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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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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    September 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    m­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­y­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ n­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­i­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­g­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­h­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­b­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­o­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­r'­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­s ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­s­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­i­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­s­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­r­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­in-­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­law ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­makes ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­$86 ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­hourly ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­on ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­computer. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­She ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­has ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­been ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­without work for ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­six ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­months ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­but ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­last ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­month ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­her ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­income ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­was ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­$19941 ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­just ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­working ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­on ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­computer ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­for ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­a fe­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­w ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ho­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­urs. vi­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­sit ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­t­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­h­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­si­­­­­­te­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

    ☛☛☛☛ W­W­W.R­e­p­o­r­t­w­i­k­­i.C­o­­­m

    f­­­­­o­­­­­r a w­­­­­o­­­­­r­­­­­k de­­­­­ta­­­­­il g­­­­­o te­­­­­ch t­­­­­a­­­­­b….

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Music & Concerts

Forget streaming, the holiday classics return to area stages

Bring your proof of vaccination and check out a local production this season



A scene from a previous Gay Men's Chorus of Washington Holiday Show. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

A year ago, the holiday season was streamed. But now, thanks to various protocols including masks and proof of vaccination, DMV theatergoers can come together and experience – live and in-person — both beloved classics and some promising new works. Here’s a smattering of what’s out there.

At Olney Theatre, Paul Morello is thrilled to bring back “A Christmas Carol 2021” (through Dec. 26), his solo adaptation of Dickens’ ghost story. Concerning returning to a live audience, Morello says, “While this is technically a one-person show, it’s really about the connection and collaboration with an audience, being in the same room, breathing in unison. I can’t do this without an audience and for a story that thrives on redemption, mortality, isolation, the need for community and connection, and the things that matter most, the timing couldn’t be better.”

Olney also presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” through Jan. 2. This musical “tale as old as time” stars out actor Jade Jones as Belle and Evan Ruggiero plays the Beast.

For the holidays, Synetic Theater at Crystal City is reworking “Cinderella” (Nov. 27-Dec. 26). Led by an all-female team of creators, this festive take on the classic fairytale is inspired by Afro-Latino music and dance. Directed and adapted by Maria Simpkins who also plays the title role.

Last year, because of COVID-19, Ford’s Theatre presented “A Christmas Carol” as a radio broadcast, but now the fully produced play returns to the venue’s historic stage through Dec. 27. A popular Washington tradition for more than 30 years, the thoroughly enjoyable and topnotch take on the Dickens’ classic features Craig Wallace reprising the part of Scrooge, the miser who after a night of ghostly visits, rediscovers Christmas joy.

Another D.C. tradition guaranteed to put audiences in a holiday mood is the Washington Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” playing at the Warner Theatre through Dec. 26. Set to Tchaikovsky’s enchanted score, this charming and superbly executed offering takes place in Georgetown circa 1882 and features a retinue of historic figures along with children, rats, fairies and a mysterious godfather. Choreography is by Septime Webre.

The Folger Consort, the superb early music ensemble in residence at the Folger, will be performing seven concerts of “A Medieval Christmas” (Dec. 10-18) at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill. A streaming version of the concert will also be available to view on-demand.

At Lincoln Theatre, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. presents “The Holiday Show” (Dec. 4, 11, and 12) replete with tap-dancing elves, a dancing Christmas tree, snow, and a lot more. The fun and festive program’s song list includes “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “The 12 Rockin’ Days of Christmas,” and “Boogie Woogie Frosty.” Featured performances range from the full Chorus, soloists, all GMCW ensembles, and the GenOUT Youth Chorus.

Arena Stage is marking the season with August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” (through Dec. 26), a drama about a small group of friends who gather following the untimely death of their friend, a blues guitarist on the edge of stardom. Directed by Tazewell Thompson, the production features an exciting cast that includes local actors Dane Figueroa Edidi and Roz White.

Creative Cauldron is serving up some holiday magic with “The Christmas Angel” (Dec. 9-19). Based on a little-known 1910 novel by Abbey Farwell Brown, it’s the story of a lonely and bitter spinster who returns to happiness through a box of old toys. The commissioned new holiday musical is a collaboration of longtime musical collaborators and married couple Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith (lyrics and book).

In keeping with the Yuletide spirit, the National Theatre presents two feel-good national tour musicals. First, it’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (through Dec. 5), a musical take on Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.”

Next up is “Tootsie” (Dec. 7-12), the hit musical based on the 1982 gender-bending film starring Dustin Hoffman as an out-of-work actor who disguises himself as a woman to land a role on a popular soap opera. The show boasts a Tony-winning book by Robert Horn and a score by Tony winner David Yazbek (The Band’s Visit).

Keegan Theatre presents its annual holiday offering, “An Irish Carol” (Dec. 10-31). Set in a modern Dublin pub, the funny yet poignant original work (a nod to Dickens) tracks the changes in the life of a rich but miserable publican over the course of one Christmas Eve.

At Theater J, it’s the Kinsey Sicks’ “Oy Vey in a Manger” (Dec. 17-25). Blending drag, four-part harmony, and political humor, the “dragapella beautyshop quartet” brings its own hilariously irreverent view on the holidays.

And through Jan. 2, Signature Theatre continues to brighten the season with its production of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” directed by the company’s out artistic director Matthew Gardiner and featuring out actor David Merino as Angel, a preternaturally energetic drag queen and percussionist.

The Music Center at Strathmore, also in Bethesda, is presenting a wide range of musical holiday offerings including “Manheim Steamroller Christmas” (Dec. 3 and 4), a multimedia holiday tradition; Sarah Brightman in “A Christmas Symphony” (Dec. 6 and 7); “A Celtic Christmas with Séan Heely Celtic Band” (Dec. 11); Washington Bach Consort’s “Bach’s Epic Christmas Oratorio” (Dec. 11); the beloved “The Washington Chorus: A Candlelight Christmas” (Dec. 16 and 17); and last but not least “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 20), Tchaikovsky’s classic reimagined with MC Kurtis Blow (“White Lines”).

And finally, something strictly for the kids: Imagination Stage presents “Corduroy” (Dec. 11-Jan. 24). Based on the beloved children’s books by Don Freeman, it’s the heartwarming story of a girl and her perfectly imperfect Teddy Bear. Best for ages 3-9.

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Music & Concerts

BETTY returns to DC

Queer band to perform at City Winery Dec. 5



BETTY (Photo by Gene Reed, 2021)

Pop-rock band BETTY is returning to their District homeland for a holiday show at City Winery on Dec. 5.  

Fronted by Alyson Palmer and sisters Elizabeth and Amy Ziff, the band who are “rule breakers” and “equality rockers” have been touring, writing, and advocating for social change through their music since 1986. The band has been featured in shows like “The L Word” and “Encyclopedia,” and created their own off-Broadway show “BETTY RULES.”

The D.C. show will kick off a tour that will bring the band to New York City, Cincinnati, and New Hope, Pa. Elizabeth, who identifies as lesbian, said it’s been “incredible” to be in rehearsals for shows again after the pandemic put a hold on live music.  

“We’ve been together for so long. We are a family and we hang out and we’re friends and we play music together,” she said. “It’s our life.”

Amy, who is queer, said she’s excited to perform in the District where the band originally formed. 

“It’s so emotional because it’s where we grew up,” she said. “Not just musically, but it’s where we came out.”

Proof of vaccination is required at all shows. To purchase tickets, visit

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Music & Concerts

We waited eons for this? New Diana album is colossal disappointment

Saccharine sentiments sink largely self-penned effort from diva supreme



Diana Ross’s new project ‘Thank You,’ while hopeful and optimistic, is too musically weak to catch fire after the one-two punch of its opening cuts. (Image courtesy Decca)

Diana Ross’s solo albums are almost always inconsistent.

This isn’t unusual among R&B/pop divas; start wading past the hits and the same could be said for the album tracks of Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, et. al.

The few times she’s made a start-to-finish solid effort, like 1991’s “The Force Behind the Power,” 1995’s “Take Me Higher” or even 1985’s “Eaten Alive,” which works even with its campy title cut, they’ve never been huge sellers or featured any of her trademark hits.

However — and it pains me to say this — you have to go all the way back to 1983’s “Ross” to find an album as bad as her new release “Thank You” (★½ out of four), her first album in 15 years and her first of new material in 22 years. Pre-COVID, she was highly active with touring (and played the D.C. region many times), but her studio work had ground to a total halt.

A few things trickled out from the vault, like 2006’s delightful jazz album “Blue” (recorded in the early ’70s), but there was nothing new. And while it was always great to see her on stage — she looks fabulous at 77 (although you’d never know it from the vintage photo used on the “Thank You” cover) — her show varied little from year to year and her vocals were occasionally pitchy.

So while it’s great to finally have something new from the Motown legend — a studio workhorse all through the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s — this extremely uneven new album is a musical Hallmark turd that never met a feel-good lyrical cliche too saccharine or an easy listening musical bed too insipid.

It’s hard to place too much of the blame on Troy Miller (a veteran of Amy Winehouse’s band), who produced the bulk of the tracks here, as Ross’s fingerprints are all over it — she’s billed as executive producer and, in a career first, she co-wrote nine of the 13 cuts. Though she took a few songwriting credits here and there over the years (she co-wrote four songs on her 1982 album “Silk Electric”), on most of her albums, her songwriting contributions are zero. And although two of those — the bouncy title cut and second single “If the World Just Danced” — are unequivocally the project’s best tracks, Joni Mitchell she is not.

Here’s the good news — she sounds amazing. There’s a lustrous quality to her vocal work here, her range is truly impressive and the pitch never wavers. Some scoff, but I have always felt Ross is a great pop singer with considerable range and impressive interpretive abilities in a wide gulf of genres. She was never a Whitney or Celine, but she could coo (“Baby Love”), yearn (“Cryin’ My Heart Out for You”), burn (“Muscles”) and growl (“Swept Away”) as well as anyone. This album’s “Time to Call,” though weak, gives her a chance to unfurl several melismas in her highest register and she kills it.

Stylistically, while varied, the album as a whole is numbingly mellow. Three cuts (the solid “If the World Just Danced,” retro shuffle “I Still Believe” and horn-laden abomination “Tomorrow”) are dance tracks and almost all the rest could legitimately be dubbed easy listening. There’s cascading string work, decent (if hardly impressive) production and stylistic variation, but the flame dies out after the first two songs and, with such banal lyrics and painfully unimaginative melodies, never comes close to reigniting despite Ross’s conviction. It’s like seeing a truly good actress in a turkey of a play knowing she co-wrote it. You’re rooting for her, but you’ve spent most of the outing wincing.

One might argue saccharine and Ross have gone hand in hand back to the days of “Reach Out and Touch” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” — true — but it’s taken to a new low here. Of course, nobody expected Deepak Chopra-caliber insight, but with clunkers like “what is isn’t/what isn’t is” (on the Ross co-penned “All is Well”), “I’ll be the pillow where your head will lay,” (on daughter Rhonda’s “Count on Me”) or “the first time I saw your face …” (on mother’s ode “Beautiful Love”) — ripping off a lyric that blatantly should be illegal — this album’s scaffolding is so weak, one positively groans at the amateurishness of the songcraft. This is the chorus of “Count on Me”: “count on me/count on me/count on me/count on me.”

Siedah Garrett, a respected songwriter who might have momentarily elevated the proceedings, delivers one of the album’s worst cuts with the nauseatingly treacly “The Answer’s Always Love.”
I could go on, but you get the idea.

One might also argue, hey, couldn’t we use a little positivity today? Cut Miss Ross some slack and just be glad she’s back. True perhaps, but with material this weak and the thought of what this album could have been in more daring, imaginative hands, it’s downright frustrating.

With little chance of making any kind of dent on U.S. (or U.K. for that matter) pop radio and in her late 70s, I’d hoped Miss Ross, with no fucks left to give, might have done something brash and daring, but this is called playing it safe folks and sadly it’s a yawnfest.

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