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"Welcome To Joppatown"

Welcome to Joppatown
Rock band with local Churchill and Sidwell grads lays down the funk, rock and reggae.
By Chelsea Phillips/The Almanac
July 4, 2007

It’s not too tough to form a band with three of your best friends, but it’s tough to form a great one, and even tougher to branch into a new musical genre. Local band Joppa aims to do both.
Twisting together a mix of funk, classic rock and reggae, Joppa’s sound is refreshing, chill and, most important to the band and their fans: it’s danceable.
“I can never tell how close band members are to each other, but we’re all best friends, we just get along so well … [and] we really communicate while we’re playing,” said drummer David Karr.
The four best friends of Joppa went to local high schools: Karr and bassist Danny Dahan graduated from Winston Churchill High School in 2005, while guitarist Ben Ifshin and keyboardist/vocalist Ramzy Sulieman graduated from nearby Sidwell Friends the same year.
Karr, Dahan and Ifshin have been playing together as a band since a seventh grade recital when they could only play “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A good pick since all three say their music has been influenced by the Chili Peppers.
The band rotated through several lead singers until they found Sulieman who brought a keyboard and a new sound to the band. Sulieman says he is influenced by the band Yellow Card and by musical theater, but about the favorite of his bandmates — the Red Hot Chili Peppers — he says, “I hate them, they suck.”

IT ALSO TOOK some time before the band settled on a name, but driving north on I-95 one day, they saw a sign that read “Welcome to Joppatown.” “That was a word that doesn’t really mean anything, so we thought it could mean us,” said Dahan.
Today Joppa is beginning to emerge onto the national music scene. They are playing gigs in New York City, Baltimore and the D.C. area this summer, and will record their debut album at Lion and Fox Studios in College Park this July.
Joppa still plays a couple Friday or Saturday nights each month on a patio outside downtown Bethesda’s Haagen-Dazs, located at the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Hampden Lane. The patio was designed specifically with the band in mind — Karr’s father is the architect who designed the building. “He’s one of our number one fans and put a stage in the patio thinking it would be a good place for us to play,” said Karr. Joppa was the first to play on the patio, starting the line of bands that have played there in the last four years.

THE BETHESDA appearances have created a local Joppa following. Rkiya Bensguir came to Bethesda last Friday hoping to find the band she had heard there the weekend before, and was in luck. “I like the music, the sound and I like [Sulieman’s] voice, it’s a very strong voice.”
“Some of it is like listening to rock music in Negril, Jamaica. I really like it,” said onlooker Allison Billodeau.
“They do attract a very big crowd every time I come,” said Bensguir, “and they have a sense of humor too, to go with it,” she said.
Their humor comes out onstage and also in their lyrics. One of Joppa’s most popular songs is about a gorilla with an insatiable addiction to bananas, entitled “Chill Out Gorilla.” Though Sulieman writes most of the band’s lyrics, the chorus for this song came as a group idea at Ledo’s Pizza, “Then I was just bored one day in math class and wrote the lyrics,” said Dahan.
Aside from Dahan’s math class, the bandmates have not let Joppa’s success interfere with academics. Although they have occasionally taken some time off school to tour, each band member is entering his junior year at a different university — Dahan at University of Miami, Karr at Cornell, Ifshin at the University of Vermont, and Sulieman at the Berklee College of Music.
First-time listeners Maddie Charles and Clare Riva from Walter Johnson High School were also captivated by Friday’s performance. “We are going to follow them now!” Charles exclaimed.
“It’s nice to see these guys who are playing songs more reminiscent of like classic rock, it’s not just some little teenybopper band. … It’s what we need on the music scene,” said Riva.
Most often, the idea for a song will start with Sulieman. “A lot of times Ramzy will compose a line, and we’ll take that idea and run with it,” said Ifshin.
But after Sulieman introduces the lyrics, it’s a combined effort to make the song Joppa’s. “We each have a very unique individual style that we really mix extremely well,” said Sulieman.
So what’s Joppa’s definition of success? “Just as long as we’re getting our music to more and more people, as long as we are making progress there, I’d say we’re a success,” Ifshin said.
- Potomac Almanac


We released our first full length album entitled "Capes and Umbrellas" this past Fall, it can be found on iTunes and has been played on University of Vermont radio, WRUV, WBKM, among others.



Joppa was formed by longtime friends, Danny Dahan, Ben Ifshin, and David Karr as a middle school rock trio. The young Joppa gained experience by playing local block parties and battle of the bands. With the addition of lead singer Ramzy Suleiman in 2004 and consistent live performances at local venues, Joppa began to develop a devoted following in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas. Joppa frequently performs at venues such as:

• The 8x10 in Baltimore, MD
• The Webster Theater in Hartford, CT
• The Velvet Lounge in Washington, D.C.
• The R n R Bar and Lounge in Washington, D.C.
• Sullivan Hall in New York City
• Don Hill’s in New York City

Joppa brings over 100 fans to its shows at the 8x10. Joppa also sold over 100 tickets to its New York City debut at the Lion's Den without any press. In June 2008, Joppa is traveling to New York City to share the stage with renowned performer Marco Benevento of the Benevento/Russo duo. Joppa will also be heading to Newport, KY to play at the Adjust Your Eyes music and arts festival.

In August 2007, Joppa recorded and produced its debut album Capes and Umbrellas with acclaimed producer Jim Fox (SOJA, Israel Vibration) at the Lion and Fox Recording Studios in College Park, MD. Capes and Umbrellas was self released in October 2007 and has already sold over 500 copies. Two of the tracks from Capes and Umbrellas were recently featured on the annual “Groove Local” compilation CD released by University of Vermont. Joppa’s music has also recently gotten airplay on University of Vermont radio. Joppa's myspace page,, active for only a couple months has already had over 7,000 hits.

In a July 4, 2007 article, Chelsea Phillips from the Potomac Almanac writes, “It’s not too tough to form a band with your best friends, but it’s tough to form a great one, and even tougher to branch into a new musical genre. Local band Joppa aims to do both. Twisting together a mix of funk, classic rock and reggae, Joppa’s sound is refreshing, chill and, most important to the band and their fans: it’s danceable.”