Jackie Venson at Songbyrd: Jackie Venson didn’t pick up the guitar until her last year at Berklee College of Music, by then disillusioned with the ultracompetitive spirit of the school. The guitar has become the centerpiece for her blues-inspired, life-affirming songs. Borrowing from legends such as Gary Clark Jr., her guitar solos are masterful and are the slick, satisfying center in such songs as “Keep On.” Her lyricism is saturated with optimism devoid of naivete, particularly on her new album “Love Transcends,” a finger-wagging celebration of being alive, despite it all. Recorded with producer Tim Palmer, who has worked with David Bowie and U2, the album is dedicated to the Texas blues, but revamped with Venson’s sanguine flair. “One step forward is another step farther behind,” Venson croons on “One Step Further.” “And I’ll keep playing till the sun goes down on my life.” 8 p.m. $15.
Friday, Oct. 8
Chocolate City’s Best Cocktail Competition at Commonwealth Cantina: The fourth annual Chocolate City’s Best mixology contests puts the spotlight on 10 bartenders of color, bringing contestants from Savannah, Charleston and as far as Albuquerque to Park View to compete with four bartenders from D.C. and Maryland. Tickets include unlimited cocktails and music from DJ Lalee. 4 to 8 p.m. $15-$60.
Hip-Hop Museum Grand Induction Gala at Ivy City Smokehouse: The Hip-Hop Museum, which popped up at Culture House back in 2019, is packed with more rap memorabilia than you could swing a dookie chain at: Autographed album covers and microphones, clothing, the boxing gloves from LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” video, a Death Row Record electric chair. Founder Jeremy Beaver, the owner of D.C.'s Listen Vision Studios, honors the pioneers of hip-hop by inducting them into the museum, even if it doesn’t yet have a permanent home. This weekend’s induction ceremony honors Pete Rock, Kid Capri, Rakim, Nice & Smooth, Kool Moe Dee and the late Heavy D and D.C.'s own Chucky Thompson. Grandmaster Caz hosts the gala, which features a pop-up museum exhibit and a post-honors DJ set by Pete Rock. 4 to 11 p.m. $100-$150.
Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour at Mount Vernon: George Washington’s estate invites 18 Virginia wineries — from Barboursville Vineyards to Williamsburg Winery — to offer unlimited tastings for guests as they picnic on Mount Vernon’s grounds overlooking the Potomac River. This is a chance to see the historic landmark after hours: Doors open at 6 p.m. and the Mansion’s first floor and cellar will be open until 8:30 p.m., with George and Martha Washington impersonators stationed on the piazza. Pack a blanket on which to sit, and snacks will be available for purchase. Friday and Sunday from 6-9 p.m. (Saturday is sold out.) $43-$63.
Saturday, Oct. 9
Snallygaster: Washington’s biggest and best beer festival has managed to get even bigger after a year off. More than 450 beers will be available for sampling, up from 395 in 2019, with offerings from more than 200 breweries curated by Greg Engert, the beer director of ChurchKey, Bluejacket and the Sovereign. Snallygaster once again fills Pennsylvania Avenue downtown between Third and Sixth streets NW, but capacity is limited to 50 percent. While that might mean shorter lines and more elbow room, it also increases the chances of Snally selling out before the gates open — VIP passes, which allow for an extra two hours of drinking, were snapped up back in July. Tickets include unlimited beer, wine and cocktails, including four-ounce pours from new participants Halfway Crooks and Mortalis, and in-demand breweries such as Blackberry Farm, Foam and Weathered Souls. Beyond liquid refreshment, the day includes two stages of live music, including the Pietasters and Trouble Funk, a selection of food trucks and a family zone with activities and crafts. 2 to 6 p.m. $60. Free for children younger than 12; $10 for ages 12 and older.
Down in the Reeds at the Parks at Walter Reed: Head to the Parks at Walter Reed, the former grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, for a day of music. The event is back in person after a two-year hiatus, and this year, three stages host musicians and workshop presenters such as kids’ entertainer Baba Ras D (11:30 a.m.), members of the Washington Jazz Arts Institute (noon), women-led drum circle Bele Bele Rhythm Collective (3:30 p.m.) and headliners RDGLDGRN (6 p.m.). Check out food trucks, art vendors and family programming in between sets. The festival is asking that attendees over the age of 12 be fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of the event and wear masks when not eating or drinking. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Kids Euro Festival: In the Before Times, the embassies of the European Union opened their doors to families every fall during the Kids Euro Festival — two weeks of puppet shows, dance, crafts and movie screenings, no passport required. The cultural exchange continues in a hybrid fashion this month: Visitors are welcome at in-person events with music and performances at the embassies of France (Saturday, sold out), Sweden (Oct. 16) and Hungary (Oct. 23), though RSVPs are required. The Embassy of Finland sponsors an exhibit about the beloved Moomins at the National Children’s Museum
with four free in-person events between Sunday and Oct. 24. (UPDATE: All free tickets have been claimed, but families can still see the exhibit by purchasing tickets to the museum.) Other embassies have taken the festivities online, so families can learn to bake Slovakian apple pie, try making ancient Greek art, or watch an animated Maltese film called “Sweet Dreams are Made of … Cheese.” Through Oct. 30. Free, though some events require registration.
‘We are All Connected’ Festival at the Kennedy Center: Artist Mo Willems has been busy during the pandemic. As the Kennedy Center’s artist-in-residence, he hosted doodling sessions for stuck-at-home families, and this summer, premiered “Slopera: A Bite-Sized Opera,” featuring his characters Elephant and Piggie. But We are All Connected is his biggest project yet: A giant mural on the Reach’s plaza composed of 240 dots, based on Willems’ dot and line drawings, with dots created and illustrated by community groups. “That we are connected is a fact,” Willems says in the introductory video. “How we are connected is a choice.” This kickoff event, which includes the placing and connecting of the dots, is a family festival with chalk drawing, crafts, music, a giant inflatable pigeon and other surprises, before a dance party on the mural with the No BS! Brass Band. 10:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
Tregaron Unplugged at the Tregaron Conservancy: The 13-acre Tregaron Conservancy, which straddles the Cleveland and Woodley Park neighborhoods, is a place of natural beauty, with gardens, streams and rolling lawns. It’s a beautiful place for a picnic, and it’s about to be a wonderful place for a concert, too. Washington Performing Arts’ Tregaron Unplugged finds six artists performing in locations around the grounds, including jazz vocalist Integriti Reeves, folk duo the Sweater Set and classical guitarist Oscar Somersalo. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. 4 to 6 p.m. Free; reservations suggested.
Sunday, Oct. 10
Books in Bloom: At this outdoor book festival in downtown Columbia, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will discuss her new book, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,” with Busboys and Poets founder Andy Shallal. The book is an expansion on her influential work in the New York Times Magazine written to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans on U.S. soil. In addition to this headlining talk, Books in Bloom features a full slate of readings and discussions, including NPR “Fresh Air” book critic Maureen Corrigan and crime writer Laura Lippman, activities for kids and a pop-up bookstore from Busboys & Poets. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Oyster Wars at Other Half Brewing: In previous years, Oyster Wars was a ticketed all-you-can-eat affair at the Salt Line, with bivalves paired with beers from breweries like Other Half, Bissell Brothers and Oxbow. Not so this year, where anyone can stop by Other Half’s Ivy City brewery for a la carte oysters and lobster rolls from the Salt Line and Dauphine, with Other Half pouring guest beers from 11 different breweries, such as Monkish, Equilibrium and Alvarado Street. DJs Harry Hotter and Stylus Chris provide the vibes. Noon to 5 p.m. Free.
Highroller Pop-Up at Anxo: If you’ve been to Portland, Maine, your friends might have told you that you had to go to Highroller Lobster Co., a diner-style joint with amazing, flavorful lobster rolls and an amazing, gooey lobster grilled cheese. This Sunday, Highroller is popping up at Anxo’s Brightwood Park taproom, serving lobster-based delicacies while the bar features four drafts from Connecticut’s Fox Farm Brewing along with Anxo’s seasonal ciders. Beginning at noon.
Monday, Oct. 11
Mon Laferte at Fillmore Silver Spring: Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte is the kind of artist who can shift with ease from covering Metallica one moment to performing a heart-wrenching bolero. Since the beginning of her career, she has explored a variety of genres, with songs that range from folk-infused rock to “música cebolla,” a Chilean genre that highlights lyrics of romance and sorrow. Her powerful vocal delivery and commanding stage presence have made her one of the most popular female artists in Latin America. Laferte, who has been living in Mexico since 2007, is now back in the United States, touring for the sixth time in support of her new release, “Seis.” The 14 tracks on “Seis” mark a new direction from her previous album, the 2019 Latin Grammy-winning “Norma.” Where “Norma” incorporated big-band-style arrangements, salsa and electronic flourishes, “Seis” is, for the most part, Laferte’s stunning take on Mexican music. 8 p.m. $45.
‘The Madness of Poe’ at Synetic Theater: After digital shows and pop-ups, Synetic returns to its Crystal City theater with a haunting performance timed for the Halloween season. This troupe known for creative use of movement and dance will perform “The Madness of Poe,” which brings to life three classic Edgar Allan Poe stories in 90 minutes: “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Raven” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of the performance is required to enter. Through Oct. 31. $10- $60.
Tuesday, Oct. 12
James Blake at the Anthem: James Blake’s decade-long music career has seen the English singer-songwriter-producer emerge from the ether of post-dubstep experimentation to become a go-to collaborator for everyone from Beyoncé and André 3000 to Kendrick Lamar and Rosalía. In 2019, he lived up to the title of his album “Assume Form,” becoming a full-on pop artist that could handle the weight of R&B and hip-hop, while keeping his idiosyncratic style intact. From the first tastes of “Friends That Break Your Heart” (out Oct. 8), it sounds like Blake is pushing his woozy constructions to their limits, getting operatic and orchestral on “Say What You Will” and “Famous Last Words,” respectively. On the album’s cover, his jigsawed visage lies in the grass — either a heartbroken Humpty Dumpty or pop music’s missing piece. 8 p.m. $45-$150.
Wednesday, Oct. 13
‘Hadestown’ at the Kennedy Center: The Greek mythology-inspired musical that swept the Tony Awards in 2019 with eight wins arrives at the Kennedy Center as the first big theater production of the center’s 50th anniversary season. “Hadestown” is a modern retelling of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, as these tragic lovers travel to the Underworld and back. Appropriately, the blues-inspired soundtrack from Anaïs Mitchell includes such songs as the “Road to Hell.” Proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of the performance is required to enter. Through Oct. 31. $45-$169.
Alma Thomas virtual happy hour: The National Museum of Women in the Arts building is closed for a major renovation, but the celebration of female artists continues online. Log on to learn more about the life of Alma Woodsey Thomas, a Washingtonian who painted colorful abstracts and became the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. You’ll even learn how to make a specialty cocktail inspired by Thomas during this virtual happy hour. 5:30 p.m. Free; registration required.
Benny the Butcher at Fillmore Silver Spring: Of all the metropolitan centers that have — at one time or another — been the capital of gangsta rap, the frosty Buffalo is an unlikely contender. But for the past half-decade or so, the city’s Griselda Records crew has been churning out grimy Mafioso rap that would make Scarface (the rapper or the film character) proud. Alongside Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine, the uber-prolific Benny the Butcher has established himself as one of rap’s great classicists, delivering trunks full of bars heavy with lived-in detail over boom-bap beats and crate-dug samples. The 36-year-old is an unlikely star in a world full of Drakes, but the Butcher wears his outsider status as a badge of honor: “Real stories ’bout drug money got me etched in stone / By the time they learn to love me, I’ll be dead and gone.” 8 p.m. $35-$150.
Kaytranada at the Anthem: Precious few producer-DJs can condense the entire space-time continuum of diasporic dance music into one song, album or set like Kaytranada. The 29-year-old traverses funk and disco to house and techno to hip-hop and Afrobeat, weaving together dance floor dreams and breakbeats that echo through the ages into music that shuffles, stutters and struts. He’s done it on a pair of nearly perfect, star-studded albums (the latest, “Bubba,” won the Grammy for best dance/electronic album) and on productions for fellow travelers including Chance the Rapper, Kali Uchis, Anderson. Paak and Tinashe. While those co-stars probably won’t show up, their voices are likely to ring out during a night of soul-nourishing dance music. 8 p.m. $40.