This week’s top five events:
Wednesday: ‘Tis the season for helping others, and sometimes there are benefits for doing a good deed. Example A: Baby, It’s Cold Outside , a cocktail party at the Gibson. You donate $60 to 826DC, a nonprofit organization founded by author Dave Eggers to improve writing skills and literacy among local students. In return, you receive four hours of free drinks from one of the city’s finest cocktail lounges while listening to DJ Huang drop funky holiday classics.
Thursday: When “Makeda” hit American shores in 1998, no one knew what to make of the jazzy, francophone sound, but everyone thought it felt sweet. Washington’s WHUR was one of the first stations to break that Les Nubians single outside of Europe, and listeners immediately fell in love with the tune, even before they sought translation of the French lyrics about an ancient East African queen. Neo-soul was still taking shape, and the two sisters of mixed French and Cameroonian parentage got caught up in the wave at exactly the right time. Since then, the duo has gradually broadened Afropean-pop. Their pairing with Akua Allrich at the Black Cat is fitting, as the young jazz singer draws from Miriam Makeba’s, dub reggae and Brazilian sounds.
Friday: Back when Scythian was packing Fado Irish Pub every Thursday night with its mix of traditional Irish fiddles, accordion-driven klezmer tunes and rockin’ covers, the talented band hosted an annual ugly Christmas sweater party. The audience wore tacky seasonal outfits, and Scythian blew through a medley of holiday songs (both pop and traditional) in its own inimitable fashion. (You can download a live “Christmess” mix here.) Several years and albums later, Scythian is performing everywhere from Merlefest to Midwestern Irish music festivals, having successfully melded blueglass and Americana into its traditional Irish and Gypsy sound. A D.C. show has become a rarity, but Scythian is back in town for the holidays and headlining another ugly sweater party (this time at the much larger 9:30 Club), and singer/accordionist/guitarist Dan Fedoryka promises “some of the old stuff from the Fado days.” Come dressed and ready to party. Locals Yamomanem and the Second String Band open this late-night show.
Friday: Local supergroup alert! Deathfix is a new band featuring Brendan Canty of Fugazi, Devin Ocampo of Medications and singer-songwriter-producer Richard Morel, best known for working with house music duo Deep Dish and co-founding Blowoff with Bob Mould. The group is still in its infancy, having played only a handful of shows and with just one song on its Facebook page to its credit. What does it sound like? Soundgarden, a little. The only way to find out more is to see them live. The band shares a bill at Comet Ping Pong with local indie rock stalwarts the Jet Age , which is celebrating the release of its new album “Domestic Disturbances.”
Sunday: Cricket Cemetery is a nifty local label that specializes in bands that play short, fast and loud songs. The label is hosting a showcase at Arlington’s cozy Galaxy Hut (capacity 59), featuring a whopping five bands, so a quick bit of math tells us that things will be getting a little crowded in there just accounting for the performers. We can only hope that there will be more room made available by removing some tables and chairs because the hardcore blasts of Bitter American and State Violence are the opposite of sitting music. The precise post-punk of More Humans seems quiet by comparison but still packs a punch.
Looking for more festive ideas? There are 10 after the jump.
Tuesday, Dec. 6
Get to know local singer/songwriter C. Love in Next Door’s intimate back room, perhaps accompanied by a dark and stormy, some mac and cheese and the friendly regulars that like to start conversations. Expect urban folk with blues and hip-hop influences in C. Love’s free acoustic set.
Thursday, Dec. 8
As a keyboardist/backup vocalist for indie rock supergroup New Pornographers, Kathryn Calder rarely gets higher than fourth in the pecking order. But at Iota on Thursday she’ll be front and center in support of her new solo album, “Bright and Vivid.”
Friday, Dec. 9
Common is an actor, sought-after pitchman for endorsements, burgeoning sex symbol, author and, oh — he still raps, too. He’s just aiming for that Will Smith paper and status, and he must be doing the right thing because his career is climbing fast. Catch Common hosting the Park at 14th’s fourth anniversary party with DJ Big Tigger of WPGC and BET fame. Just follow the paparazzi, camera-flash bursts and screaming lady fans. Doors open at 5, and a listening party for Common’s forthcoming album, “The Dreamer/The Believer,” starts at 7.
From spinning disco at Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage to remixing singles by the Cure and Depeche Mode, Francois K has had a long and storied career in dance music. For the past eight years, he’s headlined the Deep Space party in New York, but he makes the occasional foray to fill D.C. dance floors. The man is at U Street Music Hall tonight, and if you’re over 21, admission is free before 11 a.m.
Want a peek at a possible Next Big Thing? Scandinavian electro-pop rising star Oh Land has the combination of looks and sound that could put her in a venue much bigger than the Black Cat next time she comes to town.
Saturday, Dec. 10
The 13th annual Santa Stumble returns to Georgetown this weekend. Don your best Santa-inspired outfit (Santa Elvis, Santa with Kiss facepaint, Sexy Mrs. Claus, etc.) and meet up with other festively dressed revelers for drinks at Third Edition between 4 and 8 p.m.. Around 7:30 p.m., the group moves to Rhino Bar, caroling all the way, and then heads to the Guards around 10:30. Since it’s Christmas, you’re encouraged to bring a donation for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which provides assistance to families and survivors of the Navy and Marine Corps.
This weekend at DC9, Nerd Nite celebrates two years of making nerds into rock stars. Watch expert PowerPoint presentations about the less common side of veterinary science (”How do you perform surgery on a fish?”), the latest research into lemurs and the long history of mediums, UFOs and other pseudoscientific topics. Local rockers the Torches perform between talks.
Sunday, Dec. 11
Who knows what you’ll find at Rock-n-Shop , the Black Cat’s annual rock-and-roll garage sale. If there’s someone hip on your gift list and you don’t want to spend too much dough on them, this is a good place to shop. DJ Baby Alcatraz provides the music while you browse.
Monday, Dec. 12
Cover bands in Clarendon? Not so unusual. A cover band that only performs the music of the Smiths and Morrissey? Unheard of. But that’s Spineless Swine , perhaps best known as the band for the Smiths karaoke at Baltimore’s Ottobar. The group performs two sets at Galaxy Hut.