04 Mar 2021

Arts & Entertainment:

Herb Scott: Sax and activism

You may know Herb Scott from his weekly concerts at Mr. Henry’s, whether in-person or from the comfort of your living room due to the pandemic. COVID has been especially hard on musicians, live acts and venues. By talking to local musicians such as Herb, I hope you can learn more about them and support them. Herb has been releasing new music throughout the pandemic, like his newest album, “Private Concert.” You can purchase his music over at solo.to/herbscottmusic. (Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.)

How long have you been holding a residency at Mr. Henry’s? Can you tell me more about your other projects?

I began my residency at Mr. Henry’s in February 2015 as the Capitol Hill Jazz Jam and in 2017 I formed the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation—whose mission is to assist DC based Jazz musicians, venues and education programs. The foundation is also very politically active and our advocacy work has resulted in the adoption of a bill by the DC city council to provide property-tax rebates for entertainment venues, the revival of the Congressional Jazz Caucus and the reintroduction of the Jazz preservation bill in Congress. I have been playing and studying music for over 20 years. And although I teach in a limited capacity, I have focused my work on strengthening music education via my work as an advocate.

Can you tell me more about the Congressional Jazz Caucus?

The Congressional Jazz Caucus was launched in 2017 in the US House of Representatives and was co-chaired by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX and Doug Collins R-GA and the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation became the designated organization to craft and carry out Jazz related events to celebrate the mission of the caucus. The caucus’ mission is to preserve Jazz music, its venues, education programs in America and this caucus is a BI-partisan effort. The caucus was originally formed by former Congressman John Conyers D-MI but by the early 2000’s the caucus and its activities had come to a close. One of the CHJF chief efforts at it’s inception was to reintroduce the original HR-57 Jazz Preservation bill introduced to Congress in the 1980s. We tapped Congresswoman Lee to reintroduce the Jazz bill and co-chair the caucus and in 2017 we held a press conference announcing its reformation. We have not yet confirmed the official registration of the caucus for this Congress but Ms Lee has already reintroduced the bill. It is now HR-139

How are you doing during the pandemic? Is there any upside to performing virtually?

The pandemic has forced me and everyone else I know to be much more creative about generating income. I have been streaming every Wednesday on the Mr. Henry’s Facebook page from 6-7 p.m. as a sort of filler for the jam session until things return and for the most part it has been a great way to stay in touch with my Mr. Henry’s family.

By the end of summer I started launching my private rooftop concert series and that was very successful. And now it’s getting warmer I’m bringing the series back. The next one is scheduled for later in the spring [date TBD] and there’ll be food, drinks and a live band on a beautiful rooftop.

What are some must-listen songs that are very DC?

When I think of very “D.C.” songs I would say these ten songs definitely reflect us:

  1. Bustin Loose, Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers
  2. Da Butt, E.U.
  3. Rock Creek Park, The Blackbyrds
  4. Sexy Lady,UCB
  5. Welcome to D.C., Mambo Sauce
  6. Sardines, Junkyard Band
  7. The Water Dance,Northeast Groovers
  8. Pretty Girls, Backyard Band
  9. Bait,Wale
  10. Banned in D.C., Bad Brains

How can people support the Capitol Hill Jazz Jam or the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation? Will there be a Hill Fest this year?

We definitely appreciate any and all support from the community! If you or anyone you know would like to make a tax-deductible donation you can visit Capitolhilljazzfoundation.org. And yes, I’m happy to announce that we have selected the newly-renovated Eastern Market plaza as our festival location and events will take place October 5-10, 2021! Check back at HillFest.org later to find out the schedule of events.

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