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Here are a few things I know about Stripmall Ballads’ frontman, Phillips Saylor: that he invented an experimental guitar technique called orthopolytonal banjo singing. That one year, he tried to use an amplifier at a songwriters’ circle at the stuffy Washington Folk Festival but didn’t ask permission, and got himself banned from the annual gathering. That last fall he wrote, directed, and performed a folk opera called The Perfect Pipe Bomb, involving a full band, 10-foot-tall puppets, and a four-person chorus. And that his band’s song “Woman With a Black Eye”—recorded in and containing the street sounds of an unspecified neighborhood in Northeast D.C.—is the goddamn saddest thing I heard last year. I hope they play it tonight.
STRIPMALL BALLADS PERFORMS WITH DADDY LION AND PETTICOAT TEAROOM AT 9 P.M. AT THE VELVET LOUNGE, 915 U ST. NW. $8. (202) 462-3213.