LOOKING AHEAD
The occasionally grumpy alt-country poet Lucinda Williams plays the 9:30 club July 25.

TIRED OF DC RADIO?
The BBC's music page is ideal for the one-stop listener.

MP3.washingtonpost.com
Keeping track of local music has never been easier.

POP TALK
Join The Post's David Segal every other Wednesday at noon for his Live Online pop music discussion.

By Joe Heim
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 10, 2002

    Dolly Parton Dolly Parton makes a rare club appearance, at the 9:30 July 15. (AP Photo/Jill Connelly)
Taking cheap shots at Britney Spears isn't even fun anymore and that may be a sign that her career is finally winding down. Teen pop stars are like tennis players. A few have staying power, but most are struggling by the time they reach 20. Still, Spears has enough of a fan base to play MCI Wednesday, July 10. Who knows, a year from now she may be busking for change at Metro Center. See, even that wasn't fun.

Etta James, a woman who actually deserved all of Britney's hype, makes a rare appearance Thursday, July 11, at the Warner Theatre. The rhythm and blues legend is 64, but on a good night she can still belt out down and occasionally very dirty blues.

The choices are fast and furious on Friday. Singer and songwriter Dave Alvin begins a two-night stand at Iota. Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Shadow plys his trade at Nation. And Guided by Voices, David Segal's former band, is at the 9:30.

Chris Isaak is a fine and moody singer and his television show also proved him to be an entertaining, slightly off-kilter oddball. But the show that brings him to Merriweather Post Pavilion Sunday also brings Natalie Merchant with it. There was a time in Merchant's earliest incarnation as lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs that she made some fairly listenable and interesting pop tunes. Those days, unfortunately, have passed, and she seems to have become more self-indulgent and boring with each release. So go for Isaac and just hope that Merchant isn't in a mopey mood.

So many bad or average albums come across my desk that it's an extra thrill when I get one that's truly exceptional. "Italiano," the first full-length CD by the Beatings, is a must for anyone feeling particularly gloomy about the shape of rock to come. The hard-rocking four-piece band is adventurous and experimental and yet manages to be odd and quirky without ever seeming self-indulgent, or worse, boring. You can hear threads of bands like Husker Du and the Ass Ponys, but the Beatings sound is a distinctly original one that deserves attention. Check out the Boston-Brooklyn band at Galaxy Hut, Sunday, July 14. I doubt the CD is easy to find in stores; so if for no other reason, go to the show to pick up a copy. I'm sure they'll have a few to sell.

Dolly Parton's rare club appearance, at the 9:30 on Monday, has all the makings of a spectacular concert or a spectacular flop. In one of the most welcome moves of her career, Parton has thumbed her nose at the country recording industry lately. Two years ago she put out "Little Sparrow," a fine bluegrass album that took her back to her Tennessee mountain roots. Now she has returned with "Halos and Horns," not quite as good, but still much better than some of her mid-career sugary fare. The thing people forget about Parton is that she writes almost all of the songs she sings, which is practically unheard of in Nashville. If she performs her classic early material as well as some of her better later songs, this show could be a gem.

LIVE ONLINE

Dave Alvin takes part in a washingtonpost.com Live Online chat Wednesday, July 11, at 11 a.m. One of the founding members of the Blasters and a later member of X, Alvin has gone on to a remarkable solo career releasing such brilliant albums as "Every Night About This Time," "Blue Boulevard" and his just-released live album, "Out in California." If you have questions for the roots rocker, please send them in advance. Alvin and his band the Guilty Men play two nights at Iota, Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13.

ROCK THE D.C. VOTE

The D.C. Democracy Fund is hosting its inaugural D.C. voting rights benefit concert Friday, July 12, at the Black Cat. Bands will include the Maginot Line, Cry Baby Cry and Los Hermanos Rodriguez. D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton will also be there, though there's no word on whether she'll sit in with any of the bands. The goal of the fund is to attain full voting rights for District residents in the U.S. Congress.

RECENT STORIES & REVIEWS FROM THE POST

Have you made it down to one of the DC Sessions concerts yet? If not, check out Bret Schulte's story on the weekly free concerts and find out what the fuss is about. Mark Jenkins writes that "Rock Creek," the latest CD by the Capitol City Dusters, is music for taking a stand. And Elaine Beebe Lapriore has only good things to say about "Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally)," a box set of 142 tracks from the 1980s that was recently released by Rhino Records.

READER RECOMMENDATION

If you have a favorite group that you want to tell readers about, e-mail a sentence or two description, as well as the date, time, location and price for an upcoming show. I'll pick one reader recommendation a week and post it here.

MUSIC VENUES

9:30 club
Black Cat
Birchmere
Nation
Metro Cafe
Blues Alley
Iota
Wolf Trap
State Theatre
MCI Center
Nissan Pavilion
Merriweather Post



© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company