Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nonprofit elects downtown property manager to board - Gazette

Talk of the Town | Jason Tomassini | Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A nonprofit dedicated to providing programming for the upcoming civic building and Veteran's Plaza in Silver Spring elected the manager of Downtown Silver Spring and a local jazz star to its board of directors.

At its March 18 meeting, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. elected Marcus Johnson of Silver Spring and Jennifer Nettles of Gaithersburg as members of the Board.

Nettles is the manager of Downtown Silver Spring for Ellsworth Drive property manager Peterson Cos. and serves as a board member of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board and the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. Johnson, a jazz pianist, is the founder, president and CEO of the Three Keys record label based in Silver Spring and has been involved in planning the annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival.

Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. was established in 2004 to provide community-based programming for the civic building site at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street. The civic building is scheduled to be completed in March 2010 and the Veteran's Plaza is scheduled to open Nov. 11, which is Veteran's Day.

"It was thought that when the building design was completed there should be a community vehicle to enliven the new building," said Alan Bowser, president of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. "… We want this building to be the living room of the community."

Bowser said Nettles and Johnson will help the organization through their business connections in the community and experience with planning events downtown. Both are partners in the Silver Spring Blues Festival, which will be held May 9 on Ellsworth Drive.

The group has been meeting with the community to gauge the type of events residents would like to see at the site and given a recent focus on the presence of youth downtown, offering events to people of all ages and ethnicities is a priority, Bowser said.

"The civic building and Veterans Plaza are in the location where the turf was located," Bowser said. "We want young people to be involved in the maximum extent possible."

The 42,000 square-foot civic building will be complemented by Veterans Plaza, which is nearly an acre of public-use space for outdoor events. The estimated cost for the civic building is $19.7 million.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Elects Marcus Johnson and Jennifer Nettles Directors

For Immediate Release Contact: Alan Bowser, 301-608-3932

Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Elects Marcus Johnson and Jennifer Nettles Directors

Silver Spring, March 20, 2009. At its March 18, 2009 meeting, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors elected Marcus Johnson of Silver Spring and Jennifer Nettles of Gaithersburg as members of the Board.

Nettles is the manager of Downtown Silver Spring and serves as a board member of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board, and the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. Johnson is an internationally-known jazz pianist and Founder, President & CEO of the Three Keys label, based in Silver Spring.

“We’re enormously pleased to have Jennifer Nettles and Marcus Johnson join the Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors. Both of them are strong advocates for arts and humanities community in the Silver Spring and are committed to creative partnerships between artists, residents and the private sector,” said Alan Bowser, President of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.

The Silver Spring Town Center Inc. is a not-for-profit 501-c-3 organization that has been established to provide community-based programming for the new Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza to be located at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring.

The other members of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors are Don Berkemeyer, Jr., Alan Bowser, Sheryl Brissett-Chapman, Estefany Carrillo, David Fogel, Bryant Foulger, Jack Hewitt, Graciela Jaschek, Mark Kozaki, Jon Lourie, Aurelia Martin, Jane Redicker, Laura Steinberg, Wanda Whiteside, Beth A. Wong and Mary Ann Zimmerman.

For more information, contact Alan Bowser, Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., 301-608-3932,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Marcus Johnson Elected to Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors

At its March 18, 2009 meeting, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors elected Marcus Johnson of Silver Spring, Maryland as a member of the Board.

Born in Ohio, Marcus Johnson was raised in Washington, D.C. and grew up sampling a cornucopia of musical styles. He began studying both contemporary and traditional jazz and cites Thelonius Monk and Joe Sample as early influences through high school and his undergraduate studies at Howard University. While pursuing both a JD and MBA at Georgetown University, Johnson decided to independently produce and distribute his own album. The product, Lessons in Love (1997), went on to sell 40,000 units, a phenomenal success for an unknown artist’s debut release. It also helped him launch his career as a jazz musician and chief executive of Marimelj Entertainment Group LLC (MEG). During the next decade, Johnson would release more critically-acclaimed music: Inter Alia, Chocolate City Groovin’, Coming Back Around, Urban Groove, In Person: Live@ Blues Alley; Just Doing What I Do, Smooth Jazz Christmas, and In Concert For a Cause.

He’s shared the stage with many musical legends including Boney James, Kim Waters, Peabo Bryson, Diana Krall, Eryka Badu, Peter White, Miles Jaye, Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Chaka Khan, Arturo Sandoval, Chuck Magione, Marion Meadows, Rachelle Ferrell, Mike Phillips, George Duke and Jeffrey Osborne among others.

And he’s played at many of the world’s famous festivals and venues including The Capital Jazz Fest, Bermuda Jazz Fest, Atlantic Artscape, Huntington Beach Jazz Fest, The National Smooth Jazz Awards and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Noting Johnson’s business savvy and musical ambition, Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder and businessman Robert L. Johnson (no relation) invested in MEG and became Marcus’ business partner. Under this partnership, MEG’s label Three Keys Music – based in the Washington, D.C. metro area – established its own full-service recording studio, Studio 8121; and two music publishing companies, Marimelj Music Publishing and Three Keys Music Publishing.

The other members of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors are Don Berkemeyer, Jr., Alan Bowser, Sheryl Brissett-Chapman, Estefany Carrillo, David Fogel, Bryant Foulger, Jack Hewitt, Graciela Jaschek, Mark Kozaki, Jon Lourie, Aurelia Martin, Jennifer Nettles, Jane Redicker, Laura Steinberg, Wanda Whiteside, Beth A. Wong and Mary Ann Zimmerman.

Jennifer Nettles Elected to Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors

At its March 18, 2009 meeting, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors elected Jennifer Nettles of Gaithersburg, Maryland as a member of the Board.

Jennifer Nettles manages Downtown Silver Spring on behalf of PFA Silver Spring, L.C. (Peterson, Foulger Pratt and Argo Investments). She oversees all management, marketing, security and maintenance for the development. In her previous position as Vice President, East Coast Asset Management for Combined Properties in Washington D.C., she specialized in retail asset and property management of the east coast region totaling approximately four million square foot of retail properties. Prior to holding that position, she was a Regional Manager for Prime Outlets managing multiple outlet centers in the mid-west.

Being very active in the Silver Spring community, Jennifer serves as a board member for the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and is an active participant in the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board’s Neighborhoods Committee, the Commercial and Economic Development Committee and Silver Spring’s Arts and Entertainment District Advisory Committee.

Jennifer is married with three children and lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The other members of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Board of Directors are Don Berkemeyer, Jr., Alan Bowser, Sheryl Brissett-Chapman, Estefany Carrillo, David Fogel, Bryant Foulger, Jack Hewitt, Marcus Johnson, Graciela Jaschek, Mark Kozaki, Jon Lourie, Aurelia Martin, Jane Redicker, Laura Steinberg, Wanda Whiteside, Beth A. Wong and Mary Ann Zimmerman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Silver Spring Jazz Star Dominates Billboard with Three Albums

Renowned Jazz Musician Marcus Johnson Dominates Billboard with Three Albums Topping the Contemporary Jazz Charts, Including the #2 Spot in the Country

(March 12, 2009-Washington, DC)— On the eve of his new album release, “Poetically Justified” (in stores May 19th), award winning Jazz pianist Marcus Johnson is riding high with the #2, #7 and #13 contemporary jazz albums in the country. First released in September 2008, the For the Love Of series includes three distinct compilations: FLO: Romance, FLO: Standards, and FLO: Chill all of which have been consistently featured on Billboard’s Top 25 Jazz contemporary charts. All three CDs deliver a smooth and jazzy feeling that makes for a relaxed yet passionate listening experience that keeps you coming back for more of the sultry FLO series.

Marcus Johnson is a force to be reckoned with in the music world, having his previous ten CDs all peak in the Top 25. Not to mention his exhilarating live performances which encompass a unique blend of musical dexterity and magnetic charm that has captured audiences the world over. The success of the FLO series is a testament to Johnson’s inspiration for the eagerly anticipated release of his 11th solo album, that “through the rough times, those who have faith and work hard are Poetically Justified by their success.”

The FLO series was released under the Three Keys Music label, which was co-founded by Marcus Johnson along with Bob Johnson, the founder of BET and owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. The record label as well as the recording studio, Studio 8121, produces, distributes and promotes adult, urban, contemporary and jazz music. For more information please visit


LaNora Williams-Clark
Muse Creative Arts Agency
(201) 780-2943

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blues Singer and Guitarist Preserved Va. Traditions - Washington Post

By Terence McArdle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009; B07

John Cephas, 78, the blues singer and guitarist who preserved the folk blues traditions of southwestern Virginia's Piedmont region, died of a pulmonary embolism March 4 at his home in Woodford, Va., south of Fredericksburg.

Mr. Cephas was best known for his musical partnership with harmonica player Phil Wiggins. As Cephas and Wiggins, they performed worldwide in the 1980s, often on State Department-sponsored tours. His specialty was perpetuating a finger-picking guitar style that originated in the Carolinas and was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s by such blues performers as Brownie McGhee, Josh White and Blind Boy Fuller.

Mr. Cephas also co-founded the DC Blues Society in 1987, a nonprofit organization that holds the annual DC Blues Festival at Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Washington.

John Dudley Cephas was born Dec. 4, 1930, in the District's Foggy Bottom neighborhood, but he spent his summers with his grandfather's family in Bowling Green, near Woodford.

His father, a Baptist minister, played guitar but gave it to Mr. Cephas when he proved more adept on the instrument. Mr. Cephas's grandfather, cousin and aunt were gifted musicians, and his father encouraged him to play at family gatherings -- although he imparted a mixed message.

"I came from a religious family -- my father was a minister -- and I remember him telling us not to go to those houses of ill repute where people were drinking and having a good time and playing blues," Mr. Cephas once told The Washington Post. "And on Fridays and Saturdays, they'd have a party at our house and the musicians would come in . . . carousing and having a good time. I always thought that hypocritical when the guitar struck up and you saw who'd be on the floor with Sister So-and-so or Deacon So-and-so."

Mr. Cephas sang with a local gospel quartet, the Capitol Harmonizers, before serving in the Army during the Korean War. He briefly worked as an Atlantic coastal fisherman in Delaware before becoming a master carpenter for the National Guard Armory. In his off hours, he played at house parties.

He performed professionally with blues pianist Wilbert "Big Chief" Ellis in the 1970s. He met Wiggins during a jam session at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1976. The three started a band, the Barrelhouse Rockers, which lasted a year and a half before Ellis's death. Mr. Cephas and Wiggins continued as a duo.

German record company L&R approached Mr. Cephas to do an album in 1980 with Wiggins on several tracks. The next year, the duo was brought to Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival tour, with performances there.

They did a second album for L&R but didn't have any recordings available in the United States. In the 1980s, Mr. Cephas retired as the carpentry shop foreman at the armory. He would build his house in Woodford.

His carpentry skills led to a successful recording.

In 1987, Mr. Cephas approached Joe Wilson, the engineer on a recording Mr. Cephas had made with Ellis, about doing a record with Wiggins. The conversation occurred while Wilson was at work building his home in Takoma Park.

"He asked me if I'd make a record," Wilson said in an interview yesterday. "I told him I didn't have time. I was building a house. He looked at my work and told me, 'I'm a better carpenter than you. . . . I'll build the damn house, you make the damn record!' So I got a house, and he got a record."

The record, "Dog Days of August," won the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award as best traditional blues album in 1987. Mr. Cephas was named a National Heritage Fellow in 1989 by the National Endowment of the Arts.

According to Lynn Volpe, his companion of 10 years, Mr. Cephas was married three times and his survivors include seven children and two stepchildren.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Silver Spring Hosts "Stop the Violence" Concert

A “Stop the Violence” concert was held in Downtown Silver Spring on March 7, 2009 to promote messages of peace and non-violence. The event was organized by “Mixed Unity,” a group of teens from various local youth groups, including Identity, Gap Busters Learning Center, Blair Sports Academy, Street Outreach Network, Asian American LEAD, Maryland Multicultural Youth Center and the Gandhi Brigade.

The concert lineup included performers and speakers from a broad range of genres. Bands like Those Guys, Class6, Latin Royalty & Desafio, and the Reaction Band, joined motivational speakers Juan Pacheco and Gaby Posado from Barrios Unidos. The program also included a “freestyle Rap Battle” and breakdancing contest. The sponsoring groups joined together following the shooting death of Montgomery Blair High School student Tai Lam in November 2008.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Playlist - Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.

The Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. was proud to present a historical sampling of great African American art and entertainment in observance of Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. highlighted many videos available on YouTube from a broad range of genres—jazz, blues, country, folk, rap, opera, gospel, cinema, comedy, poetry and dance—featuring African American all-stars of the 20th and 21st century.

The playlist included: Albert King, Aretha Franklin, Bernie Mac, Big Joe Williams, Big Mama Thornton, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bill Cosby, Billie Holiday, Brownie McGhee, Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers, CeCe Winans, Charley Pride, Dorothy Donegan, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Five Satins, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Joshua Nelson, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams, Mary Mary, Memphis Slim, Miles Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters, Odetta, Paul Robeson, Queen Albertina Walker, Ray Charles, Richard Pryor, Robert Glasper, Ruby Dee, Sam and Dave, Shirley Caesar, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, T-Bone Walker, The Drifters, The Neville Brothers, The Temptations, The Toys, Tupac Shakur, Wes Montgomery, Whitney Houston, Willie Dixon, and Wilson Pickett

You can see—and listen to—the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. playlist at

You can view the accompanying SSTCI blog, with videos and historical information at

We thank YouTube, Wikipedia and all the folks who made suggestions for the playlist for our community celebration of Black History Month 2009. is the Town Center’s YouTube Channel!

Wilson Pickett (1941 - 2006)

Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American R&B/Rock and Roll and soul singer and songwriter known for his raw, raspy, passionate vocal delivery. A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the pop charts as well. Among his best known hits are "In The Midnight Hour" (which he co-wrote), "Land of 1,000 Dances", "Mustang Sally", and "Funky Broadway". The impact of Pickett's songwriting and recording led to his 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Pickett's breakthrough came at Stax Records' recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded his third Atlantic single, "In the Midnight Hour" (1965), perhaps his best-remembered hit, peaking at #1 R&B, #21 pop {US}, and #12 hit {UK}.

Pickett was also a popular songwriter, as songs he wrote were recorded by artists like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, Booker T. & the MGs, Genesis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hootie & the Blowfish, Echo & The Bunnymen, Roxy Music, Bruce Springsteen, Los Lobos, The Jam, Ani DiFranco, among others.

Big Joe Williams (1903 - 1982)

Big Joe Williams (born Joseph Lee Williams, October 16, 1903 - December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues musician and songwriter, known for his characteristic style of guitar-playing, his nine-string guitar, and his bizarre, cantankerous personality.

Born in Crawford, Mississippi, Williams as a youth began wandering across the United States busking and playing stores, bars, alleys and work camps. In the early 1920s he worked in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels revue and recorded with the Birmingham Jug Band in 1930 for the Okeh label. In 1934 he was in St. Louis, where he met record producer Lester Melrose who signed him to a contract with Bluebird Records in 1935. He stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as "Baby, Please Don't Go" (1935) and "Crawlin' King Snake" (1941), both songs later covered by many other performers. He also recorded with other blues singers, including John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Peetie Wheatstraw. Williams remained a noted blues artist in the 1950s and 1960s, with his guitar style and vocals becoming popular with folk-blues fans.

Koko Taylor - Let The Good Times Roll

Koko Taylor sometimes spelled KoKo Taylor (born Cora Walton, 28 September 1928) is an American blues musician, popularly known as the "Queen of the Blues." She is known primarily for her rough and powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings.
Born in Shelby County, Tennessee, Taylor left Memphis for Chicago, Illinois in 1954 with her husband, truck driver Robert "Pops" Taylor. In the late 1950s she began singing in Chicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract. In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records, for which her single "Wang Dang Doodle" (written by Dixon, and a hit for Howlin' Wolf five years earlier) became a major hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts in 1966, and selling a million copies.

Albert King (1923 - 1992)

Albert King (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer. One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B. B. King and Freddie King), he stood at least 6' 4" (192 cm), weighed in at least 260 lbs (118 kg) and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi. During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church. He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys, in Osceola, Arkansas. He also briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed's band and on several early Reed recordings. Influenced by Blues musicians Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson, but also interestingly Hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V, which he named "Lucy".

Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974)

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader. Duke Ellington was recognized during his life as one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music. His reputation has increased since his death, including a special award citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board. Ellington called his style and sound "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category."These included many of the musicians who served with his orchestra, some of whom were considered among the giants of jazz and performed with Ellington's orchestra for decades. While many were noteworthy in their own right, it was Ellington who melded them into one of the most well-known orchestral units in the history of jazz.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917 – 1996)

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as "Lady Ella" and the "First Lady of Song", is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, she was noted for her purity of tone, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. She is widely considered to have been one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 14 Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.