Rocking Sounds Welcome the Godspeed

Rocking Sounds Welcome the Godspeed

Outdoor concerts will be held in Old Town to celebrate the stay of the Godspeed.

Sea shanties, hymns and folk instrumentals might have been what entertained the early settlers aboard the original Godspeed, one of three ships that brought the first wave of permanent settlers to the shores of southern Virginia.

But those sounds have been lost in the pages of history. For the resurrection of the Godspeed and the upcoming 400th anniversary celebration of the founding of Jamestown, the Special Events Office of the Alexandria Parks and Recreation Department has chosen a broader soundtrack.

"We tried to pick groups in Alexandria and the Washington Metro area," said Amanda Upton of the Special Events Office. "We try and do a variety of things that people would like to hear."

OVER THE COURSE of four days, May 27-29 and June 2, Upton and her colleagues have scheduled a variety of open air concerts to be performed at both Market Square and King Street Gardens during the festivities taking place over the Memorial Day weekend. Bands such as the Richard Walton Group, Mike and Mike, David Alberding, and Alexandria-based Carbon Copy and Lump Dog, have all been chosen to perform as history buffs and the general public tour the streets of Old Town for the next lesson in early American life.

"I think it's cool," said Tom Kempler of local band Lump Dog who play at King Street Gardens on Monday, May 29.

"It's funny because my daughter goes to Burgundy Farm Country Day School. They are going down to the celebration so watching a rock band could be part of the curriculum."

Kempler and the rest of Lump Dog exemplify the meaning of "local." Lump Dog was formed from members of prominent D.C. bands from 1980's, and even more, they attended T.C. Williams. Now in middle age and a laid-back band that performs both classic rock covers and original compositions, Kempler says that they look forward to playing these outdoor venues.

"It is a great venue for people of all ages, from kids to anybody that likes pop and rock and roll," he said. "It's really a kid friendly and a family friendly celebration — and its free."

FELLOW LOCAL rockers — and T.C. graduates from a younger generation — Carbon Copy will share the venue with Lump Dog on Memorial Day.

"We find it more fun to play outside because there are no rules and you can rock out and enjoy yourself," said Jesse McCormick of Carbon Copy. "There's also a lot more exposure. A lot of people will walk by and dig your style of music."

What was once a Dave Matthews cover band, McCormick said that the loss of their former lead singer to Brigham Young University left them at a crossroads — finally deciding on a new equation of alternative and indie-rock to further their sound. Like Lump Dog, Carbon Copy also walked the halls of T.C. Williams and now are one of the up-and-coming young talents of the area. The band currently has a live-album recording of a show performed at Jammin' Java in Vienna, and according to McCormick, their debut studio album is scheduled to come out this summer.

WITH THE EXCEPTION of mid-summer heat and humidity, most performers agree that the outdoor concert series is not only an opportunity to turn up their amplifiers, but also gain exposure to a new audience.

"I like the concert series a lot because you don't know who is in the audience," said Mike Suratt of Mike and Mike, who play Market Square on June 2. "Because D.C. is such a transient city you have tourists around and they hear the music of the city. In today's world live music is very important."

Suratt, who has been playing in the area professionally for more than 30 years and a member of the Washington Area Musicians Association (WAMA) describes Mike and Mike as a great summer band that plays everything from Jimmy Buffet to Latin beats.

"Its just two middle-aged guys in Hawaiian shirts singing summertime songs," he said. "We wait 50 years to learn something to make sure it sticks around."