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Showcasing the Six Points

Annual music festival showcases local bands over three days at some of the areas best venues.

For three nights, the greater Washington D.C. music scene will unite in the third annual Six Points Music Festival, the local music event which showcases over 40 bands in 13 venues throughout the region. A celebration of local musical talent, headliners of the festival include Army of Me, Emmet Swimming and Mike Holden.

"I'm not nervous. I'm excited that they asked me to [headline]," said Mike Holden, founder of Six Points Music Festival and headliner of the Saturday evening showcase at Ragtime in Arlington. "I haven’t thought too much that I'm headlining, just that I'm playing a show."

With 45 bands performing throughout the D.C. metro area, the opportunity to either discover new bands or see your favorite local group is there — the difficulty is trying to see it all.

"I always look through the line-up each night and there is always more than one show I'd like to see," said Holden. "I usually just hop around."

WHAT BEGAN THREE YEARS ago as a concert to celebrate the growing community of an Internet message board — www.arlingtonmusicscene, which later grew into www.metromusicscene.com — founder Mike Holden, amongst others, decided to hold a festival in celebration of the local D.C. music scene. With a growing number of supporters in the local music community, Holden and others decided the name of the festival should be something specific to the local culture; thus Six Points was created, referring to the six hotspots in Arlington County: Ballston, Clarendon, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, Rosslyn and Shirlington.

According to Holden, the group was trying to "come up with a name that came from Arlington."

While venues in the area often showcase local bands on any given night of the week, this festival intends to draw more attention to the growing, vibrant music community that exists in the local area.

"I think it's important to have a way to network with other musicians," said Holden. "The community aspect is important. A lot of bands work together and regardless of whether we play another note of music — we would be friends."

OFTEN A BREATH of fresh air from the more corporate performances found at larger venues, the Six Points Music Festival offers concert-goers a chance to experience the music around them in a close-quarter, intimate environment.

"We think the scene is one of the most vibrant around," said Craig Fennell, of Wonderjack, who will play from their new EP, "Shoot Out the Lights," at the Galaxy Hut on Saturday, April 8. "It's really diverse. Everybody gets to try their hat a different things and you can take more risks then more national acts. I think it's more free that way."

Holden agrees, however he still believes that the more exposure the local scene can get, the better off they will be.

"There are a lot of great bands in D.C. but the question is finding the audience," he said. "One thing we are lacking in DC is that there is no college radio station that is playing stuff that is not a corporate play list."

But as he noted, support for Six Points has been growing steadily over the past few years and Holden hopes that one day it might grow to the level of New York City's CMJ Festival, or even the Austin, Texas, South-by-Southwest Festival, both of which draw heavily from national touring acts, as well as showcasing independent musicians.

"I think it has the potential to grow," he said. "The more radio and news coverage, the more it helps. It all depends on whether or not you have a steady stream of artists coming into the system."

FOR MANY LOCAL PERFORMERS, this festival is a great opportunity to unload some of their most recent recordings with hopes of bolstering a larger fan base; such is the case with Holden and his newest EP, "Level," which came out last fall.

For others, like D.C.-based Army of Me, who will be headlining the show at the Black Cat on Friday, April 7, the festival provides a great opportunity to promote upcoming releases.

"We're hoping to have the record out by this summer," said Vince Scheuerman, of Army of Me. “We haven't named it but we are finishing our last day of two months on the record and we are very proud of what we've recorded. It's a great record."

Army of Me, which describes themselves as "a rock band at our core," has been influenced by a range of groups including U2, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley.

But as Scheuerman notes, "In everything we do, we strive to write great songs, and to be original." That seems to be a motto of the local scene.

On the musical talent in the area, Scheuerman believes that "DC has some really cool music right now. There's a lot of talent in the city and I'm feeling some cohesion among bands that I haven't seen in a long time — bands like Monopoli, Deleted Scenes, The Sketches, Hard Tomorrows and Bicycle Thieves just to name a few."

Shane Hines and the Trance, who headline the Clarendon Grill showcase on Thursday, April 6, is also hoping to promote their newest records, "Sweet Soul Suicide" and the more recent, "Zoë." According to Shane Hines, the band's sound is "a meld of older stuff like Hendrix and the Beatles mixed with the more modern stuff like Counting Crows."

"We have a decent amount of momentum going with the last one [album]," said Hines. "Playing music can be so humbling — it's the definition of bi-polar. It's always up and down."

Like most of the bands that play the local circuit, Hines is particularly fond of the talent in the Arlington area.

"We are very involved in the Arlington scene — I love Arlington," he said. "There is a lot going on down there and I love being a part of that."

Of the bands performing at this year's festival, Hines says he would be most excited to see the Taylor Carson Band and Emmet Swimming perform at the State Theater on Friday, April 7. However, he'll have to miss the shows because his own band will be back on the road heading for a show in North Carolina.

FOR THOSE WHO WILL BE AROUND, the festival runs April 6-8 and includes Northern Virginia venues such as Iota Club and Café, Galaxy Hut, the State Theater and Clarendon Grill, as well as D.C. venues such as the Black Cat, DC9, and the Velvet Lounge. The event is sponsored by both www.metromusicscene.com and the Washington Area Music Scene. More information can be found at http://sixpoints.blogspot.com, which includes full schedule listings as well as links to performers’ Web sites and opportunities to help promote the event. With as much enthusiasm as there is surrounding this festival, its bound to be a thing to see.

"We are high energy — everyone is happy to be there," said Hines. "If they [a band] look like they're into it, then usually the crowd reciprocates."