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Music & Concerts

Eclectic offerings

A little drag, a little stand-up, jazz, pop, classical and more



concert, gay news, Washington Blade
concert, gay news, Washington Blade

Among the season’s big concert draws are Jennifer Holliday, Big Freedia and Cher. (Photos courtesy the Howard and Verizon Center)

As always, Washington is as hot a concert town as ever.

Lesbian singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick performs at the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Her latest album “The Truth Is” was released last year. Ferrick will be joined by singer Natalia Zukerman. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit

RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio will begin hosting “Bianca’s Comedy Cabaret,” a monthly show, Wednesday at Town. Bianca will be joined by a variety of guests performing different acts. V.I.P tickets are $25 and include a pre-show meet and greet with Bianca. General admission tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the meet and greet. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. For more details, visit Aussie “Drag Race” runner up Courtney Act will be at Town Sept. 27.

The von Trapps perform at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave E., Vienna, Va.) on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The great-grandchildren of George and Maria von Trapp, whose lives were portrayed in the musical “The Sound of Music,” have continued the family tradition of making music. Sofi, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp have recorded six albums and toured internationally. Tickets range from $15-20. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The Patricia Barber Quartet, helmed by the out pianist, plays Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club (7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) on Sept. 19 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Visit for details.

British musical duo Erasure performs two sold-out nights at 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.), Sept. 19-20.Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, who is openly gay, rose to prominence in the 1980s. Their songs “A Little Respect,” “Sometimes” and “Star” were all chart-topping hits. Their latest album “The Violet Flame” will be released in September.

Comedian Wanda Sykes, who is openly gay and a D.C. native, performs her stand-up show at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md.) Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. Sykes has been one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America and also was on the sitcom “The New Adventures of the Old Christine.” Tickets range from $35.10-$129. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

Camp Rehoboth presents Well-Strung, a singing string quartet, at Rehoboth Beach Convention Center (229 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.) on Sept. 26 from 9-11 p.m. For more details, visit

Broadway legend Patti LuPone will perform “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda … Played That Part,” at Concert Hall at George Mason Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax, Va.) on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. LuPone, who is known for her roles in Broadway shows “Evita” and “Gypsy,” will perform songs from “Hair,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Funny Girl” and more. Tickets range from $60-100. For more information, visit

The eighth annual Phasefest Queer Arts and Music Festival, the largest queer music and arts festival on the East Coast, is at Phase 1 Lounge (525 8th St., S.E.) Sept. 26-27.There will be performances by “The Real L Word’s” Hunter Valentine, Sick of Sarah, The Pushovers, Glitterlust, Frankie and Betty and many more. Admission is $20 for Sept. 26 and $20 for Sept. 27. A festival pass is available for both days for $45. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over.

Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday performs at the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. Holliday is best known for portraying Effie White in the hit musical “Dreamgirls” where she performed the classic ballad “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going.” She has collaborated with popular musical artists such as Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson. Tickets range from $35-$70. Doors open at 6 p.m. Visit for more details.

Washington Concert Opera presents a staging of Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Capuleti E I Montecchi,” a retelling of “Romeo & Juliet” on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium. The highly acclaimed outfit, a professional concert opera company offering concert versions of rarely heart, full-length operatic works, also has several other events throughout the fall. For details, call 202-364-5826 or visit

Cher’s “Dressed to Kill” tour, named after a song on her latest album “Closer to the Truth,” returns for a fall performance at the Verizon Center (601 F St., N.W.) Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. As always, gays were out in droves when she was here in April. Tickets range from $34.20-$170.75. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

Rapper Big Freedia comes to the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. Big Freedia, who is gay, helped begin the “Bounce” rap movement, a sub-genre of hip-hop in New Orleans. She has been featured on two RuPaul songs, “Peanut Butter” and “Freaky Money.” She is also the star of her reality show “Big Freedia.” Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 day of show. For details, visit

Grammy-winner Rufus Wainwright performs at Rams Head on Stage (33 West St., Annapolis, Md.) on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. Wainwright, who is gay, has released 10 albums and collaborated with musical icons such as Elton John and Lou Reed. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. Tickets are $79.50. For details, visit

The Birchmere presents Gladys Knight at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. The seven-time Grammy winner has produced hits in pop, R&B and adult contemporary and will be touring behind her new gospel album which dropped this week. Tickets range from $80.25-$116.50. For more details, visit

Fleetwood Mac brings its “On with the Show” tour to Verizon Center on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. This is the first time the full classic-era ‘70s lineup including longtime pianist Christine McVie, has all been together since the late ‘90s. Tickets range from $60-205. For more information, visit

Grammy legend Aretha Franklin comes to Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric (140 W Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore) Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. Franklin has achieved 20 number-one R&B singles and is one of the best selling female artists of all time. Her songs “Respect,” “Think,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” have become well-known anthems. Tickets range from $82.10-$190.40. For more details, visit

Gay Men’s Chorus of D.C. presents “Love Stinks” on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Ticket prices to be announced. For more details, visit

Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md.) presents “Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin, Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo” on Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. The guitarists will play different guitars including jazz and Brazilian. Tickets range from $26.10-70. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

Rams Head on Stage (33 West St., Annapolis, Md.) presents Amy Ray, half of the duo Indigo Girls, on Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. Her latest solo album is “Goodnight Tender” released this year. Tickets are $22.50. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit

Saxophonist Dave Koz brings “Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour” to Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md.) on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. R&B and gospel singer Jonathan Butler and singer-songwriter Christopher Cross will join the out jazz performer. Tickets range from $34.20-85. For more details, visit

Cult film director John Waters brings his Christmas show “A John Waters Christmas” to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) on Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The show is a selection of Christmas monologues by Waters. Tickets are $49.50. For more information, visit


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Music & Concerts

Washington Arts Ensemble to host immersive concert

Creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture



The Washington Arts Ensemble will host an immersive concert experience on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m. at Dupont Underground.

This concert will show how distinct genres influence pop culture and articulate the commonality between classical, jazz, and electronic music while creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture.

Some of the works that will be performed include “Switched-On Bach selections” by Wendy Carlos, “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals by Camile Saint-Saens, among other works.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the Washington Arts Ensemble’s website

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Music & Concerts

John Levengood releases anthem “Say Gay!” to protest discrimination

Slated to perform new song at 2022 Capital Pride Festival in June



Recording artist John Levengood’s latest song ‘Say Gay!’ is out Friday. (Photo courtesy Levengood)

“Say gay! Say gay! Say gay!
“Say what? Say what?
“One little law won’t shut us up!”

Slated for digital release this Friday, recording artist John Levengood’s latest song “Say Gay!” confronts anti-LGBTQ legislation such as the “Don’t Say Gay” law by encouraging others to “profess their queerness loudly, proudly, and never in the shadows,” Levengood said in a press release shared with the Blade on Tuesday.

On June 12, Levengood is set to perform the song’s live debut at the 2022 Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C., to streets teeming with community members, food trucks, and local vendors, according to the press release.

“The rise in oppressive legislation and proposals have many in the LGBTQ+ community alarmed,” the press release says. Levengood “hopes this song can be used as a metaphorical weapon to blast holes in the argument that teaching children about acceptance and diversity is more appropriate at home than school.”

The bill, enacted by the Florida Legislature earlier this year but not yet in force, would limit teachers’ ability to teach LGBTQ topics in some school settings and obligate school officials to disclose students’ sexual orientation and gender identity to their parents upon request.

A D.C. resident himself, Levengood currently works over the weekends as resident host and karaoke emcee at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, Va., an LGBTQ bar and restaurant.

Levengood is no stranger to the music scene, in 2013 moving through multiple rounds of auditions for the third season of “The X Factor” before coming up short of formally appearing on the show, according to the release.

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of rural Virginia, the press release added that music has been an outlet for Levengood to express himself from an early age. The new song marks his seventh musical release.

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Music & Concerts

Tori Amos spins magic at Sunday night D.C.-area concert

First show in the area since ’17 finds Gen X icon vocally subdued but musically energized



As with many veteran rock stars, it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on how hot or cold Tori Amos’s 30-year-old solo career is at the moment. It sometimes seems like she’s moving past the take-her-for-granted-because-she’s-never-away-for-long phase, and there certainly was that sense in the air Sunday night for her D.C.-area stop of her current “Ocean to Ocean Tour,” her first show here since 2017, which, with COVID, feels like a lifetime ago.

But there are also signs that it’s never been chillier for Amos in the overall pop culture landscape. It’s been a decade since she charted a single on any chart and there were no videos or singles from her “Ocean to Ocean” album last fall. It landed just outside the top 100 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album sales chart altogether, a new low that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago when her “regular” (i.e. non-specialty/concept) albums were almost guaranteed a top 10 debut. 

The slide has been swift, too: 2014’s “Unrepentant Geraldines” hit No. 7, the next album (2017’s polarizing “Native Invader”) only made it to 39, then came “Ocean’s” thud at no. 104. There’s a lot you could point to to explain it — streaming, her aging Gen X fan base, the endless undulations of the music industry itself — but in some ways it has started to feel like she’s getting less and less return on her artistic dollar than one would expect. 

Yeah, that always happens with veteran female pop stars once they hit their 50s and beyond, but Amos and her small but mighty fan base, who for decades exhibited a devotion of Grateful Dead-like proportions, outran the trend for so long, to see it finally catching up is a bit bewildering.

But then you go hear her live at a decent-size venue like The Theater at MGM National Harbor (which seats 3,000 and was about 97 percent full), and it feels nearly like old times. Sure, some of the excitement was just that we’re all gagging at being at concerts at all and having mask restrictions and vaccine requirements paused, but there was an electricity that, while mellower than it was at Amos concerts in the ’90s, still felt magical. I’ve never in my life seen so long a line for the merch table.

The concert itself was, for the most part, sublime. It was the first time since 2009 she’s toured with a band and while her solo shows are great too, there was pent-up yearning to hear her unleash full-on with a solid rhythm section (Jon Evans on bass, Ash Soan on drums) again. Beat-heavy songs like “Raspberry Swirl” and “Cornflake Girl” sounded tepid with canned beats the last few times out, so to hear everything truly live (save a few BGVs and effects) last night was heavenly.

It was Gen X queer night out Sunday night at the Theater at MGM National Harbor for Tori Amos’s first concert here since 2017. (Photo by Desmond Murray; courtesy Girlie Action)

The show had special poignancy too, as Amos grew up in the region. She has written and commented heavily on the immense toll her mother’s 2019 death took on her personally and artistically, so that the date happened to be Mother’s Day gave the proceedings added gravitas. “Mother Revolution” and “Jackie’s Strength” spoke, of course, to the holiday, though (and this is quibbling) I would have vastly preferred “Mother” from “Little Earthquakes,” a deep cut we haven’t heard live in eons. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

Highlights included the slinky, rhythm-loopy opener “Juarez”; “Ocean to Ocean,” one of three cuts performed from the new record, which shimmered with Philip Glass-like piano arpeggios; the vampy, slinky interplay between the three musicians on “Mother Revolution”; and unexpected fan favorite “Spring Haze.” Amos, overall, is varying up the set list quite a bit less than is her norm, so it was one of the few surprises of the evening. 

The lengths of several of the songs were drawn out considerably. At times — “A Sorta Fairytale,” the aforementioned “Revolution” — that worked well and gave the band time to languidly jam. At other points, it felt a bit self-indulgent and even slightly boring — as on “Sweet Sangria” and “Liquid Diamonds.” 

“Russia,” a bonus cut from the last album, sounded just how it did when Amos performed it here in 2017, but took on added resonance because of current events. Closing line “Is Stalin on your shoulder” was chilling.

Overall, the show — lighting, pacing, everything — largely worked. The sound mix, which fans have said has been muddy at some venues recently on the tour, was pristine. Pacing only lagged a few times in some of the mid-tempo cuts from later albums, but just when you felt some were zoning — the flow of those entering and exiting is a good barometer — Amos whipped things back together with a fan favorite like “Past the Mission” or “Spring Haze.”

It all came to a satisfying, audience-friendly climax with “Cornflake Girl,” then the two encore cuts, “Precious Things” and “Tear in Your Hand,” both from the first album. 

Vocally, the range was there and sounded lovely, but the oomph was considerably held back. Vocal preservation for the many dates ahead? Probably. It’s understandable. Amos, at 58, may lack the stamina she had 20 years ago, but it did feel underwhelming in passages that in years past would have been full on, balls out like the “Bliss” bridge or the “nine-inch nails” passage from “Precious Things.” 

Not one acknowledgment or mention by Amos of the female folk duo openers Companion. I’d have invited them out for a few numbers to sing BGVs. I mean, heck, they’re in the house, why not? And other than the welcome, a brief soliloquy on Mother’s Day was the only Amos comment of the entire night. 

Still Amos never came off as aloof. She seemed genuinely excited to be playing live again and the queer-heavy crowd responded in kind. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)
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