After many a summer dies the swan and, all too often, so does the concert schedule.
The great outdoor concert season is winding down, though the Merriweather Post Pavilion and Wolf Trap extend as late into September as possible: Regina Belle closes out the Wolf Trap schedule next Sunday, while Emmylou Harris headlines a special multi-star cystic fibrosis fund-raiser at the Pavilion on Sept. 26. For the most part, the concert scene now shifts indoors to Capital and Patriot Centres, Constitution Hall, the Barns, Lisner and elsewhere.
Maybe it's not that promising a fall because it was a busier summer than usual, even absent the strobe-lit big-bucks reunion tours of recent years (the Who, Rolling Stones), but that doesn't really explain the dearth of big-name acts touring. Actually, Fleetwood Mac would have been a summer show, but a death in Christine McVie's family forced a tour postponement (the band will now be at Capital Centre on Nov. 7). M.C. Hammer, with the year's biggest selling album, returns to the Patriot Centre on Oct. 7. The same day, the year's most notorious rappers, the 2 Live Crew, appear at the 9:30 club, two days before their obscenity trial begins in Florida. The Time, so effectively reunited in the recording studio, may tour once all the egos get straightened out, but that probably won't happen until the end of the year, or early 1991 (the same goes for mentor-competitor Prince, who's always together). There's also talk about a long-rumored Parliament-Funkadelic reunion.
On the other hand, Philip Glass and his ensemble will definitely reconnect with the film "Koyaanisqatsi" for two performances at Lisner (Oct. 25 and 26): The ensemble did the brilliant original soundtrack in 1983 and they'll be doing the score live at Lisner, a` la "Alexander Nevksy." Godfrey Reggio's award-winning documentary deals (wordlessly) with America's falling out of balance with the natural world. Another soundtrack will come to life Oct. 4 when young jazz lions Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard bring "Mo' Better Blues" to Lisner.
Other concert highlights: the now-mended Billy Idol at Cap Centre (Nov. 16 with Faith No More); right-on Aussies Midnight Oil at GW's Smith Center (Sept. 21); the Sundays, on a Thursday at Gaston Hall (Sept. 27); Senegal's Youssou N'Dour at Constitution Hall (Sept. 29); Karl Wallinger and a fleshed-out World Party at Lisner (Sept. 30); the annual, and free, American Discoveries Festival at Freedom Plaza (Oct.6), featuring the Sun Ra Arkestra, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Jamaladeen Tacuma and the Odeon Pope Trio; "Sacred Drums," a multi-drum, multicultural ensemble featuring Max Roach, Salichi Tanaka, Babatunde Olantunji and Mongo Santamaria (at the Ellington Theater, Oct. 17; these two, along with the Glass concerts, are highlights of District Curators' "Multi Kulti" performance season, world culture at popular prices).
Other notable concerts include Los Lobos at Lisner (Nov. 9); the folk roots trio of Gordon Bok, Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church (Nov. 10); Baltimore guitar virtuoso Michael Hedges (Nov. 10), England's ethereal Cocteau Twins (Nov. 15) and Sonny Rollins (Dec. 9), all at Lisner Auditorium, which will also host the annual Medieval/Renaissance-themed Christmas Revels (Nov. 20 through Dec. 2). A late Christmas present: two nights with Anita Baker at Constitution Hall (Dec. 27, 28). Incidentally, the most moving of the fall concerts is likely to be the National Heritage Fellowship Awards, which celebrate not only traditional musicians and dancers but craftspeople as well. The free, low-key affair at Lisner on Sept. 27 will be hosted for the second straight year by the absolutely appropriate Charles Kuralt, and it's really best to bring some crying towels to help celebrate this rich multicultural fabric of America.
On the TBA list, look for Bob Dylan and Little Feat in October; Poison and AC/DC in November; Judas Priest in December; and ZZ Top and Iron Maiden in January.
What Wynton Marsalis has wrought: This year's Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition (Nov. 17-18 at the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium) shifts the focus from aspiring young pianists to aspiring young trumpet players. The Charlin Jazz Society offers a "Salute to Satchmo" (McLean's Alden Theatre, Oct. 25), headlined by local favorites Rick Harris and Kenny Reed. Also trumpeting: Washington's Wallace Roney kicking off a Capital City Jazz Festival series at Trumpet's on Tuesday; Ahmed Abdullah and the Solomonic Sextet (d.c. space, Sept. 15), virtuoso/jazz professor Donald Byrd reunited with his student-bred band, the Blackbyrds, at Howard's Crampton Auditorium on Oct. 7; Dizzy Gillespie teaming up with Carmen McRae and Hank Jones at Baird Auditorium (Dec. 2) and then moving to Blues Alley (Dec. 4-9), a week before Wynton Marsalis (Dec. 11-16). Gillespie's Baird date is part of the Smithsonian Resident Arts Program's 25th anniversary celebration, which begins Sept. 22 with a Nancy Wilson concert.
There's even a new club called Trumpets, heralding hopes for new, varied life on the club scene. Other new kids on the block (some seriously expanding their bookings) include the Takoma Tavern, the Ritz, Zed's, 15 Mins. and, hopefully by October Cates (no longer of Alexandria, but now of upper Northwest, and with a liquor license). Missing in action, and badly missed: the Twist and Shout, still Twist and shut.
Meanwhile, the concert listings for the Bayou, Blues Alley, the Birchmere, 9:30 and other perennials show a continued determination to diversify the menu and bring in the best available acts in new and familiar music alike. Traditional caveats: The pop world seldom works more than six weeks ahead, so the relative barrenness of November and December is not literal; and all concerts and club dates are subject to change.