By Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
washingtonpost.com Staff Writers
Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:00 AM
With Christmas on the horizon, we offer an extended version of the Nightlife Agenda this week. We'll publish a short, updated version next week with additional events, and you can look for a list of more New Year's Eve suggestions on our blog.
Thursday, Dec. 20
You may know Jason Mojica as the host of the monthly Modernist Society salon at Bourbon, but he's also an independent filmmaker. Last December, he and partner Jim Milak went to Darfur, where, instead of just filming TV news-style images of genocide -- dead bodies, starving children, squalid refugee camps -- they interviewed American and European relief workers who willingly gave up the comforts of Christmas at home to come to Darfur and work with survivors. Get a first look at "Christmas in Darfur" tonight at 8 p.m. at Bourbon, and stick around for a DJ set by Laura Burhenn of local indie rockers Georgie James. There's a $5 cover, which goes to help pay the costs of making the movie. (You can see clips on the adventure on the filmmakers' blog.)
You know what, sports fans? Mister Days appreciates you. The management doesn't just show it with giant TVs, performances by Redskins cheerleaders or happy hour specials. Tonight, Mister Days throws a Christmas party for all its customers, whether you came once during March Madness or were at the bar to watch Red Sox games every week over the summer. Kicking off at 8, it features a free buffet, door prizes, music from a DJ and a visit from St. Nick. Obviously, there's no cover charge.
Friday, Dec. 21
We've often written about local roots reggae ensemble See-I (listen), thanks to its weekly appearances at Eighteenth Street Lounge and regular gigs at the Lounge's pre-holiday parties, but tonight, we're recommending you go see the group somewhere else. The Rock and Roll Hotel is the site of See-I's album-release party, and along with the band's cranking dubbed-out sound, you get house, funk and reggae music from hometown DJs Rex Riddim, Slant, Bjoo and the always-on Fort Knox Five. Making his D.C. debut tonight is Matt the Alien, an English turntablist (by way of Canada) known for his sick scratching and for working four turntables at once. Yes, four turntables. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10.
From December 19 to 25, the Crossroads is hosting what the club calls "Seven Nights of Christmas" -- a week of special events and concerts. Tonight's one of the better parties, the Carnival Christmas, with Barbadian soca star Alison Hinds (listen) taking center stage. Formerly of the party band Square One, her single "Roll It Gal" topped charts in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad two years ago, and she's just rerecorded the girl-power anthem for her first solo album, "Soca Queen."
There's more Christmas spirit at the Palace of Wonders, where this week's burlesque show is the quaintly titled "Sexy Santa Striptease Spectacular." It starts at 10 and costs $10.
Saturday, Dec. 22
Some people -- and you know who they are -- never get tired of Christmas music. Their radio is tuned to the all-holiday channel on the day after Thanksgiving, they know all the words to "It's a Marshmallow World," they own the soundtracks to the Charlie Brown and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer specials and they collect '80s novelty records. Have we got a show for them. "The 8th Annual Joti Rockwell and the Ambalamps Network Television Holiday Extravaganza," taking place at the Wonderland Ballroom tonight, features a band playing everything from "Donnie Hathaway's 'This Christmas,' to Wham!'s 'Last Christmas,' to Run DMC's 'Christmas in Hollis,'" according to an e-mail we got from the organizers. Since the band members play in groups like Roomful of Blues, we have a feeling they can pull it off. The music runs from 8 to 10, and the entire $8 cover goes to D.C. Central Kitchen.
When we're flipping around the TV, we sometimes come across music videos. Over the years, we've noticed a few things, one of which is this: Hip-hop videos are flush with beautiful women, yachts, expensive cars and several liquor stores worth of champagne. Rock videos tend to show skinny white boys playing guitars or, in rare moments, dancing on exercise equipment. We know who we'd rather hang out with when they get offstage. All of this makes the success of the Shop Boyz's "Party Like a Rock Star" more puzzling. Wouldn't they rather party like Jay-Z? Ask them yourself tonight at the Crossroads, where the Shop Boyz are holding court at the "Party Like a Rock Star" event. The bigger draw for us, though, would be the DJs representing Stone Love, one of the finest dancehall sound systems every to come out of Jamaica. WPGC DJ Rane is your host, and DJs Book, Celo and Mr. Majestic spin hip-hop and Caribbean jams.
If you haven't bought jeans for that special someone on your holiday shopping list, you get a not-so-subtle reminder to do so at the Rock and Roll Hotel. A Festive Night Out with the Denim Bar features local electro/industrial/screamo synth duo the Drugstore Cowboys (listen), party-pleasing hip-hop and old-school jams from DJ Dredd, DJ Rob Wonder and DJ Tanner. (We're split over whether the "Full House" reference there is clever or stupid.)
Sunday, Dec. 23
On the heels of Stone Love's appearance, the Crossroads provides yet another present for dancehall fans with a concert by up-and-coming "Gangster Fi Life" Mavado at the Dancehall Sundays Christmas Party. Jamaican toaster Mavado (listen) has been making waves in New York as well as the Caribbean with singles like "Guns Out" and "Real McKoy," and fans of Bounty Killer are going to love Mavado's vocal style. House DJ Jason Steele provides the beats.
Monday, Dec. 24
Christmas Eve is the best night of the year to be Jewish, especially if you're looking for a packed dance floor. Take your pick from a pair of parties catering to young(ish) single members of the Tribe tonight . The long-running Matzo Ball is taking over adjacent nightspots Sesto Senso, Five and Andalu with DJs spinning Top 40, hip-hop and salsa. It runs from 9 to 2, and the $25 cover charge is good for all three clubs.
For the past 14 years, the Matzo Ball's gone head-to-head with the Gefilte Fish Gala, which is being held this year at Ultrabar. DJs at the multi-level club are spinning '80s, '90s and current music. A charitable donation of at least $5 is suggested at the door, and a portion of proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and other charities. Volunteers will also be collecting canned goods and clothing at the door. The party runs from 8 to 2, and casual attire is suggested.
Tuesday, Dec. 25
Merry Christmas. Lots of places are closed for the holiday -- from Wonderland to Whitlow's -- so if you're planning on going out and spreading some holiday cheer with your friends, you should probably call first. Here's a sampling of what's open: Go-go legends Rare Essence (listen) are headlining at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, beginning at 10 p.m.. Get there early for a Christmas soul food buffet and a performance by up-and-comers Mambo Sauce (listen), whose song "Welcome to D.C." is one of our favorite local tunes of the year. JV's is opening at 5 p.m. and there's a concert with the excellent alt-country band Honky Tonk Confidential (listen) at 9. There's no show at DC9, but the first-floor bar is offering $1 off all drinks all night. The Crossroads is capping off its busy week with a "Yard Style Christmas Party," and the Black Cat's Red Room is open at 9.
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Looking for a way to shake off those post-Christmas doldrums? Locals the Beanstalk Library (listen) will surely put some pep in your step with their energetic pop-rock. Principal songwriters Ryan Walker and Brian Kent have clearly studied their rock-and-roll history; you can hear echoes of Neil Young, Big Star and Wilco in their hook-filled, expertly arranged songs. John Wayne Hero opens at the Black Cat's backstage.
Sharkey's aesthetic is the quintessential essence of the mash-up. Or rather, Sharkey's sensibilities harken back to the days when DJs built their collages from as wide a range of sources as possible and didn't get caught up in the constraints of genre. You can call him a hip-hop producer, because he does make beats, but listen to his own projects and his collaboration with C-Rayz Walz as Monster Maker (listen) and you'll find those beats girded with electro, rock and experimental flourishes. Worlds will collide tonight at the 9:30 club as Monster Maker in full live band form shares the stage with legendary speed-rap/gangsta singing fusionists Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Maybe some Sharkey beats might end up on a future Bone release after this show.
Thursday, Dec. 27
If we were to pick local label of the year it would be tough to go against Gypsy Eyes Records, which after its long-awaited launch has a handful of fine, forlorn, twangy offerings to its name (John Bustine, Revival, Brandon Butler, etc.). At the same time, it's hard to overlook The Kora Records, which gave us Donny Hue and the Colors's (listen) wonderful psych-pop album "Folkmote" in addition to the just-released "Silver Sonya" by Meredith Bragg (listen). Bragg plays smart and pretty indie-folk; most of the songs off "Silver Sonya" -- guess which local studio was homebase for recording? -- sound like they could be on this year's excellent Elliott Smith b-sides collection, "New Moon." There's a warm and welcoming feel to the entire album, as it never gets lost in its own melancholy. Bragg's voice and guitar are the only instruments on the album, which shows a confidence in the material, and one listen through "Silver Sonya" makes it clear that confidence is well-deserved. Paul Michel (listen) and Donny Hue and the Colors open at the Black Cat.
Fans of dreamy, spacey pop will want to make their way to DC9 for tonight's double bill featuring locals Five Four (listen) and Baltimore's Thrushes (listen). Both bands feature female vocalists who often prefer cooing to singing, which matches the atmospheric melodies the bands create. Five Four's charming, understated songs usually have a dance-rock element to them whereas Thrushes prefer the wall-of-sound approach favored by the likes of Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine.
Friday, Dec. 28
Washington has phenomenal bedroom DJs waiting to be discovered and local veterans with decades of crowd-rocking under their belt, but if you ever hear that D.C. doesn't have international caliber turntable artisans then you can bust them upside the head with a Tittsworth (listen) 12-inch or Quixotic (listen) mix cd. Tonight two of the biggest exports the local scene has ever unleashed on the rest of the world are headlining the Upfront X-Mas Jump Off at Five. Quixotic branched off from the local Trooperz dynasty that also launched Enferno and Geometrix and is now kicking tail in Los Angeles, one of the hardest markets to conquer as a DJ. In classic Trooperz fashion, Quixotic applies razor-sharp cutting, scratching and juggling to the hottest club and retro tracks in ways that make the most well-known songs sound brand new. Tittsworth's style is all about pushing the limits of insane dance-floor energy, rapidly flipping tunes in the Baltimore club style that he's known for as well as sleazy house, rave and southern hip-hop hits. Lovers of all sounds tech-y and junglist will also get their fill from sets by John B, Matt Nordstrom, Spiggy and Bob Jong Ill. Be sure to check out the toys, kicks and street fashions from Kickballers on the roof.
It's not the end of the year without a reunion by the Slickee Boys (listen). The local group was one of the first new wave/punk bands, dropping its "Hot and Cool" EP in 1976, just after the Ramones and before Talking Heads or Television. The Slickees were never as adored or recognized as any of those bands, but they represent an important piece of D.C. rock history. And speaking of important pieces of D.C. rock history, the band's annual reunion show will take place at Chick Hall's Surf Club. You'll be forgiven for thinking that the place was closed by now; it seems that every month we've been hearing about "one last chance" to check out a show at the Bladensburg honky-tonk and David Montgomery's excellent "End of the Roadhouse" article a few weeks ago seemed like a proper sendoff. But it's still there for now and tonight offers you a final chance to hear the Slickee's classic "When I Go to the Beach" in an ideal setting.