Bill Kirchen is one of the fortunate few who can step on any stage, play those trademark guitar licks which he created for the seminal Commander Cody classic, “Hot Rod Lincoln,” and elicit smiles of contentment and hollers of joy from the audience. Itās recognition and acknowledgment for a career thatās spanned over 30 years and also includes in addition to his 10-year stint with Cody, performances with names like Nick Lowe, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, and Danny Gatton, as well as numerous side bands and five stellar albums under his own name with the rhythm section known as Too Much Fun.

During the course of the bandās lifetime (1967-1976), Bill Kirchen played and sang on 10 Commander Cody albums, including their Top Ten single, “Hot Rod Lincoln,” in 1972, which was powered by his twangy Telecaster (which he still plays!). The next 10 years included some Cody tours, as well as the formation of The Moonlighters, who went on to record two albums. One of these was produced by Nick Lowe, who introduced Kirchen to a bunch of his English mates, such as Elvis Costello, who also utilized Bill’s tasty tones. Nick Lowe employed Kirchen on his Party of One (1991) and The Impossible Bird (1994) albums and then hired him to tour with Nick Lowe and his Impossible Birds in 1995.

Bill Kirchen’s debut for HighTone Records came in September 1997, with the release of Hot Rod Lincoln Live!, a sonic assault of rockabilly, honky-tonk, blues, and hillbilly boogie, high- lighted by the title track, an incredible eight-minute tour-de-force of his guitar ćimpressionsä of such guitar-slingers as Jimi Hendrix, Link Wray, Duane Eddy, Merle Travis, the Kings (Albert, B.B. and Freddy), Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bo Diddley, and many others. Recorded in front of some very enthusiastic audiences at Marylandās Globe Theater, Hot Rod Lincoln Live! further cemented his reputation as one of the premier roots-rock guitarists of the day. “Seldom has traveling across the rock and country landscape been this much fun,” said The Washington Post. “(Bill) cuts loose with some of the fattest, gnarliest low-down twang imaginable,” hailed Guitar Player.


John Philip Sousa was one of the nationās first musical superstars, and his work epitomized the American experience. Sousa called himself a “salesman of Americanism, globetrotter, and musician.” For more than 125 years, bands and orchestras worldwide have been performing his work, including one of America’s most famous musical pieces, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Sousa was one of the world’s first recording stars; under his leadership, the US Marine Band recorded more than 400 titles. Sousa’s “Washington Post March” became the most popular song in the US and Europe in the early 1890s, driven by a new dance craze–the two-step. And in case you were wondering, the sousaphone was invented on Sousa’s suggestion.

John Philip Sousa, known as ćThe March King,ä was born in 1854 in Washington, D.C. The son of a Marine Band trombonist, John Philip began taking music lessons when he was six years old, becoming proficient at the violin, piano, flute, voice, and various horn instruments. When he was 13 years old, John Philip tried to run away from home to join a circus band, but his father persuaded him to enlist in the Marines as an apprentice musician. Sousa started composing when he was 18 and left the Marines when he was 21 in order to tour the country, playing the violin and conducting theater orchestras.

In 1880 he returned to Washington, D.C. to lead the U.S. Marine Band, serving under five U.S. Presidents. Calling himself the nationās ćmusical ambassador,ä Sousa started his own civilian band in 1892, touring with great success in the U.S. and around the world. He introduced ragtime to the European public on his 1900 tour. Although his name is synonymous with marches, Sousa wrote more than 400 compositions, including symphonic poems, operettas, and symphonic suites. After WW1, Sousa worked to expand music education and testified before Congress several times on composers’ rights. He died in 1932 and is buried in Congressional Cemetery.


Dave Grohl, born January 14, 1969, is considered by many to be one of the greatest of rock and roll drummers, but more recently he has also made a name for himself as a lead singer and guitarist in the post-grunge era of popular music. Grohl began playing drums in punk bands in the 1980s, starting with Freak Baby, which became Mission Impossible and later changed again to Fast. After Fast broke up, Grohl joined the band Dain Bramage, and soon after he auditioned for Scream. At age 16, Grohl became the drummer for Scream, and the band soon began touring throughout the U.S.and Europe.

Then came Nirvana. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic saw Grohl drumming for Scream and asked him to join the band in 1990. Nirvana had already released their first album, Bleach, in 1989 and soon set to work with Grohl on their follow-up album. Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991, raged to the top of the charts and wreaked havoc on the popular music scene. Hard-hitting yet melodic, Nevermind led the charge for grunge and “alternative” music and helped elevate Nirvana as one of the most important rock bands of the Ī90s.

Unfortunately,in 1993, Cobain killed himself, and Nirvana was done. Prior to the death of Cobain and Nirvana, Grohl had been working on some music of his own. Grohl persevered with the help of friends and continued making what would be the first Foo Fighters album.

A guitarist since age 10, Grohl played all the instruments, save one guitar track, on the album, which was called Foo Fighters and was on Grohlās own imprint, Roswell Records. Grohl emerged from behind the drum kit to play guitar and sing for the Foo Fighters. The album went platinum and spawned three hit singles: “This Is A Call,” “I’ll Stick Around,” and “Big Me.”

The second Foo Fighters full-length, The Colour And The Shape, was released on May 20, 1997, and generated four hits: “Monkey Wrench,” “Everlong,” “My Hero,” and “Walking After You.” At the MTV Video Music Awards, Pat Smear announced he was leaving the band, and Foo Fighters introduced Franz Stahl, one of Grohl’s former bandmates in Scream, to take Smear’s spot. Grohl, Hawkins, and Mendel went to Grohl’s house in Virginia to make the third Foo Fighters album in the spring of 1999. There Is Nothing Left To Lose was released on November 2, 1999, and the first single, “Learn to Fly,” received an enormous amount of radio play, as did “Breakout.” In February 2001, Foo Fighters won 2 Grammy Awards: Best Rock Album for There Is Nothing Left To Lose and Best Short Form Music Video for “Learn To Fly.”


Content courtesy of Washington Area Music Association.