Every September the Black Cat celebrates its anniversary by hosting a festival-worthy lineup of shows featuring indie and alt-rock bands, as well as other popular performers regularly booked by the venue. The 14th Street club will continue that tradition this year by virtually streaming two shows with material specially recorded for its 27th anniversary. This Friday, Sept. 18, brings pre-recorded clips from Ted Leo, Algiers, Mike Watt, and David Combs of Bad Moves, plus new performances recorded directly on the Black Cat Mainstage by Teen Cobra, Technophobia, Ilsa, The Owners (Black Cat’s Dante Ferrando, Catherine Ferrando, Laura Harris, and Al Budd), and Donna Slash and her fellow Gay/Bash drag queens.
A few weekends later, on Friday, Oct. 2, the venue will feature footage of Hammered Hulls (the supergroup of D.C. punk legends Alec MacKaye, Mary Timony, Mark Cisneros, and Chris Wilson), Des Demonas, and Janel and Anthony. Veteran Black Cat employees, members of D.C.’s music community, and “a few other odds and ends” will factor into the two-night programming. Both shows are set for 9 p.m. on the Black Cat’s recently launched YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/c/BlackCatDCMusic. The events are free, but donations are encouraged and will benefit the venue as well as the featured performers.
Additionally, the Black Cat will host another celebratory show, this one a livestream from the Darkest Hour, performing from the Mainstage in honor of the local heavy metal band’s 25th anniversary — all as a fundraiser for the venue. “The Black Cat has been a constant refuge for us over the years and so it feels right to give back now,” the band said in an official statement. “We need art, we need music, and we will need a place to all come together eventually to heal from all of this. We want those of our friends who work in the music/art/live events industry to know that we see you, we are here for you, and most of all that you are not alone.” Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. Cost is $10. Call 202-667-4490 or visit www.blackcatdc.com.
National Dance Day at Home — Photo courtesy Kennedy Center
National Dance Day @ Home
This Saturday, Sept. 19, the Kennedy Center presents the 11th annual celebration of dance and movement presented in collaboration with American Dance Movement, an organization founded by Hollywood producers Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance) and Adam Shankman (Hairspray). This year’s virtual program includes interactive classes led by dance organizations and schools from all eight wards in the city, teaching everyone of all ages and abilities the basic moves of everything from Afrobeat to disco to jazz, and all accessible from the Kennedy Center’s website and its Facebook page.
Activities start at 11 a.m. with a beginner’s ballet class taught by Monica Stephenson of the Washington School of Ballet geared toward those aged 8 to 10 and requiring participants to be accompanied by a “barre, a chair or countertop that comes to waist level.” After that comes a series of lessons in choreography set to jazz and pop songs, including an all-ages jazz routine set to “The Other Side” from Troll’s World Tour and another to “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical, both led by CityDance and kicking off at noon; a portion of a dance to Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good” originally performed at Black Lives Matter Plaza earlier this summer and led by the Dance Institute of Washington’s Ashanté Green at 1 p.m.; and a “slay your cardio” choreographed fitness routine set to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” and led by DivaDance DC at 2 p.m.
The schedule continues with a lively jazz class from the Northeast Performing Arts Group and instructor Arrington “AJay” Lassiter at 3 p.m.; an all-levels and ages Afrobeat class, combining African, hip-hop, and contemporary movements as taught by Dache Green and presented by Dance Place at 4 p.m.; and two classes presented by Dance Loft on 14, one a deep house/urban contemporary class incorporating principles of modern dance, syncopation, floor work, and footwork as taught by instructor Ronya-Lee, the other a re-Disco class paying tribute to line dances from the 1970s with insights from writer Tim Lawrence and music by DJ Jason Peters, both at 5 p.m.
Things come to a head — or, rather, a foot — at 6 p.m. with the learning and performance of a special group choreography “line dance” routine, after a short virtual welcome by D.C.’s Congressional Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Jazz pianist Matthew Whittaker
Cited as one of “50 Essential Summer Festivals” by the New York Times, the rescheduled 16th annual DC Jazz Festival jumpstarts fall as an online series of livestreams available to a truly global audience. The large and diverse music festival continues its tradition of showcasing many of the hottest names in the music genre, ranging from emerging homegrown artists to established international superstars.
Headlined by the Danilo Pérez Trio, Marc Cary, the Matthew Whitaker Quartet, Allyn Johnson and Sonic Sanctuary, and the String Queens, the lineup includes over 20 performances, highlighting local sensations ranging from jazzy-soul vocal powerhouses Cecily and Christie Dashiell, to the go-go pioneers in the Chuck Brown Band, to harmonica virtuoso and Stevie Wonder-collaborator Frédéric Yonnet, who will be accompanied by The Band With No Name. Also featured are singing bassist Ben Williams, pianist Dado Moroni, the Nasar Abadey Trio, Jack Kilby & the Front Line, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Baby Rose, rapper/singer Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh, Heart of the Ghost, experimental quintet ¡FIASCO!, Giveton Gelin Quartet, Allison Au Quartet, recording artist Heidi Martin, and alto-saxophonist Herb Scott. Performances will stream from neighborhoods across the city.
Meanwhile, five up-and-coming jazz bands from around the world will compete in the event’s annual DCJazzPrix Finals, with the winner receiving a $15,000 cash prize as well as performance opportunities at a future JazzFest and New York’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center — and determined in large part based on votes from the audience. Camilla George, DreamRoot, EJB Quartet, Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen, and Mike Casey will compete Sunday, Sept. 27, in a livestream from Union Stage at the Wharf. The festival runs from Thursday, Sept. 24, through Monday, Sept. 28. Free, but donations accepted to benefit the DC Jazz Festival Music Education Program. All concerts will stream from www.facebook.com/dcjazzfest and www.fans.live. Visit www.dcjazzfest.org.
Byte Night: ZooFari sponsored by Geico — Photo: Mark Story
Byte Night: Zoofari 2020
Zoofari, the 35-year-old, culinary-focused fundraiser for Friends of the National Zoo, moves online for 2020 and shifts toward serving up food for thought rather than actual food. This year’s free, hour-long event will include an official panda cub update from a National Zoo director, success stories shared from the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute, the chance to see “awesome animal demos,” as well as some “surprise celebrity guests.” There’s also a silent auction featuring a bevy of animal-created paintings, travel packages, virtual backstage zoo experiences, and a restaurant gift card or two. But what of the culinary stars and attractions that once were Zoofari’s bread and butter? Well, the most prominent is Tim Ma (American Son, Laoban Dumplings), who will serve as the event’s host, dispensing “Culinary Tips & Tricks” in between all the news from furryville. There will also be a number of other chefs on hand, including Cathal Armstrong (Kaliwa, Hummingbird), Erik Bruner-Yang (Maketto, Spoken English), Amy Brandwein (Centrolina), Bobby Pradachith (Thip Khao), and Jerome Grant (Sweet Home Cafe, Jackie at Dacha Navy Yard).
Their participation is chiefly reserved for a set of pricey culinary VIP packages — and only available to gourmands willing to fork over some green. At $6,000, the Restaurateur Package includes a meal for up to 10 guests prepared by a participating chef off-site then delivered to your home along with wine pairings (plus a few Zoo-specific perks). At $10,000, the Chef’s Package features a meal for up to 10 prepared by a chef in your home, including wine and cocktail pairings (plus more Zoo perks).
The VIP selections start at $2,000 for a Brewer’s Choice Package, in which an expert from City Brew Tours will lead a sample of 15 craft beers, with cheese and chocolate pairings, for up to 10 guests (plus Zoo perks), and also include a $3,500 Wine Lovers Package featuring a sommelier-led tasting of eight bottles from Bluemont Vineyard for up to 10 with a Cabot Cheese gift box.
Organizers suggest one way this year’s Zoofari participants can enhance their evening in a suitably culinary way: by purchasing food from one of the roughly 40 restaurants and cafes that participate in Zoofari and support FONZ, a list that includes Agora, Central Michel Richard, Iron Gate, Georgetown Cupcake, Matchbox, Rappahannock Oyster Co., Sababa, and the Hamilton.
Friday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m., with pre-bidding for the auction starting Friday, Sept. 18. Free through the GiveSmart platform, but registration required for access. Donations of $60 or more come with a pair of “custom species-saving Freaker socks.” Call 202-633-3045 or visit www.fonz.org.
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther — Photo: Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios
Next Friday, Sept. 25, Ava DuVernay’s 2014 historical drama Selma, about the 1965 voting rights marches in Alabama led by Martin Luther King Jr., will return to the big screen as the first in a month-long Drive-In Movie Series set up in a parking lot just south of Audi Field in Buzzard Point. The Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District has organized this Friday night series, with each screening limited in capacity to 75 cars and benefitting a different local school or charity, including DC Central Kitchen, Van Ness Elementary, and the Capital Area Food Bank. Actor Stephan James portrays John Lewis, the civil rights leader who was badly beaten by police during the infamous “Bloody Sunday” events, and the screening is offered as a tribute to the recently departed Georgia congressman.
October then ushers in horror and mystery films for Halloween, starting with Abominable on Oct. 2, Knives Out on Oct. 9, the original 1931 versions of Frankenstein and Dracula on Oct. 16, and Us on Oct. 23. The series will close on Oct. 30 with a classic Halloween title, either Beetlejuice, The Corpse Bride, The Addams Family, or Poltergeist, whichever gets the most votes as the “people’s choice” in a survey. Screenings start at 7:30 p.m. The Akridge Lot, 100 V St. SW. Suggested donations of $20 per car per screening. Visit www.capitolriverfront.org.
Meanwhile, Broccoli City, a local Black-owned social enterprise organization, has teamed up with Events DC for another pop-up drive-in theater this fall, with space for up to 350 socially distanced vehicles, in a parking lot outside of RFK Stadium. Double features are encouraged at Park Up DC, with at least two screenings per night Thursdays through Sundays. Guests must remain inside their cars, with lawn chairs and blankets not allowed to be set up outside vehicles; face-masks and proper social distancing required to use nearby restrooms. The schedule includes Disney’s Moana on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m., Fast and the Furious 7 at 9 p.m., and Black Panther at 11:30 p.m.; Disney’s Onward on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m., and Poetic Justice at 9 p.m.; and White Chicks on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 9 p.m. Other titles screening in the series include Do The Right Thing, Coco, Men in Black, Dead Presidents, Anchorman: The Legacy of Ron Burgundy, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Selena. Now to Oct. 3. RFK Campus Lot 5, 2400 E. Capitol St. NE. Tickets are $29 to $45 per car per screening, with double features sold separately. Visit www.parkupdc.com.
Perfume Genius — Photo: Nacho Delagarza
Instead of the multi-concert tour that had been planned to promote the late spring release of new indie-rock music under his alias Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas will perform a one-off livestream from the Palace Theater in Los Angeles accompanied by a six-piece band and a string quartet — and just before his 39th birthday — to showcase the music featured on his fifth studio album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, released in May.
On the album, as in life, dissonance, harmony, struggle, and joy are all bound up together. Rather than smoothing over the tension and contradiction between them, Hadreas, always a skillful and deliberate songwriter, thoughtfully embraces them as parts of a whole. Dialing back some of the excess of his previous work allows more variation to emerge, making for a more fluid and dynamic album that rarely loses its fire. Hadreas has become more comfortable with guitars and bass, using them to great effect to add a depth and element of dissonance to tracks like “Describe.” Human intimacy as described by Perfume Genius is a powerful and intensely felt force, even as it is furtive, unpredictable and often fleeting. To listen to Set My Heart On Fire Immediately at a time when our relationships to our own bodies and those of others has been so turned on its head is a fraught but rewarding experience, its bluntness and honesty feeling almost like permission to feel the full depth of our basic longing for human contact.
Fans should also check out the special merch for sale, including limited-edition t-shirts and posters as well as pre-orders of a forthcoming book and companion to the album, “a limited-edition monograph [revealing] the unseen procedures beneath the music, vivid conjurings that became songs, and tactile byproducts from exercises in world-building,” with portraits of the artist by French photographer Camille Vivier. Saturday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 the day-of; another $5 grants access to an intimate, acoustic solo encore at 4:30 p.m. Both streams available for rewatching until the end of day Sunday, Sept. 20. The concert also serves as a benefit for Immigration Equality. Visit https://perfumegenius.veeps.com.
Fitness Is a Drag: The Little Mergay –Photo: Cassidy DuHon
Fitness Is A Drag: The Little Mergay
Yoga instructor Dan Carter is leading a new high-intensity interval training workout, combining strength-training, core work, cardio, and stretching, resulting in “a bootcamp class unlike any other.” The twist: If you prefer, instead of doing cardio, you can “sit back and watch” Cardi O, or whatever the drag queen du jour’s name happens to be. Carter leads the 45-minute routine alongside his drag alter ego, Virginia Whine.
“It had always been my dream to combine my two great loves of drag and fitness, but it was hard to conceptualize an in-person event,” Carter says. “Streaming a class online gave me the perfect opportunity to put together this hybrid workout and show.” Fitness Is A Drag, or #FIAD, is a drag-themed fitness class structured around familiar yet twisted themes and open to all levels of experience, with room for modification. The series kicks off Saturday, Sept. 19, at 11 a.m. with a The Little Mermaid-inspired show in which participants can join Ari’yall, Little Sebastian, and all their “undersea friends as they crunch, burpee, and mountain-climb their way out of the ocean and into the real world, making new friends (and enemies) along the way.” Fitness Is A Drag will continue with campy spins on three other tales: American Whorror Story on Oct. 24, Spongebob Square-dance on Nov. 14, and A Dolly Parton Holiday Special on Dec. 19.
Danimal Fitness has also ordered reinforcement in the form of cocktails, partnering with a new bar and delivery service: Jane Jane, a Southern-style cocktail venture, soon to open in the Liz building, at 1705 14th St. NW, from the team of Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, the married couple behind Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop, and their best friend Jean Paul “J.P.” Sabatier. Cocktail orders must be placed at least two days in advance, so last-minute participants this month will have to fend for themselves, rather than imbibe Jane Jane’s offerings of Ursula’s WAP, a mix of tequila and rum with lime, grenadine, simple syrup, and bitters, or the P-Town-inspired Planter’s Punch blend of light and dark rums with pineapple, orange, lemon, and grenadine. Certainly so, if they hope to live up to the MerGay motto: “Flipping your fins you don’t get too far, a cocktail is required for jumping, dancing.”
National Book Festival: Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden
National Book Festival
Next weekend, the Library of Congress will turn to a new page with its 20th National Book Festival, as it seeks to connect audiences across the country for an interactive, online celebration of “American Ingenuity.” This year’s virtual festival will provide opportunities to take a deeper dive into three timely topics that weave throughout the festival: “Fearless Women,” focused on books by and about strong women and female trailblazers; “Hearing Black Voices,” with books affirming Black culture and Black contributions to the American experience; and “Democracy,” with books assessing the state of democratic principles here and abroad.
The festival will feature new books by more than 120 of the nation’s most-renowned writers, poets, and artists, presented through live author chats and discussions as well as on-demand videos. Among the specific highlights on tap: the presentation of the Library’s Prize for American Fiction to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with her cheekily titled memoir Hell and Other Destinations; Melinda Gates with her book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World; Jason Reynolds on Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, the book he co-wrote with Ibram X. Kendi; a discussion with Ibram X. Kendi and Saeed Jones on confronting racism and bigotry with a focus on Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Jones’ How We Fight for Our Lives; Rebecca Boggs Roberts and Lucinda Robb on The Suffragist Playbook; Thomas Frank and Christopher Caldwell on The Road to Populism; Today show co-host Jenna Bush Hager on her collection of stories about her grandparents, Everything Beautiful in Its Time; and Chelsea Clinton on her book for young readers, She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game.
Friday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Sept. 27. Follow @librarycongress, use the hashtag #NatBookFest on Twitter, or visit www.loc.gov/bookfest.
Mika: I Love Beirut
The year 2020 was supposed to be the year Mika returned to D.C., with a rare local concert. His May date at the Lincoln Theatre was not to be, and it has since been canceled outright, not merely postponed, along with all North and South American dates on his Revelation Tour, which was to launch at Coachella. Rather fortuitously, the gay international pop star recorded a show in New York last fall. Released in January, Live From Brooklyn Steel does work as a kind of would-be D.C. concert keepsake, given its setlist featuring most of Mika’s biggest hits, yet focused on My Name Is Michael Holbrook, his remarkable fifth album whose title references his two given names. Released last October, the album ranks as Mika’s most mature and arguably his most accomplished, which only compounded the sense of sorrow when the pandemic laid waste to the tour.
The year 2020 had already turned out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for Mika as for pretty much everyone, everywhere by the time one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history rocked and ravaged the capital of Lebanon. As it turns out, the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut in early August, which left an estimated 300,000 people homeless and hospitals overrun with wounded residents, has weighed heavily on this London-raised artist of Lebanese origin.
“Although far away, my heart broke for the families losing their homes, their livelihoods and their loved ones in this catastrophe. I wanted to do something to help in any small way I can. That is why I am staging a livestream concert in aid of the people of the city,” Mika recently wrote. “Beirut is the place of my birth, is part of me, and will always be in my heart. ‘I love Beirut.’” This Saturday, Sept. 19, Mika is set to perform “an intimate show from a special location, with a number of surprises from friends,” with all ticket sales going directly to support the efforts of Red Cross Lebanon, Lebanese Food Bank, Islamic Relief, and Save the Children Lebanon. He also set up a GoFundMe campaign to accept additional donations. The livestream starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Visit www.mikasounds.com/i-love-beirut.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.
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