The band’s brassy riffs at 15th Street and New York Avenue NW always delight the hordes of tourists heading toward the White House. But the very spot that’s proved so profitable for Spread Love to pull in tips has also earned it the enmity of employees at two major Washington institutions: the Treasury Department and the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Apparently, the economists in charge of our nation’s financial stability and the attorneys who represent many of our country’s corporate high-rollers and white-collar criminal defendants are struggling to focus inside their offices because the band is so loud. They are hearing Spread Love spreading its love too much.
The conflict, which began this spring and was first chronicled by the Above the Law blog, pits two very different slices of Washington against each other: the super-educated strivers working at the upper echelons of government and law against a group of exuberant street buskers who make a living off Mall-bound tourists.
Spread Love plays all over the city — L’Enfant Plaza, Farragut West, George Washington University — but the band’s favorite spots are outside the Farragut North Metro stop and at the corner of 15th Street and New York Avenue NW. Most of the group’s members — who go by stage names like Stixxx, Country and Love Soul — are full-time musicians. They sometimes land paid gigs, too. Earlier this month, the band played a Decatur House barbecue for the White House Historical Association.
One morning this week, five members of Spread Love, a New Orleans-style street band, gathered at one of Washington’s busiest intersections, pulled out four trombones, a drum set and a tips bucket and began playing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”