Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.
Tuesday, May 7
There are few bars in Washington where hipster 20-somethings whoop and stomp their feet when the DJ puts on Alabama's "Dixieland Delight" or rush to the makeshift dancefloor as soon as they hear the first notes of Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee." That's the magic of the monthly Outlaws party, which celebrates its second anniversary at Marx Cafe this week. The recent passing of George Jones means that the DJs will be playing more of the Possum than usual, which pairs nicely with the usual drink special: a shot of Jim Beam and a can of beer for $5. Settle in at the bar for a night of singalongs and the occasional boot-scootin line dance.
Thursday, May 9
Baz Luhrmann’s forthcoming “Great Gatsby” film will undoubtedly inspire a raft of Roaring ‘20s-themed parties, but no one does the Jazz Age like Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra. Scantlin, dressed in tails and spats, scats like Cab Calloway and jerks a baton through the air as if he was onstage at the Cotton Club. Expect to hear all of the hits of the era, delivered with aplomb by Scantlin and his wife, Chou Chou, at a special party at the art deco Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.
An intriguing night of Americana in Hill Country's basement Boot Bar is headlined by the Nadas, a fixture on the Midwestern heartland rock since the '90s. Make sure you show up early, though, to catch alt-country pioneer Jason Ringenberg. He's the "Jason" in Jason and the Scorchers, a high-energy Nashville band that alternated between blistering hard rock with a country twang and acoustic country with a rock swagger. Ringenberg led the Scorchers on and off for more than 20 years and brings the same fire as a solo performer.
The UK keeps sending female vocalists to our shores. While the public has fallen in love with Adele, Amy Winehouse or Joss Stone, real soul heads know that Alice Russell came first. D.C. has had a particularly close love affair with Russell, whose facility with jazz, electronica, folk, soul, R&B and pop is pretty much unmatched. With the release of her new album "To Dust," we can get reacquainted with Russell during a show at Liv.
Friday, May 10
The Washington Ballet debuts its version of Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" at the Kennedy Center this week, and is hosting a celebratory cocktail party after Friday night's performance. Local cocktail writer Philip Greene, who recently wrote "To Have and Have Another," about cocktails in Hemingway's novels and short stories, will discuss such classic drinks as the Jack Rose and the Americano, while the Hot Club of D.C. performs 1920s music.
Saturday, May 11
Meridian Pint's third annual homebrew contest is basically a tournament of champions: Judges selected 15 local homebrewers to submit bottles of their favorite original beers, and the winner gets the opportunity to make their beer at Sam Adams's pilot brewery. The public is invited to come sample all 15 from 1 p.m. until they run out, and cast a vote for the People's Choice award. Admission is a $15 donation to Brain Food, a local charity that teaches youth about healthy eating and living, and includes unlimited beer plus snacks provided by Sam Adams. (Get tickets in advance.)
The DC Love Festival lineup is as impressive as it is ambitious, with a mix of local and national talents who place a premium on great live performances. Taking place at the Convention Center, the fest brings to mind the days where go-go bands would rock it at the Capital Centre with hip-hop and R&B guests. R&B vocalists Raheem Devaughn and Marsha Ambrosius anchor the billing. Also featured is Lysette Titi, who has long been a go-to vocalist on the go-go scene and most recently has worked with Nicki Minaj, and Black Alley, D.C.'s hottest go-go/pop/rock fusion band. Look beyond the bold-face names, though, and check out such up-and-coming acts as John Michael, B. Blunt and Kyonte.
After Black Alley does its thing at the DC Love Fest, the band heads to Fur to join Kendrick Lamar, the current hip-hop generation's top practitioner of lyricism with pop appeal.
Curren$y’s laidback New Orleans drawl appears on an endless stream of mixtapes, singles and albums, frequently accompanied by Wiz Kalifa, Rick Ross or former elementary school classmate Lil Wayne. No matter who he surrounds himself with, he’s got an ear for a hook and a crowd-pleasing beat. He takes the stage at the Howard Theatre with opener Stalley.
Monday, May 13
One of the biggest names in electronic music the past few years, German DJ duo Digitalism is renowned for writing songs, not just collections of loops with dramatic crescendos. The group's electro-house pulses and bubbles, with one foot in the ocean of radio-friendly dance-pop while still retaining enough stylistic quirks and cutting-edge sensibilities to keep things interesting. Digitalism is performing live - not just spinning records - at a special mini-tour stop at U Street Music Hall.