Thursday, Feb. 17
Black Opry Revue at City Winery: Holly G started Black Opry from her bedroom last April, as an attempt to heal her relationship with the genre: A website where she could write about artists of color and help boost their profiles and perhaps connect with other country music enthusiasts. Within two weeks, she was inundated with messages from singers and fans who wanted to participate and support the group. She got so many requests for concerts that she had to hire a booking agent, which is how she put together the Black Opry Revue. The lineup for the D.C. show, a writers round-style event where the artists share the stories behind the songs, includes Autumn Nicholas, who has been hosting songwriter events in Nashville, and Frankie Staton, founder of the Black Country Music Association in the 1990s. “Even though everyone connected online, to see it in person really strikes you in a different way, and it kind of makes all of it real,” Holly said. “Every time we go to a show, it leaves me speechless because I just didn’t ever think I would see people like me making the music that I like.” 8 p.m. $22-32.
Mother Tongue Film Festival: The annual Mother Tongue Film Festival is a celebration of Indigenous language: 45 languages are spoken across the 36 films featured in this year’s online event. But more than that, Mother Tongue a chance to hear and experience cultures that are rarely represented on screen. This year’s theme is a Hawaiian phrase that translates to “through the past is the future,” and the lineup “focuses on the gifts from the past and our obligations to those that came before as we chart our futures,” said Joshua A. Bell, the festival co-director and a curator at the National Museum of Natural History. In addition to screenings, the online offerings include roundtables and panels with directors and educators. Through March 4. Screenings are free, but audience numbers are limited, so advance registration is required.
Piano concert at the Embassy of France: France holds the presidency of the European Union in 2022, and pianist Ruti Abramovitch performs a suitably diplomatic program featuring music by composers from across the continent, including Frederic Chopin, Federico Mompou and Enrique Granados. 7:30 p.m. $15-$25.
Friday, Feb. 18
Katsucon at the Gaylord National Hotel: After a year away, crowds of anime fans and elaborately dressed cosplayers are returning to National Harbor. Katsucon, which began in 1995, runs nonstop from Friday morning until late afternoon Saturday, with a schedule containing an almost overwhelming number of choices. There are panel discussions featuring secrets from voice actors and talks about representation in anime; cosplay meetups, costume contests and fashion workshops; late-night dancing and movie screenings; dance classes; tabletop gaming contests; autograph sessions with voice actors; and activities for younger fans, such as “Pokémon Biology 101.” All that’s even before browsing the vast merchant hall and the anime art show. (Seriously, just take a look at the full list of events.) Good thing it’s a long weekend, because guests won’t be sleeping much. $60-$80; $160-$180 VIP. Ages 7 and younger free.
Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival at the Hilton Rockville: “Real Jazz is back — in person,” blares the signage for this year’s Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. The back half of that slogan is unambiguous. The MAJF is returning to its longtime setting at the Hilton Rockville over Presidents’ Day weekend, following a pandemic-inspired virtual festival in 2021. “Real jazz,” however, has become a bit more complicated. Festival director Paul Carr has long used the term to refer to the acoustic, straight-ahead bebop jazz that he loves. Carr’s approach is to introduce a new performance stage to the MAJF: The Oval Stage, which presents the kind of gateway he experienced. There are also two other stages to choose from: The MAJF Club Stage features local artists, with an emphasis on vocalists, while the festival’s Ronnie Wells Main Stage naturally plays host to the top draws, many of whom this year share the bandstand with university big bands. Friday through Sunday. $25-$85 single session tickets; $155-$185 day passes.
Evening at the Embassy of Ethiopia: Washingtonians often hear that our region is home to the largest Ethiopian community outside Africa, and learning how to eat kitfo and doro watt with injera is practically a rite of passage for new residents. But really, how much do most Americans actually know about Ethiopia? You’re guaranteed to learn something at Things to Do D.C.’s Evening at the Embassy of Ethiopia. Yes, there will be a buffet, and an open bar with Ethiopian wine and beer, but this is a chance to hear from ambassador Fitsum Arega, tour the embassy’s art collection, and watch a dance performance. Business attire is requested. 7:30 to 10 p.m. $65.
Extended hours for ‘Illustrating Spain’ at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain: “Illustrating Spain” tries to both show and tell the history of Spain’s influence in North America, pairing Spanish comic artists and scholars to create large graphic illustrations that explain the country’s role in the Revolutionary War, the legacy of immigrants who arrived in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the contributions of Spanish scientists to fields as diverse as medicine and space exploration. The exhibition closes on March 6, and organizers are extending its hours, beginning this weekend, to give as many people as possible a chance to see it. Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free. Reservations through Eventbrite.
Chris Fleming at Capital Turnaround: The comedian, named one of Variety’s Ten Comics to watch in 2019, has gone viral for his madman antics and humor (including bringing live animals to his sister’s engagement party). Fleming has appeared on Comedy Central shows and has over 50 million views on his YouTube channel, but why settle for a small screen when you can see him in person across from the Navy Yard? 8 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19
Earl Sweatshirt at the Anthem: Formerly of the off-kilter rap collective “Odd Future,” Thebe Kgositsile, also known as Earl Sweatshirt, has grown up before the hip-hop audience in the last decade or so. On his latest album “Sick!” he moves past the shock rap he sometimes played with and trades provocation for contemplation. He works through his grandfather’s illness and eventual demise on “God Laughs,” the moodiest and most haunting song of the project. He raps, “Through his brain getting chipped away at daily / His body on a road where his mind flailed, funeral weightless.” Sweatshirt makes references to the collective struggle of the past 2½ years, perhaps most directly on “Vision” when he raps, “Singular current event, everything we in the midst of/ How long you waiving the rent.” “Sick!” finds the rapper where a lot of people found themselves after a long period of being with just their thoughts: taking stock and wondering what it all means. 8 p.m. $35-$55.
Remembering Black Broadway at the ‘Jewel of U Street’ at the Lincoln Theatre: A century ago, U Street was known as “Black Broadway,” a proud and prosperous Black community lined with nightclubs, theaters and businesses that attracted the biggest entertainers of the day, including Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway and, of course, Duke Ellington. One of those theaters was the Lincoln Theatre, which raised its curtain for the first time in 1922. Author Briana Thomas, whose recent book “Black Broadway in Washington, D.C.” traces the history of U Street from the 1800s to the present, discusses her research at an event featuring performances by the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra — a musical organization that continues to honor a former neighborhood landmark. 7 p.m. Free; Registration required.
Clairo at the Fillmore Silver Spring: Clairo has the kind of voice that when a beautiful flute comes in halfway through the opening song on her 2021 album “Sling,” for a split second you think it might be her cooing. By the time she’s harmonizing toward the end of “Bambi,” with light percussion and a trumpet leading her, you have to close your eyes and sway. And it’s pretty much that way for the rest of the album, even as the subject matter gets darker. On the album’s lead single “Blouse,” Clairo sings about being objectified. Listeners might jolt when she sings, “Why do I tell you how I feel/When you’re too busy looking down my blouse?” as angelic and mournful strings follow her out of the chorus. You may remember Clairo, whose real name is Claire Cottrill, going viral after uploading her bedroom music video to her first released song, “Pretty Girl.” A tour with Tame Impala and two albums later, she’s committed to expanding on what made “Pretty Girl” stand out: vulnerable, relatable yet still specific storytelling. Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. $43.50.
Haus of Gaga dance party at Wunder Garten: Pay your deep respects to pop star Lady Gaga and her continued cultural impact at the city’s latest pop-star-themed dance party. Expect specialty drinks, deep-cut songs and performers in notable Lady Gaga red carpet looks, with music provided by DJ Tezrah. Named after the pop star’s behind-the-scenes creative team, Haus of Gaga is the dance escape for any casual or die-hard fan of the singer/actress/performer. 9 p.m. Free.
22 & Good 4 U at Songbyrd: “22 & Good 4 U” is the brainchild of L.A.-based promoter Ben Schechter. When concerts began to return last summer, Schechter — who has booked live bands for the past six years under his What the Sound banner — wanted to promote a party night. A fan of Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, he settled on a brand name that paid tribute to both artists and has found success with the concept around the country. For Schechter, part of the appeal of artist-focused dance nights has been how these shows differ from traditional concerts, where the focus is chiefly on the performer and not always on cutting loose with friends and fellow attendees. “You don’t really have to focus on anything else except for belting the lyrics that you already know so well,” he says. “I think that experience after the pandemic [began] is super powerful.” 10:30 p.m. $22-$25.
Prude at the Quarry House Tavern: Nick Bairatchnyi was born in the waning days of indie-rock shoulder shrugging, but there’s a big difference between the ’90s slacker ethos and what his band Prude is up to right now. Back then, indie bands developed a generational aesthetic by exuding indifference to whether anyone was paying attention to the noise they were making — but Bairatchnyi, 25, very much wants Prude’s noise to connect, and the artful slackness of his songcraft sounds more like a spiritual resourcefulness than a born-too-late style pose. On Prude’s new 5-track EP “Moral Remainder,” guitar chords jangle and surge parallel to Bairatchnyi’s tuneful yawn of a voice. Recorded over the summer with close friends from his D.C. childhood, the songs unspool in drowsy somersaults, generating a cumulative charm that Bairatchnyi hopes might “stick with whoever’s listening.” 9:30 p.m. $12.
Roy Boys Third Anniversary Party: To mark three years of fried chicken, cocktails and, more recently, tacos, Roy Boys is bringing its all-star bartending team back together for a hip-hop happy hour. Frank Mills, Kyre Williams and Lou Bernard are pouring featured rum and tequila drinks while DJ Lexis Lane spins throwback jams from 5 to 10 p.m. Doors at 4 p.m. Free.
Monday, Feb. 21
Presidents’ Day was originally celebrated as Washington’s Birthday, and America’s first president remains a cause for celebrating in Alexandria. The centerpiece is a parade through Old Town on Monday from 1 to 3 p.m., a day that also features a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution and tours events at city museums. Other festivities a virtual Birthnight Ball with English country dancing and period costumes (Saturday), and a family scavenger hunt (available through Feb. 28). A map and schedule are available on washingtonbirthday.com. A short trip south, Washington’s Mount Vernon estate marks the big day with two days of music, demonstrations, crafts and appearances by the birthday boy himself. Admission is free on Monday and Tuesday, though tickets must be claimed in advance through mountvernon.org. (Monday was already at capacity as of press time.)
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Bakers Against Racism: The Power of Community Activism through Food: The Smithsonian’s latest Cooking Up History series offers a trio of free virtual programs with the theme of “Food for the People: Women Sustaining Communities in Greater Washington.” First up is pastry chef Paola Velez, who earned a nomination as a James Beard “Rising Star” for her work at Kith and Kin before the pandemic, and was named a “Best New Chef” by Food and Wine in 2021. But outside of the kitchen, Velez is known as one of the founders of Bakers Against Racism, a global online bake sale that raised almost $1.9 million to benefit Black Lives Matter and other racial justice organizations. Learn about the roots of Velez’s activism, and pick up a new recipe, at this discussion and demonstration with historian Ashley Rose Young. 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. Free; Registration required.
Illuminati Hotties at the Black Cat: Illuminati Hotties, a Sarah Tudzin project, is making self-described “tender-punk” music: not dark enough to be emo, but not hardcore enough to be punk. On Tudzin’s latest album “Let Me Do One More,” listeners might experience whiplash as they make their way through songs that go from head-banging to beautifully somber. Her voice is almost a whisper on “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism,” an eye-catching title for a slower song lamenting constantly being marketed to. With sentimental guitar riffs in the background, she sings, “I can’t believe I’m buying in.” “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” is just as fun as its title, as we hear Tudzin do some vocal gymnastics: At one point her voice sounds almost comically high and then seconds later her voice drops as she mimics a man. Her lyrics are just as chaotic as she goes from singing, “the DNC is playing dirty!” to, “I’m so sad I can’t do laundry.” But kooky vocals and funny lyrics work well as an animated guitar brings them together nicely. Just like the album as a whole, the mayhem is fun. 7:30 p.m. $15-$18.
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Silent Book Club at Sonny’s Pizza: While Twitter villains might think there’s something wrong with reading alone in a bar, we’ve long been fans of the practice. If you like to read quietly with a drink, D.C.’s Silent Book Club is the ideal book club. Spend an hour reading silently at a picnic table in the back garden of Sonny’s Pizza in Park View, and afterward, you can choose to chat or swap books with other guests, or just keep reading by yourself. 6 to 8 p.m. Free.
‘Change Agent’ live-streams from Arena Stage: Though most Washington-area theaters require masks and proof of vaccination, some people still don’t feel comfortable attending plays in person. In that case, Arena Stage will bring the theater to them. Five performances of “Change Agent,” a world-premiere play based on the story of John F. Kennedy’s relationship with Mary Pinchot Meyer, will be streamed during the finals weeks of the show, including Wednesday and Thursday nights. Post critic Peter Marks called the production “engrossing” and “admirably spare and sobering.” Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., and March 4-5. $50.
Debbie Millman in conversation with Roxane Gay at Sixth & I: Debbie Millman is known for her 15-year old podcast “Design Matters,” which features conversations with creatives about finding inspiration and purpose in their lives. Millman’s upcoming book “Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People” brings together the best of those interviews, including Allison Bechdel and Ira Glass. Millman and her wife Roxane Gay take the stage at Sixth and I to discuss the book. The talk will also be live-streamed. 7 p.m. $12 streaming; $20 in-person.