Home » Today’s rockers salute the past with tribute album ‘DC Does Dischord’

Today’s rockers salute the past with tribute album ‘DC Does Dischord’

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Dot Dash singer-guitarist Terry Banks remembers once when his band was recording at Inner Ear, the studio most associated with the local punk rock label Dischord. “There was this Japanese thrash band there. They were taking pictures of doorknobs and the sofa. Like, ‘Brian Baker probably sat on that sofa. Get a picture!’”

The local musician marveled to see rockers from the other side of the globe venerating relics of Minor Threat bassist and guitarist Baker, later of Dag Nasty, Bad Religion and many others. “When you see things like that, you realize how much Dischord is cherished by people,” Banks says.

Someone else who cherished Dischord from afar is Celebration Summer bassist Greg Raelson, organizer of a new tribute album, “Yesterday and Today: DC Does Dischord.” Celebration Summer and Dot Dash are two of the 27 local acts that contributed a cover of a song from Dischord’s catalogue to the record. (Some of the proceeds from the album will benefit We Are Family D.C., which aids inner-city seniors.) The two groups are also among the six that will perform at a record-release show this weekend at the Black Cat.

A Southern California native, Raelson moved to the D.C. area in 2001 and has spent most of the subsequent years here. “Even in the ’90s, when I was in high school and college, I felt a very deep connection, philosophically and musically, to the Dischord and the D.C. scenes,” he recalls.

Dischord was founded in 1980 to release a seven-inch EP by the Teen Idles, whose members were in high school. Its other early releases were also by D.C. teenage bands.

Raelson got into punk as a teenager, but it took him a little longer to join a band. “I didn’t even start playing a musical instrument, really, until I was 42,” he allows. “And I’m turning 48 this year.”

Banks wasn’t a punk follower as a teen, preferring what he calls “more the Tommy Keene, Slickee Boys side” of local indie rock music. But Dot Dash does have a direct link to the early-1980s Dischord scene. Its drummer is Danny Ingram, once a member of Youth Brigade, whose debut EP was released by Dischord in 1981.

Dot Dash is one of only two acts featured on the tribute album that includes a member of an early Dischord band. (The other is Rise Defy, which features Scream’s Enoch “Skeeter” Thompson.) Ingram provides another intergenerational connection: His son, Sam Ingram, is in Toro, whose contribution to “Yesterday and Today” is, of course, a Youth Brigade song.

Toro will perform at the Black Cat show, along with Supreme Commander, Braceface and Breezy Supreme. The six groups will each play a half-hour set. “Bands are going to be playing their originals as well as possibly some covers, possibly some Dischord covers,” Raelson explains.

Two other intriguing links to Dischord history are the covers by Don Zientara and J. Robbins. Zientara, who owns Inner Ear and recorded many Dischord sessions, offers a de-punked version of Soulside’s “Reconstruction.” Robbins does a radical electronic reworking of “I’m James Dean,” an early track by Government Issue, a band he joined five years after that song was released.

Celebration Summer’s Dischord cover is “For Want Of,” by the short-lived but highly influential Rites of Spring. Other bands offer songs by such well-known groups as Fugazi, Minor Threat, Scream and Jawbox. The more pop-oriented Dot Dash, however, chose a tune by the Snakes, probably the most obscure of the 27 acts commemorated on “Yesterday and Today.”

“I had to find something that’s sort of in my wheelhouse,” Banks says of “My Girl Gloria,” a bouncy ditty with a most un-Dischord sound. “I found that song, and I thought, ‘Oh, we could do this.’”

July 5 at 7 p.m. (doors) at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. blackcatdc.com. $20.

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