10 Hot Local Musicians To Put On Your Radar
October 29, 2015 @ 12:00am
Ace Cosgrove has only been rapping for four years and is already making ripples in the big pond of hip-hop. In the short time since he’s started rapping, Ace has played plenty of underground hip-hop shows in the DMV, dropped two albums in 2014, and dropped his soulful mixtape Baby Needs Food earlier this year. Along the way he’s been featured, reviewed, and had his praises sung by BET, VIBE, Pigeons and Planes, XXL, NPR, Complex, Earmilk and many more.
The thing that sets Cosgrove apart is that, unlike a lot of modern, beats-driven hip-hop, he makes sure his backing tracks are chock-full of funky, soulful real sounds played by real musicians. His inspiration? The music he grew up listening to as a kid in Gaithersburg, including DC’s best party music: Go-Go. “I’m trying to establish that funky, live band feeling,” Cosgrove tells On Tap. “I want to eventually develop our sound to pure 80s, funk and Go-Go, like James Brown and Chuck Brown. No one else is doing it and it makes you happy, it triggers an emotion. No one from here is doing it with a rapper.” JS
To find out more about Ace, follow him on Twitter @ace-cosgrove and Soundcloud. To keep an eye out for underground hip-hop in DC, follow @BombayKnox for the latest word and shows.
It hasn’t taken long for Washington-based producer and DJ Eau Claire to get noticed – not only in her adopted hometown, but well beyond the confines of the DMV.
The Calgary-born and Connecticut-raised musician, who moved to DC after college, integrates skillful keyboard work into her DJ productions yielding a unique blend of house, nu-disco and indie dance. Eau Claire’s already rocked clubs and music festivals across the US and Mexico and her remixes distributed by Warner Brothers Records and Elektra have received national acclaim.
“I started producing as Eau Claire with no expectations in mind, using it as a creative outlet and spending every waking moment I had on producing,” she told On Tap. “I found a niche in writing dance music with positive, feel-good vibes because for me, music is a place to get rid of any worries or stress and to focus on the positive things in life.”
You can catch Eau Claire at the 9:30 Club on Nov. 6 when she opens for Bakermat. And expect some new music soon.
“I’ve got a few more releases coming out before the end of the year and am currently working on my debut EP,” the rapidly rising DJ said. MC
Find out more about Eau Claire at www.iameauclaire.com, follow her on Twitter at @iameauclaire an Facebook @iameauclaire.
Fort Knox Five
Sadly, DC’s dynamic DJ collective and live music outfit – Fort Knox Five – lost a founding member when Jon Horvath passed away in August. But fortunately for fans, the local and global group plans to soldier on in Horvath’s memory.
“In the wake of Jon H’s tragic passing we have been picking up the pieces and moving forward with Fort Knox Five and the label with a renewed sense of purpose and drive,” said Steve Raskin and Rob Myers in a joint statement issued to On Tap. “We’ve got numerous singles and tours planned for this fall and into 2016.”
Anyone who has seen a Fort Knox Five show knows it’s a pure shot of feel-good energy bursting from a kaleidoscope of different sounds.
Raskin and Myers said their music lifts from many genres but funk – that quintessential DC sound – is the heart and soul of their infectious interweaving of live instrumentation and funky electronic breakbeats.
“We’ve always described the sound of Fort Knox Five as party music that crosses all sorts of musical genres,” they said. “At the root of it all is funk! It’s about the blending of genres and styles of electronic music, incorporating hip hop, reggae, soul, breaks — with a little bit of everything in between. We come from a live music background and have always incorporated live instrumentation fused with our electronic beats, which sets our sound apart.” MC
To learn more about Fort Knox Five visit www.fortknoxfive.com and follow them on Facebook @FortKnoxFive.
Gracie Terzian has taken an unusual path into the world of jazz. Born and raised in Herndon, Virgina, she never anticipated being a jazz singer. In fact, before this year, she was probably best known to the DC arts community as an actor, recently appearing in productions at Ford’s Theater. But after studying jazz at UVA and immersing herself in the Charlottesville jazz scene, she took a stab at the professional jazz world and released her debut EP, Saints & Poets. In an unusual move for a jazz singer, Gracie wrote or co-wrote all six songs on the record, which quickly rose to become the number three jazz album on iTunes and the number 23 jazz album on the Billboard jazz charts.
This success is probably unsurprising to those who know her. Music, and music in DC, has always been part of Gracie’s upbringing. She fondly recalls seeing one of her first jazz shows at Georgetown’s Blues Alley, “I remember the first time I went to Blues Alley, when I was little,” Gracie told On Tap.” I saw a Mose Allison show and I remember that had a big impact on me; the vibe there was so cool…I definitely saw a lot of music growing up in DC so that influenced me a lot, and I learned a lot by observing.” Observe Gracie Terzian as vocal jazz’s latest songbird begins to soar. JS
You can learn more about Gracie by visiting www.gracieterzian.com. Follow her on Twitter @gracieterzian and Facebook @GracieTerzianMusic.
Mark G. Meadows
Since bursting from Baltimore at the start of the decade, Mark G. Meadows has quickly become not only one of the leading jazz artists in DC, but also one of the leading young artists in the DMV period. He graduated from John’s Hopkins with a degree in Psychology and bachelor’s and graduate degrees in piano from Peabody, and quickly became an in-demand musician. He’s played with fellow DMV jazz giants Cyrus Chestnut, Todd Marcus and Dr. Alex Norris, among others, but his career truly exploded in 2014. Last year, Mark released his acclaimed second album Something Good, was named Strathmore’s “Artist in Residence” for their 2014-2015 season, and was named both “Composer of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” in DC.
Mark, along with many other DC musicians, has the benefit of coming up in a time when the jazz scene is in full-swing; something he attributes to the rise in social movements in DC. “I think that right now, with all the social justice movement occurring in DC, is a great time for jazz,” Meadows told On Tap. “People are starting to open their ears to a music that has always been on the forefront of change.”
Now that he is beginning to play more around the US and around the world, look for Mark G. Meadows to make his hometown glow only brighter with pride. JS
Learn more about Mark at www.markgmeadows.com and follow him on Twitter @markgmeadows and Facebook @ MarkGMeadows
Since their founding in 2011, Priests have become intensely integrated with the center of the ever surging DC punk scene. The group released two cassettes and a 7-inch vinyl single before releasing their debut EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power in 2014, and their live favorite, “Doctor,” was named one of the 50 best songs of the year by Rolling Stone. Beyond their own music, Priests serve a vital role in the community through their record label, Sister Polygon Records. The group just returned from a month long tour of Europe, an impressive feat for a local band without a full album!
Drummer Daniele D, a transplant to DC from the Big Apple, credits part of the group’s success to the unique community of fans and fellow artists that makes the DC scene so vibrant, “In New York, there’s this kind of sense that ‘If you’re not A+ perfect, out the door, then forget it; you’re not worth anyone’s time.’ And in DC, you have an audience of fellow musicians and people in general that can see something that’s not perfect; it’s a little jankety, a little messed up, a little weird. But they see something beautiful in it, and they’ll support you. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet. There’s a sense that you can grow and experiment as an artist in a supportive community.” JS
Look for Priests to headline the Black Cat’s mainstage on Nov. 17 and for their first, full length album sometime in 2016. Follow them on tumblr for more information.
Local musician Reginald Cyntje is a trombonist, an educator, a producer and a composer. Between teaching at Montgomery College, running the Jegna School of Music, being featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America, winning awards for being DC’s best trombonist, authoring a book Stepping Stones: 15 Studies in Improvisation and releasing his fourth album Spiritual Awakening he still found the time to chat with On Tap. In a recent interview, Cyntje recalls his early days in DC. After moving to DC in 1998 the first thing Cyntje did was start a band. “I started a band out of necessity (the trombone is not an in demand instrument).” In those days, he could also be found frequenting jams sessions at Twins Jazz and One Step Down where he developed a network of mentors, peers and friends (think Kenny Rittenhouse, Antonio Parker, Nasar Abadey and Thad Wilson). “DC had the perfect combination of soul, intellect and community. I felt a connection with the musicians and DC’s music history… [and] it was in DC…that I developed and discovered my sound.” remarks Cyntje.
As for what it means to be a musician in today’s modern climate, Cyntje believes versatility is key.
“I have to be versatile. I have to be able to write (arrange/compose), lead a band, know how to support a band leader when I’m not in charge, be able to perform in a variety of musical situations, promote (social media, email list, radio), record, teach and study to ensure I’m learning/growing.” At the end of the day, Cyntje believes, “DC is a great working town. Musicians are working. Some are making a living wage. Things will always change and we musicians are adjusting to the changes.” AM
Catch Cyntje at the The Carlyle Club on Nov. 15 and Twins Jazz Nov. 27-28. To learn more about Reginald Cyntje visit www.reginaldcyntje.com. Check out his album Spiritual Awakening on iTunes.
Robert Snúhgie Stocks
Robert Snúhgie Stocks, a DC native, a multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer, a player of eight instruments and founder of his own production company, Rhythmic Sounds, works hard to shine and standout in DC’s music scene as a soul artist.
A graduate of The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Snúhgie started his music career in very common DC fashion. “I got my start in several go-go bands,” said Snúhgie. “That definitely shapes who you are musically.” He credited this commonality with many of the struggles DC artists face. “It’s a tough town and it’s oversaturated with a lot of go-go and soul music and trying to find a niche …it’s work,” said Snúhgie.
As an artist, Snúhgie is big on the importance of musicianship, which he defines as, “attaining skill at your craft. A lot of people aren’t focused on being a skilled musician, they’re focused on the fame,” he explains. “All this music now, it all sounds the same. Everybody is turned up in the same way and in the same style.”
Snúhgie believes a music career in DC is possible. Having already worked with the likes of John Legend, Yolanda Adams and Wynton Marsalis, Snúhgie is already well on his way. “There is nothing that is not [in DC],” he says. “My drive, my work ethic and determination will bring me success.” VG
To learn more about Robert Snúhgie visit www.snuhgie.com and check out his latest album, High Definition love on available on iTunes.
Good live reggae is getting harder to find, but Washington’s See-I fills the important musical niche in Washington with soul to burn.
Brothers and band leaders Rootz and Zeebo Steele keep See-I’s sound fresh by mixing modern sounds with more traditional reggae rhythms.
“Our sound is most often described as reggae-soul, but sometimes we like to rock out and we also like to give up the funk,” Rootz told On Tap. “Reggae is the common denominator, and from that groove we can branch out into many different directions, always keeping it funky. My brother and I started singing in the church choir and that foundation has guided our musical paths ever since. Wednesday nights at the Eighteenth Street Lounge is the Church of Reggae-Soul!”
Last year, See-I released “Knowledge Shine Bright,” which they followed with a series of remix EPs.
“We love these remixes, they range from house and breakbeat to glitch-hop, dub and drum’n’bass,” Rootz said. “See-I will be touring in 2016 up and down the east coast and making some runs to our favorite places to play like Colorado and California. Stay tuned for lots of exciting developments.” MC
To learn more about See-I visit www.see-i.com and follow them on Twitter @seei and Facebook @see.eye.
Few bands in the Washington area represent the independent, stripped-down ethos of the city’s rock scene as well as Sunwolf.
The post-punk, garage revivalist three-piece rock band, founded by bassist Rob “Kalani” Tifford, has crafted a sound that is rugged but precise, expansive but catchy. And rock aficionados in DC and beyond are taking notice. Sunwolf is ready to debut their first full-length record, “Follow The Dreamers,” which will be released by year’s end. Recorded at The Cave in Washington, DC and produced by Sunwolf drummer Jerry Busher, the new 13-track effort is the band’s most complete and accomplished recording to date.
Guitarist Tom Bunnell traces the band’s chemistry to its source: “Sunwolf has always had about as many musical influences as a tree has leaves. We tend to love all music that is coming from a real place. Each song that we write is sort of a new adventure.” MC
Find Sunwolf on Facebook and Soundcloud.
Contributors: Adrianne Morris, Jackson Sinnenberg, Michael Coleman & Verna Gibson