I miss many things about pre-lockdown life, but perhaps the biggest void left by the pandemic is live music. While plenty of people continue making amazing music and those who love listening have found other ways to connect, there’s truly nothing like a live show.
Thankfully, Jammin Java‘s newest concert series, A Song + A Slice, brings real, live outdoor music to you in a safe and socially distanced manner. While the shows are free, donations are encouraged and support causes chosen by the performing artists. $1 from each beer and 25% of the price of each cocktail sold will also be donated to those organizations.
You can also enjoy food from Union Pie while sitting outside, taking in live music and knowing it’s all supporting a great cause. We spoke to Lana Mahmoud, director of operations at Union Pie and Jammin Java, about making this new concert series a reality, keeping safe and what’s next in live music. Read on for another interview with Griefcat, who performs as part of the A Song + A Slice series this Saturday.
District Fray: What did you miss most about hosting shows at Jammin Java? How has the socially distanced setup been working for you and the bands so far?
Lana Mahmoud: The intimacy of the shows is a big one for me. That mutual feeling of closeness, awe and inspiration between not only the audience members, but the artists too – is irreplaceable. But we are so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to host these outdoor events. It’s as close to the real deal as we can get right now, and I can’t tell you how truly overwhelming it has been to see the public coming out to (safely) support us and live music as a whole. We are looking at a new normal, minimally for the foreseeable future.
What is the venue doing to promote social distancing? What does this new setup look like?
We have tables spaced out ten feet from the stage and six feet apart from each other. Once the space becomes full, we’ve been able to have people park and actually sit in their trunks to watch the show – which actually looks pretty fun! We require all patrons to wear masks upon entering the building, and all menus, cups and utensils are disposable to minimize any cross contamination. And of course, our entire staff is wearing masks at all times.
Can you tell me a little more about Union Pie and the new food and drink options available?
Our Union Pie pizzas are a New Jersey-style bar pie, known for their thin crispy crust and toppings that go all the way to the edge of the pie. We were featured in The Washingtonian’s Top Five Slices in D.C. last year, and we’re so grateful for the community’s support. We are also offering a curated wine menu, premium beers, and have some new food options including our Nutella Pie, salad and fries!
Can you also tell me a little more about the donation aspect of the concert series? Is Jammin Java picking the organizations or are the bands? Why was it important to incorporate supporting these local and national causes into the series?
Our community showed their love and support for us, and we wanted to do the same. Each band or artist selects a charity of their choice, and we collect donations and offer a portion of bar sales (25% of a featured cocktail and $1 from every beer) and submit the donations. We have been able to raise good money for good causes and we couldn’t be happier or more grateful about the willingness of our community to show up be a part of it.
What’s next for Jammin Java? Any more outdoor or socially distanced events coming up our readers should look out for?
Yes! Lots to look out for. We will be extending the Song + A Slice series for the next several weeks and will continue to do so while monitoring the current situation. Of course, we want nothing more than to do what we do best, but the safety of our staff, our community and the artists is and will always be of utmost importance. But don’t get me wrong – we can’t WAIT to get back to it!
For the full schedule of upcoming events at Jammin Java including the Song + A Slice series, visit www.jamminjava.com.
Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave E Vienna, VA; @jamminjava; www.jamminjava.com
An Interview with Griefcat
Musicians Louisa Hall and Annie Nardolilli (who also performs solo as Nardo Lilly) make great music on their own, and together combine forces and individual strengths as the duo Griefcat. District Fray caught up with Hall and Nardolilli on surviving quarantine, what to expect from their live show and more on the organization their show will benefit. Catch them live and enjoy some pizza and beer for a great cause this Saturday at Jammin Java.
District Fray: How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to Griefcat before?
Annie Nardolilli: I always describe it so poorly. It’s like folksy, but funny? Vulnerable but sassy? Quirky confessionalism? 80/20 is our happy/sad song ratio.
Louisa Hall: Lady Flight of the Conchords is my first thought, but Griefcat is very much its own thing! Our songs are about everyday life; some are silly, and some are what we call saddies. I think the best way to describe it is close knit harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and a really fun time.
As a band, how have you adapted to quarantine and more recently, socially distanced activities such as your upcoming show at Jammin Java?
Nardolilli: Ummmmmmmm…we haven’t. We tried one online show at the very start of quarantine for Pearl Street Warehouse and while it was a lot of fun, we both realized how much our performances are really just as much about interacting with the audience as it is about making music. So we didn’t really do much with the online side of things. Instead we’ve kind of just been taking time to write songs and plan our next steps post-pandemic.
Hall: This definitely took a minute, but it’s starting to come together! We mostly have been quarantining from each other, and I know I was a little overwhelmed by the world. We are starting to crawl out of our hidey holes, write new music and play shows. We even rehearse outdoors to help keep each other safe! We are so excited to engage with an audience again in a safe and responsible way!
What can those coming to the show this weekend expect from your live performance?
Nardolilli: A lot of excitement and fun! We are absolutely ecstatic to be back at Jammin Java and that’s going to be very evident. Hopefully we can manage to keep our tempos in check with all of the joy that’s going to be pulsing through our veins.
Hall: Pizza is the first thing – Jammin Java has amazing pizza. Show wise, we’ve come up with some new tunes, we’ll be bringing out old favorites. I think this will be a great chance for people to relax, laugh and feel good about life. Also, pizza.
What are you most looking forward to about being on stage again?
Nardolilli: Honestly, besides making music and having fun with Louisa, I miss us coordinating show outfits together. What the world needs most right now is the bold fashion spirit of early 2000s Destiny’s Child. #wherestinaknowles
Hall: I’m so, so excited. Performing with Annie and interacting with an audience is one of the biggest joys of my life. I’m excited to be back, to sing with Annie, have trouble making it through a song without laughing and for my cheeks to hurt the next day from smiling so much. I’m excited to soundcheck, and see the team at Jammin Java again. And I’m especially excited to see old friends, and for others to experience Griefcat for the first time!
Can you tell me a bit more about the National Council, the beneficiary of your show, and why you chose donations to go to that organization?
Hall: For anyone who isn’t familiar, the National Council works to end incarceration for women and girls. Incarceration is traumatic for anyone, and that trauma ripples through communities; this impact is especially pronounced for women and their families, and continues to have emotional and economic repercussions. We wanted to find a way to stand beside women and families in a meaningful way, especially those who haven’t had the privilege we’ve experienced in our own lives.
Nardolilli: Part of my day job for the last five years has actually been working with incarcerated individuals, and 18 months of that time was spent directly working with female inmates in an all-female housing unit in a jail. Having seen first hand how mentally and physically destructive confinement is for women – women who are more often than not dealing with some combination of trauma, poverty, domestic abuse and substance addiction – the mission of the National Council really hit home. We’re extremely grateful to partner together for this.
Does Griefcat have anything else coming up – new music, more socially distanced shows – readers should have on their radar?
Both: YES! Lots of stuff. We just released our first album, which is now available on Spotify, Apple Music and more. (Check out griefcat.hearnow.com to listen.) We are still working on rescheduling our album release extravaganza, which was postponed due to COVID. We’ve also amassed enough songs to start working on a second album, so we’ll be bringing new tunes to shows as well. We’re also working on a video release for our song about public health and vaccines, so watch this space!
Griefcat plays Jammin Java this Saturday, July 18th. You can also see them live opening for Two Ton Twig at Crescendo Studios’ drive-in concert in Falls Church, and as part of the outdoor Summer Cabaret at Creative Cauldron, also in Falls Church, on September 19th.