Arlington, VA

Shirlington’s annual pet-friendly street festival “Wags n’ Whiskers” is returning next week.

The 12th annual pet expo is popping back up on Campbell Avenue next Saturday, August 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., outside the Village at Shirlington, and usually draws hundreds of attendees. This year’s festival will feature adoptable pets, live music, and activities like face-painting and balloon art.

About 65 local businesses and organizations will host booths along the street advertising pet wares and offering “treats and gift bags,” according to a recent press release. Veterinarians and dog trainers will also be attending to answer practice advice questions.

Singer songwriter Taylor Carson and pop rock cover band Dan Haas Trio will both perform during the weekend event.

Scenes from Wags n' Whiskers! Come join us!

Posted by The Village at Shirlington on Saturday, August 24, 2013

During the event, attendees can get pictures taken of their pets (for $5) or get a caricature drawn of them and their pet. Attendees will also have a chance to enter to win a $100 gift certificate to the nearby Dogma Bakery.

Event organizers noted in the press release that water stations will be stationed throughout the street to keep pets hydrated and cool.

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The Rosslyn Jazz Festival is coming back with some Grammy-nominated artists headlining the event.

The free festival is planned for Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1-7 p.m. at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway).

This year, the annual festival will feature:

The festival will also include food trucks, a pop-up beer and wine garden, and a visit from the Arlington Art Truck, according to its organizer, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

The focus of this year’s musical selections is art and music from the Gulf Coast, the BID said in a press release.

Attendees are encouraged to take the Metro to the Rosslyn station — a five-minute walk from the park — as parking at the festival will be limited.

Photo via Rosslyn BID

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Dutch artist Gijsbert Kok plays an instrument similar to an organ — except it controls bells instead of pipes.

The instrument is called a carillon and Kok will be playing it during his performance at the Netherlands Carillon, near Rosslyn and the Iwo Jima memorial, this Saturday (July 20).

Kok’s performance in Arlington is part of the free weekly concerts hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) through the end of the summer. The concerts run from 6-8 p.m., except for the September 2 event, which will take place from 2-4 p.m.

Guests can bring lawn chairs, blankets or simply sit on the grass. NPS suggests that guests park or arrive via the Rosslyn Metro, which is about a 15-minute walk. Parking is available at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

This year’s concert lineup for the remainder of the summer is as follows:

  • July 20 — Gijsbert Kok, Bodegraven, The Netherlands
  • July 27 — Doug Gefvert, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
  • August 3 — Edward M.Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia
  • August 10 — Lynnli Wang, Washington, D.C.
  • August 17 — Edward M. Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia
  • August 24 — Elisa Tersigni, Washington, D.C.
  • August 31 — Jesse Ratcliffe, Warrenton, Virginia
  • September 2 — Edward M. Nassor, Fairfax, Virginia

In addition to his bell ringing, Kok is also an organist who performs at churches and for concerts across the United States and Europe.

The National Park Service received the carillon as a gift from the Netherlands in commemoration of the United States’ assistance during World War ll. It is comprised of 50 bells, weighing over 30 tons. The bells are set to be removed this fall and sent via ship back to the Netherlands for cleaning as part of a major rehabilitation project.

Photo (1) via Joseph Gruber/Flickr, map via Google Maps

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A new outdoor concert series will kick off in Ballston later today.

Starting today (July 10) through the end of August, “Ballston Quarter Beats” will bring in a new band every Wednesday for a free concert at the outdoor Plaza at Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd). 

The events are being held from 5:30-8:30 p.m and attendees can expect happy-hour drink specials and food from Ballston Quarter eateries, including the Local Oyster, Ballston Service Station, and Copa Kitchen and Bar.

The series will kick off with Marvillous Beats, a Bronx-born artist who combines a mixture of jazz, classical, pop and hip-hop for a unique musical experience. Marvill Martin is an Arlington local but began his career in New York as a violinist.

This event is open to the public. No tickets are necessary. 

The summer artist lineup is listed below: 

  • July 10: Marvillous Beats
  • July 17: The Reflex
  • July 24: Pressing Strings
  • July 31: Jeremiah Miles
  • August 7: David Andrew Smith
  • August 14: Lucia Valentine 
  • August 21: Jonny Grave
  • August 28: Blue Dot Jazz Troupe
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The Village at Shirlington will be kicking off its summer concert series tomorrow (Wednesday), starting with the Dan Haas Band.

The concerts run every Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in front of Shirlington Library (4200 Campbell Avenue).

The theme of the concert series is “decades of summer,” with local bands performing music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, as well as original songs.

Attendees 21-and-over are invited to try $5 wine samplings from Cheesetique. Proceeds will go to Arlington Thrive — a nonprofit providing emergency funds to locals in need — and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue — a nonprofit that brings dogs and cats from low-income, rural shelters to the D.C. region.

The full schedule

Any rain cancellations will be announced by 4 p.m. the day of the concert, organizers say.

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The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival returns tomorrow (Saturday) with live music and several road closures.

The festival will run from 1-8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive. This year’s music lineup includes soul and blues artists Sugary Rayford, Thornetta Davis, Hardway Connection, Lauren Calve Band, and Funky Miracle.

Arlington County Police announced that some streets adjacent to the Pike will close between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday.

Road closures include:

  • Walter Reed Drive between Columbia Pike and 9th Street S.
  • 9th. Road S. between S. Garfield Street and Walter Reed Drive
  • 9th Street between S. Highland Street to Walter Reed Drive

This year, organizers are partnering with Shirlington-area New District Brewing Company to serve craft beer. Several food vendors, including Carol’s Concessions, Caspi, Mac’s Donuts, Sloppy Mama’s Barbecue, and Rebellion on the Pike, will also be serving meals during the festival, per the event’s website.

Photo (1) via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, (2) via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

More Arlington Real Estate Optimism — “According to a report released Wednesday by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, the median home price in Arlington County is on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019.” [Washingtonian]

‘Rock the Row’ Starts Tonight — The United States Navy Band Country Current will perform tonight at Pentagon Row for the shopping center’s annual Rock the Row outdoor concert series. Concerts will be held every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Pentagon Row plaza, through Aug. 1. [Pentagon Row]

Yorktown Girls Cap Off Stellar Soccer Season — “The Yorktown Patriots completed an unbeaten girls soccer season on June 8 at Hermitage High School near Richmond by winning the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state-tournament championship.” [InsideNova, InsideNova]

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This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

A great example of collaboration between Arlington County and the Community, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization presents the Columbia Pike Blues Festival for the 24th year.

It’s a collaboration with Arlington Arts, that celebrates artists for this highly anticipated annual event. As ever, the lineup is designed to get you on your feet, headlined by soul/blues vocalist and veteran Marine, Sugaray Rayford. Admission is free.

In addition to an array of available food and beverages and plenty of kids’ activities, the Festival will showcase a new Arlington Art Truck installation — Guggenheim Fellow and Baltimore artist Neil Feather’s interactive sound sculpture Futura Percussion 1860 featuring only mid-19th century technology and built from reused materials.

GRUMP is bringing local arts and crafts vendors from the area to show and sell their handmade work, from watercolor art to handmade soy candles to small batch silk screened shirts.

The Festival covers three blocks at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive.

  • Sugaray Rayford — Rayford is nominated for two 2019 Blues Awards: “Soul/Blues Male Artist” and the “B.B. King Entertainer of the Year” Award. The Desert Storm veteran spent ten years in the Marines and says, “…I’m proud of the time I served. I wouldn’t have my wife and the life I have right now had I not served.”
  • Thornetta Davis — In such a musically ‘storied’ city as Detroit, it speaks volumes that in 2015 Thornetta Davis was crowned “Detroit’s Queen of The Blues” by official city proclamation. The winner of over 30 Detroit Music Awards, Thornetta’s 1996 debut solo album Sunday Morning Music (Sub Pop) received raves in the national media. Her song “Cry” from that album was featured on the HBO hit “The Sopranos.”
  • Hardway Connection — The smooth, passionate, sometimes funky and extremely “tight” sound of The Hardway Connection will make you get up and dance! The D.C.-based band has opened for everyone from Johnny Taylor and Toni Terry, to Chuck Brown.
  • Lauren Calve Band — Washington, D.C. area singer-songwriter, guitar and lap steel player Lauren Calve’s dynamic voice, Bonnie Raitt’s smoky aura and Ben Harper’s unique slide style. She released her debut EP, “Between the Creek and the Tracks” in 2014, for which she earned a Washington Area Music Association nomination for Best Roots Rock Vocalist.
  • Funky Miracle — Funky Miracle is an exciting collective that brings a unique organ trio + vocals lineup and an improvisatory approach to classic Soul, Funk and New Orleans tunes. Members of the group have performed with some of D.C.’s funkiest outfits including The Funk Ark, and Three Man Soul Machine.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) is a coalition of businesses, civic associations, property owners and the Arlington County Government. Our Mission: To champion and connect business and community along Columbia Pike, Arlington’s oldest and newest main street, where authentic diverse neighborhoods connect to the world.

Arlington Arts, a Division of Arlington Economic Development, exists to create, support and promote the arts, connecting artists and community to reflect the diversity of Arlington County.

Taking place at the intersection of Columbia Pike and South Walter Reed Drive, the 24th Annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival takes place on Saturday, June 15, from 1-8:30 p.m.

Click here for more details.

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Morning Notes

Lawmakers Regret Hasty Reaction to Scandals — “If they had to do it all over, members of Arlington’s legislative delegation acknowledge it might have been better to hit the pause button before rushing in to judge the actions of embattled statewide officeholders.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Adds Stanley Cups to Recycling List — “Stanley cups made of silver and nickel alloy and won by the Washington NHL franchise in 2018 should be maintained and recycled by the team annually for continued Arlington-Washington regional delight. #ALL CAPS #Back2Back” [Arlington County, RMNB]

Blues Fest Lineup Announced — “Riding a wave of accolades for his just-released CD Somebody Save Me (Forty Below Records) and two 2019 Blues Award nominations, soul/blues vocalist Sugaray Rayford headlines the 24th Annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival, on Saturday, June 15, 2019.” [Columbia Pike]

Police Participating in Drug Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 17th opportunity in eight years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by huskerdont77

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The “Feel the Heritage” festival, Arlington’s annual celebration of African American history and culture, returns to Nauck this weekend.

The 27th edition of the community event is set to be held Saturday (Feb. 23) at the Charles Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.). The festival will run from 1-6 p.m.

The event is set to feature a full lineup of live entertainment, “from traditional African dancing and drumming to soul and funk,” according the event’s website. Local vendors will also be offering everything from jewelry to homemade hot sauce.

The festival will include a variety of free arts and crafts activities, plus face painting, balloon art and a chance to meet critters from the Gulf Branch and Long Branch Nature Centers.

And be sure to come hungry — the event will also feature “Foods Around the World” Plinko, giving participants a chance to taste foods from around the globe at random, as well as a “soul food cook-off competition” featuring dishes from seafood gumbo to peach pie.

Limited on-site parking will be available, with overflow parking at the Macedonia Baptist Church (3412 22nd Street S.).

If you’re planning on hopping on a scooter to head to the festival, Bird is offering $5 off for anyone using the code “BIRDHERITAGE.”

Flickr pool photo via Arlington County Parks and Recreation

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The following feature article was funded by our new Patreon community. Want to see more articles like this, exploring important local topics that don’t make our usual news coverage? Join and help fund additional local journalism in Arlington. 

 “You walked in and you just felt good,” says Eric Brace.

When the IOTA Club and Cafe, a Clarendon performance venue whose motto was “live music forever,” closed its doors in the fall of 2017 after more than 23 years, Brace took it hard. Though the Last Train Home frontman played IOTA with his rootsy rock band on two of the club’s final three evenings, he couldn’t bear to return to the club for its closing night.

“I did not go on the last day because I was kind of too sad,” says Brace, who lived in the D.C. area for about 20 years before moving to Nashville. “I was just physically and emotionally wiped out.”

In a somewhat ironic turn, Last Train Home — a band that had one of its first gigs at IOTA in the mid-’90s and went on to play annual New Year’s Eve shows there for a string of years — performed a late-December set at The Birchmere just a few hours after our conversation. The legendary Alexandria music venue was an inspiration to IOTA’s founders, longtime Arlington residents Jane Negrey Inge and brother Stephen Negrey, who identified it as one of their “idols” in a press release prior to the club’s closing.

Now, more than a year since the closing of the storied arts space — home to performances from Norah Jones, John Mayer, Ryan Adams, Dawes and countless others between 1994 and 2017 — Arlington has yet to fill the void.

For Josh Stoltzfus, deputy director of Arlington Cultural Affairs, the county arts scene is essentially a series of micro-scenes, defined by the venues and events in each neighborhood. But when it comes to specific music spaces, Stoltzfus says, “there is no one flagship that everything revolves around.” Luckily, the county boasts many restaurants and bars offering live, local music, including Galaxy Hut, Rhodeside Grill, Westover Beer Garden, Cafe Sazon and Bistro 29.

Yet none of those establishments regularly host a mix of national touring acts, D.C.-area musicians and poetry readings, as IOTA did for more than two decades.

Today, the Wilson Boulevard building that once housed IOTA lies dormant, its vestibule sporting a dangling string of twinkle lights and a well-preserved, if incongruous, welcome sign. The block is slated for redevelopment as Market Common Phase 2, a property of Regency Centers, with construction expected to begin early this year.

In the press release announcing their closure, IOTA’s owners cited the impending construction and anticipated rent increase as contributing factors in their decision. But as a cultural mainstay that managed to survive for nearly two dozen years in a transforming neighborhood, IOTA and its legacy has not been forgotten.

One project memorializing the space is “The IOTA Chair,” a video series led by D.C. musician Rachel Levitin, who purchased a chair from one of the venue’s fire sales and re-imagined it as a set piece for performances and interviews of onetime IOTA performers she posts on Facebook. Another notable tribute is on the way — in September, Inge launched a GoFundMe campaign for a book that will retell IOTA’s history through her and Negrey’s eyes. Thus far, the effort has raised only about 13 percent of its $30,000 goal but garnered dozens of supportive comments.

“IOTA was one of the most beautiful music communities I ever met in my travels; it helped make my life worth living,” writes one donor.

Inge declined to be interviewed for this article but reflected on her venue via email: “At IOTA, live music was the center and purpose of everything we did,” she writes. “We chased inspired live experiences and creative new music for our stage. Stephen and I had the honor to meet and work with wonderful poets, musicians and musical performers, touring and local. We got to know the people who appreciated the shows, who got it, and who supported IOTA to keep us going for so long.”

For D.C. singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris, who started playing IOTA in the early 2000s and has performed throughout the area, the club was “the center” of the local songwriting scene.

“It felt easy — easy to stretch out and do what you wanted to do there,” Tsaggaris says. “I’ve never felt as comfortable as I did there.”

To acquire an IOTA-esque mystique, an Arlington music venue would need to strive not just to attract talented national artists but also serve as a sought-after haunt for the local arts community. Arlington singer-songwriter Justin Trawick, founder of “The 9” songwriter series and co-host of “The Circus Life” podcast, began making the trek to IOTA from Leesburg in 2005 in pursuit of the club’s well-known open-mic night. IOTA had a scene, he says, perhaps matched today only by Jammin Java in Vienna or a couple of newer D.C. venues, such as sister venue Union Stage.

“They’ve really created an amazing culture of not only bands that play there, but people who want to hang out there in that ‘Empire Records’ kind of way,” Trawick says. “IOTA had that.”

Though IOTA certainly had a successful open-mic culture, with two sign-up times per night to accommodate the dozens of eager performers filing in, Arlington’s open-mic opportunities live on. Alexandria musician Alex Parez hosted IOTA’s weekly open mic in its final three years and has since transferred the IOTA format to Rhodeside Grill. While he says “no place can replace IOTA,” he expresses pride over the local talent that continues to surface in Arlington.

Yet Brace, who is also a former music journalist for The Washington Post and the founder of Nashville-based Red Beet Records, expressed doubts about whether modern-day Arlington can provide an affordable space for an IOTA-size venue, which had expanded its capacity to roughly 300 when it closed.

“Arlington’s square footage is so expensive; it’s hard to have a place where you can afford to just have a big empty space in the form of a stage, and it’s hard to invest a lot of money in a great sound system and have a great sound person every night the way IOTA did,” Brace says.

But with the coming arrival of Amazon HQ2 to the newly named “National Landing”, it’s not unthinkable that music venues along the lines of The Wharf’s Union Stage or Pearl Street Warehouse could be part of the development mix.

A spokesperson for National Landing developer JBG Smith declined to comment, but the property website does highlight JBG’s plans for the “Central District” redevelopment project, set to include “a 130,000-gross-square-foot entertainment and shopping destination anchored by a 49,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a specialty grocer, restaurants, bars and other experiential offerings.” Could a live performance space be one such offering?

For now, Arlingtonians hoping for an IOTA-like experience will have to wonder and wait for an existing Arlington music hub to expand its offerings (not to mention its footprint) or an entirely new venue to spring up.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Brace says. “There’s always people making music, and they’ll have little pop-up clubs in basements or house concerts. I’ll choose to be hopeful.”

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