Thursday, December 6, 2007; 12:00 AM
Thursday, December 6
If we could look back over all the questions that we've gotten since Got Plans? began, we'd have to say that "Where can I ride a mechanical bull?" would be near the top of the list. Blame regulations, licensing or just fear of lawsuits, but there's no bar in the metropolitan area that lets its patrons live out their "Urban Cowboy" fantasies. Tonight, though, for one night only, McFadden's is bringing in some robotic livestock and hosting a Mechanical Bull Riding Competition from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to the cowboy or cowgirl who stays on the bucking bovine the longest. The evening includes plenty of drink specials -- an optional $10 open bar from 6 to 8, then $3 Miller Lite pitchers, Southern Comfort shots and vodka drinks from 8 to midnight -- but you'll have to sign a liability waver before you get on the bull, so pace yourself.
Madlib (listen) is the Rain Man of hip-hop -- just without the awkward social side effects. Sure, the enigmatic and reclusive California beatsmith is quiet and self-effacing. But he also creates at a nearly inhuman pace. Under his many guises, he's been known to sometimes knock out an album in a day. Madlib started out as the loop doctor of the Lootpack and went on to become a cornerstone artist of the venerable Stones Throw record label. After studying and dissecting the hundreds of jazz records in his collection, he locked himself in his studio, taught himself to play instruments and released a series of jazz fusion albums under the name Yesterday's New Quintet. Madlib has also explored his id under the pseudonym Quasimoto, adopting a high pitched chipmunk voice and exchanging humorous couplets with himself over dusted-out beats. He'll be joined by J.Rocc, Percee P. and Peanut Butter Wolf of the Stones Throw clan at the Black Cat tonight.
The Motor City is invading Washington this week, and we're not just talking about Miss Ross's appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors. Detroit's garage rock tradition stretches from Jack and Meg back to Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5, and bands like the Gore Gore Girls and the Detroit Cobras are still doing the city proud. Tonight at DC9, it's the Gore Gore Girls (listen), four women who mix snarling, garagey guitars and rockabilly swagger with girl-group vocal harmonies that are closer to the Ronettes or Holly Golightly. Two local groups -- the Highballers (listen) and the Droptops (listen) open.
Friday, December 7
We hear a lot about all those "School of Rock" classes that teach kids how to play Led Zeppelin and Rush songs on guitar, but those aren't the only classes trying to get teenagers to focus their energy on music and the arts. The Words, Beats and Life Urban Arts Academy works with students between the ages of 12 and 17 in Northeast Washington, offering mentoring, writing workshops and other activities, all centered on hip-hop. Participants also get the chance to learn techniques from local DJs, and two of WBL's turntablists are making their debut tonight at Bombs Away, a rare all-ages hip-hop show that features some of the area's hottest talent. Tre Pound and 40 will be sharing the stage with MC Flex Matthews, DJs Eurok and Orbit 122 (the guys behind the legendary Reunion Thursdays nights), E-One, Resination and DJ Scratch Master K. It's all going down at the Borf Mansion (aka the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building) on North Capitol Street. There's a $5 cover charge.
Clubs and bars are increasingly rented out for private parties at this time of year, much to the dismay of patrons who show up looking for a fun night out and find themselves on the wrong side of a velvet rope. The Clarendon Ballroom is always in demand as an event facility, but it tries to play both sides to keep its weekend audiences happy. While the Ballroom is rented for a private party for most of this evening, its doors are being thrown open to the public at 12 a.m. for Midnight Madness, with live music by Dewey favorites Mr. Greengenes. Admission is free.
The Alliance Francaise is uping the stakes in the iPod battle at tonight's Soiree Carte Blanche. Here's how it works: You bring your MP3 player and pick three songs for the DJ to spin. Two participants will be chosen to compete head-to-head, with the winner determined by the crowd's applause. The top selecta gets $400 worth of French language classes, so arrive early to sign up. Other events on the schedule include short films and a Secret Santa gift exchange. Light snacks are included in the happy hour's $8 cover charge, but drinks are not.
If you didn't get enough grimey Michigan garage rock last night, the Detroit Cobras (listen) are bringing primal rock and rough-and-tumble R&B to the Black Cat. The band's gimmick is that it's an out-and-out cover band, but it only performs long-forgotten and neglected gems like Otis Redding's "Shout Bama Lama" and Garnet Mims's "As Long As I Have You," dirtied up and delivered with Rachel Nagy's husky voice taking center stage.
Saturday December 8, 2007
Yuletide Madness is always one of the more amusing holiday parties around, a black tie-preferred event at the National Press Club with music, dancing, open bars, dinner buffets and all the trimmings. This year, entertainment comes from Mr. Greengenes, the Pennsylvania band whose mix of covers and rockin' originals has made them favorites at clubs up and down the East Coast, and DJ Smoky, whom you might remember from the Starboard in Dewey, or maybe just the Front Page in Ballston. In the spirit of the season, guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for charity. Tickets are $119 from yuletidemadness.com.
A large article in Tuesday's Metro section focused on how Hanukkah is helping turn Jewish music hip, and you'll get firsthand proof tonight at the historic Sixth and I Synagogue with the Eighth, a concert featuring the LeeVees and DeLeon. Even non-Jews can get down with the LeeVees (listen), whose catchy indie rock songs wonder about the multiple spellings of Hanukkah and debate whether latkes should be topped with applesauce or sour cream. (If the voice sounds familiar, you might be a fan of the Gusters, singer Adam Garder's much-better-known band.) After the show, the JDub records crew is hosting an afterparty at the Wonderland Ballroom with DJ Meistro, Blacksburg, Va.'s exciting Boogieburg Soundsystem (download radio shows and mixes here) and percussionist Tonito. There's no cover or dress code.
This week's Nightlife Agenda tribute to the music of the Midwest takes a detour down to Chicago tonight, by way of Five. Mark Grant (listen) is part of the seemingly endless stream of talented house music DJs coming out of the Windy City (Larry Heard, Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak, etc.) His remixes and compilation CDs have that smooth, sexy and instantly recognizable thump, with soulful vocals, Latin touches and jazzy instrumentation layered on top. Grant's appearance at Five features live vocals by Russoul (listen), a "Chicago Idol" competition winner that Grant has worked with. Local representation comes from Big Sexy.
Despite his name, Dirty South (listen) is a rising star on the international electro scene, not a rapper from Tha A-T-L. He's made quite a splash over the last two years, turning out dance-floor-friendly remixes for Mark Ronson, Tracey Thorn, Tiesto and other big names, and his skuzzy, unstoppable electrohouse remix of "It's Too Late" garnered "Essential New Tune" status from the BBC's influential Pete Tong. (If you listen to one song on his MySpace, make it that one.) Dirty South's a special guest at Glow tonight, which has really stepped up its game since moving to Ibiza a few months ago. Advance tickets are $20 from clubglow.com.
Jetsetting DJ People's Champion (listen) -- formerly of the See You Next Tuesday parties at Wonderland -- is back from an extended sojourn in Berlin, where he played at a number of the German capital's top clubs, including 103 and Magnet. Let's hope his record bags are bulging with new and exciting electro bangers, because he's spinning at DC9's Transatlantic Dance Party.
Monday, December 10
In the mood for a holiday party? Clarendon Grill's weekly salsa night is hosting its special holiday gathering tonight, glammed up with a live band -- La Sensual -- to go along with DJ Bruno's crowd-pleasing mix. If you've been meaning to learn salsa or just dust off your moves, there's a beginner dance lesson from 7 to 8, while intermediate and advanced students can pick up new moves from 8 to 9. Bring an unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots campaign -- the Marines will be on hand to collect them -- and wrap an under-$10 present to participate in the annual gift exchange with other dancers. There's a $7 cover.