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Columbia

Rock, blues and jazz gigs lined up for season

Guitarist Dan Hovey, in foreground, fronts the power trio Gigahertz to launch the Second Saturday concert series at Oliver's Carriage House.

Be careful what you wish for, the old adage goes, you just might get it.

Musicians who play in bars and clubs have come to expect and even accept a certain degree of inattention from audiences. So while they might crave rapt silence from listeners, they might become unnerved to actually get it.

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"You could hear a pin drop," guitarist Dan Hovey says, recalling his performances with R&B singer Mary Ann Redmond at the Second Saturday Cafe, where the audience is known to truly listen to the music. "It was actually a little intimidating. You're accustomed to people chatting, a normal level of hubub. At this gig, all eyes were on us."

Hovey will again put himself under the microscope Oct. 11, this time with the power trio Gigahertz, to open the 15th season of the Second Saturday rock, blues and jazz series, at Oliver's Carriage House.

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The converted horse barn serves as the home of the Kittamaqundi Community Church. Proceeds from the six-month series benefit the congregation's principal charity, the Agape House, which renders food assistance and educational programs in Baltimore.

The carriage house also provides a surprisingly inviting performance space in its main upstairs room. The carpeted, high-ceilinged hall includes a stone fireplace and enviable acoustics. The venue also gives patrons one-stop shopping for dinner and a show. A meal catered by Kloby's Barbecue comes with the $25 ticket, sold by reservation only. Patrons can also get beer and wine at better prices than one is likely to find in most other venues.

"We won't promise you a lot of elbow room, though," says cafe manager Dennis Ottey. The house seats 138 at 20 tables.

What Ottey does promise is some of the region's top talent. "I go to the Wammies [the awards presented by the Washington Area Music Association] every year" to troll for acts from among the nominees. Redmond and Hovey both have Wammie credits. Perennial Wammie winner Tom Principato appears annually at Second Saturday. The guitarist and his band this year play the venue Dec. 13.

Sandwiched between Gighertz and Principato, Bosley Music debuts at Second Saturday on Nov. 8. Ottey says his son J.D., who also helps out at the cafe, put this act on his radar. Bosley Brown's band includes backing vocalists and a full horn section. Brown himself dances and generally forces audiences to pay attention.

"He becomes a different human being," Ottey says.

The 2015 half of the series kicks off Jan. 10 with Sweet Leda, another Wammie Award winner, which blends funk, soul and pop.

Brazilian-jazz group Veronneau earned a return engagement after making its Second Saturday debut last year to audience raves. The band plays a Valentine's Day show this year.

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The series finale takes place March 14 as the Alan Scott Band, another Second Saturday favorite, appears.

"He's another entertainer who clearly loves what he does," Ottey says. "And he's the first to record live at Second Saturday."

October's kickoff band, Gigahertz, formed in 2005. Hovey had just returned to the area after 14 years living and playing in New York. He reconnected with jazz bassist Scott Giambusso and drummer John Zidar, with whom Hovey played in Root Boy Slim's Sex Change Band.

Anyone living in the D.C. metro area in the 1970s would remember Slim best for "Boogie 'Til You Puke."

"Yep, that was always the end of the second set," Hovey remembers, issuing a chuckle.

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When Hovey, Giambusso and Zidar first jammed, "we said 'What'll we play?' and decided to play what we first played when we got into music: Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Cream, '60s hard rock."

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The band name comes from the initials of the musicians' last names, GHz being the abbreviation for gigahertz.

Hovey says that after an album full of cover tunes took some rotten tomatoes critically, the band started writing its own music, albeit in the same vein. The band's second effort, "Morbid Curiosity," was all-original and enjoyed a better reception.

A third album, "The Cheap Stuff," came in 2013, but the band took a performing hiatus of almost two years, says Hovey who teaches jazz guitar at Montgomery College in Rockville.

Recent gigs as a backing band, though, including for Ronnie Newmyer's performance of the whole of Van Morrison's "Moondance" album, have lured the trio back to the stage.

"We got the taste to play live again," Hovey says.

The Second Saturday Cafe begins its 2014-15 season Oct. 11. Oliver's Carriage House is at 5410 Leaf Treader Way in Columbia's Town Center. Seats are reserved by table and are $25 each. Catered food is included. Bottled beer and glasses of wine are available for $3 and $4 each. For information or to order tickets, go to 2ndsaturdaycafe.com.


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