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Posted at 4:32 PM ET, 07/13/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

The Last Poets' trailblazing political rhymes were born in the turmoil of the late 1960s, and seeing them should be on the bucket list of any hip-hop or jazz fan. Your next shot is Monday night at Blues Alley. (Courtesy of Mercury Records)

Taste Georgia beers, celebrate Bastille Day, get down to hip-hop from Chile (Ana Tijoux) and D.C. (Educated Consumers), celebrate 11 years of Britpop at the Black Cat, enjoy free global grooves under the stars at Carter Barron, explore the art on vintage reggae record covers, or dance the night away to live funk and go-go with the Fatback crew.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday, July 14
Arthur Baker is one of the most important names in the history of dance music, taking a love for the live DJ mix and trying to re-create it in the studio. His melding of hip-hop and electro on Afrika Bambaataa's groundbreaking "Planet Rock" - with Bambaataa rapping over Kraftwerk-inspired synths and a Roland 808 drum machine - helped launch house and techno music. His production work on New Order's hit "Confusion" helped cement the band's popularity in the United States, giving them a second hit after "Blue Monday." (Oh, and Baker, a Boston native, was responsible for getting New Edition to sign for Tommy Boy.) His '80s output is full of originals (Rockers Revenge) and remixes for Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen, but outside of work with soul singer Al Green, Baker has been relatively quiet in recent years. So what will you hear when the London resident takes to the DJ booth at U Street Music Hall? We're betting it will be the most original DJ set of the year. (And since you get in free when you RSVP on Facebook by 6 p.m. Wednesday, you have nothing to lose.)

The hottest way to create buzz in local beer circles these days is getting a rental truck, driving a few hundred miles, purchasing a regional craft beer that isn't normally distributed in the D.C. area, and bringing it back to sell at your bar. It's not a new phenomenon -- ask the Brickskeller's Dave Alexander about how the bar got Coors back in the '70s -- but regional craft beers have made it more popular in recent times. The latest example: The Black Squirrel, which managed to get a limited amount of Colorado's Fat Tire Ale back in May, has secured cases of beer from Atlanta's SweetWater Brewing Company. (Please note there's no connection with Northern Virginia's Sweetwater brewpubs.) SweetWater doesn't pasteurize its beers, which makes them hard to ship, so Georgia ex-pats should head to Adams Morgan for a rare chance to grab SweetWater's super-hoppy 420 Extra Pale Ale, the crisp Sweetwater IPA, Road Trip Pilsner and the popular SweetWater Blue, an ale made with fresh blueberries. (I've never tried this one, but some friends tell me it's actually pretty good.) The accompanying Georgia-fied menu includes Southern fried chicken and fried catfish with a toasted pecan cornmeal crust. The usual caveat applies: These beers are limited in quantity. Get there soon or they may be sold out.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Today is Bastille Day, the 221st anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris -- one of the events that precipitated the French Revolution. There are parties going on around D.C., but our three recommendations would be the zany French Maid Relay Race and Masquerade Block Party at L'Enfant, live music and half-price wine happy hour at Bistro Lepic, and the always-jammed late-night party at Bistrot du Coin, where the wine flows, DJs spin Francophone favorites and women wind up dancing on the bar. (Click on any of those links for way more detail, or click here for a longer list of parties.)

Thursday, July 15
Although hip-hop now thrives at every corner of the globe, and trends travel instantly, thankfully some regions are producing artists whose substance matches their style. Case in point: Ana Tijoux, whose climb to the top of Chile's hip-hop scene and on to international prominence has been fueled by paying her dues, a nimble flow and a breadth of progressive subject matter. She got her start in the mid-'90s in a group that drew inspiration from the U.S. underground and heavily critiqued Chilean politics. Tijoux's solo career really took off after a guest verse on a pop hit by Julieta Venegas exposed her to an audience outside of dedicated hip-hop listeners. Having matured as an artist over two solo releases, she gets back to her beats-and-rhymes roots with her autobiographical and very personal current album, "1977." Washington's Liv is the third stop on her first American tour.

From freestyle battles to classic releases, Educated Consumers are vets, standard bearers and long-time troopers for DC hip-hop. For this DC9 set, you can check out their expanded live presentation with long-time collaborators DJ Cam One on the cuts, T.E.C.K. on the drum machine and Max Beats on the human beat box. Guest microphonists include Ardamus, Kokayi, Mic Savvy & Merlin and Muscle City. The first 50 people through the door get a copy of the Educated Consumers DVD.

Friday, July 16
Once a year or so, the guys behind the insanely popular monthly Fatback dance party pack up their awesome funk, soul and R&B records, call a few bands and throw a much bigger event at the 9:30 Club. (They call this "The Very Big Fatback.") It's going down tonight with assists from the honey-voiced George Smallwood, who put out some amazing funk and disco releases back in the '70s and is now being rediscovered by hometown soul aficionados, and the Art of Junk, a go-go band features some of the original members of the trailblazing Junkyard Band. (Seriously, you've rocked out to "Sardines" more than once in your life, right?) In between live acts, the Fatback boys spin the usual mix of greasy, gritty dance tunes. The cover's a mere $10.

You have one last chance to enjoy some fabulous, free music under the stars at one of D.C.'s most beautiful venues, courtesy of The Washington Post. The final installment of's Weekend Summer Concerts is called "International Beat Night" and you'll understand why if you attend. Headliners Chopteeth - all dozen of them - play an invigorating brand of Afrobeat that also draws on rumba, reggae and funk. Sin Miedo is long-established as one of the area's best salsa bands. And openers Funk Ark are quickly establishing themselves as one of the city's best sweat-producing acts. It's all free, with tickets distributed Friday morning at the Post office or at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre box office.

The idea of a one-man band isn't so revolutionary anymore. There are plenty of performers who can sing, play guitar and stomp on a kick drum all at once. Most favor some ragged, rudimentary variation on garage blues, and Bob Log III is no different. His songs are a bit more deranged and art-damaged than most, but that's because he is a bit more deranged and damaged. Hence the full body cannonball suit and shielded helmet equipped with a microphone that he wears at each show. And you'd be hard-pressed to find many artists who invite audience members to sit on their laps while they play. If it ends with simply sitting on his knee, well, that's a tame show. See what happens at The Red & The Black.

Saturday, July 17
For 11 years, the Mousetrap has been a mainstay of the D.C. dance scene, drawing both college students with giant Xes on their hands and 30-somethings who remember dancing to Blur's "Girls and Boys" back when it was a brand-new import CD. DJ Mark Zimin has kept the faith at the Black Cat since 2000, and while the playlist has been updated since then, regulars know they'll get their dancefloor-filling fix of Pulp, Belle and Sebastian, the Smiths and New Order, among others, every time around. For the 11th anniversary, Zimin is joined by DJ Stereofaith of the like-minded Sorted night.

The Pug is one of our favorite H Street bars for many reasons, including the fact that the owners have good hearts and regularly host fundraisers for local charities. Tonight's happy hour benefits the Young Survival Coalition, a support group for women under 40 who've had or are currently battling breast cancer. Here's how it works: Donate $20 to the group at the door and you get free draft beer from 8 to 10 p.m. There are generally some free shots and giveaways as well, but the point is that you get plenty of beer while helping others, and it's really easy to do.

Little Miss Whiskey's continues to punch above its weight, bringing excellent DJs to H Street for a fraction of what you'd pay if they spun elsewhere in town. Tonight, DJ Jaclyn of New York's Bangers crew drops by. Known for their genre-crossing sets and very cool mixtapes, Bangers have spun with Diplo, Chromeo, Kid Sister and Spank Rock, among others, and Jaclyn herself is a resident DJ at the stylish Soho Grand Hotel's lounge. Her set starts at 10, and as always at Little Miss Whiskey's, there's no cover. How can you beat that?

On Friday and Saturday, the Gala Theatre in Columbia Heights is hosting the Bike Film Festival, a program of short films and documentaries dealing with bicycles; subjects range from BMX ramp king Mat Hoffman ("The Birth of Big Air") to a New York thief who managed to steal more than 3,000 bikes before police caught up with him. (Part of "Urban Bike Shorts.") Once the screenings are over on Saturday night, Meridian Pint hosts an after-party with free Brooklyn beers and giveaways from Durkl, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Tattoo Paradise and other sponsors. There's no cover charge.

A small bar hosts a major DJ talent as Andy Caldwell plays Funxion. Caldwell logs some of the most frequent flier miles in the music game, bringing his deep dance and electro sounds to clubbers worldwide. Although he's back at the helm of his own label, Uno Recordings, Caldwell is probably best known for his work on the Om Lounge, Sounds of Om and Mushroom Jazz series. Sammy K and Sonny Cheeba provide the opening sounds for Caldwell's night in Washington.

Before Dave Nada was a global electro, club and now moombahton phenom, he used to rock hip-hop party style at the old Krunk jams. He'll be taking it back to those days with Hip-Hop Dan at the 9:30 Club for What's the Scenario. East Coast stomping and Kriss-Kross-style hopping about are encouraged.

When one thinks of the biggest voices of house music, powerhouses like Ann Nesby come to mind. But if you're talking about that irresistible strain of house that takes you to church with gospel shouts over the four-to-the-floor beats, Kenny Bobien has long been representing for male vocalists. With his high tenor bordering on falsetto, Bobien's been saving souls on dancefloors with classics like "I Shall Not Be Moved" and "Father." Bobien joins DC's Liberal Party to celebrate their 2nd anniversary at Twelve Restaurant Lounge, along with residents Andrew Hogans and Smooth DJ Marv.

Sunday, July 18
Record covers are an art form - a two-sided, 144-square-inch piece of canvas for musicians to tell the world who they are. That power diminished with the rise of CDs and shrank even further in the world of iTunes, but there's still something about picking up a vintage album and seeing it as a time capsule, from the clothes and the haircuts down to the fonts and design. You won't find many album covers in Washington's marble museums. That's why we enjoy "The Classics" events at U Street's Lounge of Three, which turns itself into a musical art gallery. This time around, 80 vintage sleeves from reggae artists will hang on the club's walls, including Horace Andy, Burning Spear, Cutty Ranks and Yellowman. As you browse the art, DJs Cerebral and 2-Tone Jones will be providing a suitable rocking soundtrack. Arrive between 7 and 9 p.m. for free Smirnoff cocktails.

Navasha Daya has long been beloved for her spiritual fusion-jazz work with Baltimore's Fertile Ground, but she's been steadily developing her own material that continues to showcase her mastery of classical, soul, jazz and indigenous singing styles. She shares an evening at Takoma Station with Terrence Cunningham, another name you should be checking for if you're moved by artists like Bilal, Darien Brockington or John Legend.

Cold wave - it's not that hard to figure out what it is. It's like new wave but ... colder. Okay, that's an over-simplification of the disaffected, dark, synth-heavy music that starting dripping out of Europe in the '70s and '80s but, hey, we're blurbing here. It's mopey and dramatic and people who wear black dig it. Sean Gray (who helps run local label Fan Death Records) and Denman Anderson (who DJs No Control! and contributes to local blog All Our Noise) will be your DJ guides through No Love Lost, their new Cold Wave DJ night that debuts Sunday at Velvet Lounge. There is an appropriate collection of bands playing upstairs, including local shoegaze/noise-makers Screen Vinyl Image and Indianapolis's We Are Hex, who play icy and spiky post-punk with well-placed bursts of mayhem.

Monday, July 19
The Last Poets are often cited as the first rappers, but even after four decades, their combination of free jazz, soul and spoken word still packs a politically charged punch. Formed during the tumultuous year that was 1968, they were a group of musical agitators and fierce activists over ensuing decades. Now they're wisened elders who still have a fire in their gut and knowledge to impart through words. A whole new generation was introduced to the group when member Umar Bin Hassan dropped a few hot bars on Common and Kanye West's track "The Corner." Seeing the Last Poets at least once should be on the bucket list of any hip-hop, soul and jazz fan. You'll get two chances at Blues Alley.

Tuesday, July 20
Since much-needed rain has been threatening the outdoor film events around town, the indoor Summer Screenings at the Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel should be on your radar. Starting this evening with a selection of D.C. Shorts, each week will have a different theme, along with cocktails and free menu selections, and there's no cover charge.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | July 13, 2010; 4:32 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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