May 23, 2008

You guide me: I’m heading to our nation’s capital

Last time I was in Washington D.C. I was in the eighth grade and we were learning about government and politics and history. I remember running squealing up and down hotel hallways between our room and that of the cute (really short) guys in 604. I remember torrential summer rainstorms and getting lost at the Smithsonian.

I’m heading back to D.C. next week for a conference for my new job and would love some recommendations for any fun music-related stuff to do in my downtime from natives (since I’ve already done all the things listed in the first paragraph). I’m not lying, there is actually a workshop as part of the conference called “The History and Evolution of Black Music in Washington D.C.” which has really nothing directly to do with international education but hey, I will gladly take it. So that covers Wednesday from 3:45-5pm. After that — what else should I entertain myself with?


  • Check out who is playing at the following clubs: 930 Club, Black Cat, IOTA, and Birchmere. Look here:
    Also, find Bob Mould, he is there, which makes DC much more interesting.

    Anonymous — May 23, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  • 930 Club was my first suggestion as well.

    Anonymous — May 23, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  • I’m a recent DC transplant to Denver…

    I’d highly recommend checking out the Rock n Roll hotel and the H Street corridor. There’s usually some good stuff happening. And, the mussels at Dr. Granville Moore’s are awesome. If you go to the 930 or Black Cat it’d be a sin not to stop by Ben’s Chili Bowl.

    The 930 and Black Cat are good too, but a bit more “known”.

    VW — May 23, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  • The Raconteurs are playing the 930 Club Tues and Weds nights. Probably sold out. If so, Duran Duran is playing at the Clear Channel owned Merriweather Post Pavilion in BFE suburban Maryland Tues night. (Atl east its BFE to those of us in Northern Virginia…). Definitely don’t want to miss Filter at the 930 Club on Thursday. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear ‘Take a Picture’ live??? Lol. No good shows at The Sixth & I Historic Synagogue or DAR Constitution Hall while you are in town, unfortunately. The clubs listed above are good: Birchmere is a sit-down-and-have-dinner-while-watching-someone-strum-a-guitar kind of place, 930 is THE club in town, and along with Black Cat are the grimy, downtown places. IOTA is a cool bar/club in Arlington. They don’t sell tickets before shows, but walk through the crowd and collect money before the shows start. If for some reason you are out in Northern Virginia, Jammin’ Java is a coffee house / bar / venue with a wide variety of acts coming through. OH! And I almost forgot – Ben Folds is playing at Wolf Trap on Weds the 28th! Wolf Trap is a National Park that has a music hall. Its no Red Rocks, to be sure, but its a great place in its own right. I will be at the Ben Folds show – maybe see you there!

    theyeck zero one at hotmail dot com

    Anonymous — May 23, 2008 @ 8:46 am

  • the best dc music blogs for finding out whats going on are:

    the 9:30 is def worth going to if you can and the Raconteurs will put on a good show i’m sure. the black cat and velvet lounge are pretty much within walking distance of it – plus be sure to check out a place called “busboys and poets” near there bc they have good stuff going on too.

    bdevine — May 23, 2008 @ 9:20 am

  • I think the week’s highlight will be freestyle with Eyedea & DJ Abilities along and our local rapper Math Panda show at R&R Hotel

    Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday….

    Jim H — May 23, 2008 @ 11:14 am

  • The usual places have been mentioned…930, Black Cat, etc. One to add to the list is the free concert series at the Kennedy Center. They have a free concert every day of the year. I think it’s around 7pm, and serve cheap drinks as well. Wide range of music (and sometimes dance). Anything from blues to folk to random international groups.

    Brandi — May 23, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  • Do yourself a favor and skip the 930. Terrible sound and every city has a venue just like it.

    The Birchmere is a music institution, and the Seldom Scene (local bluegrass legends) is playing there next weekend. Highly recommended.

    The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage has great free shows on both Wednesday and Thursday.

    Also, be sure to listen to 103.1 WRNR – awesome independent radio (if you can get it).

    Stranger Jay — May 23, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  • If you get in Sunday, Sea Wolf and the Jealous Girlfriends will be playing at the Rock and Roll hotel. Both bands are awesome, and both have recently opened for Nada Surf, whom I’ve read you may have enjoyed. Haha.

    And if you don’t feel like music, you could always kill George Bush while you’re here.

    evilhomer — May 23, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  • Hey thanks for the links bdevine! I’m always trying to find something to do, and the City Paper only offers so much.
    I was gonna offer up the State Thetre in Falls Church or Jaxx in Springfield, but it doesn’t seem like anyone notable is playing next week.

    Russ! — May 23, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

  • I love the Black Cat, and Rock and Roll Hotel isn’t half bad, but it’s in a scary part of town. I wouldn’t go alone heh. Army of Me is playing there on Friday, so that should be interesting.

    It’s been a bad spring, IMO. Oh well.

    You can always do a Segway tour of the Mall haha.

    beeshers — May 23, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  • Beeshers is right about the Rock and Roll hotel. Take a friend.
    For less music related, and more solo friendly DC fun, if you’re there on a Saturday or Sunday morning, take the blue line up to Eastern Market, have breakfast at Bread and Chocolate, and wander the flea market and Eastern Market vendors. One of my favorite places to go when in DC, and there’s a jewelry vendor called MannMadeDesigns who makes really unusual, funky pieces for reasonable money.

    Enjoy. I love DC.

    courtney — May 24, 2008 @ 7:09 am

  • I would really have to recommend The Black Cat as an ‘institution’ of DC music. I certainly would keep my eye on anything out of the Dischord Record (Fugazi, Minor Threat, etc) house and check one of them out:

    Stay away from Jax (it’s just old hair metal bands), the State is a good time and caters a little more jamband, 930 is a great name and a so-so place to see music, and I love Jammin Java (a folk feel).

    A random great place for lunch in downtown:

    Oh, one other recommendation if you are short of things to do: the Spy Museum. It really is a ton of fun, but you have to get tickets early in the am.

    Man, writing this stuff makes me miss DC….

    littlehippie — May 24, 2008 @ 9:13 am

  • Bad Brains and Marion Barry. It’s no wonder they make laws there.

    Anonymous — May 24, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  • I am thrilled to hear you got that job you so keenly wanted. Well Done!

    Tawriffic — May 25, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

  • Check out Marvin’s on 14th and U St, an homage to Marvin Gaye.

    aims — May 26, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  • most of the good clubs for music have been mentioned. that said, if a night in a good local dive bar is your cup of tea – here are some great places (with good jukeboxes, of course)…

    wonderland ballroom (11th & Kenyon)
    the toledo lounge (Adams Morgan)
    pharmacy (also Adams Morgan)
    stetson’s (U Street)
    polly’s cafe (U street)

    enjoy your stay. its a fun town.

    m — May 27, 2008 @ 8:51 am

  • Our DC-based vinyl blog will have more than a few suggestions:

    …and we’re also happy to play tour-guide…

    The Vinyl District — May 27, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  • has a fabulous round up of things in DC every day:

    And if you’re a chocolate fan, ACKC Cocoa Bar is wonderful (

    If you’re in the mood for something museum related, the Sackler Gallery ( is probably my favorite. Their current exhibit on Mughal illuminated manuscripts was astonishing.

    The National Gallery of Art ( has In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet, which is a really cool look at the intersection of nature, painting, and technology in the 1800s.

    Also, I cannot recommend the butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum ( highly enough. If you can get there at the end of the day, it’s amazing, because it’s just you, a few staff members, and the butterflies.

    Have fun!

    Pouncer — May 27, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  • The H Street NE area that I know isn’t “scary”. What happened to rock and rollers – have you been totally sissified by “indie” rock? Its one of the best parts of town for drinking, rock and rolling or taking in some theater. On Sunday mornings, you can get entertained by the Lady Preacher with the Megaphone that has all the gentrifers up in arms – awesome for field recordings.

    Jim H — May 29, 2008 @ 8:52 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
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