Thursday, June 22, 2006; 12:00 AM
Thursday, June 22
For fans of Caribbean music, this is one of the best times of the year. Sure, you'll get to hear soca, reggae and more steel pan bands than you can shake a stick at during the D.C. Caribbean Carnival parade on Saturday, but we're looking forward to a number of "unofficial" events this weekend, beginning with tonight's Beenie Man show at H2O. The single greatest dancehall artist of the last decade, Beenie has more than five dozen No. 1 singles in his native Jamaica, huge hits in America (including the unstoppable "Who Am I" and "Dude") and a reputation for energetic live performances where his smooth delivery and tongue-twisting rhymes come to the fore. We'll expect nothing less than floor-quaking bass and lilting grooves tonight, and admission is free when you RSVP to www.h2odc.com.
Using the term "boom-bap" to describe DJ Premier isn't cliche, it's a statement of origin. This onomatopoeia crystallizes the stark drum and sample work that Premo stamped on hip-hop in the early '90s as a member of Gangstarr and as a highly sought-out producer for many other acts across the beat-driven spectrum. He's become somewhat of a torchbearer for the last of the keep-it-realers who still want their hip-hop straight with no chaser. He'll be proselytizing the realness at Avenue tonight after sets from DJ Scene, DJ Ayres and Washington's own DJ Dirty Hands. This concert is another in a series of promos for a certain car manufacturer, and you can get in free when you sign up at http:/
The years between "Radio Free Europe" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" were the golden era of indie pop, and Florida quartet Human Television would seem to agree. The group is all jangly guitars and catchy melodies, bringing to mind groups like the Wedding Present, the Smiths and almost the entire roster of Slumberland Records. It might not be much more than a tribute, but it's a pretty great one, and there aren't too many bands making this kind of music today. Washington Social Club bassist Olivia Mancini and her side project the Housemates open this show at the Warehouse Next Door.
Friday, June 23
If you like beer, this weekend should be circled on your calendar. Friday through Sunday, dozens of breweries descend on Ashburn for the ninth annual Old Dominion Beer Festival, where more than 100 beers are available for tasting in a large field behind the Old Dominion Brewing Company. There's live music, too, from local alternative rockers Emmet Swimming (Friday), an alt-country tag-team of Last Train Home, Robbie Fulks and the Waco Brothers (Saturday) and the Cajun stylings of the Crawdaddies (Sunday), among others. Our only complaint is the new pricing scheme: single-day tickets are no longer available, forcing visitors to pay $20 for a three-day pass in addition to $1 for each six-ounce sample of beer. While this should cut down on drunkenness -- three days to explore the wonderful products from Bear Republic, North Coast, Yards and Lancaster Brewing means you don't have to try them all at once -- not everyone wants to drive to Ashburn three times to feel like they're getting their money worth. In any event, gates open at 5 tonight and taps flow until 10. The first beer pours at noon on Saturday and Sunday. Aficionados know to go early for the best selection -- many breweries have kicked their kegs by Sunday afternoon.
Dominican salsa star Jose Alberto is nicknamed "El Canario" not because of his sweet, high-pitched voice, but because of his uncanny ability to carry a tune by whistling -- like a canary singing over an uptempo island beat. It's quite an instrument, and if you haven't heard him croon, you're missing out on one of the most exciting singers in salsa. Over the past three decades, Alberto has been a favorite collaborator of both Celia Cruz and Tito Puente while making hit albums of his own. Tonight, "El Canario" sings at H2O, and yet again, admission is free if you get on the guest list at www.h2odc.com and arrive before midnight. (Show up before 11, and you'll get free food and drinks, too.)
DJ Jessie Tittsworth's exploits in hip-hop have been well documented in these pages due to Krunk, the impressive hip-hop night he ran in Bethesda and later downtown Washington. More recently, he's been really pushing Baltimore club music, adding a higher gloss of production polish to its repetitive raw grooves. Tittsworth's roots in the local scene, though, go back to the early days of drum 'n' bass. You can catch him dipping back into his junglist plates tonight at Five for Upfront Friday, alongside Bobby Jae (who repped for D.C. alongside English up-and-comers Chase and Status earlier this week) and Ken Lazee. Always looking for a chance to set off debauchery and never one to stick within the supposed boundaries of genre, Titts will likely augment his d'n'b selections with some booty bass and funky house.
Just when we were about to sign the death notice for the term "grown and sexy," the blasts for tonight's Opium party at Avenue make copious use of the adjective "sexy" as well as multiple shirtless photos of the evening's host, LL Cool J. The promoters were creative enough to pile on the modifiers for the usual dangling carrot of free food, too: a "lavish catered complimentary midnight dinner buffet" is in effect for the evening. Fellas, hit the open bar from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and then post up for heightened macking opportunities that may come when the ladies get swoony over Cool James. DJ Quicksilva, DJ Benhameen, Trinidad's Jugglers crew and reggae DJ Super Slice hold down all three DJ booths. Check www.madpowerunit.com for discounted admission.
This is a heavy weekend for house heads with two of Chicago's native sons setting up shop on local dancefloors. First up is Ron Trent at DC Sanctuary tonight. Debuting with the blueprint Chicago techno sound at the beginning of the '90s, Trent moved east, and his work evolved into deep, emotional productions with Afro and Latin flourishes that molded the sound of soulful house coming out of New York. This uplifting style can be best experienced on his Abstract Afro Journey and Giant Step DJ mixes, but in a live set he can still take it to that blue collar place that they zone out on in the Midwest. Handing off the baton for the evening will be Sanctuary resident DJ Oji.
Saturday, June 24
Roy Davis Jr. brings the week's other dose of Chi-town floor stomping to a different venue. Davis is similar to Ron Trent not only because he deftly manages the balance between pretty and gritty in his sets but also because of his rep as a producer. His Chicago Forever album is a soul record with a dance music evening gown. Shifting tempos, themes and organic arrangements tell a more varied narrative than the thump-thump-thump stereotype often affixed to dance music. We're definitely intrigued that Gallery is coming out of the gate with such a major name when the dance music scene here prefers to stick to the city center. Let's hope that the Montgomery County Flavor Initiative has legs.
Since 1982, France has celebrated Fête de la Musique, a national day of live music, dancing and culture featuring public concerts by amateurs and professionals from morning to midnight. When the D.C. government launched its own version a few years back, we had high hopes, but declining budgets meant that our day of live music lasted a mere two years before getting canned. This year, we'll rely on the French Embassy's Fête de la Musique 2006, which features music and dancing from 4 to midnight at La Maison Francaise. Organizers promise an "eclectic program" with a wide variety of music, Latin dance lessons, an outdoor concert with jazz harmonica wizard Frederic Yonnet and DJs spinning under the stars. They'll also have multiple bars serving champagne, wine, beer and coffee, plus chefs serving barbecue and snacks. Admission is $12 ($15 at the door), and advance tickets are available from www.la-maison-francaise.org.
Byron Lee's four decades in the music business have seen him move from calypso to ska to reggae to soca, perform at the World's Fair and even provide much of the soundtrack for "Dr. No." (That's his band performing in the scene at Pussfeller's.) He owns Kingston's famous Dynamic Sound studio, used by everyone from the Rolling Stones to Paul Simon, and Lee helped found the Jamaica Carnival, where the Dragonaires still perform every year. Tonight, after the D.C. Caribbean Carnival wraps up for the day, Lee and the Dragonaires are the centerpiece of Zanzibar's Caribbean Carnival afterparty, which also features DJs Jason Steel, Spyda and Creme. The dancing will go until 4 a.m. Just skip the athletic wear and arrive early; this event is going to be packed.
Sunday, June 25
Remember when you used to hang out at the mall back in high school? And one of those people from a modeling agency would come up to you and be all, "Have you ever considered a career in modeling? You'd be fantastic!" And you were all, "My dad told me about you people, this is a scam! Scam, I tells ya!" (You talked like Grandpa Simpson back in high school, apparently.) But you had that one friend who fell for it, whose dreams of strolling the catwalk proved too much to pass up, and a few weeks later he/she was out $1,200 and had a few 8x10 glossies and no modeling contract to show for it. That's what Emergenza reminds us of. Finding young, impressionable bands, promising them a chance at stardom, but mostly using them to make money off the tickets they have to sell. Sure, the bands get exposure and, with some good fortune, a chance to play top venues, but there's a reason why you probably haven't heard of more than a couple of the 14 bands scheduled to play at the D.C. finals tonight: Most bands know it's nothing more than a glorified pyramid scheme. But hey, one day the members of Gepetto's Wud will be able to tell their grandchildren that they played at the world-famous 9:30 club. To which their grandchildren will no doubt respond, "Gepetto's Wud? Really?"
The clever minds responsible for the monthly gay electro-indie dance party Taint have come up with a new project that eschews DJs in favor of an old-time variety show. Tonight at DC9, Crack is looking for "comics, burlesque, shock drag, guerilla poets, contortionists, exhibitionists, dancers, performance artists, musicians, psychics, and other freaks." We're kind of creeped out by the not-quite-work-safe Web site, crackdc.com -- make sure you have the volume off or your headphones on before clicking over -- but that's where you can sign up to participate. If you'd rather just watch the spectacle unfold, there's a $7 cover.
Monday, June 26
Syrupy is the best way to describe the music made by Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes, an Alabama duo that goes by the name Brightblack Morning Light. OK, maybe druggy would really be the best way to describe it. But what else would you expect from a people who live in tents for much of the year? Brightblack certainly falls into the "freak-folk" category (now New York Times approved!), but there are hints of gospel on the band's self-titled album, no doubt influenced by their home state. Electric piano grooves, not acoustic guitar, are at the center of most of the group's songs, which saunter and simmer for five and six minutes apiece, never really straying too far from that original groove. It would be good music to enjoy on a humid summer evening under the stars. Well, the humid summer evening is covered, but DC9 will have to substitute for under the stars. Fellow freak folks Espers open.
Wednesday, June 28
Now that summer's officially here, your beer-of-choice should be moving away from Guinness to something a little crisper, lighter and better suited for warm weather. One idea is a Kolsch, which is a sharper, less cloudy cousin of the popular weiss beers. In Germany, only beers brewed within sight of the Kölner Dom (the Cologne cathedral) can be called Kolsch, but they're much easier to find here. Tonight at Gordon Biersch downtown, for instance, brewer Jason Oliver is tapping his version of the Kolsch at a special summer luau. As live surf music fills the historic building, you can sample the beers -- including a new Czech-style lager -- taste free food and enter raffles to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The party technically begins at 5:30, but crowds arrive earlier.