Inside D.C. punk legend Ian MacKaye’s surprise 50th birthday party

Amy Farina, Ian MacKaye's wife, cuts the first of the 50 7-inch birthday cakes. (Courtesy Photo)
Ian MacKaye greets well-wishers at his surprise 50th birthday party. (Courtesy of Mina Devadas)
DC punk rock originals John Stabb and Danny Ingram were among the invited guests. (Courtesy of Mina Devadas)
Friends and former band mates of Ian MacKaye performed at his surprise 50th birthday (Courtesy of Tom Berard)
Ian Svenonius took a turn spinning music, as Ian MacKaye greets a guest (in background). (Courtesy of Tom Berard)
Ian Svenonius, who has put out several albums on Dischord Records, performed at Ian MacKaye's surprise 50th birthday party. (Courtesy Photo)
Some of the music played at the birthday party. (Courtesy Photo)

Neal Augenstein,

WASHINGTON – While Washington journalists and A-list celebrities including Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian were primping, tweeting, and writing about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a far more exclusive gathering took place – a surprise 50th birthday party for D.C. hardcore punk pioneer Ian MacKaye.

MacKaye was the frontman for the influential punk bands Minor Threat and Fugazi, and co-founded Dischord Records in 1980.

The party was thrown Saturday night by Amy Farina – MacKaye’s wife and bandmate in The Evens, and Jeff Nelson – MacKaye’s former bandmate in Minor Threat and co-owner of Dischord.

“It was a heavily guarded secret,” reports one invitee.

The emailed invite requested guests not bring presents for MacKaye, who throughout his career has insisted on low prices for his bands’ concerts and records.

“Ian was totally blown away,” says an insider. “He arrived with his two year old son on his shoulders, and was clearly surprised.”

At the Saint Stephen & Incarnation Church in Columbia Heights, MacKaye’s sister Amanda checked guests in, with a red rubber stamp that said Ian.

Vegetarian snacks were served, with soft drinks. MacKaye famously doesn’t drink, and has been a vegan for years – all part of the life philosophy he explained in the Minor Threat song “Straight Edge.”

“They’d prepared 50 cakes for Ian – each the size of a 7-inch record,” says the insider. 7-inch records were the format of MacKaye’s bands’ first releases.

Guests included fellow musicians and members of the 70s and 80s punk scene, many who hadn’t seen each other in more than 20 years.

A DJ played music for guests until MacKaye’s arrival. Bands performing included MacKaye’s brother Alec and Minor Threat guitarist and bassist Brian Baker and Brendan Canty, who played with MacKaye in Fugazi.

“Ian was circulating. He was putting his arm around people, thanking them for coming,” says one guest.

“It was like all the D.C. punks paying tribute to the Don Corleone of the D.C. scene,” says another attendee.

“Amazing feast, music, and conversation,” enthused attendee and musician John Stabb wrote on his Facebook page.

MacKaye did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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