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Music & Concerts

Love and joy come to you

Legendary singer brings Christmas cheer to the Howard



Darlene Love, gay news, Washington Blade
Darlene Love, gay news, Washington Blade

After many years in the background, singer Darlene Love is enjoying her moment in the sun. (Photo courtesy Project Publicity)

Darlene Love


Saturday, Dec. 19


8 p.m.


The Howard Theatre


620 T St., N.W.


VIP tickets: $80


General admission $45 in advance/$50 day of


With Christmas on the horizon, chances are if Christmas music is being played, Darlene Love’s 1963 “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is in the rotation, as the song has been one of the most popular songs of the season for decades. David Letterman calls it his favorite song and before retiring, would have Love come on his show and kick-off the Christmas season with a live rendition.

“Dave is the one who made it so popular around the world,” Love says. “When it’s this close to Christmas, I think the song means even more to people. I love this time of year. I really enjoy the closeness of family and people are in a giving mood, are happy and jovial. It’s a very special time for me.”

Love rose to prominence in the ’60s as a session vocalist and although she supported all the great singers in Phil Spector’s arsenal of performers with her glorious background vocals—including tunes such as “He’s a Rebel,” “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”—she was rarely credited on the liner notes of the records.

The performers all knew and adored her, but the public wasn’t privy to just how incredible she was.

“I wasn’t the first one that it happened to; you just never heard about it with a lot of us. Phil Spector was a rising producer who became incredibly successful who started his own empire and knew how to succeed,” she says. “I couldn’t sign work because of him recording my voice as the Crystals and I couldn’t claim ‘He’s A Rebel’ or ‘He’s Sure The Boy I Love’ as my own, because my name wasn’t on there. That kept me from finding work.”

Then Letterman began championing the Christmas tune, she took a role as Murtaugh’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movies, and did a turn on Broadway in “Leader of the Pack,” and Love eventually skyrocketed to the fame she deserved.

Love is ranked No. 84 on Rolling Stone’s top 100 singers of all-time; she was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and was one of the subjects of the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom,” which showed an in-depth illustration of Love’s storied musical career as a background singer. Her speech at the Oscars was one of the most memorable of the last decade and the soulful singer has never been in greater demand.

“When I started, I thought I would be done singing by the time I was 50. You don’t think you could keep it up or that people would still love the music, but they do,” the 73-year-old says. “I think the biggest reason they still come out is that I stay true to the songs. I don’t change how I sing them and they are even more powerful today because my voice is more powerful.”

Fans can check that out for themselves when the legendary Love plays the Howard Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“We’re having so much fun with this show, everywhere we’ve been,” Love says. “My show is very energetic. Many women don’t do these high-energy shows—maybe Tina Turner or Joan Jett—but mine it so high energy. We play some new songs, do some Christmas songs and of course, many of the classics people love.”

Her favorite thing about being on stage is seeing the generations of fans who come out and sing along with her.

“It’s so great to see people are bringing their children and they are bringing their children, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Love says. “I think the younger generation wants to hear great songs, great lyrics and great melodies that they want to sing along with. They do that when they come to my show.”

Last year, the singer released new material with the album, “Introducing Darlene Love,” produced by Love’s longtime friend and advocate Steven Van Zandt.

“It’s been time to do this for a while, but I couldn’t find anyone to do it, that was the problem. Record companies don’t want to record older artists because they think there’s no place for them,” she says. “Steve wanted to record to sound like the music I recorded in the ’60s, and that’s the beauty of it. People may think they have heard these songs before because they sound as if they are from that era.”

Love will be opening her show at the Howard with one of the new tunes and hopes to see many people come out and celebrate Christmas with her.

“I always tell my audiences to come with the sense that they’re going to be entertained and I will life their spirits up. It’s my job to life their spirits up, so they will leave the show saying we had a good time,” Love says. “If I’m having fun, they will have fun. They know just how far to go with me.”


Music & Concerts

The Atlantis to showcase musical legends of tomorrow

New venue, a near replica of original 9:30 Club, opens next month



A look at the interior of the original 9:30 club. (Photo public domain/Library of Congress)

A new nirvana for music fans opens next month adjacent to the 9:30 Club. Dubbed The Atlantis, this intimate venue embraces a 450-person capacity – and pays homage as a near-replica of the original 9:30 Club.

The $10 million venue comes courtesy of I.M.P., the independent promoter that owns and operates the 9:30 Club and The Anthem, and operates The Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The Foo Fighters will inaugurate The Atlantis on May 30, which is also the 9:30 Club’s anniversary. Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl, during a concert in 2021, kicked off speculation that I.M.P was planning to open a new venue, noting that, “We’ll probably be the band that opens that place, too, right?”

Other big names on the inaugural 44-show run roster: Franz Ferdinand, Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind, Spoon, and Billy Idol.

To thwart scalpers, The Atlantis utilized a request system for the first 44 shows when they went on sale two weeks ago. Within four days of the announcement, fans had requested more than 520,000 tickets, many times more than the total 19,800 available. All tickets have been allocated; fans who were unable to snag tickets can attempt to do so in May, when a fan-to-fan ticket exchange opens.

While I.M.P. oversees multiple larger venues, “We’ve been doing our smallest shows in other peoples’ venues for too many years now,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. “We needed a place that’s ours. This can be the most exciting step in an artist’s career.”

The 9:30 Club holds 1,200 people, while The Anthem has space for up to 6,000.

“This will be where we help introduce new artists to the world… our smallest venue will be treated as important, if not more, than our bigger venues. If the stories are told right, both the artists and the fans begin their hopefully longterm relationship. Its stage will support bourgeoning artists and the legends of tomorrow,” Hurwitz said. Hurwitz and the team developed a tagline for the new venue: The Atlantis, Where Music Begins.

Hurwitz got his start at the original 9:30 Club, originally located at 930 F St., N.W. He was an independent booker of the club for the first six years and then he bought it, and managed the move from its original location to its current location in 1996. The venue first opened in 1980.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, I.M.P. communications director, provides further insight. “We were missing small venues in our umbrella. Big acts don’t start in stadiums. We need a place for emerging artists and for the community to discover new acts. The Atlantis can help new artists grow.”

While design elements are still coming into focus, Schaefer says that the space will be intimate, with almost no separation between the artist and the crowd. “There will be energy on both sides of the stage,” she says.

Although The Atlantis is set to be a replica of the original 9:30, I.M.P. has spared no expense. Schaefer notes that the sound and light systems use the latest available technologies, similar to next door at the current 9:30 Club.

The Atlantis takes over the footprint of now-closed Satellite Room. The venue will have at least two bars flanking the stage; cocktails but no food will be available.

Schaefer notes that since its early days, 9:30 Club and I.M.P. “has always been a place where people are welcome. People come and feel safe with us.” 9:30 Club has hosted several LGBTQ Pride parties, the BENT dance party series, and other events for LGBTQ patrons. Particular acts of note during the kickoff run include Tegan & Sarah and Tove Lo.

The Washington Blade was a neighbor to the 9:30 Club at its original F Street location back in the 1980s. Despite their proximity, noise wasn’t an issue for on deadline nights, when Blade staff worked late hours.

“We would of course work later hours back then,” said Phil Rockstroh, a longtime Blade staffer, in a 2016 Blade interview. “Everything was typeset and done by hand without computers and fax machines so getting through deadlines was much more time consuming.”

Rockstroh said the noise wasn’t a distraction.

“It wasn’t too bad as older buildings were constructed more solidly,” Rockstroh said. “There was only one entrance to the building and you entered so far to the elevator that went up to the other floors and then continued down the hall to the entrance to the 9:30 Club. Frequently at night if I was coming or going, there were people spilling out the doors.”

“The Blade has always had a friendly relationship with the 9:30 Club,” he added.

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Music & Concerts

National Philharmonic to perform classical, contemporary works

Violinist Melissa White returns



The National Philharmonic will host “Beethoven’s 7th” on Saturday, April 15 at 8 p.m. at Strathmore.

Past and present will collide in this performance of contemporary works and classical masterpieces. Maestro Piotr Gajewski will direct Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja, Anthem for Unity for Orchestra” Violinist Melissa White will also return to the Philharmonic to perform Florence Price’s sweeping, melodic “Violin Concerto No. 2.”

Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased on the Philharmonic’s website.

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Music & Concerts

Bruce & Janet & John Legend, oh my!

Slew of iconic acts hitting the road after pandemic cancellations



Janet Jackson is among the iconic acts touring this spring.

Pop and rock icons are releasing their pent-up pandemic frustrations by mounting huge tours this spring and summer. After three years of canceled and postponed shows, everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Janet Jackson is hitting the road at long last. But save your coins because the TicketMaster algorithms are driving ticket prices to astronomical highs. Here are a few highlights from D.C.-area venues this spring. Although some of the iconic acts aren’t coming until summer — Beyonce, Madonna, Pink — several others are hitting the road this spring.

Betty Who plays March 10; Keyshia Cole headlines the All Black Extravaganza 20 Year Anniversary tour on March 18; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to town on May 3; Seal brings his world tour to town on May 10; and the beloved Pixies are back on the road with a new North American tour stopping here on June 10.

9:30 CLUB
Don’t miss Gimme Gimme Disco, an Abba dance party on March 18; Inzo arrives on March 31, followed by Bent on April 1; Ruston Kelly brings his The Weakness tour on April 17 along with Purr; The New Pornographers show on May 19 is sold out but there are tickets available for the May 20 show; The Walkmen have added a fourth show on May 23 because the other three shows are sold our;

Living legend Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are back with a vengeance, playing one of four area shows on March 27. (They’re in Baltimore the night before.) If you missed out this time, don’t worry, Bruce is playing Nats Park in September as well as at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. April 1 brings the R&B Music Experience, including Xscape, Monica, Tamar Braxton, and 112. Blink-182 comes to town on May 23. And this summer watch for Sam Smith to continue his hot streak, bringing his “Gloria” tour to town on Aug.4.

Janet Jackson makes her highly anticipated return to the stage this spring, arriving in our area on May 6 along with guest Ludacris. The LGBTQ ally and icon has promised new music on her upcoming “Together Again Tour,” which follows the pandemic-related cancellation of her “Black Diamond Tour.” Jackson also plays Baltimore’s newly renovated CFG Bank Arena on May 13.

John Legend plays two nights at Wolf Trap on June 2 and 3; Charlie Puth follows on June 4. Wolf Trap also hosts the Indigo Girls on June 7 just in time for Pride month. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Smithereens at the Birchmere on March 17. Fans of ‘80s alternative will be lined up for the Church also at the Birchmere at April 4, followed by Suzanne Vega on April 26. Amy Grant returns to the stage this spring and plays the Birchmere on May 2. Echostage plays host to a slew of buzz worthy shows this spring, including Ella Mai on April 8 and Fisher on May 12.

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