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Marc Eisenberg probably has plenty of friends. As the executive director of the Washington Bach Consort and founder of the D.C. Music Salon—-a regular series of conversations and presentations about this city’s musical heritage—-Eisenberg has surely shaken hundreds of hands, many of them belonging to ardent lovers of music. But now, Eisenberg is going to find himself with friends he didn’t even know he had.
That’s because on New Year’s Eve, Eisenberg won the grand prize in the 9:30 Club’s annual holiday charity raffle. The haul: two free tickets to every 9:30 Club show in 2014.
Eisenberg hasn’t told everybody the news just yet, but word got around. “They’ve been coming out of the woodwork already,” he says.
Among local live-music fans like Eisenberg, the prize is somewhat legendary. Every December the 9:30 Club takes in patrons’ donations of food, clothing, and cash for the entire month. The food and clothing donations go to a slew of worthy organizations in town, including the Sasha Bruce House, Bread for the City, So Others Might Eat, and D.C. Central Kitchen; the cash donations this year went to the Trombone Shorty Foundation. Eisenberg, who lives a third of a mile away from the V Street club, has participated fairly consistently since the raffle began 12 years ago—-and this time, he caught the big fish. When his name was drawn at the club’s New Year’s Eve show, Eisenberg happened to be in the audience. (That’s never happened before, according to a 9:30 Club spokesperson.) “I was just completely stunned,” he says.
Eisenberg, 42, has lived in D.C. for 23 years, and about 75 yards away from the Howard Theatre for more than four. He calls himself a “huge fan” of I.M.P., the Bethesda-based company that owns the 9:30 Club, in part because of the charities it supports, but also because it’s a local company that gives enormous entities like Live Nation a run for their money. In the 1990s, the George Washington University graduate met members of the I.M.P. crew while working at Lisner Auditorium, where the company sometimes booked shows. “They really impressed me,” he says. “They were real bad-asses.”
In his day-to-day life, Eisenberg is immersed in the business of music in his post at the Washington Bach Consort. But he doesn’t consider himself a “classical music guy,” he says. “That’s why I started the [D.C. Music] Salon,” he says. “I wanted to scratch my rock and jazz and soul itch.” The bimonthly sessions, which he kicked off in October 2010, take place second Wednesdays at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library. They’ve covered a spectrum of milestones, people, and movements in D.C.’s cultural history: the go-go film Good to Go, D.C. Space, Duke Ellington, the Bayou. The next program, on Feb. 12, will show complete footage of The Beatles’ landmark 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum. But one of Eisenberg’s most successful programs to date was the February 2011 session that showed the 9:30 Club documentary 930 F Street. He estimates that 125 people came to the library that night.
Eisenberg is making a list of the shows he plans to see at the club this year. “Oh hell yeah, I’m going to see a ton of stuff,” he says. His far-from-complete list includes Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Trouble Funk—-the best live go-go band, in his opinion—-Black Joe Lewis, Charles Bradley, Galactic. His wife wants to see Earl Sweatshirt. About half a dozen people have asked him for a ticket to St. Vincent. “When I show up, I’ll just walk right in like I own the place,” he says. (He’s joking, lest club owners Seth Hurwitz and Rich Heinecke think his head has swelled.)
Asked how many shows he’ll try to hit, Eisenberg says, “I will be surprised if I go to less than 100.” But he doesn’t think he’ll be able to top 2007’s grand-prize winner, Todd Savitch. “He went to a lot,” Eisenberg says. (Specifically, 166.) “That’s crazy. I don’t know if I’d get that high.”
Photo courtesy I.M.P./9:30 Club