Celebrate Bob Marley's birthday with one of the Wailers, hear one of Animal Collective DJ, dance to grooves from New York godfather Timmy Regisford, listen to one of today's finest indie-pop bands, sample French wines, hit a happy hour for charity or get down to one of the country's foremost experts on soul and funk music.
Wednesday, Feb. 4
Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion" is getting rave reviews -- it's the highest-scoring album of 2009 so far, according to Metacritic -- and as David described it on Post Rock the other day, "yes-it's-really-that-good (in-fact-it's-even-better)." The CD is an experimental, thickly textured exploration of rhythm and melody and grooves that transcends labels like "freak folk," "indie rock" or even "dance music." Get a look at the roots of the album tonight when the Collective's "sound manipulator" Geologist is a special guest at Fuzz at Cafe Saint-Ex. "He's sat in with us before," says Fuzz founding DJ Neal Becton, "and played a mix of psychedelia, weird electronic stuff, folk and rock." Sounds about right. Admission is free, the music starts at 10.
Terps score big with Bob Marley's Birthday Bash at Santa Fe Cafe tonight, which has had a much more ambitious live show calendar than we remember from our UMCP days. What is usually a cauldron of newly legal drinking and carousing will be transformed for one evening into a outpost of roots and culture. And it won't be from a middling-to-decent reggae cover band, but from Wailers member Junior Marvin, whose guitar first backed Marley on the timeless "Exodus" album, among others.
Thursday, Feb. 5
When Fritz wrote about the Alliance Francaise's Soiree Carte Blanche happy hours last year, the organizers told him they hoped to get out of bars and galleries and start taking the cultural gatherings to new and different venues. Well, they've succeeded. The first gathering of 2009 is taking place at Georgetown's historic Grace Church. It's a mix of the usual Carte Blanche accoutrements -- an iPod DJ battle, screenings of French movies and videos -- plus a performance in the church sanctuary by baritone Chris Jones, who currently sings with the Washington Bach Consort and has appeared in the chorus of the Washington National Opera this season. Admission is $12, which includes food; wine and beer come from a cash bar.
Compilations always seem better in theory than in practice. And it makes perfect sense -- what band wants to write a great song and then not use it on its own album? But the compilations released by the Red Hot Organization, an AIDS relief group, tend to be the exception to the rule. Tom Waits, David Byrne, U2 and Neneh Cherry were among those who covered Cole Porter songs on "Red Hot + Blue," the group's first all-proceeds-to-charity album, that came out in 1990. It was obviously 1990 because Neneh Cherry was on it. 1993's "No Alternative" was perhaps the definitive alt-rock-comp of that decade (and is now perhaps the most commonly found album in the cut-out bin in used CD stores), and Nirvana's "Verse Chorus Verse" directly contradicts the opening of this blurb because that is certainly one of Kurt Cobain's finest moments. Since then there was "America Is Dying Slowly," a foray into hip-hop, "Red Hot + Latin" (guess which genre) and "Red Hot + Riot: The Music and Spirit of Fela Kuti," among others. The latest installment is the double-disc "Dark Was the Night," which features pretty much every band that has its own tag on BrooklynVegan. You've got your Bon Iver, your Grizzly Bear, your Sufjan Stevens. You've got your Arcade Fire, your Andrew Bird, your Decemberists. It's an all-star lineup, and you can hear all 32 of the exclusive tracks two weeks before the album is released by illegally downloading it on your favorite file-sharing network. Whoops, I mean by heading to Marvin for the official D.C. listening party, sponsored by record label 4AD and BrightestYoungThings.com.
Friday, Feb. 6
Snow, sleet, ice. You need a reason to get out of bed in the morning? How about this: Beach season is only 100 days away (give or take). Dewey Beach's Starboard comes to Ballston tonight for the Front Page's annual "100 Days to Dewey Party." DJ Smoky, who's provided the soundtrack to too many late nights of debauchery, spins the tunes, and the Starboard Elvis will even drop by. Show up early for Dewey trivia, stick around all night for all-night drink specials. Doors open at 5.
Mr. Fine Wine is one of Fritz's favorite soul DJs in the U.S., even though he's never seen him spin live. You see, for the past 15 years, Mr. Fine Wine has hosted the weekly "Downtown Soulville" program on WFMU, the cult free-form station that broadcasts out of Jersey City, N.J. It used to be a special treat to hear Mr. Fine Wine spin from his huge collection of 45s, but with the show streaming on wfmu.org every Friday, it's possible to discover tracks by the Sticks of Dynamite, the Jay Cee's and Sextette Unlimited each week. (Listen to recent shows here.) Tonight, though, Mr. Fine Wine -- nee Matt Weingarden -- is venturing down to D.C. to guest at Moneytown at Dahlak, where he and resident DJ Nitekrawler will make the walls shake with vintage funk and soul records. As always, there's no cover.
This month's installment of Marquis, a Red Lounge event featuring some of the most adventurous-but-danceable electronic sounds the city has to offer, is a multi-record release extravaganza. Shelby Cinca, whom you know and love from bands such as Frodus and the Cassettes, is set to release "EP1," under his Triobelisk moniker. Don't worry, the music is more exciting than the EP title. Outputmessage proved to be one of the best electronic artists in town with last year's "Resurface" EP, which was both more intelligent and more dancey than most stuff that gets the IDM tag. "Resurface Remixed" gets brought into the world tonight, the first of many promised Outputmessage releases this year. Also joining in on the fun are Jonathan Kreinik, a New York-based performer/producer who has helmed recordings for the likes of Trans Am, !!! and the Make-Up, and Marquis regular Micah Vellain.
Saturday, Feb. 7
Ever since the days when modern dance music emerged from early marriages of disco, new wave and jazz fusion, Timmy Regisford (listen) has had a steady guiding hand on its evolution. The "soulful" sound that marries jazzy song structure and Afro-Latin rhythms to the house pulse is one of many developments bearing Regisford's influence. And the biggest brand associated with Regisford is New York's Shelter nightclub, where marathon sets start in the evening and carry over to the next afternoon, fueled by an awe-inspiring sound system. For 18 years, the Shelter has been a pilgrimage site for serious devotees to immerse themselves in a night with "The Maestro." Outside of anniversary parties in Miami for Winter Music Conference, the Shelter experience is generally limited to New York, so tonight's special appearance by Regisford at the Trinidad and Tobago Association will be a milestone night in D.C. Chris Burns and the Everybody Loves Music crew are going big, following on the success of the Hometown Heroes series, and they also aim to bring different scenes together. The rare vinyl and deep funk Fatback crew will be holding down the basement.
Help a charity, dance like crazy, have some good beer and win tickets to a concert or basketball game. Sold? Good. The annual Winter ONEderland is taking over R.F.D. Washington's back room tonight to raise money for Girls for a Change, a national program that offers leadership training and mentoring to teenage girls. A $10 donation at the door gets you in for dancing to DJ Cuzzin B of True School fame, who will be laying down hip-hop, top 40 and reggae beats. Everyone has a chance to win Wizards and Talib Kweli tickets, movie passes, dessert from Ben and Jerry's and a number of other prizes. Doors open at 10 -- please use the entrance on 8th street between H and I, not the bar's front entrance.
Serious dancers and traditionalists tend to like their salsa raw and energetic, or salsa dura. Others prefer the love focused, smoothed out balladry of salsa romántica. Representing Puerto Rico with four decades of singing and multiple Grammy nods under his belt, Eddie Santiago (listen) should be able be able to unite Washington's Latin dance community at the Salsa Room tonight with his commercial hits and his classics.
Like those "Prince vs. ____" dance parties, we're suckers for "country vs. country" wine tastings. They're usually good chances to put aside preconceived notions about what you've had before and discover new grapes and flavors that you might otherwise pass up. More importantly, you can compare and contrast and learn, which is what wine tasting is really all about. Tonight at Veritas, it's "France vs. the World," which is something of a warhorse but always an entertaining topic. Six wines are on the menu, paired with cheese and a discussion of the laws governing producers in Bordeaux and the Rhone valley. Tickets are $40, and the class runs from 5 to 7. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to reserve a space.
Monday, Feb. 9
Indie-pop fans aren't fickle. They don't want bands to reinvent the wheel. They just want some shimmering guitars, reverb on the vocals, pitter-patter drums and cooing vocals. It's been a formula that has worked just fine since bands like the Pastels, Shop Assistants and the Wedding Present brought the genre into existence nearly 25 years ago. And with its self-titled debut, New York's the Pains of Being Pure at Heart (listen) prove to be one of the best at carrying on that tradition. It's no surprise that the album comes out on the recently resurrected Slumberland Records; if anyone has the ear for perfect indie-pop, it's Mike Slumberland. (Nope, not his real name!) Unlike Passion Pit, this show won't sell out the backstage and be forced to move upstairs. But that makes sense. It's indie-pop -- forget about Next Big Thing. Same Old Awesome Thing is just fine.
--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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