A lot of bars and music venues are ramping up their outdoor concerts as we move into spring, and as the pandemic continues to cancel indoor shows or by limiting the capacity too much, hardly making it profitable. David Thong, a local musician, recalls playing a show this past winter when it was only 38 degrees outside, saying he was surprised just how many people came out in the cold to see live music, but seeing eager fans helped restore inspiration and hope during these hard times.
With warmer weather here, David Thong & Friends will be the featured performance for Jammin Java’s ongoing weekly “Rewind Wednesday” outdoor concert series, which kicked off last week. Also in celebration of Jammin Java’s 20th anniversary, the outdoor concert series are free, with donations being accepted to support the musician(s).
Thong is excited to play the “Rewind” concert series, which is an impromptu show where he’ll take requests from the crowd covering hit songs that range from the 1960s to the 2000s. This concert series started last summer, and Thong said that it was quite successful with great support from a few local businesses.
What makes this show so much fun is Thong’s ability to read the crowd much like a DJ, only with live instruments as he takes listeners on a nostalgic trip through the different genres of music.
“With arena shows cancelled and the lack of national touring bands playing, this is the year to focus on the local music scene, which live music fans will be looking into while we try to get through this summer,” Thong said. “It is looking bright as far as more people getting vaccinated in the area. I already got my first shot, and get my second in a couple weeks.”
Thong has enjoyed performing and singing in front of a crowd since he was a kid, but it was around the time he moved from Richmond to Arlington in 2007, that his hobby transitioned into something more serious.
“I started listening to Michael Jackson as a kid, and really got into the alternative rock scene in the 1990s, with bands like Weezer, Green Day, and Sublime, which would best define my sound,” said Thong.
“I was in college when I picked up the guitar; I’m self taught and never took any lessons, but soon started playing in coffee shops, busking in the streets and playing open mic nights to start making a name for myself,” said Thong.
He explains that playing regular open mic nights at the Front Page bar and restaurant in Arlington, which closed a few years ago, was where he really got his start. He also played at many bars and venues throughout Ballston and Clarendon, back when you could hear music from live bands pouring into the streets from a plethora of bars.
Throughout the pandemic, Thong has been playing once a month at the State Theatre’s outdoor area, and getting creative by recording collaborative videos with bandmates over the internet.
“This summer is looking a lot better than last summer, and with Covid cases hopefully going down, and with people getting vaccinated, we need to look to the local scene to bring back the music,” said Thong. “We really need to support our venues and restaurants that are still struggling.”
David Thong & Friends will be playing at Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave East, Vienna) on May 5 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit jamminjava.com.