Travis Morrison has swung some pretty important deals on Craigslist in the past year. He's looked for a dog, considered selling his car and peddled his espresso machine, one of those luxurious, gleaming Rancilio models made in Italy. That's where he found three of his four new bandmates, too.
The details of Morrison's online life, mundane as they may be, are indicative of two important threads in the 34-year-old songwriter's career post-Dismemberment Band, the D.C. dance-punk heroes he founded in 1993 and disbanded a decade later. After The D-Plan called it quits, Morrison moved to Seattle in 2004, recording an unwieldy solo album, Travistan, that winter with members of Death Cab for Cutie before returning to his birthplace that summer. Maybe the experience was a bit unnerving: "I'm not a capital-s songwriter. What draws me is playing with other musicians. I may have little, weird ideas, but generally I just like to get a group of folks together to play."
So, in 2005, Morrison began assembling Travis Morrison Hellfighters, slowly piecing together a band and writing this year's debut, All Y'all. The work of a polymath who speaks easily about John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman's 1963 collaboration, the virtuosity of The Allman Brothers and Miles Davis' On the Corner ensemble, All Y'all finds Morrison throwing himself to new musicians and motifs in earnest. It's a record lined with horns, big beats, guest rappers, slashing guitars, meager laments and Afro-Cuban percussion.
And now Morrison is ready to throw himself to another city. Morrison is moving to New York to live with his fiancée early next year, and that's what he's using Craigslist for now: She's a drip-coffee drinker, he says, and real estate for a machine as big as the Rancilio is precious in New York. He still loves his espresso like he still loves D.C. He's been there his entire life, though, and he admits he's ready for a change of pace.
"If you take away the marble buildings, you're left with a sleepy Southern town on a river," says Morrison of D.C. "But you put the marble back in, and you've got this bizarre thing where you have one of the most important cities in the world laid on top of the other. But life is a lil' slow in these parts."
Travis Morrison Hellfighters play Local 506 Friday, Dec. 7, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-$10.