IT LOOKS like a banner fall season in the world of pop music. The local club scene will host a wealth of superior talent, while the concert scene is as busy as it's been in the last decade, the recent resurgence in the record business apparently inspiring a concurrent resurgence on the concert end. And a major festival of vanguard music takes over downtown for 11 days in October.
Because pop promoters don't advertise their concerts as far in advance as their classical counterparts, it's hard to look much farther ahead than two months. But, says one major promoter, "everybody's getting ready to go out this fall." Among those expected (most likely at the Capital Centre): metal maniacs AC/DC and Rush; former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, out on his own; Genesis; the surviving Pretenders with their new band; the almost wholly reunited Yes (other reunion tours include the Lovin' Spoonful, Three Dog Night and the Searchers); Neil Diamond, Diana Ross and Rod Stewart (no, not together); and Frank Sinatra, possibly around the time he receives his Kennedy Center Honor.
October will bring "New Music America: Washington '83," a spectacular showcase for more than 100 contemporary composers and performers representing a wide gamut of styles. From Oct. 7 to 17, concerts, workshops, installations and demonstrations (some of them free) will be held in various downtown locations. Among the better known names: Philip Glass, Rhys Chatam, Ornette Coleman, Wilhelmenia Fernandez of "Diva," the World Saxophone Quartet, Jon Hassell and Don Cherry.
The Smithsonian Performing Arts Division was absorbed earlier this year into the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program under the direction of Janet Solinger. Scheduled so far: a jazz series featuring local performers and a dozen or so special concerts, including a tribute to the late Earl "Fatha" Hines and Boxcar Willie's first local appearance.
Wolf Trap's Barns enters its third season with a solid mix, including more of the Word/Song series unveiled last year and some real live Barns dancing. Word/Song's flavor this year is international--Arabic, Greek, Spanish, French and Irish (with translations, of course). September
The fall season kicks off today with a little--make that a lot--of homegrown music as both Takoma Park and Adams-Morgan display the diversity of cultures and musical talents available in their respective communities with free, daylong festivals featuring dozens of bands. And next Sunday, there's a daylong reggae festival (also free) at Meridian Hill Park.
Among the major concerts of the month: Ashford and Simpson and incendiary ex-Labelle vocalist Nona Hendryx at Constitution Hall (Friday); Spanish superstar Raphael at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Saturday); trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and vocalist Billy Eckstine teaming up at Baird Auditorium for an evening of music by and memories of their fabled mentor, the late jazz great, pianist Hines (Sept. 18). Dorothy Ashby, the noted jazz harpist and vocalist, performs here for the first time in a decade at the Folger Shakespeare Library, joined on her second night by the fine saxist-flutist Frank Wess (Sept. 23, 24); and feminist avatars Meg Christian and Diane Lindsay at All Souls Church in a celebration/fundraiser tied in to Lammas' 10th anniversary (Sept. 30).
"Playing the Palace," a ragtime review incorporating Victorian ballads, Joplin rags, British music hall favorites and speak-easy songs, will take over the National Portrait Gallery's Great Hall for one night; featured are soprano Karen Saillant and ragtime pianist Don Kawash (Sept. 16).
The club scene (and there's an increasingly thin dividing line between clubs and concerts) finds the Red Rockers at the 9:30 club (Tuesday); John Prine at the Wax Museum (Wednesday and Thursday); pop chanteuse Nancy Wilson at Charlie's for two weeks (Friday through Sunday, and Sept. 19-25); British pop revivalist Mari Wilson at the 9:30 (Friday); raunch rock veteran Mitch Ryder at the Bayou (Sept. 18); Tower of Power at the Bayou and Johnny Winter at the Wax (both Sept. 20); Jerry Jeff Walker at the Birchmere (Sept. 22); the Alarm and superguitarist Adrien Belew at the Wax (Sept. 21 and 22, respectively); bluegrass superpickers Dan Crary, Byron Berline and John Hickman at the Birchmere (Sept. 23); Alvin Lee at the Bayou (Sept. 25); Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells live with lots of blues (but not blue) videos at the Wax (Sept. 28); the all-girl Flirts at the 9:30 (Sept. 29); muscular tenor Ricky Ford at the One Step Down (Sept. 30, Oct. 1) and New Grass Revival at the Birchmere (Sept. 30, Oct. 1).
Blues Alley brings in some familiar faces: Stanley Turrentine (Sept. 20-25), McCoy Tyner (Sept. 27 to Oct. 2) and Lionel Hampton (Sept. 14-18); and some of the young lions: saxophonist Chico Freeman (tonight), guitarist Ralph Towner (tomorrow and Tuesday) and Steps Ahead (Sept. 26). Saxophonist Billy Harper brings his quintet to d.c. space (Sept. 17), while Charlie's follows Nancy Wilson with pianist Marian McPartland, who also hosts NPR's "Piano Jazz" program (Sept. 27-Oct. 2). October
The big event, of course, is the New Music America festival, the fifth such event, but the first to be held in Washington (where it kicks off the Ninth Street Festival). Opening the proceedings will be San Francisco's Residents, an influential but seldom-seen vanguard rock quintet--at the Pension Building (Oct. 7). Among the other promising concerts: an Ellington tribute featuring the World Saxophone Quartet, Jaki Byard and the D.C. Jazz Workshop Orchestra at Western Plaza and the Rova Saxophone Quartet and Jim Sivard at d.c. space (Oct. 8); Marilyn de Regi, Rod Force and Yoshi Wada at the WPA and the Philip Glass Ensemble and Daniel Lentz at the Departmental Auditorium (Oct. 10); Anthony Davis and Steve Sweet at the Hirshhorn and Ornette Coleman and Prime Time at the Wax Museum (Oct. 11); Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Jamaladeen Tacuma and others at the Departmental Auditorium (Oct. 13); Oliver Lake & Jump Up and Elliot Sharp at the 9:30 club (Oct. 15); Leroy Jenkins & Sting and Harmalodica at the 9:30 (Oct. 16).
It's a month late, but the Capital Centre's traditional Back-to-School Boogie will pump away with Zapp, Kurtis Blow, local favorites Experience Unlimited and Trouble Funk and several others (Oct. 1). Word/Song at the Barns kicks off with co-ordinator Samuel Hazo and a program featuring Adonis, Nouha Alhegelan and Simone Shaheen: "Kingdom of the Air" will feature Adonis' poetry in Arabic and translation, accompanied by ouds (Oct. 4).
Elsewhere on the concert schedule: The Joe Perry Project at the Bayou (Oct. 3); several San Francisco acid-rock veterans, including Nicky Hopkins, Nick Gravenites, John Cippolini and Al Stahely, have come together as Nick Silver, and they'll be sharing the Wax Museum with historic San Francisco videos (Oct. 4); husband-wife jazz team Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin will leave their award-winning big band behind to perform in trio and quartet settings at the Barns (Oct. 7 and 8); Georgia popsters R.E.M. survive opening for the Police and return to the Ontario (Oct. 7); local favorite Nils Lofgren holds forth for two nights at the Bayou (Oct. 11 and 12).
Folk legend Rosalie Sorrells visits the Washington Ethical Society Auditorium (Oct. 14), while Cajun music champions, the Louisiana Aces, make a rare northern appearance at Bradley Hill Presbyterian Church in Bethesda (Oct. 15); Chaka Khan and Kashif will share the stage at Constitution Hall (Oct. 15); Jeffrey Osborne and Atlantic Starr at DAR (Oct. 22); Joan Baez comes to Constitution Hall (Oct. 26), as do the Isley Brothers and the SOS Band (Oct. 30). Folk singer Michael Cooney, recently recovered from a near-fatal accident, pays a welcome return visit to the WES Auditorium (Oct. 29).
Pianist-composer Claude Bolling teams with jazz flutist Herbie Mann for a recital at Lisner Auditorium (Oct. 23) and the Smithsonian begins its celebration of local jazz talent with vocalist Ronnie Wells and her trio and Mike Crotty and the Sunday Morning Jazz Band in an Ellington-Strayhorn program at Baird (Oct. 30). Everybody's favorite singing hobo, Boxcar Willie, will bring his Jimmie Rodgers tribute, and more, to Baird (Oct. 21).
Charlie's has an excellent month, starting off with the elegant duo of velvet-voiced Mel Torme and pianist George Shearing (Oct. 4-9), The Great Guitars (Oct. 11-16); Karen Akers, the local singer who had a triumphant run in Broadway's "Nine" (Oct. 11-16) and finally, the luminous Nacha Guevera (Oct. 25-30). Blues Alley has McCoy Tyner (Oct. 4-9), Ramsey Lewis (Oct. 11-16), Flora Purim and Airto (Oct. 18-23) and Jon Lucien (Oct. 26-30).
Other October highlights include, at the Wax Museum, rock 'n' roll survivor Marianne Faithful (Oct. 3), crafty pop craftsman Graham Parker (Oct. 5 and 6) and the infectious energy of Louisiana's premiere rockin' roots band, Buckwheat Zydeco (Oct. 7), John Mayall hooking up with Canned Heat (Oct. 13), yet another great Australian rock band, Mental As Anything (Oct. 15) and Hot Tuna (Oct. 20); former Buzzcock Howard DeVoto at the 9:30 (Oct. 6); and the urgent and slightly deviant energies of the Lord of the New Church and the Cramps (each at the 9:30 on Oct. 23 and Nov. 1, respectively) and Journey guitarist Steve Smith in a jazz mode at the Bayou (Oct. 20). November
Here's where the pop schedule starts getting thin for such advance notice. The only big concerts on the horizon are Al Jarreau (Nov. 6) and the Stanley Clark-George Duke Project (Nov. 13), both at Constitution Hall; the Paul Winter Consort doing Winter's powerful "Earth Mass" at the National Shrine (Nov. 19); and Maze with Frankie Beverly, in at Constitution Hall (Nov. 25). Brian Eno, the reclusive musician-producer-philosopher is scheduled as part of the Ninth Street Festival, either in late November or early December. Kapeleye, the wonderful klezmer revival group that did the soundtrack for "The Chosen," performs at Baird Auditorium (Nov. 27).
The Barns will be busy with the bright bluegrass of Kentucky's McLain Family Band (Nov. 5); a Word/Song program titled "A Greek Tryptych" featuring the poems of Seferis, Elytis and Ritsos in Greek and translation and the music of Theodorakis and Markapolous performed by a bouzouki ensemble (Nov. 8); duo-pianists Alan Mandel and Edward Mattos teaming up again for the Barns' Second Annual Party for George (Gershwin, of course), with special guest tenor Charles Williams, the Met's "Sportin' Life" (Nov. 11, 12); and pianists John Eaton and Marc Cohen continue the Smithsonian's local showcase, each doing solo sets and then being joined by guest clarinetist Wally Garner and bassist Tommy Cecil at Baird Auditorium (Nov. 20).
In the clubs, it's mostly jazz veterans: Charlie's has Herbie Mann teaming with David "Fathead" Newman (Nov. 8-13), the majestic pianist, Oscar Peterson (Nov. 15-20), followed by Mose Allison (Nov. 22-27) and the Kingston Trio (Nov. 29 to Dec. 4); while neighboring Blues Alley is home to Freddie Hubbard (Nov. 1-6), Les McCann (Nov. 8-13), Dizzy Gillespie (Nov. 15-20), the Milt Jackson Quartet (Nov. 22-27) and vocalist Betty Carter (Nov. 20 to Dec. 4). On the pop side, the Wax Museum has another Wyndham Hill showcase with Shadowfax, Liz Storey, and Will Ackerman (Nov. 2); Arlo Guthrie (Nov. 6), and Cris Williamson with Tret Fure (Nov. 8). December
You can bet there will be a lot more than just the Patti Labelle concert at Constitution Hall (Dec. 30), violinist Stephane Grappelli at Blues Alley (Dec. 6-11), crooner Clint Holmes at Charlie's (Dec. 27-31) and whatever ushers in the New Year at the Capital Centre (and bet on its having a funky beat). At the Barns, Word/Song continues with "The Troubador of Paris," in which Galway Kinnell and the Antiqua Players bring to life the poems of Francois Villon and music of 16th-century France (Dec. 6); The Blue Three (clarinetist Kenny Davern, drummer Bobby Rosengarden and pianist Dick Wellstood) do it up right for the music of Duke Ellington (Dec. 10); and, repeating another of last year's major successes, "Mano a Mano" joins flamenco-guitarist and vocalist Anita Sheer with classical guitarist Laurie Randolph (Dec. 17).