Tysons Corner, VA

A few big names are coming to the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in September before summer ends.

Closing out Labor Day weekend celebrations, Grammy-award-winning singer Mary J. Blige is set to perform on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Tickets cost $45.

Later that week, Jennifer Hudson is set to bring her signature soul sound. The Grammy and Oscar winner will take the stage with the National Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are $45.

Finally, the venue will host The Gipsy Kings — a group of flamenco, salsa and pop musicians from France that is nearing its 30th anniversary.

Tickets start at $39.50 and include a digital download of The Gipsy King’s upcoming album.

The list of Wolf Trap events in September:

The full Wolf Trap schedule is available online.

Photo via Wolf Trap 

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A Vienna family said they’ve been waiting months to get their money back from unwanted credit card charges by a local music school.

Family members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Tysons Reporter, said that Jeffrey Levin, the president of District Music Academy, gave their son music lessons for about four months this spring.

When the family told Levin about billing on their credit card statements, they said he blamed the incorrect amount on an invoice issue involving the billing companies, before offering to write a check to cover the overcharged amount, which the family declined to provide.

The family claims that they never got a check.

The family waited for a few weeks before reaching out to their credit card company to prevent future charges from District Music Academy. As of last week, the family told Tysons Reporter that they are waiting to hear back from their credit card company before considering taking the matter to small claims court.

District Music Academy offers private in-home lessons, after school programs, entertainment for retirement communities in the D.C. area and other services, according to its website.

The Breakdown

Two Reston residents had a similar experience with unwanted charges from District Music Academy and took Levin’s company to small claims court earlier this year.

Michele Chesser told Tysons Reporter that she noticed the company was double-billing her credit card for her daughter’s piano lessons, charging her at the beginning and end of the month. In total, according to court documents, District Music Academy overcharged her $1,260.

Chesser said she contacted her credit card company, which was able to credit her two out of the five months of double billing. She decided to try to recover the rest of the money in court.

The judge heard the case in May and ordered Levin to pay the full amount. But as of today (Aug. 26), Chesser said she hasn’t gotten the money back.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said.

Another Reston resident, Anjia Nicolaidis, told Tysons Reporter that her daughter started ukulele and voice lessons once a month in February 2018 and the family scheduled lessons through August.

For a family with two full-time working parents, she said that District Music Academy seemed like a convenient solution, adding there are “not a lot of companies offering that in-home instruction in the immediate area.”

But by July of that year, Nicolaidis noticed double charges and “random charges.” When she reached out to Levin, “first there was some delay in getting him to acknowledge that our records and the teacher’s record were consistent,” she said.

“We asked for that reimbursement and gave him a number of opportunities to give it to us,” Nicolaidis told Tysons Reporter, adding that Levin at first offered to make up the amount with credits to future lessons. After she declined the offer, the discussion over repayment broke down.

According to court records, Nicolaidis emailed Levin back on Sept. 10, writing:

As of this morning, September 10, 2018 you have not refunded the money you owe us. It has been a week since we received your email indicating you would process the refund. We have been corresponding about this issue for nearly two months…

We feel victimized and are in contact with other families that have had the same experience with District Music Academy.

Levin responded via email the same day, saying, “We have resolved all issues with our credit card system, but the process to refund the money is taking longer than expected. If it is acceptable to you, I can mail you a check today for the money due so that you can receive the fund more quickly.”

Nicolaidis said Levin never sent the check and she hasn’t heard from him since.

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Crescendo Studios, a new music studio in Merrifield, plans to host a grand opening this Saturday (Aug. 24).

Located in the former MHz Studio at 8101 Lee Hwy, the studio offers private lessons, a band for kids ages 7 and up and camps focused on songwriting, bands and sound engineering.

The celebration will include food trucks, a free yoga class from 11 a.m.-noon and performances by the Fuzion de Ritmos Dance Company and Take the Cake Music.

The grand opening will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The education-oriented music studio is also looking to use a currently empty space adjacent to the studio’s existing location to offer an expanded music program.

Photo via Crescendo Studios/Facebook

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MPAartfest is returning to McLean in October with a long list of artists set to perform.

Hosted by the McLean Project for the Arts, the free festival is a one-day juried fine art show and sale that features the work of visual artists, along with mini art galleries, live music, food from local restaurants and activities. MPAartfest returns Sunday, Oct. 6.

Here’s the hour-by-hour breakdown on who’s playing:

  • 10 a.m. — Djangolaya will kick off MPAartfest with gypsy jazz
  • 11 a.m. — Takoma Park-based fiddler, banjoist, singer and scholar Jake Blount will perform with composer Clara Delfina
  • noon — Great Guitars featuring three guitarists will take the stage
  • 1 p.m. — Bumper Jacksons will bring jazz rhythms and country swing harmonies
  • 2 p.m. — DC-based outfit Black Masala will perform Balkan, gypsy, klezmer sounds
  • 3 p.m. — Artist Caz Gardiner will bring a 60’s-infused soul-pop sound
  • 4 p.m. — Blues Alley Youth Jazz Orchestra, a 15-piece youth swing big band, will close out the festival

The lineup was curated by radio host Ken Avis, according to a press release from the art organization.

While the festival is free, donations and funds raised during the event support MPA exhibitions and programs.

MPAartfest will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd).

Photo courtesy McLean Project for the Arts

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Blend 111, a new restaurant and wine bar, wants to offer acoustic music to its diners in the Town of Vienna.

The town’s Planning Commission ok’d the restaurant’s application for a live music permit during its meeting last night (Wednesday).

The restaurant is set to open today (Thursday) at 111 Church Street NW, Suite 101.

The locally-owned restaurant will feature food and wine from Spain, France and Venezuela, a “micro-cafe” and cold-pressed juices.

“Our intent is to offer acoustic, that small type of performances,” Michael Biddick from Blend 111 told the commission. “We’re not a lounge. We’re not a bar. We’re not a disco. We are not a dance party scene in the middle of Church Street.”

Biddick said that while the restaurant wants flexible to try out live music during different types of the day, Blend 111 will most likely experiment with having two musicians per month.

Blend 111, which applied to have live music between 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, plans to have one or two musicians play acoustic instruments inside the restaurant, according to the application.

While Bey Lounge was recently stripped of its live entertainment permit, the Town of Vienna isn’t losing its musical performances at local eateries.

The upcoming Bear Branch Tavern (133 E. Maple Avenue) also wants to entertain patrons with live music.

Blend 111’s application is set to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals on Sept. 18.

Photo via Twitter

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Aug. 13)

  • Stray Cats 40th Anniversary Tour — 8-11 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — The band will celebrate its 40-year anniversary with a performance. Tickets start at $35.

Wednesday (Aug. 14)

  • Wednesday West Coast Swing Lessons and Dance — 8 p.m. at Latin Dancer Studio (1057 W. Broad Street, Suite 221) — This event invites newbies and seasoned dancers alike to join lessons and an open dance floor later in the evening. Tickets are $15 for a lesson or just $10 after 10 p.m. for the social dance.

Thursday (Aug. 15)

  • Karaoke Thursday! — 8-11 p.m. at Falls Church Distillers (442 S. Washington Street) — This locally owned distillery opens their doors for patrons to come to sing and enjoy some spirits.

Friday (Aug. 16)

  • The Slambovian Circus of Dreams and Lumen Jingos — 8 p.m. at the Jammin Java (227 E. Maple Avenue) — The bands take to the stage for an evening of live music. Both bands have been described as “psychedelic.” Tickets are $25.
  • McLean Famers Market — 8 a.m. at Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bride Road) — This event will feature fresh veggies and food from local vendors.

Saturday (Aug. 17)

  • Family Bingo Party With Food for Others — noon-3 p.m. at Brandbox Lounge at Tysons Corner Center — Food for Others will host an event to raise awareness for their cause while attendees play games and win prizes.

Photo via The Slambovian Circus of Dreams/Facebook

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“American Idol” finalist Danny Gokey is set to perform a free show at The Plaza outside Tysons Corner Center later this week.

Earlier this summer, the mall hosted a free summer concert series. Now, the series is back with one more show Friday (July 26)at 6:30 p.m.

Gokey, a gospel and Christian singer, recently released a new album called “Haven’t Seen It Yet.”

Attendees can bring chairs, blankets and sunglasses on a first-come, first-served basis for space.

Photo via Danny Gokey/Facebook

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Crescendo Studios now has plans to expand after opening a few months ago in Merrifield.

The education-oriented music studio is looking to use a currently empty space adjacent to the studio’s existing location (8101 Lee Hwy), according to Fairfax County documents.

With the extra square footage, Crescendo would offer both an expanded music education center with group and private lessons and on-site recording studios, according to the application.

The studio’s application in June to the county noted that they would be able to increase their clientele and take on around 90 students.

“The majority of the students are expected to be between the age of 7 and 17, though some adults may also enroll,” according to the application.

The music school’s proposed hours of operation would be noon- 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Saturday. The recording studio would be available 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on the weekend.

Crescendo told the county that the expansion would not affect parking in the area.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to hold a public hearing on the proposal in November.

Photo via Facebook and image 2 via Fairfax County 

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After a slew of noise violations, Bey Lounge agreed with the Town of Vienna to no longer offer live music.

Rami El-Hasrouni, one of the co-owners of Bey Lounge, told the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals last night (Wednesday) that the lounge (303 Mill Street) would no longer need its live entertainment permit, which the board was considering revoking.

“We’re going to be a straight restaurant from now on,” El-Hasrouni told the board.

The issues for the lounge started several months ago when it received a number of noise complaints and then was found guilty of three noise violation cases in a General District Court.

El-Hasrouni told Tysons Reporter that the cost of paying for lawyers and the permit renewal “were way too much” for the lounge, which is known for its Lebanese cuisine and live music.

“Right now, we are in the process of changing the lounge in general just because once we don’t have live entertainment we are going to lose all our customers, so we are very in risk of losing our business right now,” he said.

The “new concept” under consideration could possibly add more seating and “putting more grocery inside the lounge,” he said, adding that a timeframe hasn’t been set yet.

“Hopefully, it works,” he said.

Photo via Google Maps

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Local musician Ricky Parrell plans to celebrate the debut of his first album in August at Jammin’ Java.  

Inspired by a prompt that asks creative writers to craft short stories about items on their keychains, Parrell decided to shift the idea toward another medium — an album he ended up calling “Keys to My Life.” 

Parrell said that his talents as a musician with the United States Air Force Band and experience as an adjunct professor for the Northern Virginia Community College allow him to transcend different musical genres. Listeners can expect to hear six to eight tracks on the album each featuring a different genre or style of jazz.

Despite the variance, Parrell said the album is still meant to flow cohesively. 

“It has been the most challenging thing I’ve done musically, to get everything together and off the ground,” Parrell said.  

One of the largest roadblocks during the creation of his album was a problem with the licensing for one of his tracks when he wanted to cover a song from a Canadian artist. “Getting to that point was like six months of frustration because I couldn’t find the right person to talk to,” he said.

Once he was able to track down the artist, they were excited about the idea of his cover, he said, adding that most artists are excited to get their work out into the world.

Before the big album release, fans can expect two singles accompanied by music videos. Parrell said “My Bike Lock” should appear on his Facebook page before the end of July, while “Man Like You” will be released in early August.

“Keys to My Life” features well-known musicians such as Justin Stanton of Snarky Puppy and Grammy Award Winning trumpet player, Randy Brecker. Stanton and Parrell attended school together and will both perform at the album debut event on Aug. 25. 

Parrell considered hosting the debut in New York City, but decided to keep it local, since he grew up in Vienna. He hopes to help put the city on the map while helping local businesses and foster the music scene.

“Places like Jammin’ Java are rare,” he said. “Big names go through there and you wouldn’t even know it.”

Tickets start at $10 for the debut performance of his album. For an extra $10, attendees can walk away with an album CD. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Second photo courtesy Ricky Parrell

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