SOJA, a reggae group founded by a group of Arlington natives, made their national television debut Monday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The band performed “Gone Today,” from their new album Strength to Survive, which is currently #1 and #2 respectively on the Billboard and iTunes reggae charts. The album was released on ATO, the record label co-founded by Dave Matthews, with whom the band has toured.
(The video, above, is queued up to the beginning of the performance.)
Also known as Soldiers of Jah Army, SOJA came from humble local beginnings. The band was founded by two best friends, Jacob Hemphill and Bobby Lee, who started performing together as middle school students in Arlington. After picking up three other bandmates in high school, SOJA was formed and began performing around the D.C. area. Following graduation, the band began touring and their success has been growing ever since.
“Over the course of the past few years, SOJA has sold more than 150,000 albums, headlined large theaters in more than 15 countries around the world, generated over 20 million+ YouTube views, amassed more than a half-million Facebook fans, and attracted an almost Grateful Dead-like international fanbase that grows with each tour, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city,” the band’s website says. “Most impressive of all, they’ve accomplished all this on their own.”
SOJA is currently on tour and will be performing for two nights at the 9:30 Club in D.C. in May. One of the nights, Saturday, May 19, will feature ?uestlove, of The Roots and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon fame, as a special guest artist. SOJA will also be performing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee in June.
Expect to see a lot more bicycles in Crystal City this weekend. Saturday is the inaugural Crystal City Diamond Derby.
Unlike most other bike races, this one takes place indoors at the parking garage at 1850 Crystal Drive. Both amateur and competitive cyclists will take part in events and attempt to win awards and prize money.
Spectators can enjoy a free party throughout the day at the lounge, which includes a large screen to watch the action, live music and a cash bar. An outdoor midway will be set up with vendors, food and a bicyclist sprint lane.
Activities start at 2:00 p.m., but the major competitions take place from 4:30-9:30 p.m. They’re immediately followed by an awards ceremony, then the Diamond Derby Ball which runs from 10:30 p.m. to midnight.
Although the event is free and open to the public, registration and fees are required for competitors.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
It’s been a contentious couple of weeks for the Westover Market and Beer Garden. Upon receiving a warning from Arlington County, it suddenly declared the beer garden would shut down until April 1. Today, the saga continues as management has decided to re-open the beer garden against the County’s wishes.
Owner Devin Hicks said he’s tried working with the county on the matter but his efforts have not been successful. Now he’s going to do what he believes Westover Market is entitled to do by law — operate a year-round patio area.
Bob Brosnan, Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, clarifies that Hicks did not receive an actual citation — as stated in a previous article — but rather a courtesy letter requesting compliance. A violation notice will likely be sent out on Monday and Westover Market will have 10 days to bring itself in compliance, or face fines, Brosnan said.
The goal is not to hinder businesses or to collect fines, it’s to keep businesses in compliance with county ordinances, according to Brosnan.
“We’ve been trying to work with them to make them understand how we can work with them legally, that is our goal,” he said. “Our goal in these cases is always compliance.”
Arlington County has developed a web page specifically relating to the beer garden at Westover Market. On the page, it states that establishments with outdoor patios must have ample parking for the number of people being served, but that parking requirement is reduced if the establishment is near a Metro stop. The County allows establishments to get around the parking rule by becoming “seasonal” and closing for three or more months each year.
Because the Westover beer garden isn’t deemed as having enough parking, it’s supposed to be seasonal. However, Hicks points out the rule is technically a “guideline” and not an actual “ordinance.” He believes the county has been enforcing a measure that was never officially put in the books.
The County’s web page for Westover Market links to another County page, titled “Guidelines for Outdoor Cafes.” On that document it states: “Unless otherwise required by the County Board, outdoor cafes shall be exempt from any parking requirement.” It goes on to say: “There is no explicit requirement in the Zoning Ordinance that requires them to be temporary or seasonal.”
Of his long-running trouble with the county, Hicks said relations have improved over the past year or so, but he believes he’s currently being unfairly targeted with the enforcement of the seasonal rule.
“We’re just going to go ahead and do what’s legally right,” Hicks said. “There’s nothing in the rules that says it has to be seasonal.”
The whole family can enjoy the free event at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper St) from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Visitors can taste soul food and browse vendor displays while being entertained by various types of music and dancing teams, in addition to a comedian. Children’s activities such as arts and crafts, face painting and balloon art will keep little ones occupied.
On the more serious side, the “Hall of History” will display photos and artifacts from Arlington’s historically black neighborhoods, along with African Americans in the Civil War. There will be a WalkAbout of the Hall’s Hill/Highview area. Visitors can also take advantage of health services, from free screenings to flu shots.
Attendees can buy raffle tickets to win a vacation getaway. The winner receives two round-trip tickets to one of 40 destinations in Africa.
Parking at the event will be limited, so free shuttles will run from Glebe Elementary School (1770 N. Glebe Rd) and the Carver (1415 S. Queen St) and Charles Drew (3500 23rd St S.) Community Centers.
Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday. To avoid ending up in the dog house, now would be a good time to secure some plans with your loved one. While Arlington offers a plethora of options for celebrating, here are just a few to consider for this weekend and the big day on Tuesday.
- Celebrate with the traditional holiday staples of wine and chocolate at Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St). The Sweetheart Tasting on Saturday includes tastes of French and Italian wines and four stations of cheese, chocolates, cupcakes and charcuterie. Participants also get a box of chocolates to take home. Runs from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and costs $49.99 per person (discount for wine club members). Call 703-888-0845 for reservations.
- Aroma Indian Restaurant (4052 Campbell Ave) is hosting a “Love Bites Valentine’s Night” on Saturday, starting at 8:30 p.m. The bash boasts of a DJ, champagne toast, contests and prizes, cash bar and unlimited food with admission. Tickets cost $75 for a couple and $40 for singles.
- Make your date laugh with a night of comedy at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). The evening starts with stand-up comedy about relationships, then moves on to a showing of “The Princess Bride.” Tickets are $8. The 7:00 p.m. event is sold out, but there are still spots available for the 9:50 p.m. event. An optional wine tasting is also available for an additional cost.
- Learn how to whip up some romantic dishes at Sur La Table (1101 S. Joyce St) during a cooking class. The “Breakfast in Bed” class runs on Sunday and Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The class is $69.00 per person and can be booked online.
- Take in some romantic tunes while picking out last minute gifts at Market Common (2700 Clarendon Blvd). A guitarist, violinist and accordionist will play classic love songs while strolling from store to store from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Several stores will offer deals or discounts on merchandise.
- Surprise your special someone with a singing telegram. From Sunday through Tuesday, a women’s quartet from the Potomac Harmony Chorus will deliver two songs, a card and a box of candy. Today is the last day to order, by calling 703-764-3896. Options and pricing can be found online.
- Join the Opera Guild of Northern Virginia for its “That’s Amore Valentine’s Day Concert” at 4301 Wilson Blvd. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for refreshments and shopping, concert starts at 7:00 p.m. Suggested donations for advance tickets and for walkups are available online.
Starting on Tuesday, designers, models and fashionistas will take over the former food court at the Crystal City Shops (1750 Crystal Drive) for five days devoted to all things fashion.
Attendees can take part in trunk show sales, watch models sport the latest trends on the runway, or indulge in food and drinks while taking in music. They can also find deals of up to 50 percent off on items at some boutiques. Makeovers for hair and makeup will be available, as well.
Events run from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. each night from Feb. 7 through Feb. 11, and are free to the public. Some of the local personalities who will be hosting the events include NBC4′s Angie Goff, Hot 99.5′s Sarah Fraser, D.C. Magazine’s Karen Sommer Shalett, Pinkline Project’s Philippa Hughes, former Miss D.C. Kate Michael and former America’s Next Top Model contestant Bianca Chardei.
Organizers are promising even more shopping opportunities at this year’s five-day event, where more than 40 local designers and boutiques will be represented. A full list of participants can be found online.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Hotel Palomar For Sale? — Connecticut-based HEI Hospitality LLC is in talks to buy Hotel Palomar (1121 19th Street N.) in Rosslyn for a reported $45 million, or nearly $300,000 per room. The high-end hotel is currently owned by JBG Cos. and operated by Kimpton Hotels. [Bloomberg]
Redistricting Lawsuit Could Delay Primaries — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has requested that the state delay the June 12 congressional primaries by two months, following a decision by the Virginia Supreme Court to allow a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s recent redistricting process to proceed. [Washington Post]
Planetarium Renovations On Track — Renovations to Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium are underway and on schedule. The modernized planetarium is expected to reopen this fall, perhaps as early as September. A citizen-formed nonprofit group, the Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium, helped to raise more than $400,000 for the renovations. [Sun Gazette]
Yorktown Band Seeks Donations — The Yorktown Band Boosters are seeking donations of used musical instruments and cases. The 501(c)3 nonprofit asks that those with questions about donating call 703-228-5370.
Yorktown High School students found a creative way to remind their classmates to avoid drinking during Homecoming: they created an original song and a corresponding music video.
“[The video] was produced as part of the school’s participation in the Choose Health campaign to reach out and work on guiding students to better, healthier choices,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “The message to students is to stay sober and make good choices during Homecoming.”
Yorktown’s Homecoming was held earlier this month.
Construction to Begin on Rosslyn Office Project — The long-stalled Central Place office project may finally be moving forward. Developer JBG says construction on a new 390-foot office tower, adjacent to the Rosslyn Metro station, will likely begin in the second quarter of 2012. The project will be competing with the nearby 1812 N. Moore Street project for the title of tallest skyscraper in the D.C. area. [Washington Post]
Taxi Fee Increase in the Works — The Arlington County Board is expected to advertise public hearings for a possible increase in two fees charged by taxi cabs. County staff is recommending the initial base taxi fare (the “drop fee”) be raised from $2.75 to $3.00, while also recommending the extra-passenger charge be hiked from $1.00 to $1.50. All fees charged by Arlington-based taxis are set by the county. [Sun Gazette]
Is Arlington Blocking I-66 Widening? — Why isn’t VDOT rushing to widen additional sections of I-66 inside the Beltway? Bob Chase, of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance blames obstructionism from Arlington. But County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman says a lack of money is behind the lack of action — and that Arlington “by itself doesn’t have the power to get in the way of more lanes.” [Washington Examiner]
H-B Woodlawn, a.k.a. Hippie High — H-B Woodlawn Secondary School — the educational experiment once known as ‘Hippie High’ — turned 40 this year. According to the Post: “Hippie High enters middle age far more conventional than it once was, with many of its students loading up on AP courses and obsessing about their SAT scores and grade-point averages just like their peers at ordinary high schools.” [Washington Post]
This summer Joel Orbina Laguidao, the Red Top Cab driver who keeps a portable karaoke machine in his taxi, gained regional notoriety thanks to local media coverage.
Now, the ‘Karaoke Cab’ has gone national, thanks to a feature story on this morning’s Today Show.
As part of the five-minute segment, Today Show co-host Savannah Guthrie took a musical ride around Arlington in the Karaoke Cab with Joel. As Arlington landmarks like Whitlow’s passed by in the background, Guthrie was joined in the cab by a number of random taxi passengers and by one not-so-random Arlington resident: NBC News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd.
Guthrie called the cab “a new innovative way of getting around the D.C. area” that “gives a whole new meaning to ‘traffic jam.’”
The segment was filmed on Friday, Sept. 16, with the cooperation of Clarendon-based Red Top Cab.
Have you ever hopped in a Red Top Cab at night and realized that it wasn’t just a taxi, it was a karaoke parlor on wheels?
If so, you’ve probably met Joel Orbina Laguidao, the subject of an amusing Washington Post Style section feature this week.
A former truck driver, Laguidao started driving a cab shortly after moving to Virginia from the Philippines. After becoming bored with just driving all the time, he installed a karaoke machine.
The Post recently rode shotgun as Laguidao hauled bar-goers from Clarendon back to their apartments in Ballston, Pentagon City and elsewhere. Intrepid reporter Dan Zak bore witness to the looks of disbelief on the faces of first-time riders, and to the loud, terrible drunken singing that serenades Laguidao during his workday (that is, when Laguidao is not on the mic himself).
The symphony, conducted by Jeff Dokken, will play at a free concert called “Honoring America” which will feature patriotic-themed classical music. It will take place tonight at 7:30 in the theater at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road).
The Symphony Orchestra of Arlington is a professional caliber volunteer orchestra founded in January. Its goal is to foster education, outreach and entertainment while providing high quality classical music to residents in and around Arlington.
The concert will also feature the Open5ths, a Washington, D.C. based men’s chorus.
Rep. Jim Moran isn’t the only member of the Moran family who’s courting your vote. Keira Moran, the congressman’s granddaughter, needs your help to win an national songwriting contest.
Keira’s song “When I’m With You” is one of two finalists in an online competition on SmashTune.com. The 16-year-old T.C. Williams (Alexandria) High School student is neck-and-neck against her fellow finalist, 22-year-old Californian Lucia Sosa. Voting closes today at 2:00 p.m.
Rep. Moran has been campaigning for Keira and posting words of encouragement on the contest page.
“You’re an amazing talent Keira,” he wrote, via Facebook. “I’m so proud of you – not just because of your songwriting and other artistic gifts, but even more so because of what a truly good and kind person you are. I’m one lucky Grandpa!”
In addition to playing the piano, Keira is also the first chair cello in the T.C. Williams orchestra. See her perform other self-written songs here.
We’re turning off the comments to prevent the inevitable creep of politics into a basically non-political story.
Groundbreaking for Lee Highway Condos — The Christopher Companies has broken ground on Dominion Heights, a 66-unit condo building at 3565 Lee Highway. Construction is expected to last 14-18 months. [Marketwire]
Suggestions for Field Near Ballston Mall — One writer has a suggestion for a barren quarter-acre field next to the Ballston Common Mall parking garage at the corner of Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street. The field should be turned into a public plaza, complete with specimen trees and a lunch kiosk, GGW’s Joey Katzen writes. [Greater Greater Washington]
It’s Accordion Awareness Month — One Arlington resident and hardcore accordion enthusiast describes how she’s celebrating National Accordion Awareness Month. [Patch]
Tuckahoe staffers produced and starred in a music video set to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” as an “end of the year gift” to students.
The video is intended to be “something to make [students] smile and uplift them before they go off for the summer,” in the words of one teacher.