JP’s Picks: Music We Like

JP's assistant engineer.  He's a quiet fellow with big ears.

JP’s assistant engineer. He’s a quiet fellow with big ears.

Music is a big part of our lives.  We always have music playing in our house with speakers in the kitchen and elsewhere.  I love Pandora and have internet radio stations set up for all my moods.  ABBA station:  let’s get cooking.  Pink station:  time to double down on some serious clean up.  Fleet Foxes:  I need serenity on Sunday morning.  You get the idea.

John (also known as JP) is exposed to new talent each week via his regular sound engineering gig at the Mansion at Strathmore.  For those of you who do not live in the Washington metro area, Strathmore is a performance and music center in suburban Maryland.  There is a beautiful old mansion with columns and fountains designed by Appleton P. Clark, Jr. in 1902.  The house was a private home for many years for two prominent Washington families (Captain and Mrs. James Oyster, 1902-1908; and Mr. and Mrs. Charles I. Corby, 1908-1941).

The Mansion at Strathmore. Photo by  Rodney Bailey (

The Mansion at Strathmore. Photo by Rodney Bailey


Marble fountain in front of the Music Room.
Photo by Alison Dunn

The Mansion has a magnificent mahogany-paneled Music Room that can hold 100.

In April of 2001, Strathmore broke ground on a fabulous 1,976-seat concert hall and education center—the Music Center at Strathmore.

Not a bad seat in the house.

Not a bad seat in the house.

John runs sound for Strathmore’s Artists in Residence (AIR) performances on Wednesday nights.  AIR offers six young (under age 35) musicians, singers, or songwriters an opportunity to work with a mentor in their field. During their residency, each artist performs several concerts to a usually packed house in the Music Room. Their final concert features a world debut of their original, commissioned work. Explore the intersection of technology and education through the lens of educator Kamau Bobb.

The level of talent among AIR artists is astounding, especially as some of them are still in high school.  I am often treated to tickets on Wednesday night (if there are any to be had) and it is a treat indeed to be exposed to new music just right up the street from our home.  Reminds me of when we lived in Nashville and you could go out and hear fantastic music anywhere a stone’s throw from your abode any night of the week.

Each season’s roster will blow your mind (future Grammy winners, for sure).  Here are three young performers we recommend you check out.

Daisy Castro

Daisy Castro, gypsy jazz violinist

Daisy Castro, gypsy jazz violinist

Daisy is a young violin virtuoso.  Her music is in the Gypsy Jazz style (think Django Reinhardt) and heavily steeped in the swing tradition and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grapelli.  John was blown away by this girl’s talent.  JP says: Her performances harken back to an era where swing was king and you didn’t have to have drums or horns to do it.

LISTEN: Gypsy Moth

Isabelle De Leon

Isabelle DeLeon, artist in residence

Isabelle De Leon, artist in residence

Isabelle DeLeon is another virtuoso, this time on drums, whose drumming style ranges from jazz to rock and everything in between.  She just graduated from the University of Maryland where she studied both jazz drums performance and pre-med.  She attributes much of her growth as a drummer to her teacher and mentor, Chuck Redd, a well-known vibe player.  She is crazy good.  Check out Isabelle’s website to see where she’s playing this summer.  Then go!

Owen Danoff

Owen Danoff and friends in the Music Room at Strathmore.

Owen Danoff and friends in the Music Room at Strathmore.

Owen Danoff is proof that in music, apples often don’t fall from the tree.  He is the talented son of Bill Danoff, pop song writer (“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” co-written with John Denver and “Afternoon Delight.”) If you are my age (ahem) you will remember both of those songs as being very popular in their time, the latter ditty earning Bill two Grammy awards in 1976.

Owen is a Washington D.C. native and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. As a singer/songwriter as well as a bass player and guitarist his music is thoughtful and “hooky” (translation: catchy melodies).  He is great live.   Owen has an upcoming performance at Strathmore.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Strathmore AIR Performance – 7:30 pm

Get a ticket here.

Photo by John Penovich

Photo by John Penovich

So Corks & Cakers (hey, I just coined that, hope you don’t mind), support these young artists by buying their music or going to see them perform.  You won’t regret it. (Certainly not like that second donut you had or the bad reality television you watched because you couldn’t help it.)

And absolutely, positively make a date to go to a show of your choice at Strathmore if you live nearby or are in town.  Whether it is in the intimate setting of the Music Room or the gorgeous performance hall down the hill, you will be pleased.

If you do, and are hungry and thirsty afterward, by all means go to our favorite Wednesday night after-show, late-night restaurant just a few miles down the road, Matchbox.  Fabulous wood-fired pizzas, sliders, Girly Martinis, Manly Martinis, and a very decent wine list.

See you there? Hope so!

4 thoughts on “JP’s Picks: Music We Like

  1. I seriously love your posts! Collaboration with JP is great. Can’t for little JP to post. This one is really fun, thought I couldn’t play the music, I will look for it. Still don’t have music set-up…maybe JP could come and help me in our new home…

    • I’m so happy you are reading them! It’s hard work–I’ve haven’t written so much since college. Your move-in date is tomorrow, right?

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! I will definitely check them out…particularly Daisy, I love Gypsy Jazz violin. The Strathmore Artist In Residence program is incredible. I always wonder if they’d take a 40-something musician in their program :)!
    ~Rose (proud to be a Corks & Caker)

    • Thanks for reading! Yes, the 35 year age limit seems so arbitrary! If we are no longer ‘young’ after 35 then I am almost 2 steps into the Crypt.

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