Arties After Dark is about to turn on the footlights in its bricked-in patio for seven nights a week. It will draw from local talent that the club's booker, Jeff Lettes (of Blues Alley Presentations, a division of Blues Alley Inc.), insists is "as artistically viable as any other place in the world--we have some of the best musicians in the world in Washington."
Those wanting confirmation of that need only drop around to the new outdoor nightclub in Lafayette Center Courtyard (at 1120 20th St. NW, between L and M) Wednesday night when jazz vocalist Lisa Rich will perform with her trio of pianist Dave Kane, bassist Carlos LaGuana and drummer Mike Smith. The Louisiana-born and Baltimore-raised voacalist has appeared in Washington and Baltimore clubs, is getting production under way for a first album and looking forward to a third season in the Atlantic City casinos ("I followed Dizzy Gillespie into Billy's Pub last year," she recalls).
Rich's approach includes straight lyrics, scat and vocalese across a wide spectrum from Ellington, Gershwin and Billie Holiday materials to the Brazilian melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobim and contemporary compositions of Steve Kuhn. She claims early Miles Davis ballads as a principal influence and is as likely as not to include in a set an upbeat version of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love." And toward evening's end she likes to get into her avant garde bag. "It's something that I just call free form--we just start playing and whatever happens, happens. It's more a European, classical jazz type of feeling and I think it's more in keeping with my roots than when I work on be-bop things which are very exciting to me but not exactly up my alley."
Arties After Dark will bring in other female jazz and blues vocalists on future Wednesdays and on Mondays will feature the Irish Breakdown, a local group of Celtic leanings. Open-mike comedy, with impersonator Chris Thomas doing some of the emceeing, will take over on Tuesdays, a deejay will spin '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll on Thursdays, and Saturdays will be set aside for dancing to the big-band sounds of Bob Israel's Washington Jazz Batallion. For more information call 296-7666.