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LIVE MUSIC IS BACK. To say I’ve been excited to bring the Local Music Issue back for the past 20 months is an understatement. Our November issue has always been one we’ve taken great pride in, a time to celebrate all that D.C.’s music scene has to offer. It broke our collective heart not to publish an issue devoted to our local artists and venues last fall. We did, however, highlight as many musicians as possible during the pandemic: how they were faring, how they were staying creatively motivated during a harrowing time and how the local community could support them. And last December, we highlighted the Save Our Stages Act and all of the incredible work I.M.P.’s Audrey Fix Schaefer has done to be a voice for independent venues — both in D.C. and nationally. And now, we have the opportunity to celebrate live music’s triumphant return. A cover shoot with the iconic 9:30 Club has long been on our list, and we are eternally grateful to Fix Schaefer for giving us access to a rarely seen view of the club from the rooftop of a swank apartment building across the street. Watching the palpable energy from the line of concertgoers wrapping around the block during dusk from a perch up above while the incomparable Scott Suchman captured the scene with a quiet intensity was easily one of my favorite moments in recent history. 

This month, we’re celebrating as much about D.C. music as possible. We took a deep dive into the resilience of the punk and DIY scene and the future of D.C.’s dynamic go-go movement, and rounded up local artists to put on your radar, revived and/or new venues in the area and new releases from D.C. musicians to add to your daily playlist. Plus, a stunning photo essay pairing local bands with the venues that have supported them; an illustration of some of our most beloved spots to catch a live show; a crossword fit for a D.C. music nerd; profiles on Tiny Desk Contest winner Neffy and legendary R&B historian Sandra Butler-Truesdale; and a look into how I.M.P. venues 9:30 Club, The Anthem, Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lincoln Theatre have pivoted and bounced back in recent months. Beyond the world of local music, we dug into the culture of absinthe; new food hall Market 7’s commitment to supporting D.C.’s wards in need; the brand-new Britney Spears musical “Once Upon a One More Time” making its debut in the nation’s capital; Smithsonian’s highly anticipated “FUTURES” exhibit; creative incubator Emergent Seed’s latest endeavors; the city’s “secret” trails to explore; and much more. We’re also still riding the high from two successful events in partnership with Events DC during the last month to highlight the themes of our September and October issues: Cue the Lights, a celebration of the return of the performing arts, and Trailblazers, an entrepreneurship panel. Stay tuned for our upcoming events: November’s Bounce Beat + Beyond at Lincoln Theatre highlighting the rich culture of our go-go scene and December’s For The Love of D.C., our love letter to the city featuring artistic curation from cover subjects Trap Bob and Chris Pyrate. We can’t wait to see you there and thanks, as always, to our readers for helping us share your stories. 

Monica Alford