Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz Staff Writers
Thursday, August 17, 2006; 12:00 AM

Thursday  |  Friday  |  Saturday  |  Monday  |  Wednesday

Thursday, August 17
Permit issues have forced the Aug. 31 Shellac/Uzeda show from Fort Reno to the Black Cat, so tonight's performance at the park will indeed be the season finale, and it's a fine way to go out. Scene veteran Mary Timony, who first performed at Fort Reno way back in 1984, headlines the show and we welcome her return to stripped-down rock featured on last year's album, "Ex Hex." Garland of Hours, featuring ubiquitous area cellist Amy Domingues, and dreamy psychedelic pop quartet Pagoda are also featured on the very solid bill. Check out this exclusive video for more on Mary Timony and Fort Reno.

We know not everyone out there will recognize Familiar Faces, so let us steer the uninitiated toward one of our favorite go-go/R&B/pocket jazz groups. The band plays along with L!ssen (whom we also enjoy) during Soul Session Thursdays every week at Zanzibar. You'll get drink specials and the big soul food buffet (think fried chicken, greens, mac 'n' cheese) from 6 to 8, along with free admission. But back to Familiar Faces: This is a group that includes several former members of Rare Essence, including vocalist Donnell Floyd, and naturally, it can crank with the best of them.

Friday, August 18
Our Best Bets results came out earlier this week, and second place in Men's Clothing Store went to the District Line, a British fashion boutique in Adams Morgan. Coincidentally, the shop is throwing a party to mark the launch of its new Web site at DC9 tonight, with free T-shirts, gift certificate giveaways, drink specials (a buck off Bass and gin-and-tonics, guv'nor) and the Britpop stylings of DJ William Alberque (whom you may remember from such DJ nights as the Noise Academy at Chief Ike's Mambo Room and Razzmatazz at the Black Cat). Cover is $5, though a number of free passes are available at the District Line.

Saturday, August 19
Three bars are celebrating their anniversaries this week by throwing themselves parties.

First on our list is the Argonaut, the seafaring-themed neighborhood pub that was an early pioneer on H Street NE, anchoring the eastern end of the corridor now known as the Atlas District. Some people -- including us -- wondered if nightlife mogul Joe Englert was crazy for trying to put eight bars on three blocks of the rundown strip, but the Argo proved an excellent introduction, quickly building a following of locals in a homey setting. (Amazing sweet potato fries and fantastic rum drinks have helped.) Tonight's first birthday party is also a celebration of the brand-new second-story bar, which opens officially on Friday night. There's a DJ, a free happy hour buffet and free pool after 9. Don't forget about the free taxi service that will take you back to Union Station anytime after 10 p.m.; ask your bartender for details.

Also marking a special occasion on Saturday is Ventnor Sports Cafe, the hit-and-miss Adams Morgan sports bar. Bartenders are friendly and provide excellent service, drink specials are frequent and there are some nice, loungey couches facing flat-screen televisions. Too bad the place seems to be suffering from an identity crisis because of overly loud music and rifts between the folks who want to watch a game and the folks who are doing shots and loudly talking with their friends. Nevertheless, join owner Scott Auslander for free drinks from 9 to 10, and, most likely, the Red Sox-Yankees game on the TVs.

Andrew Hogans can usually be found playing lead-off batter to the headliners at DC Sanctuary, getting the house dancers' engines revved up to cruising speed with the right pacing and programming and blending seamlessly into the main event. He'll be hopping over a few blocks with The Man himself to bring some uptempo goodness to the usual hip-hop vibe of Mirrors. Rebirth is a new party with Hogans and Sam "The Man" Burns that delivers a similar experience to Daylight but is more aligned with current house sounds. Wait for the eureka moment when Sam melds an underground R&B dance nugget from the '70s with a brand new souful house tune that just came out last week. House is just modern disco, y'all.

Combining zany activities and philanthropic work is all in a day's work -- or in a day's drinking -- for SMASHED. Best known for the Idiotarod, which had teams of twentysomethings racing through D.C.'s streets pulling shopping carts sled-dog style, SMASHED keeps coming up with new ways of helping charities. (The name is an acronym for Society of Mature Adults Seeking to Help, Entertain and Donate.) Today's main event, which benefits the Homeless Children's Playtime Project, is the Couch Potato Party -- a "bar crawl" between five adjacent Adams Morgan watering holes, so you'll never be too far from your next drink. From 3 p.m. on, a $10 donation gets you $3 draft beers, $2 shooters, entrance into an air guitar competition, board games, a trivia contest and more. Sounds like the perfect way to kill a Saturday afternoon, doesn't it? Best of all, you're helping a program that makes sure homeless kids have time to, well, act like kids. The action begins at Spaghetti Garden and takes in the rooftop and ground levels at Roxanne, Peyote Cafe and Tom Tom.

While we think its sports coverage could be a bit better, Street Sense remains a fine publication. OK, all joking aside, the all-volunteer local newspaper that focuses on -- and is largely produced by -- members of the homeless community is one of the most unique publications around and deserves all the support it can get. You can show that support and also catch some fine local acts at the Black Cat, as Fugazi bassist Joe Lally headlines a benefit for the paper. Just like Ian MacKaye with the Evens, Lally has turned the volume way down lately, performing quiet meditations with just bass and drums. The thirst for rock will be quenched by openers the Hard Tomorrows, who deftly straddle the line between indie and a more accessible alt-rock sound.

The 51st State Tavern continues to be our favorite Foggy Bottom pub for its great beer, some terrific happy hour specials, pool and two levels that provide plenty room to hang out in vintage 1920s booths or perch at the two antique bars. Tonight is the second annual Dog Days of Summer party, which means a long list of specials from 8 to close, including $3 Sierra Nevadas and shooters, $4 Stoli cocktails and $5 nachos. Arrive early for a seat on the patio, and expect to be surrounded by Yankees fans -- the 51st State bills itself as sports bar that concentrates on "all New York sports teams."

Monday, August 21
A quick troll through the Internet Movie Database reveals that actress Anne Ramsey enjoyed quite a career as a television "guest star," dropping in on episodes of "Knight Rider," "Three's Company," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Alf." But no number of bit parts on "Hill Street Blues" or "Family Ties" could make her anything but Mama Fratelli to us. Ramsey, who died in 1988, is the subject of tonight's Movie Monday at Galaxy Hut, where "The Goonies" will be shown back-to-back on the 90-inch projection screen with her other big starring role, "Throw Mama From the Train." (Start practicing yelling "Owen! Food!" in your gruffest voice now.) There's no cover, and Goonies starts at 8.

Wednesday, August 23
The third bar to celebrate an anniversary this week is Asylum, which marks its 15th birthday tonight with a party on 18th Street. This is the third location for the hard-rockin' biker bar, which opened on Ninth Street in 1991, in the space now occupied by DC9, before moving to U Street a few years later. Asylum arrived in Adams Morgan in 1997, and has since expanded from a dungeon-like basement to a two-level, er, dungeon-like lounge. (Check out the dragon-shaped DJ booth and the collection of skulls and armor on the walls.) Owner John Andrade is promising a huge party to celebrate 15 years, and the entertainment he's laying on makes it sound like a hilarious carnival of chaos. Let's just say that the "games" and festivities make clear that this is certainly an adult birthday party. There's a special "photo booth" that will allow you to have a picture taken with a devilish Pope Benedict XVI and a "Wheel of Misfortune" that will offer prizes like T-shirts and free drinks as well as punishments -- you don't want to get cracked by one of the bartenders' whip-like flicks of a bar towel. Throw in the D.C. Rollergirls, DJs and staff dressed as "naughty nurses and orderlies" and you're looking at one hell of a party. It certainly won't appeal to everyone, but some of us can't wait.

Regular readers of Nightlife Agenda (that would be all of you, right?) may have noticed a recent run on eastern European-influenced indie rock bands, and we've got one more for you in blogosphere favorite Beirut. The band is the brainchild of precocious 20-year old Zach Condon, who comes off as a more worldly, less wordy Conor Oberst. The band's debut album, "Gulag Orkestar," is one of the freshest sounding albums of the year, with Condon's southwest U.S. roots providing musical inspiration in addition to the former eastern bloc. Expect a big crowd for tonight's Warehouse Next Door show, which also features art-rockers Curtains (featuring members of Deerhoof) and vocoder rockers Get Him Eat Him. To hear a clip of Beirut's "Postcards from Italy," check out the latest edition of the Nightlife Agenda podcast.

Memories is like a live multidimensional version of listening to a greatest hits compilation to get a concentrated dose of an artist's best work. Sure you could buy one or make one yourself, but the experience is heightened when DJ Mandrill weaves the hits and overlooked treats of superstars like Chaka Khan or cult favorites like Ann Nesby for a crowd that unites in adoration. Tonight at Cobalt, Mandrill will be celebrating the work of soul belter Sybil and house diva Jomanda. If your Sybil catalog stops at "Don't Make Me Over," you might want to stop by.

There's nothing quite like a Neil Hamburger performance. The disheveled, greasy, tuxedo-wearing anti-comic succeeds by making you groan, not laugh. Expect to hear tasteless, profane "jokes" about some of his favorite subjects (such as Princess Diana and Red Hot Chili Peppers), and expect the heckling to be out of control. He feeds off of it, and he won't necessarily heckle you back, but he'll probably clear his throat very loudly. Everyone should experience the Hamburger at least once, and with funny woman Morgan Murphy opening on the Black Cat's backstage, tonight is as good a chance as any.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company