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Concerts ring in the new year Is there a better way to soundtrack the transition into a new year than live music? Here are five Dec. 31 concerts to help you ring in 2017. Black Cat New Year’s Eve Ball

Keeping with tradition, Peaches O’Dell and Her Orchestra will play swing and lounge music on the mainstage while DJ Dredd spins on the backstage. Black Cat at 7 p.m. $30. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

The R&B and funk group that formed in San Francisco in the ’70s brings some silky soul to its end-of-the-year party. DAR Constitution Hall at 10 p.m. $75-$125. MICHAEL WEINTROB

Throwing it together again Matt Butler isn’t afraid to hit reset with his Everyone Orchestra BY


If you go Everyone Orchestra Dec. 30 and 31 at Gypsy Sally’s. Shows start at 9 p.m. 202-333-7700. $25-$30 on Dec. 30; $50-$55 on Dec. 31.

Matt Butler is the founder, conductor and former drummer for Everyone Orchestra, which is playing two shows to end the year at Gypsy Sally’s.

Another New Year’s tradition finds local bluegrass institution The Seldom Scene picking and singing in Alexandria. The Birchmere at 8 p.m. $39.50. White Ford Bronco

The all-’90s D.C. cover band will end 2016 at the same place it began the year: The Lincoln. Lincoln Theatre at 9 p.m. $45. — Rudi Greenberg


Rhett Miller and the Old 97’s play two shows (Dec. 30-31) at the Hamilton.

DECEMBER 23, 2016

The Seldom Scene


write songs in the moment. It doesn’t have to just be a solo and a jam and chaos and an end — let’s really compose music and aim for that.” Gypsy Sally’s has become Everyone Orchestra’s D.C. home base, and Butler will return to the Georgetown club for a pair of two-set shows — dubbed “Funk on the Fly” — to close out 2016. Both shows will feature a core lineup consisting of Jacobs; Thievery Corporation bassist Ashish “Hash” Vyas and drummer Jeff Franca; D.C. saxophonist Ron Holloway; Pink Floyd backup singer Durga McBroom, and percussionist/singer Jans Ingber. On Dec. 30, Love Canon’s Jay Starling will play keyboards; on New Year’s Eve, Particle’s Steve Molitz will man the keys and singer-guitarist Ryan Montbleau will join the fray. All nine musicians have played Everyone Orchestra shows before, although not all together. “By the time we’re wrapping up on the first of January 2017, this particular lineup of musicians is going to be a fine-tuned, spontaneous composing machine,” Butler says. “I think we have the potential to create some unbelievable, unforgettable moments.” If not, he’ll just start fresh at the next show.

Rhett Miller’s hard-rocking alt-country band returns to the Hamilton for two nights. The Hamilton at 8 p.m. (Dec. 30) and 8:30 p.m. (Dec. 31). live.thehamiltondc. com. $34.75-$85.



veryone Orchestra concerts always begin with a clean slate. Founder and conductor Matt Butler starts each of the ever-evolving project’s shows by writing a word (“beauty,” “scream,” “yeah,” “hey”) on a digital whiteboard. That word gives the musicians onstage — a rotating cast of players from the jam band scene — a starting point from which to launch into the first of many fully improvised songs. From there, anything is possible. “Musicians sometimes see it kinda like music sports, in a way, because if you’re not paying attention the pass is going to hit you in the face,” Butler says. “You don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, which is the beauty of it.” Butler founded Everyone Orchestra in 2001 after splitting from his ’90s band Jambay. “There was a really utilitarian aspect to it,” he says. “I was looking for something that was

different than the normal joining a band and getting in a van. I’ve already done that. I wanted to do something where I could bring musicians together at the spur of the moment.” At first, Butler played drums with Everyone Orchestra, as he did in Jambay, recruiting friends to try out his experiment. Eventually, Butler realized he needed some order to the unrehearsed chaos, and, after a string of guest conductors, he started conducting the shows from the front of the stage in 2005. “I’m a human volume knob, I’m calling out solos, I’m saying let’s go back to that chorus that we just created,” Butler says. “It becomes live production and the conductor has a really important role, but it’s also on equal footing with the musicians onstage.” At Gypsy Sally’s in May, for example, he improvised a chorus about a spring day in Washington, which turned into a call-andresponse with the audience. From there, vocalists Jen Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and Cris Jacobs created a verse. By the end of the 15-minute jam, it felt like a real, composed song. “We can create beautiful music that everybody goes home and sings,” Butler says. “That’s the power of what we can do. It really took a long time to get people on board with that concept: Let’s

Old 97’s

The washington post december 23 2016  
The washington post december 23 2016