Terrence Howard debuted as a singer-songwriter at Rams Head Tavern.
Terrence Howard debuted as a singer-songwriter at Rams Head Tavern. (By Diane Bondareff -- Associated Press)
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Terrence Howard

Terrence Howard's solo debut CD, "Shine Through It," hasn't reached stores yet, so the Oscar-nominated actor didn't have to field many requests for songs when he performed at the Rams Head Tavern on Wednesday night. Now, marriage proposals -- that's another matter entirely.

Shouted offers were heard the moment Howard stepped onstage, looking as if he just wrapped a summer fashion photo shoot, wearing a snap-brim fedora, a light pink sport jacket and a grin that wouldn't quit.

The early show marked Howard's official debut as a singer-songwriter, and he was clearly delighted -- and relieved -- by the large, prominently female turnout. Playing acoustic guitar and accompanied by a versatile six-piece band, he wooed the crowd with mostly self-penned romantic ballads and animated funk-pop tunes, revealing a handsome R&B-bred voice that occasionally evoked Bill Withers and Babyface.

Of course, with dozens of cellphone cameras aimed at him, not much wooing was needed -- or singing, for that matter. At one point, he sat down at a table near the stage with some delighted fans while two of his young band members -- singer Ilsey Juber and bassist Miles Mosley -- were showcased. Chatty and a bit nervous, Howard was humble when speaking of his role as father, self-deprecating when appraising his musical gifts, and absurdly earnest when recalling the profound respect he has for Seal's relationship with Heidi Klum. Still, he had a tough time keeping a straight face in front of an audience eager to flirt whenever the slightest opportunity arose.

Howard performs at the Birchmere on Monday night.

-- Mike Joyce

Washington Musica Viva

Mention "chamber music" and what comes to mind might include notions of intimacy, sophistication, collaboration or, to some musical tastes, boredom. There was nothing boring about the high level of performance that Washington Musica Viva offered at the Ratner Museum on Wednesday.

Despite the close proximity of audience to players, however, there was also surprisingly little sense of intimacy. What there was, in spades, was a feeling of geniality that invited a collaboration, not only among the musicians but also among musicians and audience in the pleasures of the music.

As is their habit, the WMV program was a mix of repertoire staples and lesser-known or contemporary works. The former included the Brahms Clarinet Trio and the Dvorak "Dumky" Trio for piano, violin and cello. The latter included a cycle of songs for soprano, violin, piano and cello by Robert Kahn (1865-1951), a delightful set of variations for clarinet and piano by local composer Lawrence Heinen (written as a birthday present for a friend's daughter) and 12 "Inventions for Clarinet" by John Stephens.

Both Heinen and Stephens were on hand to talk about their pieces.

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