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Posted at 6:17 PM ET, 02/17/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Call it Carnival, Karneval or Mardi Gras, but there's a whole lot of celebrating going on this week, as the spirits of Rio, New Orleans, Germany and Trinidad and Tobago descend on D.C. for crazy parties. We've also got news of a couple of DJs celebrating birthdays with big blowouts, and you pick up presents like free admission or free beer. Then there's a date auction, great live jazz, the Modernist Society, DJ John Tejada, bhangra beats, happy hours and more.

DJ Jesse Tittsworth celebrates his birthday with a special gig at Ibiza -- and you're invited to skip the cover charge. (Carleton Hall)

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Feb. 18
A lot of times we get questions in Got Plans? that ask us very general questions about jazz. As in, "Where can I go to hear some jazz?" One of the places we often recommend is Twins Jazz, because it's far less expensive than Blues Alley (what isn't?), it offers a cozy atmosphere and it often features good music with a broad appeal for those who are just looking to spend an evening in a jazz club. Tonight is not one of those nights. Tonight will be a far different experience. That's because Chromatic Mysteries will be taking over the little U Street club, and things are bound to get wacky. The centerpiece of the band is Marshall Allen, who for more than 40 years led the reed section of the otherworldly Sun Ra Arkestra. Pretty much all avant-garde, out-there music with any sort of jazz bent can be connected to Allen in one of those Kevin Bacon ways. (You cannot however, connect the Bacon Brothers to Sun Ra.) Joining Allen in this new venture are Philadelphia multi-instrumental whiz Elliott Levin, the flowingest flutist this side of Ron Burgundy; Michael Gibbons of indie-noisehounds Bardo Pound; and Scott Verrastro, former host of the city's best house show venue and percussionist in Kohoutek. It will be a some sort of evening, for sure. But probably not one for the "my parents are in town and would like a low-key jazz club" crowd.

Maybe it's not right to say this here in D.C., but is it possible that Jawbox was only the second best indie/alt-rock band of the '90s with a name that started with the letters J-a-w-b? Hey, that's for you to decide-- we're just throwing it out there. Why do we always find the need to tear something down just to build something up? Why must it be a zero-sum game? Shouldn't our therapists have found a solution for that by now? In any case, the "other" band in question is Jawbreaker, a San Francisco punk/pop-punk/(pre-eyeliner) emo band that made us want to pogo in all the right ways. The band was led by Blake Schwarzenbach and while his next band, Jets to Brazil, was a tad too emo for us, but that was then. It barely even registers on the "too emo" scale now. Schwarzenbach is the featured guest at the latest edition of Bourbon's Modernist Society, so you can ask him about his career as a musician (and as a literature professor) and how he feels about the best "j-a-w-b" band debate. DJs D-Mac and Neville C will provide the usual good tunes.

We love a good date auction for charity. The chance at love, the promise of a fun evening out, amusing/embarrassing moments -- all to help a good cause. Tonight's Charity Date Auction at Grand Central will see 20 singles auctioned off, with date packages ranging from trapeze lessons to an after-dark monument tour with a nightcap at a private table at the Shadow Room. (Get a preview of the auctionees at In addition to the bidding, the event features a raffle for a Marc Jacobs Classic Stella messenger bag (retail value over $1,000), and a silent auction that includes items like box seats to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Gala with Lang Lang at Carnegie Hall and a private jet trip to Las Vegas. Admission is $25, which includes one raffle ticket and a drink. All money raised this evening goes to help Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care Inc., a nonprofit that helps local children living with HIV and AIDS.

Thursday, Feb. 19
Mark de Clive-Lowe (listen) came up in his native New Zealand playing straight-ahead jazz, a path that led the keyboardist and producer to the top of the future soul and nu jazz movements. Whether it was fanning the fires of London's broken beat scene with his synth bass lines and drum machine prowess or introducing classic artists like Shirley Horn to dance floors with a deft remixing touch, "Mashi," as he is also known, has generated a vast discography of must-own records. His live shows are even more exciting than his studio productions, as he completely improvises his set from a battery of synths, vintage keyboards, a sampler and effects boxes, building the beats from scratch on stage. The one-man band is finishing up a world tour at Bohemian Caverns tonight, accompanied by London vocalist Vanessa Freeman.

Rio's legendary Carnival kicks off this weekend with parades, balls, street parties and concerts, all featuring elaborate costumes and as much partying as humanly possible before Fat Tuesday. While there's no substitute for seeing the Samba Parade or dancing all night in Ipanema, you can get a taste of the music tonight at Cafe Saint-Ex's Brazilian Rhythms, where DJ Neal Becton's sets of Carnival favorites should make one of our favorite dance parties just that much hotter.

If we tried to list all the major festivals where DJ John Tejada has been featured over the last decade, or run down the number of remixes the Austrian-born techno DJ has completed, or just tell you about the pure magic on his brand-new Fabric compilation CD, well, you'd see that he's got one of the better resumes around. So seeing Tejada at Muse, the intimate club-meets-lounge in Penn Quarter, should be quite the experience. Just pop over to his MySpace page and take a listen to tracks like "The End of It All" or "Panorama." Tejada has a gift for composing tracks -- not just throwing some samples together over a percussion loop. (His parents are classical musicians.) "The End of It All" is a techno track that's chilled-out enough for office headphone listening but it also sounds fantastic blasting out of Muse's speakers. And like all Swirl nights at Muse, there's a relaxed dress code (stylish, not athletic) and a minimal $10 cover. Throw in half-price drinks until 10, and you've got the makings of a great night. (Note: If you can't make it out tonight, Tejada will be spinning at Loda on Friday night.)

There's a new administration in town, and to celebrate, Bossa hosting the first meeting of the U.S. Department of Bhangra tonight in its upstairs lounge. DJs Beta-G and Miss Modular will be joined by guests Triobelisk and DNF of Swedish Columbia for an all-night celebration of Indian dance music. It's free, and it should be a blast.

Friday, Feb. 20
Brazil's not the only country hosting Carnival this week -- there's international flavor all over town. Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival kicks off Monday with parades and musical competitions. Celebrate at Zanibar tonight, where "Push Yuh Bumper" sees DJs Majestic, Shiloh International and Spyda the DJ blasting the soca and calypso hits. Ladies get in free before 11; everyone pays $10 before midnight. (The price ominously goes up to "more later," so we'd suggest early arrival. Doors open at 9.

In Germany, meanwhile, the Karneval season is hitting fever pitch, with parades, street concerts, fancy costumes and (of course) plenty of drinking before Ash Wednesday. While tonight's Black Tie Karneval Celebration at the Germany Embassy probably won't be as crazy as a night in Cologne, it includes everything you need for a great night out: live music, dancing, a DJ and plenty of German food and beer. Fancy dress -- either costumes or formal wear -- is requested.

John Tejada at Loda (see Thursday listing)

Saturday, Feb. 21
On Inauguration night at Bohemian Caverns, David had an increasingly rare experience. A band took that stage at Brightest Young Thing's all-night (and day) soiree and he had absolutely no clue who they were. It was a three-piece band that played moody, minimal songs that still had hooks, melody and quirkiness. The vibe was laid-back but not lazy; the songs moved at their own slow speed because that's just the kind of songs they were. After the band's set, David asked someone "in the know" who they were and was told: the Laughing Man. And maybe it was all the vodka talking (er, slurring) but he was all, "Man, they were really, really good!" And he went and listened to the songs on their MySpace page and they actually were good. And now you can see for yourself when the band plays tonight at launch party for the third issue of Panda Head magazine. They have good taste in booking bands, so that's a plus. That party's free, and it's at Comet Ping Pong.

Known for letting the monkeys out when he rips through electro, club and hip-hop sets on his many tours, Tittsworth will really be able to go full silverback gorilla on Ibiza's big room sound system tonight for his birthday bash. Gavin Holland will be riding shotgun in dropping of all manner of inappropriate jams. Get that free-before-midnight action by signing up for the list and printing out passes from

Itching to get a jump on Mardi Gras? Probably a good idea, especially if you can't take next Wednesday off. You might need a day or two to recover from Mardi Gras Madness at the Front Page, where Dewey favorites Love Seed Mama Jump will be playing party hits around sets from Playboy Magazine-approved DJ Kay Jay. Expect the usual bead contests, feathered masks for the first 200 people through the door and a cover charge that starts at $5 at 9 p.m. and rises steadily throughout the night.

If you've ever been to one of the Garutachi parties around town -- and if you're a fan of dance-punk and electro, you probably have -- you may have met hosts Ca$$idy and Coby. The two ladies celebrated their birthdays this month, so they're buying you Red Stripe at the Rock and Roll Hotel tonight. Jamaica's favorite beer is free until midnight, so make sure you take a minute from dancing to wander over to the DJ booth to wish Ca$$idy a happy birthday. There's no cover all night.

At 23, Maimouna Youssef (listen) has long been identified with a voice beyond her years, probably because she's been immersed in jazz, musical theater and indigenous singing styles since she was in elementary school. One of the Baltimore soul scene's most significant jewels, she was exposed to a wider audience on The Roots' "Don't Feel Right" from the 2006 album "Game Theory." Because of her influences and wide range of professional collaborations, she can switch fluidly between jazz vocal styling, antebellum field hollers and hip-hop emceeing. Youssef joins Akua Kyerematin and C. Love for Hot Buttered Soul at Mirrors tonight.

We were pretty upset when Chick Hall's Surf Club got sold a year or so ago, because we thought that marked the end of one of the last true roadhouses in the area. But besides a name change to Surf Club Live, the Hyattsville spot is still serving up the best retro rock delights in the area. Tonight's Winter Rock and Roll Party is headlined by rockabilly siren Marti Brom, a singer with a captivating voice with just the right amount of twang and heartbreak to give songs like "Unproclaimed Love" and "My Baby's Gone" the proper authority. Tonight she'll be backed be a variety of musicians, including local rockabilly stalwarts J.P. McDermott and Billy Hancock. Garage rockers the Hall Monitors will also take the stage for guitarist Ginger Richards' final show with the band.

Monday, Feb. 23
Local singer-songwriter-sadsack Sad Crocodile likes to do the monthlies. Maybe it's because he's so sad he can only get himself out of the house (er, shallow pond?) once a month. Maybe it's because he likes strict scheduling. Maybe he just likes finding a different person to play with on a regular basis. After a successful run at Galaxy Hut a few months ago, Croc is taking over Solly's once a month for a little singer-songwriter showcase where he can share his tales of woe. Joining him tonight will be Marty Royle who hasn't been heard from too much lately after he called it quits as frontman for one of the area's most popular rock bands, Washington Social Club. So this is your chance to hear what he's been working on and maybe try to cheer up that poor, Sad Crocodile.

While there are plenty of debaucherous parties going on this week, there are others that seem far more laid-back. Acadiana, for example, is hosting a special Mardi Gras happy hour on Monday and Tuesday that focuses on New Orleans drinks -- the Hurricane, the Pimms Cup, Dark and Stormy and Bourbon Lemonade -- for $5 each. (Of them all, we'd suggest the Category Five, which mixes several rums into a sippin' drink that will blow you away.) A special menu of "New Orleans Street Fare," including sliders and crawfish bread, is available for $2 to $5. Specials are offered at the bar between 5:30 and 10:30.

Tuesday, Feb. 24
The Bourbon Street Bash has hopped venues over the years, but it's never lost sight of its original premise: People like getting drunk, dancing and collecting beads. The evening starts at 4 p.m. with $1 Miller Lites, which shoot up to $2 between 5 and 10. Need something stronger? Try $3 Hurricanes all night long. Rumors will have masks and piles of plastic beads -- veterans bring their own -- plus gumbo and red beans and rice when you need to fill up. Local funk band Higher Hands provides live music, and DJs spin dance tunes. Throw in a Cajun wing-eating contest and a $100 prize for the woman who collects the most beads, and you've got everything you need for an imaginary trip down to Bourbon Street.

Mardi Gras Happy Hour at Acadiana (see Monday listing)

--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | February 17, 2009; 6:17 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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so where is the Mardi Gras party on Tuesday? Acadiana?

Posted by: rundc | February 17, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Booooooring. BWI to MSY is like $150. Make the trip.

Posted by: sgurd0187 | February 18, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for acknowledging the 'bigness' of John Tejada coming to town. FWIW, he will NOT be spinning on Friday but playing a LIVE set at LODA. Thursday and Friday offer a special opportunity to hear the artistry of one of the worlds top electronic music producers.

Posted by: davidfogel | February 19, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Bees Knees monthly dj party @ Velvet Lounge is the best. Rock, soul, punk, garage and so on ... on V street between 9th and Vermont/10th street

Photos of Bees Knees past:

Holloween >

Not halloween >

Posted by: SexyFitsum | February 19, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Opps. Bees Knees is tonight (Thursday)

Posted by: SexyFitsum | February 19, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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