Connect with us

Arts & Entertainment

STAYCATION: Music in the air

Region abundant with free concert series all summer



U.S. Navy Musician 3rd Class Sarah Williams performs with the Navy Ceremonial Band. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

U.S. Navy Musician 3rd Class Sarah Williams performs with the Navy Ceremonial Band. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

There are lots of great opportunities in the region to hear live music free. Here are a few:

Free concerts from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force bands are a Washington tradition. They perform on alternating days throughout the summer. Concerts are free and no tickets are required. The U.S. Navy Band plays on Mondays at 8 p.m. on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building. Look for them any Monday evening through Aug. 25. They also play some Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Navy Memorial. Look for them there July 22 and 29 and Aug. 12 and 19. They can also be heard on Tuesdays at the Sylvan Theatre in front of the Washington Monument at 8 p.m. July 22 and every Tuesday in August. More information is at

The U.S. Air Force Band performs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building every Tuesday in July and August.and every Wednesday at the Sylvan Theatre in front of the Washington Monument every Wednesday in July and August. They also perform Fridays at 8 p.m. at the Air Force Memorial all remaining weeks in July and every Friday in August. More information is at

The U.S. Marine Band plays Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the West Front of the Capitol Building all remaining Wednesdays in July and every Wednesday in August.

Twilight Tattoo, the Army Band’s outdoor ceremonial concert is an hour-long military pageant that features the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Drill Team, the U.S. Army Blues and members of the U.S. Army Band Downrange. These performances are also free and open to the public. They’ll perform every Wednesday through Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at Fort Myer in Arlington. Visit for details.

The National Gallery of Art offers free jazz performances in the garden of its outdoor cafe every Friday evening during summer. They run every Friday through Aug. 29 from 5-8:30 p.m. but may be canceled due to excessive heat or inclement weather. They’re at the Pavilion Cafe at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (6th and Constitution Ave., N.W.). Food and drinks available or picnics are allowed (alcoholic beverages must be purchased there). Upcoming performers include the Rick Whitehead Trio (tonight), Tom Williams (July 18) and Incendio (July 25). Visit for remaining schedule and more information.

* Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecues are held various dates through Aug. 30 at the National Building Museum (401 F St., N.W.) and offer Texas-style barbecue, drinks and live music. Upcoming performers include Sour Bridges (tonight), the Bellfuries (July 17), the Giving Tree Band (July 18), Joe Firstman (July 19) Mustered Courage (July 31) and more in August.

Hill Country Barbecue is a D.C. restaurant and performance venue that features live country music. It’s at 410 7th St., N.W. Details at

Music on the Mall is an annual free concert series that brings local and regional musicians out for lunchtime concerts. The performances are sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. They’re held at 7th and Jefferson Drive, N.W.between the National Air and Space Museum and the Hirshhorn. Upcoming performers are Hari Vasan (July 15), Kendall Isadore (July 22), Jonathan Tucker (July 29), Cecily Bumbray (Aug. 5) and more. Visit for more information.

• The plaza at Washington Harbour along the waterfront in Georgetown also has a free concert series that runs into September. Performances are held on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and include a wide variety of styles. Upcoming performers are Julia Fanning( July 16), Josh Burgess (July 23), Ken Fischer (July 30), Hand Painted Swinger (Aug. 6) and more. Visit for details.

The Capitol Riverfront will host free outdoor concerts at Yards Park throughout the summer at Yards Park (355 Water St., N.W.). They run on Fridays through Sept. 12 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Upcoming performers include Scott’s New Band (tonight), Framewerk (July 18), Jah Works (july 25), White Ford Bronco (Aug. 1) and more. Visit for more information.




More queer books we love

Bellies: A Novel, Time Out and more for your gift list



(Book cover images courtesy of the publishers)

For the person on your gift list who’d love a boy-meets-boy story, wrap up “Bellies: A Novel” by Nicola Dinan (Hanover Square Press), the tale of a playwright and the man who loves him wholly, until a transition threatens to change everything.

If there’s a romantic on your list, then you’re in luck: finding a gift is easy when you wrap up “10 Things That never Happened” by Alexis Hall (Sourcebooks), the story of Sam, whose job is OK, and his boss, Jonathan, who should have never hired Sam. Too late now, except for the romance. Wrap it up with “Time Out” by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner with Carlyn Greenwald (Simon & Schuster), the story of a basketball player who’s newly out of the closet, and a politically minded boy who could easily get his vote.

For the person on your list who likes to read quick, short articles, wrap up “Inverse Cowgirl: A Memoir” by Alicia Roth Weigel (HarperOne). It’s a collection of essays on life as an intersex person, and the necessity for advocating for others who are, too.

Continue Reading


Our favorite books for holiday gifts

Hitchcock, Britney, Barbra, and more!



(Book cover image courtesy of G.P. Putnam's Sons)

When it gets dark early, it’s cold outside and you want to spice up your life, what’s more intriguing than a book? Here are some holiday gift ideas for book lovers of all ages.

Who isn’t fascinated by the dark, twisty, sometimes, mordantly witty, movies of Alfred Hitchcock, or by Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Ingrid Bergman and the other actresses in his films? Hitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind the Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession by Laurence Leamer, author of “Capote’s Women,” is an engrossing story not only of Hitchcock, but of the iconic “blondes” he cast in some of his most beloved movies from “39 Steps” to “Rear Window” to “Vertigo” to “Psycho.” $29. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Reading about Hitchcock, no matter how intriguing the book, is never as good as watching his films. Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection (Blu-ray $39.96. DVD: $32.40) features “Rear Window,” “North by Northwest,” “Psycho” and “The Birds.”

Corona/Crown,” by D.C.-based queer poet Kim Roberts in collaboration with photographer Robert Revere, is a fab present for lovers of photography, museums, and poetry. Revere and Roberts were deeply affected by the closure of museums during the COVID pandemic. In this lovely chapbook, they create a new “museum” of their own. “This is what I learned when the pandemic struck,” Roberts writes, “when I couldn’t stop thinking about the artwork in all the museums, bereft of human eyes.” $21.25 WordTech Editions

Few things are as scary and/or captivating as a good ghost story. The Night Side of the River,” by acclaimed lesbian writer Jeanette Winterson, author of “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” and “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” is a provocative and engrossing collection of ghost stories. These deliciously chilling stories feature spirits, avatars, a haunted estate, AI and, pun intended, lively meetings between the living and the dead. $27. Grove.

Blackouts,” a novel by queer writer Justin Torres that received this year’s National Book Award for fiction, is a breathtaking book about storytelling, queer history, love, art, and erasure. A perfect gift for aficionados of characters that become etched into your DNA. $30. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The Woman in Me,” the memoir by Britney Spears will be devoured by queers of all ages – from tweens to elders. Much of Spears’s story is known – from her youth in Louisiana to her rapid rise to fame to her conservatorship (when her father controlled her life). Yet the devil, as the saying goes, is in the details. In this riveting memoir, Spears reveals the horrifying and exhilarating aspects of her life: from how her father controlled what she ate and when she took a bath to the restrictions put on her ability to see her sons to her love of singing, dancing, and creating music. Spears writes of the queer community’s “unconditional” love and support for her.  $32.99. Gallery.

Few memoirs have been more eagerly anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s My Name Is Barbra.” In its nearly 1,000 pages, EGOT-winning (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), divine, queer icon Streisand, 81, tells seemingly everything about her life. She quarreled with Larry Kramer over filming “The Normal Heart.” It didn’t work out: Streisand thought mainstream audiences would be turned off by explicit sex scenes. Marlon Brando and Streisand were good friends, she loves Brazilian coffee ice cream and her mother was a horror show. Contrary to how some lesser mortals see her, she doesn’t see herself as a diva. The print version of “My Name is Barbra” is fab. The audio version, a 48-hour listen, which Streisand narrates, is even better. $47. Viking. $45 on Audible.

Chasing Rembrandt,” by Richard Stevenson is a terrific gift for mystery lovers. Richard Stevenson was the pseudonym for Richard Lipez, the out queer author, who wrote witty, engaging mysteries featuring the openly gay detective Donald Strachey. Sadly, Stevenson died in 2022. But, “Chasing Rembrandt,” a novel featuring Strachey and his romantic partner Timmy, was published this year. The idea for the story was sparked by a real-life incident when paintings were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “Robbers wreak havoc, smashing the glass covers protecting masterpieces and slicing paintings out of their frames,” Stevenson writes at the beginning of this entertaining story, “They make off with thirteen works, including three Rembrandts and a Vermeer, worth more than half a billion dollars and beloved in the world of art. It is arguably the greatest property theft in human history.”

With the repartee of Nick and Nora and the grit of Philip Marlowe, Strachey works to solve this mystery. $16.95. ReQueered Tales.

Some books never get old. “The Wild Things,” the beloved children’s picture book written and illustrated by acclaimed gay writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, was published in 1963. Sixty years later, the Caldecott Medal-winning classic is still loved by three to five-year-olds, their parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. A new digital audio version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” narrated by Michelle Obama, was released this fall. Who can resist the Wild Things, when they plead: “Oh, please don’t go–we’ll eat you up–We love you so!”? Widely available in hard cover, paperback and e-book format. Audio: $5.50.

What’s more fun than playing a festive album while you’re reading during the holidays? Deck the halls! This year, queer icon Cher has released “Christmas,” her first holiday album. Highlights of the album include: Cher singing with Cyndi Lauper on “Put A Little Holiday In Your Heart,” Stevie Wonder on “What Christmas Means to Me” and Darlene Love on “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” and the rapper Tyga on “Drop Top Sleigh Ride.” The perfect gift for Cher aficionados.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

Continue Reading


PHOTOS: Walk to End HIV

Over $550,000 raised at annual Whitman-Walker event



The 2023 Walk to End HIV was held on Saturday, Dec. 2. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Whitman-Walker Health held its 37th annual Walk to End HIV on Saturday, Dec. 2. Participants gathered in Anacostia Park in heavy fog to run or walk along the Anacostia River Walk Trail. A short stage program at the finish line was emceed by NBC4 Washington’s Chuck Bell and included speakers from Whitman-Walker Health, Gilead Sciences and AARP. Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi announced from the stage that over $550,000 had been raised to help fund programs and research to combat HIV.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade