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Posted at 6:24 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Nightlife Agenda: Mardi Gras parties, Kurt Vile and Prince Paul

By Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

Hip-hop producer Prince Paul -- known for his studio wizardry for De La Soul and Big Daddy Kane as well as his own solo records -- performs at the U Street Music Hall Tuesday. (2003 photo by Clay Patrick McBride)

Mardi Gras events feature heavily this week -- apparently some people can't wait until Tuesday to sample king cake and toss beads -- but there's much more to fill your calendar. Don't miss Philadelphia troubadour Kurt Vile, a return performance by the Dum Dum Girls, a tribute to "Glee" at Town, hip-hop visionary Prince Paul or an album release show for local rockers the Caribbean.

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

Wednesday, March 2
Kudos to whoever decided to send Philadelphia troubadour Kurt Vile on a brief tour of East Coast record stores to promote his upcoming album, "Smoke Ring For My Halo." People who still shop at brick-and-mortar shops surely make up the majority of Vile's fanbase, as he plays songs that hearken back to an era when vinyl was the only option for listening. "Smoke Ring" is his most focused effort to date, stripping his songs down to the everyday mysticism of his lyrics, clever melodies and intricate acoustic guitar playing. Hear them in the cozy atmopshere of Red Onion Records.

You think you're excited about Mardi Gras? The New Orleans-themed Bayou hosts seven nights of live music and specials, leading up to a Tuesday-night party where someone will win tickets to next year's bash in the Big Easy. Don't miss '30s style jazz from Laissez Foure, who perform at Wednesday's kickoff and again on Sunday, or Zachary Smith and the Dixie Power Trio next Monday. A full schedule of events can be found on the Bayou Web site.

Thursday, March 3
DJ Eskimo was rocking the D.C. hip-hop scene and U Street corridor before anyone had yet thought of calling it hip. A true underground hero, he occasionally pops up at spots like The Park from time to time, injecting some soul into the world of the bottle-popping bourgeoisie. But he's at his best for audiences that recall experiencing their favorite classics on 12-inch vinyl. Eskimo and guest DJ Wondermike get down at Wonderland with a mix of old school, dancehall, R&B and funk.

Friday, March 4
Last summer, Town Danceboutique played host to its first ever tribute to "Glee": Drag performers and dancers reenacting favorite scenes on stage. DJs spinning songs by the show's cast. Audience members taking part in a "Glee" karaoke contest. It was a smash, with lines down the block. And now it's back for round two. Gleeks, arrive early for $3 rail drinks and the contest, which starts at 10:30.

Story/Stereo is a very neat local labor of love, a semi-regular event at Bethesda's Writer's Center that brings together authors and musicians for an evening of crossing creative media. After a four-month hibernation, it returns tonight and doubles as the album-release show for local indie rockers the Caribbean, who make slowly unfolding songs in which every sound and every word are meticulously considered. In fact, the songs are meditative more than anything else. This is dreamy music for people who appreciate the subtler aspects of song construction. Authors James Allen Hannaham and Matthew Pitt handle the evening's "story" portion.

More Mardi Gras: Local arts charity Hungry For Music is using two of the area's finest, funkiest Cajun party acts, Junkyard Saints and Squeeze Bayou, to raise money to fund music education. Tickets for the Louisiana Dance Party at the Torpedo Factory include zydeco dance lessons, king cake and a cash bar.

Saturday, March 5
Screaming Females have only one female in the band and she doesn't scream all that much. The New Jersey trio is a great lesson in DIY perseverance, turning self-released albums and constant touring into a devoted fanbase and even a recent appearance on "Last Call With Carson Daly." The band's songs are efficient blasts of melodic punk - Marissa Paternoster's forceful vocals and searing lead guitar keep things charging forward at all times, but never spiraling into chaos. Staying true to its roots, the band performs as part of a six-band hardcore/punk show that eschews a rock club in favor of an off-the-beaten path venue, St. Stephen's Church.

For a decade, the Leprechaun Lap has been one of the biggest bar crawls in D.C., and this year should be no exception. Spend eight hours hopping between 16 downtown and Dupont Circle bars, including Public Bar, the Mighty Pint, Madhatter and BlackFinn, for $2 Coors Lights, $3 Blue Moons and various shot and food deals. Be warned: bars get more crowded as the day goes on. Get discounted admission with two cans of food, which will be donated to the Manna Food Bank. The crawl begins at Mackey's at 1 p.m.

More Mardi Gras: Mardi Gras Madness is one of the area's longest-running Fat Tuesday parties, even though the New Orleans flavor comes more from wearing masks and tossing beads -- yes, it's that kind of event -- than a traditional Louisiana vibe. '80s hard rock cover band Herr Metal, '90s cover band White Ford Bronco and all-around cover band Down Wilson entertain the largely 20-something audience at the State Theatre. The cover charge includes free beads and masks, with special feathered masks for the first 200 through the door.

Sunday, March 6
A year ago David profiled indie-pop upstarts Dum Dum Girls as part of his "bands to watch" story. Then, the band was in the middle of a bill at DC9. After a summer tour of amphitheaters opening for Vampire Weekend, the quartet is now headlining the Black Cat, its ascent right on schedule. On new EP "He Gets Me High," the sound is refined; there's more depth and texture without losing any of the immediate pop pleasure. Frontwoman Dee Dee has grown more comfortable in her voice and she now sings with a touch of swagger to complement her cool purr. She even pulls off the near impossible: not embarrassing herself on a Smiths cover. The Dum Dums version of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is absolutely a keeper. Openers Minks and Dirty Beaches make this a highlight during an especially busy week.

Monday, March 7
If you've got tickets to the sold-out Scissor Sisters show at the 9:30 Club on Monday night, you're probably going to feel like dancing after the last notes of the encore fade. If you didn't get tickets, you're going to want to catch a little bit of the fun, camped-up vibe. Both groups will find their happy place at Town, half a block away from the 9:30 Club, at an unofficial Scissor Sisters After Party featuring DJs Shea Van Horn and Aaron Riggins. Doors open at 9 (while the concert is still underway), and admission is free with a Scissor Sisters ticket stub or $5 without one.

More Mardi Gras: Want to celebrate Fat Tuesday without getting overrun by 20-somethings on the hunt for cheap booze? Round up your co-workers for Acadiana's two-day Mardi Gras celebration. Doors open at 3:30, and all-night happy hour deals include $5 New Orleans-inspired cocktails, $4 draft beers, $2 sliders and $10 baskets of frogs legs.

Spring is in the air, and new Dogfish Head beers are finding their way into local bars. One of the most anticipated is Squall IPA, a pungently hoppy ale that Fritz loved last summer in Delaware. You can get a taste at one of this week's Dogfish Head Alehouse beer dinners, which take place Monday in Falls Church, Tuesday in Gaithersburg and Wednesday in Fairfax. The five-course beer-and-food pairings, which were inspired by New Orleans cuisine, include gumbo with andouille sausage and shredded chicken paired with Indian Brown Ale, beignets with coffee-infused Chicory Stout, and a crawfish boil and red beans and rice served with Squall. Admission is $60, which includes tax and tip. Call the brewpub in advance, because these events always sell out.

As if Yelawolf didn't have to endure enough Eminem comparisons already -- he's a lightning-fast white rapper, after all -- signing to Em's Shady imprint will only encourage more. But all it takes are some cursory listens to realize that the Alabama native works in a much different way than his new boss. Yelawolf never sounds like he's inhabiting a character, and he never needs to go over the top. He goes all out, all the time. Every verse is treated with a do-or-die intensity, surely one of the reasons Eminem became interested in the first place. Yelawolf may not have a Wiz Khalifa-level breakout in him, but his talent ensures a very long career. Catch him with CyHi the Prince -- whose famous backer is Kanye West -- at Rock & Roll Hotel.

Tuesday, March 8
Finally, Mardi Gras is here.

The Red Derby's wonderfully low-key Mardi Gras party includes free masks and beads, $3 Hurricane cocktails and zydeco music all night. The large rooftop deck will be open if weather permits.

Dancing by the Bayou, which hosts monthly zydeco dance parties at Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom, goes big on Fat Tuesday with the traditional Cajun sounds of Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners. The party starts with a 30-minute dance lesson.

All-day happy hour at Acadiana (see Monday listing).

From handling production and creative direction early in De La Soul's career to pioneering horrorcore with the Gravediggaz, Prince Paul has exercised a variety of outlets for the odd juxtapositions of sounds in his head. But before pioneering the art form of the hip-hop album skit and reinventing himself under new personas, he rocked turntables in classic fashion. He made his DJ debut on the big stage with old school giants Stetsasonic, and he's rocked parties for three decades while juggling production projects. For this night at U Street Music Hall, Prince Paul is paired with two fittingly eclectic selectors, Stereofaith and Jerome Baker III.

If you hit up that Screaming Females show on Saturday, expect to see many of the same faces in the crowd at the Black Cat on Tuesday. Both Des Ark and Pygmy Lush are part of the same underground, DIY circuit. Des Ark has been a staple of that scene for the last decade; whether playing blistering rock or an occasional acoustic show, frontwoman Aimee Argote overflows with intensity. Pygmy Lush has successfully transitioned from hardcore mayhem to a foreboding brand of Americana, and it now keeps the edge of its old identity while saving stress on the eardrums.

By Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson  | March 1, 2011; 6:24 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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