Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Area Man Aims to Write a Song about Every Metro Station

Alexandria resident Jason Mendelson has set out to write a song about every Metro station, starting with those along the Blue Line. You can listen to what he's done so far here.

If you want to hear them live, he'll be at Eastern Market on April 10 from 10 a.m. to noon.

What inspired you to do this?
I just moved to Alexandria six months ago from Tampa. Mass transit is not so great there, so I really enjoyed riding the Metro for sightseeing and going to job interviews. I was very active in the Tampa music scene and basically had to start from scratch when I moved here, so I thought doing something with a local theme would both help get me acquainted with the region better, and make my music a little more interesting to local listeners.

What do you hope will come of it?
I hope to raise awareness and appreciation for rapid transit, in addition to just having fun writing, recording, and performing the songs. Of course, sometimes I feel like WMATA isn't exactly helping!

Have you played the songs live before?
I have played most of the songs live at open mic nights in the area. Some people probably think I'm a little nuts for being inspired by something as mundane as the trains they take to work everyday.

Are you a regular Metro rider?
Kind of. My wife rides everyday to and from work. I ride as often as I can, which usually amounts to about two round trips per week, usually for sightseeing and fun stuff in DC. I'm starting to try to use it for gigs, too. I recently rode from Braddock Road to Georgia Ave-Petworth with my keyboards and gear for a gig with Down Wilson at the Blue Banana. That was quite a night!

Are you professional musician?
No, I am a senior tax analyst for AOL. I dabbled in the double life for a while, doing taxes by day, and moonlighting at popular piano bars and playing in rock bands in Tampa at night, but now I prefer to keep music as something I think of as fun, on the side. Plus, I can't function on four hours of sleep a night, like I did when I was 25!

Do you plan to make an album of your songs?
I'd like to finish the Blue Line first, as a collection. I don't know if I'd call it an album. It's both sad and exciting to see that medium slowly drift away. My last band in Tampa, It Rhymes With Orange, released two albums on CD and electronically. It was very rewarding to have that tangible product, but also very involved. A couple months ago, I said I wouldn't be surprised if I never made an actual CD again, given the popularity of electronic delivery these days. I also think it's fun for people to put the songs in the order they choose on their portable music player.

What's next?
I definitely would like to finish all Metro stations. If I can finish Blue Line by the end of 2011, I'll be pretty happy! My self-imposed goal of not duplicating the same genre twice is starting to get tricky, though. I'd like to involve other musicians, too, like I did with DC blues guitarist Chris Polk on "Van Dorn Street." That will certainly help-with the creativity and writing aspects of it.
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