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5 little questions for bounce queen Big Freedia

New tour comes to D.C. on Sept. 29

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Big Freedia plays D.C. next week. (Photo by kathclick via Bigstock)

There wasn’t much good news coming out of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans in 2005, but bounce music queen Big Freedia changed that narrative when she returned to the Big Easy to uplift community spirits with her high-energy stage performances. 

She was already well known in the area, having made a name for herself on the Crescent City club scene, and she was just starting to break out nationally. Fast forward a decade to 2016 and she was a full-fledged star featured on Beyoncé’s “Formation,” and Drake’s “Nice For What” in 2018. In 2021, after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freedia is bigger than ever, with a current tour and a new album, “Big Diva Energy.” The D.C. stop on the tour is Sept. 29 at Lincoln Theatre; tickets available at ticketnetwork.com.

WASHINGTON BLADE: You have a penchant for purses. What’s a favorite in your own collection, and what’s one you can’t wait to get your hands on?

BIG FREEDIA: Michael Kors is one of my all time favorites, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Tory Burch tote that I ordered. It’s burgundy and I cannot wait for it to arrive!

 BLADE: You always have the wildest looks. Where does your style inspiration come from? What’s one place you love to source your pieces?

BIG FREEDIA: My looks are inspired by anything and everything I see. I can be at the grocery store, watching a movie, or touring in a new city and get ideas and style inspiration. My secret sourcing spot is on Melrose Avenue in L.A. I won’t tell you the name though; it’s my secret.

BLADE: You’re also a gun-violence activist. Your brother was killed a few years ago by gunfire, and you’ve been shot yourself. A documentary on the subject called “Freedia Got a Gun” – starring you – is available to stream on Peacock. Was this a cathartic project for you?

BIG FREEDIA: I haven’t the slightest idea how to solve the awful gun violence problem we have in America. I do believe in prevention though, and I know that mental health is a very important part of it for our Black and LGBTQ+ youth – all youth. If kids have hope and opportunities, a life of violence will be much less likely. I am very much an advocate of mental health services and support in our communities. 

BLADE: What do you have planned for your fans that have waited so long to see you on tour? 

BIG FREEDIA: A Big Freedia show is a big party, so they can expect an even bigger party since we’ve been in our homes. Extra energy, extra Bounce! All I can say is please BE VACCINATED if you come to a show and let us all celebrate safely. 

BLADE: Tell me all about your next album. Are there any fire collabs in the works?

BIG FREEDIA: I’m very excited about my new project. It’s called “Big Diva Energy.” I wanted this to be my album and reflect my voice, so I didn’t get collabs. My homegirl, Boyfriend, is on one track. We’ve worked a ton together this year, but she’s the only one.

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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Music & Concerts

DC Different Drummers Jazz Band to perform ‘Oasis’

Performance by combo ‘2nd Independence’ scheduled

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The DC Different Drummers Jazz Band will perform on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Central Library.

This concert, titled “The Oasis,” will feature the 20-person big band playing jazz pieces in a variety of styles, from swing to bossa nova to jazz fusion and more. There will also be a performance from the improvisational jazz combo, 2nd Independence.

Admission is free and more details are available on the event’s website

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Music & Concerts

D.C.’s live music venues are jumpin’ again

Lizzo, B-52s, and Bob Mould all coming to town this fall

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Lizzo brings her ‘Special Tour’ to D.C. this fall. (Photo by DFree/Bigstock)

As summer comes to a close, many venues across the DMV are gearing up for their fall entertainment rosters. Below is a list of must-see music acts in the upcoming months.

Mary J. Blige brings her “Good Morning Gorgeous” tour to Capital One Arena on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $69.50 at Tickmaster.com.

Pet Shop Boys and New Order bring their “Unity Tour” to Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $29.50-169.50 at Merriweather’s website.

7th Annual Law Rocks Washington DC will be on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6:30p.m. at 9:30 Club. Law Rocks toured first to D.C. in 2015 and has raised more than $615,000. Eight bands of musically brilliant legal professionals will be rocking out to support local nonprofit organizations. Tickets are available on Law Rocks’s website

Don’t miss out performer Lil Nas X at the Anthem on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m.

Lizzo performs her “Special Tour” at Capital One Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Tickets start at $69.50 at ticketmaster.com.

Panic at the Disco performs its “Viva Las Vengeance” tour at Capital One Arena on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.; tickets at ticketmaster.com.

The legendary B-52s kicked off their farewell tour earlier this summer and it comes to D.C.’s Anthem on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at the Anthem site.

Two Feet: Fall Tour 2022 will be on Monday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club. Brothel will be the opening act. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on 9:30 Club’s website.

Santigold will be performing as part of her Holified Tour on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased on the Fillmore’s website.  

Fairfax Symphony and Orchestra will be performing work from German composer Brahms and Sibelius on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at Capital One Hall. Jeremy Denk will be on piano, and Christopher Zimmerman will music direct and conduct. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased on Capital One Hall’s website

Judah & the Lion will be performing on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased on the Fillmore’s website

Grammy Award-winning singer Steve Lacy will be performing on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Tickets start at $235 and can be purchased on the Fillmore’s website

The Reston Chorale, Piedmont Symphony Orchestra and PSO Rock Band will perform “Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music Of Queen (And Friends)” on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. at Capital One Hall. The music acts will perform some of Queen’s greatest hits, including “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” “Under Pressure,” and of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased on Ticketmaster

Local gay favorite Bob Mould plays at Wolf Trap on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. will be celebrating the life and legacy of actress Judy Garland with a cabaret titled “Judy” on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. (ASL) and 8 p.m. at Capital One Hall. Fourteen select soloists from the Chorus will share stories as they sing their favorite Judy tunes. Songs include “Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “The Man That Got Away,” and “Happy Days are Here Again.” Tickets cost $45 and can be ppurchased on GMCWDC’s website

Morrissey performs at the Anthem on Monday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m.

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Music & Concerts

New Madonna remix collection solid but not exhaustive

Marred only by a few ’80s omissions, set is blazing history of club music’s evolution

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An all-vinyl edition of Madonna’s new remix collection ‘Finally Enough Love,’ sold out quickly, but the release is still available in several other formats, physical and digital. (Photo courtesy Warner/Rhino)

Madonna, though she has as many hit compilations as one would expect from an artist of her vintage and stature, has always seemed wary of looking back or indulging much degree of nostalgia about her career. 

As polarizing as her later albums sometimes are, one could never accuse her of cashing in, as so many veteran acts do, on tour after tour of the same old set list designed to hit all the obvious musical marks, please the most tepid of fans and make easy millions. But she has almost swung too far the other way. Hits sometimes have felt grudgingly performed at her live shows of the last, oh, 20 years or so, and have, at times, been so radically re-crafted — an approach that can be thrilling when it works, no doubt — the spirit of the original track has been sometimes painfully undercut.

All that to say, it’s fun to see Our Lady of the Remix — for whom in popdom is more deserving of that title? — look back so sumptuously with the Aug. 19 release of “Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones,” (☆☆☆ out of four) a new 50-track remix collection available digitally, in a three-disc CD set and a sold-out six-LP vinyl edition, as well as “Finally Enough Love,” a 16-track version on single CD, double vinyl and digitally. The releases are the first since it was announced last summer that Madonna was returning to her original label, Warner Records, in a new deal that would include a series of deluxe catalogue reissues. It celebrates her record-shattering span of 50 No. 1 hits on the Billboard U.S. Dance Songs Club chart, starting with “Holiday”/“Lucky Star” (only “Holiday” is here, though) in 1983 and culminating with “I Don’t Search I Find” in early 2020 from her 2019 album “Madame X.” The collection’s title is taken from that track. For context, those trailing her record of 50 No. 1 hits on that chart are Rihanna (33), Beyonce (22), Janet (20) and Katy Perry (19); Madonna’s record here is the most number ones by an artist/band on any Billboard chart ever.

It’s also especially nice to see since remixes have been so essential to Madonna’s career. The only time she ever released anything remotely akin to this before was either very early (1987’s “You Can Dance” remix album) or oddly random (the 2003 EP “Remixed & Revisited”). 

This collection is not, as one might guess, a collection of her all-time greatest remixes or even necessarily the versions of the songs that charted. Gen. Xers who gobbled up her maxi singles all through the ’90s and beyond will find their stash, if retained, are still the only sources (not counting unofficial YouTube postings) for classics such as the “Shep’s ‘Spressin’ Himself Re-remix” of “Express Yourself” from the “Justify My Love” maxi (also home to the deliciously weird “The Beast Within Mix”), the “Waiting” remix (a non-single) from the “Rain” maxi or any of the varied delights (e.g. “Madonna Gets Hardcore”) on the import “Bye Bye Baby” maxi. 

Even if you’re a completist of the highest order — and there certainly are folks like that in the Madonnaverse — your experience won’t be sullied or buoyed much by the mixes included or excluded. 

Tons of other remixes here are just slight variations of mixes we’ve heard before. I haven’t been following these releases like a hawk in recent years, but if you collected these in any capacity over the years, there will likely be a fresh balance of familiar and unfamiliar motifs and passages sprinkled throughout. 

Most of the remixes retain the bulk of the lyrics from the album versions and are tight edits (no 10-minute percussion solos). The earlier cuts on disc one are the least radical, a non-surprise considering remixing trends of the ’80s. And while many of these mixes are heretofore unreleased, they are nearly all vintage or, where tweaked, retain the spirit of their album counterparts. There’s no radical thumpa-thumpa version of “Everybody” or “Material Girl,” for example; disc three, containing the newest material, is by far the most pounding/rave-influenced. 

Standouts for me were the loungy, uptempo-yet-chill vibe of the “Underground Club Mix” of “Erotica” (straight from the vintage “Erotica” maxi), the “PSB Maxi Mix Edit” of “Sorry,” (until now, a promo-only mix), the “Eddie Amador Club 5 Edit” of “Give it 2 Me,” (vintage, but never commercially available until now) and “Avicii’s UMF Mix” of “Girl Gone Wild,” which features a spidery instrumental motif that could almost work as a fugal theme.

As a whole, however, there are a few impediments to the way this all goes down, especially if you listen straight through. A few tracks — e.g. the “Sasha Ultra Violet Mix Edit” of “Ray of Light” with its sputtery beat pattern or the loungy, uber-chill vibe of the “Bob Sinclar Space Funk Edit” of “4 Minutes” (this edit of which was only ever previously released on a 12” vinyl picture disc) — give needed contrast to the mostly unrelenting 4/4 beat patterns. But after a while, especially on discs two and three, it all starts sounding like little more than “Hooked on Madonna,” of the famous “Hooked on Classics” series from the ’80s, which set classical themes to dance beats. Of course, some of that is to be expected given the nature of the release, but as an actual experience, it’s occasionally tedious. 

And while the DJs are all obviously talented and at times quite creative, by the middle of disc two, one starts wondering if a wiz/nerd with access to the stems could have almost come up with something just as good on a Yamaha Clavinova or the like. Almost. 

It also moves a lot faster through her catalogue than you might guess. Since classics like “Papa Don’t Preach” and La Isla Bonita” were not No. 1 dance hits, we get to “Like a Prayer” and “Vogue” barely halfway through disc one. 

When a non-Madonna-penned single pops up — Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (from “Evita”) or Don McLean’s “American Pie” (from “The Next Best Thing”), they jump out as markedly better examples of songcraft than just about anything Madonna ever came up with herself. Going straight from “Pie” to “Music,” one of M’s most lyrically insipid compositions ever to my ear, is especially painful. For sure, there are dozens of pop masterpieces here, but the covers tend to accentuate the froth on cuts like “Turn Up the Radio” or “Jump.” 

On the brighter side, however, the vocals sound stronger and sweeter than I recalled. Yeah, they’re likely auto-tuned and otherwise studio sweetened, but there were several passages — “Nothing Really Matters,” “Keep it Together,” “Deeper and Deeper” — when it’s clear Madonna is a better studio singer than she ever gets credit for.

Booklets, too, are thorough and nicely done with detailed track info and pics of all her single artwork. 

While there are 50 tracks here, the math is a bit fuzzy. “Angel,” which charted jointly with its flip side “Into the Groove,” is absent as is “Causing a Commotion,” which had a vinyl Record Store Day release back in April, though it’s annoying it’s not here. Because “You Can Dance” topped the chart as an entire album and the Britney duet “Me Against the Music” was not from a Madonna project, there’s a little wiggle room numerically in how this set was curated. 

Madonna’s new remix album ‘Finally Enough Love’ collects vintage mixes of her many hits, but often in slightly different versions from what has previously been commercially available. (Photo courtesy Warner/Rhino)
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