By Kate Masters
The Silver Line opens July 26, but Fairfax County infrastructure may not be ready for it
The Fairfax County School Board votes today on extending Mondays from a half day to a full day of classes for elementary students
Virginia joins a distance learning agreement for online college classes
A Reston woman is accused of funding an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group
Taking a break from recording a new album, Reston’s indie-go-go band RDGLDGRN talks beats, Colors and Pharrell Williams.
By Tim Regan
RDGLDGRN doesn’t have a gimmick. At least, that’s what the three members who compose the Reston-based indie go-go band would tell you. On the surface, they’re band, pronounced red-gold-green, is kind of gimmicky. For starters, the band’s members—named “Red,” “Gold” and “Green”—only dress in those namesake colors, all the time. And if you’re having trouble wrapping your head around the concept, think of it this way—it’s like the Power Ranger uniforms or the Ninja Turtle headbands. One color equals one identity.
For the guys, tackling that issue is sort of a recurring theme. Actually, it’s something they have to address all the time. Last December, Washington Post writer Mark Jenkins devoted an article’s entire opening paragraph to the band’s color-coded outfits. “RDGLDGRN [showed] up for an interview dressed, respectively, in a red sweater, gold sports jacket and nearly all-green ensemble,” Jenkins wrote. But they’ve got their reasons.
“We didn’t plan this,” says Gold. Red, one of the band’s guitarists puts it this way: “Before we started this band, we had already been living as colors. Some people have tattoos and that define them. Some people have long beards. I wear one color. He wears one color. We wear one color.” In the song “Power Ups,” guitarist and lead vocalist Green even lyricizes, “I see in full color, I just choose to be green.”
The point is this: Judge this band on their musical merits, not the color of their clothes. They’re not a flash in the pan kind of group. They go way deeper than that.
What the F@#! is Indie Go-Go?
We all know indie rock, the genre born out of grunge rock that launched a thousand hipster hits. These days, it’s hard to get away from the stuff. Even Miley Cyrus likes Nirvana. But Indie go-go? That’s a little harder to wrap your head around.
Here’s a crash course: Indie go-go is the combination of indie rock and D.C.’s own brand of hip hoppish, funky-fusion genre, go-go.
“All the rhythms are things that derive from the go-go rhythms,” explains Red. But don’t go looking for the classic, syncopated drum beats a la Trouble Funk or Chuck Brown. Leave that old school stuff for D.C. graffiti celebrity Cool “Disco” Dan and dancehall mixtapes. The songs heard on the band’s EP—released in 2013—are fresh. Hip. Updated.
“It’s newer. It’s a bounce beat. It’s not like classic go-go you might be thinking of … it’s from our generation of go-go,” says Gold. Green demonstrates, beatboxing the rhythm, hand tapping the table. “It’s that boom-gat-gatgat-gat,” boxes Green in rapid succession, “as opposed to [the slower beat of] boom-bap-boom-boombap,” he adds. On top of the beat, guitars jam out danceable indie rock rhythms. Harmonized, deep choruses often accompany leading vocals. The stuff on their new, short EP—expected out this month—is what their manager Reggie Vaval calls “a bit more electronic, but still go go influenced.”
Like a go-go show, their concerts attract throngs of young, energized fans ready to hit the dance floor, but without any of the cliquey callouts or crew showdowns found at traditional go-go shows. On stage, RDGLDGRN jumps, dances and headbangs. But despite heavy rock influences, tracks like “Doing the Most” and “I Love Lamp” contain little rap vignettes courtesy of vocalist Green, while songs “Power Ups” or “Million Fans” are almost exclusively rhythmic rhyme-and-verse. It’s this balance between rapping and jamming that makes the band stand out.
Although influences always creep in. While making “I Love Lamp,” for instance, the band nabbed the beat wholesale from go-go godfathers Backyard Band’s “Thug Passion.” In fact, Red says they just recreated the beat, layered some guitars and vocals on top, and called it a day. But don’t call it thievery. This kind of beat-swiping is fairly common in the world of hip-hop. If anything, it’s an homage to one of D.C.’s fundamental go-go groups.
This iteration of the band traces its lineage to about a decade ago, when the trio—now pushing 30—all went to South Lakes High School at the same time, though they didn’t actually know each other then.
“You’re bound to know somebody even if you’ve never met them before,” says Gold. “The town is small enough.” And back then, they weren’t officially known as Red, Gold or Green, either. Their civilian names were, respectively, Marcus Parham, Andrei Busuioceanu and Pierre Desrosiers. But as the story goes, they soon dropped those personas for the colorful nicknames.
In their teen years, the bandmates laid the foundation for the future by absorbing D.C.’s hardcore punk and go-go scenes like sponges. “All I did was go to go-gos,” Green says. “If you went to a party, there was a go-go section of that party. Go-go was everywhere.” And if you think NoVA doesn’t have a thriving go-go scene, think again. “You walk around the area and people are listening to [go-go] in their cars,” Red says.
Like most bands, the group met by serendipity. “Someone I played basketball with introduced me to these guys,” says Gold. As soon as they met, they clicked, and began crafting their sound right away. “Since the day I met these guys, we’ve written music [together]. We’ve never stopped writing music,” says Gold.
In 2008, they formed The Five One, a band that included RDGLDGRN’s lineup, plus one more member, “Blue.” They played plenty of local shows and amassed a ton of fans. But their productivity was shoddy, at best—new music came in spurts, followed by periods of radio silence. A few times, the band almost broke up. Fans were kept in the dark and many wondered the status of the band every time they stopped. But slowly, the shows kept trickling in, and the positive reviews were stacking up. In 2011, The Five One planned to release RED BLUE GREEN GOLD, a professional album funded by more than $4,000 in Kickstarter seed money. But then, as quick as the band had appeared on the scene, they broke up.
Among the fan base, there were rumors that a serious blowout happened on Blue’s end. If you ask the members of RDGLDGRN, they’ll say Blue parted ways with the group and leave it at that. Details are murky. “He’s like Nightwing,” says Green, referring to Robin’s rogue alter-ego created out of a serious feud with Batman. “He saw a different way of handling the business, and Batman had his way of doing things.” Basically, he explains, it came down to “creative differences,” the catch-all explanation that follows every band breakup.
Blue, on the other hand, tells a different story. “They went [to] Cali to explore the option of moving forward with The Five One minus Blue,” he wrote on his blog, bluefiveone, in September of 2011, shortly after the breakup. “I didn’t lock them out of our websites, I didn’t cut them out of any revenue, I didn’t try to change the names of the sites to my new project,” he adds.
Just four months after playing their last show as The Five One, the band went into hibernation—sans Blue—and bided their time. After going through the rough patch, the guys felt like the band needed a makeover. They kicked around a few ideas, but eventually landed on the one constant they’d had over the years, their signature colors.
On a whim late one night, they uploaded an early version of “I Love Lamp,” a song originally conceived as a Five One track, to SoundCloud, the social media music sharing site. The song wasn’t finished, and they weren’t ready to unveil it to the world just yet. Green admits that, at that point, they didn’t really understand how SoundCloud worked. Instead of functioning like a storage cloud for song drafts, the platform made everything visible to users, and contrary to what they assumed, nothing the band uploaded was private. Three hours after posting the track, the clicks came, buzz swelled and the band was back in the game, whether they wanted to be or not. It was official: The band’s super secret side project had leaked, and the cat was out of the bag—The Five One was dead. RDGLDGRN was alive.
In that three hours, a blogger picked up the scent. While the band slept, he typed. “Mysteriously, this track wound up in my inbox today,” wrote author “Mueez,” on the music website The Quiet Floor, a blog that focuses on hip hop and indie records. “RDGLDGRN? I don’t remember ever following them. Something about their sound sounded … a lot like this one band that I fell in love with earlier this year: The Five One.” Mueez continues: “It really didn’t click until I heard the singer drop the n-bomb. Only one indie-hipster-rap band has a roster appropriate enough to be able to say that. … It looks like The Five One no longer exists. RDGLDGRN has replaced [them].” Though it unnerved Green a little at the time, he can laugh about it now. “The guy was like, ‘it could only be one band that would do some shit like that,’” he says while laughing. And although their first single dropped without the pomp and circumstance they had hoped for, it garnered attention from some seriously big names.
From Foo Fighters to Pharrell
Though the band attracted plenty of local attention, they also caught the eye of hitmaker Kevin Augunas, who’s worked with Gotye, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Cold War Kids. In a whirlwind, the trio scored a four-song EP and set to work in the famous Sound City studio in Van Nuys, California. At first, the lavishness was a little foreign for the band—to this day, Green says he records some of his best stuff in his bedroom at his mom’s house. But the more they worked, the more they realized they’d really made it.
“We were staying at Oakwood Apartments [in LA] where Rick James died, where Nirvana stayed when they were recording Nevermind,” says Gold. “It’s a historical place.”
Then, Augunas dropped a bomb on the group: Dave Grohl, Arlington native, Nirvana drummer, Foo Fighters lead singer and all around musical legend, heard their work, liked it and wanted to play drums on their new EP. Needless to say, the guys were ecstatic. “That shit was really fucking cool,” says Red.
Just as Augunas explained would happen, they got the call one random morning—they’d been summoned. Grohl was in the studio setting up. The first thing the band saw when they stepped into the studio was a monster spread of food. “They had Cracker Jacks, Dave’s favorite,” says Gold. Then, they spotted Grohl and some producers chatting at the sound board. They were talking about the production of Grohl’s now-acclaimed documentary on Sound City and its famous board, and trio had mistakenly interrupted. “We kinda walk in, and he’s at the control booth with the engineers,” says Green. But instead of pulling a rockstar move and ignoring the guys, Grohl stood up, walked over to them, and shook their hands. “He introduces himself as if we don’t know who he is, which was super cool,” says Green. After small talk, it was time to get to work—and Grohl killed it. “He worked out like a machine,” says Gold. “He did a lot of songs really quickly.”
“Everything we do is above and beyond our expectations,” says Green. “We work with Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl played in Nirvana.” Then, there was the time they worked with Pharrell Williams, producer, singer, rapper and similarly, another Virginia native. The story goes like this: Pharrell was at a listening party for Universal Republic (now Republic Records), which owns the band’s label, Fairfax Recording. When a RDGLDGRN song came on, Pharrell was intrigued. He liked what he heard.
The band spent three days in the studio with him, hashing out lyrics to the song “Doing the Most.” And despite Red’s assessment that Pharrell wore a “thirty-million-dollar chain the size of Rhode Island,” to the recording sessions, there was little time to gawk at the celebrity. “We were in awe of how he works, and we went to work with him. It wasn’t a time to be supremely enthused.” Pharrel, like Grohl, was humble, generous and nurturing. “We’re all peers now. It’s that vibe,” adds Red.
No Sleep Till Reston
Nowadays, the band spends up to half a year touring the country at shows that include SXSW, Van’s Warped Tour and D.C. 101’s Chili Cook-Off. But when the Reston rockers do return to their hometown, they usually get a few starstruck stares. Once, in a Wal-Mart, Green was approached by a fan looking for a photo to tweet. But that fan was one of the more visible ones. “Sometimes they don’t even approach us, but then they’ll tweet, ‘I just saw Green’” he says. “I was walking my dog around the lake, and a guy stopped me and was like, hey, you’re in that band from Reston,” says Gold. It’s no surprise that a nationally touring act makes ripples in the placid pond from which they came. South Lakes High School in Reston hasn’t spawned many famous alumni. Sure, rapper-producer Benny Blanco, (he produced Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” Kesha’s “Tik Tok”) once walked its hallways as a teen. And yeah, Michael Jackson—the NBA player, not the musician—graduated from South Lakes in the ‘80s.
Even so, the Reston rockers are arguably the biggest thing to come out of the town in the past decade. And that can feel weird at times, especially when old friends assume they’re too busy to say hello. “Most people think we’re on the road touring … so any time they see you, they’re like, how long are you in town for?” says Gold. “It’s kind of strange to them that we even live here because most people in the music world are New York or L.A.” Despite the professional work, Reston is home base, for now.
And one of these days, the guys say, they’d like to go back to South Lakes and play a show. “We heard recently that a lot of the kids there know us,” says Gold. Green adds, “We don’t understand what South Lakes is like right now. … We gotta go there.” Who knows? Maybe they could inspire the next generation of NoVA musicians the way go-go inspired them.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, July 21st, 2014
By Elke Thoms
Are words like “avast” and “me hearties” commonplace in your home of pirate-fanatic children? This Saturday, Lake Fairfax Park will provide a day that’s a welcome alternative to watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the 67th time.
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Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Need a new spot to nosh? Here’s our list of new and almost-opened restaurants. Know of a new or soon-to-open spot? Email email@example.com.
America Eats Tavern; Tysons, American, $$$; Opened June
Bistro Atelier Dulles; French, $$$; Opened June | MORE: Bistro Atelier serves 1,100 customers on opening weekend.
Ciao Osteria; Centreville, Neopolitan Pizzeria, $$; Opened April | MORE: The owner of Pan e Vino opens a Neapolitan pizza restaurant.
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Posted by Editorial / Monday, June 30th, 2014
By Emily Rust
School’s out, the pool’s already getting old and the kids’ summer boredom has set in. To change up the routine, hit these local events in between Fourth of July parades and festivals.
National Geographic Kids Club
July 1, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Even indoors, insects rule this month’s kids club. For a shopping break, Bob the Bug Man will help children wrangle up bugs using a bug net and magnifying glass. Snacks, music, a bug themed story and games will help children learn more about creepy crawlies. Insider tip: To hear about more kids events, register for free online. Show your membership card to the Concierge Desk to receive a free Tysons Corner Center Balloon. / Bloomingdale’s Court Level One, Tysons Corner Center; 1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean; free
Taratibu Youth Association
July 3, 10:30 a.m.
The Maryland-based youth dance company performs hip-hop, modern and traditional African dance, teaching children about African and African-American culture. Ranging in age from 11 to 18, dancers combine vocal performances with dance. Their Wolf Trap performance will include a new Taratibu piece that encourages audience participation. / Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, Wolf Trap; 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; $8
Parent/Child Arts and Crafts Workshop
July 5, 10 a.m.-noon
If you’re already tired of the oppressive summer heat, remember the days of winter chill with “Winter in July” themed crafts. Little ones will decorate paper plates with scenes of Santa’s summer vacation and artist Pat Mcintyre will help them turn their creations into snowglobes. / Reston Art Gallery & Studios; 11400 Washington Plaza West, Reston; free
Patty Shukla Kids Music
July 5, 10:30 a.m.
With six music apps, 5 CDs and more than 77,000 YouTube subscribers, Patty Shukla is ready to keep children entertained. Her interactive performance and upbeat songs will keep your keeps awake on Saturday morning. / Jammin Java; 227 Maple Ave E, Vienna; $8
Kids Fishing Clinic
July 5, 11 a.m.
Bring a fishing pole and head out to the Occoquan Reservoir, to learn the basics of fishing. Children will learn about different types of fish and how to adjust their fishing rods accordingly. Later on, families can rent boats or hit the trail and bike beginner, intermediate and advance loops. / Fountainhead Regional Park; 10875 Hampton Road, Fairfax Station; free, reservations required
The Ice Queen
July 5, 1 p.m.
For fairytale lovers, this original play follows the story of the Ice Queen’s quest to find love including trouble with Jack Frost along the way. / Workhouse Arts Center; 9601 Ox Road, Lorton; $9-12
For some Northern Virginia’s artists, making art has become intertwined with spreading cultural awareness and expressing a passion for the betterment of society. –Shelby Robinson
Richard Knox Robinson
“I didn’t go into making films to be an activist, I just researched my films too much and found information that I couldn’t reconcile with,” says Richard Knox Robinson. His interest in research and film took the Reston native from a photography job with National Geographic to George Mason University for a graduate degree in filmmaking, with his first film setting the scene for a turbulent career.
“I really didn’t expect beekeeping to be political,” he says about “The Beekeepers,” (2009) his entry into the filmmaking world. It began with his interest in beekeeping but became more about the fate of bees and life as we know it, if the pesticides causing Colony Collapse Disorder are not regulated.
Controversy has since followed. His second film, “Rothstein’s First Assignment,” (2011) brought Robinson full-on scrutiny. While retracing the work of Arthur Rothstein, one of America’s premier photojournalists, Robinson discovered, through interviews, photo archives and court documents, that the then Resettlement Administration’s relocation project of a community in the Appalachian Mountains was a falsehood. The people Rothstein was so diligently photographing and recording were in fact part of an experimental eugenics program. The film elicited criticism from a Farm Security Administration Scholar and was publicly critiqued by Rothstein’s daughter as well as the Journal of American History.
“[The Journal of American History critic] didn’t critique me on the technique, he tried to critique me on the facts, and he’s wrong. He says it’s untrue because I don’t say who was sterilized in the film, but I can’t and he knows I can’t,” says Robinson referring to the requested anonymity of the still-living Madison County residents who were involved in the program.
James Madison University will be hosting a screening “Rothstein’s First Assignment” this fall, and Robinson’s newest film “Song of the Cicadas,” relating the “prisoners of the underground” to political prisoner Timothy Blunk, and will be at the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, Colorado.
Composer Jonathan Kolm says he wishes people would remove the stigma around the word “activist” and just see that “being an environmentalist is just being a good citizen. Our long-term safety and health is connected to our immediate surroundings and the air around us, the climate and the world as a whole.”
When Kolm was working on his undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University, his goal was to graduate and compose beautiful music. However, during his doctoral program, he read Richard Heinburg’s “The Party’s Over,” which discusses issues surrounding the depletion of fossil fuels. This led to a shift in Kolm’s thinking. He’d never been exposed to environmental issues. “By the end of my studies these issues were becoming important to me in my compositions. I was really interested in using my work to deal with some of these issues.”
Kolm’s recent composition, “Terra Secundum” (meaning “earth after”), is a musical reflection on the possible fate of industrialized society. Another, “Renewables,” explores the possibility of renewable energy. Kolm says that his audiences have generally been very supportive and responsive, mentioning, “although activists and environmentalists can’t match the money that’s being put on the other side of the equation, we can use our creativity to reach people and build a larger coalition of citizens to affect change.”
Composing music starts conversations about the environment and brings attention to the issues, he says. “Activists and people who work in environmental fields often feel as though their work doesn’t get noticed or doesn’t get the attention that it deserves or would like. But having art that reflects on the same issues creates a broader dialogue and bigger space to have conversations about change on a bigger level.”
Kolm teaches music and composition at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus and is the faculty advisor of the NVCC Alexandria Green Team. Check Kolm’s website, jonathankolm.com, for upcoming shows and more information about his compositions.
Christopher Morgan is a cultural diplomat. He has performed and worked with dancers and choreographers in Hong Kong, Lithuania, Ireland and Palestine, to name a few.
In 2002, Morgan was commissioned to choreograph a dance in Lithuania called “Ties that Bind,” which used visual metaphors to explore themes of restriction. A particularly moving experience for him because when he choreographed the piece and was working in Lithuania, “They were not so far out of their time as a communist country and being under the Soviet Union. So a lot of the dancers in the company had a perspective on restriction that I couldn’t have personally. … That kind of restriction was something that was new to me.”
From this point on Morgan went on to choreograph dances such as “Rice,” “The Measure of a Man” and “Dissolving,” about racial identity, gender identity and environmentalism, respectively. Morgan remembers “Rice,” which explored his feelings about growing up as an Asian in a predominantly white community through the systematic washing of rice, as being particularly moving to audiences, specifically when weeks after a performance a 12-year old asked him if he had really wished to have lighter skin as a kid. Morgan told the 12 year old that although he felt that way as a kid, he has since learned the value of cultural diversity, specifically in his own background.
Morgan uses his role as a cultural diplomat to open dialogue about pressing issues because he strongly believes that art with deeper motives has the power to move people in a positive direction and that “art informs diplomacy through culture.”
Morgan teaches choreography at American University and his dance company Christopher K. Morgan & Artists frequently performs at the Alden Theatre in McLean. Check for his upcoming shows on his website christopherkmorgan.com.
By Elke Thoms
It’s difficult enough to remember that you need exercise after sitting at a desk all day, and if you have a furry friend waiting for you at home, they need some calorie-burning, too.
Luckily, the weather is warm and there are plenty of dog parks around. Visit one, and your dog can get the workout they want, and you can tell yourself that standing outside and checking your phone while your pup plays counts as exercise.
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By Emily Rust
Bob Woodward’s meeting place with ‘Deep Throat’ in Rosslyn to be torn down
Reston kayaker found in home after rescue workers’ three-day search on the Potomac River
Severance denied bond in weapons case
U.S. Olympic Committee names D.C. among 4 U.S. finalists to host 2024 Games
Top-40 host Casey Kasem dies
By Kate Masters
School may still be in session, but there’s still time for summer fun on the weekends. These fairs and festivals are sure to wipe away classroom woes and dish out some early amusement for families before that final school bell rings.
When: June 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Lake Anna Winery, 5621 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania
Cost: $9, ages 6 and up; children 5 and under are free
Don’t miss a chance to head back through history at the final weekend of the Virginia Renaissance Faire. Kids can carry pikes in the opening Queen’s parade, learn sword skills from professional jousters and become knights for a day in a ceremony officiated by Queen Elizabeth herself. This year’s fair includes a merchant exchange area where specific demonstrators can explain skills and customs of the period—everything from rag doll making to Renaissance clothing.
When: June 8, at sundown (around 8 p.m.)
Where: Lake Anne Plaza, 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston
June 8 is Family Night at the Lake Anne Summer Film Festival, which shows free movies on the second Sunday of every month from May to September. Pixar’s Up is scheduled to screen this Sunday, so bring the kids, a picnic, and a few lawn chairs and settle in for cinema under the stars.
3.) Taste of Reston
When: June 13, 3 to 11 p.m.; June 14, 12 to 11 p.m.
Where: Reston Town Center, 11900 Market Street, Reston
Cost: Admission is free, but food and carnival tickets each cost $20 for a set of 24
While parents enjoy local food and booze at the Taste of Reston festival, kids will have just as much fun at the Family Fun Zone. Throughout the fest, DJs there will hold dance offs, hula hoop contests and limbo lines, and there’s a family karaoke competition on Saturday from 3-5 p.m. Kids can also head to the carnival for plenty of whirling rides, from merry-go-rounds to a giant fun slide.
When: June 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly
At the Smithsonian’s 10th annual Become a Pilot Day, kids can get a taste of life in the air while staying safely on the ground. Just for the day, the Udvar-Hazy Center will display dozens of small-scale aircraft, giving kids the chance to meet their pilots and ask questions. Visitors can also take test flights in museum simulators, fly kites around the grounds and take part in hands-on crafts and experiments.
When: June 14 and 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon
Cost: $17, ages 12 and up; $8, ages 6 through 11; children 5 and under are free
Celebrate Father’s Day with the father of our country at historic Mount Vernon, George Washington’s longtime home. In addition to the usual tours of the Mansion, gardens and grounds, Washington himself will be on hand during the day to discuss his role as husband, stepfather and Founding Father. Families can also enjoy a Father’s Day barbeque on June 15 at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, not included in the admission price.
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
By Emily Rust
This weekend, Reston residents will be able to step inside their history-literally.
Incorporating the surrounding nature and architecture of Lake Anne, street artist Michael Kirby, is unveiling an interactive piece celebrating Reston’s history. The piece will only be on display from June 7-8.
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