The United States Marine Band is the oldest musical group in the United States. It was formed in 1798, before the city, itself, was founded. Its most famous conductor was Washington native, John Philip Sousa, who led the band from 1880 to 1892. Sousa wrote 132 marches, including “The Washington Post” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
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Over the years, the Capital city has been home to many prominent musicians representing a wide array of musical genres. The most widely renowned among them is probably Duke Ellington, one of the 20th century’s most important jazz pioneers. Al Jolson, once called the “World’s Greatest Entertainer,” spent many of his formative years in Washington. Other well-known music makers from the city include Jelly Roll Morton, Billy Taylor, Jimmie Rodgers, Bo Diddley, Pearl Bailey, Marvin Gaye, guitarists John Fahey and Nils Lofgren, Tim Buckley, Patsy Cline, Roberta Flack, Toni Braxton, and country star, Roy Clark.
Choral music has also been central to the Washington D.C. area since 1851, when the Washington Saengerbund was formed. In the modern era, the city features several independently-established symphonic choruses, along with a very wide variety of mid-size choirs, chamber ensembles, and specialty groups. Sweet Honey in the Rock is a famous a cappella group that was formed in 1973 and focuses on music rooted in African-American culture. The city’s first opera group, the semi-professional Washington National Opera, was formed in 1919. The city is also home to the Washington Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.
The music of the Capital City is extremely eclectic. During the first half of the 20th century, Washington’s U Street NW corridor was a jazz haven. In the 1950s, the city became noted for its bluegrass music. Its most notable band was Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys. In 1961, the first major folk music venue, The Shadows, opened in the city’s Georgetown neighborhood. A band called The Mugwumps formed, eventually splitting up. Two of the members, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, became The Lovin' Spoonful, and the other two, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott, formed The Mamas & the Papas.
The city’s soul/funk movement also took shape in the mid 1960s, with stars such as Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack leading the way. Local venues featuring the sound included the Howard Theatre, The Mark IV, and The Room. Today, modern R & B musicians carry on the tradition. The go-go sound developed during the mid-1970s and has become known as D.C.'s answer to hip-hop. Its characteristic formula combined simple funk grooves with instrumental percussion and rapping.
In the 1980s, Washington was rich with punk and new wave music. In the rock community, the city was primarily known for its influence on the evolution of hardcore punk, known locally as harDCore. In the mid-1980s, veterans of the D.C. hardcore scene created a new punk subgenre called "emo", meaning "emotive hardcore." In the 1990s, U Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood became known as a new haven for post-hardcore punk, alternative rock, acid jazz, and electronica. The city also has a booming House music scene at venues like the U Street Music Hall, Club Glow, and the Eighteenth Street Lounge. Another electronic-dance music subgenre that was born in D.C. is Moombahton, a combination of reggae/dancehall/reggaeton percussion and electronic elements. The Washington area has many large venues for musical performances. The Verizon Center hosts many major concerts and the Kennedy Center is home to the Washington National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia hosts many different types of performances during the summer months. Throughout the D.C. metropolitan area there are scores of clubs, lounges, and other smaller venues featuring jazz, blues, classic and alternative rock, hardcore, folk, R & B, and electronic dance music.
Many lesser-known and under-funded musical groups who play these smaller venues depend on companies like us, Bison Disc, to help them get their music in the hands of their fans. We are the folks who reproduce their sounds on CD, package them in one of our traditional Jewel Cases, Wallets, Sleeves, Jackets, or Digipaks, and even help them ship their CDs anywhere in the country - from sea to shining sea. As the capital city of the United States, and home of the federal government, Washington has often been the background for movies and television shows. Over the years, hundreds of films have been set in the District of Columbia, but, in fact, a much smaller number have actually been shot there. Perhaps the earliest and most famous film that featured real D.C. locations was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart. The 1939 film had scenes at Union Station and the Capitol building, as well as other locations around the city. Other films that contained scenes that were shot in Washington include: The American President, Wag the Dog, The Silence of the Lambs, The Contender, Minority Report with Tom Cruise, No Way Out with Kevin Costner, St. Elmo’s Fire, shot in Georgetown, Patriot Games with Harrison Ford, In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood, Broadcast News, All the President’s Men with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, and National Treasure, starring Nicholas Cage.
Two film societies based in Washington are the Washington Film Institute (WFI), and the Washington DC Film Society. Filmfest DC is a 29-year-old, yearly festival that presents features, documentaries, and shorts representing the best in new cinema from around the globe.
At Bison Disc, we are an important part of film festivals like the ones in Washington D.C., because we duplicate and replicate all their different types of films on DVD and Blu-ray disc. We also provide professionally-designed and manufactured box and collector sets to present and package those films. In fact for all CD and DVD duplication and packaging services, Bison Disc is a capital choice.
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