Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bands in the Neighborhood: Northeast Corridor

This latest installment of Bands in the Neighborhood, our series on local musical acts, is on Northeast Corridor, who've been together for years. Here's their website and Facebook page.

They play as the backing band for live band karaoke at Chief Ike's in Adams Morgan, organized "Sing for Obama" fundraising events and play as a cover band.

Band member Eli Cohn sent this blurb, and answered the questions below: "The group has strong ties to the neighborhood and was originally founded by members of the choir at All Souls Unitarian Church (on 16th and Harvard) and was originally named "3516 The Band" after the group house at 3516 10th St. where we practiced and where several of the band members lived."

And if you're a Band in the Neighborhood and would like to be part of this series, email me.

How did the band form?
Several years ago choir members At All Souls Church including current NEC members Pablo Benavente (guitar, vocals, percussion), Melinda St. Louis (vocals), and former lead singer, Jason Levitis, decided to put a rock band together. With the use of a big group house at 3516 10th St. NW and their ability to sing beautiful 3-part harmonies they recruited the rest of us.  The invention of Live Band Karaoke happened when Jason injured his voice singing Billie Jean and we found ourselves without a lead singer for a show.  We handed off the song list to the audience and before we knew it we had people going crazy to sing with us.

How'd you get your name?
We were originally named 3516 The Band after our practice space, changed to The Prophylaxis of Evil for one night when we all dressed like different birth control methods for a Halloween show, briefly went under the name Lobster Hamster Hipster (which our bassist still insists should be our name) and eventually settled on Northeast Corridor because our former lead singer lived in NY and we were wracking up the miles on the NJ turnpike in order to get together and play.

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts?
Today, 3 of us live in Columbia Heights—two at 13th and Fairmont and one who shares a wall with Red Rocks Pizza at Park Road and 11th Street.  Sadly, the rest of the band has drifted to the surrounding neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Adams Morgan and even as far as Takoma Park.  But the band still feels its spiritual roots are on the Green Line.

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
We had to leave our lovely practice space—at 10th and Monroe—a couple years ago when a pipe burst in the basement spewing sewage everywhere and then the house was foreclosed on a short time late. We now trek up to Takoma Park for full-band practices but vocal rehearsals still happen at 13th and Fairmont. We have played all over Greater Columbia Heights.  We’ve done live band karaoke at Wonderland, Solly’s U Street Tavern, parties at All Souls and the Josephine Butler Center by Malcolm X Park, fundraisers at the Potter’s House, and we have a monthly gig (3rd Wednesdays) at Chief Ike’s on Columbia Road.  We also played a huge Obama Victory Party on the roof of the Ellington on U Street.

What are your band's influences? 
I could talk about Pablo and Melinda’s extensive Latin folk repertoire, and how Pablo once chose Iron Maiden over God.  Julie sings in a chamber choir, Brian, our drummer, comes from a jazz background, and David can play almost any guitar solo from the 80s note for note.  But as a band we play covers so we don’t need “influences” we just copy people.  We do occasionally steal arrangements from Alex Goot’s videos on Youtube.  I don’t know who that kid really is but he seems to know how to arrange a pop song.

Do you have any records out? 
We are finally planning some serious studio time at the beginning of August with a professional engineer.  We have some home recordings we aren’t terribly proud of and some videos on youtube and www.northeastcorridor.net.  We also recorded a couple political parody songs this fall for Public Citizen and we are planning do some more.  These are a lot of fun and we are hoping that our ABC parody will be used for a flashdance.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy and terrible tour stories?
We play out in VA a couple times a year and have made some memorable trips up the East Coast to New York and Massachusetts for shows and we have a trip to New Jersey booked for the fall.  We have had remarkably good luck on tour—no major automobile malfunctions or fallings-out between band members. There was a late night skinny dipping episode in Wellesley that we have all promised never to speak of again, and our bassist has gotten himself into some trouble at a couple of wedding gigs, but those stories aren’t really appropriate for a family blog.

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
Sweet Mango Jerk Chicken Platter with White and Dark Meat…but I guess that’s technically in Petworth. So we’d probably have to go with Taqueria DF. 


  1. My goodness, I thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insight at the end there, and you did not leave it with just furniture.

  2. Such a fun + talented band! A must-see! And, then see them again.


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