Connect with us

Music & Concerts

FALL ARTS 2015: concerts

Kelly, Madonna and Diana kick off fall D.C. concert blitz

Published

on

Ricky Martin, concert, gay news, Washington Blade
concert, gay news, Washington Blade

EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) will host out latin/pop superstar Ricky Martin on Oct. 9. (Photo courtesy of FlyLife Inc.)

The fall concert season gets rolling with a three big-time pop stars spanning three generations all performing within days of each other in September.

Vocal powerhouse Kelly Clarkson has back-to-back nights at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va.) on Sept. 12-13 at 7 p.m. (wolftrap.org) Pop icon Madonna returns to the Verizon Center (601 F St., N.W.) on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. in support of her “Rebel Heart” album (livenation.com orticketmaster.com). Then if that isn’t enough diva power, the legendary Diana Ross will be at the Strathmore (10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, Md.) on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. (strathmore.org) after a Sept. 13 show at Pier Six Pavilion (piersixpavilion.com) in Baltimore.

That’s just the start of what is shaping up to be an exciting concert season in D.C. this fall. Perhaps the biggest event is the Landmark Music Festival at West Potomac Park (West Basin Drive, S.W.), a a two-day event starting Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon and featuring an impressive lineup including Drake, alt-J, The Strokes, CHVRCHES, Chromeo, Ben Howard, Band of Horses, fun. frontman Nate Ruess and the War on Drugs. The full line-up and more information is at landmarkfestiva.org.

In addition to Madonna, the Verizon Center has some real heavy hitters. British pop sensation Ed Sheeran will play two nights, Sept. 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. R&B giant R. Kelly headlines on Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. Musical legend Stevie Wonder performs on Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., and will play his landmark album “Songs of the Key of Life” in its entirety. A fantastic rock double-bill goes down on Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m., as recent Hall of Fame inductees Joan Jett and the Blackhearts open for the Who. One of the hottest artists in the country, pop/R&B sensation the Weeknd, takes the stage on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The 9:30 Club (815 V St. N.W.) as usual has a host of top-notch talent slated for fall. The reunited ‘90s shoegaze band Ride will play on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Gay-fronted band Years & Years play there Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. Pop vocalist Tove Lo performs on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m., and the always-outrageous Peaches returns on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.. The highlight of the season is the return of alternative-rock legends Garbage, who will perform on Oct. 28-29 at 7 p.m. to celebrate 20th anniversary of their debut album, which they will play in its entirety. Details at 930.com.

Summer may be winding down, but there are still some big shows upcoming at Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.). Death Cab for Cutie will take the stage on Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.. Fresh off a no. 1 album with “Sound & Color,” Alabama Shakes will perform onSept. 18 at 8 p.m., and Of Monsters and Men play Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. Details at merriweathermusic.com.

If country music under the stars is your idea of a perfect evening in September, there are a couple big opportunities you shouldn’t miss at Jiffy Lube Live (7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, Va.). Jason Aldean will hit the stage on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. while Brad Paisley will be there Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Details at jiffylubelive.com.

If your thing is dancing, then Echostage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd, N.E.) is the place to be. Their fall line-up is highlighted by British electronic duo Disclosure supporting their new album “Caracal” with shows on Oct. 21 (doors at 8 p.m.) and Oct. 22 (opening at 9 p.m.) Dutch electro/hip-hop star Stromae will perform on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. EDM hero Armin van Buuren will have the place jumping on Sept. 24, with doors opening at 9 p.m. World-renowned DJ Kaskade will do the same when he spins on Oct. 16. at 9 p.m. Details at echostage.com.

The Birchmere, (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.), has an impressive line-up of talent on its calendar, highlighted by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell performing together on Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and the talented singer-songwriter Patty Griffin on Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. The renowned lesbian folk/rock duo Indigo Girls perform on Nov. 2 at 7:30. Details at birchmere.com.

The Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) hosts a CD party for the amazing Lizz Wright on Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. Electronic pioneers the Orb appear on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. Lalah Hathaway will be there for two nights on Sept. 26 and 28 at 8 p.m. For more information and additional listings, go to thehowardtheatre.com.

At the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, (730 21st St., N.W), Lucinda Williams will perform on Oct. 7 at 8 p.m., while Mavis Staples and Joan Osborne bring their “Solid Soul” tour on Oct. 31. at 8 p.m. (lisner.gwu.edu)

The Fillmore in Silver Spring (8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) serves up pop heartthrob Nick Jonas on Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Details at fillmoresilverspring.com.

Classical outfit Seraphic Fire perform Handel’s “Coronation Anthems” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (2430 K St., N.W.) on Nov. 10. They’ll return in 2016 for two more concerts there. Details at seraphicfire.org.

Loretta Lynn plays Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) on Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. Other notable shows at the Lincoln include FFS, an outstanding mashup of Sparks and Franz Ferdinand, on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m., Kacey Musgraves for two nights on Oct. 16-17 at 6:30 p.m., and Marina and the Diamonds on Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. Details at thelincolndc.com.

In addition to Kelly Clarkson, Wolf Trap will host Broadway favorite Megan Hilty on Oct. 9 at 7 and 9:30 p.m., iconic lesbian vocalist Joan Armatrading for two nights on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m., Madeleine Peyroux on Nov. 17 at 8 p.m, Suzanne Vega with Duncan Sheik on Nov. 18-19 at 8 p.m., and Rickie Lee Jones on Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.. EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) will host openly gay latin/pop superstar Ricky Martin on Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. and Marc Anthony on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. Details at eaglebankarena.com.

And three gay Strathmore dates to put on your calendar for December — Dave Koz returns there on Dec. 4, the gay-helmed Philadelphia Orchestra will perform on Dec. 7 and Michael Feinstein is there Dec. 11. Details at strathmore.org.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Music & Concerts

Forget streaming, the holiday classics return to area stages

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

Published

on

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. olneytheatre.org

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. synetictheater.org

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. fords.org

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. washingtonballet.org

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. folger.edu

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. gmcw.org

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. arenastage.org

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). creativecauldron.org

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). thenationaldc.com

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. keegantheatre.org

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. theaterj.org

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. sigtheare.org

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”). strathmore.org

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. imaginationstage.org

Continue Reading

Music & Concerts

BETTY returns to DC

Queer band to perform at City Winery Dec. 5

Published

on

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 citywinery.com.

Continue Reading

Music & Concerts

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

Saccharine sentiments sink largely self-penned effort from diva supreme

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular