NPR did a nice story on Sonic Circuits 2008 – I was opening the show that night. Nice story and shout out to the stalwarts in DC who keep experimental music going.
All Things Considered, January 6, 2009 – Washington, D.C., is a gray town, known more for suits than fun. There are lots of lawyers, lobbyists and politicians. But there are also lots of musicians. Washington has a long history as a home to diverse styles of music — from Duke Ellington to hardcore to go-go — and it has been a hotbed of country and bluegrass. Washington and its environs have also been home to some of the hottest guitar players ever to touch the fretboard: Roy Clark, Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton.
Today, D.C. is home to a different sort of scene: Experimental music is thriving under the city’s official radar. One of its homes is the Velvet Lounge, a neon-lit bar with blood-colored walls on the fringe of the city’s uber-trendy U Street corridor.
An Intense Whine
On a recent evening, a motionless crowd packs the lounge’s dark upper bar. The whine is intense. It’s a relentless, unforgiving, slightly pulsating, shrill cry of a sound. It’s being produced as part of an event called the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music, which showcases electronic, experimental and avant-garde music. As a slim, serious young woman with a bow at her throat manipulates circuit boards and digital delay pedals, the whine changes, lowering and distorting. Bonnie Jones was born in South Korea and raised by New Jersey dairy farmers. Now, she lives near D.C.