Wednesday the 1st Jill said “Yesterday it may have been ‘It’s gonna be May’ but it will always be this song for me today“. Thursday Sue and Dave came to visit. Nina was out that night for a birthday party sleepover at a friend’s house as she was off the next day, then was out the next night for a Girl Scouts camping trip, so Jill and I walked over to Red’s Table with Sue and Dave. Saturday we were invited by one of Jill’s coworkers to attend the Gold Cup for the first time. It was rainy and cool, but we all dressed up and had a wonderful time. Sue made her potato salad and I made a bottle of Irish Derby. Nina’s trip was supposed to be two nights, but half of the tents leaked during the night and they left early. We had only been at the Gold Cup for an hour, so we told her she could stay with a troop leader until we picked her up. Jill and I had plans to see Matt Nathanson at The Atlantis, but it was oversold and Jill got a bit claustrophobic, so we left. Sunday Jill and Sue went to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

One show at The Atlantis wasn’t enough for me, so I went there 3 more times that week. Jukebox the Ghost was doing a 3 night stand starting Wednesday, playing their first 3 albums, and I very much wanted to go all three nights, and with Sue and Dave there I was able to. Jukebox the Ghost had a pre-show gathering each night to do a meet and greet, hand out posters and do a q&a. I ducked out the first night to put the poster in my car, and grabbed a slice of pizza at Andy’s Pizza before heading back. Andrew Horowitz opened the first night, and I found out he was a former member of Tally Hall, which had some fans in the audience. Jukebox the Ghost was great, Let Live and Let Ghosts is their first album and I remember buying it after they were compared to Ben Folds meets Queen.

The second night I wanted to have dinner with the fam and didn’t want to head down early, so I got there during Hannah Winkler’s opening song. That night Jukebox the Ghost played Everything Under the Sun and played “Keys In The Car” while barely remembering it. I asked the merch guy the previous night to save me a poster and picked it up after the show. The third night was Friday and I headed in early for the meet and greet, remembering to ask them a question about a song they played the first time I saw them (turns out it was never released). I got out for a while to get a burger at the nearby Whitlow’s (having relocated from Clarendon), then back in time to see opener Dan Mills. That was crucial as while Tommy Siegel had appeared with the first two opening acts, Dan Mills is working on a musical about ferrets called The Ferret Show with Ben Thornewill, and they previewed two songs for us. Jukebox the Ghost did Safe Travels that night, and brought a 2 piece string section out for some of the songs. That day Nina went with other chorus members on a trip to Busch Gardens.

Saturday the 11th we went out to visit Dad, meeting him at Ketch 22 as we were running late. We had a lovely lunch, then went back to Dad’s house for a while. We also had to bring air mattresses for Sharon’s upcoming visit. On the way back the Beltway traffic was terrible thanks to a storm and got off to take the Fairfax County Parkway from Springfield, and as the storm stopped saw a great double rainbow. Sunday was Mother’s Day, and we went out for lunch at Amphora. It was so crowded they ended us putting us in the private room, which we last ate in at the night before our wedding (we have pictures that show the rug has changed, but not the pictures on the wall). I was working in the yard later, and got pictures of Dave catching the biggest fish of his trip. He and Sue left the next morning and Jill had kebab leftovers, so I picked up kebabs for dinner for Nina and I at Istanbul Blue.

Friday the 17th I went to see Mary Fahl (former lead singer of the October Project) at Jammin’ Java. I’d been meaning to see her for years, but it hadn’t worked out. In addition to her solo songs, she’s done 2 albums of covers, one a complete cover of The Dark Side of the Moon. The show was great, hit every song I wanted to hear. Sunday Nina was confirmed at her church so we both came to see her. Jill said “We are so very proud of N for making her confirmation today! She attended classes all year and she and her 9 other confirmants committed to becoming members of Emmaus UCC. 11 1/2 years ago she was baptized in this church and we are truly blessed to be part of a loving, accepting, supportive church community.” Monday I picked up a growler of beer and some 4 packs at Caboose.

Tuesday Nina had her last full chorus concert. It started with her Advanced Chorus doing songs, then the Tenor & Bass Chorus and Soprano & Alto Chorus performed, then all the chorus came together. Of course they did a Wicked Medley after their trip to NYC. Friday I said I just don’t understand teen slang. She said “my bathroom is leaking”, but what she meant was “I’ve clogged my toilet and now it’s overflowing”. I also posted the definitive Man vs. Bear article.

Sunday the 26th we went out to Chesapeake Beach. Sharon and her family were down for the Memorial Day weekend. One of Patricia’s daughters was visiting with her husband, and initially they were going to join us for lunch, so I’d grilled a pile of burgers and dogs, and Jill made potato salad. We stopped at Popeyes to get some chicken and coleslaw as well (the Bojangles next door we’d been stopping at for years had recently closed) and Dad had bought some corn. But it was just our side of the family, and we had a big lunch. Everyone but Dad and I went to the beach, and we chatted on the deck while they played in the water. I had thought about seeing them again on Memorial Day, but there were a bunch of storms that day. Nina got to go shopping with a friend for the upcoming concert.

Nina had not participated in the spring musical, but the last show of the year was a Cabaret Showcase and she wanted to join the backstage techs. Her first rehearsals were Wednesday and Thursday that week. Thursday I was also happy that at least one trial comes to an end before the election (and the verdict), and Friday I thought this was a fascinating read. I also got my best score in Rush pinball yet.


On Monday the 1st, Nina and Jill were still in Massachusetts, but flew back that night after a busy travel day and I picked them up at Dulles. Nina had StudyPro on Wednesday, so I stocked on beer at Total Wine. Thursday legendary drummer Mike Portnoy shared that it was
Crazy that we’re living in a time where this Summer will see Joe Satriani & Jason Bonham joining Sammy Hagar & Michael Anthony for an evening of Van Halen music and now this Fall will see Steve Vai & Danny Carey joining Adrian Belew & Tony Levin for an evening of King Crimson music…This is a great time to be alive!
And I shared that, saying that’s why I’m going to both of them.

Maddy Sue Jake Nina

Saturday was a travel day for all of us as we drove up to Rochester. We were staying with our Shanty friends the Hays, so we hung out with them until it was time to go to dinner with Mom. She was there with her stepdaughter Jeannie, who’d brought her boyfriend and her youngest son, Logan. The McElroys (Sharon and her family) were running late, but we were able to order for them. I was able to share with everyone that day was Dad’s 90th birthday, and we did not do a party in according to his wishes, but I did have a singing Marilyn Monroe show up at his door. Or at least that was the plan, since he’d told me he’d be at Patricia’s that day, and he arrived 30 minutes after “Marilyn Monroe” left a confused Patricia there with balloons. After dinner we and the McElroys came back to Mom’s to take of the fixit list.

Chris Benjy Becca Kerry Nina Jill Joni

Sunday we were able to sleep in some, then met Sharon’s family at the Strong National Museum of Play where Josh had been dying to do the new ropes course. Jill and I did rock paper scissors – I lost, so I got to go up with Josh and Nina. My reward was lots of pinball (they have 31 machines), and the Hays came to visit too. I did my best on the first two. The last was just a crazy game. I managed to make it to The Record Archive before the Hays grilled burgers for dinner later.

Nina Josh

Monday the 8th we met Logan and Jeannie for brunch at The Great American Diner; the McElroys joined us a bit late. Then we all went our separate ways to view the total eclipse, but no one feeling great about it as partly cloudy skies in the morning had turned into completely overcast by the afternoon. And we did not get to see the eclipse, but it was pretty cool. It looked like a huge storm was approaching, and then slowly all the light went out and the temperature dropped ten degrees. The birds quieted down and we saw a bat come out, then as quickly as it had happened, everything reversed course. We had already packed the car as we’d taken Nina out of school for that day and didn’t want to take her out a second one. Traffic was good for a while, then we got a 30 minute backup due to a lane being closed for construction. It was smooth sailing after that, and we got to stop at a rest stop with the best views.


Wednesday Nina got yet another travel day as she got dropped off at school at 4:30am for a bus trip to New York City. It was mostly chorus and theater classmates, as they went to a workshop with some cast members from Wicked showing them some routines, then got dinner before seeing the 7pm show of Wicked. She had a great time, and Jill and I got to walk over to Red’s Table and have dinner. She actually met another CRNA who almost spilled his beer on her. Thursday I went to see Joe Satriani & Steve Vai at Warner Theatre with Carl (dad of one of Nina’s friends). Satch and Vai’s sets were great, but the 3 song encore at the end was just amazing. They ended with “Enter Sandman”!


Since we’d missed Dad’s actual birthday, we went over to take him out to lunch at Traders Seafood on Saturday the 13th, where we managed to go in through their gaming room. That and the dark environs turned Jill off, but we all enjoyed the food. Monday we got a rare hailstorm. Tuesday night I went to see Madison Cunningham & Juana Molina at the Barns At Wolf Trap. I’ve gotten more into Madison Cunningham since I first saw her at Live From Here from Wolf Trap in 2019, and was looking forward to this show, but apparently she really likes Juana Molina and was trying to showcase her. In addition, Juana had some technical issues with her loop pedals. So we got more Juana than Madison, so I’ll have to catch her again.

hawk at Dad's

Wednesday the 17th Nina did her 3 hour tour at StudyPro. I actually had documentation to work on, so I was able to bring my laptop and work outside at The Union. Then I read the paper and got some of the lamb chop appetizers and a beer to finish the time. Friday Jill volunteered for Career Day at Langston Hughes Middle School. Sunday Jill wanted tacos for lunch, so she got all of us takeout from Taco Zocalo. Monday Nina was off, and she’d been learning to cook for herself, but I had to take a picture to show Jill that cleaning up lessons weren’t working too well.

Nina's lunch

Tuesday the 23rd I went to the Kennedy Center to see Chris Thile with the National Symphony Orchestra. I had an early dinner before I left and went up to the KC Café for a drink and a cookie. The first set was a traditional set (as much as any can be with him) as the NSO performed with and without him. The second set was his piece Attention! Which was kind of a story driven standup set with musical accompaniment. He was joined at various points by Moira Smiley (who tours with Tune-Yards) and Exigence. The encore was just him doing an aggressive cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

Chris Thile

Wednesday Nina did another 3 hour tour at StudyPro. This time I stopped by CD Cellar for a bit, then onto Solace for a beer and some pinball. Friday Jill was off, letting me go into DC early and have dinner at Soi 38 before heading back to the Kennedy Center for Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. It was based on the CD curated by Larry Klein. First up was Madison Cunningham again (not what I really meant by catching her again), then Gregory Porter. Bill Frissell led a top notch band, but Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks (from Tedeschi Trucks Band) were stellar on “Anthem”. Ben Folds was last before intermission, then Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks again before we got the evening’s big guns, Don Henley & Trisha Yearwood. Don Henley was the only artist to get to talk, and Trisha Yearwood closed out the performance with the expected “Hallelujah”.

Saturday we went to see Bye Bye Birdie at Langston Hughes Middle School. Nina had passed on participating because of her workload, and it was for the best, but she enjoyed seeing all her friends. Sunday Nina had a confirmation class, and we had tickets for Alan Doyle at the Barns At Wolf Trap. I had the clever idea to buy her an extra ticket and she could sit in the lobby, but the show was sold out. But I kept checking, and the day before I bought 2 tickets (because they were better than the two I had). I offered the extra one up for free, but had no takers. Nina was happy to sit there on her phone as long as we got her food (and she ended up ordering fish & chips and apple pie), and we enjoyed the show, although it was a Sunday night and Jill left early. Tuesday I thought this was brilliant, and shared it with Jill’s friend Paula, who’s a huge Phish fan.

Alan Doyle


We started the month by getting our weekly takeout from Yaki Sushi on Friday the 1st. Nina had been attending a confirmation class through her church, and on Saturday, was scheduled to attend an overnight retreat with the rest of her class at a camp near Middleburg. She did not want to go, and argued hard, and eventually she and Jill came up with a compromise, that we would pick her up at 9PM and she’d meet up with the group at church the next morning. I came up with the idea we should have dinner nearby, and chose The Ashby Inn in Paris, Virginia. I had a lovely cocktail, the carpaccio, the duck and the pecan bar for dessert, then we went and got Nina. The next evening we attended a memorial for our friend Nancy Moreno, who passed too soon.

Kerry Lillah

Wednesday Nina came home sick. She called at 8:30am saying she was about to throw up, came home and promptly did. She went back to sleep for a bit, then started school work. Friday we got takeout from La Ong Thai Bistro, but Nina wasn’t feeling 100% yet. So we got her an acai bowl by request from Tropical Smoothie Café.


Saturday the 9th it was Awesome Con time again. Both Nina and I used old costumes this time. Nina didn’t want to get up early this time, so we had breakfast, then went downtown around 11 and met the Hamptons, who were already there. The girls went shopping, and so did we. I wanted to meet artist David Mack, we did and bought some Sandman prints, and he signed my copy of Daredevil 10 with Echo’s first cover appearance (since he created her and drew the cover). Then I got my picture taken with Daredevil and Echo stars Charlie Cox and Alaqua Cox holding the freshly signed comic. Meanwhile, the girls got lunch, then did more shopping before we left. Nina had lost her wallet when they stopped for food, but we went to the con security, and someone nice had turned it in with the money intact.

Charlie Cox Kerry Alaqua Cox

Wednesday Nina had her second in person session at StudyPro where she does homework at their Homework Center for two hours with onsite tutors, then meets with an executive functioning coach for an hour. Jill had taken her last time, so this time it was me, with 3 hours to kill if I don’t want to go home. There’s plenty to do in McLean, but Falls Church is the next town over, so I went to CD Cellar until they closed at 6. Jill was having dinner out, and Nina wanted takeout from Teabreak later, so I had dinner outside at Aracosia across the street from StudyPro. That didn’t take much time, so I had a beer and a cookie at The Union downstairs. I had been considering going to that night’s Bryan Adams concert in Fairfax, but decided against it since I would arrive late and I was curious to see opener Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook. While I was at The Union, my friend Rob texted me saying he and his wife and tickets for the show and couldn’t attend and knew I would go. He was right, after I got Nina’s takeout and dropped her at home as Jill arrived and made my way to EagleBank Arena.

Dave Stewart's Eurythmics Songbook

I did make it in time to see some of Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook, much to my disappointment. Not that Dave Stewart all female band was bad at all – just the opposite. But his attitude was terrible – before “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”, he said “And usually, and I don’t know about here, but usually – in fact not usually, on every single gig, every girl, woman has stood up during this song. Now I know we’re playing in a basketball court, so that shouldn’t be difficult.” Also, after the song he said “thank you to everybody that stood up for that – you don’t get no money back at the door, ones that stood up”. Luckily the crowd was there for Bryan Adams and enthusiastically greeted him when he came out, and he was attitude free, just full of a career of hits. He also had some interesting concert innovations. His latest album So Happy It Hurts features a car in the album cover, and he had an inflatable car mounted on a giant drone that was flown around the arena. Also he had video backdrops as many people do, but his must have had a green screen in certain areas, as there would for example be a billboard coming up while the POV was a on a road, and the billboard would feature a live shot from the stage. I thought that was pretty cool.

Bryan Adams

The next day Nina had a field trip to see Romeo & Juliet at Synetic Theater with her theater class. Meanwhile Jill and I attended her annual 504 meeting at school, which went much better than the previous year. We also got to speak to three of her teachers. Friday Nina’s chorus went to perform at Williamsburg Middle School, then we got Big Buns for dinner and I finally took down the Christmas lights.


Monday the 18th I read this and had to repost this wonderful quote from here: “once upon a time, these solar panels happened because people made a good argument, and other people stood with them. It cost something to make it happen, plus a lot of work, and that cost was repaid. That is a narrative that happens too; so sometimes, even if we are afraid, it can be worth investing in the future.” Of course I got some criticism because the original article had a math mistake (The image associated said “By installing solar panels and updating the facilities to be more energy efficient, the schools cut their yearly energy consumption by 1.6 kilowatts and are on track to save $2.4 million over 20 years.”, and 1.6 kilowatts should have been 1.6 million kilowatts).


Wednesday Nina had another 3 hour session at StudyPro, so I went back to CD Cellar to finish going through their bargain section, then went over to Solace Outpost to have a beer, read the paper, play some pinball, and fill a growler. The next day I said this is awesome.

Kerry Lillah

Saturday Nina’s third quarter ended and her spring break began. That night she was invited to Persian new year by a friend. The first half of the week was just her relaxing, getting lots of phone time and finally getting to play Genshin Impact again (we suspended that when she had a lot of work to complete). Wednesday I texted Jill that “You’re the best!”. I had bemoaned the fact that none of the local grocery stores carried Evol frozen burritos anymore, and she had ordered me a case of my favorite cilantro lime flavor. They’re the only frozen burrito that’s low enough in sodium for me to eat, so was excited to have a quick lunch available once again.


Thursday the 28th I took Jill and Nina to Dulles as they had an early flight to Massachusetts as they’d be spending Easter there. The only concert I could find that I wanted to go to was Geoff Tate (from Queensrÿche) at Tally Ho Theater, so that’s what I did, stopping at Tarbenders first for a flatbread and a drink. I was curious about opener Fire & Water, an Irish folk rock band, and was glad I did. I’d bought a ticket in the “VIP section” (aka the balcony) to discover they’d made big modifications since I was there the previous summer. Now everything was tiered, and it was sold out – I got one of the last seats. I enjoyed Fire & Water, but Geoff Tate had advertised a “Hits” tour and delivered with an all Queensrÿche set (except a tasty cover of “Welcome To The Machine”), and nothing from after 2003’s Tribe. Most of the weekend I did house stuff, but Saturday I went to see Dune 2 in IMAX at Udvar-Hazy.

Jill Nina


Friday the 2nd I set out on a solo road trip. I was past Leesburg by 2:30 where it was already getting busy. I stopped again at that wonderful liquor store we found when we stayed near Frederick, then arrived at Hollywood Casino just in time for Extreme’s soundcheck. Or so I thought – it was nearly an hour before they let us in. It really gave us time to take in the casino and its cigarette smoke? Yep, still a thing. The band ran through “Kid Ego” before they let us in, then as we the group was coming in played “He-Man Woman Hater”. They chatted with us, teased “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What)”, then played “Li’l Jack Horny”. They switched to their acoustic setup, asked us what we wanted to hear, and played short versions of “More Than A Feeling”, “Over The Hills And Far Away”, and “The Song Remains The Same” before finishing up with a full version of “Tragic Comic” (one of my favorite Extreme songs). They let 8-10 people come up at a time to take pictures with the band, and I pissed off Nuno by saying they could take back the recently unemployed Mike Mangini if long time drummer Kevin Figg left. I should never forget Scalzi’s aphorism “the failure mode of clever is asshole“.


I had found that the casino had a food court, but after I knew about the smoking, that was right out. So off into downtown Charles Town I went (only 5 minutes away) and parked near Abolitionist Ale Works. I went in at the fellow at the door asked me if I was part of the wedding party. They had the restaurant, but thankfully there was still seating at the bar. I knew I wasn’t in DC when a pizza, 2 draft beers, and 4 beers to go was just $33. Back at Hollywood Casino, I had time for another drink before Living Colour took the stage. Too bad they had a short set, but they made the most of their time, and they’re still excellent. I’d seen they were doing a medley of rap songs during their set and assumed they were paying tribute to some of their influences. Nope, bassist played on “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”, “Apache”, and “The Message”, and that was a jawdropper for me (and a nod to the longevity and excellence of these musicians).

Living Colour

Extreme’s headlining set was a nice overview of their career. They played songs off every album, with a nice first album medley as well as a full “Play With Me”. Their new album Six has been critically acclaimed, and they had a nice amount of new tunes, all well received by the sold out crowd (as well as their classics).


Back home, Jill and Nina had Big Buns. Nina got to go over and hang out with friends on Sunday, and since she ate dinner with them, Jill and I dropped her off at her church class at 7 for a quick dinner at the bar at Joon. Delicious Persian cuisine. Monday I said this is a story you should read if you’re considering for any reason not vaccinating your kids. Tuesday Nina walked home with friends. Wednesday we had received an automatic litter box from LaLa Home, and I found out that Lillah weighed 5.3kg (or 11.7 lbs), because like every appliance these days, the litter box came with an app. Thursday Nina showed us a scratch on her legs because the between period rush is aggressive since the students only have 3 minutes between classes.

litter box

Saturday the 10th was super busy. First we drove to Ballston, where the Filling Station was hosting the annual Vienna School of Rock showcase. We saw the AC/DC band, which in addition to Nina’s friend Megan on vocals, also featured the daughter of my elementary school friends on bass.


We were hungry for lunch, and Hawkers next door looked good, so we went there. I had grilled shishito peppers, lamb skewers, and a flight of sake, just perfect. Next it was on to the Barnes and Noble in Clarendon where Dulcé Sloan was doing a signing for her new book – she was so nice. We had time for book shopping as well, then stopped at Crate and Barrel to pick up a couple kitchen tools. A lady was handing out ice cream samples, then gave us all coupons for a free scoop at Nicecream across the street, and we couldn’t pass that up.

Jill Dulcé Sloan Kerry

We need a rest after all that, but I had Jill take some photos of me for a cameo in the Good Omens graphic novel, then I made a small dinner and left for the Black Cat. Actor Michael Shannon had teamed up with musician Jason Narducy for a tour where they covered R.E.M.’s Murmur and other R.E.M. classics. It was significant enough that when they’d played Athens 2 nights previously, all of R.E.M. had shown up, sometimes playing along. With that buzz, of course it was sold out. I tried getting there around the time doors opened, but parking was terrible. Still, I got there before opener Dave Hill, a musical comedian who had some pretty funny bits (especially “Pickup Lines That Will Only Work In Washington, DC”). Michael Shannon & Jason Narducy and Friends were greeted warmly, and it was soon obvious while Michael Shannon looks nothing like Michael Stipe, they prowl the stage with similar intensity. Plus they managed to stretch a 45 minute album into a 2 hour plus show by also covering the Chronic Town EP, then wandering through R.E.M.’s catalog.

Michael Shannon

I didn’t really have a side during the Super Bowl Sunday, but it was nice that the Chiefs won just because it pissed off the right people. Best moment was during Usher’s halftime show when we discovered the only reason I knew “Confessions Part II” was because of Weird Al’s “Confessions Part III” and Jill had never heard it, so of course we head to pause the show to listen. Also, I think I’ve perfected Buffalo wings. I’d been using the air fryer and other hot sauces, but I’d never used real buttermilk in blue cheese dressing and it really makes a difference.


Monday my new favorite social network Bluesky was now open to the public to join. If you don’t know what makes it different, read this. Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, and we low key celebrated. Nina got to hang out with friends, and we all had takeout from Reston Kebab for dinner. I did my usual dozen roses, and Jill had asked for an orchid (I got beer). Friday I went to Jammin’ Java after dinner as Alexa Rose and Matt Pond PA had put out their Call and Response EP and were touring with it. I thought we’d get them both on stage trading off songs, but instead Alexa Rose did a solo set. I had missed Hillary James’s (from Matt Pond PA) opening set, but Matt Pond PA was great, and Alexa Rose came back for 3 songs during their set. I also found this lovely Dungeons & Dragons styled beer at Total Wine.

Dungeons & Dragons styled beer

Sunday the 18th we went to visit Dad and Patricia for a much belated holiday celebration. We had lunch at O’Loughlin’s Restaurant near where Patricia lives. I had to run to the market next door to get some unsalted butter for my crab legs. Monday was President’s Day, and we’d planned to all attend the DC premiere of Robbie Schaefer’s new movie, Burst The Silence. But Nina had a lot of schoolwork she was behind on, and Jill didn’t want to stay out late, so I went alone. I really enjoyed it, but we’d seen the musical he did it was based on, so I may be biased. I have to single out Marcy Harriell, she was really great.

Burst The Silence cast

Tuesday I saw that in a Florida school there was a measles outbreak where nearly 10% were not vaccinated from over 1,000 students. I predicted there would be more due to the anti-vax idiots. Thursday Langston Hughes Middle School hosted a multicultural festival called “See Me in Reston”. Nina’s chorus gave a short performance so I came to watch – unfortunately it was short notice and Jill had to work.


Friday the 23rd we got takeout from Tea Break. Saturday Jill and I worked hard collecting things for her church’s rummage sale, mostly books. Monday I groused I’ve had neighbors like this… Tuesday I said WTF at this. I was also a little WTF at Nina being too hard to wake up on Tuesday to go to school, until she did it the next week and I found out she had re-enabled Chrome on the phone we let her play music on at night and stayed up most of the night watching videos before hiding her tracks by disabling it again in the morning. At least I got a cute picture of her and the cat.

Lillah Nina


Not too much was going on early in the month. The other Dogfish Head Alehouse in the area closed – I didn’t go often, but they always had the best beer. Nina started cookie sales, and I noticed the following in my newsfeed and posted “Wait… Does that mean Iggy Azalea is the new vocalist for Rage Against The Machine?” Friday we had takeout from Dolan Uyghur.


On Saturday the 6th, Jill dropped me off at the Metro. At Union Station I picked up the Cava order I’d made, and was soon enjoying my salad on my first Acela trip to Philadelphia. I’d planned on driving, but the day’s winter storm made me reconsider, and it turned out to be a good. It was a bit slippery in Philly as I walked to Long In the Tooth and scoured their CDs. After I was done, I walked to Suburban Station, where I had to cool my heels for a while as the line only ran once an hour on the weekend. I checked out Classic Game Junkie in Glenside, then went over to Roberts Block where I enjoyed the duck breast and the crème brûlée with bourbon. After my meal, I walked up to the Keswick Theatre where the Rush tribute band YYNOT was hosting Bubba Bash 2024, a fundraiser around Neil Peart’s birthday for Cedars-Sinai.


Ordinarily a cover band is not much of a draw, but the guest artists with them included Jonathan Dinklage (a violin player who was the player on the original version of “Losing It”), Dan Avidan (Ninja Sex Party) and Frank Bello (Anthrax), as well as drummers Ed Toth, Andrés Patrick Forero, Seven Antonopoulos, Jason Bittner and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). It was a wonderful show, and happily I didn’t have to reverse my travel then as my friend Tony was playing in a pinball tournament in NJ and went a bit out of his way on the way back to pick me up. I stayed overnight in his guest room, then the next morning we drove to Delaware to play pinball at the co-op (no tournament this time, thank goodness), then he dropped me off at 2 at the Wilmington train station and made my way home. Jill was under the weather when I got home, so she tapped out and I took nina to her confirmation class at church, then had delicious bibimbap at Maru while I waited.


Monday I had to LOL at this and Tuesday I had to say Nice one, Oakton!

Kerry Lillah

Friday the 12th Nina was home sick. She had a fever and I took her to the CVS Minute Clinic, where I learned she was 96lbs, 5’1″, and strep, flu and Covid negative. Jill got takeout from Santinis on the way home. We had tickets to see Seth Meyers at his 7PM show at the Kennedy Center the next night, and Jill volunteered to stay home. I’d posted about a free ticket on Facebook and posted it for sale on Stubhub with no takers, so I was prepared to eat it. But as I was walking up the ramp to the entrance, a lady asked if I had an extra, so I gave it to her. Good set, even better if you’ve already seen Lobby Baby.

Nina Lillah

Monday was a holiday and would have been a snow day, so we stayed indoors, I cooked Eggs benedict and artichokes, then made a fire. Did the kitten prefer her first taste of snow or seeing her first fire? Neither, she spent most of her day hanging out on a secondhand cat ledge we got that apparently smells like cats. I also saw this video for the first time that’s for fellow Doctor Who fans only: Leela vs the Time War!


Wednesday the 17th Nina’s chorus had a graded, mandatory concert, so we all went over to Langston Hughes to see it. Thursday I finished Season 5 of Fargo and said it is the best since the first one. Good to the last bite. Friday we got an actual snow day. I got to work, Nina slept in, and Jill went over to Walker Nature Center to finally try out her snowshoes.


Saturday I had to say kudos to the editor of The Washington Post’s letters to the editor page for making all the titles song lyrics (gift link). Monday morning Nina had a nightmare and crawled into our bed, followed closely by Lillah. When I realized we had the whole family in the bed for the first time, I tried to take a selfie of all of us, but it turned out crappy.

Nina Kerry Jill Lillah

Juliana Hatfield just released an album covering Electric Light Orchestra late last year and appeared at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Friday the 26th to perform, so that was a must for me. She did mostly her own material, but did two ELO covers, as well as songs by The Police and Olivia Newton-John. On the way home, I stopped by the Lost Dog Café and picked up takeout for the family as well as Lera, one of Nina’s friends.

Juliana Hatfield


Friday the 1st Nina and the Panther chorus were busy. First they performed at the Holiday Open House at the Governmental Center, then I got to create a fundraising account and website to sell popcorn for their planned spring trip. I shared “Want to send Nina to Broadway? No, just for the day. Grab yourself some popcorn, or donate some to essential workers.” We held our annual holiday party on Saturday (again with adults in the kitchen and kids everywhere else), then on Sunday I went to see Emmylou Harris at The Hamilton with Rodney Crowell as part of her annual fundraiser for Bonaparte’s Retreat. I went with the VIP tickets because it guaranteed me a seat down front, it was for a good cause, and who doesn’t want their picture with Emmylou? The concert was great, too.

Kerry Emmylou Harris

Monday the 4th I saw this video, and my first reaction was “Holy f*ck”. Tuesday I went to see the Allman Betts Family Revival at Capital One Hall. The Allman Betts Band was formed by three sons of members of the Allman Brothers Band, which was kinda interesting, but this show was them doing all Allman Brothers Band songs along with a lot of start from the jam band scene. Standouts were Ghalia Volt and Tal Wilkenfeld (the latter whom I’d seen play when she was in Jeff Beck’s band). Thursday I didn’t read the Post as the writers were on strike. I also thought this video was interesting – Sinead O’Connor doing the Kirsty MacColl part on “Fairytale Of New York”. R.I.P. both her and Shane.

Allman Betts Family Revival

We had a quiet weekend starting Friday, getting takeout from Pista House as the next several weeks would be busy. Nina went to her first school dance on Wednesday the 13th. Then her advanced chorus was invited to South Lakes High School for their Tis the Season for Jazz winter concert, and Jill and I went to see her do that on Thursday.

Langston Hughes Chorus

Friday the 15th we got Nina out of school an hour early and started driving north at 1:30, listening to holiday music all the way. We stopped for dinner at Wawa and arrived at 10 at Robin’s house. Saturday we drove out to Ski Butternut. Nina joined her cousins for tubing while I had brought my skis to go skiing. But there was a problem with my ticket I needed to wait in line to fix, then when I finally got my skis on my boots wouldn’t stay in the bindings. I found the repair shop and they told me my bindings had blown. So I rented skis and terrible boots, and I was finally on the lift when I texted Jill to tell her what was going on and she said they were done tubing. Nina had complained on the trip over that she didn’t get to ski, so we told her she could now, and she did.


After I’d made two runs, she was ready. But it had been 3 years since she’d skied, and she was unsure of herself, so we went over to the bunny slope and I attempted to reteach her. After a number of runs, we took the lift up and the green trail down – she was doing really well until the bottom of the green, which was steeper and she fell a couple times. After another run, she was done, and I did one more run for myself. It was a fun afternoon as I don’t think we talked that much in one day all year. That evening Jill and her sisters, spouses, plus her mom and Dave met up for dinner at Donovan’s (the former Slainte) in Holyoke. It took a while to seat all of us, but we had some drinks, and the food was decent.

Kerry Nina

Sunday Jill and Nina went to church with Robin and Finn. They had a cookie sale that Robin had made cookies for and came home with a selection of tasty ones. We got takeout from Elm Pizza for lunch (I had the roast beef), then went to Old Sturbridge Village with most of the Bradys. The threatened rain soon started to fall, and it wasn’t as fun walking around. Nina asked for food and we went over to the Bullard Tavern where we waited in line for food. We ate upstairs where Dominic, Maddy & Tiernan had also camped out, and were treated to a string duo performing in front of the fireplace. Nina wanted to do some present shopping for Jill so we spent some time in the gift shop. At some point my glasses slipped out of pocket when we were walking around, and calls back later were never answered. I heated up some of Nina’s leftover Wawa pizza and decided they’d stolen the recipe from Domino’s.

Old Sturbridge Village

Monday the 18th the rain was intense all day, so of course that was the day we drove to Framingham to meet my sister and her son Josh. We met at Burtons Grill for lunch (where we were lucky to get our orders in before the 2 huge tables of companies having holiday lunches), then went over to Fun and Games. It was like a tiny Dave & Busters, but unlike them they had pinball. Jill was out for dinner with her mom and sisters, so Nina had the spaghetti that Mike made, while I had bought lamb and grilled that.

Kerry Josh

I slept in most days we were up there, but Tuesday really slept in past noon. Nina was getting a cold that Jill also ended up getting (I remembered to bring the zinc lozenges and pounded them). After Finn got home from school, Bob & Sue came for a visit and we got takeout from Alessio’s Pizza for dinner. There was lots of speculation on the estimated total of this that night.

Nina Finn

Wednesday Jill was with Missy who had a procedure done. After she came home, we got fajitas ingredients at Stop & Shop, then I made them. Jake, Sue & Dave came over to eat as well. That night I thought “Why did I never think to do this?” Thursday we went to visit Gram, where we picked up Jake and went on to Northampton. Sue met us there and everyone else went to Webs while I went to Turn It Up. Sue took Jake home after that while we went back to Robin’s house where Mike made us burgers.


Friday Nina wasn’t feeling great, but roused herself in the morning for a haircut with Jill and Maddy. In the evening we went over to the Bradys for an early Christmas dinner, with ham, roast beef, and some very good Yorkshire Pudding. Gifts were exchanged and ugly sweaters were worn (over great objection from me). Saturday we left at 6am with a quick Starbucks start, taking 87 for an almost guaranteed traffic free day. I slept in New Jersey. Nina asked for seafood for lunch, and there was a Phillips at the next rest stop. She got the crispy shrimp and I got the hush puppies, astounded that they reminded me of the ones from the long gone Chesapeake Bay Seafood House. Since both Jill and Nina weren’t feeling good by that point with a cold, I went out and picked up pho from Tea Break.


The Cannons came down for the week again, and brought a bunch of store pizzas over for dinner on Christmas Eve while I made my own pizza and a salad (I used up my bad luck for the year by smashing the jar of leftover pizza sauce just as I was putting it away downstairs). My dad didn’t want to meet for Christmas as he was taking care of Patricia, so Christmas Day was just us and Lillah, who was very happy to have us home (she had warmed up to the neighbors catsitting and allowed them to pet her after 5 days). We had plenty of time to open and enjoy our gifts, and I made a rotisserie duck for Christmas dinner.

Jill Nina Lillah

My mom was scheduled to fly in on Tuesday the 26th in the afternoon, but her flight was delayed over 7 hours and she finally arrived at 10PM, and Nina and I picked her up. Mom was delighted to meet Lillah, and we mostly hung out and talked. No one had a preference for dinner, so I made peanut noodles figuring everyone would like it, and I was right. Thursday we’d planned on having a joint dinner with the Cannons at Peter Chang in McLean, but Nina had fallen asleep in the afternoon and didn’t feel great after that, and neither did Jess, so it was just me and Mom with Chris and his kids. But it was a great meal (their Peking duck is worth it) and we made new orders for the homebound before we left.

Nancy Lillah

Friday the 29th I dropped Mom off the airport in the morning, then we had an early New Year’s Eve party again (this time on New Year’s Eve Eve Eve) as the Cannons were leaving early the next day. Again the Larsens and Norwood-Hochradels were able to join us, this time with all family members. Saturday we picked up Nina’s friend Avery and drove to the Wharf where we had lunch at Del Mar and again had the enormous paella. Next we went to the nearby Arena Stage to see Swept Away, based on The Avett Brothers’ album Mignonette, but featuring songs from their whole catalog. Jill and I really enjoyed it, and Nina thought it was a bit cringe.

Jess Chris Amy Kai Chris Morgan Kerry Mike Jill

Sunday the 31st was New Year’s Eve, and we felt very lucky that one of Nina’s friends invited her over, as we’d already made plans. After we dropped her off and hung out a little, we drove to DC and managed to drive around an accident scene and park. We got to The Atlantis just as ebo was ending, and had obtained drinks and a good spot by the time emmet swimming went onstage. I wouldn’t have minded staying, but since we hadn’t made a plan for Nina, needed to be back by shortly after midnight to pick up Nina. So we left at 11:15 as traffic was still gnarly, and arrived at 11:50, plenty of time to do the countdown, then head home.

Nina Kerry Jill

Artists To Watch 2024

Again this year my music buying was mostly online from Bandcamp, high quality audio from Qobuz & 7digital and preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I also got free mp3s from WNRN

Here’s a playlist of everything available on Spotify.

Here’s a playlist of everything available on SoundCloud.

Band Song Why them
01. Muna One That Got Away They were on the side stage at the All Things Go Music Festival, but they put on my favorite performance of the day, including boygenius & Lana Del Rey.
02. Extreme Rise With Aerosmith’s coming retirement, this is the band from Boston to see. And if you didn’t know their guitar player is one of the best ever, check out quite possibly the best solo he’s ever done.
03. Kings Elliot Ashes By The Morning She opened up for Stephen Sanchez at Union Stage (who was in last year’s list) and was just great.
04. Genesis Owusu Leaving The Light If you know me well, you know that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favorite soundtrack. So it’s with the highest praise that I think this song could fit right on that album.
05. Melanie Martinez Void I’m not immune to the lure of current pop, and if my daughter is also a fan, that’s a plus.
06. Dopapod Black Holes I do love me some jam bands, but I made a special point to see them after finding out for Halloween last year, they did a whole set of Weird Al covers.
07. Skating Polly Louder In Outer Space They had me at “featuring Louise Post & Nina Gordon”, aka the singers from Veruca Salt.
08. Smartbomb Not That Simple I went back and checked, and I’ve never featured Smartbomb. Like emmet swimming, my favorite Fairfax band, they have Scott Brotemarkle on bass and vocals, but Chuck Andrada on vocals as well.
09. (G)I-DLE I Do My daughter’s a big fan of K-Pop, and now I am too.
10. Paperhouse The Devil Didn’t Win Specaking of Fairfax bands, this duo features Shane Hines who’s been making music a long time solo and with the Trance.
11. Ryan Wright What’s Not To Love One more local hit with the daughter of Todd Wright now making music on her own, with her latest single her most fully realized song yet.
12. Middle Kids Highlands A hooky chrous that hooked me.
13. The Warning Money They had this hard rock trio of sisters on the side stage for this year’s MTV VMAs and I wanted to know more.
14. Roberta Lea Too Much Of A Woman A Kickstarter project that proved worth the wait.
15. The Swell Season The Answer Is Yes Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová reunited and I wanted to see them because I hadn’t yet. What I didn’t know is they’re still making astonishing songs.
16. Caroline Polachek Sunset When we saw her open for Dua Lipa last year and found she used to front alt/rock group Porchlift, I knew to keep an eye on her.
17. Overcoats New Suede Shoes Always a sucker for harmonies.
18. Greensky Bluegrass Congratulations And Condolences This year’s jamgrass entry.
19. Le Sserafim Fearless Yep, more K-Pop.
20. Dori Freeman Why Do I Do This To Myself Pop country with a nice riff.
21. Nichole Wagner Raised By Wolves Another Kickstarter project I liked.
22. Larkin Poe Bad Spell Did I see them open up for Indigo Girls at Wolf Trap? Nope, saw them open for Guns N’ Roses in London. I guess it was inevitable.
23. Duane Betts Saints To Sinners Son of The Allman Brothers Band founder Dickey Betts, I just saw him with fellow sons of the original band in the Allman Betts Family Revival. He’s got some chops.
25. Hurray for the Riff Raff Saga She was one of the surprise guests for NPR Music Celebrates 15 Years late last year.
26. Twice Set Me Free And one more K-Pop track to finish us off.


My first concert of the month was the closest one all year that wasn’t on the lake. Michael Clem was playing in Julie’s backyard in Vienna on Saturday the 4th, and it was a 6 minute drive for me. Our friend Susan had set it up and was playing the host. It was billed as a “cocktail and mocktail party under the stars”, so they had a dedicated bartender you could get one of two drinks, with alcohol if you wanted. Naturally I did, so I had the whiskey and cider. It was my second time seeing Mike at a house concert that year, and they were almost completely different setlists, but he had some nice new songs too. After the show, they’d made pies for someone who’d just had a birthday, and served us slices with some of fellow guest Susan Soorenko’s Moorenko ice cream.

Michael Clem

The next Friday Jill was out and Nina and I got delivery from Tea Break via DoorDash (my first time ordering, Nina wanted not to go). Saturday Jill and Nina left in the morning for a Girl Scout overnight camping trip near Solomon’s Island. I needed to get something from a coworker and we met up at University Mall, then I ran errands. First stop was Chubby Squirrel in Fairfax where I stopped for a flight of beers and some pinball. What was appropriate for that day being Veteran’s Day was the “Buy a vet a beer” board, where you pay for it and they put your name on it, to be crossed off when a vet wants a beer later. I had a light lunch of shishito peppers and a fried chicken bao at High Side, where I was happy to eat outside in the sun as they had a private party coming in 30 minutes. I checked out Mobius Records – disappointing as they only had new CDs. I also stopped at the ABC store and Safeway to pick up supplies. The next day Nina and I tried Lillah on a leash in the backyard. She was not a fan, and scrambled under the Azalea bush to seek shelter for most of the time we were outside.

Nina Jill

Tuesday I said that some bands have been accused of inappropriate promotions, but this is very on brand.

Stones ad

I also got a stuffed cat and Coraline figure from the Coraline movie, and tried the stuffed cat and Lillah as companions.

Coraline Lillah

Thursday I went to see Valerie June, Rachael Davis, Thao & Yasmin Williams at Sixth & I. They were playing together in the round, and I missed the first three songs as Jill had to work late. But it was still a great show with a fair amount of playing together. I stayed after to get some merch and said hi to Thao and Rachael Davis, the latter of whom I told was probably the only person there who was on my Facebook friends list.

Valerie June, Rachael Davis, Thao & Yasmin Williams

Friday the 17th Nina came home from school and we got on the road for a rush hour trip to Ocean City NJ. It was time for Friendsgiving again, in the same house we rented last year. The folks who’d arrived already had gotten pizza, and I wolfed down a couple slices before heading over to Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. And no, not to gamble. In 2005 and 2006 VH1 had a show called Decades Rock Live, where a classic artist performed a show in Atlantic City with some famous fans. Heart got Alice In Chains, Carrie Underwood, Duff McKagan, Dave Navarro, Gretchen Wilson & Rufus Wainwright, Elvis Costello and The Imposters got Death Cab for Cutie, Fiona Apple & Billie Joe Armstrong, Cyndi Lauper got Scott Weiland, Pat Monahan (from Train), Ani DiFranco & Shaggy, Pretenders got Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson, Kings of Leon & Incubus, while Bonnie Raitt got Norah Jones, Alison Krauss, Keb’ Mo’ & Ben Harper.


So when I found out they were starting the show again on a weekend when I was only 30 minutes away, I was in. So much so I sold my ticket to see Geddy Lee talk about his new book in Maryland. I had a little bit of time before the show, but by the time I’d worked my way to the entrance (good call having Wi-Fi available for the Ticketmaster app as I had no cell service that far in) and found my seat, I only had 3 minutes before they started showing videos. Chicago started playing about 7 minutes after the 9pm start time, and went straight into 4 songs off their first album (and I had no idea it was the 55th anniversary of that). The first guest was Robert Randolph, and he played sacred steel guitar and sang lead on “Listen” (the last time Chicago played that song was in 19xx). Next up was Steve Vai (and the true reason I was there), playing amazing solos on “South California Purples” and “Poem 58”. Then both Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram & Chris Daughtry joined the band for their cover of “I’m A Man” with a truly unnecessary drum solo in the middle. Robert Randolph returned for “Dialogue (Part I & II)”, then the band played 4 songs without guests, then brought up Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram again and singer Judith Hill to sing 3 of the songs from the “Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon” suite. She stayed for “Alive Again”, then we got a Christmas song from xxxx: “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”. After “Old Days” and Chris Daughtry rejoining for “Hard Habit To Break”, we got an unplanned intermission (one of the Chicago guys called “set break” and walked off the stage.


I wasn’t sure how long it would be, but after 5 minutes it was clear it wasn’t soon, so I stood in the bathroom line (rare parity in length for both men’s and women’s). I got back and they still hadn’t started, but I as I was considering a cocktail, the lights dimmed and I resumed my seat. They had an enormous fake bonfire at the front of the stage, and chairs ringing it. Chicago was joined by the a capella group VoicePlay for “Wishing You Were Here”, “Happy Man”, “If You Leave Me Now” and “Look Away”. Then we got a great cover I wasn’t expecting: The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour”. That was just the band, and it was just them for “Just You ‘N’ Me”, “Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away” and “The Christmas Song”. Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram was back for “In The Country”, then we got our final and most miscast guest: Robin Thicke. Thankfully he was mostly there as a hype man for “Saturday In The Park”. They played “Free”, then Judith Hill returned for great versions of “You’re The Inspiration” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day”. The encore of “25 Or 6 To 4” featured all the guests, with some sharp solos from Steve Vai, Robert Randolph and Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram.

Steve Vai Chicago

When I got back to the house, everyone was fast asleep. I was up by 10 the next day to go shopping at Acme (remembered to bring bags this time). Jill, Nina and I walked on the boardwalk in the afternoon, then I played pinball with Tony for an hour. I’d chosen a relatively quick recipe of pork, apples and brown sugar, but the apples took a while to slice finely and Jill helped with that task. We had dinner upstairs (there had been a sewage leak downstairs where we had it the previous year) and it went well. There were lots of desserts, but I brought the makings of a pecan pie martini, and it was pretty tasty.

Wednesday the 22nd we had Cardinal Chem Dry stop by as the rugs (especially the stairs) were looking haggard. They recommended a two step process, starting with a deep stain cleanse. Jill made pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies from scratch. Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I got up at 11:30 to start the turkey. Jill made rutabaga, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce while I made the green beans and stuffing. As I pulled the turkey out of the oven, I rested the pan on the counter while I transferred the turkey to the cutting board. Turns out it was unbalanced, and tipped over onto the floor, leaving half the juices on the floor. It took me an hour to mop the kitchen and thaw some homemade chicken broth so Jill could make gravy. But the dinner turned out wonderful anyways. This was the perfect recipe for a juicy turkey that I was able to start and forget.

Nina Kerry Jill

No Black Friday shopping for us, but Nina wanted to go see the Reston Town Center holiday parade since one of her besties was going. She was dead asleep when they came to pick her up, so I had to take her when she was ready to go 30 minutes later. I didn’t stay because I hadn’t dressed warmly enough, but leaving 10 minutes before the parade started was crazy, as half of Reston was headed in (there was a half mile long line of cars on Reston Parkway waiting to turn in). Nina got lunch with her friend and stayed at their house during the afternoon, so I was able to do computer stuff and go out for a walk with Jill when she got home from work.

Nina Avery

Saturday morning we drove off to Maryland to see my dad. Jill chose to have lunch at Ketch 22, which had lovely views, and we all had seafood except Dad, who chose the meatloaf. Afterwards I got to serve as tech support. I think a power surge of some sort fried his router and phone service, so I scheduled phone repair. We took the router to the nearest Verizon store where they exchanged it, then I mailed it to him the next day. That night I went to see Mark Williams and Friends at Jammin’ Java. Lena Traynham opened, then I finally saw Ryan Wright with her band, then Mark Williams’ band T.O.E. (Things Over Easy). The real magic came next, as we got a covers set that featured the previous bands, as well as Todd Wright. And if you start with a Fountains of Wayne song, why not get the original guitarist?

Mark Williams Todd Wright


Sunday the 1st I returned to the All Things Go Music Festival. It was two days this year for the first time, but I really just liked the second day lineup. I got there around 4, but didn’t have a ticket (I wanted to see boygenius this year, but they also played Merriweather in June as part of Re:Set, and by the time I decided not to go to that, All Things Go was sold out). I had been monitoring Ticketmaster and StubHub, but there were no tickets at face value, which is what I was hoping for. So I went to the entrance near the mall and spent 20 minutes asking people coming in if they had extras. That didn’t work, so I went down to the box office to ask. They only had lawn tix, but that was fine with me.


I had hoped to catch some of Alvvays, but by the time I got in, Arlo Parks was on stage. She was good, but I didn’t have a lot of time, so spent the rest of her set and the break playing pinball (Merriweather has a nice selection of all musical acts). I got in position in the back of the lawn to see boygenius (the supergroup of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers & Lucy Dacus) and they delivered a fun set to an audience who knew every word. Then I was positioned to switch stages and see my favorite new discovery, Muna. The female trio puts a very Chvrches like vibe with their dance pop, and the crowded hill was there for it. I had noticed when preparing for the show that Lana Del Rey has an Axl Rose like approach to starting on time, and the same was true that night. I wasn’t that into it, plus I hadn’t had anything to eat since brunch so I left, stopping at Brew Dog where I wolfed down a cheese pizza and a beer before driving home. I did find out later I missed Jack Antonoff joining her on a couple songs, but I’d rather see him with Bleachers (or a Fun! Reunion).


On Tuesday I observed “Gonna be loud tomorrow afternoon” as they had scheduled a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday at 2:20 pm. Wednesday I got to experience one of my least favorite things as I needed to get to Baltimore on a weeknight. When I was waiting to drop Nina off at her horseback riding class at 5, I checked Google Maps. The time it would take to drive straight there using the Beltway was only 5 minutes shorter than going west to 15 and then come back using 70, and it was only going to get worse, so soon I was going very fast on the Greenway. I got to the parking garage I’d reserved at 7:05, and arrived at CFG Bank Arena at 7:20. The problem with that is that the ticket I bought was a “VIP” that came with merch and a “buffet experience” that was scheduled to end at 7:15. So I dashed around, got my merch and finally found my way to a sad looking buffet. I couldn’t have eaten much of what was left, but I did take and eat a gigantic plate of salad before I got a drink and went to my seat.

Queen + Adam Lambert

Queen + Adam Lambert took the stage shortly after 8. Ordinarily I’ll make a playlist to listen to before the show to listen to songs I’m not that familiar with. I didn’t for this show for two reasons: 1. This was the first show of their tour, and 2: I’m very familiar with all their music. Absolutely fabulous show, no notes for it. I will say that watching two elder statesmen of rock and roll perform a full two hour show (Brian even ran back and forth on the runway) show how fit senior citizens can do their job. On a related note, I support re-electing the president. I think he can play the hits for a long time. Nice review here.

Queen + Adam Lambert

Thursday Nina took her school picture, and I urged people to support Say No to a Reston Casino. Friday we got takeout from the new Eve’s Garden. Saturday the 7th Nina got an invite to a friend’s birthday party and sleepover, and we took advantage of it. We drove to The Wharf and had a lovely dinner of pasta and fish at Officina. Then Jill got to go to The Anthem for the first time, but not for a concert – she wanted to see the Hey Ladies Fierce Female Comedy Show. First up was Ego Nwodim (from Saturday Night Live), funny as usual. Jill’s favorite was up next: Nicole Byer (she loves her podcasts), then Aida Rodriguez and Luenell, both good. Sunday after dropping Nina at her class I played pinball and drank a flight of beers at Solace (former home of Mad Fox).

Jill Kerry

Friday the 13th I tempted fate and completed my Police solo trilogy by seeing guitarist Andy Summers. He performed solo at the Barns At Wolf Trap, projecting photos he’d taken since the 1970s and playing songs to backing tracks, about half solo/half Police (plus a nice cover of “‘Round Midnight”).

Andy Summers

Saturday Nina and I got our flu vaccine. Safeway was running a clinic at their entrance, and she was weirded out by getting as people came in and out around us. I go to a lot of concerts, and a lot of them are really good. But some are exceptional, and that night’s show with the Pat McGee Band featuring John Popper was one of those. It was an attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle after he guested on a set of theirs at The Bayou 25 years ago. But years of experience plus a rehearsal made it a one of a kind night, a great run through of the hits of both bands.

Jill Kerry Pat McGee John Popper

Sunday the 15th we had Michelle and Morgan and family over in the afternoon with pizza from Lucia’s and a salad Morgan made. The kids got to hang out and the grownups chatted. Later I took the boat out to read the paper and realized I’d forgotten about the last Lake Thoreau Concert with Felix Pickles, so watched him for a while instead.

Lillah Nina

That week Nina had catch up with a bunch of unfinished work for school. Friday we took Metro from East Falls Church and had dinner at Immigrant Food and ice cream from Larry’s Cookies and Ice Cream, then saw the hilarious Randy Rainbow at the Warner Theatre. Saturday was a windy, cool day so there was only one thing to do (pictured below). Jill had a dinner out, so Nina and I got Tea Break to go.


Sunday was my birthday. I went to Maryland to go to a record show, play a bunch of pinball, visit a record store, and home to cuddle with a kitty and read the paper. Then Jill and I got Thai food for dinner while Nina was in her class and finally there was homemade carrot cake. Wednesday the 25th I saw the kind of story we need right now: Rock star Bret Michaels adopts hero stray dog also named Bret Michaels.

Nina Kerry Lillah

Friday we got takeout from Big Buns. Saturday we returned the favor for the family that watched Nina while we were seeing the Pat McGee Band by babysitting their 4 kids. The oldest is Nina’s age, so it wasn’t that hard. Although I managed to nearly blow the whole thing up by texting their mom a picture of the little girls cuddling next to Nina to watch her play Genshin Impact with the ironic caption “Things are getting out of control” and thanks to crappy T-Mobile coverage only the text went through, so I got a panicked text back…

Jill Nina

Tuesday the 31st was Halloween, and Nina dressed up with 2 friends, and one of the dads and I chaperoned them for hours in the cold. At least the last stop had more friends, a fire pit, and spiked cider.



Friday the 1st Jill was off, so we scheduled Lillah’s first vet visit with Vet In A Box – they’re a mobile vet, who don’t do house calls, you go outside and there’s an exam room in the back of their van. Lillah got some shots and was pronounced healthy. She was so busy during the day she didn’t want to do takeout, used DoorDash to get food from Bollywood Bistro.


Saturday was Nina birthday and her birthday party. After her flute lesson in the morning, Jill and her went to Wegman’s for cake and drinks, while I hit Ledos for pizza and wings. We got to Monster Mini Golf before the previous party was over, but managed to get in and setup before any guests arrived at 3. Jill served them food while I greeted. The staff kept bugging us to finish in the first 30 minutes, but it just wasn’t happening for the girls to get through pizza, cupcakes, and ice cream cake.


At 3:45 they went upstairs for Laser Tag (Megan was the high scorer), then went back down for a round of mini golf, during which Jill and I packed up the leftovers and threw out the trash. Finally they played arcade and coupon games and the laser maze, before most left and we took the remaining ones back to our house for a hang.


Sunday we all collapsed – I rallied to make the Eggs Benedict and artichokes she’d requested for her dinner the day before. Monday I went to see Lauren Mayberry, singer for Chvrches, do her first every solo show at the 9:30 Club. She had released a new single, “Are You Awake?”, but other than that, no one knew what to expect. As it turns out, she’s working a new solo album, and those were the tunes she played, with the addition of a nice cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. Her songs were very Chvrches-like, but I liked them.

Lillah Nina

The next night was Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service at The Anthem. Jill had to work late, so I missed seeing Lauren Mayberry two nights in a row (no great loss, as she performed the same set minus two songs) and got in during the middle of Death Cab for Cutie performing their album Transatlanticism. Both that and The Postal Service’s self titled album were released in 2003, so Ben Gibbard, frontman of both bands, was pulling double duty celebrating the 20th anniversary of both albums. Death Cab was fine, but I would have preferred Plans. The Postal Service was wonderful, though, and having Jenny Lewis tour with them was crucial to getting that right. For the encore, first it was Ben & Jenny only, reprising “Such Great Heights”, then the rest of Death Cab for Cutie joined them for a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence”. The only thing I was bummed about was that this poster was sold out when I got there, it’s just so great.

Death Cab for Cutie The Postal Service

Friday the 8th we all went to Vienna to get take out. Jill and I wanted to try The Mixx Delight, next to Clarity. Nina noped out once she saw the menu, so I took her to the Wendy’s down the street while Jill waited for the food. Then we drove over to Wolf Trap where James Taylor was playing for three nights, all sold out. We chose a picnic table near the restaurant as it would be too crowded inside, then ate. Afterwards we went inside, and he played all the hits (along with a well timed intermission). Jill was big fan of his storytelling in between songs. We left during the encore.

James Taylor

Saturday I tried Scissors & Scotch for a haircut after they offered me a discount. The haircut was decent, and the drink afterwards was good, but the discount was mysteriously missing when I paid, so I doubt I’ll be back. Sunday Nina started 2 new classes, a study skills class at StudyPro and a confirmation class at church. Her being in downtown McLean for 2 hours in the morning at StudyPro was a perfect excuse to go to CD Cellar and pore through the discount CDs. Monday we found out Nina had only slept an hour the night before, so we banned Lillah from her room, and she slept in class, on the way to and from her flute lesson, and before dinner (we made her go to bed at 8).

Nina Lillah

I don’t know how it got to be 2023 until I realized that I hadn’t seen great pop bands Crowded House and Squeeze, but I corrected both of those mistakes, Crowded House back in May and Squeeze on Thursday the 14th at Wolf Trap. It was actually a double bill with The Psychedelic Furs opening. I didn’t know them well, but I enjoyed their show (and the big hits, of course). Squeeze’s singers and writers, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, sounded like they haven’t aged a bit, and neither have their songs. The crowd was very into it. Fun trivia fact: Amanda Kramer, keyboardist for The Furs, is an early member of Information Society, while Simon Hanson and Richard Fearless, playing drums and percussion for Squeeze, are the drummer and singer for Death in Vegas.


Friday I did not have a ticket for The Jayhawks at the beginning of the day. I hadn’t seen them since 2014 and I wanted to, but it turned out Jill was working late and I thought I might have to miss the show. Meanwhile the show sold out. Then Nina got an offer to hang out at a friend’s house, and I asked if it was possible for her to stay through dinner and Jill could pick her up. So I waited until resale ticket prices dropped closer to the show, picked one up, and raced over to Alexandria. I had time to stop at Five Guys and wolf a burger down to avoid the food at The Birchmere, then got a seat only minutes before Freedy Johnston came on (I was still hungry, so tried their carrot cake, which was a mistake). If you thought 9 years between seeing The Jayhawks is long, it was 28 years since I’d last seen him. I was happy he was still playing “Bad Reputation”.


The Jayhawks came on strong after the break with “Backwards Women” from Back Roads And Abandoned Motels and “This Forgotten Town” from XOXO, songs from their two most recent albums that fit in perfectly with their older material. “Angelyne”, “Waiting For The Sun”, “Nothing Left To Borrow” and “Tampa To Tulsa” followed to crowd acclaim. Singer Gary Louris wrote “Everybody Knows” with The Chicks and showed it’s equally his song. More classics followed: “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, “I’d Run Away” and “Trouble”. The new “Dogtown Days” was a stunner, then a pair of covers: Gram Parsons’ “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning” and The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. Stephen McCarthy joined them all set on guitar and pedal steel guitar, and having done that for them on 2003’s Rainy Day Music, especially shined on album cuts “All The Right Reasons” and “Save It For A Rainy Day”. The set ended with rousing versions of “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces”, “Smile”, “Blue” and “Tailspin”. The encore was “Sound Of Lies”, “Big Star”, and a cover of Billy Walker’s “Down To My Last Cigarette” with Karen Grotberg on vocals. It was shortened (other stops had also gotten Gary’s contribution to Golden Smog “Until You Came Along”), but with three covers I was satisfied.


I was glad I went as the next morning Jill ended up going north as her mom was admitted to the hospital with chest pains. Nina had gotten Chinese takeout at her friend’s house, but really wanted Big Buns, so she asked if she could go and bring a friend. The friend’s mom offered to have Nina come over first and hang out for a couple hours, so naturally I went home and went on the boat. When I went to pick them up, the mom came too and we all ate at a table inside. Sunday Nina was back at StudyPro so I got to go to CD Cellar and finish poring through the discount CDs (yes, 3.5 hours total, they really have that many). Jill’s mom ended up getting testing and getting a stent. Jill came home Friday – she was thinking about coming back Saturday, but a tropical storm was going to give us a glancing blow, and driving would have been miserable. So we spent a 3 day rainy weekend at home, with a sleepover for Nina on Sunday.


While Jill was gone, I posted some links. I found The real reason(s) food allergies are on the rise fascinating. On 10,000 Maniacs hiring Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum from Sixpence None The Richer, I posted “Huh. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their last singer, but this is quite a surprise. I’d go see them.” Finally, one of the joys of buying used CDs is occasionally coming across editorial changes:

Final Rip Off

Also, I sent this to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter: We’ve had Lillah (aka Cagney [& Lacey], aka Hiss [& Vinegar]) for a month now, and she’s settling in nicely. She was categorized as a working cat, but our daughter cuddled her for 30 minutes and we brought her home. She started out in a bathroom, and really responded to wet food. It turns out she has the loudest purr I’ve ever heard on a cat, and while she’s still skittish about loud sounds, will come to us for pets and playtime. Her favorite toy is a bundle of feathers attached to what looks like a fishing rod, and her favorite food is anything with fish.


With Jill back, on Wednesday the 27th her cousin Greg and his son Peter stayed the night so the next day they could move Peter’s stuff from his apartment in DC to his new home in Colorado. Thursday the Lemon Twigs at the Black Cat were a must for being for being one of the best power pop bands out there now. I’d put a song from their last album on my Artists To Watch, but this is the first I remember seeing them tour in our area. And it was an excellent show, they reminded me of The Greenberry Woods, a local power pop band from the 90s also with two brothers in it. They put an exclamation point by covering The Beatles’ “Hold Me Tight” as an encore. Friday Nina walked with a friend in the Homecoming Parade – for the first time I didn’t walk with her. We got Big Buns for dinner that night.

Lemon Twigs