Nightlife Agenda: The Funk Parade, the Derby and the Backyard BBQ

April 29

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


Black Masala performs at the Funk Parade's Friday night Block Party and on Saturday night at DC9. (Photo courtesy of Black Masala)

Tuesday, April 29
Going to a Kentucky Derby party this weekend? Get a start on your outfit during a special happy hour at Little Miss Whiskey's. The Talk Derby to Me Hat-Decorating Party is open to anyone who wants to have a better chance of winning a best-dressed contest on Saturday. Bring your own hat and take advantage of the ribbons and other decorating supplies provided, though organizers note that participants should feel free to bring "hot glue guns, glitter, ribbons, puff paint, and pastel-colored anything" to use, swap or share. The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m., and is open to everyone.

Thursday, May 1
Even better weather is on the way, and it's time to head outside for more than happy hour. Hill Country's Backyard BBQ returns to the lawn of the National Building Museum this summer, beginning Thursday and running through Labor Day weekend. The main draw is live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night without a cover charge, beginning this Thursday with roots rock from southwestern Virginia band the Floorboards. Much of the setup is the same as last year, including a menu full of barbecue sandwiches; bartenders pouring Shiner beers and margaritas; and cornhole and other lawn games available on a first-come, first-served basis. The party runs from 4 to 9 p.m., with the show beginning at 5:30.

With the White House Correspondents Dinner taking over Washington this weekend, it's the perfect time for "Snapped," an exhibit of political photographs taken by members of the White House News Photographers Association. Spanning the years from 1900 to the present, this is a best-of-the-best collection for political nerds and history buffs. It goes on display at the W Hotel's Living Room lobby bar on Thursday night, and the kickoff party features a special cocktail menu and a soundtrack by DJ Stereo Faith. The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m., and although it's free, e-mail RSVPs are requested at whappenings@brandlinkdcrsvp.com.

Ethiopian jazz, or Ethiojazz, has taken hold among crate diggers, world music fans and jazz heads, and it makes sense that the city that, according to some reports, boasts the largest Ethiopian population outside of Addis Ababa has a talented group creating and performing in this lane. Feedel Band has a monthly residency at Bossa Bistro, where the group mixes solid pieces from such peers as Walia and Ibex with its own growing repertoire of originals. It's improvisation and Western instruments with the unique time signatures and voicings of Ethiopia. The band starts at 10 p.m., and there's a $5 cover at the door.

Friday, May 2
The Funk Parade is taking over the U Street area Saturday afternoon and evening – see below for more – but before that happens, there's a special Friday night Block Party at the African American Civil War Memorial. The Black Masala gypsy brass band, 1970s funk singer Sir Joe Quarterman and DJ Jahsonic, known for his Monday night hip-hop sets at Marvin, will perform at the event, which runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Beyond music, the night will feature talks from local historians and storytellers; the screening of the trailer for the upcoming documentary "Black Broadway on U," which tells the story of the neighborhood from 1910 to the 1950s; and a display of art on the One Love Massive's One Love Bus. Refreshment comes from food trucks and a selection of local breweries. Admission is free, though there's a suggested $10 donation, which includes one beer.

It has been more than a decade since North Carolina rapper Phonte and Dutch producer Nicolay met online and began a virtual creative relationship across continents. Since then, their partnership has blossomed into five full album releases, a Grammy nomination and a label housing some of their favored collaborators. Despite Nicolay's move to North Carolina, the duo hasn't changed its winning remote-creation formula. Nic makes the tracks and sends them to Phonte, who writes and records his parts to them. With each release, Phonte's singing chops grow and Nicolay explores deeper soul and future jazz textures. Their show at the Howard Theater will give fans a chance to absorb the live experience of the group's latest album, "Love in Flying Colors."

Richmond's Bio Ritmo has a reverence for mambo and salsa, but that reverence hasn't calcified into dogma. This combo finds new ways to arrange Latin jazz while keeping the spirit and energy true. Dancers know Bio Ritmo is the real deal, and a closer study beyond the band's dancefloor-melting rhythms reveals unique flourishes in writing and instrumentation to the savvy listener. Bio Ritmo returns to Tropicalia along with residents Congo Y Castro.

Saturday, May 3
The Kentucky Derby is more than a horse race: It's a chance to dress up in your fanciest seersucker suit or sundress and spend an afternoon sipping mint juleps. We've come up with a list of ways to celebrate, including parties for charities, a fashion contest judged by one of D.C.'s top drag queens and lots of bourbon.

After months of fundraising and buzz, the Funk Parade finally arrives on U Street on Saturday. "Parade" is actually somethixng of a misnomer, because the day is much bigger than one event. From noon to 5 p.m., the stretch of U Street between Ninth and 16th streets NW will become a hive of activity with rappers, jazz ensembles, percussion bands, DJs, a P-Funk guitar jam, dance performances, lion and dragon dancers, graffiti artists and a special family area. The parade itself starts at 5 p.m. at Vermont and U, heading up Vermont to V Street, then down to 13th Street and Ben's Chili Bowl. Participants include the Ballou Marching Band, dragon dancers and the Afro-Brazilian Batala percussion band, though organizers encourage anyone who feels the funk to join the parade. Finally, there are free concerts and events happening at clubs all over U Street on Saturday night. Among the highlights: Legendary go-go band E.U. will have crowds doin' "Da Butt" at U Street Music Hall, where they'll be joined by local reggae favorites Nappy Riddem, and head to DC9 for the dynamic combination of local Afrobeat band Elikeh and Black Masala's brassy gypsy funk.

Missed MIA at Echostage on Sunday night? You can still catch Baltimore-based producer Blaqstarr – known for his production work on the fiery singer's "Kala" and "Maya" albums, including an incredible remix of "Paper Planes" – this weekend at the Lodge at RedRocks on H Street NE. He'll be joined by DJs Ozker, Mista Selecta and Shawn Smallwood. As always at RedRocks, doors open at 9 p.m. and there's no cover charge.

Fans of big, deep, disco-inspired house should be familiar with Tensnake. If you aren't, and you find yourself drawn to funky bouncing beats, then you need to listen to this excellent German DJ. Check out his BBC Essential Mix on his Soundcloud page, or the amazing "Love Sublime" with Chic/Daft Punk guitarist Nile Rogers, and then go hear Tensnake at a late show at U Street Music Hall, and dance to lush keys-and-sax-infused music all night.

Fritz Hahn has written about 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. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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