Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

Thursday, June 5, 2014 7:39 p.m.

First D.C. food truck week to start Friday

Food Trucks, CapMac, Cap Mac

CapMac frequents Foggy Bottom during the academic year. Hatchet File Photo

From the gooey masterpieces of CapMac to the sugar rush that Captain Cookie promises to deliver every customer, food trucks have become an H Street staple for students.

But the popularity of food trucks extends well beyond Foggy Bottom. Friday marks the beginning of the first-ever food truck week, a celebration in D.C., Maryland and Virginia that lasts until June 14.

The festival will feature some less familiar options, like Borinquen Lunch Box, DC Slices, Curbside Cupcakes, Doug the Food Dude, PhoWheels, Red Hook Lobster Pound DC and Sinplicity Ice Cream. Alexandria will also host a food truck rodeo Friday, and other events will take place in locations across the D.C. area every day for the next week.

Trucks will head to local breweries for Saturday’s festivities, while happenings later in the week include a social and Father’s Day celebration.

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Hundreds grabbed their bikes Wednesday for the first D.C. Pride Ride starting at Dupont Circle.

The seven-mile route Wednesday sent bikers in a loop back to the circle, where they celebrated at gay bar Cobalt.

Capital Pride and D.C. Bike Party teamed up to host the event, one of the first of Pride Week.

D.C. Bike Party organizes monthly bike rides, with themes ranging from Star Wars to cherry blossoms.

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Andrew Bird performing at Coachella in 2007. Photo by Paul Familetti, used under the Creative Commons License.

Andrew Bird performs in 2007. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Everly Jazi.

Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird released his latest album, “Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…,” on Tuesday.

The tracks are all covers of Handsome Family’s alternative-country songs. Before he performs at the Lincoln Theatre on June 8 and 9, Bird chatted about making the album, his musical inspirations and what fans can expect from him in the future. This interview was edited for length.

Hatchet: What inspired you to record a collection of cover songs?

Bird: Well, I have been doing their songs for the last 15 years. And then it’s kind of a part of my own writing process and my own performing. I feel like I inhabit their songs as much as I do my own, and so it was just a matter of time before I made a whole record. I really like taking their songs and reimagining them. Sometimes from scratch, or take from the lyrics and working with those. I just think they’re so good, and I kind of want to show everybody what really great writing does.

Hatchet: How do you put a spin on the songs? Do you rewrite the instrumentals and everything?

Bird: Yeah, I may start off doing it the way they do it then over time it just warps into something else. I pretty much write them the way I write my own songs, just coming from somewhere else. To be honest, it’s the same process that I use in my own but there’s a freedom of it not being really mine, coming from my brain. So it’s not all coming out of you out of thin air. At the time it becomes something we call a song, it can come with a lot of baggage, and it’s nice, it’s liberating to not have that.

Hatchet: Why is it important for you to change old songs? 

Bird: Well, it helps you to feel not too precious about something you’ve created, which is never good in my experience for anything that’s supposed to live. Songs are so malleable, but what’s the line between when it doesn’t exist and then suddenly exists? It’s just waving a wand and saying, “Now it’s a song.” Before it was just a collection of thoughts and ideas, or hardly anything at all. So that kind of shaking ground that the song’s already on, I like to embrace that. I don’t feel imprisoned. That’s dramatic, but I don’t feel beholden to them. It’s a constant struggle to remind yourself.

Hatchet: On tour, will you play songs both from the new album and “Break It Yourself,” which was released in 2012?

Bird: I’ll be doing a lot from “Things Are Really Great Here” and then a whole range from almost all my records that lend themselves to this lineup, which is more intrinsic and more, what we describe as “old-timey” sounding, which I don’t know if that’s totally accurate. But it’s less of electric, rock-n-roll band and more of a old-timey or bluegrass set up. So I’ve taken old songs of mine and in a sense covered them and changed them the same way I do the Handsome Family songs.

Hatchet: What attracts you to the old-timey sounds and images? 

Bird: You know, I started off with Bowl of Fire doing the same kind of thing, but it was different back then. It was driven more by nostalgia like, “I love this old music, so I want to make music like that.” Now it’s not so much that. I’m doing it because it brings something out in me that I like, and it just ends up being old-timey sounding perhaps because I’m just unplugging from all the looping stuff that I got into. And that’s the music I’ve always come back to for inspiration: old country blues stuff, gospel stuff, old American music.

Hatchet: Are you coming out with a new album after this collection?

Bird: It’ll be a while before I come out with another collection of my own songs. It’s going to be a pretty long haul to get that one out. But in the meantime I’ve been putting something out every 10 months or so. I do these projects in between to teach myself how to make the new record. Usually, I learn by reacting to what I just did. It’ll satisfy all the itches I have that don’t get satisfied with it.

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Carter King of Futurebirds at Black Cat. Everly Jazi | Hatchet Photographer

Carter King of Futurebirds at Black Cat. Everly Jazi | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Everly Jazi.

Psychedelic country band Futurebirds immersed the D.C. crowd in sun-kissed melodies and introspective lyrics, creating a carefree and fun Saturday night at Black Cat.

Though young business professionals at the show started to turn the small, tight-knit venue into a happy hour, warm guitar riffs and semi-distorted vocals soon drowned out personal conversations.

Between their shouted lyrics, the six members of Futurebirds strummed furiously and spun around the stage.

The band offered a charming and energetic mix of raspy, layered vocals and emphatic rhythms. Frontman Carter King was supported by two other guitarists and vocalists: Daniel Womack, who acted out lyrics on stage, and the more timid Thomas Johnson.

Womack, with his long, unwashed hair and J. Crew t-shirt, paused and raised his beer at one point during the long set.

“To the nation’s capital,” he yelled at the sweaty crowd.

Womack swung his acoustic guitar to the front, a U.S. flag-emblazoned scarf dangling from the back of it, and the band started playing once again.

Futurebirds’ southern Georgia roots came out in twangy songs like “Serial Bowls,” though King’s hazy vocals and the band’s modern rhythms kept the rock feel. The players showed versatility with the ominous chords and stirring halts of the post-punk performance of “Dig,” and their dancing made the song notably more energetic than the recorded track.

Their acoustic rendition of Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart” was also memorable, with the musicians’ southern accents shining through the layers.

After previously opening for groups like Band of Horses and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the headliners gave the audience a mix of songs from their newest record, “Baba Yaga,” older songs and even a few unreleased tracks.

Fans in the front row sang along to the tunes, while even those not as familiar with the band danced to the rhythms throughout the night.

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Runners of the annual D.C. Marine Corps marathon. Photo used under Wikimedia Commons license.

Runners of the annual D.C. Marine Corps Marathon. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons License.

Living in the nation’s capital always has its perks. With this year’s American Fitness Index, D.C. residents have a new reason to brag.

The annual report, conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, hails the D.C. metro area as this year’s fittest place in the nation.

The report looks at the 50 largest metropolitan areas, awarding points based on levels of chronic disease, preventive health measures and resources in the community that encourage fitness.

The report also considers the “walkability” of each area and the percentage of residents who use public transportation.

The D.C. metro area, which includes parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, ranked supreme with a score of 77.3 out of 100 points.

It rose from a second-place ranking last year, and broke the Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s three-year streak as No. 1. Behind Minneapolis, which had a score of 73.5, were Portland, Denver and San Francisco.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014 2:52 p.m.

Alcohol delivery service comes to D.C.

Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo

District residents can now order booze online and have it delivered to their doorstep through alcohol delivery service Ultra.

Popular in Chicago and New York, Ultra is available in most of D.C. and hopes to extend into Northern Virginia in the next two weeks.

Many liquor stores in the city already offer delivery service, the Washington Business Journal reported. But Ultra allows stores to market themselves through the company’s website, and it plans to soon launch a mobile app.

Delivery is a flat fee of $5, with no maximum order. By partnering with local liquor stores, Ultra promises all orders will arrive within 30 to 60 minutes. The service is available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday.

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Photo by Jason Thrasher, courtesy of All Eyes Media.

Photo by Jason Thrasher and courtesy of All Eyes Media.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Everly Jazi.

A band out of legendary music center Athens, Ga., Futurebirds has played with every group from Band of Horses to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

The indie rock band, which promises “laid-back country-rock with an atmospheric, psychedelic twist” will play at the Black Cat on Saturday. Tickets are $15.

Frontman Carter King took a break from the last day of mixing at the Chase Park Transduction studio to talk about the band’s new album, “Baba Yaga.” The interview has been edited for length.

Hatchet: What made you decide to name your second album “Baba Yaga?” How do the witch’s two sides relate to you?

King: You already hit the nail on the head with the two sides of the Baba Yaga character. She’s this ugly horrible witch who lives down in the woods and she eats kids who wander too far into the woods. But she’s also very important to the hero’s quest. She always provides something crucial to the process or to the journey. That last record was a pain in our ass a lot of the time. There were some dark moments where we felt like kids out in the woods being eaten by this thing. But you know what? I saw through and got to the other side and realized the goodness in it as well.

Hatchet: Why do you think you had a hard time releasing this album?

King: We were just caught up in finding the perfect way to send it out into the world. It’s not hard to release records these days. You can go to the Bandcamp site for free and put your record up. We were just struggling ourselves with making sure we gave it the perfect opportunity to succeed and get to as many ears as we could.

Hatchet: As you have become more well-known, toured and talked on radio stations, how have band members’ lives changed?

King: Things have changed and they haven’t changed at all at the same time. That was a stupid answer, but when we started the band we were like, ‘Shit, I mean, if we could play the 40 Watt Club [in Athens, Ga.], that’s all I want to do and then quit.’ And we did that, and I was like, ‘What else can we do?’ We can go on tour. We can play these places, and we’ve gotten to play these incredible venues and KEXP [90.3 FM] and just go on tour with these big bands and bands that you’re fans of and you’re like, man, this is great, you know? It’s all been great, but shit what else can we do? Got that under the belt, what’s next?

Hatchet: What was it like touring with the big names?

King:It’s cool because you get to play these huge venues and you’re like, ‘Shit, I never thought I’d be here on this stage in this amphitheater.’ But the whole time it’s like, ‘You have 30 minutes to load on, sound check if you want to.’ So you’re not like starry-eyed and ‘Oh, I just want to live in this moment forever.’ But the best part about it is, especially when you develop relationships with some of these bands, you just get to pick their brains and take a notepad with you so to speak. You can learn a lot from mistakes people have made, and by taking advice from people, you can avoid a lot of pitfalls.

Hatchet: You’re working on your new album. What should we expect?

King: What can I say? We just got done. We’re mixed. We’ve mixed 16 tracks, and we’re going to cut that down to 10 or 11 probably for the record. There’s a lot of stuff that’s kind of all over the place right now, but we have more faster tracks and we have more way slower tracks. It’s less kind of in the middle than the last one. The tempos stand a little more.

Hatchet: What will you bring to the Black Cat?

King: Ourselves. That’s it. Just our smiles and good intentions.

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José Andrés’ speech at Commencement has landed on the Washington Post’s list of “most memorable” graduation addresses this year.

Many students criticized his pick as the keynote speaker, and Andrés himself even poked fun at being chosen. But the Post included his address, in which the chef talked about his pursuit of the American Dream, in a “Best of” video montage that also featured speeches by Vice President Joe Biden, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and comedian Jay Leno.

Other nearby schools were included in the Post’s video as well, with clips from Sean Combs’ speech at Howard University and Katie Couric’s address at American University.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

Soon, you won’t need to hunt around the District to find a good kosher steakhouse.

Next month, Char Bar will open its doors right in Foggy Bottom on the ground floor of The Winston House apartment building at 2142 L St.

Specializing in a wide selection of meat dishes, like steak and ribs, the restaurant will offer take out and a food market in addition to it’s restaurant with a 75-person seating area. The market, Char Bar’s Eli’s Market, is named after Eli’s Restaurant, the Char Bar owner’s previous dining option on 20th, between M and N streets.

Char Bar’s entrees will range from $20 to $34, but the appetizers and salads are cheaper, with appetizers ranging from $7 to $11 and salads from $10 to $19.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:34 p.m.

SoulCycle coming to M Street this summer

Photo courtesy of Zimbio

Photo courtesy of Zimbio.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ariana Mushnick.

If you’re trying to get fit this summer without enduring the sweltering D.C. humidity, keep an eye out for a new studio set to open a few blocks off campus.

SoulCycle, a trendy indoor cycling studio known for its high-intensity classes, cult-like following and popularity among big-name stars in New York City and Beverly Hills, will open on M Street in the next couple months.

D.C. fitness gurus were thrilled when the company announced plans to open a studio in the District last fall. And now, SoulCycle management has unveiled the location at 2301 M St., a multi-purpose building that also houses West End Cinema.

The 45-minute classes, led by expert instructors, incorporate high-energy music, choreography and hand weights.

Though the company has not yet released an official date, the space is expected to open in late June or early July. But joining SoulCycle comes with a hefty price tag: In New York City, a single class costs $34.

Popularity grew in New York when cyclers sighted celebrity patrons like Jake Gyllenhaal in the studios. Needless to say, the classes consistently sold out.

The company, now a national chain that offers 25 studios across the country, has plans to open 50 to 60 more locations by 2015.

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