The Birchmere

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The Birchmere
The marquee (143474674).jpg
The Birchmere marquee, advertising Thomas Dolby in 2006
Address3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.
LocationAlexandria, Virginia
Coordinates38°50′25″N 77°3′41″W / 38.84028°N 77.06139°W / 38.84028; -77.06139Coordinates: 38°50′25″N 77°3′41″W / 38.84028°N 77.06139°W / 38.84028; -77.06139
OwnerGary Oelze
Typeconcert hall
OpenedApril 4, 1966 (1966-04-04)

The Birchmere is a concert hall in Alexandria, Virginia that features rock, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, ethnic, and comedic performers. Its main room seats 500 and provides dinner service, making for an intimate space, with tables only a few feet away from the stage. The location also features a bandstand with a bar and a dance floor.


The Birchmere opened its doors on April 4, 1966 as a restaurant. Music was added in 1975 with a concert space that held up to 200 people. Its original location was 2723 S. Wakefield St. in the Shirlington area of Arlington, Virginia in a strip mall that was later razed. On May 14, 1981, the Birchmere reopened at its second location at 3901 Mt. Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, Virginia in a space that held at least 300 persons.[1] In 1997, the club moved two blocks away to its current location at 3701 Mt. Vernon Avenue.[2] An estimated 13,000 discrete performances have occurred at the music hall.

Notable concerts and recordings[edit]

Ray Charles performed his last concert at the Birchmere on July 20, 2003.. Other important artists who have played the hall include Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, The Seldom Scene, Vince Gill, Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ricky Skaggs, Mickey Newberry, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Arlo Guthrie, Janis Ian, B.B. King, Tom Paxton, John Waters, Merle Haggard, Roseanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Ramsey Lewis, Daryl Davis, Little Ricard, Buddy Guy, John Prine, Glen Campbell, Roger Miller, Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, The Ventures, Paula Poundstone, Chris Hiilman, Johnny Winter, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Mike Nesmith, The Bacon Brothers, Dar Williams, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, Pete and Maura Kennedy, Cleve Francis, Richard Thompson, Eddie From Ohio, Tanya Tucker, Blue Oyster Cult, Bryan Bowers, Herb Alpert, Alvin Lee, and Danny Gatton.

The Johnson Mountain Boys recorded their Live at the Birchmere album on April 5, 1983. The Four Bitchin' Babes recorded two of their live albums, Buy Me, Bring Me, Take Me, Don't Mess My Hair in 1990 and Gabby Road in 1997, at the Birchmere. Riders in the Sky also recorded their live album there. Dave Matthews Band recorded songs from their album Recently at the Birchmere on February 21, 1994.

Plan for expansion[edit]

During the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, a plan was developed to build a second Birchmere site, slated to be an $8 million, 800-seat venue.[3] After years of negotiations, the deal was rejected on July 25, 2007. At the time, Birchmere management claimed that Montgomery County officials breached a contractual agreement with the music venue,[4] but these claims were disputed by the developers and government officials who denied any contractual obligation for development.[3]


  1. ^ Harrington, Richard (May 15, 1981). "Pop Notes". Washington Post. ProQuest 147293663.
  2. ^ Masters, Brooke A. (September 18, 1997). "Musical Institution Sounds a New Note: Birchmere Expands Into a Shiny New Club With Added Attraction". Washington Post. ProQuest 1456173573.
  3. ^ a b Killian, Erin (July 25, 2007). "Birchmere cancels plans in Silver Spring". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  4. ^ McKenna, Dave (July 25, 2007). "Birchmere Deal Falls Through". Washington City Paper. Retrieved October 29, 2010.