Thursday, January 10, 2008; 12:00 AM
Thursday, Jan. 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.
Friday, Jan. 11
This January is certainly one of the strongest months in recent Millennium Stage history, with everyone from Mirah to Denyce Graves to Chopteeth giving free performances. But the highlight may very well be on Friday when Italian weirdo Vinicio Capossela (listen) makes a rare U.S. appearance. Capossela hasn't met a genre he doesn't like; he tackles everything from Ennio Morricone-inspired soundtrack music to jazzy lounge music to quirky folk that recalls Tom Waits. This is one of just two stateside shows for Capossela and, because it's at Millennium Stage, it's free.
D.C. will be the nexus of a powerful confluence of partying and history this weekend as Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority celebrates its 100th year of existence. This historically black sorority was the first of its kind when founded at Howard University in 1908, so the organization's pink and green color scheme will be especially prominent on U Street tonight. The AKA is holding down several events around town, but only one features the return of the classic hip-hop event True School at Bohemian Caverns. Started by former Little Brother member 9th Wonder and local soul selector Cuzzin B, True School is a massively concentrated dose of Gen-X hip-hop kid nostalgia, from golden age rap to late '80s R&B faves like Al B. Sure. Embellishments appropriate to that era are often featured, from movies like House Party to Saturday morning cartoons like Scooby Doo on flat-screen TVs to strategically placed bowls of elementary school contraband like Now & Laters and Jolly Ranchers. Vigorous dancing of the Roger Rabbit isn't required, just strongly encouraged.
Angela Johnson (listen) is part of a coterie of new soul rebels who thrive outside of a market that aims to force a juvenile regression of R&B music. Along with contemporaries like Julie Dexter and Donnie, Johnson makes music for young adults whose parents kept Anita Baker and Luther Vandross on regular rotation in the house. Johnson's work with Tortured Soul drummer Christian Ulrich as part of Cooly's Hot Box still has a strong cult following. She's kept her creative chops sharp with her own solo releases as well as collaborations with DJ Spinna and Atlanta's nouveau disco troupe Seek. Johnson and her band take the stage of the Birchmere tonight with powerful and popular rising star Eric Roberson (listen).
Saturday, Jan. 12
We're counting down the minutes until 2 a.m. on January 27, when Dr. Dremo's Taphouse closes its doors to the public forever. Allow us to get nostalgic for a second: The place opened in 1993 as Bardo Rodeo, one of the area's first brewpubs and one of the only outposts of cool on the otherwise desolate and not-very-hip Wilson Boulevard. Owner Bill Stewart had been behind two nearby spots, Roratonga Rodeo (now Galaxy Hut) and Amdo (now part of Iota), but this former Oldsmobile dealership was his baby, with a totem pole outside the door and a vintage Plymouth crashing through the front window. Bardo quickly became popular with Arlington's burgeoning population of young professionals and folks from all over Northern Virginia followed. While not fancy -- the bathrooms were legendarily bad, and there was no air conditioning on one floor -- it was the place to go. Stewart later abandoned the brewpub idea and Bardo became an ill-conceived sushi place called Ningaloo before morphing into the vast drinking hall now known as Dr. Dremo's. Tonight, join former Bardo doorman and manager Andrew Stewart -- Bill's younger brother -- and what he estimates as a crowd of "70 to 80" former bartenders, staffers and regulars who are getting together to talk about the glory days. Hey, remember when William Kennedy Smith punched a bouncer? Good times, good times.
Good things about tonight's Dancing After Dark fundraiser at Posh: It's a benefit for the Kids Care Fund at the Children's National Medical Center, which provides vital funds for sick kids. It pays for trips to the Big Apple Circus, art therapy and counseling for families. Your $80 ticket ($150 for couples) covers an open bar from 9 to midnight and a variety of small-bite desserts. A DJ will be spinning Top 40 and dance music all night long. Things that makes us go "hmmm": It's at Posh, a restaurant and bar that has never lived up to the hype and has been somewhat disappointing on our visits. That said, this event is for a great cause, and we really think we'd have an enjoyable evening. (And feel better about ourselves in the morning!) Purchase your tickets here, but move quickly: They're on sale until noon on Friday.
It's an odd pairing, but it seems to be working. On the second Saturday of each month the grandaddy of all D.C. indie dance nights, Mousetrap holds court upstairs at the Black Cat while The Soul****, a celebration of down and dirty '60s and '70s funk and soul, takes up residence on the backstage. Mousetrap DJ Mark Zimin has been serving up Britpop delights since 2000, but he has been keeping things fresh lately by having a guest DJ each month. This time it will be Rick Taylor, who helms one of our favorite monthlies, Marx Cafe's post-punk rarities night We Fought the Big One. The best part is that one cover charge gets you all the dancing you can handle, so if you've had your fill of angular guitars and need a dose of thumping bass or some Stax-brass, Soul Call Paul and Mad Squirrel are downstairs spinning plenty of great tunes that will probably be new to your ears.
DJ Christine Moritz (listen) generally traffics in more cerebral downtempo beats when she spins in D.C. or London, but she'll be pulling out her big room tunes for Music Makes Magic at Five tonight. The booth will be well balanced, with veteran spinner Dan Soda spanning house to broken beat and Tom B (listen) choosing funky techno and tech-y house. DJ Toussaint mans his usual roof perch for those that prefer hip-hop club hits.
When most people talk about D.C. music from the early-to-mid '80s, it's always "Minor Threat this," "Rare Essence that," "Dischord yadda yadda yadda." Tonight at the 9:30 club, it's a different trip down memory lane starring new wave bands from the '70s and '80s. 30 Years Over D.C. features the arty glam/metal/punk of the reunited 9353 (listen), who, at their best, sound like a even more dramatic Joy Division, full of delayed guitar and driving bass, and the New Standard (listen), a circa-1980 power-pop band with super-fast songs and vintage '60s-style hooks. It's not all nostalgia; the bill also features newer bands, but all have some connection to the era: hard-and-heavy Rustbuckit (listen) includes members of the turn-of-the-'80s punk band Black Market Baby. Anyway, while this isn't D.C. Music History 101 -- it's more like History 203: Rock Beyond MacKaye -- it's sure to be an interesting show, and getting six bands for $12 reminds us of the old 9:30 club's "3 Bands for $3" showcases.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
We wrote about Yeasayer (listen) back in September and we'll give you one more heads up on them while there's still time. The Brooklyn quartet is poised to be one of the biggest blog-breakthrough bands of 2008, with its album "All Hour Cymbals" gaining more momentum every day. The indie-meets-world-music sound, heavy on percussion and a tribal rhythms, seems to be the "in" sound of 2008, and Yeasayer's buzz level should soon be approaching that of boroughmates Vampire Weekend. Openers MGMT (listen) have a minor blog hit in "Time to Pretend," which manages to be very catchy and phony at the same time. And how many opening acts on the Black Cat's backstage can claim a gig on Letterman? (Here's MGMT performing "Time to Pretend," while wearing capes for some reason, on Tuesday's show.) The blog Bravery? Sounds about right.
Speaking of things we've covered in the distant past, Cafe Mozart is holding one of its infrequent opera nights tonight. Tenor Michael Blaney, who's spent years performing in the choruses of New York's Metropolitan Opera and the Washington National Opera, sings the hits of Puccini, Schubert, Mozart and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Though he studied voice at Juilliard, Blaney works crowd-pleasing musical favorites in among the classical standards, and he works the room like a Catskills lounge singer. He has a fantastic voice, and you can't beat the price: Free, with the purchase of dinner in the restaurant. And you have to eat anyway, right? Tonight's guest vocalist is baritone Nikita Wells. Reservations are strongly suggested: Call 202-347-5732.