Ayo: Catch a Rising Star

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Saturday, December 8, 2007

In many cities, people go to bookstores for their fine literature. For their extensive self-help sections. For gifts. For the off chance that they'll run into a soul mate, that one other person in all of Palestine, Ill., who actually bothered to read "The Satanic Verses."

But people in Washington go to bookstores for the stars who visit -- masters of the literary universe as well as bona fide icons, and sometimes (in the case of Josh Ritter and Pete Yorn, who have both ducked into local bookstores for a set), even pop stars. Hundreds of people will line up for an Annie Leibovitz or Jenna Bush signing.

Next week, there are two pressing reasons to head to a bookstore:

Monday at the Olsson's Books and Records in Dupont Circle, you can catch a free in-store performance by rising singer-songwriter Ayo (real name: Ayo Ogunmakin), a German-born, Parisian-transplant-cum-New-York-transplant of Romanian and Nigerian heritage (the diversity of her experience, of course, is what informs her songwriting). She has been on the verge of a breakout since her record "Joyful" was released last year. At a mere 27 years old, the singer, whose style has been compared to Tracy Chapman's, has played with Cody Chesnutt and is in town, in fact, opening for Babyface in a sold-out show later that night at the Birchmere. At Olsson's, though, it'll be all about her. Free. 12:30 p.m. Olsson's, 1307 19th St. NW. 202-785-1133.

Monday night, it's about Caroline Kennedy. The ultimate first daughter is pushing her latest book, an illustrated collection of her favorite writings, songs and poems on the holidays called "A Family Christmas." And what, oh, what, did Kennedy choose? There's a little something by Truman Capote; John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"; and an excerpt from the "Santa Guide for the Macy's Santa." She visits Politics and Prose on Monday to sign copies of the book -- no previous books and no memorabilia, per the bookstore's request. Free. 6:30 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-364-1919.

Save the Date

ON STAGE: "Good for the Jews" This show, the brainchild of New York duo Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin, played to two capacity crowds at Jammin' Java last year, and the guys are back for two nights at the Birchmere. They'll banter and perform songs that make light of being Jewish (they are on the "Putting the Ha! in Hanukkah" tour). Among their songs: "Shiksas Are for Practice." $19.50. Dec. 21-22 at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. 202-397-7328.

CONCERT: Celebrate 2008 Like It's 1988 Confused? Local '80s sendup the Legwarmers always sell out the house when they perform, mostly because their shows feature every song you ever rocked out to in that decade. But imagine the Members Only-and-leggings spectacle it'll be New Year's Eve when they pull out "Eye of the Tiger" and the like for the partygoing crowd at the State Theatre. $30. 9 p.m. Dec. 31. 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. Visit http://www.thestatetheatre.com for tickets, or call 703-237-0300.

CONCERT: Editors and Hot Hot Heat The U.K. band Editors will be out on the road promoting "An End Has a Start," with Canada's Hot Hot Heat (both bands, of course, delivering crisper, pop-friendly songs that are dead ringers for Joy Division tunes, Hot Hot Heat supplying a tinge of whine). And they'll hit the 9:30 club Jan. 15. $25. 7:30 p.m. 815 V St. NW. 800-955-5566.

The District


EXHIBIT: "Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Realism" Downstairs from the much-written-about show of drawings and paintings "Abu Ghraib," we found this exhibit to be the real gem. The often large-scale paintings are really claustrophobic little universes, with masses of people packed into cars, elevators and public transit, while the rich and powerful live hedonistically -- and with more breathing room. Come to see this show, or catch all three exhibits (the third is feminist art) at American University's Katzen Arts Center. Free. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-885-2787.

FOR FAMILIES: "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" As part of its children's film program, the National Gallery spends two days screening the classic 1982 kids' movie about an abandoned alien who is found and cared for by a boy named Elliot. The movie, of course, spawned a host of cultural fads more memorable than the movie: Reese's Pieces, the phrase "E.T. phone home," Drew Barrymore. Free. Today at 10:30 a.m., tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. East Building Auditorium, Constitution Avenue at Fourth Street NW. 202-789-3030.


THE SCENE: Nine on the Ninth The monthly open-mike poetry series at Busboys and Poets (which takes its name from its time and date, at 9 p.m. on the ninth of every month) brings in poet and novelist Ainsley Burrows as its featured performer. "Poet in residence" Derrick Weston Brown hosts. Free. 9-11 p.m. Busboys and Poets, Langston Room, 2021 14th St. NW. 202-387-7638.

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