Jammin Java’s Luke Brindley dishes on new D.C. venue

Union Stage opens this fall on the D.C. southwest waterfront.

Union Stage
Image courtesy of The Wharf

For roughly 16 years, Jammin Java has delivered buzzworthy entertainment to Vienna, from budding singer-songwriters to nationally recognized rock artists. It’s soon to bring its successful formula of intriguing performers, good eats and a superior sound system to the booming Southwest D.C. waterfront with the opening of Union Stage this fall. The 7,500-square-foot facility—double the size of Jammin Java—will be able to house up to 450 concertgoers and will feature three bars. Marketing manager Luke Brindley, one-third of the team of Brindley brothers that run Jammin Java, spoke with us about the new digs.

Why a second performance space, and why now?

We have always wanted to have a place in the city proper because we definitely have a niche out in the suburbs. We’ve made a name for ourselves, and we’ve been there for almost 16 years. But a lot of the bands want to play in the city proper, and we definitely understand that. Over the years, we’ve been approached by a lot of developers, but this was the first time it really made sense. And we were at a good place to take the next steps.

It’s an entirely new space, right?

Yeah, it’s totally brand new. It’s called The Wharf, a development along the Southwest waterfront. The people who run 9:30 Club are opening a venue called the Anthem, so they’ll be down there. That was one of the main reasons for us wanting to be there, too, because we think it will be a very complementary relationship and help to create a cool live music scene.

Are all three Brindley brothers running Union Stage?

It will still be the three of us, and then we have a great team of managers and production people and bartenders and kitchen people. Some of them will move over to the new venue.

Does this location feature more bars than Jammin Java?

Yeah, there’s two levels, and on the upstairs level is a smaller bar, which will have a great beer selection. It will be open before and after the show so people can come early after work and hang out up there. It’s separate from the concert area, so people don’t have to worry about being quiet. And then downstairs in the concert area, there will be two bars and a full kitchen.

Will you bring in similar artists to those that Jammin Java hosts?

It will be similar but not the same. I think [there will be] a lot of variety, like what we have now. And it will mostly be nationally touring acts of a certain caliber. But I think we’ll probably get more rock stuff, more city-type music. Basically, I think we can kind of expand the genres of what we present because just being in the city, you have access to more people, a denser population.

Are you at all worried about people leaving Jammin Java?

No, I don’t think so. I think there’s enough demand to do both. And the way it works with us is people come to see whoever’s playing. They’re going to follow the artist. So if their favorite artist is playing at Jammin Java, they’ll come to Jammin Java. But if their favorite artist is playing at Union Stage, they’ll come to Union Stage.

Are you still planning on doing your Local Scene shows and maybe just having D.C.-based versus Virginia-based artists?

We’ll definitely make a point of incorporating some local music. We’ll have more presence in the D.C. scene. We have a really popular kids music program that we do as well, a couple local bands and then a lot of touring acts for kids and families that come through. And people in that scene really know us for that. We’ll continue to do that as well.

Image courtesy of the Wharf