I had two sightings of previous recipients this weekend. Yesterday I saw Carlos from Day 118 about a block from my house and he let me know that he would donate the $10, along with additional funds, at the end of the year because then his employer will double the contribution.
Today I saw Ron from Day 24. He was sitting in the same spot where I originally met him in January. I was going to get some lunch at Chipotle and asked if he wanted anything. He took me up on the offer and I got him a garden burrito.
Last Wednesday night I went to the Velvet Lounge to check out Machines on Vacation, a local DC band that mixes a string quartet, guitar, and vocals with electronic beats and sounds. It’s hard to describe their genre…it’s unique and totally worth checking out.
The opening band was Deb Felz with a percussionist whose name I believe was Dan. Dan plays the cajón, an Afro-Peruvian box drum that you sit on and slap to produce a wide range of rhythmic beats. Deb plays guitar and sings. They were quite good together…you can check their music out here.
The main event, Machines on Vacation, took the stage around 10pm. My friend Melanie plays violin for the group. The other members are Ethan (vocals, guitar, and electronics), Amanda (cello), Kellie (viola), and Theresa (violin/viola). I love that they have such a unique sound. It’s really refreshing to hear somebody out there exploring new territory in music. I particularly like Paralyzed Paradise, Oh No, and Light on My Doorstep. You can find some of their music on their Facebook page.
While watching the group I decided to give my $10 to one of the band members that I didn’t know. I approached Ethan after the show and introduced myself and asked if he would accept my $10. He didn’t hesitate.
I asked Ethan how he would describe Machines on Vacation’s distinctive sound. “I have no idea,” he said, getting a laugh from me. Seriously he said that its hard to describe but he offered a couple suggestions: “A melody-focused band that thrives on either embracing or rejecting the tenets of minimalism, sometimes in the same moment of a song”, “The music of the 22nd century – which is oddly just a mix of music from the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st”, and “Pop music for nerds but not geeks.” Check out this video for some of Ethan’s comments on musical influences and his obsession with asymptotes.
Leading a group seems to come natural to Ethan. When he is not being the front-man for Machines on Vacation, he is the CFO/COO for Elysian Energy, a DC/Baltimore energy efficiency firm that helps homeowners and businesses lower their energy bills and carbon footprint. The company sounds like it provides a valuable service today as individuals and businesses grapple with energy efficiency strategies, sustainability, renewable technologies, and carbon impact reduction.
Ethan is a fellow Washington Capitals fan (Let’s go Caps!) – they play Montreal Monday night in what is hopefully the final game of that series. He had already checked his phone I think Wednesday right after he finished playing to see if they had won, which they did that night.
I asked him what he thought he would do with the $10. “I feel like I should do something ‘good’ with it, instead of just using it to buy lunch tomorrow.” He and his wife have actually been discussing starting to give in a more organized manner. He said he would think about it and get back to me, but that it would most likely get used to help a person or organization.
Here is some video that I shot of the band playing Oh No at the Velvet Lounge.