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The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of May 19-25

Bourbon and Bluegrass, an annual fundraiser for President Lincoln’s Cottage, returns as an in-person event with two days of bluegrass music, beer and whiskey tastings, lawn games and guided tours. (Lee Raynes)
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Thursday, May 19

ArtWalk Dupont launch: Dupont Circle’s long-running First Friday ArtWalk is officially expanding, with events and tours at neighborhood galleries also taking place on the third Thursday of every month. Participants on the kickoff tour include some familiar names, such as IA&A at Hillyer and Studio Gallery, as well as the Pen Arts Gallery, Washington Studio School and Greek Fashion Collective. Hop between the galleries for wine, music, live painting and poetry (in addition to the exhibits, of course), or visit the Heurich House Museum’s backyard beer garden for liquid refreshments. 5 to 8 p.m. Free.

Spring in Southwest at various locations: The weather may be unseasonably warm this weekend, but maybe that’s all the better to get you ready for the D.C. summer to come, when public parks and pools serve as hot spots for family fun. There will be festivities throughout Southwest D.C. between Thursday and Saturday to celebrate the season. The stunning Southwest Library celebrates its first birthday Thursday with live music, face painting and other treats at the Third and I streets Park. Friday brings a disco-themed party with music from DJ Adrian Loving and food from Swizzler. Where? The duck pond at Sixth and I streets, of course, so get your “Disco Duck” groove on and spot some ducks to kick off your weekend. Then on Saturday afternoon, there’s a classic block party at Lansburgh Park, at Delaware Avenue and K Street, with the Clarence Turner Blues Band performing and barbecue for sale from King Ribs. Through Saturday. Free.

Griselda at Echostage: When you think of where you might find the hotbeds of rap in recent years, would you guess the home of chicken wings and obsessive football fans throwing themselves through tables? Griselda, a rap collective featuring Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, proudly hails from Buffalo. The crew is taking a long-earned victory lap after a meteoric ascension into rap’s mainstream with its retro street rap. Gunn and Conway, who are brothers, helped found the group a decade ago, but the last few years have been their most prolific, including Gunn’s 2020 album “Pray for Paris,” which is filled with boastful and exhilarating bars bent on making Buffalo feel like a cultural (and drug) capital. 8 p.m. $65.99.

D.C. Bluegrass Pick Meetup at Hill Country: This is a big weekend for bluegrass fans, with the return of the annual Bourbon and Bluegrass at President Lincoln’s Cottage (see below), but it starts with a lower-key gathering for musicians and music lovers. Connor Murray and Alex Berman of Baltimore’s Dirty Grass Players host a pickin’ party in the basement concert hall of Hill Country that includes group jam sessions for all levels and a “boot jam” in which players will be drawn to perform with other musicians in a random ensemble. 7:30 p.m. Free.

Friday, May 20

Preakness Live and InfieldFest: The Preakness at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is known for being an all-out party, and this year there will be two days of music in addition to horse racing. The new Preakness Live Culinary, Art and Music Festival on May 20 will fly in superstars Ms. Lauryn Hill and Megan Thee Stallion to headline a bill that includes local Baltimore talent like Darin Atwater and the Soulful Symphony. Celebrity chefs such as Tom Colicchio, Marcus Samuelsson and Gail Simmons will also hit the stage for culinary showcases, with menu items from the chefs available as part of certain ticket packages. InfieldFest is back on race day, featuring EDM producer Marshmello performing alongside the Chainsmokers. A restaurant row will be set up both days with dishes from local eateries. Gates open Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. Tickets $59-$175 Friday, $85-$199 Saturday. Two-day passes $115-$325.

D.C. Tango Festival’s Milonga del Festival: The D.C. Tango Festival is in full swing once again, and while concerts at the Kennedy Center are nice, there’s something special about dancing at the Embassy of Argentina. The embassy opens its doors for a milonga, or dance party, with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra’s Tango Ensemble. It doesn’t matter how experienced a dancer you are — settle in with a glass of Argentine wine, which is included in admission, and soak in the music and the atmosphere. 8 p.m. $45.

EarthGang at the Fillmore Silver Spring: This hip-hop duo met as teenagers at their Atlanta high school and make undeniably fun rap music that is an homage to their city. No, it’s not that duo. It’s EarthGang, who have clearly benefited from their eclectic ATL forefathers, Outkast. Olu and WowGr8 have been making hits that pull together influences from their hometown since their 2013 debut album, “Shallow Graves for Toys.” They effortlessly go from trap to soul to funk influences from track to track, all the while collecting features from the likes of Young Thug and T-Pain. Most recently, Future appeared on the catchy “Billi” from their 2022 album “Ghetto Gods.” EarthGang’s infectious flow and delivery are on display on “Lie to Me,” while “Strong Friends” features unusually breezy percussion and WowGr8 sincerely rapping, “Might even get clowned for openin’ up now/ But I’d much rather leave you with no room for doubt.” EarthGang still has the ability to surprise. 9 p.m. $35.

4 concerts to catch in the D.C. area over the next several days

Kolschfest at Silver Branch: Silver Spring’s Silver Branch Brewing marks the return of its Umlaut Love — a crisp, gently fruity Kolsch-style summer beer — with two days of beer, music and brats. Tickets include unlimited beer, a brat platter with two sides, and two souvenir glasses. Friday is focused on eating and drinking on the patio; Saturday includes live music from the Riverside Carnival Band (1 to 4 p.m.) and Miss Moon Rising (6 to 9 p.m.). Purchasing the wristband for unlimited beer isn’t required if you just want to visit and order a la carte. Friday from 3 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. Wristbands $49.99.

French Embassy Garden Party: We’re heading straight into rosé season, and what better way to begin than sipping rosé outdoors at the French Embassy? This evening soiree, co-sponsored by the French-American Chamber of Commerce and Things to Do D.C., features an open bar with French aperitifs, such as kir, kir royale and pastis; plenty of rosé and other French red and white wines; and European beers. Food includes crepes, ham and French barbecue. There are VIP options with early access, extra cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, with special seating options for groups or singles. 6 to 9 p.m. $99-$179 for singles; $395-$695 for couples and groups.

Alex Cameron at the Black Cat: Australian singer Alex Cameron has made a career of adopting elaborate personas. These characters’ perspectives guide his albums — never more so than on his 2016 debut album, “Jumping the Shark,” in which he embodies a trashy TV host on his way to being washed up. His latest album, “Oxy Music,” is a project about the devastating opioid crisis with ’80s-inspired synths and on-the-nose lyrics. The frail-sounding drums on “Prescription Refill” seem to be mimicking the subject matter. Cameron sings, “I’ll fix that addiction, honey / And if that won’t do / Gonna dance for you.” There are genuine surprising moments on the album: “Cancel Culture” draws from hip-hop influences, including opening up with a couple of lines from rapper Lloyd Vines. Cameron pokes fun at those who appropriate musical traditions from a culture they don’t belong to: His play on words in the chorus — taking the controversial phrase “cancel culture” and singing that the only solution to cultural appropriation is to cancel culture itself — is a good summation of the playful tone he’s carried throughout his career. 8 p.m. $25-$28.

Saturday, May 21

Bourbon and Bluegrass at President Lincoln’s Cottage: Abraham Lincoln’s summer escape was a modest house on the grounds of what is now known as the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Spend an afternoon there, with a picnic blanket spread on the grass, listening to bluegrass and folk music and sipping a whiskey cocktail or two, and it’s easy to understand why he so loved the place. The annual fundraiser for President Lincoln’s Cottage is once again in person after last year’s virtual concert with Dom Flemons. It has returned to the pre-pandemic format, with three artists performing per day — Driftwood headlines both Saturday and Sunday — as well as bourbon and beer tastings, guided tours, lawn games and, appropriately for an event celebrating Lincoln, a beard grooming station. Food from Timber Pizza, Rocklands Barbecue and Goodies Frozen Custard will be available for purchase. Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. $80 adults; $35 ages 7 to 20 and nondrinkers; free for ages 6 and younger.

Open Streets: Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue: On Saturday morning, cars and buses are being replaced by double Dutch contests, go-go bands and yoga classes in the heart of historic Anacostia. The first of D.C.’s “Open Streets in Your Neighborhood” events shuts down a five-block stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and fills the road with a community celebration. The main stage hosts music, dance and spoken word performances, while other areas include art, games, family activities and exercise classes. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.

Perchfest: Spring Edition at the Perch: An 18-hole miniature golf course is opening 11 stories high in Tysons atop Capital One Center, which is already home to a beer garden, dog park, amphitheater and sculpture garden. Be one of the first to try to get a hole in one at Perchfest, a two-day event with live music, lawn games, new food trucks (delivered via crane) and a special IPA from Starr Hill Biergarten. Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Free; registration required.

5 reasons to go out to Tysons (and only one of them is the mall)

Ballston Quarterfest Crawl: Ballston is throwing a big neighborhood block party, during which you can hop from restaurant to restaurant in search of free samples and specials on food and drink. While there won’t be street closures during the Ballston Quarterfest Crawl, the event features live music, including ’90s cover band Uncle Jesse and singalong piano sets with Bobby McKeys’ Dueling Piano Cart, outside restaurants and other locations. After the main event winds down, the party moves to the Whino arts and restaurant space inside Ballston Quarter, with live art battles and a DJ. Noon to 8 p.m. Free.

Crowded Haus Beer Festival at Astro Lab Brewing: It looks to be a busy weekend for beer in Silver Spring, with Kolschfest at Silver Branch and Astro Lab hosting Crowded Haus, a celebration of beers using New Zealand hops. (Brewer and co-founder Matt Cronin hails from New Zealand.) Expect six new beers from Astro Lab, including single-hopped IPAs starring Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin, and taps from guest breweries, such as Sapwood Cellars, Crooked Run and Fourscore. With the ever-popular patio at Denizens a short walk away, this sounds like the perfect time for a Silver Spring brewery crawl. Doors open at noon. Free; beers priced individually.

Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival at Sandy Point State Park: When the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival kicks off on May 21, more than a quarter of the acts will be 35 or under: Gabe Stillman, Ally Venable, Samantha Fish and headliner Joss Stone. That young talent is a vital sign for the future of a genre that, for decades, has been written off as dead or dying. “The blues always seems like a dying genre, but it keeps replenishing itself with younger musicians constantly coming in,” says Don Hooker, who co-founded the Annapolis festival in 1998 and has long nurtured young talent — his first three festivals featured then-teenagers Jonny Lang and Shemekia Copeland and 20-something Susan Tedeschi. Yet the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival is folding its tents after this year, citing rising costs, declining attendance and loss of sponsorships in a Facebook post announcing the decision. Still, the young musicians playing at Sandy Point State Park this weekend are more optimistic about the future of the blues, with Fish, 33, saying that their presence is reason to believe. “There’s always hope when there’s a younger generation picking up the torch,” she says. Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. $100 per day in advance, $130 day of show; $180 two-day pass.

Preview: The Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival returns for its final show

Sunday, May 22

‘Concert to Benefit Ukraine’ at Hill Center: Ukrainian musicians Andrei Pidkivka and Solomia Gorokhivska are based in the D.C. area and perform together in an ensemble called Gerdan, playing both traditional Ukrainian folk songs and Eastern European music and modern compositions. See violinist Gorokhivska and flutist Pidkivka (known for his collection of authentic Ukrainian flutes) during a special concert at Hill Center. Ticket sales benefit the nonprofit organization United Help Ukraine, which raises money for humanitarian aid and medical supplies. 4 to 6 p.m. $45.

Christie Dashiell at Wild Days: If you’re looking for the best-curated jazz around the city, you’d be wise to keep your eyes on the CapitalBop calendar. The collective of jazz musicians and enthusiasts consistently puts on some of the finest, most forward-thinking shows in fun venues. Sunday will be no different when CapitalBop takes over Wild Days, the rooftop bar at the Eaton hotel and hosts singer Christie Dashiell and her band as they perform original material and jazz standards. If you can’t make it in person, the concert will be taped and available to stream on CapitalBop’s YouTube channel. 7 p.m. 21 and over. Free; registration encouraged.

How a flagging nonprofit D.C. jazz advocacy group picked up its tempo

Tuesday, May 24

Adams Morgan Movie Nights: One of D.C.'s best-known outdoor film series returns to the Marie Reed School’s soccer field for a five-week run. The theme is “The Road Less Traveled,” and it kicks off with perennial favorite “The Princess Bride.” Movies begin at sunset, leaving plenty of time to grab dinner or happy hour in the neighborhood before spreading a blanket on the field or the terraced “bleachers.” Local restaurants offer “brown bag” carryout specials for DIY picnics, including crispy chicken skins and mumbo-covered tofu from the Game, or burgers and fried chicken sandos from Shibuya Eatery. (See the website for full details.) Through June 21. Movie begins at “approximately 9 p.m.” Free.

Anaïs Mitchell at 9:30 Club: Anaïs Mitchell’s 2010 Greek-mythology-inspired album became the hit Broadway musical “Hadestown.” Eight Tony Awards (including best musical) later, Mitchell is back to her folky-Americana roots — and it feels right that her first solo album in almost a decade is self-titled. Her 2022 album is intimate and beautifully written with irresistible melodies. Mitchell’s songs are mini stories, some grander than others. On “Little Big Girl,” she uses little anecdotes to tell a larger story of growing up and womanhood. When she sings, “Hold on, little big girl,” it sounds like she is talking to her past, present and future self. “Now You Know” begins with the knockout line, “When I think about dying, I think about children.” She sings about how when you love someone, thinking about the big and small things of life inevitably makes you think of them. Mitchell’s latest offering proves that her massive Broadway success doesn’t mean she can’t go back to smaller-scale, just as affecting, storytelling. 7 p.m. $25.

Wednesday, May 25

Hazel Scott 101st Birthday Celebration at Sixth and I: Washington Performing Arts is honoring the legacy of Black piano prodigy Hazel Scott, a celebrated actress, glamorous jazz musician and Juilliard-trained classical pianist born in 1920. At this recital at Sixth & I, pianist Michelle Cann will perform an evening of classical music including Hazel Scott transcriptions of Liszt and Rachmaninoff as well as pieces by Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, two other Black female composers and pianists who were contemporaries of Scott. 8 p.m. $35.

Critical Condition Band at the Eaton hotel: Legacy, a gallery and retail space in the District’s U Street corridor, is hosting a monthly concert series featuring go-go music. On the last Wednesday of the month, the “Return of the M.A.C.” series will feature a local go-go band at the Eaton hotel. After kicking off in April with six-piece T.O.B., the series in May will feature Critical Condition Band. CCB has had membership changes through the years, but its work continues to embody the best of go-go while pushing the genre forward. The group dropped the song “Keep Forgettin’” with J’TA in April. A dance break during the second half of the song has that signature percussion beat with a whistle slithering along with the drums. CCB’s 2007 song “Phatty” had a viral moment on TikTok in 2020, spawning a funny dance challenge as creators moved their hips to “It’s my phatty, look at my phatty” as a funky horn played. No matter how much you enjoy listening to CCB on your own, like all go-go, it makes you want to hear the band live and with a crowd. 10 p.m. $25 in advance, $40 at the door.

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