In a city once declared the “punk capital of America” in the ’80s, the D.C. punk scene has had its fair share of problems keeping the scene alive recently. With local venues closing down and others refusing to open their doors, the punk scene has been in a desperate state of life support since the mid-’90s. Only well-funded clubs and venues keep the tinder burning with the occasional big band acts (i.e., Bad Religion, The Business, Good Riddance and Less than Jake). But this leaves no place for local music talent to play and be heard, let alone get started.
TBD Productions is out to change all of that. Spearheading the D.C. independent music initiative, GW students Brian Goldberg and Jonathan Dermer are out to keep the local scene alive. Not just focusing on punk rock, the TBD duo is out to support all the music talent that the District has to offer. TBD got started when Dermer, an employee at the Hippodrome, followed his curiosity and asked to put on some shows there. With the Hippodrome more than willing to cooperate, Dermer journeyed to set the stage for some local punk rock talent. When Dermer’s headliner pulled out at the last minute, he called up Goldberg for some last minute booking ideas. With that, the show was pulled off and Dermer had his partner in what would become TBD Productions.
This is not an organization out to make a profit. Rather, TBD has set out to put its profits toward community aid programs. TBD is currently hosting shows to benefit Bright Beginnings, a program that helps homeless families with their children get an education. While the shows being held at the Hippodrome are free to all, TBD does ask for donations to aid in their community efforts.
In regards to what TBD has coming up, this Saturday it hosts a punk show featuring five area bands. On April 27, D.C. punk band Big Meanie will be on campus.
Goldberg is quick to point out that the shows are not just for GW students and bands.
“We don’t turn down the bands,” Goldberg said. “We want them to be heard. It’s about bringing the scene back to the locals.”
And with future plans to host open mic nights, freestyle rapping, record spinning, acoustic nights and music festivals at local venues, TBD is hardly planning to pander to only one element of the independent music scene.
As the label gains momentum at GW, Goldberg and Dermer plan to bring big-name talent into the mix to help fresh local acts make a name for themselves.
As Goldberg put it, “big bands supporting the local bands. That’s what’s important; it’s how local talent gets started out.”
Last week TBD was recognized as an official student organization. With Student Association funds, bigger acts and venues would stand a much better chance of becoming a reality. The group is excited at this prospect.
Already acts such as Catch-22, River City Rebels and Atom and His Package have expressed interest in appearing on the TBD stage, according to Goldberg. And bands outside of the East Coast area have expressed enthusiasm for the project, as groups from as far as California are considering tour stops, he said.
Maybe the D.C. music scene is not on its last legs after all. Maybe, with the initiative of Dermer and Goldberg, TBD Productions will bring back something crucial to the D.C. arena – its independent music edge.