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Right on Time

With a new national TV show, local producer Michael Holstein shows the world how DC rocks the 9:30 Club.

Local producer Michael Holstein is bringing 12 episodes of Live at 9:30 to PBS this month.

Los Angeles has the Troubadour. New York has The Bowery Ballroom. But according to countless bands, concertgoers and Rolling Stone, those venerable venues cannot match the vibrancy of the 9:30 Club. The 1,200-person den of glorious din provides the most intimate and pulse-quickening live-music experience in America, period. Local television producer Michael Holstein, who has known the magic of 9:30 since he was a teenager at Wootton High School, unveils 12 episodes of Live at 9:30 this month on PBS.

Holstein loves the variety-show format. “We wanted to showcase four or five bands on each episode. I looked to the Saturday Night Live model and flipped the script—we break up the music with comedy.” In addition to hosting eclectic performances each week by the likes of Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo, French-Cuban duo Ibeyi and ethereal rocker Youth Lagoon, each episode will have comedic interludes from Hannibal Buress and Jill Kargman, among others. And to engage the DC filmmaking community, the creators are commissioning 12 three-minute films under the banner of 180 at 9:30.

This is another in a long line of successful projects for Holstein, who was executive producer of Travel Channel’s Trabant Trek and is currently working on Don’t Stop the Music starring Harry Connick Jr. and featuring Paul McCartney and Aretha Franklin. With Live at 9:30, Holstein is also sharing musical memory, old and new. “One of my best experiences at 9:30 was seeing Wilco just after 9/11,” he says. “No one wanted to venture out. The community was scared. But the magic of 9:30 prevailed. It was a cool experience, and everyone was happy to be out on the town—and alive. When the opportunity came to do a show about a place I love, there was no way I wasn’t going to do it.”

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