Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are five you can’t miss:
Tuesday: It’s hard to talk about San Francisco trio Grass Widow without invoking the term ramshackle. The band plays songs that amble along and knock around in a cauldron of post-punk and indie-pop, creating a sideways momentum that’s more appealing than straightahead bashing. As ramshackle as it may be, it never sounds haphazard or fragile. Grass Widow’s new album, “Internal Logic,” is a sturdy collection of songs that finds the band on its most solid footing yet. Locals Mary Christ and Priests open at Comet Ping Pong.
Thursday: A concert by an Ecuadoran rock group at Arlington’s Salsa Room nightclub, the Joan Miro exhibit at the National Gallery and a Latin American poetry reading at the Library of Congress are the kind of events you’ll hear about from the Association of Ibero-American Cultural Attaches. A team effort between various Spanish-speaking embassies, the group promotes its shared heritage though cultural programs across the region. To help support its mission, the group hosts the Ibero-American Embassies Party at Lima (in the basement of Fujimar) with a diverse slate of entertainment. Colombian singer Verny Varela and his band perform salsa, cumbia and meringue tunes, a DJ spins music from across Latin America and bartenders serve drinks made with Peruvian pisco and Caribbean rum as well as beer and soda. There’s an open bar from 8 to 11 p.m., and a silent auction offers original art and tickets to embassy events. Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance or $30 at the door.
Friday: As one half of the Grammy-winning D.C. DJ duo Deep Dish, Sharam Tayebi - better known as just “ Sharam ” - helped put the local electronic music scene on the map. He’s still touring the world, dropping house hits for crowds of thousands and releasing his own material, such as “M.I.T.T.” with Shakira. That’s why it’s a treat when Sharam plays an intimate venue back home, such as this weekend’s appearance at Josephine. The small capacity of the lounge guarantees things will get crazy, so be smart and buy tickets in advance.
Saturday: It’s impossible to think of hip-hop without Def Jam Recordings . Def Jam shaped the careers of the most enduring greats of the genre, a veritable hall of fame that includes LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. While other labels faded, Def Jam evolved with every generational shift in rap, and it’s now the home of Big K.R.I.T., 2 Chainz, Nas and the Roots. The Lincoln Theatre hosts a celebration for “Def Jam 25,” a book documenting the label’s first 25 years. Key Def Jam figures such as album cover genius Cey Adams and founding publicist Bill Adler host a panel discussion, followed by a Def Jam tribute starring locals Asheru, Tabi Bonney and Gods’illa, a tribute to the late MCA of the Beastie Boys, and a closing set from Def Jam legends EPMD.
Saturday: Four local bands perform on the Black Cat’s main stage Saturday night. It’s a bill that’s a snapshot of the depth of the local rock scene. Headliner Frau Eva celebrates the release of the debut album “Underneath Eyelids,” which showcases the quartet’s homespun, pastoral chamber-pop-folk sound. Heavy Breathing plays a slightly terrifying strain of effects-laden electro-rock that keeps getting louder even when you think the volume has reached its upper limits. Also performing is Paperhaus, a quartet that tackles a variety of rock and psychedelic sounds with impressive precision, and consistently intriguing experimental duo Janel and Anthony.
Still need more ideas? You’ll find six after the jump, including a reggae party with Ziggy Marley, gin tastings and a “Dallas”-themed late-night happy hour.
Wednesday, June 13
Photographer Joshua Cogan has made multiple trips to Jamaica to document DJs, scenes of day-to-day family life and more of the island outside the tourist bubble. A selection of his photographs curated by Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton and dubbed “ Heart of a Lion: The Streets of Kingston ” is on display on Montserrat House, and the exhibition launches with a night of “Rum, Reggae and Jamaican Art” from 6 to 10 p.m. Hilton and the Yellow Fever crew provide the music, Blackwell Rum takes care of the drinks and Ziggy Marley, who is performing across the street at the Howard Theatre that night, is set to stop by.
When he’s not touring with his popular and Grammy-nominated labelmates the Foreign Exchange, Zo! is out on the road supporting his many solo releases and performing with labelmates. Cut from the same cloth as stylistic influences Quincy Jones and the Mizell Brothers, Zo! finds great chemistry with vocalist Sy Smith, who will share the stage with him at Blues Alley.
Great Washington musicians come together to explore mixtures of Latin and African rhythms at Bossa on off-nights, where the vibe is perfect for lounging over drinks and making some moves on the tight dance floor. Mestiço, inspired by the sounds of Brazil, is one of these bands to watch.
“ Dallas ” is set to return to television, and naturally, Hill Country Barbecue is getting in on the action. Starting at 9 p.m., the show will be on big-screen televisions in the dining room, and late-night happy hour drinks will be available. There’s no dress code, but the bar suggests that ”cowboy hats, shoulder pads and rhinestones are optional.”
Thursday, June 14
Bols Gin boasts that it is the world’s oldest spirit brand: its Amsterdam distillery dates to 1575. Get tastes of the whole Bols line, including aged genever, during a tasting event at the New Heights Gin Joint. Look out for a special grapefruit tonic made to be served with spicy Damrak Gin.
Friday, June 15
From 1996 to 2005, Red was one of the most influential dance clubs in Washington. Known for a sweet soundsystem, DJs spinning a progressive mix of house, funk and disco, friendly crowds and parties that went until dawn, the Jefferson Place basement earned every plaudit it got — including a nod from Urb Magazine as the best “intimate nightclub” in America. Its no-frills approach made it a template for current venues, including U Street Music Hall, which hosts a “ Red Revisited ” reunion with former Red resident DJs Sam “The Man” Burns, Doug “95 North” Smith, Thomas Blondet, Master Kev and Kostas. Admission is free before 11 p.m., and $5 after.