John ‘Papa’ Gros
Gypsy Sally’s, 3401 K St. NW; Thu., 8 p.m., $15.
Fresh off the annual marathon that is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Big Easy-based singer and piano player John “Papa” Gros will make his annual appearance at Gypsy Sally’s on Thursday. Gros carries on the piano-playing tradition of Allen Toussaint and Dr. John before him, combining funk, soul, rock ‘n’ roll and more — as heard on his 2016 album “River’s on Fire.”
May 12 & 13
Trampled by Turtles
9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; Sat., 8 p.m., sold out, Sun., 7 p.m., $28.
Minnesota-bred folk rock band Trampled by Turtles last week released its first album in four years, “Life Is Good on the Open Road,” and is back on that open road after a two-year hiatus from touring. For fans of the sextet’s bluegrass-y music, it may sound like the band never left. The album has a mix of fast-paced (and picked) folk songs and more melodic ballads, often anchored by singer Dave Simonett, right, who formed Dead Man Winter during the hiatus. North Carolina indie-folk band Hiss Golden Messenger opens both of these D.C. shows.
DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW; Tue., 7:30 p.m., sold out.
A prolific stand-up who starred in his own sitcom in his native Finland, Ismo is making a name for himself stateside after relocating to California in 2015. In his late-night debut on “Conan” in January, the 39-year-old leaned on his outsider’s perspective in a sharp set about pinning down the peculiar subtleties of the English language.
The Voices of Now Festival
Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW; Wed. through May 19, 7:30 p.m., free, reservations required.
Arena Stage’s free theater festival puts the spotlight on young artists from the D.C. area. Over four nights, The Voices of Now Festival will host nine ensembles, each of which wrote and will perform a one-act play. The participants range in age from 11 to 18, and their works focus on such topics as gun violence, self-image and what it’s like to lose a loved one.