The Rembrandts are succeeding with a fresh blend of the '60s and '80s


The Rembrandts, better known as the singer/songwriter combination of Phil Solem and Danny Wilde, would like to think that their relationship and band weren't formed by accident but, instead, by the demand for the music.

But realizing the state of the music industry and fickle radio audience, they'll settle for some good dumb luck.

"Believe me, we didn't have high expectations," said Wilde, who will perform with Solem at the 9:30 Club in Washington tonight. "We were a couple of friends who happened to be struggling musicians who were putting some music together in a garage."

The duo had worked together in the late '70s and early '80s in an ill-fated Los Angeles pop band called Great Buildings. But late in 1989, after four days locked in a garage, the reunited pair came up with six songs for a demo tape to shop to record companies for a deal.

"We didn't know that the kind of music we were doing would be acceptable," said Wilde, who sings much of the band's first major hit, "That's Just The Way It Is Baby."

What the team had been creating was a sweet sound that is part '60s harmony, with Everly Brothers and early Beatles roots, and part '80s, with melodies popularized by bands like the Plimsouls, Squeeze and Crowded House.

"We love the fact that there aren't a lot of other bands doing this type of music," Solem said. "We just concentrate on the melody and the craft of the song. It's not about flash, just about good pop music."

That's exactly what Derek Shulman, president of ATCO Records, thought when he heard the demo.

"We had three or four labels interested in the music," Wilde said. "But the difference was that Derek didn't want us to change anything or add a lot of production."

'Yeah," chimed in Solem. "He said, 'I want it just the way it is, baby.' "


The concert calendar:

Coming to Max's On Broadway, Ritchie Havens (tonight), Koko Taylor (March 14) , The Aquanettas (March 23) and An Emotional Fish (May 8).

Performing at the Capital Centre, Neil Young, Sonic Youth and Social Distortion (Feb. 27), INXS (March 1), Sting (March 7), Paul Simon (March 13).

Simon also will be at the Baltimore Arena (March 12), as will Vanilla Ice (March 31).

Hammerjacks has Warrant (tonight), The Connells (Feb. 27), Slaughter (Feb. 28 ), Winger, Extreme and Tangier (March 2 and 3), Cyndi Lauper (March 10), Todd Rundgren (March 13) and Sam Kinison (March 23).

Painters Mill has several shows on the calendar including Bob Dylan (tomorrow ), Kentucky Headhunters and Travis Tritt (March 16), the Bulgarian State Female Choir (March 31) and Cocteau Twins (April 1).

The Replacements will appear at Shriver Hall at Johns Hopkins University on Feb. 28.

Coming to Washington, Living Colour and Urban Dance Squad at Smith Center (Sunday), The Replacements and The Connells at Lisner Auditorium (March 4 and 5), Nelson and House Of Lords at Lisner (March 10).

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