Silver Lyan opens, early February

Ryan Chetiyawardana is a bartender ahead of his time. When his White Lyan cocktail bar opened in London in 2013, Chetiyawardana — known as “Mr. Lyan” — crafted the operation to use no perishables at all: There were aromatic spritzes instead of slices of fruit peel, and pre-batched syrups made from fruit pulp and skin. But focusing on sustainability doesn’t equal skimping on creativity: A tincture in Chetiyawardana’s dry “Bone Martini” uses chicken bones dissolved in phosphoric acid to impart savory mineral flavors. No wonder London’s Dandelyan was named the world’s best bar more than once. After expanding to Amsterdam last year, Chetiyawardana is finally heading to this side of the Atlantic. Silver Lyan, coming to the Riggs Hotel in Penn Quarter, is expected to open in early February with a menu inspired by “the history of cultural exchange in America.” Among the local talent bringing the vision to life: Lauren Paylor (formerly of Dos Mamis) and Andrea Tateosian (formerly of the Passenger and St. Anselm). Inside the Riggs Hotel. — Fritz Hahn

D.C. Defenders debut, Feb. 8

The XFL of 2001 promised a titillating, grittier brand of football with all the trimmings (and baggage) that came with its professional wrestling vision. The XFL of 2020 — well, it’s still a little unclear how the revived league is differentiating itself, outside of a way to continue watching football after the NFL season is finished. For any longtime city dwellers who haven’t wanted to make the trek up the highway — or have other qualms about supporting the NFL team in Landover — there will be professional football played in D.C. proper. The D.C. Defenders will call Audi Field home and kick off the season against the Seattle Dragons. Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is the face of the franchise — and if you’re looking for a local tie, Coach Pep Hamilton started his coaching career at Howard University. 2 p.m. at Audi Field. $24-$120. — Hau Chu

A Closer Look at African American Artists in SAAM’s Collection, Feb. 8

As part of its annual “A Closer Look” series of art talks, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will present a panel discussion spotlighting important works by African American artists in its holdings, one of the largest such collections in the world. The roundtable will include: West Coast artist and academic Allan deSouza; D.C.-based attorney and art consultant Schwanda Rountree (an advisory board member for the Corcoran’s “30 Americans” exhibition in 2011); and local husband-and-wife art collectors Mel and Juanita Hardy, founders of the arts advocacy organization Millennium Arts Salon, whose home is a showcase for works by African American artists. 6 p.m. in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s McEvoy Auditorium. Free; registration required. — Michael O’Sullivan

Opera On Tap D.C.’s New Works Fest 2020, Feb. 9

The mission of Opera On Tap is to make the art form more accessible to new audiences by taking opera out of fancy concert halls and staging it in unusual venues, such as low-key bars, while also helping new performers and composers develop and share their work. Born in Brooklyn in 2005, the nonprofit has expanded to include dozens of chapters across the world. The District’s Opera On Tap will live up to its mission by staging a New Works Fest in the relaxed setting of the Dew Drop Inn. With the help of local performers, a group of eight area composers and librettists will present fresh creations at the Brookland bar.
3 p.m. at Dew Drop Inn. $15. — Rudi Greenberg

Bilal: Valentine’s Day Residency, Feb. 13-14

Anyone looking for a live soundtrack to their romantic plans for Valentine’s Day would be wise to catch Bilal at the Kennedy Center’s newest addition: an intimate nightclub. Studio K will be the home for shows running the artistic spectrum from improv comedy troupes to cutting-edge jazz musicians. It would seem to be an ideal setting to catch the neo-soul stylings of the 40-year-old singer, whose arresting catalogue of albums — in addition to his myriad collaborations with the likes of Erykah Badu and Kendrick Lamar — have made him one of the finest under-the-radar performers. It’s been five years since Bilal’s last album of stirring ballads, so here’s hoping that he’ll drop some hints of what he has in store for this decade over the two-night stand. 7:30 and 9 p.m. (both nights) at the Club at Studio K at the Kennedy Center. $35-$69. — Hau Chu

Bowie Symphonic: ‘Blackstar,’ Feb. 15

David Bowie died shortly after the 2016 release of his 25th and final album, “Blackstar,” so he never performed those haunting songs live. Conductor Evan Ziporyn is now offering fans a chance to hear his take on Bowie’s final work, a reworking of “Blackstar” as a cello concerto, which was released as an album on Jan. 10. Famed avant-garde cellist Maya Beiser will lead the Ambient Orchestra (featuring musicians from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music) through Ziporyn’s arrangement of “Blackstar,” in which Beiser’s cello alternates between filling the role of lead vocal and guitar. Given the jazzy, experimental nature of Bowie’s final work, it’s a fitting way to pay tribute to the otherworldly musician. 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. $29-$69. — Rudi Greenberg

Presidential Family Fun Day, Feb. 15

It’s a long weekend, and you’re looking to get the kids out of the house. The National Portrait Gallery teams up with friends for this year’s Presidential Family Fun Day in the Kogod Courtyard. Among the hands-on workshops and activities: President Lincoln’s Cottage will bring crafts, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will offer demonstrations and the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents will pose for photos. Take a break from the music and dancing and head up to the “America’s Presidents” exhibition for special tours, trivia games and a story time inspired by Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Barack Obama. (While most activities take place only on Saturday, the story time takes place between 1 and
4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.) 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery. Free. — Fritz Hahn

Amanda Shires, Feb. 16

Last year, singer-songwriter and fiddle player Amanda Shires introduced the world to the Highwomen, a country supergroup featuring Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby. Shires had dreamed up the group a few years earlier as a response to the dearth of female voices on country radio. The Highwomen’s self-titled debut album was a hit and has finally catapulted Shires — who sometimes plays in her husband Jason Isbell’s band, the 400 Unit — into mainstream country consciousness. The album followed Shires’s 2018 solo release, “To the Sunset,” which showcased her distinctive, quivering voice and knack for John Prine-esque songwriting over myriad Americana-ish styles. For her Atmosphereless tour (which is the word she’s using to describe her still-in-progress new music), Shires will pull from throughout her solo career and some choice Highwomen cuts. 7:30 p.m. at Sixth and I. $29.50-$79.50. — Rudi Greenberg

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, opens Feb. 21

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery will be the third of four stops to host this ambitious touring exhibition of Native art. Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where it debuted last year before moving to Nashville’s Frist Art Museum, the show covers a millennium of art-making, featuring works ranging from ancient decorative objects to contemporary fine art. The show is the first of its kind to focus on the artistic output of Native women, with approximately 80 objects selected by a collaborative panel including Jill Ahlberg Yohe, MIA’s associate curator of Native American art; independent curator and beadmaker Teri Greeves of the Kiowa nation; research assistant Dakota Hoska; and an advisory group of several other artists, scholars, curators and historians. Through May 17 at the Renwick Gallery. Free. — Michael O’Sullivan

Wild Horses, Feb. 22

Wild Horses is made up of four friends who are fixtures in the Los Angeles comedy and podcast scenes: Stephanie Allynne (“One Mississippi”), Mary Holland (“Veep”), Lauren Lapkus (“Orange is the New Black,” “Jurassic World”), and Erin Whitehead (“Animals”). The quartet formed the improv team several years ago, regularly performing in L.A. with big-name guests like Conan O’Brien, and has brought their longform improv show to the District during the Bentzen Ball. Now they’re returning to the Kennedy Center as part of a weekend of improv comedy performances. Unlike most improv shows, Wild Horses performances usually begin with a roundtable discussion before morphing into an unpredictable comedy show driven by the whims and creativity of its four stars. 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Club at Studio K. $25 (9:30 show is sold out). — Rudi Greenberg

Washington Justice Overwatch Homestand I, Feb. 22-23

Esports has a long way to go before the sport of competitive video gaming can compete with football, basketball or baseball. But the Overwatch League, the professional esports association centered on the team-based first-person shooter “Overwatch,” is doing what it can to elevate esports, with broadcasts on ESPN and competitive teams in cities across the world. The Washington Justice — the Mid-Atlantic region’s team — will host homestands, where fans can watch teams from around the globe battle it out virtually in real-time. The Anthem will host the Justice’s first three homestands, starting with a weekend-long event. If you’re curious about esports, this is a chance to see just what the sport has to offer. 3 p.m. both days at the Anthem. $75-$110 for weekend pass. — Rudi Greenberg

Mardi Gras in D.C., Feb. 22-25

Mardi Gras is a shut-down-the-city kind of holiday in New Orleans. The District doesn’t tackle Mardi Gras as intensely, but Washington is home to multiple celebrations that feature food and/or music from the Big Easy. The Hamilton will mark the holiday this year on Feb. 22 with a pair of bands that represent a small slice of New Orleans music: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which has been bringing a fusion of traditional brass, funk and R&B to audiences in and out of its hometown since 1977, and Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, which showcases the accordion-driven, Louisiana-born zydeco music. For a more locally minded celebration, head to Pearl Street Warehouse on Feb. 23 for two acts that honor the music of the Crescent City: Annapolis-based Naptown Brass Band and D.C. Meters, which covers songs from the funk group the Meters. If food is your preferred way to consume New Orleans culture, Union Market hosts its annual Mardi Gras Extravaganza on Fat Tuesday (Feb. 25), featuring dishes from acclaimed local chefs, a Hurricane cocktail competition, a costume contest and music. — Rudi Greenberg