Did Wim Wenders's "Buena Vista Social Club" make you sad that you'd missed the tour by the documentary's rediscovered stars, a community of gracefully aging yet still astounding Afro-Cuban musicians?
Well, many of them will be visiting Washington this fall in varied settings. The most promising concert takes place Oct. 20 at Lisner Auditorium, featuring the astonishing pianist Ruben Gonzales and his group and the soulful singer Ibrahim Ferrer and his Orquesta.
Other Social Club visitors include guitarist Eliades Ochoa (whose quintet performs at both the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and Olsson's Books & Records at the Lansburgh this Friday) and fellow guitarist Barbarito Torres, who will open an Oct. 5 engagement at the Birchmere for the legendary Cuban dance band Los Van Van. Fans of Cuban music will also want to check out Irakere when that jazz big band performs at the Warner Theatre Oct. 28. Lisner, incidentally, continues to host some top-notch international talent including Brazil's brilliant singer, musician and composer Gilberto Gil (this Wednesday), Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora (Oct. 22) and the Czech Republic's Iva Bittova and the Skampa Quartet (Nov. 14).
With Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's reunion tour having recently passed through town, the major "event" concert is today's Farm Aid benefit at Nissan Pavilion. The 13th annual event will be making its first appearance near the nation's capital, all the better to capture the ears and minds of politicians whose votes affect the much-afflicted American family farmer. The all-star lineup includes founding members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, as well as the Dave Matthews Band, Trisha Yearwood, the Mavericks, Barenaked Ladies, Sawyer Brown, Steve Earle and Susan Tedeschi.
The fall concert schedule is still in its formative stages, but fans of '70s R&B and funk can stop in at MCI Center tonight for blasts from the pasts of Earth Wind & Fire and Barry White, while a younger constituency can exercise its vocal cords with the Backstreet Boys at MCI next Saturday and Sunday. Other notable concerts: Latin star Juan Gabriel at Patriot Center (Sept. 25), Brooks & Dunn with Susan Ashton, Trace Adkins and Montgomery Gentry at Nissan Pavilion (Oct. 2), Patti Page (Oct. 4) and George Winston (Oct. 15), both at Lisner Auditorium, Sting at Constitution Hall (Nov. 12) and Phish at MCI Center (Dec. 15).
And WHFS brings in its second arena show of the year, this time to its old haunts at RFK Stadium, with a Sept. 25 blast featuring Woodstock firecrackers Limp Bizkit, the Chemical Brothers, Bush, 311, Everclear, Filter, Fuel and 20 other bands; the other Woodstock fuse, Kid Rock, headlines his own show at the Patriot Center (Oct. 30).
The Smithsonian Institution, in association with the Country Music Hall of Fame, will host a weekend tribute to Hank Williams Sept. 24 and 25; that Friday, Kathy Mattea, Steve Earle, Kim Richey and Lucinda Williams will explore the seminal Williams songbook, followed by a day-long Saturday seminar featuring critics, scholars and family members discussing his career and legacy. At year's end, a local tribute to Williams featuring John Starling, Robin & Linda Williams, Bill Kirchen, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and others will take place at both the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis (Dec. 28) and the Birchmere in Alexandria (Dec. 30).
And the fifth anniversary of Washington's Freestyle Union is just a part of an expansive and ongoing festival, "Words, Beats and Movement: The Forces of Hip-Hop," that will take place at various locations from mid-September to mid-October featuring such musical, spoken-word and theatrical ensembles as Toni Blackman and the Freestyle Union (at the Black Cat on Sept. 17), the Nuyorican Poets and D.C. Poets in joint "cabarets" (Sept. 26, Oct. 1 and 2, Oct. 16 at District of Columbia Arts Center), Bobby Hill, Compagnie Kafig, Traci Morris and others, along with films, panels and lectures.
Finally, in a busy club schedule, these dates look particularly interesting: former Soundgarden bandleader Chris Cornell at the 9:30 club Sept. 17 and John Popper of Blues Traveler at the Garage (Sept. 21); British dance sensation Basement Jaxx at Nation Sept. 21; yet another Bob Marley offspring-turned-musician, Ky-Mani Marley, at the Garage Sept. 24; John Prine and Iris DeMent at the Birchmere Sept. 28 and 29, and again Oct. 1 and 2; the retro-soul Tony Rich Project at Zanzibar Oct. 2; country music pioneer Kitty Wells at the Birchmere Oct. 3; shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper and his scrawny pop progeny, former MTV VJ Jesse Camp, at the 9:30 club Oct. 5; Mexico's thrashing Los Fabulosos Cadillacs at the Garage Oct. 6; a re-formed Public Enemy at Nation Oct. 10; France's fascinating Les Nubians and Olu at the 9:30 club Oct. 13; and, on Oct. 22, British sensation Robbie Williams, who recently drew 80,000 fans to a castle in Scotland.