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The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of July 14-20

The wonderful and bizarre “Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club” combines staged fisticuffs between pop culture icons (such as this bout between Leatherface and My Little Pony) with burlesque dancing and interactive games. (StereoVision)
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Thursday, July 14

Bastille Day: France’s national holiday is a great excuse for a party, especially in D.C. The epic party at the French Embassy’s Maison Française is sold out, but there are plenty of restaurants around the city where you can drop in to toast le 14 Juillet with a glass of wine. Le Diplomate’s annual soiree features a strolling accordionist, a caricature artist, balloon animals, face painting and — oh, right — a menu that ranges from croque madame to Dover sole. La Jambe in Shaw is pouring “delightful St Tropez rosé” at happy hour prices beginning at 5 p.m., with food specials from the South of France and wine and cheese giveaways. Bistrot Lepic has a special menu as well as live jazz in its cozy upstairs wine bar. Le Sel, the French restaurant inside the Kimpton’s Banneker hotel, starts with a happy hour featuring free rosé and hors d’oeuvres from 4 to 6 p.m., plus a $49 three-course menu in the dining room. The Sofitel’s Opaline lounge has a special menu of bar snacks, such as beer tartare and country pâté; French DJ David Dupree; and prizes for the best French outfits. The $17.89 combo at Fig and Olive includes a cocktail, olives and crostinis. Can’t party Thursday night? Tenleytown’s Le Chat Noir and Matisse are among the sponsors of Bastille Day at the Park, held in the neighborhood’s Fessenden Park on Saturday. The afternoon gathering includes live accordion music, pétanque lessons, family craft activities, quiche tasting and rosé from 2 to 4 p.m. and costs $20 per adult, which includes one child (and food, drink and activities).

Capital Fringe Festival: The Capital Fringe Festival looks a bit different than it did before the pandemic. Performances by more than 250 artists will run for two weekends out of spaces in the Georgetown Park mall that were once home to retailers like DSW and Forever 21, and capacity at each venue is limited to 51 seats. The 31 productions include a fantasy drama about astronomers, a dark comedy homing in on a mother-daughter duo and a musical set on the Appalachian Trail. Through Sunday, then July 21-24 at various locations in Georgetown. Full schedule at capitalfringe.org. $15 per show.

D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival: The D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival is getting closer to a return to normal. The 22nd edition of the festival includes 65 films from nine countries — a mix of feature-length offerings and collections of short film programs with such themes as “Working in a Weary World” and “Family Histories.” While some shorts programs and several features will be shown on demand online, audiences can attend seven in-person events at locations including Eaton Workshop and AFI Silver Theatre. The festival begins Thursday in NoMa’s Alethia Tanner Park with a free outdoor screening of “Waterman,” a documentary about Hawaiian surfer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. Through July 17. Locations vary; the full schedule is posted on apafilm.org. Free-$20.

Lake Arbor Jazz Fest: After a brief sojourn to National Harbor, the Lake Arbor Jazz Fest returns to Lake Arbor proper this weekend, with a pair of pre-festival events taking place at the Center for Performing Arts at Prince George’s Community College. Thursday’s concert features South African guitarist Jonathan Butler and singer Ann Nesby, formerly of Sounds of Blackness. Friday’s Summer White Affair (suggested attire: “All White”) includes saxophonists Gerald Albright and Langston Hughes II, plus violinist Chelsey Green and the Green Project. Saturday’s main event, held outdoors at the Lake Arbor Community Center, is headlined by War and Down to the Bone; Sunday brings a full day of music including Sweet Cherie, guitarist Tim Bowman and saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Gates open at noon both Saturday and Sunday, and the grounds feature dozens of vendors and a beer and wine garden. Through July 17. Pre-festival events $69-$125; weekend day tickets $65-$95.

Friday, July 15

‘Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club’ at Gala Hispanic Theatre: The first rule of “Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club” is — well, you’ll probably want to talk about it a lot, considering how wacky this long-running show is. It features a combination of staged smackdowns — think MTV “Celebrity Deathmatch”-style matchups between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, Vladimir Putin and a unicorn or Daniel Snyder and a Native American — and burlesque dancers, interactive games and running commentary from hosts “Elvis” and “Kittie Glitter.” The fight club is usually held in January in honor of the King’s birthday, but this year’s festivities were postponed due to the coronavirus. You can’t keep the big man down, though, and the in-person fight club returns this weekend. Friday and Saturday at 7 and 10 p.m. $30-$40.

Culture Caucus Summer Festival at the Kennedy Center: Last summer, the Kennedy Center celebrated its reopening with three-day outdoor mini-festivals on its Millennium Stage. The series returns from July 14 through Sept. 3, with outdoor concerts, events and gatherings every Thursday through Saturday. Each week is curated by the center’s Culture Caucus, a group of artists, arts organizations and creators from the D.C. area. The opening week includes an art show, DJs and cabaret performance with tap dancing on Friday and a slew of events on Saturday: jazz and gospel performances, a panel discussion about the history of gospel in D.C., a yoga class and an art market. Mark your calendars now for the following week with Don’t Mute D.C., featuring go-go bands, panel discussions, yoga and drumming classes. Most events do not require reservations. July 15 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.; July 16 from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Free.

Mary McLeod Bethune guided tours and neighborhood walking tours: On Wednesday, educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune became the first Black American to represent a state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Her statue was donated by Florida, replacing one of Confederate Gen. Edmund Smith Kirby. Learn more about Bethune and her work with the National Council of Negro Women by taking a tour of the NCNW headquarters in Logan Circle, which also served as Bethune’s home and is now managed by the National Park Service. Guided tours with a park ranger are offered every half-hour between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, though tours are limited to 10 people. On Friday and Saturday, the Park Service offers a one-hour guided walking tour of Logan Circle and Shaw at 10:30 a.m. “What Makes a Thriving Community?” looks at the Black residents of the neighborhood after the Civil War and their contributions to its development. All tours are free, no reservations required.

Sour Liz Week at Dacha Shaw: When you think of beers at Dacha, you probably envision glass boots full of lager or hefeweizen. But Dacha is a destination for sour and funky beers, too. The Sour Liz Week brings 14 sours to the taps, including offerings from Evolution, Cascade, Caboose and Ithaca and a trio from Chantilly’s Mustang Sally. Union’s Older Pro, which adds plum to the Baltimore brewery’s flagship gose before aging it in wine barrels, sounds like a standout. Through July 20. Beers $9-$15.

‘American Prophet’ at Arena Stage: Frederick Douglass’s speeches and books are the basis of this world-premiere musical. Director Charles Randolph-Wright also helmed “Motown the Musical” on Broadway, and the title role is portrayed by Cornelius Smith Jr. of “Scandal” and “All My Children” fame. Through Aug. 28. $92-$102.

Saturday, July 16

Fiesta Asia on Pennsylvania Avenue NW: This popular street fair is normally held in the spring, but after May’s event was postponed, Fiesta Asia returns to Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Third and Sixth streets this weekend. The 2022 National Asian Heritage Festival’s big celebration includes a parade, martial arts displays, a shopping bazaar, musical performances, activities for kids and exhibits of Asian crafts. Try snacks from food vendors such as Rice Culture, which whips up treats including taiyaki: fish-shaped cakes stuffed with a red bean filling. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.

Summer Jazz Celebration at the Kreeger Museum: This weekend brings a chance to listen to jazz in a different sculpture garden. The Kreeger’s sculpture garden has the vibe of an exquisitely decorated and maintained backyard, with John Dreyfuss’s blocky monoliths arranged around a fountain-filled pool and Sandra Muss’s “Portals” tucked along a wooded trail. It’s the perfect setting for a picnic and concert. The Summer Jazz Celebration, a collaboration between the museum and saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, brings together the Crush Funk Brass Band; Brazilian guitarist Flavio Silva, who is performing in a quartet with Balbed; and DJ John Murphy. Picnic blankets and BYO beverages in cans are allowed; glass bottles and chairs are not. 3 to 6 p.m. $25.

158th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens: The battle of Fort Stevens isn’t as well known as Antietam or Gettysburg, but the two-day engagement in Brightwood in July 1864 was the closest the Confederate army came to capturing the U.S. capital during the Civil War. The annual commemoration of the battle, held at the reconstructed portion of Fort Stevens, brings together military and civilian reenactors, historians and performers of period music. This year’s theme is “Women and the Defense of the Capital,” which will be featured in the talks and living history demonstrations, alongside hands-on children’s activities. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.

Sounds of Africa in the Enid A. Haupt Garden: Originally scheduled as a Juneteenth celebration but postponed due to the Something in the Water festival, this outdoor summer concert stars Eme & Heteru, featuring Chelsey Green, performing “songs of liberation,” sponsored by the National Museum of African Art. 6:30 to 10 p.m. Free.

Greatest HITS at Hole in the Sky: After more than a decade as one of D.C.’s cooler underground DIY art spaces-slash-punk venues, Hole in the Sky is closing for good. The final event is an art show called Greatest HITS, with contributions from at least 20 artists who’ve displayed work at Hole in the Sky over the years. As always, BYOB. 6 to 9 p.m. $5 donation requested.

The U.S. Army Band at the Anthem: This year marks the centenary of the U.S. Army Band, nicknamed “Pershing’s Own” after General of the Armies John J. Pershing, who ordered its creation. Those 100 years are honored during a special concert at the Anthem, with a program featuring classical, jazz, pop and country music. ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz hosts. Tickets are free but should be claimed in advance. 8 p.m. Free.

Sunday, July 17

Black on the Block at Franklin Square: Franklin Square is turning into a true block party at this free festival, presented with NFL star Stefon Diggs. Black on the Block features more than 100 Black-owned businesses, with DJs, food trucks, art installations and a photo booth. The event is for all ages, though the VIP Garden Dome is 21 and over only. (Advance tickets to the Garden Dome are $30, which includes two drink tickets.) 1 to 8 p.m. Free.

‘Afro-Atlantic Histories’ closing weekend at the National Gallery of Art: This weekend is the final chance to immerse yourself in “Afro-Atlantic Histories,” the National Gallery’s exhibition examining art and the African diaspora, delving into “how the Atlantic slave trade refashioned geography into a vast, in-between space of unsettled and shifting identities,” as Post critic Philip Kennecott wrote in his review of the show. The museum offers slide show overviews of the exhibit with expert staff at noon Saturday and Sunday. The exhibition’s final day also includes a screening of “Black Lions, Roman Wolves,” a documentary in progress about Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s. Filmmaker Haile Gerima — an owner of Sankofa bookstore — will be at the 2 p.m. screening. Registration is free; a limited number of same-day passes will also be available. Through Sunday. Free.

Watchhouse at 9:30 Club: Watchhouse’s self-titled 2021 album is a reintroduction to the folk duo previously known as Mandolin Orange. Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, who are married and based out of Chapel Hill, N.C., chose a new name that better suits what they’re trying to do with their music. It refers to a friend’s cabin on the Chesapeake Bay that Marlin visited as a teenager, he told WBUR radio, where there was no electricity and only the company of others. The duo’s music has always effused a calming aura that now matches the inspiration of their new name. Their latest project features more layered instrumentation than usual, providing a lusher experience for listeners. The nimble and delicate strumming on “Better Way” sounds like stars sparkling, and the couple closes the song by sincerely singing, “Hope you find a better way to be kinder.” Regardless of the name change, Watchhouse is still giving fans the tranquil and endearing Americana that they have come to expect. 7 p.m. $35.

Monday, July 18

Fort Reno Concert Series opening night: Free summer concerts have been held in Fort Reno Park since 1968, and during the 1990s, the series became famous for annual appearances by some of the area’s biggest rock acts, including Fugazi and the Dismemberment Plan. This year’s schedule has eight concerts over four weeks. Glue Factory, the Periwinkles and Leon City Sounds kick things off on July 18, and everything wraps up Aug. 11 with a banger of a show featuring Ted Leo, the Owners and Koshari. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Free.

Tuesday, July 19

Hannah Georgas at Songbyrd: Singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas opens her 2020 album “All That Emotion” by calling herself out. “Hide behind all that emotion / See how long you can keep going,” she sings on “That Emotion,” while subdued drums guide her through her coping. Georgas’s fourth album is produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, who also produced Taylor Swift’s “Folklore.” The 38-year-old Canadian singer’s previous works usually found her deep in thought as her sweet vocals articulated a relatable inner monologue. Georgas gives listeners more of that on her latest project while submerging herself more deeply into the nostalgia of it all. She subtly refers to childhood trauma but never in explicit detail, instead letting listeners drop their own experiences in for hers so there’s a collective healing happening. Georgas beautifully executes self-introspection, letting her music speak her mind. 7 p.m. $20-$22.

Wednesday, July 20

Tour of the Universe on the National Mall: If you’ve been captivated by the breathtaking images from the James Webb Space Telescope, make plans to be on the National Mall on Wednesday. At eight locations between Fourth and 14th streets, participants can use telescopes to observe the sun, learn about ultraviolet and infrared light, touch meteorites and find out how black holes bend light, with stations organized by Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.

Teen Mortgage at Songbyrd: Despite losing a year’s worth of bookings and scuttling a U.S. tour due to the pandemic, power duo Teen Mortgage was able to take advantage of unusual opportunities, like live-streaming a show from DC9 or playing mobile shows on the back of D.C. concert venue Songbyrd’s “Byrdmobile” truck. But Teen Mortgage is a band that needs to be experienced live, where mosh pits and tinnitus overwhelm the senses — live-streaming would never do. Life under a pandemic threatened to disconnect the band from time and space. “I almost feel like we got blipped or something,” says drummer Ed Barakauskas. “I know we did stuff during the last couple years that kept the momentum going, but it feels like we just reappeared on the other side of it.” Firmly un-blipped, the band can finally properly tour behind “Smoked.” Released last fall, the EP is an all-killer, no-filler collection of outbursts from the D.C.-based pair, loaded with searing riffs, sneering vocals and skin-punishing drumming. The songs affirm that getting smoked is an inevitability in skateboarding, making music and living life, but that dusting off and trying again is often the only way through. 7 p.m. $18-$22.

Interview: Teen Mortgage is firmly un-blipped and back on tour where it belongs

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