzfeed personality quiz out of this...oh wait, of course they already have)!

Recently a friend of Spread Love craved dessert.

Typically the suggestion might have been a donut from Krispy Kreme or a cupcake from Hello, Cupcake (both in Dupont). Quick. Easy. Mainstream.

We needed something different for this friend. She has Marie-Antoinette's taste (although she is much more humble and lovable than the guillotined queen) and hails from the big Apple where there is no shortage of great eats. Expectations that are hard to meet and difficult to beat. Challenge accepted.

A New Yorker becoming Parisian in Washington

A New Yorker becoming Parisian in Washington

In that spirit, we stopped at Bistrot Du Coin. Another friend of the band forever recommended this countryside cottage-style French bistro, but Saturday was the day we finally tried it.

The dessert menus is extensive. You have to know you're craving (or dessert personality profile). Hers was the apple tart, ours was the chocolate mousse with their signature Grand Marnier in a glass. With that, we were flown to Paris while sitting in D.C. To top it all off, Edith Piaf's "Sous le Ciel de Paris" played in the background.

The French often say, "c'est la vie" meaning "that is life." Well, if this is life, we never want it to end.

In A Sentimental Mood

Duke Ellington. Need I say more?

For background, his song (the title of this post) was born in Durham, North Carolina. In his words:

“We had played a big dance in a tobacco warehouse, and afterwards a friend of mine, an executive in the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, threw a party for Amy. I was playing piano when another one of our friends had some trouble with two chicks. To pacify them, I composed this there and then, with one chick standing on each side of the piano.”

Having just returned from North Carolina (which included a trip to Durham), I was introduced to contrapuntal harmony through the Roger Taylor Quartet’s rendition of this piece (can catch them live the first Friday of the month from 7:30-9:30 PM at Kora Restaurant in Crystal City).

Roger Taylor Quartet in a sentimental mood

Roger Taylor Quartet in a sentimental mood

There was more than one reason we were in a sentimental mood that night.

The evening celebrated Paul Sikora's life and work as a professional artist who produced mobiles after being inspired by Alexander Calder’s work.

The jazz evoked the era when the livin’ is easy, which is often lost in the shuffle.

The day felt long yet the hours felt short. The scotch had a soporific quality yet felt reviving.

You know how it goes.

Today is a blue skies and sunshine day in D.C. The sentimental mood of last night has lifted and summertime feels right around the corner.

Anonymity and Intimacy

Finding a needle in a haystack might be easier than finding these two things in D.C. It is a small city where you know the "who's who" and everyone has an agenda to accomplish. The combination makes our nation's capital ambitious and passionate. Yet, sometimes, it is dysfunctional and impersonal.

So, the fact that this secret location has not one, but both of these traits...is a big deal.

Here, the love may not spread far but it spreads thick - like the hot air and the glow of an orange fire in a wood paneled room or the sweet melody of gypsy guitar wafting alongside a heavy dinner and stiff drink.

That was our experience in this place and we want to share a piece of it.

Gypsy Jazz with Michael Joseph Harris and Donato Soviero

Gypsy Jazz with Michael Joseph Harris and Donato Soviero

Michael Joseph Harris and Donato Soviero play the best gypsy jazz in town. Seriously. Take a listen to these two fellas and you might fall in love with their music like we did. Here's hoping we see more of them and their friends (who also play) at our spot, The Tabard Inn, on Sundays (7:30-10:30 PM), Mondays and Tuesdays (6:45-9:45 PM).

Take Me to Music

Sunday means so many things. It is the day when shops open late and close early. The night before (Saturday) the streets were abuzz with party-goers and bar hoppers. Today, a serene silence washes over the city. If you are lucky enough to be outside in the morning you hear birds chirping, see the sun stream brilliant rays of lights through the heavy clouds, and relish the cool air.

After all of that, we went to the best kept secrets in Washington D.C.

A bit of background which starts with a rhetorical question: Do you know where to find the best beat in any city?

Think about it for a second.

Some of you will say the local bar. You know. The one on Main Street where all the chefs from the best restaurants hang out late night and a soulful jazz group plays in the corner.

Others might say outside. Local artists fill the surrounding area with a melody that every bird, tree, and cloud can hear. It is free and it is wonderful.

Maybe it is the "club goin' up on a Tuesday" (or any day of the week). The one with your favorite type of music on repeat (Top '40s, '80s rap, the '90s...whatever floats your boat).

We don't think any of these answers are wrong. In fact - we love them all.

For us (and here come the secrets) it is any house of worship.

This requires some explanation:

People worship for various reasons. They need a place to meditate on the events of the week. They have a personal affliction and hope it will go away. They fear death. They embrace love.

Whatever the reason, a house of worship tends to bring you to your deepest, most emotional thoughts. Singing with this mindset, the sound reflects your inner struggles and beauty.

We were in two places on Sunday in Washington D.C.:

  1. United House of Prayer for All People - 215 51st Street SE - 11 AM. If you like our band, you will LOVE this place.
  2. Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle - 1725 Rhode Island Avenue NW - 10 AM. Schola Cantorum in Latin and organ.

Feel free to spread our secrets and maybe one of these days we would love to see you there.

 

Benjamin Franklin

Yesterday was a refreshing spring day here in Washington D.C. Everyone was sitting in Farragut Square, getting a bite to eat from the food trucks. Our music was spreading to the ears of people passing by.

But this post is not about any of the people in and around the square.

It is about a (homeless) man who sits three blocks up, surrounded by worn blankets and reads (and reads and reads).

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, a wilting rose, and free sz 10 shoes

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, a wilting rose, and free sz 10 shoes

Today he is actively reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography (actively means he is taking notes on a pad of paper with one of those black bic pens).

What, you ask, is he writing? The names and definitions of the thirteen virtues that Benjamin Franklin outlined as necessary or desirable in his autobiography (shown in the picture above). These virtues are:

  1. TEMPERANCE.-Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE.-Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER.-Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION.-Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY.-Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY.-Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY.-Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE.-Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION.-Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries, so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS.-Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILITY.-Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY.   .   .   .   .
  13. HUMILITY.-Imitate Jesus and Socrates

All we could think was...wow. What an incredible way to spend a sunny afternoon. Would love to know what you think.

 

What is a blog?

It sounds like an online journal, at least...that is what ours will be. 

We love music. We love food. We love people.

Every post will at least have one of these three things. We want to share the best of the best.

Our favorites. Our journey. Our vision.

The definition of our is very loose to us. Share your stories with us through the website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, messenger pigeon...you get the drift and we will spread love.