Stage And Screen

Stage And Screen: Winter 2018

THROUGH SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Tartuffe
Moliere’s classic comedy of the conman Tartuffe comes to Logan Fringe Arts Space. Tartuffe the Hypocrite, as it is sometimes known, follows the story of a 17th-century grifter in which Tartuffe tries to insert himself into an aristocratic family by way of his feigned piety. Though the play was first performed in 1664, it remains current for its universal wit and themes. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25. Logan Fringe Arts Space: 1358 Florida Ave. NE, DC; www.capitalfringe.org

THROUGH SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Unnecessary Farce
The Keegan Theatre presents the first DC run of Unnecessary Farce, a comedy that follows a sting operation gone awry. In what seems an almost too on-the-nose plot for DC, the cops try to catch an embezzling mayor in the act. However, they also can’t quite seem to get themselves in order, and hilarity and undressing ensue. Showtimes vary. Tickets start at $35. The Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC; www.keegantheatre.com

THROUGH SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Sovereignty
Sovereignty tells the story of Sarah Ridge Polson, a young Cherokee lawyer fighting to restore her nation’s jurisdiction. She must confront the ever-present ghosts of her grandfathers in this play covering the Cherokee Nation’s roots from the 1830s in what is now Georgia to its current home in Oklahoma. Arena Stage’s production is part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, celebrating new works written by women and produced in DC. Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

THROUGH SUNDAY, MARCH 4

Hamlet
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s latest production of Hamlet features Michael Urie in the titular role, known for his acting range and role on Ugly Betty, and actor Robert Joy of CSI: NY as Polonius. Director Michael Kahn is at the helm of this reinterpretation of one of the Bard’s most famous tragedies, transforming Polonius the “bumbling old man” into Polonius the spymaster, in addition to other subtle creative changes in this story of the Danish prince’s descent into madness. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall: 610 F St. NW, DC; www.shakespearetheatre.org

THROUGH SUNDAY, MARCH 4

The Wolves
Over quad stretches and squats, a team of young women in an indoor soccer league known as The Wolves prepare to defend their undefeated record. With an ear for the bravado and empathy of teenage years, the banter moves from tampons to genocide to the pressures of preparing for adult life. Writer Sarah DeLappe explores the violence and teamwork of sports and adolescence in following these 16-year-olds who turn into wolves on the pitch. Write-up provided by venue website. Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; www.studiotheatre.org

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – SUNDAY, MARCH 4

Light Years
Robbie Schaefer of Northern Virginia-based folk/rock/indie band Eddie from Ohio writes and stars in this world premiere musical coming to Signature Theatre. Light Years chronicles Robbie’s journey from his childhood in India to his days of pursuing music and raising a family, juxtaposed with glimpses into his father’s dark past. Signature favorite and Helen Hayes Award winner Bobby Smith will take the stage with Schaefer and a handful of other talented actors. Showtimes vary. Tickets start at $40. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Chess
This love triangle rock opera comes to the Kennedy Center Valentine’s Day weekend, a new realization of Tim Rice and ABBA’s collaboration. The musical takes place during the height of Cold War tensions and therein is born the love triangle between the American chess star, the Soviet champion and the assistant torn between the two. Look to the performance for its innovative rock opera scoring. Shows times are at 8 p.m., with additional performances at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets start at $69. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Virginia Opera: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare’s comedy about errant lovers caught in a fairy dreamscape comes to George Mason’s Center for the Arts in operatic form. Audiences can expect a vivid retelling of the Bard’s play from the Virginia Opera, written by mid-century British composer Benjamin Britten, whose music has notably been featured in a few Wes Anderson films. And don’t miss out on the Valentine’s Day package, which includes champagne and chocolate. Performances are on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $54. George Mason University’s Center for the Performing Arts: 4400 University Dr. Fairfax, VA; http://cfa.gmu.edu

Photo: Trent Johnson
Photo: Trent Johnson

Inside FYM Productions’ Cryfest

You don’t just stumble upon a Cure/Smiths dance party, Stephen Petix tells me on a call that I’ve been dying to have with him since high school. The crowds he draws for his longstanding Cryfest dance night at the Black Cat are already diehard fans of the music, and he basically gets to geek out with them over the course of an evening.

“These are my people,” he says. “These are my nerds, you know? ‘Cause I’m one of them. I know all the words to all these songs as well.”

Our city’s fascination with Cryfest and Petix’s other 80s dance nights – Depeche Mode and Eighties Mayhem – has spanned nearly two decades. Petix (DJ Steve EP) founded FYM Productions in 2001, and now runs the parties with his wife Katie (DJ Killa K) and friend Michelle (DJ Missguided). The trio also collaborates with DJ Krasty McNasty, Petix’s oldest friend in the world, who he credits with getting him into Depeche Mode in the first place.

February 24 marks Cryfest’s 16th anniversary, and I’m quick to tell Petix that I remember going to the dance night in 2004 as a senior in high school and feeling right at home. I too felt that I was among my people, and have been going back nearly every year. I also tell him that I’ve been surprised he and his fellow DJs haven’t received more press about their nights, because they’re wildly popular and have become even more so in recent years. Turns out that’s part of the plan.

“We haven’t really gotten a lot of press because we never really sought it out,” he says. “It’s really grown and maintained organically, and we really like that. And in the past two years, it’s just forged forward even more. It’s been great.”

Petix says it blows his mind that the dance night has remained popular, and it’s exactly what he and the other DJs want.

“It’s not just about success. It’s about having a fun party that we enjoy as much as everybody else does because if we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t be doing it.”

His roots in the DC music scene run deep. After moving to DC to play in ska band Eastern Standard Time, he started hanging out at a BYOR (bring your own records) night at an after-hours club on U Street where he learned how to DJ. He was also touring a lot with his band, and after sticking around in Germany at the tail end of a Europe tour, he was amazed by how many Depeche Mode dance parties were being thrown there.

“I was like you know, no one’s doing that here. I could totally do this.”

Back in the District, he was hanging out at Metro Café on 14th Street, which he says is where a lot of area DJs debuted their dance nights (DJ Mark Zimin’s Mousetrap nights, DJ Dredd’s Prince parties, U Street Music Hall Owner Will Eastman’s indie nights, among others). He asked one of Metro’s co-owners, Nick Nichols, if he could try out a Depeche Mode night; Nichols gave him the go ahead and the party was packed.

After Metro closed a year or so later, Petix approached Black Cat’s owner, Dante Ferrando, about hosting another DM party. Ferrando was apprehensive about playing only one band for the whole night, but he gave Petix a shot and nearly 700 people showed up. Petix started throwing the DM parties several times a year, and on April 14, he’ll celebrate the DM dance party’s 17th anniversary.

As those parties picked up, Petix started flirting with the idea of Cryfest. He’d head to dance parties where he’d hear a few mediocre songs, and then a song by The Cure would come on and everyone would flip out; then there’d be another few “eh” songs, and then a tune by The Smiths would come on and everyone would freak out.

“I was like, why don’t we cut out the middle men and just do a night of all Cure/Smiths? And that’s when we came up with Cryfest. We just thought it was really funny.”

Petix says some people take the “rivalry” a little too seriously.

“I’m like dude, I love both of these bands. There’s no beef or anything. I’ve really enjoyed both of these bands since I was in high school.”

Cryfest has since become the largest Cure/Smiths dance party in the country. The third and final mainstay of FYM’s dance nights is Eighties Mayhem, and May 4 marks their first-ever Star Wars-themed Eighties Mayhem party – a play on “May the Fourth be with you.” Petix says they go all out with their themes, putting an impressive amount of effort into the visuals.

Last Halloween, they decked out Black Cat with a Ghostbusters theme upstairs – complete with a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – and Beetlejuice downstairs, including a giant Beetlejuice snake head that breathed fog. It’s clear from speaking with Petix that he and the other DJs have so much fun putting these nights together, from detailed 80s pop culture visuals to carefully curated playlists; I tell him I’m sure it helps that he’s hosting them with his wife and best buds.

“It’s a very tight, tight family of people that we have,” he says. “We just keep it tight like that because it’s better.”

The theme of family extends beyond FYM though, to the venue they’ve chosen to work with exclusively for all of these years.

“Why would I go anywhere else? [Black Cat] is like family. They trust that we’re not going to do something subpar. They know if it’s one of our events, we’re going to come prepared, we’re going to do it right [and] it’s going to be a fun night. We’ve earned that trust and that relationship with them, and we value that. I love the space, and I love the people. It will [remain] our home.”

I’m curious about how he keeps the playlists fresh when he’s working with older music, and he says it has its challenges. For example, The Smiths only have five records and not all of the songs are prime dance floor material. He must be careful not to run out of music early, which happened at one of the first DM nights when he was too excited to get started.

“There has to be a strategy going into it to make sure the night flows well.”

But Petix says he can definitely get more creative with Eighties Mayhem nights.

“I remember there was one night where I didn’t even realize that the whole first set of mine was all female-fronted new wave bands. That was just what I was into at the time. It definitely fluctuates. I just go in [with] what I’m feeling and feel the crowd and go from there.”

Petix’s musical endeavors extend beyond FYM; he plays in metal band Dagger Moon, and has his own band with Katie called Technophobia.

“It’s like our baby,” he says of their dark electronic duo. “We’re like old, dark Depeche Mode [or] old, dark Ministry. Sonically, that’s our reference point.”

They put out an album in 2015, embarked on a five-week tour last summer and are now writing a new album, which they hope leads to a Europe tour. In the meantime, they play local shows regularly at Black Cat and other venues. The couple also owns nonprofit record label Working Order Records, a project they’re both quite passionate about.

“We are very ideological people,” he says. “We’re vegan, we believe in animal rights. We’re all about making a positive impact. We came up with the idea of: why not donate all the money from our records to charity?”

After 45 minutes on the phone with Petix, I can tell that he is the type of person who puts great care into everything he does. He’s genuine, and that gives his dance nights, his band and his record label an authenticity often absent in today’s music industry. And at the end of the day, I finally know the story – and the tightknit family – behind my favorite dance night in the city.

Don’t miss FYM Productions’ 16th annual Cryfest on February 24, 17th annual Depeche Mode Dance Party on April 14 and Eighties Mayhem Strikes Back on May 4, all at the Black Cat. Follow FYM on Facebook at @FYMproductions.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Chuck Grant
Photo: Chuck Grant

BØRNS Finds Magic on the Road

In October 2015, Garrett Borns, better known as the singular BØRNS, released his debut album Dopamine, and his career went into overdrive. The memorable start to that phase of his musical journey began in our fair city, where hours before the album came out, he found himself in DC, onstage at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

“That was a good experience,” he tells On Tap in advance of his show at The Anthem on February 13. “My first album dropped at midnight, and I played the show at Rock & Roll Hotel, packed up the van and drove straight to New York to sound check for Jimmy Fallon. I played that show, and then stayed up until it aired, and then woke up the next day like, ‘What the hell just happened?’”

He laughs. “Yeah, that was interesting.”

BØRNS grew up in Michigan before moving to New York, and eventually L.A. He first played music under his real name, performing songs on ukulele at a TEDx event in 2011, which is still available on YouTube. Eventually signing to Interscope Records, he started releasing music as BØRNS in 2014 and his star began to rise, with TV appearances and opening slots for bands like MisterWives, Charli XCX and Bleachers. He hit the road, not knowing where it would lead.

“It was a crazy progression for the first record,” he says. “I think for someone that hasn’t toured before, there’s no way to explain it. It wasn’t like I just hopped on a tour bus for two years; I was in a van for a long time. And my band definitely was incredible on the road and worked five times as hard as they needed to, and I just had really special crews. [There was] a lot of working our way up to being able to finally get a bus by the last run. It was really nice, but it definitely had its challenges. I think I learned a lot from it.”

BØRNS’s music has been described as ethereal, indie alt-rock and it certainly shows influences from the great rock bands of the 60s, 70s and 80s, with guitars, drums and synthesizers pulsing throughout. In his live show, he even does a spot-on cover of Elton John’s 1973 hit “Bennie and the Jets.” But it also has a sound that’s unmistakably his, and unmistakably new. And that’s what he’s going for.

“I’m never trying to sound throwback, or like Robert Plant or anything like that. But I’m inspired by those artists’ spirits and the way they performed and their confidence or their boldness or their sensitivity. So that’s kind of how I use influences. Because at the end of the day, it’s my music and it comes from a place inside of me.”

When he set out to write songs for his new album Blue Madonna, released on January 12, BØRNS had the benefit of knowing that he would be performing these songs in front of a lot of people – and for awhile, too. And that made it a very different experience from the first time around. He says that he specifically had his live show in mind when he wrote these songs, and was thinking about what would make the best experience for an audience. He also wanted to challenge himself in the process.

“I did a lot more experimenting with songwriting, and with my voice as an instrument,” he says. “And I just really wanted to make something that I knew I was going to be going on the road with for awhile, because I didn’t realize I was going to be playing the first album for so long. It was like, ‘Alright, I might need to make something with a little more sustenance maybe.’”

Beyond his music, BØRNS’s fashion sense is also something that has caused people to take notice. After he wore some Gucci clothes for his auspicious Jimmy Fallon debut, people from Gucci noticed, got in touch and BØRNS was flown to Milan for their fall menswear show. He continues to push himself to try new looks and styles.

“It keeps me entertained,” he says. “I love wearing different things to see what it does to my performance or my personality, and it’s an artistic expression. I’m always inspired by fashion.”

As he ventures out on tour again this month, BØRNS says it takes some time to get into the swing of things when heading out on the road. But when things get rolling, audiences might expect the sublime.

“Once you get into it, once you get into the flow, I feel like pretty magical things can happen.”

Catch BØRNS with Charlotte Cardin and Mikky Ekko at The Anthem on February 13. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $41-$56.

 The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; 202-888-0020; www.theanthemdc.com

MUSIC PICKS

Music Picks: Winter 2018

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3

Anna Meredith
When someone’s music is described as “uncategorizable” and “genre-defying,” as Anna Meredith’s is on U Street Music Hall’s website, I’m already intrigued. It’s true that Meredith’s music is borderline all over the place as far as what she’s pulling from; at one moment, you’ll have horns and at another, you’ll feel like an alarm clock is going off in your ears. But these sounds intersect with a mission. Meredith’s goal seems to be to create organized chaos, and in an intimate venue like U Street, we’re excited to see how she directs bodies in such an enclosed space. Doors at 7 p.m. $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Bob Marley’s B-Day Bash Ft. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Formed in 2001 in Rochester, New York, GPGDS first received praise for their live show, which combined world beats and reggae rhythms within jam band aesthetics. In recent years, the band’s studio recordings, which showcase their songwriting and musicianship across all genres of roots music, have further cemented their legend as master innovators and artists. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. $16-$18. Write-up provided by venue. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

Lera Lynn
Lera Lynn’s vocals set her apart from other singer-songwriters who also sport the ability to play instruments. Her voice is both sorrowful yet powerful, and its super power is its penchant for touching your soul. On top of that, her folk style seemingly slow burns, building with great anticipation for her next belting chord. The music is dark, the singer is talented and Jammin Java always delivers. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $20. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7

Girlpool
Girlpool is angry. They’re upset at their plight, and sonically upset about a past romance, but you can’t pick all of this up just from listening to their sound. In a vacuum, Girlpool actually resembles a pleasant musical experience, but if you turn the volume up, and turn the real world down, you’ll get a heavy dose of lyrics that are neatly packaged beneath this folk exterior. Girlpool is much more than a dynamic duo playing acoustic guitars, so check them out at the newly renovated Black Cat. Doors at 7:30 p.m. $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Tiny Moving Parts
Transport yourself to the good ol’ days of Warped Tour with emo revival rockers Tiny Moving Parts, a self-described family band made up of brothers William (drums) and Matthew (bass) Chevalier, and their cousin Dylan Mattheisen (lead vocals, guitar). Catch the band on tour for their latest album Swell, released this January. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8

Joanna Teters
Yet again, Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House is booking a future star: this time, the soulful Joanna Teters. Her sound is incredibly sultry, but it’s new wave R&B as the backdrop is full of synths and bass drops. The music often bounces from slow to fast to slow again, and this only works with her versatility as a singer. What more can we say? She’s a natural in every sense of the word. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9

WHY?
WHY? is a California indie rock band with a hip-hop twist. What started as Yoni Wolf’s solo rap project in 1997 would later become a group effort in 2004 when Yoni recruited his older brother Josiah, as well as Doug McDiarmid and Matt Meldon. With whimsical, folksy arrangements layered with Yoni’s spoken-word-like voice, WHY? draw you closer with cheeky lyrics and psychedelic sounds. Doors open at 7 p.m. $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10

COIN
Nashville rockers COIN are behind the popular indie pop single “Talk Too Much.” On tour for their second album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, these guys have slowly gained a following with their infectious sound. Songs off their new album like “Boyfriend” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance” will (ironically) make you want to dance while mellow songs like “Malibu 1992” will take you to sunny California beaches. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Doors open at 7 p.m. $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Steve Aoki
The EDM DJ popularly known for smashing cakes into his fans’ faces is on tour for his latest album Kolony, filled with lots of newcomers that made waves in 2017 like Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty. Catch Aoki’s set with rapper Desiigner at Echostage, a venue that’s come to be known for hosting EDM heavy weights. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11

Viniloversus
Indie rockers Viniloversus, formed in Venezuela in 2004, are on tour for their fourth album Days of Exile. Singing in both English and Spanish, the Caracas-based musicians have proved themselves to be rock trailblazers in Latin American, with two albums nominated for Latin Grammys. Catch their grungy act reminiscent of mid 2000s alt-rockers like The Strokes and The White Stripes at Black Cat. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13

The Academic
Craig Fitzgerald, brothers Matt and Stephen Murtagh, and Dean Gavin are up-and-coming Irish indie rockers The Academic. On tour for their debut album Tales from the Backseat, The Academic will rope you in with catchy hooks and amped up guitars and drums. Witty lyrics on songs like “Bear Claws” and “Fake ID” will have you singing along all night long. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com

Carla Bruni
Not only is she a model and married to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni is also an Italian-French singer-songwriter. Currently on tour for her fifth album French Touch, Bruni sings coffeehouse-esque songs in French and English with beautiful, delicate vocals backed by piano and violins or acoustic guitar. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $59.50. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Joe Satriani
If you’re in the market for life-altering, guitar-centric performances, you can’t do much better than Joe Satriani. I had a friend in college who loved the guy – raved about him even – but for the longest time, I didn’t understand the appeal of listening to music centrally focused on the guitar, until he played me his idol. Ever since, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for this genre of music, and it never ceases to amaze me how creative people can be with the stringed instrument. A lot of the modern experimentations are influenced by Satriani, so we suggest you peep one of the best in the world. Doors at 7:30 p.m. $75. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com

Sleigh Bells
It’s been 10 years since noise-pop band Sleigh Bells came onto the music scene and made a name for themselves with the catchy song “Rill Rill.” A decade later, and the band just released their fifth album Kid Kruschev, a mini-album that still has their classic, dissonant noise spread across the tracks, but also sees the band experimenting with new sounds. Doors open at 7 p.m. $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15

Stooges Brass Band
The Stooges Brass Band has gained notoriety across the U.S. and the world as a full-blown musical party, whether leading a second-line parade or performing their spirited stage show. The band is undeniably one of the hardest working bands out of New Orleans, and their dedication to their craft has made an impact. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. $15. Write-up provided by venue. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17

The Prince and MJ Experience
With both of these artists passing in the past decade, the two pop icons will largely be tied together because both made the majority of their music within the same time period. While Jackson offered album after album full of chart topping hits, Prince battled back with more nuanced lyrics aimed almost exclusively at a more mature audience. Both had strengths the other may have lacked, and both approached music in a different manner. There will not be a day where people don’t have some form of a “Prince vs. MJ” debate, but today is not that day, because they both left behind splendid music to be revered – and danced to. Doors at 11 p.m. $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Starcrawler
Looking for new music that’s a little more classic rock ‘n’ roll? Check out Starcrawlers, a new L.A. rock band that channels the days of Alice Cooper and Joan Jett in both fashion and sound. Lead singer Arrow de Wilde manages to make singing about “ants in my pants” sound cool. Angst and stick-it-to-the-man vibes galore abound on their recently released, self-titled album. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com

Wylder
Will McCarry, Lonnie Southall, Jackson Wright and Mike Pingley are DC’s own Wylder. An indie band that combines anthem-style rock with the feet-stomping charm of a classic folk band, Wylder makes infectious music that will make you wish you were driving with the windows down in spring. With plenty of fiddle spread throughout their songs, they’ll remind of you of The Strumbellas or The Lumineers, but moments of solitary electric guitar remind you Wylder is still plenty rock. Check out their newest single “The Lake.” Doors open at 7 p.m. $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25

Cher
Cher is back at the MGM this winter, extending her residency into a part two. If you missed the icon’s last stop in Maryland, this is probably as good a chance as you’ll get to see her live in concert. With countless hits on her resume, it’s no wonder she’s experienced this seemingly endless lifespan into the music zeitgeist, and we likely still haven’t begun to approach the end of her talents. All six shows at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $120. MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD; www.mgmnationalharbor.com

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

MAGIC GIANT
All four members of L.A. indie-folk band MAGIC GIANT have a long list of instruments they can play, and they put that talent to use in their music. Upbeat indie-pop songs are laced with trumpets, banjos and harmonicas for a unique twist. But just because violins and banjos are played doesn’t mean they are solely a folk-rock band; there is still plenty of synthesizer to remind you that MAGIC GIANT is all about a big pop song. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $20-$54. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Snarky Puppy
The people in the office claim that I’m not a dog person, so I think it’s only fitting that I choose the venerable Snarky Puppy as a show people in DC should see. No, there are no sassy dogs onstage for the show, but you will have moody tunes, as trumpets and electric guitars interact and form music that always sounds drastically different from the preceding song. The band’s goal is always to go into the studio, a practice or even a show and come out with something they haven’t done before then. Basically, you’re going to get something new, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for actually snarky animals on the Fillmore Stage; it’s probably against building code. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $33. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

Two Feet
Two Feet is New York-based solo artist Bill Dess. Originally a producer making music for other artists, Two Feet’s career was born from a drunken night where he made his song “Go F–k Yourself” public on SoundCloud. The next day, the song had blown up on the Internet. Fast forward to a little over a year later, and Two Feet has released his second EP Momentum and single “I Feel Like I’m Drowning,” both characterized by mellow beats with a punch of guitar backing Two Feet’s bluesy, attitude-laced sound. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20

Phoebe Bridgers
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has quickly made a name for herself with her unique voice and unforgettable lyrics. Bridgers’ sweet voice is backed by beautiful strings and vulnerable lyrics in music that I can only describe as the kind of songs you have a good cry to. Catch Bridgers on tour for her first album release with Stranger in the Alps. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21

Martin Sexton
When I learned that Martin Sexton is self-taught in the art of guitar, it was kind of an incredible realization. I’m sure his technicalities are up to snuff, but you can tell he operates on a freedom those classically trained guitarists might not enjoy because it’s all sound-driven. The music is unique, has a fun pace and is generally easy to listen to, whether you’re stuck in a rut or just want to dance in your kitchen while trying to make tilapia taste good (it’s basically impossible). In this case, you’ll be listening to his tunes at the legendary Wolf Trap. Doors at 8 p.m. $42-$47. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

The Oh Hellos
As a person from Texas, The Oh Hellos sound very modern-Texas. It’s fun to think of the state nestled above Mexico and below Oklahoma, among others, as a place where Cowboys roam on horseback, but the state really is a part of the modern world. There are hints of that old West influence in barbecue and art, but I promise you don’t need a saddle to get around. The Oh Hellos are much like this, offering up music that straddles the line of old-school country and pop music you find on the radio. There’s violins and Southern twang, but there’s also a tempo that feels very 21st-century. Doors at 9 p.m. $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24

AWOLNATION
It seems like just yesterday people were putting up YouTube videos of their cats being, well, cats in perfect synchronization to the song “Sail.” Seven years later and alt-rock band Awolnation has just released a third album, Here Come the Runts. With plenty of electropop sounds on the album, lead singer Aaron Bruno says he wanted to make a more pop-leaning album and was influenced by the coastal mountains near his home studio. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $34. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

Method Man and Redman
One of hip-hop’s most dynamic duos is set to perform at the Howard Theatre, which always seems to pay homage to the nostalgic days of the genre. Method Man and Redman are giants in the industry; the former has one of hip-hop’s most distinguishable voices and the latter is known as one of its very best lyricists. Though these two have largely stayed quiet – at least in producing new tracks – their past discography could ignite a fiercely fun evening you won’t want to miss. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $49.50-$69.50. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC; www.thehowardtheatre.com

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25

John Nolan
Height is the latest album release from John Nolan, a solo project from Taking Back Sunday’s co-lead vocalist. Less angsty than Taking Back Sunday, Nolan, who also was a founding member of Straylight Run, still brings moodiness and rock to his solo project. Catch him on his birthday tour, which kicks off the day before his birthday and which will feel like one big b-day celebration – balloons and streamers included. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28

Jenny and the Mexicats
Whether it’s shifting from English to Spanish mid-song or switching from jazz to slow acoustic, Jenny and the Mexicats are variety incarnate. England’s Jenny Ball grew up playing trumpet in jazz and classical settings, but eventually yearned for adventure; from there, she moved to Spain and helped found this band with international flavor. There isn’t a sound the group can’t recreate with force – and grace – so we’re not sure what to expect other than tremendous fun. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $10-$12. DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dcnine.com 

Photo: Courtesy of Mad Fox Brewing
Photo: Courtesy of Mad Fox Brewing

Barley Wine Season

Everyone has a favorite way of keeping warm this time of year – sitting by the fireplace, cozying up next to a favorite furry friend, or crawling under the covers and cranking up the space heater. When out on the town, though, it’s often most convenient to warm your innards with something in the form of liquid.

Enter barley wine.

“Most people’s palates tend to gravitate toward darker, richer beers and drinks,” says Bill Madden, chief executive officer and executive brewer at Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church. “Barley wine is a super-strength beer, created back in the day when kings and queens of the royalty in the UK were looking for a replacement product for their wine.”

Madden adds that barley wine is roughly the same strength as wine, which tends to be 11 to 15 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). British-style barley wines run from about seven to nine percent ABV, whereas a midrange, American-style barley wine is typically 10 to 12 percent.

Mad Fox’s Slobberknocker will be one of 35 barley wines served at the brewery’s barley wine festival, the largest of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, at the Falls Church location on February 24-25.

“We’ve been doing [the festival] for the last eight years,” Madden says, pointing out that there is no entrance fee for the festivities.

“It’s a packed house. The goal for the aficionado is to make it through the day. We usually have two sessions, [and] at a minimum, we’ll have 16 barley wines at each session. Everybody tries to sample them, so they’ll be sharing samples with their friends and trying to get through all of them in one sitting.”

Madden says people are pretty happy after the first session, adding, “You can guess why.”

Lovers of the local beer scene should be especially happy about the brands on the festival taps; Madden worked his magic on some local brewers who agreed to serve some of their barley wines. For example, Mad Fox will be the only spot outside of DC Brau where locals can try the craft brewery’s Sleeping Standing Up, according to co-owner Jeff Hancock.

“Every year since our inception, [Madden’s] been asking me to brew a barley wine more or less specifically for the fest,” Hancock says. “We’re going to give [Mad Fox] our first couple of sixtels of barley wine.”

Hancock explains that he and his brewers riffed off the first version of the English-style barley wine, and decided to reduced the roast character a little to get the flavor profile more try to style.

“We had a strong beer sitting around that we definitely weren’t going to get rid of by any stretch of the imagination,” he continues. “We just figured out a way to get creative with it.”

And thus the 2017 Holiday Ale was born. The festival offers a great way for beermakers like Hancock and Madden to come together. Charlie Buettner, now head brewer at Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, used to work with Madden at Mad Fox; he even helped organize its first barley wine festival back in 2011.

This year, Buettner will make Fair Winds’ presence felt by supplying the festival with the brewery’s All Hands Anniversary Ale. Fair Winds makes its Anniversary Ale available in-house every March, and select barrels occasionally surface at bars like Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights and Crafthouse in Ballston.

“We maintain a thing called ‘Beer Finder’ on our website,” Buettner says. “We keep all of our customers and fans up-to-date on all the places that carry our product, and update that on a monthly basis.”

Buettner says he’s noticed a growing demand for barley wine as more people have become craft beer consumers, and agrees that high alcohol content is a major reason for barley wine’s winter popularity. He also credits its rich malt characters, such as the caramel flavors that Buettner incorporates in Fair Winds’ barley wine, which help mask its super potent nature.

“[It’s] definitely the season for [barley wine],” agrees Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick. “You feel it warm you from the inside out.”

Pizzeria Paradiso held a barley wine festival over President’s Day weekend last year, serving up 15 different barley wines between all of its locations.

Although the festival is on hold this year, McCormick says all locations are planning to serve J.W. Lees barley wines. Other potential 2018 barley wine appearances include Flying Dog Brewery’s Horn Dog, Firestone Walker’s Helldorado and Bell’s Wheat Love.

Barley wine abounds in DC and Northern Virginia this winter; with pipes freezing and bursting left and right, it could be worthwhile to coat your own with these local options.

Mad Fox’s barley wine festival runs Saturday, February 24 and Sunday, February 25 with free admission both days. Learn more at www.madfoxbrewing.com.

Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 West Broad St. Suite I, Falls Church, VA; 703-942-6840; www.madfoxbrewing.com

WOMENS FESTIVALbkgd

Women’s Voices Theater Festival Challenges Status Quo

A PTSD-ridden marine plans her wedding. A man is held without charge in Guantanamo for 12 years. A reimagined Shakespeare play gives minorities the chance to be heard. A series of one-act plays follow the hard-luck stories of everyday people struggling to find their place in the world.

Though the plots and themes of these plays are unique, each shed light on critical issues and give a voice to those that need it most. The female playwrights behind these original works are creating a safe space for audiences to explore these ideas, and perhaps spark their own dialogue after leaving the theater. And their plays, along with 20 others, are the featured productions in the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival, in the nation’s capital through March 14.

The buzz around this homegrown festival, back for the second time after its debut in 2015, has been overwhelming. Not only is actress Allison Janney on board this year as honorary chair, but the sheer volume of local talent and prestigious theaters involved is truly remarkable. It speaks volumes that our community views this celebration of new plays written by women and produced by local companies as an exciting opportunity, one worth embracing and promoting throughout the city.

And while this local support is encouraging, the statistics are quite the opposite. A 2015 Lilly Awards/Dramatists Guild study found that 22 percent of all productions in U.S. theaters were written by women, a percentage that sadly has hardly changed in the past three years.

Annalisa Dias, whose play 4,380 Nights is running at Signature Theatre in Shirlington through February 18, says the statistics speak for themselves as to why the festival is needed.

“I think the spotlight that’s getting shined on female playwrights right now in this city is pretty outstanding, and we’re the only city doing it,” she says. “It’s an exciting time to be a playwright living in DC.”

Dias wrote 4,380 Nights after reading a three-sentence blurb in The Washington Post about two Algerian detainees who had been released from Guantanamo Bay the day before. She was taken aback by how little space the news received and had the realization that a lot of us had forgotten that the center was very much still in operation – or worse, we were turning a blind eye to it.

To her, presenting her work at Signature is an opportunity to engage audiences and ask questions like, “How can we look at each other as citizens of this country knowing that Guantanamo exists and that our government allows it to exist?” and, “How can we imagine a future together where a place like Guantanamo couldn’t exist?”

“I’m interested in sitting with people and thinking about big questions about how our system works,” she says. “I don’t have answers. I just have a lot of questions.”

Hope Villanueva also has questions.

In her Nu Sass-produced play The Veils, at Anacostia Arts Center from February 15 through March 4, she breaks an incredibly common stereotype. When you think of someone in the military with PTSD, who pops into your head first: a man or a woman?

The playwright doesn’t hold that against anyone; in fact, she was in a serious relationship with a marine who had a terrible time transitioning back into civilian life and actually partially inspired The Veils. And she says it makes sense, after years of the arts – whether it be film and TV or theatre – portraying women as one-dimensional: the girlfriend, the wife, the mother, the hot/slutty chick.

So Villaneuva’s heroine is a marine with PTSD, and she’s also about to get married.

“Why can’t she be competent with a rifle in her hand and be able to handle that and war, and still want to feel feminine on her wedding day?” she asks. “Why can’t it be both?”

It can be, and in some ways her play taps directly into the festival initiative. She read about and met female marines whose stories have mirrored the one she wrote for the stage, and it was empowering to know that she had created something powerful enough to speak to their experiences.

When it comes to giving women more opportunities to create and lead in theatre, Villaneuva says there has to be someone or something – maybe even this festival – that kicks open the door first and says, “Look, we’re missing this whole swarth of people and opportunities,” so that we can get to the place where talent really is all that matters.

“I don’t think we’re on the other side of that door yet, but that’s the dream.”

This sentiment seems to be shared by the four playwrights I spoke with, but some challenge what makes the festival successful more than others. Charlie Marie McGrath says she has mixed emotions about the concept.

She raises the point that if a participating theater chose to be in the festival, they may  feel they have met their quota for the season by having one female director or playwright.

“We need to take the spirit of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival and make that the norm.”

McGrath’s original adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline incorporates shadow puppetry and other stylized elements, re-contextualizing the Bard’s characters for modern day audiences. Imogen is produced by Pointless Theatre and housed by DanceLoft on 14th through February 11 – marking one of the space’s first forays into the world of theatre – and as each scene unfolds, the actors drop more and more of their Renaissance garb and begin to resemble 21st-century versions of their characters. She says everybody living outside of the court – outside of the mainstream, basically – turn out to be the nicest guys in the play.

“I think it [gives] a little social context. It’s about young black men who think that the law won’t protect them. It’s about women who think they’ll never be in power. It’s about people who think they have no options in life, and I think that that feels like the situation of a lot of young people today.”

Another common thread among the playwrights is the idea of relatability, that what one of their characters is going through can tangibly mirror what is happening in an audience member’s life. Yes, theatre has come a long way from the very misconceived notions of being designed for a silver-haired, affluent crowd decked out in their evening best; but even still, having in-depth conversations with four women who are creating art meant to reach those of us in our 20s or 30s or 40s who are still trying to figure it out is pretty amazing.

The format of Audrey Cefaly’s Love Is A Blue Tick Hound – four one-act plays at 20 minutes each – may diverge from the others, but the human element remains intact. She says her work, coming to the Logan Fringe Arts Space from February 9-17 via Rapid Lemon Productions, is a collection of stories that are universal to all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and languages.

“You have everything from scrappy, young, female mill workers to an immigrant dishwasher who has a crush on a waitress,” she says. “It’s not one of these plays that you have to have any kind of education to understand and to feel its heartbeat. It’s really just a collection of love stories that are told simply with characters that are just like all of us.”

The playwright invites audiences to hear her stories and maybe contribute their own voices to the narrative.

“There’s plenty of silence and subtext, so that an audience hopefully can relax into the stories and maybe see themselves. Because ultimately, I think we’re in a lot of pain in this world and we all need these stories of light and healing, so we don’t feel so alone.”

Cefaly’s earnestness extends to the festival as a whole, and she credits projects like this one with raising awareness about the creative teams in theatre – not just the playwrights, she adds – who are chalk full of incredible female talent.

“I think we’ve always had incredibly gorgeous, vibrant, female voices in our midst. [But] they don’t always get a place at the table.”

And while she says she wants to see good theatre, whether it’s written by a male or female playwright, she won’t have access to the latter unless women get the same opportunities as their male colleagues.

What admittedly started in my mind as a piece featuring vignettes of each playwright’s upcoming production instead has taken shape as my own “light bulb” moment that I hope resonates with our readers. How do we take the mission of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival and give it actionable meaning year-round, and how do we make sure that women in theatre are given a seat at the table? After speaking with these playwrights, I’m pretty sure they deserve to be at its head.

Learn more about all participating productions and theaters, including dates, locations and ticket prices, at www.womensvoicestheaterfestival.org.

Broadcasters Header

Leading Ladies of the Airwaves Dish on Dreamy Athletes

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and while you may not have a SO in your life at the moment, you can always put on a Caps game and pretend you’re dating Braden Holtby. Or maybe you do that even if you are in a relationship… Either way, you are not alone in admiring some of today’s most talented – and attractive – professional athletes. Five fierce females in the world of local TV and radio gushed to On Tap about their favorite sports stars, and what makes each of them so crushworthy.


Ashley Laconetti (Photo - Courtesy of Ashley Laconetti)

Ashley Iaconetti, Reporter/podcast host
Access Hollywood, Almost Famous and I Don’t Get It

Crushing on: 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Best traits: Strong leader and hard-working

Why she’s crushing: He’s so commanding and encouraging with teammates. He can carry a team. Also, that face…

Perfect date with Jimmy: I’m pretty classic: good food, wine and conversation, ideally somewhere warm and by the water.

Best Valentine’s Day spot in the DMV: Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to go ice skating at Reston Town Center with a crush and stroll around with hot chocolate.

Where she’d shop for him: Odds are I’d be hitting up some of the athletic wear stores at Tysons Mall.

Find Iaconetti dating and competing on The Bachelor Winter Games this February on ABC, reporting every Tuesday on Access Hollywood on NBC, hosting the Almost Famous and the I Don’t Get It podcasts, and writing for www.cosmopolitan.com. Learn more at www.byashleyi.com.


Julie Wright (Photo - Courtesy of Julie Wright)

Julie Wright, Anchor
Good Morning Washington and NewsChannel8’s Let’s Talk Live

Crushing on: Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie

Why she’s crushing: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing T.J. a couple of times, and he’s always so easy to talk to. To say that he’s friendly is an understatement. He’s a humble guy, and he really lights up when talking about his family.

On his “it” factor: The thing that makes T.J. so dreamy is that he’s tough on the ice but so smooth in person, [and I] love that about him. He handles his business on the ice but during interviews, he really is just a guy who’s psyched about playing hockey!

What she’s dying to ask him: If I could ask T.J. a personal question, I would ask, “Do you wish for your girls to play hockey?”

Watch Wright on ABC7/WJLA-TV’s Good Morning Washington and NewsChannel8’s Let’s Talk Live, and follow her on Twitter at @thejuliewright.


Elizabethany (Photo - Courtesy of Elizabethany)

Elizabethany, Host
HOT 99.5

Crushing on: Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger

Best traits: My crush is totally on his personality. He’s fun to watch on the field. He always seems amped up, and the energy spreads to the fans and teammates. [It] doesn’t hurt that he makes some big plays.

What she’s dying to ask him: My first very important question would be: Team NSYNC or Team BSB? If I’m only getting one question, we’ve got to figure out the real deal breaker issues.

DC date night spot: I’d want to go to whatever his favorite spot is so that I can get to know him, and so I don’t have to make the decision. Then we can finish up the night with alcoholic milkshakes at Ted’s Bulletin because I’m not sure there’s anything else I need on any given night.

What she’d buy him for Valentine’s Day: It’d be fun to do one of the Smithsonian’s scavenger hunts together or get tickets to zipline, kayak, paddle board or any other outdoor activities to do once it’s warm again.

Why they’re a good match: We’d make a good match on the days he brings home the “W.” My heart is already so affected by Redskins games; it might be dangerous to get that much closer to it all. What if he breaks my heart in all of the ways?!

Catch Elizabethany on HOT 99.5 from 2-7 p.m. every day, and on Mondays with the station’s new “Monday Motivation Mix.” Follow Elizabethany online at @luvelizabethany.


Aly Jacobs (Photo - Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Makeup - Valerie Hammer Makeup Artistry and Hair - Anna Fazio)

Aly Jacobs
Media personality & former radio host
98.7 WMZQ and Mix107.3

 Athlete crush: Washington Wizards point guard John Wall

Why she’s crushing: He’s got swag and confidence. Oh, and he’s not bad to look at either.

Best traits: He’s fearless on the court and has a lot of heart. It’s admirable to see all [of his] charitable work – from his Light the Night Walk to the John Wall Foundation, he’s always giving back to the community.

Why he’s a star athlete: His speed and his vision on the court

Perfect date night: Well, it would have to be a date that my husband is invited to since he is just as much of a fan as I am. Bowling with John Wall would be pretty awesome.

Where she’d shop for him: I know he’s a fashion guy, so I would say Tysons for a custom suit.

Follow Jacobs on Twitter at @alyjacobs727 and Instagram at @alyjacobs.


Kelly Collis (Photo - Courtesy of Kelly Collis)

Kelly Collis
Co-host on 94.7 Fresh FM’s The Tommy Show

Athlete crush: Washington Nationals

Why the team love: I have an interesting love affair with the team. I have raised my kids since they were in diapers to love baseball and now that they are teenagers, it is one of our favorite activities to do as a family. There is nothing better than a Saturday night game in the middle of the summer!

Best traits: Their ability to have games that make you proud to be a fan. I was there for Zimmermann’s no-hitter and Scherzer’s 20 strikeouts. I was there when they clinched the playoffs in 2017. Those memories are the best.

On who stands out the most on the team: Ryan Zimmerman, the heart and the unofficial captain of the team. He has been with the team since the beginning, he had an incredible season in 2017 and [he’s] one of the few players to really put his roots into the DC community.

What she’d give the team for Valentine’s Day: An extension in Bryce Harper’s contract

Find Collis every weekday morning with Tommy McFly and Jen Richer on The Tommy Show from 5-10 a.m. on 94.7 Fresh FM, and follow her on
Twitter at @cityshopgirl.

WHATS ON TAP Adroit 1

What’s On Tap: Winter 2018

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 30

Aslin Beer Company Tap Takeover
ChurchKey will showcase 25 different beers from Aslin Beer Company in Herndon, Virignia. The tap takeover is in anticipation of Aslin’s opening of their own tasting room in DC. Highlights include Cocoa Mapalm, an imperial stout finished with cocoa nibs, maple syrup and vanilla, and Sorbet, a juicy IPA infused with peach and mango. There will also be a giveaway of Aslin and ChurchKey glassware. 4-11 p.m. Free admission. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkey.com

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31

Devils Backbone Tap Takeover
It’s Wednesday wingsday and tap takeover at DC Tap House. Warm up at happy hour and after with Devils Backbone’s award-winning brews and wings. Plus, there will be giveaways for everyone and a drawing at 7 p.m. for big Devils Backbone beer prizes. Featured beers include Devils Backbone’s Vienna Lager, 16 Point Imperial IPA, Cran-Gose and more. 4-7 p.m. Free admission. DC Tap House: 1825 M St. NW, DC; www.taphousedc.com

The Jester King Rare & Obscure Showcase at the Sovereign
Join the Sovereign for a very special evening with Austin, Texas-based Jester King Brewery. The folks at Jester King have sent a lineup of 15 different beers for this event. Headlining the list are the rarely seen kegs of Montmorency Vs. Balaton, a barrel-aged, sour red ale refermented on Michigan cherries, and Super Ultramega Hyperforce, a farmhouse ale brewed with ginger, salt, tarragon and Texas-grown cantaloupes. 5-11 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBURARY 7

Perennial Takes Over ChurchKey
ChurchKey will pour 20 different beers from the St. Louis-based Perennial Artisan Ales, including multiple versions of Abraxas and Sump. Abraxas is one of ChurchKey’s favorite releases of the year: a sweet imperial stout finished with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and ancho chili peppers. They will also pour three versions of Sump, their coffee-infused imperial stout. Check it out during ChurchKey’s regular dinner service from 5-10 p.m. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Balaclavas, Baklava and Beer 2018
Bike Arlington will host this event at Shirlington’s New District Brewing Company. Learn to make your own balaclava and attend the workshop portion to learn how to make your own winter bike accessory, whether that’s an ear cover or a full-head balaclava. 12-4 p.m. The workshop is free, though tickets are required. Or just come and hang out, no tickets required. There will be beer on tap as well as dessert treats. New District Brewing Company: 2709 S Oakland St. Arlington, VA; www.newdistrictbrewing.com

Beer & Cupcake Pairing
At BadWolf Brewing Company, there’s one best way to drink beer, and that is to pair it with some amazing cupcakes. Join BadWolf for a Valentine’s Day-themed cupcake and beer flight pairing. Tickets include a set beer flight and mini-cupcakes from Shameless Bakery. 2-6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 day of. BadWolf Brewing Company: 8420 Kao Circle, Manassas, VA; www.badwolfbrewingcompany.com

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16

Love Thy Beer: Winter Warmer Showcase
In the true spirit of FeBREWary, Love Thy Beer attendees will have the opportunity to chat with the experts behind Maryland beer in an intimate setting over seasonal ales. Think stouts, porters, winter seasonals, sours and anything out of the barrel. Tickets include access to light fare, live garage-folk music performed by Skribe, and all-you-care-to-sample tastings from a selection of specialty brews, including winter ales, cask ales, sours and small batch anything. 6-10 p.m. Tickets start at $55. Silver Spring Civic Building: 1 Veterans Pl. Silver Spring, MD; www.marylandbeer.org

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Paint & Brew
Come and enjoy the vast selection of beer at Forge Brew Works and paint a flight paddle. Watch some sports while you paint. In each ticket, a flight of four brews, a paddle and paint supplies will be included. 1-3 p.m. Tickets are $29. Forge Brew Works: 8532 Terminal Rd. Lorton, VA; www.uncorkandcolor.com

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25

The Partisan & Red Apron Present Sours Week, Vol. 6
When it comes to their preferred pints, the Partisan and Red Apron tend to slant sour – and for good reason. These tantalizingly tart beers are the perfect complement to Chef Nate Anda and Red Apron’s inimitable charcuterie and meaty fare. And what better way to celebrate their love of funky ales than the return of The Partisan’s Sours Week? A menu of 10 tart and funky beers handpicked by their beer director, Greg Engert, will be on draft at The Partisan. Standouts like Hill Farmstead Florence, Grimm Super Spruce and Tilquin Stout Rullquin will be featured. Starting daily at 5 p.m. Flights range from $25-$35. The Partisan: 709 D St. NW, DC; www.thepartisandc.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22

Flying Dog Beer & Sake Pairing Dinner
Join Masa 14 and Flying Dog Brewery for a four-course dinner of Masa 14’s Asian fusion cuisine paired with sake and beer from Flying Dog. As an added bonus, finish out the night with a sake bomb toast. 7 p.m. Tickets are $79.20. Masa 14: 1825 14th St. NW, DC; www.eatmasa14.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24

Winter Cask Classic 2018
Stick it to Old Man Winter by getting out and having a ball – or a puck – at the Denizens Brewing Co. Winter Cask Classic. They will be pouring Denizens casks, as well as casks from Atlas Brew Works, Bluejacket, Brewer’s Art, DC Brau, District Chophouse, Manor Hill, Oliver Brewing, Pub Dog and Union Craft. It wouldn’t be a Winter Classic without some hockey, so there will also be a (friendly) shoot-out competition outside. 12-5 p.m. Tickets are $35. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25

8th Annual Barleywine Festival at Mad Fox
Join Mad Fox for their eighth annual Barleywine Festival. This is hands down the largest barley wine festival in the Mid-Atlantic. Mad Fox will be showcasing over 30 barley wines from around the region and across the country. For parties larger than six, please call the restaurant for accommodations ahead of time. Starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W. Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com


Q&A with Adroit Theory Brewing Company

Mark Osbourne, Owner

On Tap: What barley wines will you be offering this winter? Any new releases sold locally?
Mark Osborne: Tenebris, a rum raisin barley wine, was brewed earlier in 2017, but can still be found at some retailers including Wegmans, Total Wine and Costco. It is a classic, English-style, barley wine brewed with rum-soaked raisins. It’s aromatically complex with notes of dried fruit and rum, and flavors of caramel, figs, dates, brown sugar and sweet malt [giving] way to a sticky finish. At the tasting room, we have Auto-Trepanation. This is a more contemporary take on the barley wine style, albeit with less hop character than some American-style barley wines. It’s a delightful balance of malt and hops, semi-sweet molasses and caramel flavors, with a semi-dry finish.

OT: How long have you been making barley wines?
MO: Since early 2014. We are a brewery that does not have flagships, and we constantly brew new beers. We have brewed over 600 distinct beers in the last four years. Tenebris, at least an earlier iteration of our current release, was the fourteenth beer we ever brewed.

OT: What inspired you to make them in the first place?
MO: We are known for making big and boozy beers in general, so a barley wine is a natural fit. We also do quite a bit of barrel-aging, and a barley wine is clearly a style to benefit from some extended aging.

OT: What do you look for in a barley wine?
MO: While we appreciate the classic sticky malt, caramel and dried fruit flavors of a classic style, I personally prefer an assertive hop bite – at least initially. Hops fade with time, and I think an overly bitter barley wine is nice to sample [on] day one, but also over a several-year period. [I like] to see how the hops mellow and the malt blends together.

OT: Any other new releases at Adroit?
MO: We release two to three new beers every week at the tap room, [and] these never leave the tap room. Plus, we do a new beer about every two weeks that we send out [for] distribution in Virginia, Maryland and elsewhere. In the next two months, we are releasing at least 12 new beers.

For more information on barley wines and beers from Adroit Theory Brewing Company, visit www.adroit-theory.com.

Adroit Theory Brewing Company: 404 Browning Ct. Unit C, Purcellville, VA; 703-722-3144; www.adroit-theory.com

Photo: Farrah Skeiky
Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Himitsu’s Secret Sauce

Himitsu has racked up more than a dozen national and local awards, nominations and recognitions in their first year of business, from a James Beard nomination and a spot-on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list to multiple 30 under 30 and 40 under 40 nods for co-owners Carlie Steiner and Chef Kevin Tien. All of it has left many wondering: what’s the secret sauce? If you ask Steiner and Tien, they’ll tell you that it might literally be sauce.

“I’d say it’s probably about 80 percent Kevin’s sauce, and 20 percent everything else we do,” Steiner says with a laugh. “Really though.”

Whether it’s a sharp vinaigrette on a crudo or a rich XO cream on a “gnocchi,” Tien is constantly hearing customers rave about his sauce.

“We say the sauce is boss here,” he explains. “I’m a sauce guy, I guess.”

Of course, that’s just the sauce on the plate. The backbone of the 24-seat restaurant in Petworth is the inventive, Japanese-inspired food from Tien and Steiner’s esoteric yet approachable beverage menu that jumps from fino sherry to nori-infused daiquiris. As first-time restaurant owners, Tien and Steiner have been open to growth and change.

“In the first year, I think it was mostly about finding who we are as a restaurant and then really solidifying that identity,” Tien says.

For instance, Tien’s menu used to feature nigiri and maki rolls, but he quickly dropped those in favor of more unusual crudo creations.

“There’s a lot of really good sushi restaurants in DC,” he says. “We should really just focus on ourselves and how we’re going to be different.”

Steiner sees the changes they’ve made as drastic, but she takes heart in the feedback she’s received from regular diners who make up about 50 percent of the restaurant’s clientele.

“A lot of them say while we have grown and perhaps gotten better throughout the year, they feel like our integrity is the same. They feel like it’s still been us from day one. It helps that we’re kind of a bunch of weirdos,” Steiner says of their quirky characters and unexpected pairings.

“We’re not an American restaurant; we’re not just an Asian restaurant,” Tien adds. “This restaurant is Carlie’s personality; it’s my personality.”

To focus on making food that expressed that personality, Tien removed header labels from his menu to avoid pigeonholing dishes into expected categories. As a result, he often turns out plates that may sound uninspiring on the surface, but end up blowing diners away, like humble charred carrots or a wedge salad.

“Pro tip: if you would never order this in another restaurant, you should order it at our restaurant,” Tien says.

When the standouts get a little too popular – like the karaage fried chicken – Tien tends to take them off the menu.

“I don’t want our restaurant to be known for one single item. I want our restaurant to be known for multiple items, and for overall really awesome food [and] really awesome beverages. Someone made a missing flyer for the fried chicken and hung it around the neighborhood – that’s how much they missed it. But I’ll never bring it back.”

Even without the beloved chicken, people are still willing to stand in line for Tien’s food and Steiner’s drinks. With only 24 seats, Steiner explains that they simply can’t take reservations.

“It will not work with this space. We’ve run the numbers. We know it won’t. Our system allows us to have people in the seats from the second that we open until we close, and if we don’t have people in the seats from the second that we open until we close, we don’t make enough money.”

She’s this frank when she explains the situation to guests who wonder about the no-reservations policy.

“It’d be different if we had a larger restaurant,” Tien adds. “If we were a 70 to 100 seat restaurant, then yes, of course we would love to take reservations.”

But don’t get your hopes up – Himitsu isn’t expanding.

“It’s loveable the way it is,” Steiner says.

So, your best shot at snagging a table is showing up at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

“You’ll just walk right in and dine,” she says.

Despite the lines and the praise, Steiner and Tien haven’t let the success get to their heads.

“You never get used to it,” Tien says. “But we try not to think about it. We come to work. We focus on what we could do better. We never try to think about the accolades.”

For Steiner, the real test is what she overhears around town.

“I’m so excited when […] some random conversation is happening and they’re like, ‘Oh, I went to Himitsu and had the best time.’ That’s an accolade,” she says. “[We’re] trying to not get too ahead of ourselves and realize that we’ve only been open for a year, and we have a lot more to learn and a lot more to grow. I think the more that a restaurant receives, the higher the expectations [and] the more we have to then put into not being stagnant.”

In many cases, they feel the weight of expectations even more because of their age.

“We actually had a guy come in here the other day, and he was interested in doing a collaboration of sorts, and then he’s like, ‘Oh, can I talk to the chef?’ and I came out [and] talked to him,” Tien says. “And he’s like, ‘Man, this place really is run by a bunch of kids.’ I was so taken aback.”

Steiner says they’ve made a few minor changes – like removing the emojis from their menu – to compensate.

“We’re really trying to stay true to ourselves, because we are millennials [and] we are young, but that’s not what we want to be known for. We want to be known for being a badass restaurant, not for being a restaurant run by kids.”

True to millennial form, Steiner and Tien are also determined to use their restaurant’s acclaim for good.

“We have a voice […] that we’re obligated now to use,” Steiner says.

In 2017, they gave back to causes like Planned Parenthood, Chefs for Equality, relief efforts for Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and more.

“It’s kind of amazing how much we’ve raised for a small restaurant for all these different things,” Tien says.

They plan to double down on that commitment to give back to causes they care about in 2018.

“If it’s the right thing to do, we will do it,” Tien says. “It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s the right thing.”

At the heart of it, they haven’t let public perception change who they are as a restaurant.

“People kind of dig the whole, ‘Look at these weirdos doing this weird thing,’” Steiner says. “We might not follow all the same rules and we might not play the same games as everybody else, and maybe that’s refreshing.”

Learn more about Himitsu at www.himitsudc.com.

Himitsu: 828 Upshur St. NW, DC; www.himitsudc.com

Photo: C. Stanley Photography
Photo: C. Stanley Photography

A Day In The Life: Helen Hayes-Nominated Actress Megan Graves

Helen Hayes Award nominee Megan Graves is a rising star in the DC theatre community, with much-talked-about performances under her belt including a growing list of TV and film credits. The talented actress has strong ties to the DC area; she moved to Alexandria, Virginia with her family when she was in middle school and received her BFA from Shenandoah Conservatory before building her career in the nation’s capital. Most notably, she earned an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for the 2017 Helen Hayes Awards with her role in Redder Blood at The Hub Theatre in summer 2016, and then transfixed audiences later that fall with a standout performance as Alexandra in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at Arena Stage. This winter, Graves returns to Arena Stage as Pat Nixon in The Great Society. The sequel to Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award-winning play All the Way follows Lyndon B. Johnson as he tackles presidential issues like the Vietnam War, massive protests in the fight for civil rights and an aggressive agenda during a time of extreme political unrest. We caught up with Graves before The Great Society opens on February 2.

On Tap: How do you think the events and ideas in The Great Society are relevant to today’s political climate?
Megan Graves: It goes without saying that there are incredible parallels to be drawn between the events depicted in the play and our current political climate. I think it’s Lawrence O’Donnell who mentions in his book “Playing with Fire” that during the 1968 election cycle, it felt like anything could happen. The future was arguably more unpredictable than ever before, [which] feels pretty familiar.

OT: How do you prepare for a part?
MG:
I try to be as familiar as possible with the text, which usually includes covering my script with notes and questions. I’ll also dive into some historical/topical research and, depending on the demands of the piece, dialect prep.


CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

Coffee
Yoga
Chocolate
Her Google calendar
A good book (currently “Adnan’s Story” by Rabia Chaudry)


OT: Is your method different when playing a real-life figure like Pat Nixon?
MG: Of course. It’s all about the Internet. There’s a wealth of info – visual and otherwise – about the First Ladies, especially those who came into the public eye during the age of mass media, like Nixon.

OT: Do you get nervous before a performance? What do you do to prepare for the moment when the curtain rises?
MG:
I’m always at least a little nervous. It’s rare that I feel completely at ease before a performance. I try to channel that anxious energy by eating a healthy meal, so I’m not adding hunger to the mix, and doing yoga before the show.

OT: Who are your acting mentors, and what did they say that has stuck with you the most so far?
MG: I’ve been fortunate to have had great learning opportunities with every piece I’ve worked on. The level of professionalism and creative chutzpah in this town is off the charts. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is be kind and know your sh-t. I’d say that about sums it all up.


ACTING MUST-HAVES

Water bottle
Granola bars
Mechanical pencils
iPhone
Lip balm


OT: How would you describe the theatre community in DC?
MG:
The theatre community here in DC is very tightly knit, and the talent pool is incredibly strong. In particular, the cohort of young female actors I’ve come up with is fantastically driven and gifted. It’s one of the things I particularly love about this market.

OT: When you’re not performing, where do you like to spend time in the city?
MG: In the summertime, I love to sit out on the back patio at Republic in Takoma Park. It’s a relaxing atmosphere, the shrub cocktails are delish and there are succulents everywhere. Hipster heaven.

Don’t miss Megan Graves in The Great Society from February 2 to March 11 on Arena Stage’s Fichandler Stage. Tickets start at $56, but check
here for information about student and other discounts.

Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; 202-488-3300; www.arenastage.org