NextFest returns with a two-day celebration of DC music culture

By | September 21, 2022

Whether or not referred to as Meridian Hill or Malcolm X, the oblong park on the southwest nook of Columbia Heights has been the positioning of group gatherings for greater than a century.

The park’s inhabitants, as as soon as compiled by Washington Submit author David Montgomery, have included “Edwardian strollers, Prohibition revelers, Melancholy bedrollers, overbearing senatorial wives, soccer gamers, drummers , drug sellers, abusers, lovers, writers, martial artists, the Nationwide Symphony Orchestra, the Von Trapp Household Singers, Solar Ra, Tito Puente, Angela Davis, Dick Gregory, Invoice Clinton.

Since a revitalization within the early Nineties that restored its pre-bad days glory, the park has remained a gathering place for a various, if extra mundane solid of characters. Nevertheless, the burden of the park’s historical past remains to be current, even whether it is unknown to new adoptees. As Steve Coleman – one of many principal organizers of the park’s rehabilitation – as soon as mentioned, “The previous, the current and the long run have to be current within the theme of each occasion.”

That is actually the case with NextFest, going down in and across the park on September 24-25. Introduced by CapitalBop, Lengthy Reside GoGo and Washington Parks & Individuals, the second annual pageant is a celebration of DC’s music tradition, with a full day of jazz, funk and go-go performances on Saturdays and courses, discussions and lectures on Sundays.

“NextFest was born out of our want to have fun DC’s cultural heritage as a middle for black music and black tradition, and the popularity that in DC, politics, protests, music and gatherings are all the time linked,” mentioned Giovanni Russonello, co-founder. and editor of CapitalBop.

For 12 years, CapitalBop has labored to complement, protect and promote DC’s jazz scene. When reserving reveals, the group has tried to attach youthful and older generations each on stage and within the crowd, whereas bringing music to craft areas, galleries, rock golf equipment , theaters, warehouses and extra. Typically the payments lengthen past jazz to a wider vary of sounds and types, which CapitalBop and different organizers have sought to duplicate with NextFest.

“CapitalBop is creating an area the place it actually shows all of the completely different dwell music choices that DC enjoys,” mentioned Justin “Yaddiya” Johnson, founding father of Lengthy Reside GoGo and co-organizer of the pageant. “Reside music is certainly a part of the area’s DNA.”

Jazz might be greater than a set of stylistic guidelines: it is a way of thinking, a messy group historical past, music that places you in a selected place based mostly on the bodily expertise of listening to it. In DC, CapitalBop and NextFest organizers hear jazz in every single place. And whereas DC’s musical identification is distinct and highly effective, it is not tied to any explicit style, regardless of efforts by some to categorize town’s musicians. Russonello takes Chuck Brown for instance: In his music, the threads of the go-go are unimaginable to disentangle from inspirations just like the blues guitar of Jimmy Reed, the jazz orchestration of Duke Ellington, the funk of James Brown and the soul of Barry. White. This musical tapestry informs NextFest.

“The standards for reserving this pageant had not a lot to do with style as with [the question], ‘Is that this music about group, and is it a therapeutic power?’ ” he explains.

The Invoice for NextFest supplies this power in several methods. There’s New Impressionz, UCB (a band about to have fun its twenty fifth anniversary), and the Soul Searchers (who began their profession as Chuck Brown’s backing band). Veterans together with jazz drummer Lenny Robinson and free jazz bassist William Parker and his Coronary heart Trio are scheduled alongside DC soul singer Cecily. In the meantime, the avant-garde of experimental music is explored by the Freddie Douggie duo of Ben Lamar Homosexual and Jayve Montgomery and style agnostics Uncooked Poetic and Damu the Fudgemunk. And – as they did final yr – drummers and dancers from the longtime Malcolm X Drum Circle will hold the beat alive, as they do each weekend.

To attach with the park’s historical past of activism and training – it was Angela Davis who requested that the park be named after Malcolm X, in spite of everything – NextFest additionally features a day of tradition and conversations on the Josephine Butler Parks Heart, which is operated by pageant co-presenter Washington Parks & Individuals. The pageant can also be supported by the DC Fee on the Arts and Humanities and the DC Workplace of Cable Tv, Movie, Music and Leisure as a part of its 202Creates effort.

Having the membership of various organizations, each non-profit and city-run, not solely makes NextFest doable, however speaks to its mission to carry individuals collectively and declare area for DC’s black musical heritage.

Live performance: September 24 from midday to nightfall at Meridian Hill Park, sixteenth and W streets NW. Musical performances, panel discussions and movies: September 25 from 11:45 a.m. to six:30 p.m. on the Josephine Butler Parks Heart, 2437 fifteenth St. NW. The whole program of the 2 days is obtainable on nextfestdc.com. Free.