- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

Andrew Goldstein doesn’t spend much time at home anymore. A native of Reston, Va., he is lead singer of the Friday Night Boys, a pop/punk combo that spent the bulk of this year traveling the world.

“We just came back from Europe,” he says from Florida, where he’s spending part of his holiday break with his parents. “We played in England, Ireland, Scotland. … Now we have a little less than a month off before we head out again, this time for a headlining tour of the East Coast and Midwest.”

Things haven’t always been so busy. Two years ago, Mr. Goldstein was a psychology major at James Madison University in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He planned on attending graduate school in the near future. He also rehearsed with the Friday Night Boys, but the band rarely performed in public.

“We weren’t really focused on playing live shows,” he says of the group. “It was more of an online thing. We were spreading our music through MySpace, Facebook and iTunes, and we’d play once every two months or so.”

The Friday Night Boys began attracting a healthy following on the Internet. Some of the fans knew Mr. Goldstein from his former band, My Favorite Highway, and wanted to hear his new project. Others stumbled across the group by accident and quickly warmed up to the spunky, anthemic songs. As time passed, the Friday Night Boys began turning their online popularity into digital sales.

“During the last few months of college, we began getting good iTunes traffic,” says the singer, who used the money to pay his grocery bills. “I had been planning on going to graduate school… but I realized that could definitely wait.”

With the rest of his band mates, Mr. Goldstein signed a record contract in August 2008 and quickly finished his course work, graduating from JMU one semester early. Early the following year, while his former classmates began their spring classes, he traveled to California to work on the band’s first album.

“Off the Deep End” was released in June 2009. It featured a tuneful compromise between the band’s punk-influenced energy and the veteran production of Emanuel Kiriakou, whose resume includes high-caliber names including Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks and the Backstreet Boys.

“He works mainly with pop artists,” Mr. Goldstein says of the producer. “He never really worked with a band before, so that brought a new mind-set to the album.”

Since the album’s release, the Friday Night Boys have become touring professionals. They’ll play the 9:30 Club this weekend with My Favorite Highway, Mr. Goldstein’s former band, and a full headlining tour awaits just around the corner.

For Mr. Goldstein, a man who once relied on computers to attract new fans, the road is both an exciting and challenging place.

“You’re working really hard,” he says of the lifestyle. “You drive between four and eight hours every night, and during the day, you have to go out and talk to fans, perform, sign things … You have to act like you woke up in your own bed that morning and came to the show after a good night’s sleep. But it’s really cool going out there and meeting new people every single day.

“It keeps your energy up. It keeps you alive. To see these kids who are superexcited and just want to talk to you — it turns your day around.”

The Friday Night Boys co-headline the 9:30 Club on Sunday. Tickets are $15, and doors open at 7 p.m.

Holiday concerts

• Regional groups have visited the National Christmas Tree to perform holiday songs every evening since it was lit earlier this month. The fun wraps up on Wednesday with a recital by the Strathmore Elementary School Chorus. Ensembles from Annandale, Va., and southeastern Michigan also will perform that final evening. For a full schedule, search for “National Christmas Tree” on the National Park Service’s Web site at www.nps.gov.

• Who said the Rockettes are a New York tradition only? The group is leaving its longtime headquarters at Radio City Music Hall and heading to the Verizon Center for two shows Friday and Sunday and three shows Saturday. The performances include Christmas imagery, family-friendly dance routines and the group’s signature high kicks.

• Those looking for more sacred music should head to the National Cathedral on Saturday, when the Cathedral Choirs will lead a music-filled service starting at 6 p.m. The event, “Carols by Candlelight,” will repeat on Sunday at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, an organ recital is planned for 5:15 p.m. on Christmas Day.

• Touring bands are scarce this time of year, but several venues will keep their doors open for concerts. The a cappella group Straight No Chase visits the Birchmere on Monday and Tuesday for two sold-out performances, while songwriter Eric Hutchinson brings his soulful pop songs to Jammin’ Java on Sunday. The acoustic performance marks Mr. Hutchinson’s final show until next April, when he travels to Australia as Kelly Clarkson’s supporting act.

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