Art All Night is a citywide initiative in which different neighborhoods around the city host annual events to promote local art and artists “all night.” (The name is a little misleading because the events don’t actually go all night—they typically end around 11 p.m. or 12 a.m.)
This year, Tenleytown’s Art All Night showcased many different types of art, ranging from musicians to even fire dancers. I wish I could’ve caught them all, but, unfortunately, with 13 different locations that each had tons of art on display, I could only see a fraction of what was possible to see—one of the acts I missed, sadly, was the fire dancers. I caught a good selection of other art, though; I didn’t see a single bad performance all night, and everyone around me seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.
The first group I got to see—which might have been my favorite of the night—was Singing Capital Chorus, a group that is primarily made up of men. While I was there, they took us through the genres of doo-wop with “Who Put the Bomp” by Barry Mann, Motown with “My Girl” by The Temptations and ballads with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. All of the songs were really well put together and sung, and each of the songs had choreographed dancing, which the audience seemed entranced by. As I wrote down and circled three times in my notes, it was just good vibes all around. The chorus even invited the audience to join in with their dancing, teaching us some sick sidesteps and claps.
After seeing the Singing Capital Chorus, I walked over to the Welcome Center, located in a parking lot next to St. Ann’s Gymnasium, where the GDS Theater & Choral Program was singing “Magic to Do” from Pippin. Unfortunately, I missed it (enjoying the Singing Capital Chorus too much for punctuality, apparently).
As I migrated to Jackson-Reed High School, hoping to actually watch some GDS performances, I got the chance to see a couple of artists that were unaffiliated with Art All Night. I heard snippets of the children’s songs that a person outside the Tenleytown Library was singing—they were clearly a hit with their audience as toddlers and parents were jumping and dancing around to their music. I also saw a middle schooler with a ukulele and a mic outside the Tenleytown Metro Station singing “I Don’t Know My Name” by Grace Vanderwaal, and it was cool to see younger artists taking advantage of Art All Night too.
Still on my way to Jackson-Reed, I got sidetracked by the group Sara Curtin Music outside Middle C Music. Again, I noted their vibes (not quite circled three times this time, but close), which I attributed to their lo-fi/soft rock music and cool lighting. Although the group had some slight issues with their speakers, those issues didn’t overshadow the singer’s gorgeous voice and the beauty of the original songs.
Finally, I found myself at Jackson-Reed, and, as I got there, the Milky Nomads were setting up (I was actually on time for a GDS performance!). The Milky Nomads are GDS’ sophomore band, though they were accompanied by a freshman bassist and high school jazz teacher Brad Linde on the drums. Linde tore it up on drums, and I might even go so far as to say his drumming had an especially jazzy flair. (Please don’t write another Letter to the Editor about me, Brad.) Back to the students, though: Props to the freshman bassist because the bass was one of my favorite parts of the pieces that the band played. Straight from my own notes: “The bass solos ate.” Honestly, every single solo was impressive—if I hadn’t known that they were a high school band, I truly think I would’ve been shocked to learn they weren’t professional musicians.
Next up at Jackson-Reed was another GDS band, the Magenta Collective. These guys had a huge student audience, who showed up even though it started raining during their set.
After their first piece, one of the students sitting next to me said, “That was really good,” and I have to agree. Again, the bassist stood out to me, but the rest of the band—the bass, electric guitar, piano, drums and vocals—killed it. Interestingly, this combination of instruments gave their jazz band a distinctly rock feel that the Milky Nomads didn’t have. My one critique was that the amps were so loud; I could literally feel the guitar in my bones, but I could barely hear the piano.
The final performance I caught was the Crush Funk Brass Band, a local band. Heading out of Jackson-Reed, I caught the tail end of their rendition of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. Although they didn’t have a vocalist, the crowd was dancing like crazy—there basically wasn’t a single person standing still. Dancing there with my friends, it felt like the perfect conclusion to the night. (I still wish I could’ve seen those fire dancers, though.)