This week’s picks include a tribute to hip-hop legend J Dilla, outdoor jazz across from the White House, the kickoff of the Fringe Festival and the final show for local rockets Vita Ruins.
Wednesday, July 6
Ernest Hemmingway died 60 years ago this month — July 2 to be exact — and July 21 is the 111th anniversary of his birth. It’s also National Daiquiri Month. Cuba Libre has somehow put two and two together and is honoring one of America’s greatest authors with a different flavored daiquiri every day of July. (We suspect that Papa, a lover of the classic daiquiri, wouldn’t be thrilled with concoctions like Honeydew or Vanilla Tea.) If you go to the Cuban-themed restaurant for happy hour today, you can try an Orange Daiquiri or enjoy the Brazilian-themed Caippy Hour Carnival , with $5 caipirinhas, free liqueur tastings, samba dancers, live music and a $4 bar menu between 4:30 and 6:30. We’ll be at the bar, copy of “Winner Takes Nothing” in hand.
We love dogs and happy hours, and it’s better when the two come together. On Wednesday nights, Helix Lounge hosts a doggie happy hour benefiting the Shaw Dog Park from 5 to 7. Your four-legged friends get free treats and filtered water; humans enjoy $5 cosmos and glasses of Pinot Grigio, plus $3 Yuengling, and $1 from each sale goes to the dog park. (The usual happy hour specials, which include half-price burgers and $3 PBR cans, also apply.)
Thursday, July 7
By now you surely know that the annual Capital Fringe Festival offers nearly three weeks of theater that’s bizarre, offensive and ... that about covers it, right? Did you know there’s music, too? Fort Fringe hosts concerts each weekend and has an especially funky first offering featuring Alma Tropicalia and Elikeh. True to its name, local group Alma Tropicalia celebrates the Tropicalia sound that came out of Brazil in the 1960s, a technicolor mix of psychedelic rock and South American rhythms. Elikeh is another band that inspires plenty of movement with an Afrobeat-based sound that also draws on funk, rock and soul.
If bag searches, ridiculous crowds and overpriced sangria mean you’re finally over Jazz in the Garden, it’s still possible to enjoy great music downtown under the stars. The historic Decatur House hosts monthly Jazz on Jackson Place concerts in its walled courtyard all summer, and the $25 admission includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer, in addition to a two-hour concert and tours of Decatur House. The setting - across Lafayette Square from the White House - is great, but you’ll be focused on buzzed-about vocalist Lena Seikaly, whose lush mezzo-soprano and clever phrasing have made her one of the local jazz scene’s most promising performers. Buy tickets in advance, because capacity is limited.
For all of the big bashes at art museums, sometimes the art gets lost in the shuffle. That shouldn’t be the case at the latest edition of Phillips After 5. The event is based around the museum’s new exhibition featuring work by Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky and music from local abstract electronic group Protect-U. The duo (which features Post staffer Aaron Leitko) will be performing music inspired by Kandinsky’s colorful canvases, so expect a more ambient and shapeless version of its usual cosmic electro jams - a few less beats and a few more swirly, brain-bending sounds.
Friday, July 8
Did you read Dan Zak’s recent Style piece on the dueling conservative and liberal happy hours on Capitol Hill? (“The happy hours look and feel identical on the surface: a mob of racially diverse 20- and 30-somethings prowling for discounted booze and lucrative conversation that may lead to a new and better job [or, simply, a job].”) Some First Friday regulars are hosting a special (and allegedly nonpartisan, but still right-leaning) happy hour at Union Pub called Cool Down, Drink Up . Stop by between 5:30 and 9 for happy hour food and drink specials and, according to the invite, “networking or just not-working.” It’ll beat the same-old Friday scene at the Lounge or Pour House, and since there’s no Tune Inn . . . well, what have you got to lose?
Saturday, July 9
On these shores, soulful house music takes a backseat in popularity to the club banging sounds of trance and electro and such hot-right-now styles as dubstep and moombahton. In South Africa, the deep, melodic and uplifting subgenre reigns. Whether in national music awards, on airwaves or as part of youth culture, soulful house has a massive influence in South Africa, and Black Coffee is the chief export. This DJ and producer broke through in 2007 after years as a journeyman with the single “Even Though.” He steadily followed up with a string of bangers until “Superman” became an international smash hit last year. Capitalizing on his popularity, Black Coffee launched a charity for disabled children by DJing for 60 hours straight. U.S. house heads greet the South African artists with enormous excitement whenever they make their way here, so Black Coffee’s first D.C. appearance at Sweet Spot will likely be packed as soon as the doors open. Oscar P, Cortega and Kimozaki will rock the decks before the guest of honor does.
Local atmospheric rockers Vita Ruins have faded in and out of visibility over their five or so years on the local scene, which fits the band’s music. The group plays moody, almost paranoid songs that are awash in layers of effects-laden guitars and electronics. Making that sound work on a record is one thing, but Vita Ruins was able to translate it to a live setting, which isn’t always easy to pull off. We use the past tense because the band has decided to call it a day after Saturday’s show at the Rock & Roll Hotel.
U Street was long the home of D.C. underground hip-hop, and while heads still get it in down there, such uptown spaces as Ras and Everlasting Life have expanded homegrown beats and rhyme events. The most exciting appearance at the Midnight Marauders show at Everlasting Life this evening is Rapsody, the classically trained and new-school fluent female MC groomed by producer 9th Wonder, who will also be on the set. When music award shows can barely dig up any women to place on a ballot with Nicki Minaj, Rapsody brings exactly what hip-hop needs right now.
Sunday, July 10
Fresh off a banging set at the Moombahton Massive a few weeks back, D.C.-gone-L.A. DJ duo Nadastrom is back at U Street Music Hall for a night of electro, techno and moombahton, the bass-heavy dance music created by Dave Nada. Opening is Munchi, the Dutch/Dominican DJ who draws on Baltimore Club, house and Caribbean rhythms but has released some of the most potent moombahton records out there. The 18-and-older show is $10.
Tuesday, July 12
Washington has been one of the most enduring locales for celebrating the work of J Dilla, the groundbreaking hip-hop and soul producer and MC who died in 2006. Dilla tribute concerts in Washington have employed live bands to re-create Dilla’s layered, funky compositions and featured famous Dilla peers and admirers, including Talib Kweli and Pete Rock. The proceeds from these events are donated to the J Dilla Foundation for music programs in inner-city schools and the Lupus Foundation. This time, the crew of local musicians who hold it down every year - Wes Felton, Flex Matthews and others - have moved the festivities to the 9:30 Club and booked the Pharcyde as one of the featured performers. In addition to the hypnotizing “Runnin’, “ Dilla produced the bulk of the L.A. group’s acclaimed 1995 sophomore album, “Labcabincalifornia,” so the connection is deep.
Even at their best — maybe even especially — brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces can be one of indie rock’s most laborious bands to listen to with its incredibly wordy song suites that regularly charge past seven minutes and rarely offer simple pleasures like a chorus. Which makes it all the more surprising that singer Eleanor Friedberger’s debut solo album, “Last Summer,” is such a breezy, agreeable listen. Her overflowing lyrical style remains, but the overstuffed arrangements are replaced by bouncy keyboards and sing-songy melodies. If you’re looking for a summer album, look no further. Romania opens at the Black Cat.