Songbyrd Record Cafe now open in Adams Morgan – Tons of Info and a Peek Inside

2477 18th Street, NW

From a press release:

“Upon opening in D.C. on Friday, April 17th, Songbyrd Record Café will be the first of its kind in the city. Songbyrd is defined by the freedom to enjoy, consume, and interact with music in a comfortable, social environment. In addition, the Adams Morgan cafe houses one of the country’s only 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booths, on which anyone and everyone is encouraged to record their own sounds directly onto a 45-rpm record.

Microphone from Voice-O-Graph. photo: James Jackson

The moniker Songbyrd pays tribute to legendary DC musician, Charlie Byrd. One of the first to blend jazz and bossa nova in the early 60s, he is credited for introducing Americans to Brazilian music with the release his album: Jazz Samba, which was recorded in Washington, D.C. Drenched in musical history, the new café occupies the same space as the former Showboat Lounge, where Byrd and Stan Getz dreamt up the idea for the career making album. To locals, the Showboat Lounge was the “finest” music room in Washington and Sonbyrd hopes to build on that legacy.

photo: James Jackson

Sonbyrd aims to re-imagine a musical destination in which devotees and aficionados can explore, create and purchase music while also enjoying a café atmosphere. With the Voice- O-Graph, artists can record up to three minutes and ten seconds of music, comedy, thoughts, or anything at all and take home their very own “45’” for $15. Ultimately, Songbyrd will offer approximately 350 vinyl records featuring an array of genres with a special emphasis on soul, funk, R&B, hip hop and indie albums that would make the cafe’s namesake proud. Want to discover new music? The café will suggest featured releases and custom digital listening stations will be available to sample albums as well as curated playlists.

Industry vet Alisha Edmonson and fellow audiophile and Adams Morgan resident Joe Lapan are hoping to build a sense of community with the perfect blend of music and food. “Moments in life are defined by music; it is as much a part of the human experience as food,” said Edmonson. “We wanted to create a place that accentuates the listening experience, where music becomes integrated into the very fabric of the meeting with friends, not overpowering it, but not fading into the background either.”

The coffee program plays an essential role in creating the harmonious atmosphere Songbyrd hopes to be known for. Fair trade, organic blend coffee brews from small batch producers in Africa and South America compliment the espresso program powered by a high performance Simonelli machine using a Full City blend, which provides an ample bodied flavor.

To create a mouthwatering menu for audiophiles, Songbyrd tapped Matthew Richardson, former chef of notoriously food-savvy spots in the District area: 1905, The Argonaut and Gadsby’s Tavern. When it first opens, Songbyrd Record Café will serve an assortment of sandwiches including a chicken and brie schnitzel with raspberry sauce, an eight hour braised pork shoulder on sourdough with melted gruyere and red wine au jus, and the roast ‘byrd’ with sage roasted turkey breast, creole mayo, sprouts and cranberry relish on a baguette. The jumbo slice and mumbo slice, open-faced sandwiches on focaccia, serve as Chef’s homage to the evolving neighborhood.

Those who have walked pass the record café will notice that Songbyrd is also working on a “music house” at the adjacent space at 2477 18th Street, N.W. News on plans for that space will follow.

Songbyrd Record Café will be open from 10am-10pm Sunday through Thursday and from 10am-12am on Friday and Saturday.”

17 Comment

  • This sounds like a really cool addition to the neighborhood. They’ve put a lot of attention to detail into this place.

  • Looks great, can’t wait to check it out. Thought the name was a tribute to Eva Cassidy, but Charlie Byrd makes sense.

  • This looks very cool. Can’t wait to check it out.

  • Awesome addition to our neighborhood; it continues Adams Morgan’s good transition that’s taking its strengths as a center of libation, music, and arts to a more refined level, rather than abandoning what the neighborhood is altogether.

    Though, the exterior doesn’t look open with Bob still hanging out overhead. Even if it’s for a separate space, the new place’s name is on both buildings. That said, I like that “BOB” is all that remains of KABOB and will be a little sad to see its quirkiness go.

    • +100, I totally agree about the neighborhood building on its strengths.

      And also love the BOB that remains.

    • My guess is that they intend to keep that quirk, but maybe not.

    • I like the BOB sign too – but i think you guys should eventually get your own sign. You’ve worked hard on this place and people shouldn’t think its half finished because the old sign is still there. Your logo is cool – i hope you do something with that.

  • I went here last night. I fell in love with it. Coffee was good, space was inviting, actually good music was playing, and the music wasn’t so loud that it interfered with the experience. I really hope this place makes it. I look forward to coming in again 🙂

  • Thanks to all, as longtime residents we are thrilled to finally be here. Love the discussion of the “Bob” sign… you are right that this remains of a Kebob joint that never opened… anyone who has dismounted channel letters knows it is tedious and back when we hung temporary signs for Admo Day 2014, “Bob” refused to budge… It has now taken on a little life of its own… Is “Bob” the silent silent partner ala Randall Stevens (points if you get the reference)… Or “What about ‘Bob’?… baby steps to 18th Street, baby steps to the record cafe… anyways, a Bob Bob Bob Bob Bobara Ann and a Bob-Bob Booey to you all!

  • Are they using the downstairs area for anything? As I recall from the District/Federal days, that was a huge lower level.

  • Whew! Just in time for record store day!

  • Was there today. Great vibe, friends had an excellent lunch and I drank some smooth coffee. Let’s watch as the Sonbgbyrd sings and local flavor flourishes.

  • Walked by yesterday and noticed that some of the regular weekday Tryst cyber hobos had already decamped to Songbyrd.

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