Thursday, March 19
Glow, the city's best night of trance and techno, is usually held on Saturday nights at Fur, but when the guy who's topped DJ Magazine's Best DJ in the World poll for two years running wants to pop into town, you make an exception. The 32-year-old Dutch trance master Armin Van Buuren (listen) has been in the top five of the magazine's prestigious poll since 2002, while releasing CDs of original music, creating remixes for others and hosting a weekly radio show called "A State of Trance" that's recorded in the Netherlands and syndicated across the globe. Van Buuren will be spinning for five hours tonight at Fur with no opening act. Doors open at 10. Arrive early (and purchase tickets in advance) to make sure you get to hear his whole set of pulsing, melodic beats.
Jazz, hip-hop and soul artists who are generations removed from U Street's historical days create memories in Bohemian Caverns. And sometimes performers who inspire the current scene stop by to recreate the magic of times gone by. Tonight the Caverns welcomes Ron Carter (listen), possibly the most widely recognized jazz bassist in history. Many in our generation first got hip when he added some low end theory of his own to A Tribe Called Quest's "Verses From The Abstract," but over his 45-year career, Carter has played with everyone from Miles Davis to James Brown. His 2000+ recordings are a testament to the versatility that can be pulled out of an acoustic, upright bass, even as various trends in jazz moved away from that sound. You'll have six chances to experience Carter; he's playing two sets a night this Friday through Sunday.
Motown Records recently marked its 50th anniversary. How better to fete this grand chapter in the ongoing history of soul music then to spend all night dancing to tunes from that mammoth catalog? DJ Adrian Loving, DJ Jahsonic and music writer John Murph team up as selectors tonight for Marvin Celebrates Motown at Marvin tonight.
Maybe this absinthe fad has more legs than we thought. Bartenders across town are still using the once illegal, still-fabled alcohol in potent cocktails. Bottles of the Green Fairy continue to pop up on shelves behind dive bars as well as upscale lounges. And yet many people haven't given absinthe a fair shake. Perhaps it's the lingering rumors that the anise-flavored spirit can make you go mad (like famous absinthe drinkers Van Gogh, Rimbaud or Toulouse-Lautrec ) or that it's hallucinogenic (not true). Whatever the case, you should at least give it a try. Tonight at Morton's in Georgetown, the Green Hour offers a history lesson, a demonstration of the proper way to prepare a glass of absinthe and a tasting of new cocktails. (They're accompanied by hors d'oeuvres, because you shouldn't drink on an empty stomach.) All-inclusive tickets are $45. Reservations can be made on the Morton's Web site.
Thanks to the Internet, there's not too much mystery involved in ... anything anymore. It used to be that you could go to a show and not even know what the singer of the band looked like! Now you can read the band's blog and know which rest stop they got a Cinnabon at on the way to the show. But if you imagine back to those olden days Richard Buckner (listen) is one of those performers who wouldn't have let you down when you finally saw him in person. The rough-throated folk troubadour looks every bit the mountain man as he sounds, a hulking figure usually wearing a big, plaid shirt who always seems in a deep trance when he's playing guitar and singing on stage. He's been making regular stops at Iota for almost as long as the Arlington club has been open, but tonight's will be one to check out. Instead of touring in support of a new album, Buckner is touring in support of a trio of reissues that feature some of his best work. "Bloomed," the 1994 album that established him as a songwriter to watch, is his best work, showcasing his intense lyrical/vocal combination and old-fashioned, folk-country songcraft. "The Hill" is the most unique album in his discography; the lyrics are taken from Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Anthology," a collection of noir character studies perfectly suited for Buckner. OK, so "Impasse" from 2002 isn't quite on the same level as those other two, but tonight's set list is still bound to appeal to fans old and new.
It seems like we can't go a week without a happy hour for a good cause. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society teams up with Barefoot wines from 7 to 10 tonight at Lotus Lounge to raise money to help fight blood diseases. The $20 donation to enter Toast Barefoot -- which goes to charity -- gets you one free cocktail with Barefoot's sparkling wine, and then half-price cocktails and $4 wines, beers and mixed drinks. DJ Danny Harris, who spins great funk and soul music at the monthly Fatback party, provides the entertainment.
Friday, March 20
Winter Music Conference is a yearly gathering in Miami of the biggest talents in electronic music and the fans who follow them. If you can't get away to sunny South Beach next week, there are some happenings in our own backyard that can get you pretty close -- without the beach part, of course. Loda consistently brings together the best local and international talent at Gallery in Silver Spring. For tonight's Forward event -- part of a weekend electronica mini-festival -- they're upping the ante. With bedrock support from DMV mainstays Aaron Sparks, Joe L. and Baltimore guest LoveGrove, Forward features two spaces with eight DJs covering the tempo and style spectrums from downtempo to techno. The main event is Jeremy "Ayro" Ellis (listen), a Detroit funk and jazz musician who transferred his keyboard chops to digital beat manipulation. This one-man band creates tracks live on stage with keyboards and drum machines, similar to Mark de Clive-Lowe and others, except Ellis also sings on all of his own tunes.
Saturday, March 21
For another proxy for Miami action, check out Saturday Soul Sessions at Almaz tonight. With its hard wood dance floor, exposed brick and subdued lighting, the upstairs room at Almaz is nicely appointed for the vibe of a proper soulful house party. Resident Louis P. regularly teams up with the big names to give dancers a serious workout. Tonight's guest is Josh Milan (listen), the voice of the production duo Blaze. His anthems take the emotion of gospel and the songcraft of soul music and apply them to the dance floor. Known for his soaring tenor that fueled hits like "Wishing You Were Here" and "Found Love," Milan also drops plates on the decks.
Is there a fez gathering dust in your closet? Looking for an excuse not to shave for a few days? Have an old Hercule Poirot costume you never get to wear anymore? Sounds like you need to head to the annual Fez and Mustache Party at the Looking Glass Lounge tonight. Yes, it's a silly conceit for an throwdown, but it is an epic time. As Fritz told you in Free & Easy this week: DJs Jason Seymour and Rebelzero spin "Romani rock, twisted klezmer, Slavic soul and Balkan beats." To help get guests in the mood, free (fake) moustaches will be available for a limited time at the door, and bartenders will be pouring samples of Sobieski vodka, a premium adult beverage from Poland. Best of all: There's no cover charge.
Tuesday, March 24
Last June, David went to DC9 to check out a San Diego band called the Muslims. They played 40 minutes of brash, swaggering rock-and-roll: music that appeals to the lower half of the body, from the hips on down. It would be an understatement to say the sound is a whole lot like the Strokes, from chugging guitars to singer Matt Lamkin's slightly nasal, disaffected vocals. In 2003 this might have been annoying, but in 2008 it was actually refreshing. Now we need more bands who sound like the Strokes and share their ability to write a concise and catchy song. There hasn't been much news on the Muslims front lately, because the band gave in and changed its name to the Soft Pack (listen). It was bound to happen sooner or later, so they may as well get it out of the way before they get too popular. And that could start to happen soon, as the Soft Pack scored a slot on the NME Tour, which visits the Black Cat tonight. Brits White Lies (listen) are appropriate headliners, an NME flavor-of-the-month and not much more, while Friendly Fires (listen) play the kind of euphoric synth-rock that would probably appeal to MGMT fans. So basically, you want to get to this show early and maybe try to talk to the nice person at the ticket booth into letting you buy a discounted ticket since you'll only be staying for the first band. (Note: Don't actually try this.)
So after you've seen the Soft Pack, think about walking a few blocks down U Street to the Velvet Lounge for some grimy, garage rock excellence. Pinche Gringo (listen) plays primal, bluesy rock-and-roll that you can stomp along to. And if you are stomping, you'll be stomping along with Josh Johnson, who is Pinche Gringo, another one of those one-man-garage-rock-band acts that seem to be popping up regularly these days, especially here in Nightlife Agenda. So if you've always dug the White Stripes but thought it was just a little too complex, Pinche Gringo is for you. The Weakends (listen) mine the same influences, but since there are three of them, things will be a little more raucous. You wouldn't know it by listening to the casually growled vocals that demonstrate a grasp of the English language on par with any other band that plays dirty garage rock, but the band is French. London's Virgin Passages (listen) seems an odd fit on this bill, since the band specializes in ambient soundscapes, but diversity is a good thing.
--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
| March 17, 2009; 6:28 PM ET
Categories: Bars and Clubs, Music
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