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Posted at 8:42 PM ET, 02/ 9/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Snow got you down? Look forward to a weekend full of Mardi Gras, carnival and Valentine's Day events, a release party for the new CD by Title Tracks, a concert by the reunited Goodie Mob, a rare U.S. appearance by U.K. dubstep producer Untold, and zydeco from C.J. Chenier.

Update: Snow has played havoc with Thursday events, and both the Title Tracks and Goodie Mob shows have been postponed until March.


Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Tuesday

Friday, Feb. 12
C.J. Chenier's father, Clifton Chenier, dubbed "King of Zydeco," helped design one of the genre's crucial instruments -- a modified washboard. It was a wise move for C.J. to follow in his father's zydeco footsteps; he's successfully carried on his father's legacy as the accordion-playing leader of his own band. If there's no snow outside of Iota by the end of Friday night, it'll be due to the red-hot sounds coming out of the Arlington club.

Around here, we're getting ready for Mardi Gras on Tuesday, but down in Trinidad and Tobago, it's all about carnival. The biggest cultural event in the islands begins Monday and involves two days of parades, soca competitions and concerts and limbo contests. In D.C., our carnival comes in June, but if you need an early taste of the celebration, head for the Trinidad and Tobago Clubhouse on upper Georgia Avenue, where We Come to Ramajay features DJs Black Spyder, Majestic and Kid Mix spinning the hottest soca and calypso tunes. A full menu of Caribbean food - curry chicken, stewed oxtail, rice and peas - accompanies the before-midnight drink specials, which include $3 beers and $5 rum and Cokes. Fill up, because these parties are known to go late.

There are other Carnival celebrations going on tonight. At the Countdown to Carnival at the Crossroads, get two-for-one drinks and a free Caribbean buffet between 5 and 8 p.m., then spend the rest of the night dancing to reggae, soca and tropical rhythms courtesy of the Peter Humphreys and the Oasis Band, Bobby's Music Machine and the Aki Experience.

As much as we love the bass-heavy electronic rhythms of dubstep, it's not exactly mainstream dance music. Unless it's in the hands of the U.K. producer Untold (listen), that is. On records released on the influential Hotflush and Hessle Audio labels -- as well as his own Hemlock Records -- Untold takes the rolling sub-bass frequencies of dubstep and layers them under the sustained synth chords, handclaps and piano melodies that house fans know so well. The result is a compelling fusion of genres that should please an entire spectrum of fans -- it has all the depth that dubstep heads crave and it adds beats that pulls people onto the dance floor. Let's hope the speakers at the Fridge can take a pounding, because that's what Untold's going to give them during a special Loda night. Tanc and Tiernan (of the Dive and Lie Wrecked dubstep night at Jimmy Valentine's) open.

Last week, Fritz previewed a trio of perfect Valentine's Day-themed dance parties. As a reminder, the first one is tonight: a Bollywood Tribute to Love at Panache, with DJs spinning love songs from Bollywood films, Indian pop hits and bhangra beats.

Saturday, Feb. 13
Mardi Gras is this Tuesday, but because not everyone can take Wednesday off to recover from a beads-and-hurricanes blowout, many bars start celebrating a little early.

The annual Mardi Gras Madness party is always one of the more popular Fat Tuesday events on the calendar, and this year it moves to the State Theatre. Entertainment comes from '80s cover band Gonzo's Nose, Dave Matthews tribute act Crowded Streets (listen), DJs, and more beads than you can count. The first 200 people through the doors also get feathered masks. Tickets are $7 in advance from partydc.com, or $14 at the door.

Hundreds of D.C. young professionals pack the annual Mardi Gras Kickoff Jam at the Hard Rock Cafe, which pulls out all the stops. The night starts with a Dixieland jazz band (9 to 10:15), followed by a DJ spinning retro and top 40 hits. Throughout the night, there are free beads and masks, free hors d'oeuvres, hurricane cocktails, giveaways and other surprises. Do what you can to collect those beads -- first prize is a trip for two to the Caribbean. Snag advance tickets from thingstododc.com.

(This is the tip of the Mardi Gras iceberg, by the way -- click here for more events.)

We've all had relationships that ended less than perfectly, to put it diplomatically. Some people just buck up and move on. Others hit events like the Bottom Line's Shred Your Ex and Meet Your Next party. At this annual gathering, jilted lovers bring photos of their exs, love notes, old Valentine's Day cards and other tokens of affection, then ceremonially put them through a shredder. Hey, it's a sure way to know if that cute guy or girl at the bar is single. The ripping and tearing starts at 8 p.m., and specials, including $2.50 Miller Lites and $3 Valentine's Day shooters, go all night.

We always like to bring it to your attention when Suns of Guns graces an area stage, because that's the only way to hear this band, one of D.C.'s best. A handful of times each year, the band emerges from the darkness to deliver some blasts of howling protopunk, and we think, "It sure would be nice to have a record to be able to hear those songs again." Three or four months later, the cycle repeats itself. Dark Sea Dream opens at the Black Cat.

It's been four years since the passing of James "J Dilla" Yancey, a hip-hop and soul producer whose work with Busta Rhymes, the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest and many other big-name acts influenced a generation of music-makers. His persona was so low-key that many fans didn't connect their favorite music to its creator until after he passed on; that's when groups came out of the woodwork to pay tribute. The celebrations of Dilla's vast output have taken on a life of their own, fueled by posthumous work that polishes his legacy. Dilla released much of his key solo material toward the end of his career on venerable underground label Stones Throw, which teamed up with Stussy to create a limited-edition Dilla shirt. Get yours at D.C.'s Stussy store today as part of Dilla Day. DJ Jerome Baker III rocks Dilla's discography all evening.

Lacking catharsis in your life? Then listen to more We Were Promised Jetpacks. The young Scottish quartet treats nearly every song as a matter of life and death. Singer Adam Thompson pours himself into his soul-wrenching vocals as crescendos build behind him, and it sounds even more serious because of his impossibly thick Scottish accent. Seeing the band live takes it to another level, since Thompson has the innocent, cherubic face of someone who should be singing wispy love songs, not emotionally hefty rock songs. Along with fellow Scots (and labelmates) the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, the band is helping make Scotland a hotbed for a new brand of emo anthems. Bad Veins and Typefighter open at Rock and Roll Hotel.

If your current squeeze harbors dreams of romance in the City of Lights, the next best gift this Valentine's Day weekend is La Saint-Valentin party at the Embassy of France. It's a night of champagne, wine and cocktails, desserts and pastries, raffles (including an all-inclusive trip to Mexico) and dancing to the swinging Hot Society Orchestra and the North African rhythms of Gibraltar. Tickets are $75 from La Maison Francaise.

Sunday, Feb. 14
So there are two ways to look at Valentine's Day.

The first is as the perfect night to take your significant other out for a night of dancing. For some, that means Tender Loin at Napoleon, where the Fatback DJs will be spinning slow jams by Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye and other romantic crooners.

Another option is the funky Dynamite dance party at Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club, where DJ Nitekrawler and special guests from Pittsburgh and the Carolinas will be spinning hot soul and R&B all night.

Fritz's old standby, single or not, is Chad America's Rock and Roll Dance Party at the Black Cat, which finds bartender Chad America and friends playing classic rockabilly, '50s R&B and other rave-up tunes in the Red Room for the 11th year running. Some people dance. Some people drink Red Room Ales with friends. It's just a laidback scene. And free. Can't beat that.

Then there are people who'd rather hit something like the annual Voodoo Valentine's party, one of the best Valentine's Day destinations for singles. When you arrive, you're handed a voodoo doll and some pins. Name it after your ex. Give it a jab or six and work out some of that lingering resentment. (In a healthy way.) Then get to mingling -- Current is sure to be full of singles who are there to stick it to their exes. Admission is free if you RSVP at voodoovalentines.com. Doors open at 10.

The movie "Love Jones" was a go-to tool for enhancing amorous success when it came out in 1997. The film was a rare mature take on young, black, hip-hop-generation love, supported by a bohemian backdrop of jazz and poetry. More than a decade later, the soundtrack's romantic songs hold up well. Hear for yourself when soundtrack contributor Dionne Farris (listen) performs at the New Breakfast Club at Liv this weekend. The event serves a bountiful brunch, bottomless mimosas, and soul and jazz from the Black Alley Band. For the Valentine's edition, Black Alley will back Farris and a slate of Washington area poets while "Love Jones" runs on multiple screens.

Does going to see Serani (listen) at the Crossroads count as a Valentine's Day date? On one hand, you have songs like "Best I Ever Had" -- a sweet tune that's fine dancing with your girlfriend. But there will also be plenty of people who don't care that it's Feb. 14, because Serani has established himself as a popular singer in the dancehall world, after producing singles for Sean Paul and creating the "Smash" riddim, which singer Tony Matterhorn turned into the hit "Dutty Wine." Whether you have a date or not, reggae fans, it should be quite a night.

Gotta admit: We've never really seen the appeal of watching NASCAR on TV. But the Daytona 500 Viewing Party at McFadden's, hosted by DC101's Elliot in the Morning, could keep us interested. Every 20 laps, the station gives out a new prize: a year's supply of Chipotle burritos, six months of free Papa John's pizza, premium D.C. United season tickets, a $250 gift certificate to a tattoo parlor, passes for Six Flags and King's Dominion, and passes to NASCAR events in Richmond. While you're watching the race (and waiting for the next prize), there are specials to be had: From 11 a.m. until the checkered flag waves, get $2 Miller Lite and Coors Light drafts, half-price burgers and chicken sandwiches and $5 baskets of wings.

More Daytona 500? Glad to help. Over at Porter's Dining Saloon, you'll find a tongue-in-cheek NASCAR viewing party with "cheap beer, boxed red wine, fried chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs." Yee-haw! Dress to impress -- a prize will be awarded for the best redneck outfit. There's no cover charge.

Monday, Feb. 15
It's telling that New York duo Phantogram (and that's Saratoga Springs, not Brooklyn, thank you very much) ended up on Barsuk Records. That label is best known as the one-time home of Death Cab For Cutie, and its roster is filled with bands that deal with the same sort of spacious, dreamy tunes. Phantogram doesn't use textured guitars -- it's all electronics, sedate loops, some shoegaze influences -- but the end result is the same sort of melancholy. Junk Culture opens at DC9.

Tuesday, Feb. 16
The first Friday of every month, the DJs behind Marx Cafe's excellent We Fought the Big One post-punk celebration showcase their impeccable taste in musical curiosities from the late '70s and early '80s. As presenters of Tuesday's triple bill at Velvet Lounge, they show they also have an ear for the weirdest and most offbeat music being made today. Beach Fossils play songs that shimmer and glide; they're all reverb and good vibes. The more rambunctious Beets race through one slapdash tune after another, and Christmas Island, the best of the bunch, plays ramshackle songs that brim with nervous energy.

Post-rock godheads Tortoise are the headliners tonight at the Black Cat and their smooth, marimba-heavy instrumentals should serve as a soothing soundtrack after a week of snow disasters. But you'd be advised to get there early to see openers and fellow Chicagoans Disappears. The band succeeds because the members understand a very simple principle: that the Velvet Underground's "Waiting For the Man" is the pinnacle of rock-and-roll, and the best path to making good music is to simply use that song as your base and add some of your own touches. In this case, those would be some reverb-drenched power chords or twinkling, trippy leads.

Soul, acoustic and jazz fusion's on tap at Dahlak tonight. Vocalist Lulu Fall assembles an evening of jazz standards and experimental beat-based creations featuring her solo material and that of hip-hop duo Tomorrow's Yesterday.

Thursday, Feb. 11
This show has been postponed until March 10. Anyone who's seen Title Tracks, the new band John Davis formed shortly after the breakup of his previous group Georgie James, surely walked away impressed with Davis's sharp pop acumen and the quartet's tough-but-tight live sound, which recalls some lost Stiff Records band playing at a pub in 1978. The band's just-released debut album, "It Was Easy," (recorded entirely by Davis) is surprisingly mellow compared to the in-person experience; the breezy melodies are easier to pick out and there's more attention to the details, such as individually plucked guitar notes. More Byrds than Elvis Costello, the album serves as a nice counterpoint to the live experience. Pretty & Nice and Gary B and Notions open at the Black Cat.

This show has been postponed until March 10. Back when southern rap was limited to the gangsta sounds out of Texas, a collective was forming in Atlanta that would go on to define a new approach to rap music. One of the earliest Dungeon Family members' releases came from Goodie Mob, who coined the "Dirty South" term that is considered by some to be a genre unto itself. With drawled inflections, deep-fried soul and rhymes that combined Atlanta street tales and socially charged messages, Goodie Mob recorded two landmark albums before the group split. Cee-Lo Green launched a huge solo career in 1999, while Khujo, Big Gipp and T-Mo continued as Goodie. Until recently, the prospects for a reunion looked slim. There's no new album, but the group's well-received tour tested the waters at smaller venues in D.C. before landing at the 9:30 Club tonight. Opening is B.o.B, a young, exciting acolyte of the Dungeon Fam style.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | February 9, 2010; 8:42 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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Drink for a good cause this Friday, February 19th at Town Tavern in Washington, DC! Town Tavern in Adams Morgan is hosting volunteers from Arlington Academy of Hope to raise money for children in rural Uganda. The $5 cover goes directly to the AAH organization which provides educational opportunities for children in the town of Bumwalukani. Enjoy $2 drink specials from 7-9 and $3 specials from 9-11. Come out and support Arlington Academy of Hope this Friday at Town Tavern!

Posted by: ctlngreen | February 17, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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