After publication of this article, Thursday's Uproar event was moved from Avenue to Bohemian Caverns.
Thursday, January 18, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, January 18
Guitar Hero is one of our favorite video games because, well, who doesn't dream of covering Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" and Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" in front of screaming crowds and challenging friends to Van Halen-esque solo battles? Shredding in your living room is fun, of course, but you know what's better? Shredding in public. In a bar. On stage. Tonight, Wonderland's Evil Disco DJ night is (sort of) offering a chance for your six-string dreams to come true. Before the weekly dose of Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Twisted Sister gets the crowd pumping its devil-horned fists, Evil Disco's hosts are breaking out their Playstation for a Guitar Hero II Tournament. The action takes place from 7 to 9 upstairs on the ballroom's projection screen, so you better get there early if you want to reserve a spot. To add to the mayhem, the Philadelphia band the Loved Ones are stopping by after their Black Cat show for a late-night DJ slot. It's free, and it's gonna rawk.
Stella Schindler's 2001 debut, "New Horizon," was an album to spend plenty of time with, but six years might be enough. Her sweet voice and smart lyrics stood out, but it was the honesty she conveyed that made her bluegrass-tinged folk songs sound so convincing. She works in the same bittersweet-yet-still-uplifting territory as Maria McKee, singing sad songs that will make you smile. "New Horizon" was certainly a tough act to follow, but she's finally getting around to it, and she has plenty of help. For tonight's show at the Warehouse Next Door Schindler is joined by Shortstack's Adrian Carroll, local drummer du jour Ben Azzara, and Tom Hnatow and Sean McArdle, both strong singer-songwriters in their own right. Kitty Hawk and Vandaveer open.
If you've been paying attention as you've gotten your club on over the past few years, you'll notice a growing visual component to the experience. VJs have been accompanying DJs for some time with live video manipulation, and traditional artists have been getting into the act, too. Raheem Devaughn tours with painter Demont Peekaso, who started out as the source of Devaughn's custom clothing designs and now creates paintings on stage during all of his shows. AM Radio is a collective of artists from the area who have emerged at the forefront of music-inspired painting. Their weekly events at Common Share are popular and occasionally their canvases catch many more eyeballs, as one did in the balcony at the recent 9:30 club show featuring Raheem Devaughn, Fertile Ground and Anthony David. Accompanied by resident DJ 2-Tone Jones, up to five artists collaborate on an improvised piece over the course of an event. The AM Radio collective will be the star of the show tonight at Liv, the second-story club at Bohemian Caverns.
Friday, January 19
Honestly, we're having a hard time coming up with a better scenario for a party this weekend than sipping cocktails at the Italian Embassy before hitting the dance floor with a bunch of professional ballerinas. You can make our dreams your reality tonight, thanks to the Washington Ballet's Jete Society, which hosts some seriously enjoyable fundraisers. This year's party promises "lots of grooves, lots of sass and very low lights," making it a no-brainer. The dress code is "fun and funky," and besides, it's good for both the Ballet and your wallet -- tickets are $75, but $40 of that is tax deductible. Purchase tickets on the Washington Ballet's Web site.
We promise this will be the last time you read about Benjy Ferree in this space for a while. But his first ever headlining engagement on the Black Cat's mainstage tonight serves as a fine cap to a whirlwind few months that have seen Ferree go from well-kept-local-secret to legit minor indie-rock star, which we realize may in fact be an oxymoron. Signing to Domino Records -- the biggest little label around -- was the highlight, but he opened a sold-out Spoon show in New York two weeks ago, has won over the blogosphere and captured the most cherished honor of them all when his album "Leaving the Nest" was named David's favorite local release of 2006. It's hard to resist his sometimes jaunty, sometimes woozy backporch folk-rock tunes on record, and it's just about impossible to do so in a live setting. If you still haven't heard what all the fuss is about, take a listen to the latest edition of the Nightlife Agenda podcast for a sample. The all-local bill is rounded out by Meredith Bragg and the Terminals and upstart trio Greenland.
One of our favorite ironies: Happy hours that raise money to fight cancer while potentially damaging our livers. But it's all about helping others while having a good time, so we're going to point you toward the RNR Bar & Lounge tonight, where $20 gets you unlimited draft beers and rail cocktails from 8:30 to 12:30. You'll dance, you'll drink, you'll raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Saturday, January 20
Hugh Masekela was a pioneer of a group of exiled South African musicians who found international fame while still contributing to the fight against apartheid at home. He became one of the first jazz musicians to build a career mixing jazz, pop and native African music styles. After four decades in the business, he's equally at home headlining the Kennedy Center as he is giving a leg up to young South African dance music artists trying to build careers. So when you see Masekela live, the gravity of the man's achievements fade into an easy familiarity, as it seems that you're at the knee of an uncle who tells great stories punctuated with melodic bursts from his flugelhorn. Tonight he'll be making one of his periodic appearances at Zanzibar, an incredibly intimate venue for an artist of his magnitude. At $25 it would be a travesty to not experience one of these shows at least once.
We have a battle of swing dances going on tonight. First, instructors-around-town Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg have added a new monthly event with live music. Held at Strathmore's CityDance Center, the venue has amenities dancers crave -- air conditioning and a sprung-wood floor that's light on the joints -- as well as covered parking and direct access to the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station. Tonight's kickoff features Solomon Douglas, the pianist featured in the current incarnation of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Tickets are $15 and feature a half-hour dance lesson.
Moving from the new to the much older, the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom hosts the Boilermaker Jazz Band, a Pittsburgh group that delivers some of the hottest hot jazz and '30s small-group swing we've ever Lindy Hopped to. That should set the mood nicely for a couples dance contest -- entry is free with admission -- with a $100 prize. Pay $13 at the door and dance from 9 until midnight; a one-hour introductory lesson begins at 8.
When we saw that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were DJing at the Rock and Roll Hotel, we got our hopes up, but alas, there will be no Karen O. Shame. But guitarist Nick Zinner is going to be spinning his favorite records this evening, so feel free to ask him all kinds of pressing questions, like when the band's next record is coming out or why "Gold Lion" sounds so much like that Love and Rockets song. We kid. After all, Zinner's often what keeps the band's music interesting when Karen O's schtick gets tired. Admission's free before 10 and $10 after.
Monday, January 22
The Essex Green presents a fine lesson in perserverance. When David first caught them at Galaxy Hut almost seven and a half years ago, the group was on the B-team of the sprawling, '60s-obsessed Elephant 6 psych-rock collective. The Essex Green took cues from the Summer of Love, but it was mostly from the Mamas and the Papas and other bands (except Jethro Tull) that made extensive use of flute. That sound didn't really seem to fit in with their E6 kin, whether it was the acid-damaged folk of Neutral Milk Hotel or the sound collage experimentation of the Olivia Tremor Control. Those bands were done by 2000, Elephant 6 seemed kaput as well and not much was heard from the Essex Green. But the group came back with the very strong "The Long Goodbye" in 2003 and followed that up with last year's "The Cannibal Sea," which keeps all of those Summer of Love reference points, adds in some '70s AM radio flourishes and finds the three-headed songwriting team of Chris Ziter, Sasha Bell and Jeff Baron composing its most complete and catchiest songs to date. The Essex Green opens for Merge Records labelmates Camera Obscura at the 9:30 club.