Washington Women and Wine on the Road

September 7, 2011

On Aug. 15, members of WW&W hopped aboard a motor coach in Ballston. The first stop was Doukénie Winery in Hillsboro, VA. In June of this year the Land Trust of Virginia honored winery owners George and Nicola Bazaco for their commitment to preserving “one of Northern Loudon Country’s most spectacular properties.” Maria Canora poured a variety of wines and family member Hope Bazaco brought homemade baklava and freshly picked figs. It was then on to Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, one of the largest wineries East of the Mississippi, where the sampling continued. Several local residents joined up for luncheon at the Yellow Brick Bank in Shepherdstown, WV. Terry Swift spoke of his involvement with the arts and asked the group to his historic home. Jim Surkamp led an insider’s walking tour and WW&W co-founder Karen McMullen directed the bus driver around town before everyone contently headed home. [gallery ids="99226,103560,103556,103539,103552,103544,103548" nav="thumbs"]

Washington Area Concierge Association Gala

August 25, 2011

The Washington Area Concierge Association themed its annual gala “Uncover Your Code” as guests converged at Barcode on Aug. 14. WACA has donated over $400,000 to charitable organizations. This year’s recipients are The John B. Campbell Hospitality Scholarship, Les Clefs d’Or and Les Clefs d’Or Foundation as well as the Katzen Center Research Center at GW University Hospital. The festive evening featured a fundraising raffle and silent auction. WACA President Luis Colmenares said “I can’t wait to celebrate the monumental achievements of our tourism industry….regardless of the political or economic climate around us.” [gallery ids="100273,107064,107095,107091,107069,107087,107083,107074,107079" nav="thumbs"]

Second Annual Green Fair at The Fairmont

August 24, 2011

On Aug. 12, The Fairmont Washington held its Second Annual Green Fair in the sunlit Colonnade room. The hotel’s green partners, including the neighboring World Wildlife Fund, Capital Bikeshare, FRESHFARM Markets, Nusta Spa and Carbon – A Sustainable Chic Boutique, manned exhibits. Guests could meet the hotel’s resident beekeeper and sample Executive Chef Jason Dalling’s organic hors d’oeuvres. [gallery ids="100272,107054,107066,107059,107063" nav="thumbs"]

PAL at Pete’s

People Animals Love invited supporters to join PAL volunteers at a Yappy Hour on Aug. 16 at Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza. Pete’s regular patrons are so accustomed to seeing family pets that they did not initially grasp that this was a fundraiser. Founded in l982, PAL is today the premier pet visit organization in the DC area with 300 certified volunteer teams. These two- and four-legged volunteers make thousands of visits annually, lifting spirits in nursing homes, mental health facilities, hospices, military hospitals and undeserved schools. [gallery ids="102540,120046,120028,120020,120033,120039" nav="thumbs"]

Washington Animal Rescue League’s Paws at the Park

The League held an Aug. 10 Paws at the Park cocktail hour where canines and bipeds mingled on the patio of the Park Hyatt. The event followed the previous weekend’s hugely successful Adopt-A-Thon when 79 dogs and 34 cats were adopted under a “pay what you will for priceless pets” policy. Several adoptables were at the Park Hyatt which bills itself as the “city’s most sophisticated pet-friendly hotel.” Raul Catangui was proud to announce the launching of the new website BowWowMatch.com. Pro Feed supplied doggie goodie bags. [gallery ids="99237,103964,103995,103969,103991,103974,103987,103979,103983" nav="thumbs"]

Tribute to a Rock N’ Roll Icon

August 10, 2011

August may be the dog days of summer, but it also has every year now for the past seven years been the occasion to look forward to one of the top musical events of the year.

That would be when the Music Center at Strathmore, with Bandhouse Gigs, hosts its annual tribute concert honoring iconic figures, events and themes from rock and pop music history featuring the very best of an array of local musicians, singers and performers.

Originated in 2004 by Bandhouse Gigs—a not-for-profit volunteer group founded by Ronnie Newmyer, Chuck Sulllivan, David Sless and Danny Schwartz—the concert began as an outdoor venue at Strathmore but soon moved indoors into the concert hall. The first tribute concert honored legendary solo and group (E Street Band) rocker Neal Lofgren. Others followed: Neil Young, an almost archetype California rocker and the “Heart of Gold,” member of Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, the band considered by some the best rock band ever; Bob Dylan; folk-and-jazz queen and pure singer Joni Mitchell; Woodstock as the music and watershed 1960s event; and The British invasion.

This year’s Bandhouse Gig is the Tribute to Simon and Garnfunkel and Paul Simon on August 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore’s Concert Hall.

“How could you not?” Ronnie Newmyer said in an interview. “Simon, with Garfunkel, and as a solo performer and composer, has probably had more hits than anybody alive and has influenced more musicians than you can count. Think about it, they had their first hit in high school.”

As a duo, beginning in 1965, Simon (Paul) and Garfunkle (Art), the short one and the afro-blonde one, came up with songs that defined a generation of young people from the early 1960s on, kids that weren’t necessarily born rock and rollers, kids as sensitive, slightly alienated outsiders who could appreciate a song that begins with “Hello, darkness my old friend” (“The Sound of Silence”). The guys weren’t jocks but were fans, they weren’t popular but they were cool and smart and they carried certain angst around with them with a sweet flair. Some of them wore leather jackets instead of letter jackets.

“That was the first stage, all those wonderful songs and harmonies, “The Boxer,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Mrs. Robinson.” “They were poems, quiet anthems,” Newmyer said. “And they were hugely popular.”

“What we were trying to do here is not just make it Simon and Garfunkel, but also Paul Simon, who’s still going strong,” Newmyer said. “I’d say the program is split half and half between S&G and Simon solo. And let me tell you it was tough picking the songs, hard to make the cuts and then to match them with performers.”

So for S&G purists and Simon fans, be prepared to have your feelings hurt. There are some notable absences, including “My Little Town,” the touchstone song Simon and Garfunkel recorded after they broke up, “I am a Rock….I am an Island,” and “Slip Sliding Away.”

“That was hard,” Newmyer, who has his own band called “Soul Cracker,” said. “But hell, you could make a tribute concert out of the “Bridge over Troubled Water” album alone, that’s how good they were and are.”
It would be a mistake to think of these concerts as if they were one of those public television or Time Life golden oldies occasions, although no questions, old songs return like transformed angels.

The most revolutionary and exciting aspect of these concert is the mash of a very familiar song-list—for the most part—with performances drawn from a rich array of Washington performers, some nationally known, others young and new and gifted, some of them graduates of Strathmore’s artist in residence programs, like the youthful rock/pop dynamo Margot MacDonald, who will be on hand again this year.

“That’s the really rich part of this, because the performances transform the songs, make them seem fresh and contemporary,” Newmyer said. “Plus, I think it’s a true showcase of Washington area performers who play everywhere in local venues like the Birchmere or the 9:30 Club. This isn’t a sing along, it’s about as an exciting a concert as you can imagine.”

“We’ve got Julia Nixon, who is such a gifted singer and who’ll be doing ‘Bridge over Troubled Water,’” he said. “There’s this new, young singer, Victoria Vox, who’ll sing ‘Mother and Child Reunion.’”

“We’ll have a lot of younger performers this year, which should be interesting,” he added.
Other performers on tap include Deanna Bogart, Eric Brace, Chopteeth, Lea, Deep River, Ellen Cherry, The Sweater Set, Cal Everett, Deeme Katson, Ed O’Connell, David Kitchen, Ted Garber, Esther Haynes, Ronnie Newmyer and Owen Danoff, among others.

Just goes to show you, all pop/rock music history is a circle. Danoff is the son of Bill Danoff, one of the founders of Starland Vocal Band, which produced the 1980s hit “Afternoon Delight.” Danoff and co-Starland member Jon Carroll, a regular tribute participant, performed at the Joni Mitchell tribute two years ago.
[gallery ids="100265,107009,107020,107016,107014" nav="thumbs"]

Summer in the South of France Dinner at Rivers

In anticipation of Washington Women and Wine’s triumphant return to France in 2012, on July 18 the group of bon vivants gathered for a “Summer in the South of France” dinner at Rivers at the Watergate. WWW founder Karen McMullen welcomed back Robin and Paul McKenzie-Smith who had led last year’s tour and came from Fort Lauderdale, eager to return to Florida’s sea breezes. Rivers Executive Chef Michael Smithson oversaw a splendid menu of cold watercress soup, mushroom vol au vent, filet mignon and chocolate hazelnut mousse paired with special wines. French Escapade 2’s March itinerary will include visits to Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Aix-en-Provence and end merrily on the Riviera. [gallery ids="100246,106679,106710,106684,106706,106689,106702,106694,106698" nav="thumbs"]

Happenstance Theater Scores in Capital Fringe Festival

Back by popular demand, Happenstance Theater presented Manifesto! to rave reviews in this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. The setting is the surrealist Cabaret ReVoltaire where the guests are visionaries. The text is taken from real manifestos penned by Dadaists, Communists and Capitalists in the aftermath of World War I. The words are spoken by the frequenters of a cabaret run by clowns played by Happenstance’s Artistic Director Mark Jaster, his daughter Emma Jaster, Artistic Co-Director and Manager Sabrina Mandell, Gwen Grastorf, Karen Hansen and Matt Pearson. This professional company devises and produces original performer-created visual, poetic theatre that thoroughly engages the audience. [gallery ids="100247,106699,106707,106704" nav="thumbs"]

G’town Biz News Bite: ‘100 Persons for 100 Degrees’

You know you have a tight group of business leaders, when at least 100 persons show up for your June 20 networking reception at a MacArthur Boulevard dentist’s office in 100-degree weather. Georgetown Business Association members and guests met at the office and patio of Georgetown Smile, greeted by the likeable and professional Avraham “A.J.” Peretz, D.D.S., and his staff. Cold water, wine and soda along with sandwich wraps and pasta salad proved perfect at the end of a hot day. Maybe even better, there was a massage therapist — Janelle Jimason of Eastern Holistic Arts — administering soothing massages in the office’s receptionist space. Georgetown Smile t-shirts were handed out as well as samples from Sonicare and Colgate. One of the raffle winners of the Philips Sonicare toothbrushes was GBA secretary Beth Webster. (Plus: a quick thank you to GBA event chair Sue Hamilton for her headline quote.) [gallery ids="100249,106726,106719,106723" nav="thumbs"]

A Happy Birthday at Press Club: Arianna and AOL

Less than six months since the biggest merger in online news history, AOL (America Online) chief executive Tim Armstrong and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington were the headliners at a National Press Club lunch, July 15 — Huffington’s 61st birthday — to discuss the deal and the future of journalism, on-line and traditional. Since its $315 million purchase of Huffington Post in February, AOL has hired some of the biggest names in journalism while simultaneously eliminating the jobs of hundreds of full and part-time writers, editors and other employees across America. The rebuilding AOL is reshaping the entire news industry with outlets like Patch, Huffington Post and AOL specialty brands such as AOL Energy, AOL Defense and the planned AOL Government. “Self-expression is the new entertainment,” Huffington said. “People want to be part of the story of their times.” Among those at the lunch were former Sen.William Cohen and his wife Janet Langhart, Aspen Institute head Walter Isaacson, formerly of Time and CNN, media guru Tammy Haddad and publicist Jan Duplain. [gallery ids="100250,106724,106730,106728" nav="thumbs"]