By Bobby Franklin
A recent article by Money magazine brought newfound fame to Alexandria as a tourist destination. Known mostly for its boutique shopping, history, and proximity to Washington, DC, and Mount Vernon, Alexandria has not really stood out for its local music scene. It isn’t easy for aspiring musicians to make a name for themselves with few established live music venues and limited performance opportunities, which is why the success of a local two-piece acoustic band, Free Flowing Musical Experience, is testament to the value of hard work, passion, talent, and basic likability.
What started as a simple two piece acoustic act has grown into one of the more unique acts around. The band jams. Hard. Despite being only a two-piece acoustic set the duo sounds more like a full five-piece band.
“Nobody does what we do,” laughed the duo’s Gregg Park.
What they do, as their website states, is “aim to capture the diversity of their influences and expand upon each song as an improvisational journey into what can be found on the other end.” By subscribing to this formula, and through hundreds of gigs, long road trips, late night jam sessions, and simple roll up your sleeves hard work, the Free Flowing Musical Experience has become Alexandria’s legendary acoustic jam band. A description that befell them accidentally.
Said Park, “We were setting up at a show and the bar owner said, ‘well if it isn’t FFME. Alexandria’s legendary acoustic jam band’. We just sort of ran with it from there.”
Originally founded by Scott Fallon in 1986, the band had its ups and downs and Fallon had started playing gigs by himself. In 2004, another guy named Gregg Park was looking to find a home on stage too, with just the right partner. When Park came on board, he was scrambling to find his groove and had been in a number of local projects in the mid-Atlantic as well as in Arizona. He fronted an AC/DC tribute band in Phoenix playing the part of Angus Young. Unbeknownst to Fallon, Park shared a mutual friend that urged him to go see one of Fallon’s solo performances. Park obliged, asked to sit in, and they’ve been playing together ever since. Now the two-piece acoustic act performs roughly 175 shows per year. In addition, both artists still do solo shows, and Park also performs in a local country band.
Staying busy has never been difficult for the two, but maintaining a log of quality gigs in the Alexandria area can be a daunting task. The band has their favorite bars of course: Fiona’s, Evening Star, Northside 10 and Southside 815, Fair Winds Brewing, and the recently closed King Street Blues, to name a few. But a busy schedule also leads to bigger venues and better opportunities. The band has a mini tour of Southern Virginia scheduled in the spring, and they’re holding a massive benefit show at Evening Star Café in April.
“We’re really excited for the Evening Star show on April 26th,” said Fallon. “That’s an opportunity to play to our type of audience while raising money to help a friend’s daughter in her fight against cancer. The Carlyle Club is the end result of a lot of hard work. To share the stage with a great band like On the Bus at an amazing venue like Carlyle Club is truly a privilege. We have a lot of work to do before then.”
Want to see them? You can check their schedule at the Free Flowing Musical Experience’s website at www.ffmeband.com and head over the Evening Star, 2000 Mount Vernon Avenue, in the Del Ray neighborhood on April 26th around 7:30.
See you there!