Jamal Gray

Creating Infrastructure at Eaton Hotel, 'The Turn Around' Featuring Nag Champa by Maxwell Young

A Weekly jam session hosted by Jamal Gray and Nag Champa Art Ensemble. Flyer via  Wild Days

A Weekly jam session hosted by Jamal Gray and Nag Champa Art Ensemble. Flyer via Wild Days

Since its grand opening in September, Eaton Hotel has leveraged traditional hospitality models to amplify arts and social change. The boutique, mid-century modern hotel—once a bus terminal located on K Street—has quickly become a community hub for locally-based artists thanks to the activist mindsets of its cultural coordinators including Sheldon Scott and Sebi Tayac.

Starting this Sunday, Eaton is opening its doors to Nag Champa Art Ensemble for a weekly jam session, live at their rooftop lounge Wild Days, called The Turn Around.

Anyone familiar with Nag Champa (and if you’re not, check out their performances at The John F. Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian American Art Museum) knows how integral their improvisation and live sets are to their musicianship. Although listeners are patiently waiting for a full-length project, or at least something consumable via streaming platforms, it’s a real treat to hear how they adapt and contort their catalogue for each performance. No two sets sound the same.

We asked the band leader and producer of Nag Champa, Jamal Gray, about how The Turn Around will be different from past performances. “It’s a chance to give listeners more of an insight into our creative process, and watch us build themes from scratch,” he said. “We’re going to be using this time to work out material for the album and other production work.”

Nag Champa band members from left: L.D. Lee, Jamal Gray, Dajando Smith, and Allen Jones with Anderson .Paak (center), (Not pictured: Elijah Easton and Kwesi Lee). Photograph by Maxwell Young

Nag Champa band members from left: L.D. Lee, Jamal Gray, Dajando Smith, and Allen Jones with Anderson .Paak (center), (Not pictured: Elijah Easton and Kwesi Lee). Photograph by Maxwell Young

The series will be an exploratory body of work as Nag Champa is set to also feature notable friends, musicians, vocalists, and DJs from D.C. and beyond. Their first guest is Dreamcast who recently received a profile in the Washington Post ahead of his album dropping January 2nd. Gray equates the upcoming jams to the Soulquarian movement that is highlighted by works from Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, and others.

“It’s a similar vibe to when Questlove and The Roots began hosting weekly jam sessions in the mid 90s. A lot of great artists came through those sessions,” he said.

Ultimately, The Turn Around is about fusing together the rich musical context of Washington, D.C. with the jazz energy of New York while keeping contemporary roots. “We’re aiming to bring back that vintage U Street vibe and mix it with the jazz loft energy of New York,” Gray explained.

Enjoy the first session of The Turn Around tomorrow at Wild Days at Eaton Hotel from 2pm until 8pm.

Wild Days (top floor)

Eaton Hotel

1201 K St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20005



Late Bloom Radio on Full Service Radio by Maxwell Young

Sir E.U and Nate G on the bill for Episode 5 tonight.

Tune in every Wednesday at  FullServiceRadio.org

Tune in every Wednesday at FullServiceRadio.org

The LINE DC hotel in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C. has a real boutique, crunchy-granola vibe to its interior.  Its exterior shell is the redeveloped First Church of Christ, Scientist, which sits a short walk away from a McDonald's and the best diner in D.C., The Diner.  On the inside, though is this nouveau riche hotel lobby with Moroccan pillows lining the steps, a crooked full-length mirror, and three restaurant bar spaces with nouveau riche-type names, like 'The Cup We All Race 4,' 'Brothers and Sisters,' and 'A Rake's Progress.'  Undoubtedly they serve five dollar hot chocolates and $17 gin and tonics with locally sourced and farm-raised foods, which this mouth will never consume.

Situated amidst all this zhushing, encased in a glass box for the viewing pleasure of all the happy hour yuppies, is Full Service Radio.  You can't miss it with the pop art-styled, repetitive "ON" neon lights emanating from the deep blue wall.  The Station is truly something locally grown.  Founded by record producer/sound engineer/disc jockey, Jack Inslee who launched Heritage Radio Network in New York City, Full Service Radio has amplified the voices of 30 local hosts with 24/7 online streaming that hotel guests also have access to in their rooms.

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One of these shows is Late Bloom Radio, co-hosted by quintessential D.C. artists Jamal Gray and St. Clair Castro--the maestros behind Ctrl Space CMD that occurred in the spring of 2017.  Four episodes in, Late Bloom is a mix of new and rare music spanning the genres of future soul, psychedelic, experimental hip hop, house, electronic, and ambient.  On Wednesday's from 6pm-8, the show features extended mixes, in-studio performances and interviews with artists and activists representing the DMV community.  It's very much the sonic version of the late 1970s exploratory show, 'TV Party' as a whole roost of creatives move in and out of soundscapes.  Join us tonight when we talk to Sir E.U fresh off the release of his new project Some Friend You Are and Uptown's native son, Nate G.