Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are three we think you can't miss.
Thursday: Ernest Hemingway’s novels are loaded with characters who enjoy a drink or two, and what each one chooses to sip provides a wealth of clues about their personality and station in life. Local author and cocktail historian Philip Greene has written a book about the drinks featured in Hemingway’s literature, deftly titled “To Have and Have Another,” that contains 55 recipes, with extensive notes about how and where they show up in the Hemingway canon. Greene will be talking about his work – and, naturally, mixing up cocktails – at a special seminar at Union Market. Tickets ($35 in advance, $40 at the door) include an autographed copy of the book.
Saturday: In the 1960s and ’70s, Washington was known as the Bluegrass Capitol of the World, thanks to such bluegrass greats as the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, who performed around a local circuit of bluegrass clubs. There’s less bluegrass around today — even the local bluegrass radio station has gone online only — but there are still plenty of musicians plucking banjos and singing high, lonesome harmonies. Some of the best will be onstage this weekend at the fourth annual D.C. Bluegrass Festival in College Park. Friday night’s main event is the Mid-Atlantic Bluegrass Band Contest, which is open to all non-professional bands. Saturday is a full day of local and national talent, but the headliner is not to miss: Larry Sparks, who began playing with Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys in 1966, takes the stage with the Lonesome Ramblers.
Sunday: Perhaps the biggest benefit of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s “Pump Me Up” exhibit is that it’s giving those of us who grew up here a chance to see favorite bands of the ’80s and ’90s all over again. The 9:30 Club’s D.C. Funk-Punk Throwback Jam harkens back to the days when you could have a hardcore band like Minor Threat on the same bill as go-go legends Trouble Funk. This all-day concert is a mashup of musical styles: Go-go kings Junkyard and the aforementioned Trouble Funk percolate; Scream offers hard rock songs with punk attitude; ’90s rapper Stinky Dink had a big hit with “One Track Mind”; Black Market Baby and Youth Brigade tear through loud and fast punk; Worlds Collide were a socially conscious ’90s hardcore band; DJ Kool — well, you know “Let Me Clear My Throat.” The whole thing is hosted by actor/writer/standup comic Henry Rollins, who fronted a D.C. hardcore band called State of Alert, or S.O.A., back in the days when he was known as Henry Garfield.
Keep reading for details on beer tastings, zydeco and a party where you can win art by naming it.
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Pennsylvania's Troegs Brewery and Virginia's Devils Backbone are favorites with Mid-Atlantic beer lovers for a reason: They do the basics well. It's not just about huge IPAs or strong ales, though both excel at those styles, too. Tonight, you can explore the range of both breweries without having to leave the city. Ten Troegs beers are going on tap at Scion, including the impressively hopped Nugget Nectar; the clean, crisp Sunshine Pils; and a trio of experimental beers from Troegs' "Scratch" series. It's a wallet-saver, too: All brews are $4 from 5 p.m. to close. Meanwhile, up in Columbia Heights, Meridian Pint will have 10 Devils Backbone beers on tap, most of which never leave the Shenandoah Vallery brewpub. What's notable is that there will be four very different lagers to sample: Most breweries make one, if that. (The Old Germany Lager, which Fritz sampled last year, is particularly delicious.) The bar opens at 5 p.m., and all 10 beers will be sold at happy hour prices all night.
Friday, Feb. 22
If you didn't get your fill of Cajun music at Mardi Gras, head to Artisphere for a night of zydeco dancing with C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Chenier is the son of Clifton Chanier, known as "the King of Zydeco," but he has blazed his own trail, blending zydeco's infectious accordion riffs with southern blues.
The closing party for D.C.’s Social Media Week takes place at Malmaison, the highly anticipated new venue from the team behind Napoleon. Dance to selections by Dance for the Dying and DJ Bishop D, and win custom artwork from the No Kings Collective by tweeting potential names for each piece.
Saturday, Feb. 23
Brazil is a vast country, so familiarity with samba, bossa nova, forró and axé are just a start to exploring its musical traditions. To get a taste of Afro-Brazilian percussion from the country’s northeast, check out Washington D.C.’s own Maracatu Baque do Mangue at Tropicalia, along with Alma Tropicalia and Fort Knox Five.
Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 23-24
Bring a designated driver to the Mad Fox Brewing Company this weekend. Brewer Bill Madden is hosting his third annual Barleywine Festival, a tribute to the high-alcohol, high-hops, high-malt beer style. In addition to three barleywines from Mad Fox, including one aged in Catoctin Creek Rye Whiskey barrels for the last year, Madden has assembled 30 different barleywines from as far afield as Brooklyn, Rogue, Sierra Nevada and 21st Amendment. (The star of the show, though, is JW Lee's Harvest Ale from England.) There's no admission to the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, and all beers and food will be individually priced.