Bartees Strange headlines the 9:30 Club Nov. 19. Credit: courtesy of IMP

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

This October, All Things Go Festival returns with another stacked lineup featuring some of the biggest names in music right now: Mitski, Bleachers, and Lucy Dacus are set to headline, along with Lorde (who hopefully won’t pregame with a dip in the Potomac this time around). But Bartees Cox Jr.—better known by his stage name Bartees Strange, one of the biggest acts in the local music scene—has also made the bill.

Born in England and raised in Oklahoma, Strange has made a home for himself in the District over the past eight years, becoming a part of what he likes to describe as an eclectic music scene. “In D.C., you have this hodgepodge of artists,” he tells City Paper. “There’s people trying to do it for a living, you’ve got people who were playing really huge shows in the ’90s and are now kicking it in Alexandria. There’s so much history and diversity, and it’s a cool place to be making music, and I’m really grateful to be a part of that community.” In March 2020, he released his first EP as Bartees Strange. Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy features re-imagined songs by the National. His first full-length album, Live Forever, a delightful blend of genres including hip-hop, indie rock, post-punk, and jazz, was released in October of the same year. 

In a Stereogum article that dubbed him an “artist to watch,” he confessed he spent the majority of the pandemic lockdown writing new music. Shortly after Live Forever dropped, Strange was back in the studio recording his next album, Farm To Table

As his music career has taken off, Strange, who previously handled PR for a local climate change nonprofit, has taken his act beyond Washington; last fall he hit the road with Dacus for the second half of her North American tour. Though they ended on the east coast, Strange opened for the “Thumbs” singer in cities spanning Vancouver to Salt Lake City. Touring, he says, is an “experience,” explaining that despite the difficulties, it all pays off. 

“Once you get over the challenge and hit a groove and you’re sounding great and the band’s sounding great and the rhythm is established, the show can be really rewarding,” says Strange. For All Things Go, he’s excited to perform at a festival that’s close to home. “Every time I play a festival, it’s always some random place, and it’s really nice that this one is home so I don’t have to travel a million miles to play a great show. It’s great to play one where my friends and family can come too.” 

He’s also excited to be around both audiences and artists who recognize him. He explains that, at most festivals, people don’t know who he is. But he anticipates the crowd at All Things Go will be more familiar with his work. “In D.C., people know who I am.” (It’s true, aside from being a beloved local musician, Strange is also a well-respected producer—he’s produced Broke Royals’ third album as well as Cinema Hearts’ debut EP.) His set will include hits from Farm To Table, an album he’s incredibly proud of. “It felt good to make this album with my friends, just like the last one. I’m happy with it, and I hope that, as I keep making records, I’ll retain that. My little crew is getting better and better at making records.” 

All Things Go Music Festival starts at 11 a.m. on Oct. 1 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $124.50. Bartees Strange also headlines the 9:30 Club on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. $20.