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Photo: John Gervasi

Demystifying Polo: DC Polo Society

DC is known for big league sports like football and basketball, but not as much for its niche leagues or teams. But times are changing with more unique sports popping up in and around the District, like rugby and polo. When it comes to the latter, Congressional Polo Club’s Seema Sharma says its inclusivity sets the sport apart.

“Everyone should be part of this,” she says of polo. “We want everyone to feel like they belong.”

Sharma, the club’s director of operations, has seen the fields in Poolesville, Maryland go through a few different cycles of management to remain relevant among the growing number of sports offerings in the DMV. This summer marks the first season of the DC Polo Society, a series of eventful Sundays at the club. The final Summer Sunday is on September 22, as the DC Polo Society is set to close out the season with Bubbles & Bubbly. The festivities include local brew samplings and a Mimosa bar.

“The vision behind DC Polo Society is to create an organization that welcomes people within [and outside of] the polo community to come together within one setting,” she continues.

Sharma discovered polo through her children. In Sharma’s case, it became a family commitment as her husband Rajeev is the acting director at the club and shares day-to-day duties with her. The couple also shares the goal of hitting a specific demographic: young professionals.

“We want to make this sport more popular and more prevalent,” she says. “Millenials are key. Many have memories of riding [horses] and going to farms as kids. You begin to work and life becomes hectic, and this perception is made that there is either no polo facility close to DC or it is too difficult to get to.”

With the DC Polo Society, these trepidations are ultimately untrue; the Montgomery County-based club is close to the city and provides everything necessary to participate including charter bus options.

As for the sport itself, when most people think of polo they likely imagine big hats and expensive bubbly – but that’s not always the case. Spectators can expect to enjoy a low-key day in the country where they will be surrounded by three grassy fields and a beautiful view of the sky.

“Being there is a wonderful way to get away from the hectic day-to-day of the city,” Sharma says of the club, placing a heavy emphasis on her desire for people to come to a match and have a reprieve from their busy daily lives.

The allure of a day away from traffic and city life isn’t the only pull Sharma promotes. Athletes like professional polo player Nico Eurnekian provide tremendous entertainment in their own right, playing the game at an impeccably high level.

“I was literally born with a polo mallet in my hand and I have been playing ever since then,” Eurnekian, Congressional Polo Club’s very own pro, says.

Every polo club has a club pro, otherwise known as the anchor of the team. Usually, they have been playing or involved in the sport for a long time, thus they have the most experience and can help other players, which enhances the credibility of the club. This creates a link between the club and community – specifically with training programs for members.

Eurnekian grew up on a farm in Argentina surrounded by horses and fields, so polo was a natural fit.

“There is something very particular about polo where when you get into it, it is very difficult to get out of it,” he says.

He also notes that when spectators come to watch a match, all they see is the speed and the immaculate polo shirts and white pants. In subtle ways, there is so much more that goes into getting to that point, such as the work in creating a relationship between the player and the horse.

“They should see how important the interaction between the animal and the person [is], the relationship [being built] in the midst of the game.”

So, why should you attend a polo match? According to Sharma, there are three things you should keep in mind: the beauty of polo, a day out in the country with your family and friends, and the experience of something new. On top of that, this represents an opportunity to meet new people, so what are you waiting for? Climb on that horse.

Join the DC Polo Society for Funbrella on Sunday, July 28 from 2-5 p.m. Tickets $15-$85. For more on DC Polo Society, visit www.dcpolo.com, and for more about the Congressional Polo Club, visit www.congressionalpolo.com.

Congressional Polo Club: 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD; 844-260-4827; www.dcpolo.com

DC Fray is a proud partner of DC Polo Society.

Photo: Trent Johnson

What’s On Tap: Denizens’ New Riverdale Location Offers Customers A Wide Variety of Drinking Options

There is no better way to kick off the summer season than checking out Denizens Brewing Co.’s new location in Maryland’s Riverdale Park Station. The 12,000-square-foot production facility and taproom, which opened on May 25, is nestled between Whole Foods, District Taco and several other restaurants. The array of beer, cocktails and food options allows for any customer to come in and find something to enjoy, no matter their preferences. We caught up with the new spot’s general manager Coleene Rosenbach to talk about how the Riverdale location is different from Silver Spring’s and what customers can expect this summer.

On Tap: How did you decide on the Riverdale location versus other locations in the DMV?
Coleene Rosenbach:
This is a really great area. Lots of different types of neighborhoods intersect here. We’re always looking for areas where we can really be a part of a growing neighborhood. When we initially opened in Silver Spring five years ago, what we saw was an area that was just starting to become a lot more popular with the young professional groups, as well as already having an established familial suburban feel.

OT: What are some differences with the new Riverdale location compared to that Silver Spring location?
CR:
The focus at this production facility will be on our main sellers. As far as what we have to offer in the taproom, a lot of it is the same. We have far more taps here than over at Silver Spring, so we will be able to provide a larger seasonal selection once we get going.

OT: Do you think you will expand to other locations in Virginia in the future?
CR:
Opening this location was a two-year process, so we’ll probably take a little bit of a break before we open anything else. Right now we’re working with a couple of distribution companies to start being able to distribute into Northern Virginia.

OT: How do you plan to sell more beer to establishments in Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC? How much will the distribution increase?
CR:
We are hoping once we get the full production line going, it’ll probably quadruple the amount of beer we produce in a year, so we’re really trying to get ourselves out there.

OT: Which craft beer flavor is your best seller so far this summer? What are the best beer and food pairings?
CR:
From what I’ve observed, IPAs are just always going to be a thing. They’re always popular regardless. You’ll notice the trends, a lot of people are trying to focus on, like the hazy New England-style IPAs. We like to focus on lagers and more traditional takes on traditional styles of beer. As of right now, one of our more popular beers is actually a peach berliner weisse, the Georgia Ave., and it’s really light, low ABV.

OT: What are your recommendations for customers who come into Denizens and don’t love craft beer, but still want to try it out?
CR:
So one of our biggest things here is obviously we want to make beer approachable to everyone. We understand that not everyone is a beer snob and craft beer is definitely something that can be
intimidating to enter, but of course, we like to focus on what kinds of drinks people like in general.

OT: Beer marketed to women is often described as being fruity and low calorie. That being said, what tactics do you use to appeal to every customer?
CR:
We are the only fully female and minority-owned brewery, and again, as I said, we want beer for everyone. Regardless of if you’re the standard flannel wearing bearded beer aficionado or someone who really hasn’t had much of a foray into craft beers, we think we have something for everyone.

OT: There is a summer concert series at the River Park Station through August. How does that impact Denizens?
CR:
It’s been pretty great. We’ve definitely have had people hang out on our patio and hear [the concert]. I think it’s just been a really great kind of crossover. We definitely plan on being heavily involved in any kind of events that are being held in the shopping center [or] gathering area in general. Any kind of event that the Riverdale Association plans, we always try to be a part of it.

Denizens’ Riverdale Park Taproom is open from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 12 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information on the brewery, visit www.denizensbrewingco.com.

Denizens Brewing Co. Riverdale Park: 4550 Van Buren St. Riverdale Park, MD; 240-582-6817; www.denizensbrewingco.com


What’s On Tap July Listings

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, JULY 2

Tuesday Brewsday
For the entire month of July, Kramerbooks and Afterwords café will be offering 18 varieties of half price pints and $1 wings. The 18 half price pints will include new limited and specialty run drafts and cans along with $1 wings. 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. Free admission. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café: 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.kramers.com

THURSDAY, JULY 4

Mussels, Burgers & Beer: Fourth of July at the Sovereign
Celebrate Independence Day with your friends from The Sovereign. Come out and enjoy their signature 4×4 happy hour, which includes four different draft beers, cocktails and wines at $4 each. In addition, there will be two very special Independence Day-only deals, including $15 for a burger and beer or $20 for mussels and a beer. 12-8 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

FRIDAY, JULY 5 – SUNDAY, JULY 7

Waterfront Beer Garden by Port City Brewing Company
Kick off summer at the Waterfront Beer Garden by Port City Brewing Company. Over two weekends, enjoy award-winning craft beer plus local food and entertainment, including live music and DJs. In addition to classics like Optimal Wit, Port City will highlight different beers during the weekend. Over Fourth of July weekend, attendees can enjoy beer with barbecue from Chadwicks on Friday and Saturday, Rocklands Barbeque’s food truck on Saturday and Smoking Kow BBQ’s food truck on Sunday. Cool off with treats from Dolci Gelati. Attendees can also enjoy lawn games, live music and DJs throughout. 5-8 p.m. on Friday, 12-8 p.m. on Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sunday. Free to attend. Waterfront Park:1 King St. Alexandria, VA; www.visitalexandriava.com

FRIDAY, JULY 5

DC Brau Half Price Pint Night
Enjoy cheap beer, tasty food pop-ups, board games and more at DC Brau’s Half-Price Pint Night. All flagship beers are 50 percent off all night. 3-11 p.m. Free admission. DC Brau Brewing Company: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

Tour de Pour Friday Night Happy Hour Rides
Come out and experience this happy hour series hosted by Bike Lane Brewing and Lake Anne Brew House. Park and gear up at Bike Lane Brewing, then take a fun group ride to Lake Anne Brew House for a beer and pretzel pit stop before returning to Bike Lane for another. Don’t have a bike? Contact Bike Lane about a test ride on one of theirs. Valet racks are provided at Lake Anne for parking. Rides are led by a Bike Lane employee. All skill levels and speeds are welcome for this casual, fun spin between Reston’s two breweries. Riders will depart promptly at 6 p.m. from The Bike Lane. Free admission. Bike Lane Brewing: 11150 Sunset Hills Rd. Reston, VA; www.thebikelane.com

SUNDAY, JULY 7

The Schneeeule Brauerei Showcase
Join ChurchKey as they feature the unparalleled beers of Schneeeule Brauerei. They will pour five of their exciting sour German brews alongside co-founder Andreas Bogk. Don’t miss the chance to try these old world and modern takes on Berliner Weisse which includes Marlene, Imgard, Kennedy and Yasmin. Not to be outdone, ChurchKey will also pour the incredibly rare August, the only U.S. keg of this one-of-a-kind sour Bock. All Schneeeule drafts are priced individually by the glass and 4-oz. tasting pours. 12-11:30 p.m. Free admission. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10

Belgium National Day Beer Dinner
Join Granville Moore’s for a four-course sumptuous dinner with Ommegang and La Chouffe inspired beer pairings. The dinner will consist of cuisines ranging from shucked PEI mussels, pan seared scallops to pan-seared lamb tenderloin, as well as Belgian chocolate and cherry tart for desert. 7-10 p.m. Tickets $60. Granville Moore’s: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

Summer Of Sour Series: The Classics of Cantillon
All summer long, The Sovereign is rolling out a slew of rare sour beers every week. Join as they showcase some of their favorite producers of Belgian-inspired sour beers from across the globe. The series is set to showcase the Classics of Cantillon, the legendary Lambic producer of Brussels. On this night, The Sovereign will pour four of Cantillon’s most iconic blends, including rare kegs of Fou’Foune and Kriek alongside bottles of Rosé de Gambrinus and Classic Gueuze. All Cantillon beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4-oz. tasting pours. 5-11:30 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Yoga & Beer at Fair Winds
Fill your sails with this monthly mindful movement and drinking experience. Attendees will enjoy a fun hour-long yoga class and then toast to the good life with a tasty Fair Winds craft beer. The brewery and yoga studio gets warm in the summer without AC; be prepared for warm yoga, hydrate well before class. All levels are welcome, no experience needed. Bring your own mat. 7-8:30 p.m. Free admission. Fair Winds Brewing Company: 7000 Newington Rd. Lorton, VA; www.eatyogadrink.com

THURSDAY, JULY 11

Civic Circle Happy Hour
Celebrate democracy and register to vote with bingo to benefit The Civic Circle at Denizens. Participants will have the chance to win patriotic prizes. The event also featurs voter registration by HeadCount and a non-partisan group that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy. 7-9 p.m. Free admission.Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, JULY 13

6th Annual Port City Old Town Pub Crawl
Port City’s annual Pub Crawl returns for the sixth time on the streets of Old Town Alexandria. The brewing company will be at local restaurants near the Alexandria waterfront, stamping pub crawl passes and handing out swag. From 1:30-2:30 p.m. attendees will go to any of the participating locations to grab their pass. From 1:30-6 p.m.  stop at all locations, look for the PCBC team and get a stamp. Participants can stay and enjoy some brews and food specials at their favorite spots. Finally, stop by the Port City Tent from 5-6 p.m. with your completed pass and get a limited edition pint glass. 1:30-6 p.m. Free admission. Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

Denizens Brewing Co.’s 5th Anniversary
Join Denizens in celebrating their fifth anniversary with a spectacular line up of music and dancing performances. Attendees don’t forget to dress in your best Mardi Gras outfit for a chance to win a free beer. The brewery will also have a bead contest. Don’t miss out on the fun, as this popular brewery celebrates five years in the biz. As they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll. 5 p.m. -12 a.m. Free admission. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

Jailbreak Brewery Tour
Come take a tour with Jailbreak Brewing Company to see where the magic happens. The tour includes four beer samples and a pint to take home. 1-4 p.m. Tickets $10. Jailbreak Brewing Company: 9445 Washington Blvd. North Laurel, MD; www.jailbreakbrewing.com

Yoga & Beer at New District Brewing
Roll out your yoga mat at New District Brewing Company for a luscious, hour-long vinyasa flow led by a talented, registered yoga instructor. After class, stay for a refreshing craft beer and great company. This mindful movement experience is accessible to all levels, beginners to advanced. Bring your own mat. 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. $20 online tickets include yoga and a beer ticket; $25 for walk-in tickets if space is available. New District Brewing Company: 2709 South Oakland St. Arlington, VA; www.newdistrictbrewing.com

THURSDAY, JULY 18

Brew at the Zoo
Hold onto your brews. This year the friends of the National Zoo are turning DC’s best beer festival into a prehistoric party. Attendees will journey to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for unlimited beer tastings from 70-plus breweries, live music, food truck fare and much more. It’s three fantastic hours of dino drafts and fossil food. Guests can show their support for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) and the Zoo’s shared species-saving mission at Brew at the Zoo, where beer finds a way. 6-9 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.nationalzoo.si.edu

FRIDAY, JULY 19

Beer Garden Bass
Enjoy music and food at Denizens Brewing Co.’s Silver Spring location for a night of bass and beer on the patio. DJ InnoVadar will be behind the decks, so mark your calendars because you don’t want to miss it. 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. Free admission. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

SATURDAY, JULY 20

America’s Best Brew Fest
America’s Best Brew Fest is a celebration of the very best craft beer. Guests will enjoy live music, outdoor games, amazing food vendors, arts and more. The festival features more than 80 different brews and amazing selections of wine, including a huge rosé garden, delicious varieties of cider, hard sodas, gluten-free options and much more. Tickets grant attendees with unlimited tastes of hand-picked beers, wines  and ciders. 12:30-8 p.m. Tickets begin at $17. The Bullpen: 1299 Half St. SE, DC; www.brewfestdc.com

Jazz at The Beer Garden
Enjoy the Jazz Trotters at this super beer garden. The beer garden is connected to a butcher shop, so guests can partake in quality dining alongside some outdoor fun. They are also a local, independent market who prides themselves on the fact that their focus is on quality, local products. 5-9p.m. Free admission. Westover Market: 5863 Washington Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.westovermarketbeergarden.com

SUNDAY, JULY 21

Belgian Independence Day Celebration
This Belgian Independence Day, The Sovereign is celebrating in style by popping some of their favorite bottles. The brewery will offer 21 of director Greg Engert’s personal picks at truly unbelievable prices. Highlights include some classic Belgian Gueuzes from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Girardin and Tilquin, and some stunning beers from American stalwarts Oxbow, Jester King and Crooked Stave. 12-11:30 p.m. Free admission. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Pints and Paws
Studies have shown that pet ownership and beer drinking may contribute to a longer life. In that spirit, DC Brau Brewing Company will be hosting the Humane Rescue Alliance for a meet and greet of some of DC’s most eligible kitties and canines. DC Brau will donate $1 per pint to the Humane Rescue Alliance throughout. Guests can shop for the newest pet gear and treats from The Big Bad Woof, and you may even go home with your new best friend. 12-3 p.m. Free to attend. DC Brau Brewing Company: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.dcbrau.com

MONDAY, JULY 22

Port City Joggers & Lagers
Start your week off with a Monday evening run from Port City Brewing Company. First, meet at the brewery tasting room before heading out for a one, three or five-mile run. Participants should expect a fun crowd, support from Pacers Running staff and occasionally vendors provide shoes to try out. 7-9 p.m. Free admission. Port City Brewing Company: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24

Pickleball & Beer Party
Get ready for some pickleball – this new sport is making a big wave! It’s super fun and easy to learn. Come out to play while having a couple of beverages and snacks on the tennis courts. This event is BYOB. 5:30-7:30p.m. Free admission. McLean Swim and Tennis Association: 1700 Margie Dr. McLean, VA; www.mcleanswimandtennis.org

 

Photo: Gian Di Stefano

Kristin Chenoweth Brings Wicked Fun to Strathmore

They say good things come in small packages, and 4-foot-11 dynamo Kristin Chenoweth is a living example that the phrase applies to performers as well. Known for her incredible singing on Broadway, her quirky character roles in movies and on TV, and her oodles of charm in just about every performance she’s ever done, Chenoweth is beloved by people of all ages.

She won a Tony for her performance as Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999, though she’s best-known for her renowned run as Glinda in the Broadway smash Wicked. Other memorable runs on the Great White Way include roles in The Apple Tree, On the Twentieth Century and Promises, Promises. And there’s no role she hasn’t made a lasting impression with on-screen, from West Wing to Trial & Error to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done and have been blessed with some amazing roles,” Chenoweth says. “The critics have always enjoyed these choices and that makes me understand I am on the same planet as everyone else. I know what I think is tasteful and funny and good, and that always seems to line up with them and that makes me happy.”

A veteran of the concert stage, the Tony- and Emmy-winning actress will perform at Strathmore on April 8 with a show any Broadway fan is sure to love.

“This concert is timed really well because my new album will be coming out around Mother’s Day, and I would like to start bringing some songs from that to my shows,” she says. “I don’t have a title yet, but I keep calling it For the Girls. It’s my way of giving myself permission to sing other women artists whose work has inspired me and changed my life musically.”

That means songs from performers like Dinah Washington, Judy Garland, Dolly Parton and Eva Cassidy.

“It’s really going to be a celebration of women. It’s important for me to recognize singer-songwriters like Chely Wright – who is a giant in the country music industry – and there’s an original song I wrote with her that I am excited to play for people.”

There’s a big part of Chenoweth, she says, that wants to be a mentor to younger audiences and teach them about some of these songs and singers who they may not be familiar with. It’s something she realized while doing an episode of Glee.

“Ryan Murphy had me sing ‘Maybe This Time’ from Cabaret, and I just assumed everyone knew that song. But so many people reached out to me on social media asking where the song came from. I just died because these kids don’t know. I want to let them know who came before me and even some who may be younger than I. Just because you like one certain type of music doesn’t mean you can’t research and learn to appreciate others.”

Her concert will also include plenty of Broadway tunes, jazz standards, gospel songs and even opera, plus tunes from her previous release of American Songbook classics The Art of Elegance.

“Of course I’m going to sing ‘Popular’ and some songs that I will never not sing because it’s part of my DNA, but I want to make it a new show every time,” she says.

Another song that’s sure to be on the set list is “Taylor, the Latte Boy” written by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, which tells the humorous tale of a woman who falls for her barista at Starbucks.

“I was a young Kristin Chenoweth doing Steel Pier at the time [in 1997] and there was a performance honoring Kander and Ebb [a famous songwriting team], and someone handed me this music. Marcy and Zina told me they had been writing the song with me in mind. I was so nervous because the show was the next day and it’s not a short song. I spent the rest of the night learning it, and as I did, I realized this is totally me. I sang it that night and wow, did it go over.”

Soon after, she sang the song on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and it’s been a staple of her performances ever since.

“As artists, we have to recognize and understand that when we don’t sing songs like this, it’s a let down to the audience. I know that because I once saw Barbra Streisand live and she didn’t sing ‘People.’ I learned a lot there.”

The singer is very familiar with Strathmore, having starred in the Music Center’s groundbreaking I am Anne Hutchinson/I am Harvey Milk production in 2016. Currently, she doesn’t have any concrete plans to go back on Broadway. But last October, Chenoweth and her original Wicked costar Idina Menzel reunited for the NBC special A Very Wicked Halloween, and the duo’s magic was reignited on an astounding version of the show’s “For Good.” She has a few things in the fire for 2019 and is looking forward to touring at concert venues around the country when not filming any TV projects.

“Currently, I’m in development season and there are three ideas I have that three different writers have put a treatment to. I’ve fallen in love with all of them, so I do believe I will be doing something new on television soon. I’d rather do something that is me and my taste. I’m always going to choose and do something a little offbeat. That’s who I am.”

A lesson she says she’s been learning over and over in the past year is not being so serious and just enjoying the moment. Last fall, she traveled to Italy and sang a duet with Andrea Bocelli to a pretty famous audience and screwed up a song. She stopped and started over and then just messed up again and decided to cut to the end.

“People were loving it. It reminds you that life isn’t always perfect and in some ways that was my favorite moment of the trip. I am a perfectionist and I can get myself wound up pretty high. I had to laugh, and I did. Sometimes that happens in concerts and I may forget a word and I’ll point it out. I like using those moments to show I am not a robot. I am not autotuned. I am an artist who is real and authentic.”

She promises that people who don’t know who she is when they come in the door at Strathmore will know who she is when they leave.

“I want people to come to this show and be in the moment and enjoy themselves. It’s a treat you give yourself when you do that. We think we’re doing the right thing when we’re worrying about something, but I want people to put all that aside and just go with me on this journey. It will be an extraordinary, fun night.”

Kristin Chenoweth will perform at Strathmore on Monday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $78 and are available at www.strathmore.org.

Learn more about Chenoweth at www.officialkristinchenoweth.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @kchenoweth.

The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5200; www.strathmore.org

Photo: Greg Gorman

Rufus Wainwright Celebrates 20 Years at Strathmore

On the day of his breakthrough album’s release in 1998, Rufus Wainwright walked into a café expecting to be noticed. But when he took off his sunglasses, he remained unrecognized.

“I was believing everything people were saying to me: that I was going to be a massive star and make lots of money and become this legendary figure,” he says. “That’s not the way it went. But I have nothing to complain about. I’ve worked a long time and very hard, and matured. I learned the reality of being an artist and have done quite well.”

His self-titled debut album did quickly establish him as a singer-songwriter to watch thanks to songs like “Foolish Love,” “Millbrook” and “Sally Ann.” Not only did Rolling Stone name the record one of the best of the year, the publication also honored him with its Best New Artist designation. His follow-up album Poses came out three years later, another critical darling.

“Not long after the first two records, I realized that like my parents [who were folk singers], you’re only going to be as good as your live show is,” he says. “So I started doing a lot of solo shows to supplement my income and made it about what I could do as a troubadour. That has really gotten me through a lot of tidal waves of economics that have occurred since.”

Wainwright will perform songs from both albums at The Music Center at Strathmore on December 8 as part of his All These Poses tour to commemorate his debut album’s 20th anniversary.

“For the first half of the show, I come out and do most of the first album and intersperse with a couple of other tracks,” he says. “I am promoting a new record too, which is only available at the concert, so I’ll sing some of those songs.”

He’ll also be telling some stories about his family and what inspired some of his songs, and the early days of his music career. Then, for the second half of the show, Wainwright will play Poses top to bottom, complete with lighting effects and costume changes.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he says. “We have the wonderful Rachel Eckroth opening up the show, and she’s also in the band. People are going to really enjoy hearing her.”

Over the years, Wainwright has released seven studio and three live albums and won countless awards. One of his most beloved recordings is the Grammy-nominated Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall paying homage to icon Judy Garland.

Besides being a celebrated pop singer, Wainwright has also found a calling in writing operas. In 2009, his much-admired Prima Donna premiered at the Manchester International Festival and has traveled the world since. His second opera Hadrian opened to critical acclaim this past October in Toronto.

“I discovered opera when I was 13 and was completely transfixed and transformed into this rabid 70-year-old opera queen all of a sudden. I couldn’t get enough of those old recordings, and it’s almost like the art form chose me and devoured me.”

Each of his operas took about four years of intense work, but nearly 10 years of thinking about them and getting them to where he wanted them to be. They are labors of love for Wainwright, and a big part of who he is.

“I also realized early on that I could use some of opera’s musical ideas and concepts and transfer them to my songwriting.”

The singer is finishing up his new album and aiming for a 2019 tour. Last month, he released a video starring Emmy winner and Glee star Darren Criss for his new song “Sword of Damocles,” which includes a powerful message addressed to President Trump.

“Damocles is a story where there’s a sword hanging over a tyrant’s head to show that when there are rulers who are belligerent, there’s a chance for danger for everybody involved,” he explains. “It’s directed toward Trump, but I feel it’s really directed toward everybody because no matter what happens, that sword is eventually going to come down.”

Don’t miss Wainwright at Strathmore on Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39-$89 and can be purchased at www.strathmore.org. Learn more about the artist at www.rufuswainwright.com.

The Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; 301-581-5200; www.strathmore.org