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"The Vinyl District: First Date with Maybarduk"


Washington, DC (by way of Mexico City, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Cuba, and Venezuela) experimental/indie, singer/songwriter Peter Maybarduk releases his second CD "No Hay Pueblo Vencido" this month with a CD release party March 19 at Dahlak. Joining Maybarduk that night is an eclectic pool of talent culled from his travels both here in the States and abroad.

Yet, it seems that throughout his varied global excursions, one thing has remained a constant—his appreciation for...well, why not have him tell you?

"Music reconstructed the life inside my mind around the time I turned fourteen. In our town, those of us whose complete attention could not be held by school, religion or athletics were left to shuffle in the adolescent wilderness in a vague directionless search for meaning. We were considered, after all, too young to be entrusted with any real responsibilities. Music became the medium connecting my unquiet mind to the world around me, lending stability to and communicating with my creative and erratic thoughts.

Independent record stores were among the most tangible expressions of this world of ideas. They gave me a place to go to; a place to interact with music with all my senses. I could see artists’ visual interpretations of music on album covers and posters, I could talk with knowledgeable fans who worked in the shops and invariably played in local bands, I could smell vinyl and cardboard and leather and hair dye, and I could hold a disc or a record in my hand, bearing the art and music of a great band, and touch the otherwise intangible sounds that were coming to define me.

I think perhaps this is what a purely digital music world has trouble supplanting. The tactile. I can see album art on screens, but it’s far less satisfying – hard on the eyes, small, transient and set in just two dimensions. An online search is not the same memorable adventure as a trip to the record store, and our soul knows we have not equally earned the pleasure of music we discover online as we might have if we’d traveled to an independent shop and walked its aisles. Even for someone who might not appreciate vinyl’s unique sound, purely digital music cannot satisfy the other senses. And the senses do not work in pure isolation. Our experiences are deeper, richer, more rewarding, more informative, when they involve sound, sight, touch, conversation, physical exertion, memory. These experiences deepen our investment in music, and inevitably, lead us to give more back to the art in turn.

Similarly, there is, by definition, little creative interaction in the chain store. That’s not to criticize the individuals working in each store. And there is creativity somewhere in each chain’s corporate design template. But that creative process may have occurred hundreds of miles away and years in the past; there is likely no daily unique remaking of the individual store in which you’re standing. No personal creative link between the listener, the store, and the world of music, each remaking themselves with every day, considering music not only as commercial product, but as a very personal identity and art, that needs interaction to retain its meaning. This is what the independent stores offer. Each interacts with music on its own terms, through constant evolution, and hence, is a living part of the development of the art.

The musicians, the shows, the labels, the fans, the scenes, the zines, the shops, all interacting to make a rich world of ideas. That’s where I found meaning and bridged the unsteady period between childhood and adulthood. As music and technology evolve to offer new possibilities, and we make choices as listeners that will influence their course, let’s keep in mind the complete context – the creative and sensory experiences that have combined to help make music so powerful for us thus far."
- The Vinyl District

"World music, local musician"

Peter Maybarduk plays at Jammin' Java, Sunday, Jan. 27.

From South American influences in many songs to one called --Siddhartha On His Raft,-- Peter Maybarduk gets around the musical world with an ease that comes, perhaps, from his travels in the real world. The son of an American diplomat and a social worker who graduated from the College of William and Mary with an unofficial major in activism and went to U.C. Berkeley for law school, Maybarduk is now a public interest lawyer, living in Reston and working in Washington, D.C. and Latin America. His communicates a mixed sense of hope and urgency. Is this Che Guevara with a guitar? Find out Sunday, Jan. 27, in a 2 p.m. matinee show at Jammin-- Java, 227 Maple Ave. E, Vienna. Tickets are $8.

Introduce yourself:

Hi, I'm Peter Maybarduk, songwriter and guitarist, and I'm looking forward to a great show at Jammin Java.

Any local connections?

I grew up in Reston, when I wasn't overseas -- Mexico, Nicaragua and Sierra Leone. Today, I'm back living in Reston, though my day job splits my time between Washington, D.C. and Latin America. I recently joined Envelop Records, a Fairfax-based independent label.

When did you start playing and performing music?

I played instruments in school, and picked up guitar when I was 14. But I was an undisciplined student; I only wanted to write songs, even before I'd learned chords! Ideas came immediately and never stopped; technique and performance followed with time.

Describe your sound:

I have several. I play introspective songs on the Spanish guitar, indie rock on a Fender Telecaster, and songs I build electronically in a variety of styles, from pop to 80--s hip-hop to Latin beat. I'll showcase each at Jammin-- Java.

Biggest musical influences:

I grew up on the D.C. independent music scene, particularly innovative indie rock and post-punk bands like Jawbox and Fugazi. I admire Silvio Rodriguez and Leonard Cohen, two poet-songwriters who also play Spanish guitar. Also, living internationally, I became interested in sub-Saharan African and Latin music, and flavors of each make their way into some of my songs today.

Favorite album of 2007:

Hmm, I haven't picked one yet; too many left to hear! For 2005, I'd say Ted Leo's --Shake the Sheets. For 2006, I'd say The Appleseed Cast's Peregrine.-- And for 2007, well, until I can answer definitively, I'll say I'm enjoying Patty Griffin's --Children Running Through.

What is the equation for a good show?

Lots of energy. I like to introduce a variety of sounds, moods, and ideas; keeping things creative, always new and always challenging. If I'm into it, that energy carries through to the audience, and the show offers something for everyone.

Anything special about the upcoming show?

A few things. There'll be a Latin current; Marco Ovando, a fantastic cantante-guitarista, will be joining us, I hope to introduce a new latin beat song about the border fence, and there might be some dancing, as well. Second, there--ll be a youth current: Annie (also known as Avalanche) and Patrick, two songwriters under 18, will open the afternoon. Third, I've edited videos for my electronic songs, so we'll have some visual arts mixed in with the afternoon--s music. - Connection newspapers

"Songwriter influenced by world travels"

Edition of June 8, 2007

Songwriter Influenced by World Travels
By Katie Murphy
Observer Staff Writer

Reston resident Peter Maybarduk is a musician, but he considers
himself a "songwriter" more than anything else. He said he is most
concerned with getting his message across to his audience. For him,
his voice and guitar are mediums to convey his art.

His sound is influenced distinctly from rock and Latin American music,
reminiscent of Elliott Smith, Silvio Rodriguez and Morrissey. His
Spanish-style guitar, he said, has a "more square sound and is

As a child, Maybarduk and his family moved around frequently , living
in six countries. He has continued to move around since and said he
learned to play the guitar because it was easy to transport. His
current guitar, which he has had since 1998, has traveled with him to
Venezuela, Cuba, Ghana and all over the United States. His parents
settled back into his childhood home in Reston and in January, he set
up roots there as well.

Maybarduk, who was once a student activist, said both his music and
occupation are an expression of his values. Working in Washington,
D.C., Maybarduk is a nonprofit lawyer that advocates for access to
medicines in foreign countries. He said many of his songs have social
justice themes and focuses. He also incorporates his transient past in
his music. His worldly concerns stem from having lived many years in
developing countries.

Maybarduk recently joined Envelop Records, a local record label, on
which he released "Passengers," which is also his first single on the
LP. He said the song is influenced from his travels, but portrays a
sense of loneliness and isolation that is felt from an ever-changing

He said he uses a metaphor about train passengers to illustrate how
people come and go from our lives just like people enter and exit
trains. He said he feels a lot of people today can relate to this
because people are more mobile than ever. This, he said, creates a
world where it is harder to build enduring relationships.

With 12 original songs, the album, Maybarduk said, becomes more
interesting the more frequently you listen to it. He said there are
messages hidden throughout the CD that listeners would discover. He
also said there are other unique aspects of the CD. For example, he
said, he incorporated noises of the city and blended them for a
melodic sound. Some sounds he recorded include the bells of University
of California at Berkley, the sounds on Alcatraz Island and various
aspects of traffic.

Maybarduk will perform Saturday at the Jasmine Café in the Lake Anne
Village Center in Reston from 7 to 10 p.m. Visit

Copyright (c) 2003 The Herndon Publishing Company - Fairfax County Observer

"Beyond Race Magazine:"

In a proverbial sea of singer songwriters, its easy to blend in, but the latest sophomore album from Peter Maybarduk explores social and political concerns from a refreshingly worldview perspective. Growing up as the son of an American diplomat and social worker in Mexico City, Maybarduk’s musical range echoes his culturally diverse upbringing on No Hay Pueblo Vencido (No Defeated People).

Maybarduk’s lyrics are as honest as they are searing. “To make a Rebel Behave� is an affecting guitar ballad about the subtler side of repressive regimes- striking listeners as feel good music under the influence of something darker- while “Hey Washington� is a poignant political ballad. Think lyrics like “I should hand out blankets to my brother on the mall/ who sleep under names on the Vietnam wall� to electric guitar and Lilith Fair inspired backup vocals. Highlights like the experimental “Simone Bolivar�; with its impressive piano and drum sequence, “Capital for Guns�; with its seductive Spanish guitar and native American flute and the rousing political call to arms “Vencido� showcase Maybarduk’s musical and songsmith ability.

On a slightly critical note, the album’s opener “Darker Days� reflects on the wisdom gained from exposure to real world strife, but the pleasant tone of Maybarduk’s voice clashes with the seemingly grandiose quality of his lyrics, which can sometimes come across as turgid. But overall, Maybarduk’s message is a formidable one, and we can safely assume his musings are symptomatic of something deeper than a ‘holier than thou’ complex. No one said brutally literal, social philosophizing was easy to pull off, but Maybarduk manages just fine.

-Cameron Phillips - Beyond Race Magazine

"Wildy's World: Four Stars for "Vencido""

Peter Maybarduk was born to an American Diplomat and a social worker in Mexico City, and has lived in several Latin American countries as well as in various places across the United States since then. His worldview is strongly influenced by his upbringing, and that worldview comes through loud and clear in Maybarduk's music. His second album, No Hay Pueblo Vencido (No Defeated People), will be self-released on January 20, 2009, and offers a glimpse of that worldview set against varying musical styles, ranging from singer-songwriter style story-songs to electronic/organic rock to punk.

No Hay Pueblo Vencido opens with the poignant Darker Days. Darker Days explores Maybarduk's difficulty living amongst people who's real problems are as superficial as their happiness after living among people who truly struggle to live. The song is a subtle framing of his time in California against his background in Central America and is quite ingeniously written. The musical arrangement has a searching quality to it, as if Maybarduk is trying to find a way to balance the two worlds he knows on his shoulders. Maybarduk explores sampling mixed with organic music on Siddartha, a catchy pop tune with real potential as a dance mix.

To Make A Rebel Behave is a lovely guitar ballad that subtly explains the methods a fascist state might use to enforce what it considers to be appropriate behavior amongst its own people. Dom Helder opens with an urgent energy that turns into an almost early Police-style punk tune. Throughout all of these songs Maybarduk explores the world around him with an eye for how he might change things, or perhaps how he has already tried. There is a confidence in his writing that borders on grandiosity at times. Whether is the sort of grandiosity that is necessary to dream of and exact change or the sort that gets in the way of it is a matter of time and observation, but it does weigh down the album a bit at times.

Hey Washington is perhaps the gem of the album, a smart and inquisitive commentary about government and its failings (and potential). Right behind it (both figuratively and literally) is Caught In A Lie, a frenetically performed soliloquy that could be a man speaking to his potential beloved or a politician speaking to the government or office (s)he seeks. The sense of good will entering in here is similar regardless of the scenario, and Maybarduk doesn't fully clear up the question in the course of the song. Other highlights include Capital For Guns, Sundays and Vencido.

Peter Maybarduk is a talented songwriter. His way with words is notable and allows Maybarduk to explore subject matter than most songwriters may never pursue. Because of his experiences and upbringing, Maybarduk views his role in the world as being larger than one might expect. Whether this is reality or youthful idealism and ego remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Maybarduk works through his music to spread a message about the interconnectedness of life and societies that should be considered by thinking people. No Hay Pueblo Vencido is a stand-out release with something for most everybody. Even if you filter out the messages the music is very entertaining.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World



Forthcoming LP:
No Hay Pueblo Vencido

Songs with radio play include: Passengers, Elizabeth la Paz, The Grid, American June, Siddhartha on his raft, Caught in a Lie, and Quarter Rests.

Go to to hear more.



Born on July 4, 1979, to an American diplomat and a social worker in Mexico City, Maybarduk has since lived and worked in Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Cuba and Venezuela, and across the United States from a last-ditch reform school in rural Maine, to Berkeley, California, where he attended law school and fronted indie rock band Last Clear Chance. In 2007, Maybarduk joined the non-profit advocacy group Essential Action, and now divides his time between music and work in Washington, D.C. and the Global South, helping countries improve access to critical medicines.

In "Darker Days," Maybarduk sings, "I only want to be of use. To protect a people or an idea." Many of his songs wrestle with the challenges of creating both personal and political change.

Maybarduk's sounds range from soft conversations on Spanish guitar ("Sundays") to innovative sample-based compositions ("Siddhartha on his raft") to full-tilt post-punk rock ("Dom Helder Camara"). His live shows blend penetrating lyrics and warm strings with video and performance art, jumping in the crowd with props and instruments or up on tables to dance and sing. Maybarduk self-released his first album, "Passengers," a narrative of introspective songs bridged by field recordings, on New Years of 2007.

Maybarduk will release his second album "No Hay Pueblo Vencido" ("No Defeated People"), produced by indie rock guru J. Robbins, on March 19, 2009. Maybarduk and Robbins have invested months imagining arrangements and calling in established musicians of the mid-Atlantic indie scene to draw out the character of each song. "Vencido" compels as pop, as art, and as statement on living unique possibilities despite oppression.


Peter Maybarduk is influenced and inspired by the works of Silvio Rodriguez, Leonard Cohen, Jawbox (and all things J. Robbins), Dischord Records, Ted Leo, Elliott Smith, Morrissey, Patty Griffin, Joy Division, Appleseed Cast, R.E.M., Mana, Thomas Mapfumo, Billy Bragg, Don Caballero, Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, Johnny Cash, and Ali Primera.