The Going Out Guide staff highlights the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.
Wednesday, January 22
The Academy Awards aren't until March 2, giving us plenty of time to discuss who deserves to win and who was cruelly overlooked. In the meantime, there's a chance to show off your encyclopedic knowledge of Hollywood minutiae at the annual BYT Academy Awards Trivia Night at Penn Social. There will be questions about this year's nominees, sure, but don't forget to bone up cinematic firsts, past winners and non-winners, and early roles for current stars – all of which have featured in past years. Assemble your team and arrive at 7 to sign up for the contest; Questions begin at 7:30. Winners will take home passes to National Geographic's Global Glimpses series, which showcases the nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and other swag.
Vinyl geeks get to enjoy a record fair this Sunday – all the details are below – but the rest of the geeks should have Wednesday night circled on their calendar. The Black Cat's "Trading Blows" is a swap meet for those looking to unload old Star Wars action figures or WWF thumb wrestlers, or trade those vintage Batman and Wolverine comics. (And if you're looking to add to your collection, Big Planet Comics will have its own booth in the Red Room.) Meanwhile, on the back stage, the projection screen will be showing classic Japanese wrestling matches from the 1990s. There's no cover for the swap meet or the wrestling viewing, which both begin at 8 p.m.
The Washington Ballet's beerballet&bubbly is one of the more interesting cultural happy hours around. The $30 ticket allows you to watch the dance company rehearse for the upcoming performances of "The Jazz/Blues Project" at its studios in upper Northwest D.C., followed by a reception with unlimited beer, sparkling wine and snacks. The event runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and advance ticket purchase is recommended.
Thursday, January 23
Local charity So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.) is prepping for its annual gala next month at the Corcoran, but first, there's a fundraising happy hour at Hill Country. The $10 cover charge, which benefits S.O.M.E.'s affordable housing programs for families, extends the bar's usual happy hour deals until 10 p.m. That's three extra hours of $3 PBR cans, $5 rail drinks and $5 margaritas, plus special raffles. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Friday, January 24
When one-time Byrds singer and guitarist Gene Clark released a solo record called "No Other" in 1974, it tanked spectacularly. His record label deemed it uncommercial, and it promptly hit #144 on the charts. Decades later, Clark's psychedelic melange of country rock, folk and gospel is finally getting the recognition it deserves. A team of indie-folk stars -- including members of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Beach House and Wye Oak -- are coming to the 9:30 Club to perform "No Other" in its entirety.
Dom Kennedy has the biggest grassroots buzz among the rappers of the New West, speeding down the fast lane just behind Kendrick Lamar and the TDE Crew. Despite the offer of a record deal from Interscope, Kennedy has remained fully independent, and his second album made a splash on the Billboard charts last year despite the lack of major label support. His mixtapes draw from the East as well as the South, but what will draw crowds to the Fillmore is the combination of Kennedy's L.A. drawl and his Cali cruise music.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts doesn't throw as many late-night parties as the Smithsonian museums or the Corcoran, so fans should take advantage of opportunities for after-hours tours, drinks and dancing. The museum's Young pARTners Circle and the International Club of D.C. are teaming up for week's After-Hours Soiree, which includes an open bar, viewing of "'Workt by Hand': Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts," and dancing to a DJ in the museum's gorgeous Great Hall. Tickets are $30.
Saturday, January 25
Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle has spent the last five years building buzz with a string of self-released mixtapes, while appearing on tracks with Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and Wale. He still hasn't managed to release a full album, though the long-awaited "Victory Lap" is scheduled for early this year. Hear Nipsey's voice laconically bob and weave around the beats -- the way a young Snoop's once did -- when he visits the Howard Theatre.
Perennially-buzzed-about local rockers U.S. Royalty were set to release their sophomore album "Blue Sunshine" last fall before delays hit. (White House press secretary Jay Carney was at the album preview show at Industry Gallery last July.) "Blue Sunshine" finally saw the light of day this week, and the guys have been all over the web, from Interview Magazine to Nylon. The album itself – now streaming on Spotify – is more developed than the 2011 debut, "Mirrors," with the percussive, U2-ish "Lady in Waiting" a highlight, though "Get on Home" shows the group hasn't abandoned the folk-rock, Fleetwood Mac-style Americana that got them noticed in the first place. The official album release show is this weekend at the Rock & Roll Hotel, and it's certain to be packed.
Scott Miller's latest record, "Big Big World," is some of the most naked, straight ahead Americana he's recorded in his two decade career, which included time with the rocking Tennessee alt-country band the V-Roys. There are tuneful, jangling rock songs that would appeal to fans of the V-Roys or Old 97s, darker, fiddle-led country and an acoustic version of the Country Gentlemen's "Going Home" that features gorgeous tight harmonies. It bears repeated listening, but you'll also want to hear this Shenandoah Valley perform in Hill Country's basement Boot Bar.
Sunday, January 26
D.C. has long been home to a vibrant community of crate diggers, and as newer collectors join their ranks, or are just curious about having a tactile relationship with their music, the D.C. Record Fair has fed their demand. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Penn Social, and the record nerdery will keep going afterwards at Union Arts during the Analog Underground. There will be open turntables with sign-up from 5 to 6 p.m., with DJ Stuart Hudson taking over afterwards. Crafted Cocktails DC will handle the mixology.
Back in the '90s, Grant Lee Buffalo melded folk-rock and alternative rock into college radio staples "Truly, Truly" and "Mockingbirds," though they never really broke through to popular consciousness. Frontman Grant Lee Phillips has kept the flame going with a series of folkie solo records, and he performs songs from the lush, acoustic "Walking in the Green Corn" at Sixth and I.