Photo: Phillips Collection
Photo: Phillips Collection

Renoir And Friends

Imagine the scene of your last great party. Maybe it was sometime in the summer, in an outdoor setting, surrounded by friends and more than a few empty bottles. That doesn’t sound too farfetched, does it? It turns out that even the greatest artists in history have shared those moments with friends.

“Luncheon of the Boating Party,” a painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, will be on display at the Phillips Collection from October 7 through early January as part of the first exhibition in two decades focused on the classic painting.

Renoir and Friends will feature more than 40 works of art from collections around the world including paintings, drawings, pastels and photographs, all chosen to tell the story of the boating party. According to Phillips Collection Exhibition Curator Eliza Rathbone, we all need a little joyful art in our lives.

“It’s enormously colorful – the still life of bottles and glasses on the table shimmering with the light off the water,” Rathbone says. “It just has a joyful quality. It just feels uplifting and delightful and enormously pleasurable. Who wouldn’t wish they were there?”

And you don’t have to be an art aficionado to appreciate “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, the painting is definitely one that makes even those most ignorant of art (myself being a card-carrying member of that exclusive club) think something along the lines of “Oh, I know that one.”

The painting has been reproduced around the world countless times. Not only is it a joyful scene, one that may seem familiar to anyone who’s wasted a summer day away with friends and booze, but it’s a beautifully colorful work, too.

“People may think they’ve never seen it, but they probably have because it must be one of the most loved paintings in the world,” Rathbone says. “I really think that’s true. I have walked into a hotel room in Helsinki and seen a reproduction of it on the wall.”

And the longer you look at “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” the more obvious the distinct personalities of its subjects become. My personal favorite? Look for the lady surrounded by interested men with her hands over her ears. Who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point or another?

“They’re quite individual too,” Rathbone continues. “One of them is wearing a top hat, one of them holds a dog, another leans over someone to join the conversation, another one looks at boats on the river…they all seem to have individual personalities. They’re people with whom everyone can identify in a way. Who hasn’t enjoyed such a situation?”

Don’t miss the Renoir and Friends exhibit, opening on October 7. And on November 2, head to Phillips After 5’s Fashion a la Renoir soirée from 5-8:30 p.m. Other events include a film screening of the 2012 film Renoir on October 12 and a book signing of Renoir: An Intimate Biography on November 9. Learn more at

Photo: Weiss Eubanks
Photo: Weiss Eubanks

From DC To Nashville And Back: Maggie Rose Rocks The Country Scene

She’s played to huge crowds and toured with some of the biggest stars of country, from Martina McBride to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. But this month, singer and songwriter Maggie Rose will play an intimate show at an intimate venue in our neck of the woods. Her appearance at The Barns at Wolf Trap on October 28 is a homecoming of sorts, because the DC area is her neck of the woods too.

The Potomac, Maryland native (born Margaret Rose Durante) was, in her words, “a Catholic school girl from kindergarten to senior year.” Until she was 15, her singing career consisted of performing with choirs and at various church events. Then a family friend introduced her to members of the B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, and Rose began performing with them. It was a very different setting than she was used to.

“It was a crazy juxtaposition with my life and the lifestyle I’d come from,” she says. “The experience benefited me tremendously. I don’t think a lot of 15-year-olds get that opportunity – period. It was my education on how to be a performer, and the way that music can affect people.”

Rose stuck with the B Street Band for a couple of years, and she started to write her own songs that were then incorporated into the band’s sets. After graduation, she left the DC area to attend Clemson University in South Carolina, but it wasn’t long until she once again felt the pull of the music business. After getting some of her demos into the hands of famed producer Tommy Mottola, Rose was asked to audition for him in New York – and he liked what he heard.

“I ended up leaving Clemson after a year-and-a-half because I got this undeniable opportunity from Tommy Mottola,” Rose says. “He quickly signed me to Universal Records. Given my family, I definitely had to have some groundwork laid down before I just slung a guitar over my shoulder and was like, ‘I’m going to Nashville. I’m dropping out. Thanks for the education.’”

After her move to Nashville, Rose’s first album, Cut to Impress, was released in 2013, to critical and commercial success. In 2016, she followed it up with an EP called The Variety Show – Vol. 1, which revealed more of her diverse musical influences. Rose says that even though she has those eclectic tastes, country music is what spoke to her when she was starting out.

“It was just the relatability of it to me at the time, for me as an 18-year-old. I think a lot of it also had to do with what I grew up listening to. I grew up listening to everything, but country was huge in our area. I mean, it’s just gotten bigger, but the artists I listened to were Shania Twain and Faith Hill.”

Rose’s latest release, Dreams > Dollars (pronounced More Dreams Than Dollars), is an EP that came out in May and features the single “Body on Fire.” While she tours to support this latest release, she’s also working on her songwriting career at the same time, writing songs for herself as well as other artists.

“I think I’m probably as serious about my writing career as I am about my artist career,” she says. “It’s one of the ways I make my living, but I also love the ability to get out of my own head. I definitely get sick of writing for the sole purpose of just writing for my project, or what I’m going through. I love helping other artists find their voice, and it also lets me bust out of whatever genre I’m currently recording in and making a project for, and get some perspective.”

Rose’s next project is the culmination of an idea she’s had for 10 years, ever since landing in Nashville, she says. She’s put together a group of musicians from various bands and combined them into her backing band for this recording.

“It’s a live, 15-piece band in the studio. No overdubs, no Auto-Tune, no B.S. It’s been difficult, but it’s a good challenge.”

Rose seems to thrive on those challenges. And she doesn’t let the ups and downs of the music business dictate her next move. She lets the music move her, she says.

“You don’t need to wait around for someone to tell you what to do or when to release something. If you make music, that’s just what you do.”

Catch Maggie Rose at The Barns at Wolf Trap on Saturday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22-$25. Learn more about Rose at

The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; 703-255-1900;

performing arts guide

Performing Arts Guide 2017

DC is one of the country’s top hubs for theatre, with more professional theaters and productions per year than most major cities save a few (not sure we can ever compete with NYC, but one can dream). Even still, our city strikes a near perfect balance between superb performances at iconic venues to edgier, more daring works at up-and-coming spots carving their own niche in local theatre. As the 2017-2018 theatre season heats up, we decided to not only pick out some of this fall’s most unique productions but also to expand our annual roundup to include other standout lineups in the performing arts – from standup and improv to dance and opera. Read our list of performances worth checking out between now and the end of the year, plus a few spots with ongoing programming in comedy, hip-hop and even burlesque.


An Act of God
In this sinfully hilarious comedy, God inhabits the body of David Javerbaum of The Daily Show – and boy, does he have a sh-t ton to say to us messed up mortals. Never without his loyal archangels, Michael and Gabriel, God delivers a new set of Ten Commandments so you can stop sweating so much in church. All jokes aside (for a moment anyway), Javerbaum is a 13-time Emmy Award winner. The New York Times calls An Act of God, “a gut-busting-funny riff on the never-ending folly of mankind.” There has never been a more pertinent time for humanity to be the butt of a skewering joke or two, so don’t miss the chance to die laughing at our sins. Tickets start at $40. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA;


The Effect
You know the gut-wrenching, heart-pounding, mildly nauseous feeling you get when you know you’ve fallen for someone hard? What if you were told that feeling was only a side effect of a medication? Connie and Tristan are subjects in a medical trial for antidepressants. When they fall in love, differentiating between love and chemicals becomes increasingly difficult, especially in a situation that involves doctors, the tricky ground of acclimating to new medications and big pharma to boot. Showtimes vary. Tickets cost $20-$45. Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC;


Assassins Presented by Pallas Theatre Collective
It’s always a bit jarring to watch a production of this classic American musical in DC. Grounded in Stephen Sondheim’s genius lyrics and wrenching musical composition, the show tells the story of America’s four presidential assassins and five would-be assassins. The actors speak and sing directly to the audience, making the play captivating and holding you on the edge of your seat as you uncomfortably consider the “other side” of the story, and find comedy in unexpected moments. Capital Fringe’s production, directed by Clare Shaffer, is sure to be a rendition worth seeing. Tickets are $25. Logan Fringe Arts Space/Trinidad Theatre: 1358 Florida Ave NE;


Sam Morril at the Big Hunt
A nationally touring comic and former intern with The Colbert Report, Morril has performed on Inside Amy Schumer, Conan and The Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert. A frequent performer at New York City indie and underground shows, Morril is bringing his jokes to Underground Comedy, and there couldn’t be a more relevant time to go see him. His Comedy Central special, Class Act, became No. 1 on iTunes comedy specials, and a popular online comedy magazine describes his ability to make the “unfunny very funny.” So ignore your real problems and go see this rising comic while he’s in the area. Tickets are $15. The Big Hunt: 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, DC;


The Price
Often overshadowed by American playwright Arthur Miller’s other works like The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, The Price tells the story of Victor Franz, a man who returns home to settle his late father’s affairs. During the Great Depression, Victor gives up his chance to go to college in order to care for his father. Years later, in an attic of a soon-to-be-demolished home, overflowing with memories and dusty furniture, Franz must come to terms with the weight of the decision he made on behalf of his father. The Price premiered on Broadway in 1968 and has been produced there four times since. Various dates and showtimes. Tickets cost $91, but check Arena’s website for Pay Your Age/Under 30 Program and student deals. Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, DC;


Samson and Delilah
Before you rule out seeing an opera just because it’s an opera, give this one a chance. This performance tells the biblical story of Samson, an Israelite warrior who meets his downfall in the form of a beautiful woman who seduces and then betrays him. The French opera was written by Camille Saint-Saëns and couldn’t be performed until 15 years after it was written due to its “sensual” subject matter. Still not sold? The final scene is infamous for portraying a bacchanal which consists of a dance by Delilah intended to seduce Samson. You don’t have to be old and a millionaire to enjoy a damn good story. Tickets start at $54. George Mason University’s Center for the Arts: 4400 University Dr. Fairfax, VA;


Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen (The Little Mermaid – the sad one) fairytale, The Red Shoes is a popular fairytale that tells the story of a woman who wants to do nothing more than follow her dream: to dance. She finds herself torn between a man who brings her fame and a man she loves. Filled with swing, waltz, ballet and all the glitz and glamour of the 40s, this drama is premiering in DC and is sure to make its way into your heart. British director Matthew Bourne has won a Tony Award for Best Director with his rendition of Swan Lake, so you know you won’t be let down when it comes to an emotional story. Show runs from October 10-15. Tickets cost $29-$129. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC;


Antony and Cleopatra
Easily one of the most intriguing plays ever written, Antony and Cleopatra is so chockfull of sexual symbolism, it’s hard to believe the Bard ever got a reputation as highbrow. Antony is torn between his passionate affair with Cleopatra and his sense of duty – familial and military – to those who depend on him in Rome (including a wife). As if the characters and the story aren’t captivating enough, Folger will transform into a round theater with the stage in the center, offering a unique experience and view no matter where you’re seated. Pro tip: keep an eye out for the subversion of gender roles and the symbolism of the snake. You’re welcome. Various dates and showtimes. Tickets cost $35-$79. Folger Theatre: 201 East Capitol St. SE, DC;


Whoopi Goldberg
This iconic actress and hilarious comedian doesn’t let herself be limited. Goldberg is a known humanitarian, author and television show host, in addition to being funny AF and the best part of every movie. This multifaceted actress is bringing her wit, charm and jokes to a night of standup at the Kennedy Center. The decorated performer is also one of the few winners of an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award), so don’t miss out on the chance to see Goldberg’s charming personality in person. Nun costumes optional. Tickets cost $49-$125. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC;


Tango Buenos Aires: The Spirit of Argentina
The Andes Mountains and the Plaza de Mayo are two reasons to visit Argentina at some point in your life, but if you’re anything like me and a trip to South America is not in the foreseeable future, then mark your calendar for this. Take a trip through the evolution of tango with the dancers of Tango Buenos Aires. This isn’t a show to remind of your own two left feet, but an exploration of music and a historically and culturally iconic form of dance. And if just sitting on the sidelines isn’t your thing, join a free dance lesson before the show starting at 6:30 p.m. The lesson is free with a ticket to the show, and couples are encouraged. The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $30. George Mason University’s Center for the Arts: 4400 University Dr. Fairfax, VA;


UrbanArias: Shining Brow
You are most definitely familiar with the crushing feeling when one of your artistic heroes says, does or is accused of doing something indefensible. Or even when someone famous you don’t like gets a pass on morally reprehensible behavior – looking at you, NFL fans – just because they’re good at what they do. People warn you against meeting heroes for a reason. But when it comes to art, we tend to make excuses for brilliant people who behave badly, as if genius is some sort of curse. This opera explores the life of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, his affair and his “enormous self-regard.” Tickets cost $39-$42. The Paul Sprenger Theatre: 1333 H St. NE, DC;


The Adventures of Peter Pan/Synetic Theater’s Vampire’s Ball
The cast, crew and producers at Synetic Theater are masters at their craft, which is to say that year after year, they take traditional productions and make them magical by removing dialogue. That’s right – body movement, choreography, music, sound, lights and raw emotions set the stage and rule the show at Synetic, creating an audience experience that is unique to say the least. In keeping with its magical, mysterious vibe, the theater will hold its 11th annual Vampire’s Ball right before Halloween. Tickets to the ball include a performance of The Adventures of Peter Pan, plus a post-show party with dancing, an open bar, and, of course, a costume contest. Tickets are $25-$70. Synetic Theater: 1800 South Bell St. Arlington, VA;


Mean Girls
You can’t sit with us! But you can sit in National Theatre to see the new musical adaptation of the now classic teen movie about friendship, revenge and navigating the perils of high school life (let’s be real, life in general), that starred post-Parent Trap and pre-arrest LiLo. With a Tony-winning director, comedy from Tina Fey, original music from Jeff Richmond (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), this has got to be even better than the movie. Mean Girls comes to National for its world premiere before heading to Broadway next spring. Tickets are $48-$108. The National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;


Metro Tap Roots
There is nothing quite like the sound of taps clicking and shuffling lightly across the stage, or across the concrete, or anywhere, really, to set the rhythms in your soul to moving. Now in its third annual showing, Metro Tap Roots is a celebration of the DC area’s vibrant and rich history of the art of tap dancing. This year, Roots will be performed in collaboration with renowned African-American poet Nikki Giovanni. The show is inspired by Giovanni’s children’s book, The Grasshopper’s Song: An Aesop’s Fable Revisited. Tickets are $15-$30. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC;


Top Girls
Keegan Theatre is a hidden gem among DC’s playhouses. Surrounded by brownstones and tucked away on a narrow, tree-lined street, the venue has a magical way of transporting you to another world even before a show begins. Keegan is known for its unique and challenging productions, and Top Girls should be top among them. Directed by Amber Paige McGinnis, Top Girls is as relevant now as it was when written in 1982. According to Keegan’s website, “the play presents complex questions about a feminism which mimics aggressive, oppressive behavior and success which can only be achieved by abandoning family ties to force a way to the top.” Tickets are $35-$45. Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC;


Kevin Smith
Do we really have to write a lengthy litany of reasons for you to go see Kevin Smith? Probably not, but we’re going to pontificate anyway for the sake of gratuitous self-gratification, and because we really enjoy Mr. Smith. Basically, the man is a creative force of nature, stemming from his 90s hit Clerks, which sparked his celebrity and his film career. The homemade movie about dudes shooting the sh-t in a gas station kicked off his filmography and then sprawled into multiple movies set in his “View Askewniverse,” podcasts, television shows and of course, his live standup. Well, I guess it’s not technically standup, but it’s titled “An Evening With,” which is sort of misleading because it sounds like something you’d put in your calendar for a Tinder date. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not the case (Smith is married, ladies), but hanging out at the Lincoln while Smith says cool sh-t sounds good enough for us. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. The Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;


Dance Metro DC
Since 2005, Dance Metro DC has been committed to a mission of strengthening and supporting the field of dance in our region – advocating for artists, promoting exhibitions, and educating and providing a network for dancers from all disciplines. This fall presentation continues that mission, showcasing the work of dance artists that have been commissioned by the organization. Tickets are $15-$30. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC;


The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens
Chicago’s legendary comedy troupe The Second City is bringing Christmas to the Kennedy Center like never before. Twist Your Dickens is the perfect show to wipe away any holiday blues that may come your way. You’ll meet new versions of the characters from Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, and won’t be able to think of Scrooge, Tiny Tim or the three spirits in the same way again. Audience participation will round out this parody, so be ready to join in and become a part of the satire. While all in good fun, the show is recommended for ages 16 and up. Tickets are $49-$69. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC;


Hip Hop Nutcracker 
If you feel like getting into the holiday spirit, but are tired of seeing the same shows year after year, this one is for you. Hip Hop Nutcracker gives whole new meaning to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” with a cast of a dozen all-star dancers spinning the turntable on this Christmas classic. Jaw-dropping hip-hop choreography, special guest MC Kurtis Blow, an onstage DJ, electric violinist and digital scenery bring Tchaikovsky’s score and the story of Clara and her nutcracker to new light in a contemporary urban setting. Tickets are $28-$58. The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD;


An Irish Carol
Opening your presents right after midnight or waiting until everyone is done with brunch, copious amounts of eggnog or a total lack thereof, buying ugly sweaters for the pup or detangling the cat from the Christmas tree – everyone has their own versions of holiday traditions. And this year, Keegan Theatre needs to be on the agenda. Set in modern times, An Irish Carol tells the familiar story of a man who puts material success ahead of everything else and must rethink his life when faced with voices from the past. So, ditch the crowded malls playing Mariah Carey on loop and add a new routine to your holiday season. Showtimes and dates vary. Tickets start at $35. Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC;


Judah Friedlander at DC Improv
You may know him from 30 Rock or Wet Hot American Summer, but even if you don’t know who Judah Friedlander is, if you don’t even like comedy shows (who are you, anyway?) and even if – perhaps especially if – your soul is black and no humor penetrates it, don’t miss the opportunity to see this master comedian at work. He is the World Champion of comedy. He was a strong contender for the 2016 presidency. He wrote a book about how great he is. Basically, when he gets here, he’s going to out-DC the city in a hot minute, and will make you pee-laugh while doing it. Tickets are $20. DC Improv: 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;


Big Duo Improv Comedy Night
This monthly improv comedy show brought to you by comedy duo Big No No is the kind of lowkey laugh that even the staunchest of comedy haters can enjoy. In the chill atmosphere of everybody’s favorite coffeehouse/bar/hipster hang Colony Club, Big No No’s Sam and Michael (who have been working their own two-man routine since 2013) gather two new comedy duos each month for a themed show before rounding out the evening with their own skit. It’s a really nice reprieve from the real world. Go for the laughs. Stay for the friendship. Free. Colony Club: 3118 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

Fantasie Fridays at SAX
Enter through reclaimed, gilded church doors into a world of decadence and debauchery (irony not to be missed), and find yourself in a tiny Versailles. The SAX is two floors of ornate adult wonderland catering to the art of cabaret where, “beginning with dinner, the evening slowly gathers energy as guests are treated to continuous live entertainment, where ballet meets burlesque meets Cirque de Soleil.” On Friday nights, a cast of aerialists, pole performers, belly dancers and more take the stage to create a phantasmagoric evening where the lines of the real and the imaginary blur. Fridays; inquire for more details. SAX DC: 734 11th St. NW, DC;

Hip-Hop at the Kennedy Center
One of the most iconic performing arts centers in the country is providing a space for hip-hop artists and lovers to celebrate everything hip-hop culture. On November 5, enjoy the Words, Beats and Life competition, an event dedicated to breakdance and graffiti. If breakdancing is going to end up with you breaking something, show up for In The Beginning, a silent dance party that is free and doesn’t require tickets. If Throwback Thursday is your favorite day of the week, then don’t miss the chance to hear music of hip-hop trailblazers who helped define the culture as we understand it today. Various dates and showtimes. Ticket prices vary. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC;

Underground Comedy
The Big Hunt is one of DC’s oldest and most popular “dive bars.” And if you take a deep dive down into the establishment’s basement (affectionately known as “Hell’s Kitchen”) on a Wednesday through Saturday night of any given week, you’re guaranteed at least a laugh or two with your cheap beer and bottom shelf liquor when Underground Comedy, “DC’s premier independent comedy production company,” takes over the mic. Wednesdays and Thursdays are reserved for the best of DC’s standup comedy community, while Friday and Saturday shows feature comedians from around the country, including national headliners. Ongoing Wednesday through Saturday, tickets run from free to $15. The Big Hunt: 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Photo: Courtesy of District Winery
Photo: Courtesy of District Winery

District Winery: Winemaking In The Heart Of The City

District Winery has officially opened its doors as the first winery in DC, and marks the second location for friends and entrepreneurs Brian Leventhal and John Stires. The business partners left jobs in the tech sector to open Brooklyn Winery in New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood in 2010.

“It was nerve-wracking, but invigorating,” Leventhal says. “We soon eighty-sixed our original ‘make your own wine’ model and rewrote our business plan to evolve to a full-service event venue in New York City.”

District Winery is their first expansion from New York, making its debut at the end of August. The partners recruited winemaker Conor McCormack from Northern California to join the team at Brooklyn Winery, and he’s now moved down to DC to lead winemaking operations at the new venture. The expansion to DC has been in the works for almost four years, with more than 20 cities considered.

Leventhal and Stires were drawn to DC for a number of reasons, but chiefly, as Leventhal puts it, “because it’s a city drawn to innovative food and drink […] that has become less transient.” The 17,000-square-foot building was designed by architect Peter Hapstak III, whose work can be seen among many of DC’s top restaurants such as Pineapples and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury. The building is more than 60 percent glass, complemented by gorgeous, dark, Brazilian hardwood on the exterior. The 20-foot glass wine towers visible throughout the venue are worth a visit alone. 

Tasting Room & Winery

Production is already underway at the fully operational winery. Pinot noir grapes from Suisun Valley and grenache grapes destined for rosé have arrived, but the first wines produced at this facility won’t be available until next spring at the earliest. Given the substantial lead time before opening District Winery, McCormack and his team were able to craft a number of wines at the New York facility that will be exclusively available in DC. Expect to see a wide variety of wines made from grapes sourced primarily from California, New York State and Washington State.

The tasting bar is open seven days a week and is the first thing guests see when entering the building’s grand foyer. You’ll be able to choose from a couple of preselected flights, create your own custom tasting and purchase bottles to enjoy at home. No time to make it out to wine country? District Winery has taken all the enjoyment of visiting a winery and made it Metro accessible.


Named in honor of the Anacostia, Ana is a bright, airy restaurant that offers sweeping views of the eponymous river. When you first walk in, you’ll notice the high ceilings and the welcoming quartz bar that’s designed to resemble marble (without the upkeep!) Ana is focused on seasonal, New American fare to match District Winery’s selection of wines, but don’t expect to get a stuffy wine dinner here. The staff receives a broad education on the wines and foods, and there is no set pairing menu, which allows the staff to “share pairing preferences without dictating,” explains general manager Sean Alves. The restaurant sources from a number of nearby farms, and as such the menu will change often to reflect what is available and delicious.

Though the restaurant – only accessible through the main winery entrance – is beautiful, it’s the artwork featured on the main wall in the space that will certainly provide lively conversation throughout your meal. Artist Damon Dewitt created a 45-portrait gallery of our nation’s presidents, with each whimsical portrait completed using a different medium to reflect the “style” of the respective presidents.

Private Event

DC is a city of special events, and while District Winery is committed to being a first-class winery and restaurant, it is also a full-service venue, offering a number of unique private spaces for any size party or occasion. The two upper levels and rooftop offer impressive views of the river, barrel room and production areas, and are reserved for such events, allowing the tasting bar and restaurant to remain open to regulars at all times.

New alcohol laws within the District have allowed such operations to open up within the city, so we can expect to see similar ventures popping up in the near future. There is certainly something to be said for being the first, and District Winery is already proving to be an exciting addition to DC’s burgeoning dining and drinking scene.

District Winery: 385 Water St. SE, DC; 202-484-9210;

Photo: Atlas Brew Works
Photo: Atlas Brew Works

What’s On Tap: October 2017

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic establishments 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 some of what’s on tap this month.


An Evening with St. Bernardus & Marco Passarella
There will be no fewer than eight selections on hand from St. Bernardus, and the Belgian brewery’s own Marco Passarella will be there to share stories about the beers. For the occasion, there will be bottles of St. Bernardus Abt 12 Vintage 2006, an 11 percent batch brewed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the brewery and cellared for the past 11 years. 6-11 p.m. Free entry. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;


BadWolf Brewing Company’s Fall Festival 2017
Enjoy live music, treats from food trucks and local vendors, and of course, local beer in 6-oz. pours. Plus, beer from Tin Cannon Brewing, Ornery Beer Company, Heroic Ale Works, Adroit Theory, Adventure Brewing, Forge Brew Works, Brew Republic, Bold Rock, Old Ox and Growling Bear. This year, BadWolf will be releasing its coveted pumpkin saison and a specialty cask for the event. 2-8 p.m. $15. BadWolf Brewing Company: 8420 Kao Circle, Manassas, VA;

Oktoberfest at the Bird
This is your last chance to celebrate Oktoberfest at the Bird. There will be specials all day, and furry friends are welcome. There will also be a prize for best dressed, so be sure to wear any lederhosen you have hiding in the back of your closet. 3-7 p.m. The Bird: 1337 11th St. NW, DC;

Oktoberfest at Sweetwater Tavern
Sweetwater Tavern in Merrifield is hosting Oktoberfest, so bring your friends and enjoy an outdoor barbecue style event complete with live acoustic music, great food and Sweetwater’s award-winning Oktoberfest lager. Ticket price includes two beer tickets, and endless good eats such as Texas-style smoked brisket, slow-roasted local hog and Best Buns beer cupcakes. 2-7 p.m. $20. Sweetwater Tavern Merrifield: 3066 Gatehouse Plaza, Falls Church, VA;

Oktoberfest: IPA & Cider Festival
Don’t miss the definitive IPA & Cider Festival in Northern Virginia. Hop on over to the Tysons Biergarten for 50-plus of local breweries’ hoppiest beers and most delicious ciders! Tickets include 10 tasting tickets and a color-changing souvenir cup. 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. $20-$30. Tysons Biergarten: 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, VA;


Das Oktoberfest
Das Oktoberfest will include nonstop music, dancing, activities, food and the very best of local and German beers. Festival passes include 16-oz. drink tickets, and additional drink tickets are available for $6 at the event. $8-$35. Vanish Farmwoods Brewery: 42245 Black Hops Ln. Leesburg, VA;

Oktoberfest Reston
Sample the best in fall brews and traditional Oktoberfest fare provided by some of Reston’s finest eateries. The day will include German fare and fall seasonal beer, live music (both traditional German tunes and favorites from a variety of local musicians), as well as a chili cookoff and the Great Pumpkin 5K race. 12-11 p.m. Free entry. Reston Town Center: 11900 Market St. Reston, VA;


DC Homebrewers Sixth Annual BBQ Fundraiser
The DC Homebrewers barbecue fundraiser is back for its sixth year, with 3 Stars hosting again. Come celebrate the art and community of homebrewing with homebrewers, beer lovers, family and friends. Your entry ticket includes a plate from Rocklands BBQ, as well as a pint of 3 Stars beer. Included with your ticket is the opportunity to sample a variety of homebrewed beers. 1-4 p.m. $16-$22.50. 3 Stars Brewing Company: 6400 Chillum Pl. NW, DC;


Gordon Biersch Fall Seasonal Beer Sampling
Join for a beer sampling event at Gordon Biersch in Tysons Corner Mall. There will be delicious samples of great, refreshing beers in addition to complimentary appetizers. Space is limited, so please RSVP at Must be 21+ to attend this event. 6-8 p.m. Free to RSVP. Gordon Biersch: 7861 Tysons Corner Center, McLean, VA;


Four-Course Beer Dinner
We’re bringing beer and food lovers a taste of the chef at Pinstripes’ culinary expertise with a special dinner inspired by and paired with selections from Flying Dog Brewery. A Flying Dog representative and Pinstripes’ chef will lead guests through an interactive dinner and discussion demonstrating how each pairing enhances the dining experience. 7-9 p.m. Pinstripes: 1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Ocelot Brewing Company Tap Takeover at Mad Fox Taproom
This is another rare opportunity to try Ocelot’s much sought-after beers. If you haven’t heard already, Ocelot has been doing some amazing things and brews some of the best IPAs in the area. They don’t often do tap takeovers, so this is not an opportunity to pass up. 7-10 p.m. Mad Fox Taproom: 2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;


Oktoberfest Celebration
The Embassy Row Hotel will commemorate DC Oktoberfest every Friday in October. Head to the front patio of Station Kitchen & Cocktails for traditional German games, drink specials and more. When you dress up in your best German attire (i.e., lederhosen), you’ll receive a free bucket of beer and pretzels as the perfect accessory to your outfit. In Station Kitchen & Cocktails, participate in a beer pong tournament for the chance to win a complimentary meal for two, or two cocktails on The Rooftop. 4-10 p.m. Station Kitchen & Cocktails at The Embassy Row Hotel: 2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC;


The Near & Far Beer Dinner Series
This is the fifth installment of Rustico’s Near & Far Dinner Series and features The Answer Brewpub. The event will feature a five-course meal tailored to go with the beers from The Answer. The beer list has yet to be finalized, but look for the hazy IPAs and decadently dark imperial stouts. The Answer’s head brewer will also be in-house to share stories about the beers. 7 p.m. $60. Rustico Alexandria: 827 Slater Ln. Alexandria, VA;


American Beauty: USA’s Best Cheese & Craft Beer
Spend an evening with Righteous Cheese in an intimate class discovering and savoring seasonal cheeses. Explore the world of cheese pairing by tasting four artisanal U.S. cheeses paired with four craft beers from the good ol’ US of A, as well as paired accompaniments. Fromager and beer aficionado Melissa Provinsal will delve into the story behind each cheese, as well as give advice about selecting, serving, pairing and more. 7 p.m. $49. Righteous Cheese: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;


Come trick or treat at a favorite local biergarten. There will be free candy, a $300 prize for best costume, Halloween specials and much more. 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tysons Biergarten: 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, VA;

Q&A With Atlas Brew Works

Rachel Murray, Tap Room Manager
Jay Morse, Accounts Manager

On Tap: What are your favorite fall beers? What do your customers like?
Rachel Murray: I really like the festbier we did this year; I really like how it turned out. Festbiers are generally the same style as an Oktoberfest, but they’re a little lighter with more hop. Our La Saison Des Fêtes is one of my favorite fall beers that comes out. We also do our Town & Country in the fall. Both are aged in wine [barrels].

OT: Where does the fall season rank for beer drinkers among lighter summer options and heavier winter brews?
RM: I like them a lot, and they come out earlier and earlier. I like the Oktoberfest because they’re a good, malty taste, but they’re not quite the super dark beers of winter. I’ll have to drink one, maybe two pumpkin beers for the season, and that’s probably enough. It’s a good transition season, before when the darker beers come out.

OT: Tell us about the Volksfest D.C. event on October 19. Why did you think it was a good fit for your brewery?
Jay Morse: We started working with Gourmet Symphony close to two years ago. Chris Payton reached out asking if we’d like to be their local brewery for an event, and it went so well that we just kept it going. Our first event was at Beuchert’s Saloon on Capitol Hill. We loved the concept so much that we partnered up again two more times; once at Shaw’s Tavern for last year’s Volkfest, as well as at an additional event at Kapnos. We’re looking forward to this year’s event, especially since we have our festbier.

Volksfest D.C. is at Shaw’s Tavern on Thursday, October 19 from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $39. Learn more at

Atlas Brew Works: 2052 West Virginia Ave. #102 NE, DC; 202-832-0420;

Photos: Mathieu Bitton
Photos: Mathieu Bitton

Trombone Shorty And Orleans Avenue

Every time Troy Andrews, the New Orleans jazz-funk rocker known as Trombone Shorty, brings his tour to Washington, he slides into a natural groove – both onstage and off.

Whether funking it up at the 9:30 Club, entertaining a President of the United States at the White House as he did for Barack Obama in 2012, or simply walking down the city’s streets, Shorty says DC’s essence seeps into his bones.

“When I’m in DC, I feel like I’m home,” he told On Tap during a recent telephone interview from his New Orleans recording studio. “It was one of the first places we developed a big, strong fanbase. I know a little bit about go-go music, and there are a lot of similarities between DC and New Orleans – the horns and that type of vibe y’all have up there.”

The multi-instrumentalist and singer, whose stage name belies his band Orleans Avenue’s towering, horn-driven sound, will add yet another important DC venue to his resume on October 15, when Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue become the third band to rock The Anthem, a state-of-the-art new music space at The Wharf on DC’s Southwest Waterfront. Foo Fighters will christen the highly-anticipated new club’s stage three days earlier, on October 12.

Shorty arrives at The Anthem in support of his well-received fourth studio album, Parking Lot Symphony, which dropped last spring.

“I’ve heard about [The Anthem], and I’m ready to be one of the first people to play it and get it going,” Shorty declared. “We’re gonna put a little New Orleans in there – put some hot sauce on it!”

The trombone prodigy has been putting his hometown’s exquisite musical “hot sauce” on appreciative audiences since he was a small child. Born into an intensely musical family in the Tremé neighborhood, Shorty found himself onstage with blues legend Bo Diddley at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the age of four. Shortly after, he was touring Europe with his older brother and bandleader James Andrews.

When Shorty finished high school in 2005, he got a phone call that would change his life. A friend told him rock ‘n’ roll superstar Lenny Kravitz was sniffing around New Orleans looking for a horn player.

“I thought he was joking,” Shorty recalled, as if he still couldn’t quite believe it.  “Then, Lenny called and I still thought it was a joke! But I went up to Miami and rehearsed with him. I didn’t have no idea that I was auditioning. But Lenny left [the rehearsal studio], and 20 minutes later, he came back and told me I was in the band.”

The subsequent world tour with Kravitz, which included dates with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Aerosmith, gave Shorty an up-close-and-personal tutorial on how to conduct himself at the highest levels of the music business. He and Kravitz remain close friends and musical collaborators.

“Fortunately, I was able to play with Lenny, and watch him every night in arenas and stadiums all over the world,” Shorty said. “He taught me discipline with the arrangements, and just how to put together a show.”

Those lessons still inform Shorty’s approach to music, whether on the road, in the studio or collaborating with pop music luminaries like U2, Eric Clapton, Zac Brown Band, Madonna, Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and more.

Shorty and his band have a deserved reputation for delivering some of the most blistering live sets on the rock ‘n’ roll circuit, with a brass-fueled energy that blends rock, jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop and punk into a potent musical stew. Asked how he keeps the energy levels so high, the eclectic musical explorer credited both punk rock and the second line brass bands he played in on the streets of New Orleans as a child.

“I listen to a lot of punk rock – Green Day, NOFX, Ministry and stuff like that, and my energy is naturally high like that,” Shorty explained. “I also used to play a lot of second line parades where we’re walking through the streets for four hours of music with no microphones, and people are bumping into each other. You might bust your lip or whatever, but it’s all about power. There is never a low point in that style of music. I think that energy has transferred to me onstage.”

Of the hundreds of gigs the 31-year-old musician has played, he said one is singularly special: the night he played for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during a Black History Month event at the White House.

“To see my grandmother smile when I told her I was going to play for the president meant the world to me,” he said softly. “I was onstage with Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Booker T. and all of these legends. I’m a big fan of all of them. And the day we played, it was Mardi Gras and the chef or the president or someone sent me up a shrimp po’boy at the White House.”

As he got lost in the music that memorable day, near delirious with excitement as he dug in hard on his horn to match the skills of legends who surrounded him, Shorty realized why he does it.

“I’m not just playing music to be playing music, or because I’m onstage,” Shorty said. “I’m really spiritually connected to the music, and I think that transfers to the people and it comes back to me. Then, that makes me go to another level.”

Shorty added that he plays music because it means everything to him.

“It’s not about fame and it’s not about money. That’s just how I play. That’s the only way I know how to play.”

Catch Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at The Anthem on Sunday, October 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $37-$57. Learn more about Shorty and his band at

The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; 202-265-0930;

music picks

Music Picks: October


The Script
Irish pop rock group The Script are one of those bands that have always been around, you just didn’t know it was them. Songs like “Breakeven,” “Superheroes” and “Hall of Fame” are some of their most popular singles and have popped up in shows like 90210 and The Vampire Diaries. Lead singers Danny O’Donoghue and Mark Sheehan even had brief stints before the band formed as writers and song producers for artists like Britney Spears, Boyz II Men and TLC. The Snow Patrol and Coldplay-influenced rockers are back and on tour with their fifth studio album, Freedom Child. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;


The Huntress and the Holder of Hands
MorganEve Swain just released Avalon, the debut record of her solo project The Huntress and the Holder of Hands, and began touring last month. This is happy news for her, though the impetus for the record is heavier. She’s best known for her work in the indie folk duo Brown Bird. David Lamb was the other part of the string and bass-driven band, which had seen national and international success; however, Lamb passed away in 2014 from complications due to Leukemia. In dealing with his passing, Swain began to write for the Huntress and the Holder of Hands, which she refers to on the website as a “vessel for exploring grief and growth.” Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Manchester Orchestra
Atlanta rockers Manchester Orchestra, named after the English city of Manchester, are back on tour with their fifth album, A Black Mile to the Surface. Their sound for this album comes across as cinematic and expansive, a big change from their usual heavy dose of guitar-and-typical-rock-song formula. With a lineup change and the chance to write the score for 2016 film Swiss Army Man, Manchester has returned with an exotic album filled with full, dreamy piano and vocal harmonies to enhance their classic rock sound. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $23. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;


The Secret Sisters
For all you bluegrass/folk fans out there who like Nickel Creek and Brandi Carlile, this one’s for you. Country singer-songwriter duo Laura and Lydia Rogers, often compared to The Everly Brothers, are back with their third album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore. The road for the Alabama sisters has not been easy. After the release of their second album, Put Your Needle Down, they faced a lawsuit with an old manager, and were also dropped by their record label in 2015 from a lack of commercial success. The sisters had just about given up when Secret Sisters’ fan and tourmate Brandi Carlile came along and invited them to open shows for her. Eventually Carlile would go on to produce their latest album. A truly authentic, mesmerizing act, The Secret Sisters are not to be missed. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;


Cigarettes After Sex
It took some time for songwriter Greg Gonzalez’s pet project, Cigarettes After Sex, to catch on. Gonzalez began the project in 2008, and the group saw the release of its first EP in 2012, but it was only around 2015 that the group began catching on beyond their niche followers. It was their cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” that really drew the public’s attention. Their interpretation of the soft rock power ballad lays new emphasis on the “ballad,” but the power is lost somewhere in the space of the mix. Much of their music is in this same vein – uncommonly intimate, though soft enough and with enough space to not be cloying. This June, they released their first full-length LP, the eponymous Cigarettes After Sex. 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;


All Things Go 2017
Entering its fourth year, the All Things Go 2017 lineup brings top acts in hip-hop, electronic music and alternative rock. National performers Foster The People, Young Thug and Vince Staples help make up the lineup, which features several other names that will make you stop and think, “I’ve definitely heard of that person/band.” Plus, as with most festivals, there is food and beer to be consumed. All of this is packed into NOMA’s Union Market, so don’t limit yourself to an opener and headliner when you could see band after band, act after act at All Things Go. Various times. $69-$169. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;


OPUS 1 Festival
For those looking to get to one last musical festival before winter sets in, but want something a little off-the-wall, the newly renovated Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods is set to host the first ever OPUS 1 Festival. Inspired by the woods of Downtown Columbia, Maryland, the festival will blend immersive art installations and musical performances with the addition of treetop projection mapping to give concertgoers a unique, sensory experience. Performances include Hibridos Live, inspired by Brazilian ritual dance and sound, and EXO-TECH Galactic Hearth, an improvisational ensemble that explores jazz and R&B fusion led by Sophia Brous, to name just two of the 11 presentations. The festival is the first part in a three-year project that aims to bring art and new culture to the area. Additional attractions include artisanal offerings and a bonfire. Doors open at 4 p.m. Admission is free. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD;


Glass Animals
Glass Animals got their start in Oxford, England. The group manages an interesting mix of indie guitar, songwriting and electronic production. To that extent, they might draw comparisons to the also England-based Alt-J, but their electronic production is more hip-hop influenced. The group is still touring their second record, How to Be a Human Being, which they released in 2016. The songwriting on the record treats each track as its own story with a narrative and protagonist. The project has gone beyond the record too, and for some of the characters (or songs), there are even entire websites. Although the impetus of the record is quite literary, the music is still unabashedly pop. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $41. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Kid Cudi
Cleveland, Ohio’s Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, or Kid Cudi, is perhaps best known for his 2009 single “Day ‘N’ Night.” Initially a more traditional rapper who was first discovered and signed to a label by Kanye West, Cudi has shifted to a more alternative hip-hop/rock sound. Now he’s back on tour with his new album, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’. With guest collaborations ranging from Andre 3000 to Willow Smith, Kid Cudi continues to push the envelope on music that can be placed largely in one category with an expansive and dramatic, but also introspective, album. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $58. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;


Charli XCX
British electro-pop artist Charli XCX has hit the road with fellow pop musicians Halsey and PartyNextDoor. She’s best known for songs like  “Boom Clap,” which made its way up the charts thanks to teen sappy movie The Fault in Our Stars, and a featured performance on Iggy Azaelea’s hot 2014 summer track “Fancy.” Charli blends posh rapper girl with hints of sweet pop, and her latest album, Number 1 Angel, delivers just that. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC;

It hasn’t taken long for New Jersey electro-pop artist Halsey to make a name for herself in the ever-changing pop world. Her 2015 debut album BADLANDS grabbed positive reviews from the get-go, including Joe Levy of Rolling Stone citing Halsey as a “new pop star with a knack for sticky imagery.” Halsey herself described the album as a concept album about a dystopian society that was a metaphor for her mental state at the time. With her popularity at a respectable level for someone just entering the industry, she shot to new heights with The Chainsmokers’ 2016 collaboration, “Closer.” As for her second and newest album, hopeless fountain kingdom, Halsey continues to bring chest-pounding electronic beats with her flare for the dramatic, such as her opening song, “The Prologue,” which includes the artist citing an excerpt from the opening of Romeo and Juliet. Often melancholy and a little pissed off, hopeless fountain kingdom proves to be another great, synthy-pop album for Halsey. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC;


The California Honeydrops
The California Honeydrops don’t just play music – they throw parties. Led by dynamic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski, and drawing on diverse musical influences including R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues and New Orleans second line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their shows. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets start at $20. Write-up provided by venue. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

This all-star band calls themselves Hudson, named after the Hudson River Valley they each call home. Drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Larry Grenadier, keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist John Scofield have teamed up to celebrate their musical histories and Jack’s 75th birthday year in a tour de force of creative interplay. Fans know them as hard-swinging jazz masters, deft and creative jam purveyors, and rocking funky groove maestros – each musician at the top of his game. It’s rare that so impressive a group of individuals finds time away from their own projects to tour together. True to the spirit of the project’s name, they have collected a repertoire of Hudson Valley materials, from Bob Dylan and The Band to Joni Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $29.75-$73.25. Write-up provided by venue. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Sydney Bennett got her start with the Odd Future Collective as Syd tha Kyd. She produced for Odd Future and became a vocalist for the collective as well. She then went on to become the lead singer and songwriter for the band The Internet. Fin, her solo record as Syd, is her first release since The Internet’s Ego Death. The 2015 album received widespread critical acclaim, and not just for the music with its R&B influences and instrumental work from Steve Lacy, but also for its songwriting, noted for its honesty and unique perspective. Fin builds off that same approach to songwriting, although the production itself is quite different and more trap and pop-inflected. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. The Fillmore: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;


Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Married country music duo Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are on tour together, performing songs like their recent duet, “Speak to a Girl.” Their tour, SOUL2SOUL, is also set to air on Showtime on November 17. Three-time Grammy winner McGraw has long been an icon in the country music industry, as well as acting in movies like The Blind Side. Five-time Grammy winner Hill is one of the most awarded female artists of all time, particularly in country, but with several genre overlaps. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $69. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC;


Skylar Spence
If you’re already deep in the YouTube wormhole that is vaporwave and future funk, you certainly know Skylar Spence, even if not by that name. Skylar Spence is a continuation of the Saint Pepsi music project from Ryan DeRobertis. As mentioned above, Spence’s music is what is referred to as future funk. It’s largely sample-based music that draws on disco as well as K-pop. Spence’s choice samples set against his own electronic beats and bass lines make for some incredibly danceable tunes that are fun as hell. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St NW, DC;


Effortlessly cool is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Phoenix. I mean, they are French, and have that nerdy-hipster vibe going on. The light-hearted alt-rockers are back with their latest album, Ti Amo. They’ve been on the scene since 2000, but the band really rose to popularity with their fourth album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, in 2009. The album, which won Best Alternative Music Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards, delivers synth sounds with an up-tempo beat that makes you want to dance around your room. Not too far from that same recipe comes Ti Amo, a more laidback album with plenty of “effortlessly cool” attitude and foreign lyrics that will take you from a cafe in Italy to “sunbathing in Rio.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC;


The punk band returns to the Rock & Roll Hotel this fall touring their seventh studio album, Victory Lap, just released last month. As the band’s name and record titles suggest, the Canadian band has a very particular approach to punk music that is a mix of a radical pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-civil liberties and anti-facism, with a sardonic sense of humor. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC;


LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem is back. The dance-punk group first came on the scene in 2002 for their single “I’m Losing My Edge,” and has enjoyed popular and critical success since. But following their third studio album, This Is Happening, and certainly after their last official show in 2014, it looked like they had disbanded for good; however, they’re back with a new record and on tour again. Their brand new record, American Dream, has already received widespread critical acclaim. In an open letter to lead singer James Murphy, Father John Misty described some of the new tracks as “miraculous,” which makes sense; though LCD Soundsystem’s alternative, electronic dance tracks could not be further from Father John Misty’s acoustic guitar and piano-based ballads, they share a similar ethos of cynicism and social satire. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $61.75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC;


Ministry and Death Grips
You might not have thought of these two bands in the same sentence, but the industrial metal group and experimental rap trio are coheadlining a tour this fall. The two groups do in fact bear resemblance to one another on a few different levels. Though Ministry is an industrial metal group, their metal is seldom guitar-oriented, and employs similarly insistent and noisy drum machines as Death Grips. The rap trio might use these same drum machines in a much more abrasive way, but the music resemblance is there. They also have a similar ethos. Death Grips is known for their hardcore, anarchist lyrics while Ministry is preparing the release of their next studio album, AmeriKKKant, from which they’ve already released one track, “Antifa.” Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. The Fillmore: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

Sergio Mendes
Grammy Award-winner Sergio Mendes’ influence on the music industry has spanned five decades, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Mendes’ signature mix of bossa nova, samba and pop have come to define Brazilian music. His classic song “Mas Que Nada” is the first Portuguese language song to ever hit Billboard’s U.S. pop chart, making the composer, keyboardist and vocalist one of the most successful Brazilian artists of all time. 8 p.m. Tickets are $29-$69. Write-up provided by venue. Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD;

Vance Joy
Australian singer-songwriter James Keogh, better known as Vance Joy, showed up on the indie scene in 2013 with his ukulele-based hit “Riptide,” a song inspired by his family vacations on the Australian coast at the Riptide Motel. With just one album under his belt, the guitar/ukulele-playing musician has captured listeners with his sing-along lyrics and coffee-house instrumentation. For his first U.S. tour, Joy was the opening act on Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour, but now he’s back as the headlining act with the new single “Lay It On Me.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;


21 Savage
Atlanta-born rapper 21 Savage released his debut studio record, Issa Album, in July. Compared to Atlanta contemporaries Young Thug and Lil Yachty, 21 Savage seems a bit harder to reach. “Oh Yeah,” off of Young Thug’s 2017 Beautiful Thugger Girls, looks impossibly cute with its mentions of Young Thug out riding on his bike alongside 21 Savage’s raps, which are less than unapologetic in their content. Savage grew up in Atlanta’s Ninth Ward, the difficulties and even triumphs of which undoubtedly shape his music and his raps. 10 p.m. Tickets are $36.80. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;


Moon Taxi
If you haven’t seen groovy, bluesy band Moon Taxi in concert, I strongly recommend it. Whether you know the lyrics to all their songs or have only listened to them a handful of times, the Nashville indie rockers know how to make the crowd dance and have a good time. Inspired like many by the current political atmosphere, Terndrup says their new album will fall in line with their most recent single, “Two High.” Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

German DJ Zedd has reached beyond the EDM scene, where he made a name for himself with heavy-hitting drops, and has proven to be a dance-pop favorite. After spending a few years in the EDM scene, Zedd explained in a Fader interview that he wanted to switch it up, and started adding vocals to his beats. Flash-forward a few years, and you get his radio-friendly tracks like “Stay the Night,” featuring Hayley Williams from Paramore. Whether flipping stations on the radio or at the club, chances are you’ve heard his singles like “Clarity” featuring Foxes, “Get Low (with Liam Payne)” and 2017 summer hit “Stay (with Alessia Cara).” Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $41. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC;


Mild High Club
Mild High Club is a psychedelic pop group led by Alexander Brettin. Like the name suggests, their detuned style of indie rock easily falls into place alongside contemporaries like Mac Demarco’s “jizz-jazz” music or HOMESHAKE’s lo-fi pop. But the name also belies the complexity of their arranging, and the strength of their songwriting. Although their choice of instrumentation isn’t as orchestral as indie acts like Sufjan Stevens or Grizzly Bear, they share a similarly dense approach to songwriting, outfitting the mix with different instruments across all frequencies. The songwriting is just plain listenable – a sort of Isley Brothers meets The Beatles. That’s hyperbole, but still! Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$14. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;


Third Eye Blind
If you even remotely like alternative music, you’ve heard of alt-rockers Third Eye Blind, and have likely sang loudly and probably out of tune to their music as your guitar-playing friend jammed on the couch at a house party. Either way, it’s impossible not to dance and sing along when someone fires up “Semi-Charmed Life,” or to travel straight back to the 90s when you hear “Jumper.” If you’re on a nostalgia trip, or just want to have a jam-filled night, check the band out on tour as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first commercial, self-titled album. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;


The Head and the Heart
Indie folk group The Head and the Heart has seen a quick rise to popularity over the past few years. Their success is a welcome turn after lead vocalist and writer, Josiah Johnson, spent some time fighting a drug addiction. The group is still touring their 2016 record, Signs of Light, which is a great mix of folk-driven music that draws on some Beatles-esque, pop songwriting chops. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $45-$75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC;


Reckless Kelly
Understanding the virtuosity of Reckless Kelly requires the perspective of where the band has been. Cody and Willy Braun grew up in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho. They moved to Bend, Oregon, and then migrated to that great musical fountainhead: Austin, Texas. The band’s cofounders and frontmen toured the country as children with their father’s band, Muzzie Braun and the Boys. They overcame hardships, struggled for recognition, and learned the lessons of the trial and error that defined them. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. $20-$25. Write-up provided by venue. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;


Bad Suns
Inspired by 70s and 80s post-punk acts like The Cure and Elvis Costello, California alt/indie rockers Bad Suns are back on tour promoting their second studio album, Disappear Here. With a passionate fan base and media presence early in their career – and talent to back it up – Bad Suns’ sophomore album delivers more of their signature angst and ethereal vocals that make you want to dance. While songs off their new album like “Disappear Here” and “Heartbreaker” resemble pop hits, most of the tracks on the album have that identity and purpose-searching vibe of young musicians, and people everywhere, in their early 20s. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;


What angsty youngster didn’t listen to goth rockers Evanescence in 2003 during the band’s prime of Fallen, which also won them two Grammys? If you don’t sing “Bring Me to Life” at the top of your lungs every time you hear it, you’re lying. After their third album, the band took a hiatus. Six years later, Evanescence has returned with their fourth album, Synthesis. Lead singer Amy Lee said the album is new territory for the band, experimenting in orchestral and electronic sounds, and they’ve even added a full orchestra. Relive your childhood and headbang along to the reintroduced Evanescence. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $52. Theater at MGM National Harbor: 101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD;

Self-described as high-performance rock ‘n’ roll, RAQ has been touring as a four-piece band for over a decade now. Their unique sound, featuring complex song structures and quirky-yet-accessible lyrics, has their older fans wishing the band was still full-time and the younger generation wondering what they have missed. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Write-up provided by venue. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;

Photo: Carol Rosegg
Photo: Carol Rosegg

Ford’s Theatre Presents ‘Death of A Salesman’

It had been a while since I last had the chance to see a show in the grand yet intimate space that is Ford’s Theatre. Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, at Ford’s through October 22, was a treat, and I must insist that you see the classic play.

The performance started with a somber stillness in the air, as the little house suspended above the stage glowed mysteriously, and ended with a well-deserved standing ovation. Directed by Stephen Rayne, the play is as much of a masterpiece today as it was in 1949. And although the play is three full hours, you never think to leave your seat. The laughter, groans and suppressed tears – all responses triggered by the protagonist – leave you empty and in need of a hug as you exit the theater.

The truthfulness and vulnerability of every character was felt and understood. The generational concerns of lost identities, going through the motions of life feeling duped paired with a sense of inevitable failure, and the struggles of facing reality are themes that resonate with audiences and have a place in societal discourse today. Craig Wallace’s portrayal of Willy Loman, a salesman living through his last 24 hours on Earth, is chilling. The actor’s ability to seamlessly go from spouting coherently joyous or inimical tales to delusional rants with himself will give you pause.

Death of a Salesman is the epic story of a father and husband who did everything a man in the 1940s was expected to do, including have an extramarital affair, but who still grappled with the sense of feeling inadequate. He believed he gave his sons everything, and after working from the bottom of the business ladder to support his family, he expected that he would be able to depend on the success of his sons in his retirement years. This hopeful dream goes unrealized, and the reasons why are played out carefully on the three-tier stage that whimsically transports audiences from present to past, from New York to Boston. The story effortlessly unfolds as audiences witness the innocent – and not-so-innocent – mistakes made by the whole family.

While this is definitely a male-dominated story, actress Kimberly Schraf – who plays Linda, the matriarch of the family – made certain to leave her mark onstage. Battling between loyalty to her husband and her desire to maintain a united family is the dilemma that forces Linda to ferociously shout at her sons, causing the most frightening reaction. One would never expect the mousy, submissive and nurturing woman displayed to explode in such a manner. It seems evident that one’s threshold and the power of love can bring strength to the forefront. To sum it all up, Schraf’s heartfelt performance was simply that – heartfelt.

The performances by the remaining family members that carried this tale were also endearing. The slapstick comedy delivered by Happy (Danny Gavigan) and Biff (Thomas Keegan) was hilarious. Keegan and Gavigan not only played humorous 30-year-old men, but also the same character 17 years earlier. Their high energy never wavered, and the whole gamut of emotions was expressed without skipping a beat. It was sublime. It was a world in and of itself – the cast, the setting, the lighting and the sound effects, all perfectly timed and perfectly executed, make this production worth seeing.

Death of A Salesman runs through October 22. Tickets start at $25. Learn more here.

Ford’s Theatre: 511 10th St. NW, DC; 202-347-4833;

Photo: Tony Hitchcock Photography
Photo: Tony Hitchcock Photography

Fully Immersive Theatre: In Cabaret We Trust

As someone who has spent countless hours nestled safely in the audience during some of our city’s best theatre productions, the idea of being approached by an actor mid-performance and drawn into the plot is equal parts terrifying and intriguing. And those emotions are at least part of what artistic director Strother Gaines is gunning for with the brand new, completed-in-42-days, fully immersive In Cabaret We Trust.

At Blind Whino through this Thursday and Friday, and remounting in Dupont Underground this winter, the play follows a resistance cabaret (think burlesque dancers, sword swallowers, fire eaters, aerialists) in a populist-controlled republic run by an ultra-conservative lesbian senator. We caught up with Gaines about what inspired this production, how the story ties to our current political climate, and what audiences (and timid theatergoers like me) can expect and how they should prep for the experience. Read on for his thoughtful insight into the world of In Cabaret We Trust.

On Tap: How long has In Cabaret We Trust been in the works?
Strother Gaines: We started working on ICWT as a concept in October of 2016. This was our first stab at an immersive concept and we learned a ton from doing it. We knew right after the election that we had to put something out there, and we wanted to do it rapidly. CulturalDC awarded us the grant with 42 days [until] the preview performance. We were probably 20 percent into the story/character arcs/concept, and we had to finish the remaining 80 percent in 42 days.

OT: Were you inspired by Sleep No More or other immersive theatre productions?
SG: Oh yeah, immersive work has just fascinated me from the first show I ever saw. I was in London in 2005 and saw Tropicana presented by The Shunt Collective, and it took place in an abandoned London Tube station. The show was super weird but I couldn’t get enough of it. Sleep No More is stunningly good, and while we hope to differentiate ourselves from that (no masks, even though we thought about it), it’s absolutely a source of inspiration.

OT: Tell me more about the parallels between our current political landscape and the Weimar Republic. Why did that era seem like the right fit for this production?
SG: Today, the Weimar Republic serves as a crucial reference for exploring the problems we face in this moment. Through the lens of this historical context, our production [explores] concepts of power and control, as well as resistance and creation. We encourage the audience to share in a dialogue that takes them out of their seats and into the cabaret. While we might find it uncomfortable to examine the sins of our past, there is merit in comparing these difficult moments in our history with the decisions we face for our future. Political movements come and go, but the triumph of the human spirit remains.

OT: What led to the decision to make the ultra-conservative senator controlling the city a lesbian? How does her role impact the story?
SG: Honestly, it was a move that was inspired by my mother. My mom is a conservative Trump supporter, and she kept sending me articles about one gay guy who supported Trump. Or, “Look, here’s a black lady who says we should respect the office.” I told her, “Mom, these one-off examples don’t prove that all gays or all African Americans support Trump – or that they should.” When you have minorities involved in anything, I think tokenism is an easy off ramp when people are striving for diversity. By holding up the senator as a lesbian, we hoped to mirror the “Look, we’ve got one of those!” mindset that we’re starting to see in faux attempts at diversity and inclusion.

OT: How many actors are in the production? How were they selected?
SG: In total, we’ve got about 45 performers. They don’t all go on every single night, but through some ridiculous scheduling and fluidity to the world we built, we get as many as we can each night. We were extraordinarily lucky to have so many amazing performers be able to cobble together a super flexible casting situation so beautifully.

OT: What makes Blind Whino the right venue for this production? How does it lend itself well to this type of experience?
SG: Blind Whino was chosen for us by the Space4 program. The two venues they had open for us were Blind Whino and The Dupont Underground, where we’ll remount in February. We requested Blind Whino because it [was] easier to create a more fluid experience in a space where people were free to go [in] multiple directions and inhabit different spaces. In the Dupont Underground, we’ll have to do a lot more building to create secret spaces, private rooms and a nonlinear experience. Now that we’ve got the experience of Blind Whino under our belt, we’re more equipped to turn a linear space into a nonlinear experience.

OT: Can you give us a sense of how the actors interact with the audience, and what role the audience plays?
SG: There are lots of ways you can interact with our performers ranging from a traditional “sit, watch, be entertained” to direct questioning and storytelling with individuals. Every character has a concept of what they want that night, who they want to talk to, what objectives they want to accomplish and, “Can I use audience members to help accomplish those objectives?” If you are willing to complete tasks, deliver goods, solve puzzles, or just engage authentically and ask questions/learn more, than you can control your night in so many ways. There’s no real “standard” way to interact, and every character in the show will treat people differently based on a variety of factors. We force you to choose a side and persona and based on what you choose, you’ll get a different interaction.

OT: Can audience members actually shift the narrative or outcome through their interactions?
SG: Absolutely. The ending is up to the audience, and their final decision will be influenced [by] who they interacted with leading up to the finale. What opinions have you formed about the characters and what information do you know about each one?

OT: Any tips for theatergoers to fully enjoy the experience?
SG: Don’t stick with who you came with. It’s way more fun to go with a group and then discuss the different things you all found and discovered on your own. You’ll each get a very different experience and story, and you’ll collectively know more about the world than you would have if you’d both followed the same track. Don’t worry too much about FOMO, because there is no way you can experience it all. Yes, when you are watching the fire performers, you are missing the aerialists, the pregnancy reveal and the puzzle on the piano, but focus on what seems most appealing to you in that moment. Are you not excited by a scene? Leave and find something else. Know that you can’t see it all, and release the need to try for that before you even walk in the door.

OT: What do you hope audiences walk away with? How do you want them to feel?
SG: Our show tagline is, “May our joy be an act of resistance,” and we want people to walk away feeling excited, overwhelmed, maybe a bit confused, energized and like they want to come back to experience a new storyline next time. We hope that by making an experience unlike anything else in the DC area, that we leave our audiences feeling included and important. How you show up in the world of the cabaret directly affects what types of things you’ll experience, how people will react to you and ultimately how things shake out at the end. The same is true in the real world. If we’re passive, then things happen to us rather than because of us. I’d like people to own that they have control over what story gets told.

In Cabaret We Trust runs this Thursday, September 28 and Friday, September 29 at Blind Whino. Tickets are $45 for one, $80 for a pair. Learn more at

Blind Whino: 700 Delaware Ave. SW, DC; 202-554-0103;

Photo: Michael Loria
Photo: Michael Loria

Venus Is Venus Is Venus at Dupont Underground

For the uninitiated, Dupont Underground wasn’t hard to find. On September 16, I headed to Dupont Circle and look for the well-dressed crowd by the stairwell, then followed the music downstairs. The venue, an abandoned subterranean streetcar station, was cavernous. But for Fathom Concept‘s Experiment #4: Venus Is Venus Is Venus, the entire space was not needed.

At the foot of the stairs sat a sculpture of a pig from Floyd Roberts. The swine was made from what looked like recovered copper wires and plates. Further along, I saw several video installations, including one of cutouts of Venus floating as if animated by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. 

At the far end was the DJ’s setup. The night featured five different musicians, though it was NYC-based DJ Ella Darr’s music whom I followed down the stairs. Just before the DJ table was a performance installation from Maps Glover. Both decadent and primitive, and decidedly enigmatic, Glover’s overalls and bowl cut wig evoked images of a doll, and he looked as if he was trying to break out of his own installation. His partner could have been encouraging him or holding him back from leaving their sandbox out of which stuck a golden horse head, depending on when you glanced up.

“On the one hand, we saw very talented up-and-coming artists that had limited to no opportunities to showcase their works,” says Fathom Concept’s co-founder Kareem Malek. “And on the other hand, we were tired of the unidimensional nightlife options in DC – by unidimensional, I mean segregated and repetitive.”

Malek says this was the impetus for founding Fathom, a platform for creative projects in the city that got its start last November. The theme of Venus Is Venus Is Venus, says Malek, comes from Gertrude Stein’s “rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” which most people take to mean that things are what they are. But in the instance of Venus, it could be taken to mean several things, whether a deity, desire or interstellar objects.

For one of the most captivating works featured, Venus was none of the above. Venus looked caught in a doily. Olivia Tripp Morrow’s video installation, Crochet, showed a nude female figure covered by a doily. The figure was writhing, as if in pain or struggling to get out. The figure was filmed on top of large mirror, so, taken together, the figure and its reflection looked like an animated vagina. 

Malek says The Experiment Series was inspired by art exhibitions he and his partners had been to in places like Rio and London. It’s a night designed to be unlike others in DC, an experiment for all involved. In fact, it didn’t feel like a night in the nation’s capital at all, but I also felt firmly here, almost as if this was how it should and could be with a little more breath.

Experiment #4 is expected to be the last experiment of the year, but check out for upcoming events and more about the artists.

Dupont Underground: 19 Dupont Circle, NW, DC;