Metro Weekly

Hot Picks: Gay Men’s Chorus, Lez Zeppelin, GALA’s Latin Film Festival, more

D.C. gears up for the holidays, icons return for live concerts, and Martha Stewart drops by the Convention Center

GMCW’s Holiday Show

Gay Men’s Chorus: The Holiday Show

Last year Thea Kano, artistic director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, had to give herself a crash course in video editing in order for the group to continue its tradition of producing an annual holiday show, albeit a strictly virtual affair. Fortunately, COVID-19 vaccines have made it possible for the chorus to return en masse to the Lincoln Theatre to perform a live, in-person run of its enormously popular “Holiday Show.” Expect tap-dancing elves and sparkly snow and an overall vibe that’s festive, frequently flamboyant, and outlandishly entertaining — and no doubt more heartwarming and heartfelt than ever, after all we’ve been through since the last celebration. The program will feature the full chorus and soloists as well as its ensemble offshoots, the Rock Creek Singers and Potomac Fever, and the GenOUT Youth Chorus.

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11, at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 877-435-9849 or visit

GALA Film Festival

GALA celebrates a decade of its annual festival focused on contemporary films and filmmakers from across Latin America. With the theme “Latin American Innovation,” this year’s lineup, curated by Carlos Gutiérrez of New York’s Cinema Tropical, puts the spotlight on emerging women filmmakers tackling controversial and sensitive socio-political issues, from immigration to gender identity.

Foremost among these is El Viaje de Monalisa (The Journey of Monalisa), Nicole Costa’s profile of Chilean-born performer and writer Iván Monalisa, who lives as an undocumented two-spirit transgender immigrant and sex worker in New York. Costa and Monalisa will be in conversation with festival curator Gutiérrez as part of a reception, courtesy of the Embassy of Chile, after the documentary’s screening, set for Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.

The festival kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m., with Fernanda Valadez’s Sin Seňas Particulares (Identifying Features), a lyrical and suspenseful drama, and winner of the Audience Award and Best Screenplay prize at Sundance. The film weaves together the journey of a middle-aged mother in Mexico looking for her border-bound son and a young man recently deported from the U.S.

The schedule also includes Leticia Jorge Romero’s Alelí, a black comedy from Uruguay and Argentina capturing the hilariously absurd antics of a dysfunctional family after the patriarch’s death and pending sale of their beach house (12/2); Lindsey Cordero and Armando Croda’s Ya Me Voy (I’m Leaving Now), an impressionistic view of Brooklyn’s immigrant community as well as a searing portrait of a longtime undocumented worker from Mexico (12/3); Paula Hernández’s Las Siamesas (The Siamese Bond), a drama from Argentina focused on the unhealthy relationship between a codependent mother and daughter (12/4); Fernando de Fuentes’s El Compadre Mendoza (Godfather Mendoza), a classic tragicomedy from 1933 that many film critics and historians consider one of the best Mexican films ever made (12/5); and Núria Frigola Turrent’s El Canto de las Mariposas (The Song of the Butterflies), a nuanced depiction of contemporary indigenous life examining notions of collective memory, trauma, and healing in the Peruvian Amazon (12/5).

All films are presented in Spanish with English subtitles. GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $10 per film, or $40 for a Film Fest Pass to all seven films. Call 202-234-7174 or visit

FUTURES at the Smithsonian

It opened in 1881 as America’s first National Museum and also the first Smithsonian museum built for the very purpose of displaying historical artifacts. But that’s all in the past. At present, the structure sometimes dubbed the “Mother of Museums” and long-ago officially renamed the Arts and Industries Building has become thoroughly future-focused — to the extent it has been rebranded as “a home for the future-curious,” and alternately “a national space to explore the future.” And any such exploration will start with FUTURES, a new long-term temporary exhibition designed by David Rockwell and his acclaimed architecture firm. The exhibit will fill 32,000 square feet of space with more than 150 innovative and awe-inspiring objects, ideas, prototypes, and installations — all of which is displayed with the aim of helping visitors “imagine many possible futures on the horizon.”

An ongoing series of rather high-profile and unconventional events is also planned to help foster festival-like buzz and attention throughout the exhibition’s run, including a slate of “Fridays at FUTURES” community-geared evening programming. That kicks off this Friday, Nov. 19, with an “Unexpected Conversations” livestream intended as “a wildly unconventional sharing of bold ideas to change the future” among a discussion panel including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, newly out actor and former Obama White House appointee Kal Penn, environmentalist drag queen Pattie Gonia, 2021 National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde, and HBO Max’s Legendary co-executive producer Jack Mizrahi, aka Jack Gucci of the Gorgeous House of Gucci.

The exhibition officially opens to the public on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. That evening ushers in a “Call and Response Concert,” an indoor/outdoor (as well as livestreamed) affair, grandly hyped as a “next-generation sound experience [pushing] genre boundaries to create an audiovisual journey through the music of the future.” The futuristic performance lineup includes local indie-pop act SHAED, LGBTQ contestants and houses from the HBO Max series Legendary, a curated Go-Go experience, DJ Bright Light Bright Light, rapper and biologist Mariah the Scientist, and celebrated street drummer and America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Malik Dope.

Visit for more on the weekend’s events, including livestream access. FUTURES is on view through July 6, 2022. Arts + Industries Building, 900 Jefferson Dr. SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart

MetroCooking DC

The area’s largest specialty food and culinary event returns for the first time since 2019 with headliners Martha Stewart and Carla Hall. Organized by local show company E.J. Krause & Associates, MetroCooking DC will welcome an all-star lineup of local chefs to its James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage, among them Amy Brandwein from Centrolina and Piccolina, Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto, Scott Drewno and Danny Lee of ChiKo, Nick Stefanelli of Masseria and Officina, and Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit.

Meanwhile, the country’s two most decorated barbeque champions, Tuffy Stone and Myron Mixon, will on hand to co-host a BBQ Bash on Saturday, Dec. 4. The event will highlight 200 specialty food vendors, making it a good source for ideas and gifts for gourmands; a two-day Beer, Wine & Spirits section; the 8th annual Grand Tasting Pavilion, on Sunday, Dec. 5, featuring sweet and savory bites from over 50 local restaurants, and all to benefit SOME (So Others Might Eat). The expo is Saturday, Dec. 4, and Sunday, Dec. 5, starting at 10 a.m. each day.

Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW. General admission tickets are priced at $20 in advance and include admission to the James Beard Cooking Stage and the Exhibitor Marketplace. Cooking classes, access to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Garden, the BBQ Bash, and the Grand Tasting are ticketed events sold separately. Call 866-840-8822 or visit

Emmylou Harris -- Photo: Kat Villacorta
Emmylou Harris — Photo: Kat Villacorta

Emmylou Harris

The first lady of Americana returns to her old area stomping grounds for the second time this season, following a stop on her annual refugee awareness-raising, multi-act Lantern Tour with another annual cause-oriented concert from the 14-time Grammy winner and consummate performer.

“An Intimate Performance with Emmylou Harris Benefiting Bonaparte’s Retreat” supports the dog rescue organization Harris founded in Nashville and named after one of her former dogs. “We’ve been going since 2004,” Harris told Metro Weekly a month ago during a phone interview. “We specialize in older dogs, bigger dogs, the left behind dogs that have medical issues that require sometimes pretty expensive attention before they’re ready to be adopted.”

The concert is Sunday, Dec. 5. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Hamilton is at 600 14th St. NW. Tickets remain only for general admission access to the mezzanine and sidebar areas, with a limited number of bar stools and high-top tables available on a first-come, first-seated basis, at a cost of $90. Call 202-787-1000 or visit

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory

The Hirshhorn Museum has filled the entirety of its second-floor circular inner galleries with 40 large-scale monochromatic drawings depicting a queer, Black, female-dominated prehistoric civilization that sprung from the imagination of Toyin Ojih Odutola. The Nigerian-American artist pulls from a range of sources, both historic and contemporary, to carefully draw viewers into a tale about systems of power, culture, gender, and history.

Interestingly, Ojih Odutola flips the script with both her artistic approach — working with white and gray materials on a black background, rather than the traditional dark marks on white — as well as the “countervailed” society, where women are in power and served by an underclass of male workers, and only same-sex — and hence, same-class — relationships are officially sanctioned.

Accompanying the detailed and provocative epic narrative is Ceremonies Within, an immersive soundscape created by Ghanaian-British conceptual sound artist Peter Adjaye in direct response to Ojih Odutola’s work.

On display through April 3, 2022. Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit

Sondheim Unplugged

They’ve popped up with relative frequency, particularly over the past couple of decades, all those full-scale theatrical revues and grand concert celebrations of Stephen Sondheim. Yet even more frequent, albeit lesser-known, are the plethora of small-scale, stripped-down cabaret-style tributes to the living theater legend and his prodigious musical oeuvre, mostly from skilled Sondheim interpreters rather than showboating Broadway stars. In 2010, Phil Geoffrey Bond launched what has become one of the most celebrated of such cabaret tributes, not to mention most exhaustive and longest-running.

“Sondheim Unplugged” had long reigned as a popular monthly staple at New York’s preeminent cabaret venue Feinstein’s/54 Below until the pandemic, which ultimately became the impetus for a massive recorded offshoot. Bond and the series music director and pianist Joseph Goodrich have enlisted 65 singers to perform 120 songs for Sondheim Unplugged: The NYC Sessions. Yellow Sound Label will issue the complete collection next year along with the last two of three planned installments.

The first installment, Volume One, becomes available for digital streaming as well as for sale as a two-disc set on Friday, Dec. 1. The tracklist of 42 songs includes a handful of Sondheim signature anthems, including “Send In The Clowns” covered by Sally Mayes, “No One Is Alone” (Blaine Krauss), “Not While I’m Around” (Julie Reyburn), “I’m Still Here” (Marta Sanders), and, last but not least, “The Ladies Who Lunch” rendered by Tony-winner Alice Ripley (Next to Normal).

Gay performers featured among the cast of singers include Nicholas Rodriguez, Claybourne Elder, Michael Winther, Scott Coulter, and Stearns Matthews. Teri Ralston’s take on “In Buddy’s Eyes,” Tally Sessions and Jeff Kready’s “Agony” duet, Danielle Ferland’s “Children and Art,” and “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” by Marquee Five are some of those we’re most looking forward to hearing. Visit

 Lez Zeppelin -- Photo: Mike Sparrow
Lez Zeppelin — Photo: Mike Sparrow

Lez Zeppelin

The “lez” in the name may be shorthand for lesbian, but the four women in the New York-based Led Zeppelin tribute band have long shied away from publicly disclosing their sexual orientation, as a matter of course and intrigue. Be that as it may, the women are as intense and powerful and sexy as you’d expect performing from the Page-Plant Company’s hard-rock songbook. Even Page himself swooned after taking in a sold-out show in London a number of years ago.

The American Lez ladies — founder and guitarist Steph Paynes, vocalist Marlain Angelides, drummer Leesa Harrington Squyres, and bassist Joan Chew — launch into a busy December touring schedule performing three shows spread out across the region, all over the course of 24 hours.

Friday, Dec. 3, at 9 p.m. The State Theatre, 220 North Washington St., Falls Church, Va. Tickets are $27 to $52. Call 703-237-0300 or visit

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 1 p.m. at Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, Md. Tickets are $36.50. Call 410-268-4545 or visit

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. O Museum in the Mansion, 2020 O St. NW. Tickets are $65. visit

Secret Things at 1st Stage

In Elaine Romero’s Secret Things, an ambitious journalist is warned by her editor not to follow the story of Mexican Americans claiming to have hidden Jewish roots — mainly because the editor is also her petty ex, and increasingly not on her side. There’s a whole lot more to the story as it unfolds in this drama, which features Alberto González, Alina Collins Maldonado, Luz Nicolas, Lawrence Redmond, and Matthew Sparacino. Alex Levy directs a production imbued with elements of magical realism and informed by the fascinating true history of Sephardic Judaism in the American Southwest.

Weekends to Dec. 12. 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., Tysons, Va. Tickets are $15 to $50. Call 703-854-1856 or visit

Chris Isaak: Holiday Tour 2021

The much-fawned-over singer-songwriter returns to The Birchmere for an intimate show focused on his renditions of classic holiday songs. No doubt he’ll draw from his 2004 album simply titled Christmas, a 16-track collection veering from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to “Auld Lang Syne.” He’s also sure to gift his fans some of his own classics, among them “Wicked Game” and “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.”

Saturday, Nov. 27, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere is at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va. Tickets are $115. Call 703-549-7500 or visit



It feels like a lot more than two years have gone by since the female-fronted Scottish synth-pop trio last performed in D.C., when CHVRCHES headlined the All Things Go festival in 2019. Since then, we’ve all confronted our own individual versions of Screen Violence, to cite the title of the band’s fourth album.

It’s also a title, interestingly enough, that was originally considered as a name for the band. The set is moodier, heavier, and more emphatic than ever, with lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s lyrics reflecting on gender, the Internet, social media, and pop culture.

But it still sounds like CHVRCHES. It’s still rousing and dramatic and fast-paced, an emotionally charged, headrush-inducing, electronic music adventure specially designed for overthinking thrillseekers. The title and theme have also allegedly inspired the band to kick up yet another notch their already impressive live stage production.

Tuesday, Nov. 30. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. Tickets are $45 to $75. Call 202-888-0020 or visit

Judy & Tom
Collins and Paxton

Judy Collins and Tom Paxton

Judy Collins and Tom Paxton are regular headliners at venues around the region, with each making annual treks to The Birchmere in particular. Yet it’s a rare treat to have the two Grammy-winning folk legends, who also happen to be longtime friends, sharing the same bill.

Also featuring The Don Juans, a Grammy-winning duo that often tours with Paxton, who regularly joins them on stage for some lush three-part harmony. All told, this special concert, presented by Key West Productions and F.A.M.E., is worth any trek it might take for area folk aficionados to get to Frederick’s Weinberg Center for the Arts.

Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. 20 W. Patrick St. Tickets are $55 to $75. Call 301-600-2828 or visit

Eric Byrd Trio
Eric Byrd Trio

Eric Byrd Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Singing pianist Eric Byrd is supported by bassist Bhagwan Khalsa and drummer Alphonso Young, Jr., in his namesake swinging jazz trio, a world-traveling entity for two decades that styles itself as enthusiastic ambassadors of jazz. And for several years running now, the trio has toured a special holiday show paying tribute to Vince Guaraldi’s iconic jazz score set to the classic Peanuts animated Christmas special. A Charlie Brown Christmas screens as part of the program.

Friday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St. Frederick, Md. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 301-600-2828 or visit

An additional area stop is Sunday, Dec. 12, at 3 and 6:30 p.m. The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. Tickets are $14.75 to $34.75 plus fees. Call 202-787-1000 or visit

Downtown Holiday market
DowntownDC Holiday Market

DowntownDC Holiday Market

The popular annual holiday street fair, organized by Diverse Markets Management and presented by the DowntownDC BID and Events DC, returns for its 17th edition. More than 70 artisans and vendors are set up in two blocks of F Street in Penn Quarter. A key focus this year is on local Black- and minority-owned businesses, a lineup including Smell of Love Candles, Marcella Kriebel Art + Illustration, Sarah Nickel Ceramics, Kin & Care, and Raw Blossom.

This year also sees the return of food and beverage vendors across the market as well as a live stage of regional performers. Among new additions: Macy’s STORY, a curated, narrative-driven retail experience.

Operating from noon to 8 p.m. daily through Dec. 23, except Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, and Monday, Dec. 6. Located on F Street between 7th and 9th Streets NW. Visit

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