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All Are Welcome at The Dew Drop Inn, Where You Can Find D.C.’s Most Progressive Music

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Photos by Mark Hoelscher for DCMD

Next to the train tracks in Brookland is a rustic stone industrial building that stands out from its surroundings. On the surface, The Dew Drop Inn is a no-frills bar where locals can grab a drink and have a low-key night out. But over the course of its two-year existence, the space has also served as an important venue for D.C.’s DIY music scene.

On any given night of the week, you could find an R&B singer-songwriter, experimental found sounds project and psychedelic rock band all performing under the same roof. Its genre-agnostic approach to booking had made it a refreshing oasis for the more open-minded music lover.

“There is a continuance of people that go to that bar who I never see at any shows that are matriculated into the music scene,” said D.C. musician Johnny Fantastic, who hosts a monthly residency at Dew Drop Inn. “I see people from Catholic University [and then] sometimes there are just random drunk ass people who live in the area and are surprised to see any kind of music happening and end up getting into it, dancing.”

The Dew Drop Inn is a relatively new addition to the neighborhood–opening in 2015–and owned by the same group that runs Wonderland Ballroom and Looking Glass Lounge. Fantastic discovered Dew Drop through their friend and bandmate Leah Gage, who helped set up what was supposed to be a one-time gig playing cover songs on their guitar. “By the end of the night, I was DJing with my electronic equipment that I happened to bring and people were dancing, so I had a feeling that this was going to be a cool place to have shows,” Fantastic reminisced. 

While a story like Fantastic’s is unheard of in most venues, it characterizes the laid-back vibe that makes Dew Drop Inn different from its counterparts. Since that show, Fantastic was invited by Dew Drop Inn music curator and bartender Andy Fox to have their own concert series on the second Monday of each month.

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Andy Fox, music curator and bartender at The Dew Drop Inn

Shows are usually slotted on Sundays and Mondays, but occasionally there’ll be live bands on weekend nights instead of DJs. Besides Fantastic, D.C.’s Dominic Fragman also has a residency at Dew Drop, performing under his project Solo Trio and with veteran musician Devin Ocampo on the first Sunday of every month. The Lost Civilizations experimental music project, spearheaded by prolific D.C. artists Ted Zook and Mike Sebastian, currently has a residency on the third Monday of every month. 

“We book acts that we are interested in seeing and by trusting people whose knowledge regarding such things is better than ours,” said Fox.

D.C. musician and Paperhaus member Alex Tebeleff is one of those people. He regularly curates shows at Dew Drop Inn under his DCDIT imprint, which spotlights progressive local and touring artists.

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The Dew Drop Inn in Brookland

“The Dew Drop folks are really open to any kind of music, and have given us pretty wide reign to book very progressive bills,” he said. “That’s really the focused attitude of DCDIT in general, and it’s been that way for a while. Makes for a great partnership!”

As diverse as the local music community is, Dew Drop Inn has helped to bring all these vastly different sounds together. Some of Fox’s most memorable moments at the space include DCDIT’s sold-out show with Weyes Blood, experimental noise-pop band Br’er and rock band Cigarette along with Third Man Books’ event with Kid Congo Powers, Ian Svenonius and genre-bending project Sistr Mid9ight.

As the venue approaches its two-year anniversary, expect to hear more forward-thinking sounds at Dew Drop Inn’s birthday party on Sunday, June 25. The event kicks off with a pig roast at 3 p.m., with music by DJ the Question and happy hour deals all night long.

 

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