Correction to This Article
Ab and the Souljourners was erroneously listed on the DC9 calendar for the Eclectic Collective and Gavin Gastleton show on September 9. We have removed the listing.

Nightlife Agenda

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By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
washingtonpost.com Staff Writers
Thursday, September 6, 2007; 12:00 AM

Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | Tuesday

Thursday, September 6
Calling a group a "bar band" is really a loaded term, conjuring up images of roadhouse blues, Rolling Stones covers, maybe even "Freebird." It's far more likely to be used dismissively than as a term of endearment, which is what it should be. A great bar band keeps the energy level high, makes the crowd dance, interacts with the audience, plays songs you can drink and sing along to -- you know, everything a great band should be. It's with these criteria in mind that we can safely say that Scythian (listen) is the best bar band in D.C. The three classically trained frontmen may focus on Celtic folk music, and run off blistering fiddle solos that would put musicians twice their age to shame, and can cover the Pixies with the same verve as a traditional Irish rave-up like "Black and Tans," and they might throw in some Klezmer, bluegrass or a fiddle version of "Wild Thing" while they're at it. But it's more than musicianship that makes Scythian a great bar band: Leading the audience in drinking games, hosting impromptu dance contests, luring audience members to jig onstage, getting everyone to sing along to "500 Miles." These are the things that we care about. After a summer of touring the country's myriad Irish festivals, Scythian is back in the Washington area to promote its new CD "Immigrant Road Show." Catch the album release party tonight at the Birchmere, or see the band on Sunday at Finn Mac Cool's, where they're performing at a fundraiser for Paradox Sports. (Scroll down to Sunday's listings for more information about that show.)

Consider this a rare piece of Lunchtime Agenda. We just had to include MC Hammer's Thursday show as that day's pick for our Free and Easy column, so we'll take this opportunity to let you know of another fine, free event happening that day. Before every band that sorta rocked but played acoustic guitars was labeled alt-country, there was the Jayhawks. Mark Olson (listen) was one of the main songwriters of the acclaimed group and more than 20 years into his career he remains a special talent known for his honest, down-home Americana. He'll give a free performance at Borders Downtown, and as an added bonus his touring mates Last Town Chorus (listen) will perform as well. LTC frontwoman Megan Hickey's fiery lap-steel playing alone will make it well-worth getting out of the office. (If you can't get out of a meeting, or you're dying to join us during Got Plans, you can see Olson and Last Town Chorus at Iota later on tonight.)

Friday, September 7
The forces of rock, disco and international music combined to markedly change the career trajectories of jazz musicians in the '70s. While Roy Ayers came up with novel ways to merge his jazz vibraphone chops with dancefloor trends, keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith was moving out of a solid career as a sideman into his own groove-oriented explorations and Jon Lucien was accompanying his romantic baritone with acoustic guitars and the sounds of Brazil. Lucien was slated to be a part of tonight's Superstars of Jazz Fusion concert at the Birchmere, but he unfortunately passed away three weeks ago. Ayers, Smith and others are going ahead with the concert and playing what should be a fitting and rousing tribute to Lucien's memory.

Local label Kora Records celebrates three years of existence with a nice little show at the Black Cat featuring backing bands galore. You've got your Meredith Bragg and the Terminals (listen), Donny Hue and the Colors (listen) and Olivia Mancini and the Housemates (listen). Good thing the Black Cat doesn't have a big marquee, because that would be a whole lot to fit. The bands don't necessarily sound all that similar, but they share a certain loose-but-catchy aesthetic. Bragg plays wistful folk-pop, Donny Hue (reviewed here recently) plays ramshackle psych-rock and Mancini and her mates do the feisty indie-pop thing. Expect to see lots of people taking repeat turns on stage.

So as the buildup to Buzz's return continues -- look for an announcement about the opening night's lineup on the Going Out Gurus blog soon -- its founders and promoters are throwing weekly events to keep the club's name out there. Ordinarily, we'd be cynical about giving them too much press, but tonight's party is just too good to pass up: Buzz founder Scott Henry is spinning for free at Five. With years of experiences at Buzz, Fever, Ultraworld and dozens of other events under his belt, Henry knows how to get crowds moving: funky house, old-school rave classics, techno, you name it. Local DJ Judson Myers opens. To get in free, e-mail guestlist@buzzlife.com, then show up before midnight.

H Street's development opened up more options for rock bands and DJ nights, but hip-hop has only makes sporadic appearances on that increasingly lively strip. Tonight The Red & The Black hosts a packed rock and hip-hop hybrid bill with a combination of Washington and New York based artists. Brooklyn's Sankofa ranges stylistically from jangly indie tunes to a punkish cover of Prince's "I Would Die 4 You." They'll be traveling down I-95 with Loud Minority Music artists Che Grand and Tanya Morgan, the latter of whom is not a female vocalist but a three man hip-hop trio who generated minor buzz with their "Moonlighting" LP and a humorous MySpace-themed video. Teen freestyle rap sensation Emoni Fela and frequent Loud Minority collaborators Dumhi hold down the local portion of the night.

Saturday, September 8
The Harlem Renaissance Orchestra is what we might call a next-level big band. So many ensembles plays "swing music" that consists of the same-old Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller charts, but the Harlem-based ensemble plays amazing music by Earl "Fatha" Hines, Lionel Hampton, Lucky Millinder and Louis Armstrong, among other giants of the jazz age. While the HRO has a standing gig at New York's Swing 46 supper club, they're coming down to perform at Glen Echo's historic Spanish Ballroom tonight. The real star of the evening, though, is Frankie Manning, a national treasure who lindy-hopped his way through Marx Brothers films and the pages of Life Magazine in the 1930s and is still teaching and inspiring yet another generation of swing dancers. (Manning is in town for Stompin' at the Savoy, a weekend of classes and music, which you can read about here.) Worried about stepping on toes? The $18 cover charge includes an hour-long beginner dance lesson.

Things are going quite well for local garage rock quartet the Hall Monitors (listen). The band has earned a reputation as one of the town's best live acts, with a set full of R&B-fueled garage rock nuggets and showmanship to spare. It recently scored a killer gig at Brooklyn's Cavestomp festival, where the Monitors will open for garage rock uber-legends the Sonics. Another great show will be next month at the State Theatre, when the band gets to back Eddie Angel, best known as guitarist for surf-rockers Los Straitjackets. As the Hall Monitors' profile continues to rise, chances to see them at smaller clubs may dwindle so take advantage of tonight's happening at the Quarry House Tavern. It's a party called Hullabaloo, and Rochester, N.Y. rockers the Riviera Playboys (listen) and soulful locals the Ambitions (listen) will join the Hall Monitors on stage. At midnight, DJ Shimmy will spin the finest in obscure garage rock greatness.

The tension between DJ and local bands seems to have ratcheted down in the past few months -- fewer dance nights and more rock on the main stage at the Black Cat or Rock and Roll Hotel will do that -- and while we're not expecting the two sides to sit down at Polly's and sing "Kumbaya" anytime soon, there's a great mix of live and recorded music tonight at the 9:30 Club. DJ Will Eastman, best known for the Cat's monthly Bliss night, is DJing before, between and after sets by Georgie James (listen), Soft Complex (listen) and the Dance Party (listen). Eastman's hosted these parties before, most notably with Codebreaker a few months ago, and they do a good job finding a middle ground. Most importantly, you'll be able to shake your moneymaker whether the music's coming from a band or a DJ: the Dance Party plays glammy, '80s-inspired dance rock; Soft Complex is on the reverby, synth-pop side of the spectrum; and look for more straight-ahead indie rockers George James to play songs from "Places," the group's forthcoming debut on Bright Eyes' Saddle Creek Records.

We don't know about you, but August really flew by here at Nightlife Agenda headquarters. One minute we're planning a July 4 cookout, and the next thing we know, Labor Day weekend has come and gone. There's another (sort of) depressing reminder in Bethesda today, where Lindy Promotions is hosting a city-wide bar crawl to remind us that spring -- make that St. Patrick's Day -- is only six months away. Lindy is the group behind Washington's annual July 4, Halloween and Easter bar crawls, so they've got the formula locked: Start at Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle anytime between 1 and 6, then wander to eight other watering holes for $2 Miller Lites and various food specials until 9 p.m. Caddies, Tommy Joe's and Union Jack's are among the participating venues, so if you've been looking for an excuse to explore the nightlife capital of Montgomery County, you've run out of excuses. Admission is $10 on the day or $7 if you bring two cans of food, which will be donated to the Manna Food Bank. Save even more by getting $5 admission on LindyPromo.com, though we'd still encourage you to bring the canned food. Karma, you know.

Sunday, September 9
What is it about the beginning of September that makes everyone want to throw a music festival? Okay, it's Labor Day, that last gasp of summer when people might be looking for any excuse to head outdoors. That makes sense. But even the weekend after the long weekend is festival-filled. If reggae's your thing, then get to Crossroads today for the One Love Festival. The all-day, indoor/outdoor affair will have plenty of music and vendors to meet your Jamaican needs. Dancehall stars Buju Banton and Beenie Man are the big names on the bill, but don't sleep on S.T.O.R.M., one of the area's strongest reggae bands. And yes, the irony of Banton -- who has run into controversy for some not-quite-tolerant lyrics of his -- headlining the One Love Festival isn't lost on us.

Scythian -- whom we raved about higher up the page, under the Thursday listings -- visits Capitol Hill tonight to raise money for Paradox Sports, a charity that helps disabled athletes engage in rafting, skiing, climbing and other adventure sports. The Power of Paradox event begins at 4 at Finn Mac Cool's, and a $20 donation is good for admission, drink specials and giveaways. See www.paradoxsports.org for more information.

Monday, September 10
The Black Cat is entering its awkward teen years. When you turned 14 you were probably really self-centered and only cared about yourself, right? Well, the Black Cat feels that way, too, at least for one night. To celebrate nearly a decade and a half of being the city's center of indie rock the club is throwing a party for itself and letting all of its employee bands take to the backstage. You might not recognize too many of the names, but you'll get some noisy madness from Facemat, punky mayhem from Pessimist Parade (listen) and a mixture of catchy, vibrant pop songs and slightly trippy instrumentals from the Aquarium (listen). There will be plenty more and it's free.

Tuesday, September 11
It's possible to make good beer with a conscience. We know this because of Wolaver's Organic Ales, which come from Vermont's Otter Creek Brewing Company. The lush Brown Ale is a thing of beauty, malty and mellow and perfect for sipping, and while the Pale Ale isn't quite as memorable, we'd still choose it over most of the beers lining taps across the Washington area, especially because all of Wolaver's beers are certified organic and have been for the past decade. Otter Creek's other fine brews are worthy of praise, too -- hoppy Copper Ale, the smooth winter seasonal Alpine Ale -- and you can taste a variety of them tonight at Tallula's EatBar, where Chef Nathan Anda has created a six-course dinner to mix with the company's beers. Sixty-nine bucks covers food, drink and tip, so make a reservation before all the seats are gone.


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