Wednesday, Jan. 27
The State of the Union address is a key time when younger Washingtonians head out to bars to watch the president's address to Congress, beer in hand. Bars on the Hill will be packed (Lounge 201, Capitol Lounge, Hawk and Dove) and have the bar's speakers tuned to the speech, but it's more fun to turn the night into a game. One of our favorite State of the Union games happens at Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan. It's shockingly simple: You reach into a fishbowl and pick out a piece of paper that says "Afghanistan," "health care" or another buzzword. Then listen carefully to the president's speech. Every time he says your word, you get a $1 shot. (If you draw "Haiti," you might want to e-mail your boss right then and there and say you feel like you're coming down with something.)
Tonight at the Park at 14th, some of D.C.'s biggest party promoters are putting aside their weekly rivalries to throw a giant fundraiser for the Red Cross. Groups that usually jostle to get you to choose their event at Lux, Layla, Ozio, Jin or some other high-class spot are coming together -- with special guest host R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn -- to help those in need in Haiti. There's a $10 suggested donation at the door, though guests are encouraged to give more -- and receipts will be available if you want to make a tax-deductible contribution. Besides good karma, the benefits include an open bar from 5 to 6 and free appetizers from 5 to 7. Expect live entertainment and DJs from WKYS and WPGC spinning dance music. Dress is "semi-formal."
Tonight's Rock and Roll Relief show at the Rock and Roll Hotel offers many varieties of rock, including prog-metal freak outs from Caverns, power pop from the Courtesans, funky stuff from Bonjour, Ganesh! and a solo set from Lissy Rosemont of Junior League Band. All ticket sales and a portion of the bar sales will go to Haiti relief organizations Partners in Health and ShelterBox.
There's even more help for Haiti tonight, but this time, it's coming from the State Department. Members of the U.S. Foreign Service are hosting a fundraising happy hour called "Aide Ayiti!" at Ghana Cafe. A $10 donation is requested at the door, and 100 percent of that will go to Doctors Without Borders and the Foreign Service Nationals Emergency Relief Fund, which helps the Haitian citizens who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince. Every time you order a drink, you give a little more -- Ghana Cafe will give $1 from the sale of every beer and $2 from every cocktail. If you haven't tried any of the African beers on sale at the bar -- Star from Ghana, Castel from Cameroon, Zambezi from Zimbabwe -- this is a great chance to do so. Doors open at 6.
Thursday, Jan. 28
For a decade, the Apes were a reliable staple of the local rock scene. The band cycled through three vocalists, but the foundation of its sound stayed the same: a sludgy, psychedelic low-end with a thumping rhythm section and sinister keyboards. In adding its latest singer, frequent Thievery Corporation collaborator LouLou Ghelichkhani, the band has adopted a new name. A sinister edge still lurks somewhere in the Midnight Kids' music, but now the songs are sleeker and sultrier, thanks to Ghelichkhani's icy vocals. It's a winning evolution, which you can observe for yourself at the Velvet Lounge.
There are few rock icons more overdue for a film treatment than Bad Brains' gifted, eccentric and ferociously energetic frontman H.R., and finally, he's getting one. Catch the trailer of an H.R. documentary at DC9 along with music from all the different styles he's embraced. H.R. helped concoct Bad Brains' genre-defining blend of prog rock, jazz fusion and punk, but in his multiple stints away from the band he established himself as a serious and more tranquil reggae artist. DJs Eurok and Neville C. pull selector duties, and we're betting they'll cover the reggae angle. Then, Philadelphia's McRad (listen) performs, a skate punk band led by former skate pro and multi-instrumentalist Chuck Treece, who used to play with Bad Brains.
Live country music returns to Capitol Hill tonight as Hill Country -- featuring excellent local singer Wil Gravatt -- performs at the American Legion hall at Third and D streets SE. Expect covers of Whiskeytown, Robbie Earle Keen, Cross Canadian Ragweed and other alt-country faves, plus Gravatt's own perfect-for-boot-scootin' originals. Tickets are $6, the beer is cheap, and the show starts at 9.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you don't have plans yet, maybe the Tigerlily Foundation can help. The group, which provides support for women with breast cancer who are 40 or younger, is hosting a fundraising bachelor and bachelorette auction at Josephine. The group putting themselves up for bids is a diverse lot: there are doctors, a former pro soccer player, a Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador, an interior designer, WTOP and Fox 5 traffic reporter Julie Wright and "Blonde Charity Mafia" star Sophie Pyle. All winners receive restaurant gift certificates. In addition to the date auction, there will be free appetizers, dance music and other entertainment. Don't worry about coming solo -- there will be icebreaker games and networking to help all the singles meet. Doors open at 6. Admission is a $20 donation to the Tigerlily Foundation, and tickets can be purchased in advance from the organization's Web site or at the door.
For anyone with an understanding of U Street before the condos, reggae has always had an important presence. So it is with regret that we share the end of Dancehall Thursdays at Almaz. It's great that serious reggae selectors are playing at Patty Boom Boom now, but Dancehall Thursdays took it back to the old days of serious U Street bashments -- the kind where excited patrons would literally bang holes in the wall to show appreciation for a particularly tough tune. DJ Spyda and crew stay busy, so you'll be able to check them at other ports of call, but you should definitely whine it up at Almaz tonight to dancehall hits new and old.
Tracks like "Tuff Enuff" and "Powerful Stuff" gave the Fabulous Thunderbirds some mainstream success in the '80s, and founding singer/harmonica player Kim Wilson still keeps the band on the road, even though he's the only active member from the glory days. The Thunderbirds are on ice until later this spring, so Wilson is working with a new project called White Loafer, which also features his trademark vocals and funky harmonica. The group performs its first show tonight at the Old Bowie Town Grille, a popular spot for local bluesmen. The show starts at 8:30; tickets are $20, whether you get them in advance from the bar or at the door.
Unless you're addicted to watching pool tournaments on ESPN, you may not have heard of Mike "The Mouth" Sigel, one of the biggest names in the sport. Sigel has five World Pocket Billiards Championship titles to his name, and he's won the U.S. Open 9-ball Championships and U.S. Open Straight Pool Championships three times each. He also taught Tom Cruise how to play pool for "The Color of Money." Sigel will be in Rockville tonight to perform an exhibition of nine-ball sharpshooting and engage in challenge matches at Orange Ball Billiards, one of the area's top straight-up pool halls. (Private lessons are also available; call Orange Ball for more info.) You can also get in some games of your own during happy hour -- until 8 p.m., spend $10 on food and drink and you can play pool for free.
Senator Mark Warner is hitting happy hour at kstreet tonight -- but he's not going to the upscale lounge for the drink specials. Instead, it's a Help4Haiti fundraiser, which is raising money for Partners in Health, a nonprofit group that has provided medical care to Haiti's poor for two decades. Happy hour runs from 6 to 8. A $20 donation -- all of which goes to charity -- includes one drink. Guest speakers include Warner and Remle Stubbs-Dame, an aid worker who survived the quake.
Lunchbox Theory's monthly pan-African jams have moved from Selam to Bossa, so Afrobeat For Ya Soul is on Thursday now, but DJ Underdog is still at the helm assembling all-vinyl sets from his collection. The new digs come with the added benefit tonight of Washington's Malian treasure Cheick Hamala Diabate playing a live set downstairs, so you can get your African rhythms from a primary source or reworked through a DJ's selections.
Friday, Jan. 29
Sometimes you'll see a show lineup and it will say ex-Some Band You Really Love and you'll get excited for a split second before realizing that it's referring to someone like the third replacement bassist. Not the case with tonight's show at the Red & and the Black. When it says "ex-Dag Nasty, ex-Christie Front Drive," it gets full credit for both. Okay, Peter Cortner was the second vocalist for D.C. hardcore icons Dag Nasty, but it's easy to argue he was the band's definitive vocalist. His new band, the Gerunds, is still in its infancy, but it has already demonstrated that it's a group to be reckoned with, drawing on its punk past but softening the edge just a bit. Opener Golden City features Eric Richter, formerly of '90s emo cult faves Christie Front Drive, one of those bands you either don't know or love so much you own every 7-inch it ever made. CFD fans will find plenty to like with Golden City's melodic, earnest, guitar-driven tunes.
In the past, when we've written about the Lounge of Three, it's been something to do with hip-hop: the nights dedicated to the music of Jay-Z or Wu-Tang, the hip-hop trivia competitions or the happy hours featuring underground tunes. But tonight, it's a party for lovers of rumba, zouk, salsa and Afrobeat. The Drum n Rum Afro Rumba features a DJ spinning African and Latin dance music, Cuban and Moroccan drummers, dance circles, rum drink specials and good vibes. (If you bring a drum you get in free; otherwise it's $5 in advance or $10 at the door.) The beats start at 9 and go until 3.
Usually, when you go to the Bottom Line on a weekend, it's because you want to hang out in a comfortable hole-in-the-wall where no one's going to give you a strange look if you're wearing an old college sweatshirt or a pair of comfortable jeans. (You need to show off? Eyebar's next door.) But tonight, at the annual Dress to Get Laid Party, you'll want to change up your outfit. There'll be shot specials with R-rated names for $3 all night (think Sex on the Beach, that sort of thing), $2.50 Miller Lites and a DJ playing dance tunes. Whether you choose to dress to the nines or show a little skin is a matter of personal preference -- just leave your workout clothes at home.
Saturday, Jan. 30
Picture this: You're a college dropout from Rockville who's making trance and electronic music with your DJ friends and putting out a few songs here or there, but not headlining clubs or anything like that. Meanwhile, an ocean away, DJs like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold are spinning your records for thousands of people, but you have no idea. (Ah, the days before the Internet.) This is the true story of BT -- aka Brian Transeau (listen) -- the co-founder of Deep Dish Records, whose "Ima" and "Loving You More" made a deep impression on dance floors around the globe back in the late '90s. He used his training in classical music to craft "Laptop Symphonies" that combine complex song structures and dreamy moods. When BT performs live, he's known for bringing musicians onstage to supplement his turntable and keyboard skills. Expect violins, pianos and string instruments as well as dance floor-packing beats. Don't worry -- it sounds very cerebral, but BT's just as interested in moving your body. Check out BT's "Laptop Symphony 2.0" at Ibiza; tickets for the 18-and-over show are on sale now for $15 from wanttickets.com.
Before Amanda Blank's debut album "I Love You" dropped last fall, the Philly-based rapper and singer opened for Santigold on a sold-out tour, recorded a single with M.I.A., and lent her vocals to songs by producers-of-the-moment Diplo and Spank Rock. The backlash was as predictable as it was vitriolic. Her raunchy Peaches-lite vocals over '80s rap beats and dirty minimal beats aren't going to set the world on fire, but live, they make for good party music. This girl-power show features opener Maluca, a Diplo discovery whose mashups of merengue and ghettotech are strangely beguiling (and, in the case of "El Tigeraso," make for great remixes.) Local DJs Jackie O and Lil' El of the '90s hip-hop night Kids are also on the bill at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Here's something for the ladies out there: Fly's new Saturday night promotion includes free admission and an open bar from 10 to 11 when you RSVP on elundevents.com. It sounds like a great spot to pre-game -- but who knows, once you hear the mix of '80s hits, old-school hip-hop and top 40, you might stick around and dance the night away.
Sunday, Jan. 31
Here's a nominee for a perfect date/band/venue combination: Roofwalkers/Sunday night in January/Galaxy Hut. Okay, so that last part is often part of our dream bill. (We love the Hut.) But locals Roofwalkers play that perfectly mellow brand of indie rock -- dreamy but never sleepy -- that lends itself well to ending a winter weekend. Grab a booth, one of them fancy beers, listen to some droning jams that recall Yo La Tengo ... it sure beats watching the Pro Bowl.
Sunday, Jan. 31
Think Taylor Swift will clean up at this year's Grammy Awards? Sure that Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" will take home the Song of the Year statuette? Maddy's Bar & Grille will let you put your predictions to the test during its Grammys viewing party. Arrive before 8 p.m. to fill out your picks in a number of categories. We know the telecast can drag (or, in the case of last year's Jay-Z/Coldplay performance, be downright bizarre), so this might be one way to keep it interesting. Maddy's is offering an all-night happy hour with $4 beers, wines and rail drinks, plus a discounted appetizer menu. Stick around until the end: The person who picks the most winners correctly takes home a $50 Maddy's gift card.
Tuesday, Feb. 2
The Haiti benefit hosted by DC9 tonight is a decidedly funky affair. Main attraction Tommy T, who cut his teeth playing in various groups in the city's many Ethiopian restaurants and who's now the bassist for world-famous gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, will cook up a stew of world music with the Abyssinia Roots Collective. Rounding out the lineup are some retro names that we're always happy to see -- rhythm and ska faves the Ambitions, soul-rockers Sitali and jazz-ska collective Eastern Standard Time. All proceeds from the $15 tickets will be given to Voice of Haiti.
-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson
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