A hectic week starts with Beaujolais nouveau parties and a fundraiser hosted by hip-hop icons Public Enemy, but also includes a hip-hop history lesson from a cavalcade of local artists, Texas-style two-stepping with Gary P. Nunn at the Clarendon Ballroom, a tribute to the daiquiri, an appearance by highly rated DJ David Guetta, fonk from the Pimps of Joytime, a CD release party for the Jet Age and a new beer night.
Wednesday, Nov. 18
While Flavor Flav has been doing his best to write himself into the record books as a buffoon, Chuck D's been holding it down as an authoritative elder statesmen in hip-hop. But when the two reunite, all that matters is the music. Flav is the best hype-man in hip-hop history, and after over 20 years, his energy still balances Chuck's seriousness. You can almost pretend that "Flavor of Love" never happened when Public Enemy hits the stage. Even the age of Obama hasn't erased the relevance of classics such as "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" and "Burn Hollywood Burn." Catch the original prophets of rage at Lisner tonight. Or, watch them for free on their way there: before the Lisner show, they'll be visiting with homeless youth at the Sasha Bruce House shelter, and they'll perform live on a flat-bed truck as it travels from the shelter (at 18th and G streets NW) to Lisner. Line up along G Street or 21st Street for your best viewing opportunity. And don't forget that this is also a benefit for Sasha Bruce: proceeds from the concert are earmarked for charity, and if you bring a new or gently used coat to donate to homeless teens, you'll get a free VIP seat upgrade. (This will be done on a first-come, first serve basis at the box office.)
Yes, wine snobs, we're aware Beaujolais nouveau isn't a very good wine. In fact, it's a wine made for peasants and farmers. It's a light, fruity red made with the first grapes of the harvest and aged for only a few weeks. But you know what? It's a great excuse for a party. By law, the French government says it can't be sold before the third Thursday of November, so enterprising bars and restaurants hold parties on the third Wednesday and dramatically uncork the bottles at midnight. There are a pair of parties taking place tonight worth your attention, and there are even more later in the week.
First up, the Brightest Young Things crew will be taking over 1905 for A Breathless Beaujolais, where they threw an intimate-but-lively soiree last year. Look for absinthe drink specials, DJs spinning French music and free wine from midnight on. There's a $10 cover and the place is small, so early arrival is suggested. (You can also make sure you get a space by making reservations for 1905's prix-fixe three-course dinner, which is $50 and includes non-Beaujolais wine.)
The bacchanalian scenes at Bistrot du Coin's annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration have become the stuff of D.C. legend. There are women dancing on the zinc bar, French DJs spinning house until the wee hours, bartenders handing customers full bottles of wine and telling them to help themselves, Francophone soccer chants in the middle of the dance floor and long lines outside as people try to get in. (Look, if you offer people a night of free wine and dancing, you're going to have plenty of takers.) Here's the deal: There are no more dinner reservations for the 9 p.m. seating, so if you want to hit the party, your best chance is to show up before 11 p.m., when doors "officially" open. Once the restaurant staff begins removing tables and stacking chairs, more people can make it in. The wine -- usually several labels of Beaujolais nouveau -- will be uncorked at midnight, and that's when the madness begins.
Back before Wonderland was a hangout for hipsters from Columbia Heights and beyond, it was a gay bar called Nob Hill with dancers and a primarily African-American audience. As Wonderland's popularity grew, that history faded, but it could change a bit with the launch of Pink Sock, a new monthly gay dance party that's promising "everything from Grace Jones to Prince, Madonna to Lady Gaga, Miss Kittin to MSTRKRFT," according to founder Ryan Duncan. He's bringing DJ Rad (link) down from Boston for the debut. And hey, it's at Wonderland, so the party is free, and there are $5 beer-and-a-shot specials.
Thursday, Nov. 19
You don't have to be a Texan to love the annual parties thrown by the Texas State Society -- you just have to love country music, two-steppin' and cold beer. If you're a native or went to college in Texas, though, walking into annual parties like the Terlingua Two-Step will make you feel like you're back in the Lone Star State, even though you're at the Clarendon Ballroom. (Past musical guests have been Jerry Jeff Walker and Robert Earl Keen.) This year's headliner is Lubbock's own Gary P. Nunn (listen), a country singer-songwriter whose bona fides include writing the catchy "Austin City Limits" theme song, earning multiple gold and platinum records and being in the Texas Hall of Fame. (If you need to know why, check out perfect two-steppin' songs "What I Like About Texas" and the Texas Playboys-inflected "You Can't Get the Hell Out of Texas.") Nunn doesn't play outside of Texas too often, so you don't want to miss this party. Up-and-coming country singer Bonnie Bishop (listen) opens. Tickets are $35 if you buy them by 2 p.m. Thursday from texasstatesociety.org. After that, get them for $45 at the door. Either way, they include hors d'oeuvres.
Pity the poor daiquiri. The simple Cuban cocktail - a mix of rum, lime juice and sugar - was wildly popular in the first half of the 20th century, when Cuba was new and exotic. The drink was then favored by men such as John F. Kennedy and Ernest Hemingway. (The latter loved the daiquiri so much that he lent his name to a variation at Havana's La Floridita bar, made with maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice.) Then the slushie-like, neon-colored, frozen daiquiri arrived, and ordering the old version just became uncool. But now that high-end rums are arriving by the boatload, it's time to rediscover the classic drink, and Washington has a special claim: Though the daiquiri was invented in Cuba in 1905, it was introduced to the United States at the Army-Navy Club by Adm. Lucius W. Johnson in 1909. Celebrate the momentous centennial with "Happy Birthday, Mr. Daiquiri" at the Occidental, where cocktail historian Jeff "Beachbum" Berry - author of essential tropical drinks guides "Intoxica!" and "Beachbum Berry's Grog Log" - joins local bartenders Jon Arroyo (Founding Farmers) and Derek Brown (the Passenger) to sip daiquiri variations, while the Occidental provides snacks.
When trying to decide what to wear to Thursday's Jesus Lizard (listen) show at the 9:30 club, common sense should take priority over fashion. First, most of audience for the the reunited sludge rock quartet's show will be dudes in their late-30s, wearing ripped jeans and the T-shirt of some long forgotten '80s punk band. So don't feel the need to dress to impress. Next, whatever you wear will quite possibly get ripped, sweated on -- or worse. The pandemonium of a Jesus Lizard show cannot be understated: expect wild-eyed frontman/howler David Yow to do his first stage dive approximately 3.2 seconds into the first song, sobody armor might be the proper outfit. The gut-punch intensity of the band's songs more than match Yow's antics. This is one show guaranteed to have you reeling the next morning, in every sense.
Online tickets for French house DJ David Guetta's appearance at Fur have sold out, but there will be more tickets available at the door for this rare Thursday night show. That's good news for anyone who wants to check out the man DJ Magazine rated as the world's No. 3 DJ. Guetta's new album, "One Love," is chock-full of disco-house jams like the thumping title track, which features a soulful vocal from Estelle, and it also has "On the Dancefloor," a ridiculous electro-funk collaboration with the Black-Eyed Peas. (Guetta produced the Peas' chart-topping "I Gotta Feeling.") You can listen to all these tracks on Guetta's MySpace page. Doors open at 9 p.m., and only a limited number of tickets are left, so arrive early.
The boys in U.S. Royalty (listen) have a knack for publicity, and they also have a talent for finding concert venues that are off the radar of most music fans. They turned the upstairs at Solly's into a monthly low-key neighborhood jam session and completely packed a 16th Street mansion for a memorable show this summer. (The music's not bad either -- David gave the band's appearance at the CMJ festival in New York a really good review few weeks ago.) This time around, they're performing in the upstairs "Library" room at Darlington House. There's a $10 cover charge (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org) and promises of free Peroni and cupcakes. DJ Soul Call Paul spins before and after the band.
Atlanta's Heston brings his modern brew of funk and soul to Blues Alley tonight. If Van Hunt, Maxwell and Gordon Chambers tunes are often coming from your headphones, Heston might be a welcome addition to the rotation. D.C audiences got a recent taste of his music from his open mike mini-set at Ben's Next Door at few weeks ago, but you can hear him stretch out for two whole sets tonight.
Our favorite new trivia night in D.C.? Hip-Hop Trivia night at the Lounge of Three. It's a night that separates the Kool Hercs and Jam Master Jays of the world from the Marky Marks and Vanilla Ices. You could be asked about hip-hop history or have to identify songs, so be ready. It's free to play, but the limited number of spots go quickly. Sign up begins at 7 p.m., and the game starts at 8.
Friday, Nov. 20
Jack Oblivian (listen) has been in more bands than are mentioned in this entire column. He's a Memphis institution, a garage-rock industry unto himself who for the past two decades has helmed or contributed to the finest thrashy, high-octane, power chord-driven tunes. The Compulsive Gamblers and the Oblivians (hence the name) are his most famous bands. With his newest venture, the Tennessee Tearjerkers, Oblivian has toned things down; the music here is influenced by the period in the late-'50s/early-'60s, right before the original garage rock outbreak. The sound is cleaner, the tunes are more vintage rock-and-roll than attitude anthems, but the songwriting remains strong and assured. It's still beer-drinking and dancing music, and tonight's venue -- Jackie's in Silver Spring -- fits well with its old-school charm.
Another Beaujolais nouveau release party tonight: The Alliance Francaise cultural group hosts a wine and cheese tasting at its Kalorama headquarters with French standards and pop songs performed by "piano man" Jerry Roman from 6:30 to 9. DJ Herve of the popular Planete Chic events spins French house and electro from 9 until 10:30. Admission is $35; it's $25 for Alliance members. (RSVPs are required; see francedc.org for more information.)
Get a sneak peek at Recess, the new nightclub opening in the former Geisha Lounge (yeah, you're probably saying "Where?") space on 15th Street NW, just north of New York Avenue. While the grand opening is a few weeks away, this Peroni-sponsored Peroni Blue Party is a chance to check out the underground lounge run by Fisayo Esconsay and Brandon Howard, friends who got their start promoting parties at the University of Maryland before moving on to practicing law and working in the music industry, respectively. The debut happy hour runs from 8 to 10 and includes free beer; RSVP to RSVPDC@modernluxury.com before Thursday. "Fashionable blue attire" is the requested dress code.
The new Hey Girl Hey Web site is a sort of an all-female Super Friends -- six experts whose roles are as strictly defined as on "Queer Eye." There's the fashion and style expert, the art and beauty expert, the love and wellness expert -- you get the drift. They're throwing their first D.C. party at National Harbor's Aloft Hotel, headlined by Roxy Cottontail -- a New York DJ who has worked with A-Trak, Afrika Bambaataa and DJ AM. DJs Jackie O and Fabiana rep for D.C. There will be specialty cocktails, a chance to get your nails done by New York manicurist-to-the-stars Naomi Yasuda and more, and all you have to do is RSVP to email@example.com.
Here's what DJs Chris Klang and Ratt Moze have to say about a party they throw at Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club: "Digital Love is a free monthly party where people dance to electronic music and fall in love." Couldn't we all use a little bit more love in our lives? And some electro music to dance to? Everything gets underway at 10 p.m. Arrive early, just in case the person-of-your-dreams does the same.
Saturday, Nov. 21
Over the course of 30 years, hip-hop has moved from a curiosity to a ubiquitous force throughout the world, for better and sometimes for worse. "The Greatest Hip-Hop Cover Story Ever Told" aims to chart this path with a multimedia production at Dance Place, which features the most Washington hip-hop talents ever amassed on one stage. From street-oriented rappers like Laelo Hood to socially focused performers like Hueman Prophets, this show's cast of artists is as communal as it is ambitious.
The amount of fonk -- yes, that spelling is intentional -- at Liv tonight is almost criminal. You should be able to boogie off enough calories to create a sizeable deficit going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Pimps of Joytime's well of stylistic inspiration comes from the '70s -- particularly the bands whose sound overlapped funk, rock and Latin music. Nuyorican boogaloo, psych rock and West Coast low-rider soul also season their groove stew. If you're still standing after all of that, you can sweat it out some more for Fatback DC's dance party.
It's deja vu all over again. Last fall, local trio the Jet Age (listen) released a winner of a concept album filled with fuzzed-out guitars, powerhouse drumming and vintage indie rock hooks. This fall it's happened again. Just a year after "What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?" the band returns with "in 'Love,'" and the riffs are just as dynamic, the drumming is just as propulsive and the concept doesn't feel forced. The band ends its three-week national tour with a CD release show at Comet Ping Pong tonight. Be sure to grab one of those CDs, because you should have some extra cash; the show is free.
There are your hip-hop and '80s tunes, but when it comes down to classic party music - the kind that gets people singing along and leaping up to dance - it's hard to beat '60s girl groups, old Motown cuts and stirring soul. DJs Mad Squirrel and Rob J. have taken this formula, tossed in funk and fuzzy up-tempo garage rock, and they've had a good time with a monthly night called Party Lights in Cafe Saint-Ex's basement. Now they're movin' on up to the Black Cat's Backstage, which promises more room to dance when the Ronettes and Shangri-Las records drop. Even better news? It's still free.
The Rock and Roll Hotel has a lot of dancing going on this Saturday night: On the main floor, it's Mixtape, the monthly compilation of Miike Snow, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Missy Elliott, the Noisettes, Tiga and Passion Pit in original and remixed form. (Too bad the night is having troubling finding a home, bouncing from Town to the Hotel to DC9.) Upstairs, the Garutachi team serves up the usual electro blend from DJs Austin and Ca$$idy. It's a release party for the new Vitalic CD, and John Thornley of U.S. Royalty is going to be sitting in. Admission is $5 for Mixtape and free for Garutachi.
Sunday, Nov. 22 Back in 1996, the 9:30 club threw quite the New Year's Eve (and New Year's Eve eve) bash. The headliners were Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Jesus Lizard. We've already mentioned the destructive force that is the Jesus Lizard, so it says something about the dynamic energy of JSBE that it was actually the evening's headliner. While the Jesus Lizard is sticking to its high-intensity, full-contact ways on its reunion tour, Spencer has gone more the route of Jack Oblivian (column synergy!) by toning down his antics and turning back the clock for inspiration. After the Elvis-as-punk schtick of the Blues Explosion, Spencer's Heavy Trash (listen) is basically a straight tribute to rockabilly and the earliest rock-and-roll. After catching the band at Rock and Roll Hotel a couple years ago, David thought it wasn't hard to envision Heavy Trash being cast as the house band at a juke joint in a Coen Brothers film. And Spencer still shouts, "Baby!" better than anyone. Hear him do it at DC9.
Monday, Nov. 23 Another week, another set of good news for D.C. beer lovers: Dan Searing, the bartender/owner of Room 11 in Columbia Heights, has started a new Monday night beer series that involves tapping a fresh keg of some beer that's not usually on the menu. The debut saw Victory's Yamika Twilight, a dark ale that mixes a rich, roasty, malty character with a knockout blow of strong hops. This time around, it's Brooklyn's delicious Black Chocolate Stout, which is as velvety and smooth as the name implies. Searing says he's thinking about pairing it with blue cheese, which sounds like a smashing idea to us. Doors open at 5, and the beer is served until it runs out.
-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson
Posted by: davidfogel | November 18, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse
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