The performance by Hector El Father at H2O is on Friday, February 2, not Friday, January 26.
Thursday, January 25, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, January 25
A quick look at the name and you might think that the Payola Reserve has something to do with local collective the Federal Reserve. It doesn't, but the Baltimore quartet would fit in comfortably with the Americana-influenced batch of locals. The Payola Reserve has a knack for classic pop songcraft but isn't afraid to dirty up its sound on occasion, giving the songs a welcome kick. The Roosevelt opens at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Friday, January 26
Okay, we've come out against just about every "all one artist all night long" DJ night that's ever crossed our paths, simply because -- yawn -- if we wanted to listen to a greatest hits album, we'd stay home with the CD player. Besides, very few performers have a career that's interesting and diverse enough to sustain an entire night of dancing. One of the exceptions is Madonna, whose long and varied career could probably sustain an entire week of DJ nights -- one for each carefully cultivated phase, from Detroit hood rat to Kabbalah-practicing yoga devotee. (Don't hold us to that, though.) Anyway, to mark the release of her new "Confessions Tour" DVD, Warner Brothers is hosting a special Madonnathon at BeBar tonight with DJ Darryl Strickland. He'll be spinning remixes and anthems from over the years, and you may even get to take home a copy of the DVD. Drink specials include $5 Red Bull-and-vodka cocktails, and admission is free when you RSVP to bebardc.com. Make sure you get there before Strickland starts spinning at 10 -- the lounge should be packed by then.
It sounds odd to say this about a band with just a single album to its name, but Washington Social Club have become elder statesmen in the local indie music scene. The band is currently working on a follow-up to its 2004 debut, "Catching Looks," and based on demo versions of songs posted on its Web site, fans of the group's bouncy brand of power pop will find plenty to like. WSC's live shows are always a good time, and those people who complain about folks not dancing at shows probably won't have too much to complain about tonight at the Black Cat. These United States and Let's French, two bands that have come on the scene in the time since WSC's first album, get things started for yet another all-local bill on the main stage.
Saturday, January 27
We always try to bring attention to worthy benefits in this space and there's one tonight that certainly fits the bill. Cal Robbins celebrates his first birthday tonight, but the heartbreaking truth is that he might not see his second. The son of J. Robbins and Janet Morgan, the local duo who front indie-rock band Channels, Cal suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a debilitating disease that currently has no cure. Most babies who suffer from SMA die before their second birthday, and the medical bills to deal with the disease are obviously quite exorbitant. To say that Robbins and Morgan need every bit of help is an understatement, as running a recording studio is a fine way to make a modest living, but not when tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills are brought into the equation. There are benefits happening all over the country -- Ted Leo is playing one in New York on Saturday, Chin Up Chin Up headlines one in Chicago Friday -- and Gypsy Eyes Records head Nick Pimentel has organized one here. It doesn't really matter who's playing, but he managed to put together a fine lineup featuring local folkie Brandon Butler, hard rockers Owls & Crows and New Yorkers Beat the Devil, a band whose songs are based around the haunting sounds of one of the most underrated instruments, the harmonium. The event takes place at a former auto body shop turned performance space that Pimentel has dubbed the Hoisery, and a $10 donation will be asked at the door, but you can always give more. If you can't attend and would like to donate, you can do so here.
Founded by Marine Colonel John Folsom, Wounded Warriors is an organization that supports the families of soldiers who are seriously injured in combat, allowing the veterans, their spouses and children to spend time together at places like Disney World, bonding as a family and getting over the trauma. To help raise money to support Wounded Warriors, a team of volunteers has organized a "pub scramble" in and around midtown today. From 3 to 9, you can hit a number of bars -- the Bottom Line, Porter's, Buffalo Billiards, Mackey's, the Front Page, Rumors, Madhatter and the Sign of the Whale -- for $2.50 Miller Lites and various food specials, including discounted burgers and wings. Pick up your wristband at the Bottom Line or Porter's, where you pay a $10 donation to Wounded Warriors, and then explore the rest of the bars in any order you choose.
New York, particularly Manhattan, is generally acknowledged as the epicenter of soulful house culture, as you'll find the music flourishing in temples of booming sound like Club Shelter as well as tiny underground spots. Those in the know, though, understand that New Jersey has a slightly divergent but equally rich history birthing innovative DJs, producers and legendary parties. Jihad Muhammad built up a rep holding things down in Newark for years. His partner Andrew Hogans set up shop in the D.C. area, and he hits the decks at D.C. Sanctuary from time to time. You can catch them both at Mirrors tonight for Rebirth. With its great sound system, smooth floor and large mirrors, the upstairs space at Mirrors seems created just for dancers.
Alison Crockett is one of those artists whose voice stops you in your tracks even if the name doesn't immediately ring a bell. Fans of soulful dance and electronic music are sure to have at least one of her works on their iPod. Under the name Diva Blue, she laced vocals on some of the most enduring tunes by US3 and King Britt's Sylk 130 project. Then there's the stellar Diva Blue remix album, with selections from her solo catalog reworked by DJ Spinna, Mark de Clive-Lowe and others. Then there's a track record of over a decade touring the international jazz circuit. Though Crockett's orbit takes her far, she occasionally returns back home to Washington to perform. Her show at Ellington's on Eighth tonight is too good to pass up.
After breaking stagnant neo-soul cliches with an inventive debut album and then suffering an Internet leak of his long-awaited follow-up, Philadelphia's Bilal Oliver is back on the live show grind. His intense stage presence is a combination of a jazz stylist, a classic R&B falsetto crooner and a touch of deranged revival tent preacher. W. Ellington Felton sets the stage for Bilal's appearance on the main stage at the Black Cat tonight.
Tuesday, January 30
We generally believe in a more-is-less aesthetic when it comes to local music, and Example A is the Aquarium, who managed to make the No. 2 spot on both David's and Fritz's list of top local albums even though the group consists of an organist (Jason Hutto) and a drummer (Laura Harris). Mixing driving, mod pop songs like "White House" and "Waiting for the Girl" with dirge-like instrumentals, the Aquarium's live show is always a treat. The Hold Up, featuring former members of the Sorts, opens on the Black Cat's backstage.
Wednesday, January 31
If you buy vinyl singles from Sandbox Automatic, HipHopSite.com or UndergroundHipHop.com, then you need to be at Velvet Lounge tonight. Washington's friendliest neighborhood rapper, Flex Matthews, hosts a Local Hip-Hop Showcase featuring the unpredictable Cornel West Theory, rising duo Wade Waters, hip-hop humorist Mr. 40 and a host of other eager microphone controllers. Admission is free.