I first heard of the club Subterranean A this past January when Darcy James Argue brought his merry band of co-conspirators to Washington DC. It certainly sounded like a hip place. It booked Darcy James Argue for Pete's sake!
Speaking of Pete, I was out for dinner my first day in DC with my uncle Pete and Aunt Julie when I saw an ad for a jazz show at Subterranean A - the JD Allen trio. JD's a perennial favorite of Patrick J up on the fifth floor, suggesting that this Subterranean A place was really plugged into the NPR tastes. I imagined it being some stone-walled room in a warehouse basement, something like Cafe Oto in London, or the Bell House in Brooklyn. A sort of clean, NPR-style DIY venue with lots of folding chairs. But in the end, Subterranean A was much more plugged into NPR than I realized.
Sami Yenigun was temping with WATC during my first 3 weeks on the show. That first Saturday, he told the staff that he was having a concert at his house that night. Sounded cool, but I already had those JD Allen tickets. Then Sami said the concert was of a jazz saxophonist named JD Allen.
So Subterranean A was really just another name for Sami's basement apartment. It suddenly gained a new romanticism. It was close to the chest like a punk rock house party, but with an ethic that put music first, rather than a particular social vibe. How else would you explain JD Allen in June followed by dubstep in July?
Because Sub A was such a cool place, unique in DC, I decided to sit down with Sami and talk about how he got the idea to host shows at his place and how he actually goes about doing it. You can read the full interview at NPR's intern blog In Addition.