Eric Hilton might own many bars and restaurants in the capitol, but he is better known as one half of Thievery Corporation, DC's biggest music act. When I was doing my research I had heard that a whole side of DC revolved around its radical underground music scene. I was interested to talk to him, someone who is political and internationally known but grounded very much in his hometown music scene, about the city from that perspective.
Why did he live here? Typically it has been unusual for creative types to stay in DC, a town dominated with politicos, fly-in fly-out workers and the temporary expat community. To me it was a town of baggy-suit-wearing, hard-drinking, stressed-out political types with nothing really sexy or fun going. When I put that to Eric he laughed and jokingly agreed but then he quickly corrected himself to say that the music scene has been bubbling for decades in DC.
When we met up it was only a few days after Margaret Thatcher had died and I was very keen to hear about how protest and politics fuel the fire of musicians in DC. Thievery Corporation have something to say and while their message might not be as overt as the punk days, there is a definite social awareness to their music. That seems to be the case for a lot of bands and acts in the city, according to Eric. We checked out some great gigs on his recommendation. You wouldn’t have thought it, but midweek there were plenty of great venues, a wide variety of live acts and a crowd that had mysteriously swapped their baggy Brooks Brothers suits for something a little more relaxed.
Eric'c DC picks are Maple, Marvin, Room 11, 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Rock & Roll Hotel, Toki Underground, Granville Moore's and U Street Music Hall.