Thursday, January 3, 2008; 12:00 AM
Thursday, January 3
If, like some of us, you've resolved to be more thrifty in your nightlife adventures in 2008, tonight's the perfect chance to get out and try something new without spending a cent. Let's start at Vidalia, the oft-pricey Southern restaurant that offers a sommelier-guided wine tasting in its bar every workday from 5 to 7. You show up and sample small glasses of three different wines, which may be themed by grape varietal or the region where they were grown, and talk with sommelier Doug Mohr or one of his assistants about what you like and don't like. (Seriously, ask questions. There's nothing they haven't heard before.) If your tastes are a little less refined, it's time you were reintroduced to the Thursday night happy hour at Tapatinis. The Barracks Row bar offers $5 top-shelf martinis and $4 beers from 5 to 9, but the real draw is "Free Drinks at 10," which offers gratis drinks from a sponsoring liquor company every Thursday, from 10 p.m. until the supply of "free" bottles is exhausted. (The only catch: The only liquor that's free is the sponsor, so if you order drinks containing other fancy ingredients, you have to pay.) Tonight's supplier is Absolut Mandarin, so feel free to order Mandarin-and-tonic cocktails or Mandarin martinis as soon as the clock strikes 10.
Friday, January 4
Are you a budget-conscious, atmospheric Brit-rock fan? If so, here's some free advice -- skip the upcoming Editors show and its steep $25 price tag and instead head to the Black Cat tonight where for $10 you can check out locals Telograph (listen). The group will be celebrating the release of its new self-titled EP, which is mostly a do-over of last year's "Little Bits of Plastic" EP, with three re-worked songs and a couple of new ones. The guitars are chimier, the choruses soar higher and if people still held lighters in the air during songs, "Caught in the Headlights" would be a perfect song to do so. The band doesn't hide its stadium ambitions and the songs are better for it. The Sketches (listen) and the Red Romance (listen) open.
The less we say about Prince's 1986 film "Under the Cherry Moon" the better. The Washington Post review called the bizarre black-and-white love story "an unconscionable mess of unyielding crassness, from the overall tone, which celebrates gaucherie all the while it's saying that love is what really counts, to the sound mix," and Prince took four prizes at the annual Golden Raspberry awards: Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Song (for "Love or Money"), and Worst Movie of the year. (The last one was actually a tie with byword-for-failure "Howard the Duck.") However, His Royal Purpleness coupled this bomb with an album called "Parade," which featured some classic funk jams -- the psychedelic "Mountains," the upbeat "Girls & Boys" and the unstoppable single "Kiss," which ranks as one of Prince's best. Almost exactly one year later, he released the groundbreaking double album "Sign O' The Times," a sprawling collection packed with gems like the socially conscious title track, the go-go influenced "Housequake," "U Got the Look," "If I Was Your Girlfriend" -- an utter classic. To think that one artist could release both of those in one calendar year boggles the mind. These two albums are being honored by an all-star collection of neo-soul and R&B musicians at the 9:30 club tonight. "21/20: A Masterpiece Tribute" includes singer Nevasha Daya of globetrotting R&B group Fertile Ground, Eric Roberson, WES Felton (the artist formerly known as W. Ellington Felton), Martin Luther, Deborah Bond, Zwei and Wayna. They'll take turns tag-teaming on favorite songs, and with such a rich catalog of material to work with, something's bound to take your breath away.
Saturday, January 5
DJ Will Eastman's calendar already includes a Friday night residency at Metropolitain, the champagne bar underneath Adams Morgan's Napoleon bistro, and the long-running Bliss indie/electro monthly at the Black Cat, but we're always glad when he can squeeze one of his Blisspop parties onto the 9:30 club's schedule. Mixing live music, guest DJs and surprises into a bigger-than-life variety show, his events are always an interesting way to spend an evening. Tonight's edition is the heaviest one yet: It's headlined by Tittsworth, the accomplished turntablist whose blend of Baltimore Club, hip-hop, '80s mashups and remixes drops jaws as well as booties. This is your last chance to catch Tittsworth on home ground for a while -- his upcoming tour includes stops in Canada, Thailand and China before four days in Australia with Kanye West, Thievery Corporation, A-Trak and Pharoahe Monch. (Need convincing? Download a recent mix from Tittsworth here.) Also on the bill are Minneapolis disco-funk throwback band Codebreaker, whose songs Eastman remixed in 2007 (grab those tracks from the blog Pound for Pound) and the always energetic and hook-filled local indie rockers Metropolitan. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10.
Time is running out for Arlington institution Dr. Dremo's Taphouse, which is closing for good at 2 a.m. on January 27. One thing we'll especially miss about the bar: The annual Night of 101 Elvises party, which is an over-the-top night of all things related to the King. Both floors are packed with Elvis impersonators, fans dressed as Elvis waiting to try their hand at Elvis karaoke and folks chowing down on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. It's wonderfully tacky Americana at its finest. Dust off your jumpsuit and fake sideburns, because everyone dressed as Elvis (a) skips the line outside, (b) skips the $10 cover charge and (c) is entered into the costume contest, which offers a $100 cash prize. Make sure you're inside by 7 when the first impersonators take the stage.
Athens, Ga., has long been a hotbed for off-center independent music, going all the way back to R.E.M. and the B-52's in the early '80s to the Elephant 6 collective that produced bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal. The Visitations (listen) are doing their best to keep the tradition alive, playing tunes that are at times trippy, folky, fuzzy or just plain weird. Frontman Dave Wrathbager will go the troubadour route for tonight's show at Galaxy Hut, where it will be just him and an acoustic guitar.
If one of your resolutions was to get out and dance more in 2008, you might want to circle tonight's Resolution Jam on your calendar. Salsa instructor Earl Rush and the ClaveKazi dance studio are teaming up for the annual event, which features DJs Elvira, Jose Rodriguez and Neo spinning a wide variety of Latin music: salsa, mambo and cha cha in one of the studio's two large rooms, and merengue, salsa, bachata, reggaeton and house in the other. Admission is $10, and it includes a beginner dance lesson at 9:30.
Speaking of dancing, we can guess that the mainstage at the Black Cat will be heaving tonight. In one corner is DJ Rekha, the founder of New York City's trailblazing Basement Bhangra parties, and her vast collection of Indian tunes. Repping D.C. is DJ Dredd, whose Prince-themed dance parties can make the club's walls sweat. Everyone on the dance floor wins.
Thursday, January 10
For classic rockabilly and roots rock sounds, the Rockin' Bones are hard to beat. The group's swingin' sound conjures up early Elvis and Carl Perkins, though the group has a number of its own twangy originals that would slot in just fine on a compilation of '50s hits. Over the last 15 years, the group's become a favorite of local Lindy Hoppers, who dance the night away while pretending they're in one of those Bill Haley musicals like "Don't Knock the Rock." Tonight at Fairfax's Old Town Hall, you can catch the band and get a free dance lesson as well. The band plays from 8 to 11, and you'll learn the steps from 7:30 to 8. The cover's $12.