Nightlife Agenda: Free music at the W, the return of Scythian and a tribute to Biggie

March 4, 2014

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Guide staff highlights the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.


Scythian's Joe Crosby, Alex Fedoryka and Danylo Fedoryka, from left, jamming at Fado in 2004. (Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

Tuesday, March 4
It's Mardi Gras. While the area's two parades have been cancelled due to lingering issues with snow and ice, they are many other ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Check out our guide to Dixieland, Sazeracs and po'boys.

Bell's Hopslam is always one of the most sought-after beers in Washington, even if 2014's release seemed to be a bit more omnipresent than in years past. Nevertheless, here's some important news for hopheads: ChurchKey received the area's lone cask of Hopslam this year, and it only holds 10.8 gallons. (That's a little over 40 liters.) If you want to taste it, get to the 14th Street bar as close to 4 p.m. as you can: The cask version -- which Fritz found to be more balanced than the usual draft when he tried it last year -- might not be around for long.

Snow? Forget the snow. Crios is welcoming Great Lakes' Chillwave IPA -- the beer formerly known as Alchemy Hour -- with a beach-themed party suited for the Cleveland surfer on the bottle's spruced-up label. Hawaiian shirts are suggested, tacos are two for $5, and six Great Lakes beers will be half-price from 5 to 7 p.m., including Chillwave and the (more seasonally appropriate) Alberta Clipper Raspberry Porter, a warming beer that doesn't usually leave the Great Lakes brewpub. Ask nicely and you can have Great Lakes glassware to take home.

Wednesday, March 5
Bob Mould has worn many hats over the years: The leader of frenetic '80s punk band Husker Du; frontman of alt-rock group Sugar; a driving force behind the hugely popular travelling electronic music dance party Blowoff, serving as a remixer and live DJ. But one of the finest moments is his first solo album, "Workbook," full of gorgeous modern rock songs featuring acoustic guitars, mandolins and strings. Mould is on tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Workbook," but in addition to songs from that album, he'll revisit moments from across his career at the 9:30 Club.

Malian pop star Habib Koite breaks with his past on his brand-new album, "Soo": A new band, a new instrument that resembles a banjo instead of the usual guitar. But rhythms and melodies are still captivating, whether he's celebrating soccer or addressing the horrors of female circumcision. Before the concert at the Barns of Wolf Trap, there's a drum circle and a class on playing the djembe.

Not sure how many times we -- and our colleagues -- can tell you that you need to see Mary Timony's new band Ex Hex. Here's another chance: The former Helium and Wild Flag guitarist is bringing the troops to the Black Cat. As Chris Richards wrote, brush up on your air guitar, perhaps by listening to this rad cover of Slant 6's "What Kind of Monster Are You?"

Colorado's Left Hand Brewery picked up three medals at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, and every one was gold. (Not too shabby.) The brewery is making its official foray into Washington this week and is bringing along multiple versions of two of its big winners: Milk Stout (Best Milk Stout or Cream Stout) and Sawtooth ESB (Best Ordinary or Special Bitter) to ChurchKey. Customers can sample draft, smooth nitro pour and cask-conditioned versions of both beers, plus five others, including 400 Pound Monkey IPA and a cask of dry-hopped Black Jack Porter. The full draft list is here.

Thursday, March 6
Ten years ago, a group of friends began playing Celtic music every Thursday night at Fado Irish Pub in Chinatown. Scythian quickly established that it wasn't like any other Irish group in Washington: Brothers Danylo and Alexander Fedoryka were classically trained musicians (piano and violin), as was fiddler Josef Crosby, infusing covers of "Come Out Ye Black and Tans," the Pogues' "Tuesday Morning" and Charlie Daniels's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with extra zip and technical wizardry. More than musicianship, however, what really set the group apart were their infectious, interactive live shows. Tambourines were passed out to members of the crowd who wanted to play along. There were mid-set drinking games, dance contests and audience-participation versions of hokey chestnuts such as "The Wild Rover." The pub regularly hit capacity and stayed full to the end, with pint glasses being hoisted as everyone sang along. The charismatic Scythian naturally went on to bigger things, including headlining the 9:30 Club, performing at Floydfest and touring Irish festivals across the country. But to mark the 10th anniversary of its Fado residency, Scythian is performing at the pub every Thursday in March.

The W Hotel's rooftop P.O.V. bar is best known for its postcard-quality views of the White House and Mall, but it's turning into a hotspot for music fans this week with two great (and, most important, free) events. On Thursday night, local alt-rockers U.S. Royalty perform at a release party for the vinyl version of the band's second album, "Blue Sunshine," a collection of tuneful, '70s-soaked Americana. As a bonus, the event also heralds the launch of a new DC Brau beer: a version of the boozy Belgian quadruple Ghouls' Night Out that has been aging in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels since October. The fun begins at 9 p.m., but you need to e-mail povlive@brandlinkdcrsvp.com to get on the guest list.

While go-go used to ring out at the corner of 14th and U before U Street's era of accelerated growth, fans and musicians have since found it has no space on the new U. That's what makes a night of classic, funky go-go back on the block for one night at Tropicalia feel like such a homecoming. Ras Lidj brings his combo of reggae and go-go with the Deep Band, while old-school go-go all-star outfit Faycez U Know will feature E.U. icon Sugar Bear on its front line for the night.

Karaoke for Complainers has graced this column in the past for its fun and amusing combination of seasoned local comics and open mic amateurs taking turns slinging their pet peeves to a room full of folks who can relate, or at least laugh. Hip-Hop Karaoke has also gotten love for allowing rap fans to get into character as their favorite hip-hop artists, spitting lyrics onstage as DJ Roz backs them up on the decks. At Liv this Thursday, both events take place on the same night. Get your gripe on, get your rap on, or both. Or just get your drink on and enjoy.

Friday, March 7
The Mansion at Strathmore launches the 2014 edition of its Friday Night Eclectic concert series with a cool and unexpected act: Baltimore rapper Rye Rye. Her rapid-fire rhymes over dancefloor-packing breakbeats and Baltimore Club rhythms earned the M.I.A. protege critical raves and tours with Katy Perry and Robyn, so a headlining slot in Rockville is an unexpected treat. The night starts with happy hour at 8 p.m. before Rye Rye takes the stage at 9.

Saturday, March 8
The first D.C. Craft Beer Festival finds at least 75 breweries each bringing a pair of beers to the Washington Convention Center. The lineup includes almost every Maryland, Virginia and D.C. brewery you've heard of, plus bold-face names like Dogfish Head, Allagash, Lagunitas and Stone. Tickets include informative seminars as well as all-you-can-taste samples for several hours. (Two-and-a-half hour General Admission passes cost $49; VIP or Connoisseur levels that offer an extra hour of drinking time and access to "rare beer tastings" will run $65-$105 depending on the time of admission and level of access.) Our advice: Pass up the boring big names (seriously, who hasn't had Dogfish 90 Minute IPA or New Belgium's Fat Tire?) and head for the smaller outfits like Bar Harbor, Mad River or the Fort Collins Brewing Company. Don't skip Port City, either: The Alexandria brewery will have its harder-to-find Maniacal Double IPA and the Colossal Three anniversary Heller Bock.

If you've spent any time in clubs over the last decade, you've come across one of the men spinning at U Street Music Hall's Saturday night DJ summit. Eric Hilton is a founding member of Thievery Corporation and a renowned DJ in his own right; DJ Dredd is the man responsible for the long-running Prince parties at the Black Cat and 9:30 Club; Stereo Faith is equally comfortable dropping Britpop at the Black Cat or top-40 bangerz at the Rock and Roll Hotel's Becky; Keenan Orr is a winner of the Washington Blade's "Best DJ" award and a resident at Cobalt and Marvin. This fantastic four will take turns on the turntables beginning at 10 p.m., and there's no cover before midnight if you're 21 or older.

Potomac native turned Nashville up-and-comer Maggie Rose was one of the first artists to play the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club last March, and she's back almost exactly a year later for another pair of homecoming shows. In the past 12 months, Rose has seen her debut album "Cut to Impress" hit number 38, and two singles ("Better" and "I Ain't Your Momma") sneak into the top 30 of the country airplay chart. Her brassy, bluesy vocals, which recall Shania Twain, portend big things in country music. She performs on both Saturday and Sunday night.

Sunday, March 9
The second of the W Hotel's great free rooftop events this week is a "Sunday Funday" pre-party for the sold-out Broken Bells and Au Revoir Simone concert at the 9:30 Club. The ladies of Au Revoir Simone will be DJing during the party, which runs from 1 to 7 p.m.; previous sets in Washington have been full of cool, peppy and danceable indie rock, electro and pop songs. There will be drink specials all afternoon, including $10 cocktails. RSVP to wfunday@brandlinkdcrsvp.com.

Maggie Rose at Bethesda Blues and Jazz (see Saturday listing)

Monday, March 10
All the Best Kids has been working its hip-hop/rock band hybrid for a couple of years, but the group will make a big splash on the Howard Theatre stage this week as a backing band for a Notorious B.I.G. tribute show. On the day after the 17th anniversary of Biggie Smalls's still-unsolved murder, All the Best Kids will lock the grooves behind a slate of D.C. rap talent tackling the musical legacy of Brooklyn's Finest. Leading the microphone wielders at the Howard Theatre will be globetrotting edutainer Asheru, known equally for rocking stages as for teaching arts and literacy. Biggie mentee and Junior M.A.F.I.A. centerpiece Lil' Cease will handle host duties.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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