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Towns within a few hours’ drive of D.C. have major Pride events planned

Baltimore is this weekend; Annapolis, HOCO, MOCO, Panhandle et. al. later in the month

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regional Prides, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

HAMPTON ROADS PRIDE

Hampton Roads Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

A woman takes pictures of boats in Hampton Roads Pride’s annual Pride Boat Parade on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Hampton Roads Pride presents various celebration events throughout June 16-23. 

Drag Yourself to Brunch: Pride Edition is at Croc’s 19th Street Bistro (620 19th St., Virginia Beach, Va.) on Sunday, June 16 from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sandra Onassis Lopez and other local drag perfumers will have shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will be raffles sold all day and the drawing will be at 3:50 p.m. after the 2 p.m. show. Guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes before each show. Visit, dragyourselftobrunch.com for reservations. 

PraiseFest 2019 is at the Great Awakening United Church of Chris (1520 High St., Portsmouth, Va.) on Sunday, June 16 from 2-4 p.m. Attendees can enjoy an afternoon of gospel music, dance, mime and spoken word. 

Ghent Business Association and Hampton Roads Pride host Ghent Pride at the Palace Shops & Station (301 W 21st St., Norfolk, Va.) on Monday, June 17 from 6-10 p.m. The party will take place in the parking lot between 21st and 22nd Street. There will be music, beer, wine, signature cocktails and food from local restaurants. Attendees can purchase a “Love Lock” to put on the “Love is Love” display. Cover is $10. All proceeds will benefit the Ghent Business Association, Hampton Roads Pride and the LGBT Life Center.

Pride Party on the Peninsula, a river boat cruise with drag performers, kicks off at Carousel Park (601 Settlers Landing Rd., Hampton, Va.) on Wednesday, June 19 from 3:30-10 p.m. Guests will take a cruise on the Miss Hampton II with Jennifer Warner and other performers. Emcee Queen Mary and Dianna Rhoss will host the party. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres from local Hampton restaurants, a DJ, raffle contest, cash bar and a complimentary drink ticket for the first 300 guests. Tickets are $10. All proceeds benefit the LGBT Life Center. 

Pride at the Chrysler is at the Chrysler Museum of Art (1 Memorial Pl., Norfolk, Va.) on Thursday, June 20 from 6-9 p.m. Activities include make-and-take art, a build-your-own-tour of LGBT artists’ work at the museum and face painting. Drag queen Sandra Onassis Lopez will perform. Event is free. Open to all ages. Guests must be 21 to drink. 

Hampton Roads Pride’s Eighth Annual Block Party is on Friday, June 21 from 7-11:55 p.m. This year’s theme is “Strike a Pose.” There will be dancing, drag performances, live art and magical performers. DJ Rays will spin tracks. Tickets are $13 before June 17 and $16 afterwards. All proceeds will benefit Hampton Roads Pride.

PrideFest 2019, the largest LGBT festival is Virginia, is at Town Point Park (113 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, Va.) on Saturday, June 23 from noon-8 p.m. Pop star JoJo and house singer Crystal Waters headline the event. The only Pride Boat Parade in the United States will also take place. Angela Hucles, two-time Olympic gold medalist with USA Women’s Soccer, will serve as grand marshal. There will be entertainment, vendors and activities for all ages. Admission is free. 

PrideFest After Party is at Waterside District (333 Waterside Dr., Norfolk, Va.) on Saturday, June 22 from 6 p.m.-1:30 a.m. There will be drink specials from 6-9 p.m. Admission is free. Tickets are not required but Waterside District will donate $5 to Hampton Roads Pride on behalf of the first 500 guests who scan their ticket. 

Pride on the Beach is at Neptune’s Park (3001 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, Va.) on Sunday, June 23 from 2-7 p.m. The white-themed party will feature white linen, fabrics, couches and lounge beds. Dress code of white beachwear is strongly encouraged. DJ Tezrah will play music. Admission is free and open to all ages.

For details on all Hampton Roads Pride events, visit hamptonroadspride.org.

 — MARIAH COOPER

ANNAPOLIS PRIDE

Annapolis Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Annapolis Pride held a Halloween Party fundraiser for this year’s inaugural Pride Parade and Festival. (Photo by Fleur de Lis Photography)

Annapolis will celebrate its inaugural Pride Parade and Festival on Saturday, June 29. The event is free and open to the public. 

The organizer, also called Annapolis Pride, is looking forward to a family-friendly event that celebrates LGBT people while engaging local residents, businesses and groups to unite in welcoming and embracing diversity in Maryland’s capital.  

The parade will run from noon-12:45 p.m. down West Street from Amos Garrett Blvd. to Calvert, while the festival is from noon-5 p.m. between Calvert street and Church Circle. The festival will include vendors, children’s activities and entertainment from local artists and DJs. 

Details at annapolispride.org. 

— PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

FREDERICK PRIDE

Frederick Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Frederick Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Frederick Pride is Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. at Carroll Creek Linear Park in downtown Frederick, Md.

This will be Frederick Pride’s eighth year and organizers are expecting up to 8,000 attendees. Every attendee will receive a Frederick Pride rainbow bracelet at welcome stations at each major entrance to the park. Admittance is free and families and allies are welcome.

There will be two entertainment areas featuring bands, drag shows, DJs and dancing at the Carroll Street Amphitheater and the Market Street venue. Younger kids can enjoy organized youth group activities at the East Street stage. A food court will be above the amphitheater with beer and wine available next to it. 

Official Pride paraphernalia will be available for purchase at the Frederick Center booth and all proceeds will go toward supporting programs at local LGBTQ centers. For more information, visit frederickpride.com. 

— YULANI RODGERS

HOWARD COUNTY PRIDE

Howard County, Md., will host its first Pride celebration Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Centennial Park in Elliott City, Md. The event is free and open to the public.

Howard County’s PFLAG chapter is leading plans for the festival, which is set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York and has a theme of “Remember, Resist and Rejoice.”

For more information visit howardcountypride.org.

— PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

MONTGOMERY COUNTY PRIDE

Montgomery County, Md., will host its first Pride Party 2019 on Saturday, June 29 at Rockville Town Square (200 E. Middle Ln.) from 6:30-10:30 p.m. 

The night will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and will include performances from Miss Peppermint, who was featured on season nine of “Rupual’s Drag Race,” BOOMscat, DJ tezrah, Shaunda Leer and Pretty Boi Drag. All proceeds will benefit the MoCo Pride Center and early bird tickets start at $7.50. For more information, search “MoCo Pride Party” on Facebook. 

— YULANI RODGERS

WINCHESTER PRIDE

Winchester Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Winchester Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Winchester Pride will be Saturday, June 29 at the Old Court House at the Downtown Walking Mall (S Loudoun St., Winchester, Va.) and kicks off at noon.

The second annual Winchester Pride will have guest speakers, a family-friendly drag show, vendors and non-profit organizations to celebrate. Speakers include John “David” Smith, mayor of Winchester; Jennifer Wexton, representative from the 10th district of Virginia; a conversion therapy survivor and more. DJ Skyhigh will host and provide all the music for the event. The new 2019 Miss Winchester Pride will also be introduced after being crowned at the Bright Box prior. 

For more information, visit winchesterpridecelebration.com.

— YULANI RODGERS

BALTIMORE PRIDE

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Pride (Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

The Pride Center of Baltimore is celebrating its annual parade and festival, now in its 44th year,  June 15-26. Last year about 30,000 attended the events.

The year’s theme is “Unity through Diversity: The Remix” and organizers say it signifies the “transformation of fears into empowerment while embracing community in a fight for justice and the right to live authentically.”

The Pride Center’s board of directors recognize the difficulties faced by the transgender community this year, stating on their website, “We will not stand with those who attempt to divide, demean or threaten (our) values.”

Official Pride events directly benefit the center and will help fund more than 40 programs that serve around 800 sexual and gender minority individuals every month in Baltimore.

The center’s annual benefit evening Twilight on the Terrace is tonight at Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden from 7-11 p.m. Each year the event provides attendees with a night of food, fun and socialization to mark the commencement of Baltimore Pride weekend. Guests can dance, eat and drink craft cocktails from Gertrude’s and Hendrick’s Gin. 

This year’s entertainment features a special performance by opera singer Carmelita B. featuring Septimius the Great. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction to bid on several Am Fund-sponsored vacation packages. Tickets are $125 on Eventbrite.

The Rainbow Lot, the official Pride tailgating party, will be open from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. behind Graffiti Alley (1915 N. Howard St.). Food trucks such as Jurassic Pork and Kona Ice will be stationed. The cost is $25 for one space for one car with two people, or for one tailgating tent space. There is a $5 fee for each additional person. Tickets are on Eventbrite.

The Pride Parade is Saturday, June 15 from 1-3 p.m. The parade begins at N. Charles and 33rd streets next to Wyman Park, proceeds 11 blocks and ends at N. Charles and 23rd St. There is a viewing stage on the corner of N. Charles St. and 24th St. in the Brown Rice Parking Lot.

Following the parade, the Pride Block Party begins at 4 p.m. at Station North, with a pre-show at 1:30 p.m. featuring local artists and a DJ dance stage at 22nd and N. Charles. Also, for the first time, Pride will host a mini Pet Parade beginning at 1 p.m. between 24th-25th and N. Charles. 

The parade will also feature a high-heel race where contestants can compete in heels at least two inches high. The fun begins at 12:30 p.m. at 25th and N. Charles.

The Pride Festival is Sunday, June 16 from noon-6 p.m. in Druid Hill Park (between Swann Drive and Sundial Pavilion). The festival will celebrate families and children with a kid-friendly atmosphere including music and entertainment stages, a Drag Stage, exhibitors and local food trucks. 

For more information visit baltimorepride.org.

— PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

PANHANDLE PRIDE

regional Pride events, gay news, Washington Blade

Panhandle Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like tiny Shepherdstown, W.Va., that hosts it, Panhandle Pride makes up for in character what it lacks in size. And it’s growing each year. This year’s theme is Be. Scene. Here. It’s the region’s seventh annual event, second under new leadership. 

This year’s events kick off with a Pride pub crawl on Friday, June 28 starting at 5 p.m.

An interfaith service dubbed “Celebrating Our Stories” will be held at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church (100 W. Washington St.) on Saturday, June 29 at 10 a.m.

A vendor street fair with artisans, non-profits and poetry walk is also Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in downtown Shepherdstown. 

A dance party and drag show will be held that night from 8 p.m.-midnight at the War Memorial Building (102 E. German St., Shepherdstown). 

Details at eppridewv.com. 

Quite close to here but in Maryland, Hagerstown Hopes Pride event is planned for the weekend of July 13. The Blade will have more next month. 

Hagerstown Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Hagerstown Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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Melissa Etheridge shares Q&A in advance of April 26 Tysons tour stop

Rock pioneer finds inspiration in the past — from revisiting old demos to reconnecting with celeb pals like Ellen

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Melissa Etheridge brings her ‘One Way Out Tour’ to the D.C. region next week with a show at the new Capital One Hall in Tysons. (Photo by Elizabeth Miranda; courtesy Primary Wave)

Melissa Etheridge
‘One Way Out Tour’
Tuesday, April 26
Capital One Hall
7750 Capital One Tower Rd.
Tysons, VA
7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $55
ticketmaster.com
capitalonehall.com
melissaetheridge.com

We caught up with rock legend Melissa Etheridge on April 8 by phone from Snoqualmie, Wash. — it’s about 26 miles east of Seattle —where she was playing the Snoqualmie Casino on her “One Way Out Tour,” which plays our region on Tuesday, April 26. 

It’s named after her latest album, released last fall, which found Etheridge, who’s been out since ’93, revisiting demos from early in her career.

Her comments have been slightly edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: “One Way Out” sounds like such a cool project. Was it all re-recorded stuff of old songs or were some of those vintage takes on the record as well?

MELISSA ETHERIDGE: The last two songs, the live songs, were from where? From 2002? OK, but the other songs were newly recorded. 

BLADE: And how many of them did you remember?

ETHERIDGE: You know, when I found them again, they all came back very clearly. And I was like, “Oh, this is — why did I throw that away? That’s weird.” And I really enjoyed, you know, hearing them, they were just old demos. I’d never done full-blown recordings. So I thought, “This is great, I want to do these songs.”

BLADE: We have a relatively new venue you’re going to be playing, Capital One Hall. I’ve only been there once. You excited?

ETHERIDGE: Yeah, it’s always fun. I love the D.C.-area crowd. It’s just really, really nice.

BLADE: And how do you decide where you’ll be? Or do you have any say in it? 

ETHERIDGE: Well, it’s not necessarily me. I do have a say in it, in what I want the whole tour to look like. But it is really up to William Morris, my agent, to find the right venue that understands what we need and the kind of atmosphere we’re looking for that and the amount of people and, you know, that sort of thing.

BLADE: Tell me about Etheridge TV. I just wonder, when we were in that acute phase of the pandemic, wasn’t it even remotely tempting to you to just take a break?

ETHERIDGE: No, because since I was 12 years old, I sang all the time for people, like five days a week and it’s just been what I do. And so when it was like, I was looking at a massive, cavernous amount of time that I was going to be home, I still needed a way to pay the bills, so we put our heads together — I’ve got one of the greatest television minds with me, you know, my wife (TV producer Linda Wallem), so I had the space and I had the equipment, and I was like, “Let’s do it.” And it was really fun to learn new things. It was fun to learn about computers and sound and streaming and lights and cameras and all these things that I didn’t know. … I feel a little smarter.

BLADE: When did you start back on the road?

ETHERIDGE: We went out last fall. We went out September, October, right around there. And you know, it was a little different, Now things are things are loosening up … but some places still require masks. But people are starting to get back out and it feels good. It’s not the overwhelming thing that it was a few months ago.

BLADE: And what was it like being on ‘Ellen’ again for her final season?

ETHERIDGE: Oh, I love her. She’s such an old friend. You know, I say that about myself, too. (chuckles) But, you know, she’s just a relationship in my life that I have treasured. We’ve watched each other grow and the changes we’ve made and the successes and what we’ve gone through and I love that she had me on and just it was just a really — she’s a dear friend. And she showed an old photo there, and we both said, “Oh, that was before we were so busy.”

BLADE: Do you talk to her often?

ETHERIDGE: I would say we see each other socially once or twice a year. It just seemed like once we started having children, all my friends from my 20s and 30s when we were not as busy — it just gets harder to stay in touch and life got crazy. 

BLADE: So when you were hanging out back in the day with Ellen and Rosie and everybody, how was it that Brad Pitt was in that group too? 

ETHERIDGE: Well, my girlfriend (Julie Cypher) had been married to Lou Diamond Phillips and we were all very good friends with Dermot Mulroney and Catherine Keener and Catherine Keener did a movie with Brad, like a movie nobody saw, like Johnny Dangerously or something (1991’s “Johnny Suede”), some really weird movie. So I met Brad before he was terribly famous. He was a part of that group. There was a whole group of all of us that just hung out, and we were all totally different. We were just like young, hungry Hollywood and we’d talk about, “Oh, I had this audition,” or “I went and did this,” and we were just all trying to make it in that town. So we’d get together and have fun. 

BLADE: I was so terribly sorry to hear about Beckett (Etheridge’s son, who died in 2020 at age 21 after struggling with opioid addiction). How are you and the rest of the family, especially (Beckett’s twin) Bailey, dealing with it now?

ETHERIDGE: There are many, many families like us that deal with a loss like that. It just blows a family sideways. But we have a deep love and connection, all of us. We all knew he had a problem and it’s a problem that starts way before he actually passes, so it was not a surprise. So now we’re just living with the missing aspect. You try not to think about what could have been and you try to think about him in a happier place and that he’s out of pain, so that helps us.

BLADE: Had he and Bailey been as close in recent years?

ETHERIDGE: They were very close, but in the last couple of years as he made worse and worse choices, we couldn’t support that, so they were less close, but of course in her heart, it was her brother, he was very dear to her. 

BLADE: Did you watch the Grammys?  Was there anybody you were particularly rooting for?

ETHERIDGE: I watched bits and pieces of it. I had a show that night, so I didn’t get to see the main thing, but I have seen pieces and I just love the crazy diversity and you know, the TikTok people winning stuff, it’s like, “Wow, this is so not the Grammys I remember from the ’80s,” but that was what, 30 years ago? So it’s all good.

BLADE: You were such a perennial favorite back in the day in the best rock female category. Were you pissed when they eliminated it? 

ETHERIDGE: It’s sad because I felt like the criteria they were using to judge what is female rock, they just really dropped the ball. I still think there are some amazing musicians that could be considered, you know, rock, but it feels like we’re having a hard time even defining what rock and roll is now anyway. There’s a whole bunch of strong women out there playing, rocking, you know, playing guitar, being excellent musicians and songwriters. If you can’t call it best rock female, OK, call it something else. 

BLADE: I remember so vividly when you were on the Grammys in 2005, in the midst of chemo, when you sang “Piece of My Heart.” I remember you saying you were wondering how people would react to seeing you bald. Having been through that, any thoughts on the Will/Jada Oscars situation since her baldness, too, was due to a medical condition? 

ETHERIDGE: You know, it’s funny, I did feel a little remembrance of (thinking), “I just hope people don’t make fun of me.” That was kind of the first thing because to go out there bald, that was so different for me as an artist whose hair had kind of defined her. I was thinking, “How am I gonna rock without my hair?” I thought people might make fun of me, but I got over that. I just thought, “Well, if somebody makes fun of me, that just makes them look bad.” So I just walked through it. And you know, it’s hard to draw the line between what’s funny and what’s painful and how to look at something. I feel for all parties involved. 

BLADE: When you go on these cruises, do fans give you some space or do they swarm around the minute you walk out? Is it even enjoyable for you? 

ETHERIDGE: Yeah, it is. You know, we did our last one, now we’re doing Etheridge Island, we now have a destination in Mexico, outside of Cancun, it’s just this island that we’re going to that is really fantastic. But I do I make myself available, I don’t run away. When I have to be somewhere, I have a great company we work with called Sixthman that knows how to get me from point A to point B without being bogged down. But I do my make myself available. Everyone gets a picture with me. It’s my work, but I love it. I try to make myself available but also have some time just for myself too.

Melissa Etheridge says slowing down wasn’t an option for her when the pandemic hit. She’s glad to be back on the road now, she says. (Photo by Elizabeth Miranda; courtesy Primary Wave)

BLADE: You Tweeted a few nights ago about having a tight curfew of just 90 minutes at a casino but then it worked out and you got to do a full set. Why are the curfews so tight at casinos?  

ETHERIDGE: Why do you think? They want people at the tables. Like for tonight, we we settled on 100 minutes. They’re giving me 10 extra minutes. I don’t like it, but in some areas, the only really good venue is a casino, so if you want to reach your folks there, you kind of have to meet them half way. 

BLADE: Yeah, but it seems like in concert halls, the curfews can sometimes be really tight too. Even Madonna got her lights shut off a couple years ago. Of course, she’s notoriously late, but why are they so strict with these things nowadays? 

ETHERIDGE: There are all different situations — concert halls often have union crews that will absolutely shut you down if you go one second over. There are also sound curfews, noise curfews, mostly with outdoor venues, but sometimes indoor as well. They have an agreement with the neighborhood. So you have people in the neighborhood standing by with their phones ready to pounce the minute it goes over one minute, they’re gonna call the police. As a performer, you just realize, “OK, it’s not just about me.” When I don’t have a curfew, I usually land at about two hours and some change. That seems comfortable to everyone. Any longer and I think I’m wearing my audience out. When I’m at a place with a shorter show, I just do my best. 

BLADE: I know you’re a big Chiefs fan. Did you watch that game back in January all the way to the end? 

ETHERIDGE: Well, at the end of it, I was on the floor. My wife was like, “Honey, honey, there’s still 13 seconds,” and I was moaning and sort of getting my feet on the floor and, you know, laying down and throwing a fit. And she’s like, “No, there’s still 13 seconds.” I dragged myself back to the television. And I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Wait a minute. Did we just win?” You know, just really crazy, really crazy stuff. … When you’re a fan like that, it’s a ride you can’t fully explain.

BLADE: Are you in a cordial or good place with your exes? Does it get easier when the kids are starting to grow up?

ETHERIDGE: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And you realize that it’s best for the kids if you can really get along and that any sort of conflict that can’t get resolved, that gets emotional, does no good for anyone. And absolutely, I have, I’ve gotten better at that as the years have gone by.

BLADE: Do you have the slightest inkling yet what the next studio album might be like?

ETHERIDGE: Well, I’ve got some interesting projects that I’m not ready to talk about just yet. But they have to do with my life story. There’s a lot of digging up of my past and really telling the story. So I imagine the next series of music you’ll get from me is going to be very focused on my journey. 

Melissa Etheridge, gay news, Washington Blade
Melissa Etheridge (Photo by Elizabeth Miranda; courtesy Primary Wave)
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New Cranes sommelier brings spirit to wine and sake program

Stewart-Woodruff curates eclectic list for Michelin-starred restaurant

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‘I bring my whole self to work,’ says Eric Stewart-Woodruff. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Outfitted in a blue damask dinner jacket with satin lapels and an energetic smile, Eric Stewart-Woodruff carves an impressive figure when chatting about his favorite vintages. Stewart-Woodruff, who’s gay, is the new sommelier at Michelin-starred Cranes in Penn Quarter.

Stewart-Woodruff curates an eclectic wine – and sake – program focusing on pairings with celebrated Chef Pepe Moncayo’s innovative, global flavors. Cranes, which explores intersections of Spanish and Japanese cuisine, opened just before the pandemic, and received a coveted Michelin star in 2021.

Stewart-Woodruff did not start off in the wine industry. In fact, he does not have any formal training in wine. Instead, after a career as a professional photographer, he pivoted to the restaurant industry, where he developed his love of wine. While working for a distributor, he connected with D.C.’s own District Winery. This opportunity allowed him to express his truest self, as a lead tour guide, wine ambassador and sommelier. He credits his identity and personality as his reason for thriving.

“I bring my whole self to work,” he says, “offering a level of humanity and approachability.” 

After the pandemic temporarily shuttered District Winery, Stewart-Woodruff found himself interviewing at Cranes, enamored with Moncayo’s “creative vision,” he says – and was sold. He began in late summer of 2021.

Through his work in hospitality, Stewart-Woodruff notes that the industry can be hetero-male dominated. He has been able to break through by not holding back on his identity.

“I tend to play with expectations of what a sommelier may look or act like,” he says. “I move away from what one may stereotypically look like, but still present like one.”

For him, that means talking about wine and wine education “as if it were gossip,” he says. “I like to view wine like we are at brunch. Wine has personality, it’s performative, and it has stereotypes.” He is seeking to break molds of specific likes and dislikes, exploring the depth that wine has to offer, in the context of the Spanish-Japanese Cranes menu. In fact, he says, Moncayo is supportive of his innovative, certification-less angle. “I become more relatable,” he says.

He also presents original events. He paired with local guest sommelier Andrew Stover (also a gay man) on Tuesday, March 29 for a springtime showcase of specialty rosé wines paired with Moncayo’s dishes. The duo poured tastes of specialty, small-batch wines from Brazil, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, and Maryland.

Leaning into the innovative spirit, the wine-by-glass list is not split by color. Instead, it is divided into evocative categories. For example, both a chardonnay and a pinot noir fall into the “Elegant, round, and mellow” category.

As a Spanish-Japanese restaurant, Cranes not only possesses an extensive wine cellar, but has consistently expanded its sake program. Sakes by the glass are split into the same exact categories. The very same “Elegant, round, and mellow” list includes Ginjo Nama Genshu and junmai daiginjo.

Stewart-Woodruff explains that wine and sake should be attended to similarly. “Sake is something you can think about like a beer in terms of production but treat like a wine,” he says. Sake is a fermented polished-rice beverage, dating back more than two millennia in Japan.

“Sake has aromatics, texture, body, and finish.” He takes pride in discussing customers’ palate preferences, and turning them onto a specific sake, for their qualities of earthiness, acidity, or others.

“Many people don’t experience sake outside of college or bars. Now, I can be a sommelier for sake, and for the marriage of Eastern and Western cuisine and beverage.” He expresses excitement at being innovative in his sake beverage pairings, occupying a niche space. When discussing both wine and sake, he aims to bring an artistic flair and tour-guide enthusiasm to the table.

Woodruff credits his identity and background for his success. He aims to bring a level of humanity and approachability to what has been a formal, stuffy area. He has high ambitions to portray sake as sophisticated as wine in the customer’s mind, “but it pairs well with Moncayo’s conceptually ambitious menu,” he says.

“Wine and sake are as eclectic as humanity. I want people to accept experiencing wine like the world has accepted me.”

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Legalization trend continues as Nat’l Cannabis Festival kicks off

D.C.’s 420 Week runs April 16-24

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National Cannabis Festival (Photo by Doug Van Sant; courtesy NCF)

The sixth annual National Cannabis Festival kicks off in D.C. on April 16 as the nation continues to see advances in legalizing cannabis, particularly for medical uses. 

Just this week, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed HB 933 and SB 671, to provide numerous operational improvements to the state’s medical cannabis program, including eliminating the requirement that patients register with the Board of Pharmacy after receiving their written certification from a registered practitioner. 

“These legislative improvements will bring great relief to the thousands of Virginians waiting to access the medical cannabis program,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML. “We hear from dozens of Virginians each week who are struggling with the registration process and frustrated by the 60-day wait to receive their approval from the Board of Pharmacy,” Pedini added.

There are more than 47,000 program registrants, with an estimated 8,000 applicants still awaiting approval. 

The new laws will take effect July 1. Until that time, patients will still be required to register with the Board of Pharmacy in order to shop at one of the state’s ten operational dispensaries. After July 1, patients who would like to receive a physical card will still have the option to request one by registering with the Board of Pharmacy.

The changes in Virginia law reflect growing support nationwide for reforming marijuana laws. Most Americans favor the enactment of a broad array of legal reforms specific to marijuana policy, according to new nationwide polling data provided by YouGov.com.

Specifically, six-in-10 Americans say that “marijuana should be made legal in the United States.” Majorities of Democrats (72 percent) and independents (60 percent) back legalization, while most Republicans (46 percent) do not.

Last week, members of the United States House of Representatives voted 220 to 204 in favor of The MORE Act, which removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act thereby allowing states to legalize cannabis markets free from federal interference. Most Democrats (217) voted for the bill while all but three Republicans voted against it.

A majority of Americans also support amending federal law so that banks and other financial institutions can explicitly partner with state-licensed marijuana businesses. Support for the policy change is strongest among Democrats (66 percent) and weakest among Republicans (38 percent).

Under existing federal law, financial institutions are discouraged from partnering with state-licensed cannabis businesses. According to the most recent financial information provided by the US Treasury Department, only about ten percent of all banks and only about four percent of all credit unions provide services to licensed cannabis-related businesses.

House members have voted on six separate occasions to pass federal legislation (The SAFE Banking Act) to reform this policy, but Senators have never taken any action to advance it in the Upper Chamber. Most recently, House members voted in February to include SAFE Banking provisions in HR 4521: the America COMPETES Act. Senators failed to include similar language in their version of the bill. (Courtesy NORML)

420 Week arrives in D.C.

D.C. is gearing up for a blazing 420 Week, featuring several days of exciting panels, art and community-building events and parties culminating in the National Cannabis Festival on April 23, featuring Wiz Khalifa, Lettuce, Ghostface Killah, Backyard Band, DuPont Brass, Shamans of Sound, Cramer, and more. 

This year, the sixth annual National Cannabis Festival, which celebrates progress on cannabis legalization, is expanding to a full weekend of epic cannabis-related events, including the National Cannabis Policy Summit April 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and the National Cannabis Championship, presented by Gentleman Toker and slated for April 24 at Echostage with Slick Rick. The weekend is the capstone of 420 Week, hosted by the National Cannabis Festival organizers in partnership with the Eaton Hotel and DC Brau. The week kicks off on Saturday, April 16, with movie screenings, evening parties, a beer launch and more. Read on for the week’s highlights, courtesy of Festival organizers:
 

420 Week

Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, April 24 

Eaton Hotel + DC Brau

From the Hemp and Hops Panel and launch of NCF Legalize It! Lager at DC Brau (3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE) on April 16 to the 4/20 Kickback Party featuring Khalifa Kush and panel with artists discussing cannabis’s role in their practice at the Eaton Hotel (1201 K St, NW), 420 Week promises something for everyone with an interest in cannabis culture. Take a tour with Luckie Chucky tours, participate in a “Plantwave Soundbath” and more. Nearly all events are free; RSVP required. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com for details. 
 

National Cannabis Policy Summit

Friday, April 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Join a who’s who of activists, industry pioneers, government leaders, journalists and more for an electric and illuminating day looking at the era’s most pressing cannabis policy challenges and opportunities. U.S. Senate candidate and Civil Rights activist Gary Chambers; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Portland Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson; Aamra Ahmad, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and many others will be on hand to discuss environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation, banking legislation, decriminalization and more. Afterward, stay for a reception sponsored by Weedmaps. All events are free; registration is strongly recommended. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/ncf-policy-summit for details. 
      

National Cannabis Festival

Saturday, April 23, 12 p.m. 

RFK Festival Grounds

2400 East Capitol St., NE, Lot 8

 The highlight of 420 Week events is the East Coast’s largest ticketed cannabis gathering, which returns to Washington’s RFK Campus with performances from Wiz Khalifa Lettuce, Ghostface Killah and many others. Also on tap: a wide range of exhibitors, five pavilions on topics from wellness to agriculture to education, and a brand-new culinary pavilion featuring top chefs from Maydan, Maketto, Moon Rabbit, as well as the Munchies Zone, with 75 of the region’s most popular food trucks including Peruvian Brothers, Jerk at Nite, Reba’s Funnel Cakes and more. (Note: No THC infused foods are permitted to be sold or sampled at NCF; festival-goers must be 21 and up.) Tickets range from $75-$375 for one or two-day admission to the festival and National Cannabis Championship. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/tickets
 

National Cannabis Championship Presented by Gentleman Toker

Sunday, April 24, 12 p.m.

2135 Queens Chapel Rd., NE

Slick Rick and DJ Footwerk are giving festival-goers a sendoff to remember on the final day of 420 Week and the festival weekend, at the National Cannabis Championship at Echostage, new this year. Presented by Gentleman Toker, this awards show and bash celebrates the incredible cannabis cultivation taking place in the Washington area and across the Mid-Atlantic. Expect exhibitors, comedy, munchies, drinks and a chance to chill with some of the biggest names and brands in cannabis cultivation. Tickets are $55. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/tickets.

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