In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District. See previous dream days from Mayor Muriel Bowser, BYT’s Svetlana Legetic and Story District’s Amy Saidman.
Singer-songwriter Odetta Hartman was born and raised in New York, but she quickly fell in love with D.C. after moving here in 2016. “The quality of life in D.C. is just so great,” she says. “I feel like D.C. is my forever home.” For now, though, “I’m living in a suitcase.” Hartman, 29, is touring the world behind her just-released second album, “Old Rockhounds Never Die,” a collection of weird but wonderful folk songs and soundscapes made in collaboration with producer Jack Inslee. Hartman, who often processes her guitar, violin, banjo and voice through a laptop, will celebrate the record’s release with a homecoming show at U Street Music Hall (1115 U St. NW; Thu., 7 p.m., $15). When she comes home for good, she’ll have plenty to keep her busy, especially when she finds time for the day she’s dreamed up. “I love making itineraries,” she says.
I would start, as I start many days, at Maketto with a dirty chai tea. I think they make the best chai in the city. That was actually the first place I went in D.C. — even before I moved — and it has become kind of like a central hub for me and my creative community.
Then I would mosey on over to A. Litteri, this old-school Italian market. I think I would pick up some fixings for a picnic. I would pop in maybe to Shopkeepers and see the beautiful linens and clothes they have for sale.
I lived in Northeast and one of my favorite places is the National Arboretum, so a perfect day for me would be biking with picnic fixings to go have a beautiful stroll and picnic there. They have a little pavilion and historic bonsai trees, then there’s tons of trails.
Then I would go to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. I still can’t get over the fact that the museums are free. The first show I saw there when I came to D.C. was “Ragnar Kjartansson.” That was the single most moving art exhibit I’ve ever seen. It changed my life.
One thing I’ve gotten really interested in lately are sound baths and sound healing ceremonies with Tibetan singing bowls or gongs. I would cruise up to recharj and do a sound bath. You basically just lay down and get really relaxed.
Then I would head to golden hour at The Line hotel. Right around sunset, the whole interior lobby just glows gold and it’s heavenly — it was a church. I would have a cocktail upstairs at Spike Gjerde’s restaurant A Rake’s Progress, with their signature popcorn made with fish pepper salt and incredible butter.
I love spicy foods and I really love Thip Khao, which is Laotian cuisine. I’m vegetarian and Thip Khao does a veggie laab that’s super good.
Then I’d probably go see some live music. There’s a new DIY venue called Dwell in Trinidad. I was at a show there just before I left for my tour. I like the DIY aspect because we are sometimes literally in someone’s living room and it’s fun to have a little more freedom.
And then my favorite place to go dancing is Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club. It is so grimy and awesome. People just dance and nobody cares. Jimmy’s kinda reminds me of our Brooklyn haunts — it’s the underbelly of D.C. I wasn’t expecting D.C. to even have a place like that.