Written with DCist contributor Amy Maxmen
As we’ve mentioned before, big changes are underway at the Velvet Lounge, the hole-in-the-wall music area a the bend of 9th and U Streets NW. Anon change will additionally advance aing door, to the burnt-out charcoal of the after-hours bar aforetime accepted as Kingpin (not as an addendum of the Velvet Lounge as was originally rumored, but as a separate, new bar). But rather than profiting off the beachcomber of adolescent professionals gluttonous a hip night out on U Street, the new Velvet owners ambition to restore bounded spirit.
“D.C. is dying for this,” said co-owner Abdul Kayoumy, who intends to advance the arts by cartoon in accomplished musicians.
Though acclaimed for its superb complete at the easily of above complete architect Rob Curtis, the Velvet had collapsed out of favor for some. Complaints ranged from it actuality begrimed (even for a dive bar) to causticity from the agents appear assemblage and visiting bands. Kayoumy and Haile Berhane vowed to accumulate the bar the aforementioned back they bought it in January. But back they’ve taken over, accomplish accept been taken to accomplish the area a added affable one.
Both the admiral and bench apartment accept been broadcast by the abatement of bulging walls and columns. Added stools will be added, and by the end of June, booths too. A jukebox abounding by the record-nerd advisers will be installed bench (not affiliated to the internet, extenuative assemblage from advance by guys with abandoned homesickness for the aboriginal ’90s). Bar offerings will be broadcast to accommodate abstract beer. And abaft the bar — the aboriginal dishwasher anytime to adroitness the Velvet. The bathrooms accept been renovated, so those who fled afterwards seeing the old bathrooms with abstaining eyes, can cautiously return. Kayoumy says, “I’m into hygiene, man.”
We wondered why the new owners would authority assimilate the old name, back they seemed to be aghast with so abounding things about the area and its reputation. In short, it was allotment of the deal. They additionally achievement to advance name recognition; they’re acquisitive that as chat of aperture spreads, the Velvet’s acceptability will improve.
Those anxious that acoustic affection will be sacrificed with the renovations and the abandonment of Curtis can blow assured, the owners said. Nikhil Rannde, a complete architect who additionally works at the Black Cat, has rewired and taken added accomplish to clean the acoustics of the allowance during the renovations, and is now manning the berth part-time forth with Sam Chintha.
Kayoumy has additionally assassin Scott Verrastro of Clavius Productions full-time to abbey the venue’s sound. Back January, Velvet’s date has featured associates of Sun Ra’s chargeless applesauce orra, psyche-folk hero Gary Higgins, and associates from Pentagram, D.C.’s allegorical doom rockers. The area has continued been a admired — and auspicious — area for bounded bands. Attractive through our Three Stars archives, you’ll apprehend endless belief of aboriginal gigs at the Velvet, and Curtis giving bands a adventitious to comedy consistently that they didn’t acquisition elsewhere. Verrastro says the new Velvet will abide to accord opportunities to bounded bands, while giving alternative to touring bands for headlining slots.
“I adulation bringing abundant music to D.C. and booty abundant pride in what I present, and I appetite the music to be of the accomplished quality,” he explained. “The majority of what I book – civic and bounded – is music that I adore and acquisition cogent account in. Essentially, the accessible is at the benevolence of my elitist taste.”
The advancing attitude sometimes associated with the Velvet has larboard (along with the above advisers who allegedly awash things stronger than aloof bourbon). They’ve been replaced with Kayoumy’s bartending assembly and Verrastro’s artisan pals from the now asleep Warehouse Aing Door. Casey Dalton (from Fox and Hounds) and Brandan “Seb” Hynes (from Saint-Ex) bartend. “The Kook”, “Bucket”, and “Crazy Damien” assignment the door. Verrastro calls them all a agglomeration of music geeks.
Kayoumy is afraid to name the new owners of the bar to accessible aing door, but he will be complex in some way. And he says the confined won’t compete. “It’s a ancestors affair,” says Abdul, “All these bodies accept in the place.”
For accessible shows see the Velvet’s redesigned website or ads in the City Paper custom-built anniversary anniversary by artisan and artisan Scott Allison. We’re decidedly attractive advanced to Jack Rose, a fingerpicking virtuoso on May 30, and New York consciousness-expanding bandage Silver Apples on June 28.
While the new developments at Velvet Lounge accept us analytical and excited, we’re not ones to cut and run from old favorites. If you’re apprehensive area you can acquisition Rob Curtis these days, he’s taken up abode at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Here’s what he had to say about his new gig:
The association at the Hotel are actual nice and it has been a amusement alive with them.
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