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ONTAP Drink. Dine. Do. September 2019


The REACH at The Kennedy Center

PERFORMING ARTS ISSUE Culture House DC DC Shorts Film Festival

30 Must-See Shows

on the scene

Photos: Beauty By Photography


The Capitol Riverfront concert series at Yards Park on August 9 featured live music from DC’s funk-with-soul band Aztec Sun, ice-cold Corona and refreshing wine. The winning combination made for a relaxing evening with stunning waterfront views.









THE PERFORMING ARTS ISSUE In a speech at Amherst College in October 1963, John F. Kennedy stated, “I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.” A president regarded for a lifelong admiration and dedication to the arts, this sentiment is especially striking with the knowledge that the monument bearing his name, The Kennedy Center, would go on to serve as a home for the best of the performing arts in America. Almost 56 years later, his legacy lives on in a new way through The REACH, an expansion of the Center that aims to further blur the lines between performance, creation, art and the people - thus bringing us one step closer to being a nation unafraid of grace and beauty, as Kennedy envisioned. In our Performing Arts Issue, On Tap dives into The REACH’s opening festival, ambitious vision, and art and design. Outside of The REACH, read on for some of the most anticipated productions of the 2019-2020 theatre season, Q&As with the minds behind them, Culture House DC’s new programming, filmmakers featured in the DC Shorts Film Festival, an interview with storyteller Mike Birbiglia and more. Plus, plenty of sports, music, dining and amazing things to do and see throughout the District, as always. On the cover: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Alysia Lee and Ty Defoe

Photographer: Tony Powell Designer: Julia Goldberg

Shoot location: The REACH

IN THIS ISSUE  SPORTS Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard..................... 4 Redskins Wide Receiver Terry McLaurin.... 6




DC's Bourbon Trail


Celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month

Encourages City's Creatives

What's On Tap.................................................. 8 Aslin Beer Taps Into Wider Market............ 12 Bold Rock's Harvest Haze. . .......................... 14 DC Bourbon Trail........................................... 16 Baller Bubbles at Zeppelin.. ........................ 20

 DINING New & Notable.. ............................................. 24 Tiki on 18th.................................................... 28




Culture House DC

Mike Birbiglia

Where Culture + Community Collide

Comes to National Theatre

Drink, Dine, Do.............................................. 30 Renaissance Man Tony Powell................... 38 202Creates Connects Arts Community. . .. 41 Culture House DC......................................... 42

DC Shorts Film Festival Returns................ 44 Mike Birbiglia at National Theatre............ 46 A Day in the Life: Regina Aquino.. ............. 48 The Kennedy Center's The REACH. . ........... 50 The Performing Arts Guide. . ....................... 61



The Performing Arts Guide

Festival, Vision, Art + Architecture

30 Must-See Shows












Michael Coleman, Lani Furbank, Anna Jacoby, Keith Loria, Sabrina Medora, Dan Rozman, Alex Thompson, Amanda Weisbrod


Beauty By Photography, Kimchi Photography, Rich Kessler, Devin Overbey, Tony Powell On Tap Magazine is published 11 times per year. ©2019 by United Fray. All rights reserved. Use or reproduction of any materials contained herein is strictly prohibited without express prior written consent. Go to for more information.




PUBLISHER Robert Kinsler

 MUSIC Lavender Talks Friendship + New Music.. 70 The Growlers Keep Going........................... 72 Cha Wa Plays DC Jazz Fest.......................... 74 Music Picks..................................................... 78

951 V St. NE, Washington DC 20018 Tel: 703-465-0500 Fax: 703-465-0400 CALENDAR SUBMISSIONS

Capitol Lounge

Hawk & Dove

Lucky Bar Blackfinn

Mad Hatter The Bottom Line

Rocket Bar Kelleys Irish Times Grand Central

Enjoy Responsibly. ©2019 D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., Pottsville, PA 17901

Wizards’ Front Office Flips Page with New GM Tommy Sheppard


By Alex Thompson s the Washington Wizards embark on a new season, all eyes are on newly minted general manager Tommy Sheppard, who assumed his role this summer, and how he’ll guide the team in a period of rebuilding. Yes, that delightful word every sports fan – especially those in DC – loves to hear. Sheppard took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the upcoming season and how he may be the leader the Wizards have been waiting for. On Tap: How are you feeling about the upcoming season? Tommy Sheppard: We are really excited. Everything we did from April on has built up to this moment in time as we get ready for training camp. We’ve had some pretty amazing turnaround in a short amount of time in terms of how many new players and new staff [have been added to the roster]. I think the best days are certainly ahead. OT: You worked with former GM Ernie Grunfeld for many years. What did you learn philosophically from him that you will take with you into your new role? TS: No matter what, you need the very best talent. Talent is the biggest, most important commodity in the NBA. I think there are so many ways to acquire talent. I put a high premium on character. Data-driven ways of scouting and the way we evaluate plays now is a little different. We worked together a long time and I have the most respect for [Grunfeld], but we are different people with different approaches. My challenge now is to execute a vision we are looking at collectively and not just, “Hey, this is how I want everything to look.” It is critical to everyone working with us that they feel like they have a piece of this, and that’s part of the new NBA as well. OT: Does the team anticipate John Wall playing this season at any time?



TS: We’ve made a huge investment in John. This isn’t about this season. It’s about the rest of his career. Our performance staff has so much fire power and wisdom that they can truly test when someone is 100 percent, and John’s resume speaks for itself. He’s played through so many injuries in his career. But we have to be more thoughtful with load management and stress on players. We’re not going to rush anyone back, and certainly not John. You can’t fix your mind on a date. So, when he’s 100 percent healthy – not a month or a day [sooner]. OT: How do you envision using the G League as a place to develop players? TS: We used it last year and were tremendously successful. We promoted our head coach of the G League [Jarell Christian], who is now an assistant with the Wizards. Thomas Bryant spent time there,

and Troy Brown played there and got valuable game exposure and finished the [season] as a starter. The last roster spots will always change, and we are going to rotate a lot of players through to see what they can do. We don’t want to take away from the core of the Wizards. That’s the biggest piece: developing players under contract. OT: Is your main focus this season on a playoff run or are you more focused on player development? TS: This year, because we have brand new coaches and new players, it’s about getting everyone on a foundation and setting a routine. Playoffs to me is the big picture. You want to build something sustainable. We have to have wisdom to be patient and prudent with the money we spend so we’ll have more money in off years. This summer would have been easy to sign [Tomas] Satoransky, [Jabari] Parker and [Trevor] Ariza, but that’s propping up a team that didn’t make the playoffs. Those are good players and we will miss them, but logic told me they are signing one- or two-year deals – kind of like moving from one dilapidated house to another. Sooner or later, you have to bring it down to bring it back up, and I think we’ve done that.

SUNDAY FUNDAY FOR THE FAMILY Polo | Games | Food & Drink

JOIN US September 22

OT: When you do have free time, what do you like to do around DC? TS: I’m a museum junkie. I love the African American History [and Culture] Museum and the Air and Space Museum. I’m a big fan of SpaceX and what [Elon] Musk is doing, so I try to go back and figure out that history that led to this and what they are trying to create. I’ve got a big family and we live near Annapolis and have horses, so we love to be outdoors. And as far as restaurants go, Chloe down at the Navy Yard is one of my favorites. The Wizards’ preseason starts on Monday, October 7 at 7 p.m. with a home game against the New York Knicks. Learn more about the season at and follow the team on Twitter


Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; 202-628-3200; Photo: John Thompson III, Sashi Brown, Tommy Sheppard, Ted Leonsis + Daniel Medina of Monumental Basketball // Ned Dishman NBAE via Getty Images | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



After finishing last season with a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs, the Washington Redskins entered their 2019 training camp in Richmond with plenty of personnel questions. Fortunately, Coach Jay Gruden found at least one easy answer in rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin. The tough and speedy pass catcher immediately turned heads in Richmond with his precision route-running, sure hands and tireless work ethic. And while the franchise had a half-dozen receivers on its roster at the outset of camp, McLaurin was the odds-on favorite to win a starting wideout spot alongside veteran receiver Josh Doctson. McLaurin’s rapid ascent up the Redskins’ depth chart should come as no surprise, even though he wasn’t selected until the third round of the 2019 draft. The 23-year-old was an outstanding player for the Ohio State Buckeyes, ranking among the storied program’s top 15 receivers in four categories. He was also a role model off the field, graduating in three-and-a-half years with a degree in communications. McLaurin told On Tap that he brings a workmanlike approach to his game. “I feel like you have to have that [approach] if you’re going to play at this level and be successful,” he said. “You have to enjoy the grind and the process. You can’t be afraid to get criticized and go out there and work on your weaknesses. I try to work on the things I do not do



as well harder than the things I do well. I just want to prove that I can be a force in the league.” Gruden said it’s already apparent that his promising rookie can do just that. In addition to his explosiveness as wide receiver, the Redskins like McLaurin because of his prowess on special teams. Gruden said he loves how the rookie races downfield and pins kick returners deep in their own territory. “[He’s been] amazing, really,” Gruden told reporters after a practice in mid-August. “I didn’t know he was this good. He is a powerful, explosive player. He can really, really run. He’s detailed in his work. He’s smart. He has been one of our better players in camp.” A few days later, Gruden was back at the podium heaping more praise on his rookie receiver. “Terry is doing an excellent job. He can do everything: he can block, he can run the vertical routes, he can run the short, intermediate routes. He made an unbelievable double-move today. I’ve just been very impressed with the total package of Terry – not just his speed but his toughness, his attention to detail, his ability to finish play, his ability to block [and] line up correctly. He’s just been outstanding in all phases.” The admiration seems mutual. McLaurin said Gruden’s upbeat enthusiasm is infectious.

“YOU HAVE TO ENJOY THE GRIND AND THE PROCESS. I JUST WANT TO PROVE THAT I CAN BE A FORCE IN THE LEAGUE.” “Coach Gruden is very competitive,” he said. “He wants to win every drill and he’s an offensive-minded coach, so he gets really animated when the offense isn’t making the plays we should. He holds everybody to a high standard, and I feel like when you have that kind of energy as a head coach, it just permeates through the rest of the team. He sets a great example.” The Redskins hadn’t announced which quarterback prospect – Case Keenum, Colt McCoy or rookie Dwayne Haskins (Keenum was named starting quarterback at the end of August) – would be throwing the ball to McLaurin this season at the time of this interview. But the wide receiver said he wasn’t concerned about who the starter would be. “I just try to create a chemistry with any of three [quarterback prospects] in there. One thing they do like is how I define my routes.” Crisp, well-defined routes are a hallmark of McLaurin’s game, and it’s something he continued working on throughout training camp.

What does that mean, exactly? “It’s using your body language when you run a route,” he explained. “If you’re going to run a route, you want to define the angles. You want to be consistent in the way you run your route and define your angle full speed. If you’re taking the route skinny, take it skinny and if you’re going to flatten it off, you need to do it as fast as possible and keep that angle and don’t deviate from that.” McLaurin’s pleased to have a familiar face on the field in Haskins, who played college ball with the wide receiver at Ohio State. “We’re learning a new system, but the chemistry is still there. A post route is still a post route. I’m trying to tell him what the receivers are looking for and he’s telling us what the quarterbacks need, so it’s been very beneficial.” While intensely focused on the difficult job of nailing down a starting slot on a competitive NFL roster, McLaurin said he sometimes does allow himself a moment to reflect on his hard-won NFL career. “You set out a goal and have dream when you’re 7 years old. I took school very seriously. But this has always been my dream and my goal, and I was willing to put in the work to make it happen.” Now his dream is to help make the Redskins winners again. “One thing I’ve noticed is that Redskins fans are very loyal and they’re hungry for a winning team. Hopefully, I’ve been drafted to come in and help wherever I can. It’s cool to be a part of an NFL organization with such great history.” Catch the Washington Redskins’ first home game of the regular season on Sunday, September 15 at 1 p.m. against the Dallas Cowboys. Learn more about their 2019 season at FedExField: 1600 Fedex Way, Landover, MD 301-276-6000; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


All What’s On Tap listings are provided by the venues hosting them.

Greetings, beer nerds! As you know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s up next at a few of these locations.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 Porktober Fest Mark your calendar! The second annual Old Ox Porktoberfest is happening the first day of September. Celebrate Labor Day Weekend with the release of Oxtober Bier, pretzels and pastries from The Baekehaus, a pig roast, and other delicious pork dishes from RESQ BBQ Catering. Enjoy live music from Felix Pickles and Rowdy Ace, a stein-lifting contest, and more. 4-9 p.m. Free to attend. Old Ox Brewery: 44652 Guilford Dr. Ashburn, VA;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 Brews Around the World: DC International Beer, Wine & Food Festival Join this celebration of the very best of global beer and cuisine in our nation’s capital. You’ll get your own tasting glass for unlimited tastings of more than 80 carefully selected beers in a single session. Plus, two dozen amazing wines, 10+ ciders, hard sodas, gluten free options and more. There will be a DJ playing music all day and lots of outdoor games, arts and activities. 12:30-8 p.m. Tickets $20-$69. The Bullpen: 1201 Half St. SE, DC;

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 The Area Two Experimental Brewing Showcase Join The Sovereign as they celebrate DC Beer Week 2019 with the fine folks from Area Two Experimental Brewing. You’ll see six wild and funky beers from the brand new Connecticut brewery. Meet master brewer and cofounder Phil Markowski of Area Two, which is a sour, barrel-aging and experimental brewery from Two Roads Brewing Company. The offshoot brewery will produce a wide range of sour beers, including spontaneously fermented ales inspired by the legendary Lambics of Belgium. Headlining the list is the award-winning Hexotic 2019, a Lambic-inspired ale aged two years in oak barrels, then conditioned on mango, orange, passionfruit, guava, pineapple and guanabana. All Two Roads beers will be



priced individually by the glass and in 4 oz. tasting pours. The menu is subject to change without notice. 5-11:30 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 Beer Yoga Bring your own mat and flow through a flight of Right Proper Brewery favorites during this hour-long power yoga class. You’ll sip and stretch at Right Proper’s Production House in Brookland. Come for yoga, nama’stay for beer. One three-glass flight included in yoga class ticket purchase. Noon-1 p.m. Tickets $15. Right Proper Brewing Company Brookland Production House and Tasting Room: 920 Girard St. NE, DC;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 Heurich Oktoberfest: Senate Beer Style This Heurich Oktoberfest celebration has a new twist: The Senate Beer revival will be fully available to the public for the first time, and some new partners will help celebrate. This Oktoberfest-style biergarten festival will take place in the Castle Garden and feature Senate Beer plus brews from Sankofa Beer Company, Red Bear Brewing Co., ANXO Cidery, Silver Branch Brewing Co., Supreme Core Cider, Crooked Run Brewing and Streetcar 82. Owners and representatives of these breweries and cideries will be onsite. All tickets include unlimited tastings and full-pours, a meal and one pretzel, all locally made. 1-4 p.m. $65-$85. Heurich House Museum: 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC; Oktoberfest Kick Off Party at Hops N Shine Join Hops N Shine to celebrate the start of Oktoberfest! Participate in stein hoisting competitions, eating competitions and specials all Oktoberfest long. 2-5 p.m. Free to attend. Hops N Shine: 3410 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 Pints & Paint Nite Grab your friends and unleash your inner artist at the Original Paint Nite. You’ll go from a blank canvas to a masterpiece of your own, with plenty of laughs along the way. Guided by a talented and entertaining artist, you’ll be amazed at what you create, and how much fun you have doing it. Instruction is provided by an expert host, so no experience is required, and everything you need is supplied. Fill up on the many Solace brews on tap. 7 p.m. Tickets $35. Solace Brewing: 42615 Trade W Dr. #100, Sterling, VA;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 5th Annual Make It Funky Wild Beer Festival It’s Denizens Brewing Co.’s fifth annual ‘Make It Funky’ Wild Beer Festival, which celebrates the unique and mouth-watering style of wild and sour brews. Craft beer fans from all over the DMV will gather to sample funky beers from breweries around the region while listening to live music. This year’s focus is on mixed fermentation and barrel-aged beers only, so you’re guaranteed to get the best of this style from participating breweries. 12-5 p.m. Tickets $62. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 E W Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; Oktoberfest Outdoor Party at Port City Port City’s most popular limited release beer, Oktoberfest, deserves its own party. There will be games, prizes, competitions such as stein hoisting and costumes, music, food and plenty of beer. Don’t miss out on their biggest event of the year. Enjoy food from Pizzeria Paradiso, Village Brauhaus, Borinquen Lunch Box Kitchen and Daddy G’s Craft Salsas. Noon-10 p.m. Port City: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Find your gameday beach at these locations and grab an icegameday cold Corona or at Corona this season! Find your beach these Light locations and Maddy’s Tap Room Penn Quarter Sports Tavern Nellie’s Sports Bar grab an ice cold Corona Light season! The Brighton Walters Sports or Bar Corona Cleveland Parkthis Bar & Grill Public BarTap Live Maddy’s Room The Midlands The Brighton Beer Garden Lou’s PublicCity BarBar Live

The PennBottom QuarterLine Sports Tavern Rocket Bar Walters Sports Bar Pitchers The Bottom Line

The Midlands Beer Garden Lou’s City Bar

Rocket Bar Pitchers

Exiles Nellie’s Sports Bar El Bebe Park Bar & Grill Cleveland Exiles El Bebe




C Beer Week is back with eight days of beer-themed festivities around the District, from September 8-15. From homebrew competitions and fun runs to comedy nights and crab feasts, the options are endless. We caught up with the creative minds behind Bluejacket and District ChopHouse’s beer menus about this year’s DC Beer Week lineup and the 2019 Solidarity Beer, a German kellerbier crafted at Bluejacket with nearly a dozen collaborating brewers.

OT: Do you sell any special bottles at District ChopHouse? BL: We have some vintage beers that we sell. We also hold tasting events, like our upcoming cask event, where we serve some special beers from local breweries. We will also be serving the Solidarity Beer brewed for DC Beer Week.

Barrett Lauer

OT: It seems like the beer industry is more collaborative than other types of businesses. Does that ring true for you? BL: The local brewers all share the same goal of exposing more people to craft beer. If they try mine, they will go to Bluejacket, Atlas or one of the other local craft breweries and vice versa. Once you’ve had flavorful, fresh beer, it’s hard to go back.

On Tap: What got you into brewing? Barrett Lauer: I was working in the kitchen at The Wharf Rat [in Baltimore] and became friends with the brewer through our mutual love of beer and music. He offered me an apprenticeship, and I never looked back.

OT: What special events do you have planned for DC Beer Week? BL: We are hosting Cask [Day/Night] on September 6. We will line the perimeter of the brewers’ lounge with tables and patrons will be able to pour their own beers. There will be an assortment of ales and lagers and other beer styles. There will be Oktoberfest, dunkels (dark German lager), blond ale, hazy IPA and more.

OT: What beers do you gravitate toward on a menu? BL: I usually will start with a lighter, lower-ABV beer first. In the summer, I will start with a German pilsner, Vienna lager or Czech pils. If it’s chilly, I may want something more like a Scottish ale. I always like to try kellerbiers, especially at a brewery. Good, lighter beers are trickier to make because the flaws stick out.

OT: What’s unique about cask ales? BL: With a cask, after primary fermentation, it’s put in a vessel and then primed. Sometimes, you may add more hops. Some darker beers may have chocolate, toasted oak or coffee. The carbon dioxide produced by secondary fermentation is typically not as carbonated and is typically a softer texture than forced CO2.

Head Brewer at District ChopHouse & Brewery



Ro Guenzel

Director of Brewing Operations at Bluejacket On Tap: How did you get started in brewing? Ro Guenzel: I started as a homebrewer. My mom bought me a pale ale homebrew kit when I turned 21. My second homebrew was a German pils. They are my love. OT: What is one piece of advice you’d give to new beer drinkers? RG: For most beers; drink fresh. The cellaring of beer introduces the unknown. OT: What inspired this year’s Solidarity Beer? What’s notable about a German kellerbier? RG: The Solidarity kellerbier is a youngish lager beer [and] hazy amber in color. It is modestly bitter and balanced out with a touch of caramel malt. It has plenty of German hops in the flavor and nose. OT: How did you decide on the style and recipe? RG: When picking the beer, we try to pick something that fits in with the portfolio of the host brewery [and] that will get brewers excited, showcase what they make and be something that people will want to drink. We took the time of year into consideration. Kellerbiers are typically unfiltered, unpasteurized lagers from the German brewing tradition. The name translates directly to “cellar beer.”


EVENTS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 DC Beer Week Fun Run Kick-start DC Beer Week 2019 by participating in the inaugural DC Beer Week Fun Run. Registered participants will receive a free beer at the starting point Right Proper Brookland Production House, and then a free beer at the end of the run at Red Bear Brewing Co. Race proceeds benefit the DC Brewers’ Guild. All are welcome for this 2-mile course down the Metropolitan Branch Trail between Right Proper and Red Bear. Register in advance or at the starting point at Right Proper. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets $10-$25. Right Proper Brewing Company Brookland Production House and Tasting Room: 920 Girard St. NE, DC;


OT: Do you have any upcoming special releases or events? RG: For DC Beer Week, we will be serving all of the collaborators’ beers at the kickoff party on September 8. Bluejacket will can about 50 cases of Solidarity Beer for sale out of the tasting room. This year for the first time, all the proceeds will be donated to the DC Brewers’ Guild. [At Snallygaster 2019 on October 12], there will be over 400 beers from 150 breweries around the world. Bluejacket will be serving cans as well as kegs.

3 Stars Home Brew Extravaganza Celebrate DC Beer Week by competing in this year’s 3 Stars Brewing Homebrew Extravaganza. Clone this year’s Solidarity Beer - a kellerbier, Double IPA and wild American sour beer. Entries are due no later than 9 p.m. Monday, September 2. Visit for awards and category details. 6-9 p.m. $5 per entry. 3 Stars Brewing: 6400 Chillum Pl.NW, DC;

OT: What are you drinking now? RG: All of this talk of German beers put me in the mood for a nice German festbier.


Don’t miss DC Beer Week from September 8-15 at various locations around DC. Visit for the full lineup of events and learn more about Bluejacket and District ChopHouse below. Bluejacket: 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; District ChopHouse & Brewery: 509 7th St. #1, NW, DC; Dan Rozman is an investor in several breweries and The Minister of Membership for Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP). Photo: Back - Ro Guenzel, Daniel Vilarrubi, Marv Albert, Sam Puffenbarger, Bobby Bump, Paul Dean, Adam Porter, Meth Gunasinghe + Front - Barret Lauer, Jeff Hancock // courtesy of Michael Stein

DC Total Tap Takeover at ChurchKey ChurchKey will once again devote all 55 of its draft and cask lines to beers brewed right here in the District for the fifth straight year. A true tribute to the collective greatness of DC’s brewing scene, they’re showcasing a wide array of one-offs and rarities, both on cask and on draft. Birch & Barley will feature executive chef Jarrad Silver’s four-course tasting flights paired exclusively with DCbrewed beers. All beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4 oz. tasting pours. 4-11:30 p.m. Free to attend. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC;

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 Women in Beer at Red Bear Brewing Celebrate women in the craft beer industry with a panel discussion of all things beer, why the brewery industry is a great place for women to work and more. The event will also include a special beer release, brewed in collaboration with the Pink Boots Society - a Belgian blonde. Proceeds of beer sold benefit the local DC Pink Boots Chapter. You’ll hear speakers Leah Cheston from Right Proper, Melissa Ramano from Pink Boots, Katie Marisic from the DC Brewers Association and more. 6-8 p.m. Red Bear Brewing Company: 209 M St. NE, DC;

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 Yacht Rockin’ & Brau Poppin’ DC Beer Week Sunset Beer Cruise Sail into the final weekend of DC Beer Week on the Potomac Riverboat Company’s Miss Mallory for the inaugural Brau Poppin’ & Yacht Rockin’ sunset cruise. Ride along the Potomac sipping on DC Brau and listening to yacht rock curated by the Brothers Brau. Ticket includes a two-hour sunset cruise departing from The Wharf’s Transit Pier in Southwest DC, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a DC Brau. Additional beer and other beverages will be available for purchase on board. For the full details on tickets, visit www. 6-8 p.m. Tickets $75. The Wharf: 970 Wharf St. SW, DC;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 Brewers On The Block Brewers On The Block is back for its sixth annual cele-BREW-tion. Sponsored by, join the fun as Suburbia hosts 40+ local brewers at Union Market, where hopheads and brewers can meet and drink. You’ll hear live music from Big Bad JuJu. General admission includes unlimited tastings, conversations with local brewers, souvenir tasting glass and live music starting at 3 p.m. The VIP ticket includes hour ahead event access, extra face-to-face time with the brewers, UNICORN beers and frozen hoptails from Suburbia. 2-6 p.m. Tickets $55-$75. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


ASLIN BEER By Anna Jacoby

Photos: courtesy of Josiah Everly

f you wanted to get your hands on the highly soughtafter cans of beer from Aslin Brewing Company prior to this summer, you had to get in the car and make the pilgrimage to a humble strip mall in Herndon, Virginia. Beer aficionados have been camping out in line outside Aslin in the hopes of snagging a few cans since 2015, like New York City tourists waiting for a cronut outside of Dominique Ansel Bakery. Coming up on their fourth anniversary, it seems Aslin’s brews have earned a reputation as the cronut of the beer industry. This July, beer drinkers across the DMV welcomed Aslin’s long-awaited new outpost in Alexandria with open arms and empty growlers. Gone are the days of trekking out to Herndon solely for beer to-go. “[Because] people [can] come in and drink a few beers and get their cans, there’s rarely much of a line,” says Aslin Brand Manager Erik Raines. The “real test,” he says, will be what the wait is like on the day of a major stout release. Though enjoying a beer onsite in the Herndon space is not allowed, Aslin has an extremely committed following. On one particular beer release day, Alexandria resident Justin Booth got in line two hours before they opened.



“People will post pictures on social media with line updates,” Booth says. “I waited for about 30 minutes after they opened, so it was about two-and-a-half hours.” Raines says being go-to for the last few years created quite a trek for some Aslin fans. “I get it,” he says. “I get having to schlep all the way out [to Herndon] just to get some cans and get right back into your car and get back on 66. We’ve gotten feedback from guests who are so pumped to have us five or 10 minutes from their house now.” When Alexandria city planners reached out to Aslin about coming to their neck of the woods, the company found the 25,000-squarefoot warehouse space was more than big enough to offer them the growth they needed. One of the hardest parts, Raines mentions, was trying to decide how to utilize all that wall space with four years’ worth of beer can art by artist Mike Van Hall, who has been instrumental in helping to define their brand. “It’s just such a luxury to have someone like [Van Hall] that you can give minimal direction to and just know that he’s going to completely knock it out of the park,” Raines notes. With endless wall space to fill, the team at Aslin set out looking for someone to incorporate Van Hall’s art into the taproom. They

enlisted their new neighbors across the street, CSI Printing & Graphics, to make his beer can art come to life – literally from floor-to-ceiling. “We got so lucky,” Raines says. The resulting partnership brought colorful, minimalistic wall designs practically begging to be posted on Instagram. While art is a core component of their brand, Aslin’s focus continues to be on making beer people are willing to wait for – even if the waiting part isn’t as much of a commitment as it once was. Aslin plans to make its beer even more accessible in the near future. They are expanding their reach beyond Alexandria and Herndon and recently signed with DC-based distributor Hop & Wine Beverage. They expect to begin distributing Aslin beer across the wider Northern Virginia area this fall. In the meantime, Aslin’s new Alexandria taproom is open daily and family-friendly until 7 p.m. “After 7 p.m., ‘Adult Swim’ is in effect and patrons must be 21 and over,” states their website. Purchase tickets to Aslin’s four-year anniversary party on Saturday, September 14 on Eventbrite; tickets start at $65. For more information about Aslin’s new Alexandria space, visit Aslin Brewing Company: 847 South Pickett St. Alexandria, VA; 703-787-5766;

14th Annual

SAFE AT HOME CHARITY KICKBALL TOURNAMENT to benefit bridges to independence

Saturday, November 16, 2019 Register at | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


P Bold Rock Embraces Photo: courtesy of Bold Rock


Season with Fall’s

Harvest Haze By Trent Johnson



umpkin season has creeped closer and closer toward summer ever since Starbucks unveiled its Pumpkin Spice Latte way back in 2003. Since, the ultimate coffee combo has sparked a renaissance of culinary experimentation featuring the orange veggie with products ranging from coffee (duh) and pastries to this year’s Pumpkin Spice Spam (what now?) While a hint of the squash plant in a latte was a can’t-miss, the flavor’s foray into salted meats seems like a leap – but people just can’t seem to get enough, so why not? At least that’s Bold Rock’s approach. “It’s always been a request from the customers,” says Lindsay Dorrier, Bold Rock Hard Cider’s director of new business development. “We tried to skew in the opposite direction because pumpkin was an obvious choice, [but] we finally caved because the customers wanted it so badly.” This is likely music to the ears of cider aficionados who double as pumpkin enthusiasts. Yes, the Nellysford, Virginia-based cidery is following the unshakeable trend of tossing out a pumpkin product with its 2019 fall seasonal Harvest Haze. But Dorrier says the flavor will still be distinctly Bold Rock as the cidery took heavy precautions against simply pumping out something they knew could sell. So while the cider is unlike the brand’s typically crystal-clear beverages – with floating bits and pieces of our favorite orange edible providing a unique texture – apples are still front and center and prevalent throughout. “We wanted to craft a pumpkin-infused cider that was still a quintessential Bold Rock cider,” he says. “It’s still an apple cider. It’s just got a hint of pumpkin. We really tried to capture a flavor profile [for] the entire fall harvest.” Dorrier says the team prepped for the fall season’s newest addition for about eight months, adding that the cidery was still tinkering with what would become the final product at the 11th hour. While the bottle features an orange logo, it’s clear the team didn’t take the path of least resistance by simply dialing up pumpkin flavors. Instead, the cider makers sought to capture the entire palate of the fall season. “We wanted to create something that we could toast to the entire fall harvest,” he says. “Pumpkin is an important [part] of the flavor profile, but not the entire part. [For] any seasonal variance we use, all the alcohol comes from apples, but we want it to shine through as well. We add in a jolt of excitement depending on what we want to do with the flavor.” While most fall pumpkin-infused products veer on the sweet side, including other ciders, Bold Rock was weary of overdoing it with Harvest Haze. While they ultimately want to nail it with cider drinkers who championed this special varietal, Bold Rock didn’t want to produce a cider that couldn’t be enjoyed by people who aren’t as cavalier about pumpkin consumption. “We try to bridge that gap between pumpkin-crazed and the people fatigued,” he says. “We wanted something that could appeal to both. We wanted some nuance in that profile. We didn’t want the drink to live and die [with] that pumpkin preference. If you crave the dry, we have it covered. If you want something fruit-forward, we have that, too. We’re just trying to explore all corners of the palate.” With apples hailing from Virginia and pumpkins sourced from the Pacific Northwest, the cider hits all marks for both the cider crazed and those enthusiastic drinkers looking for anything featuring the season’s most versatile vegetable. Bold Rock Hard Cider’s Harvest Haze hits shelves in October and will be available throughout Northern Virginia and DC. For more information about the seasonal release and other Bold Rock varietals, visit


From 7/11 to 12/31, Bold Rock will donate a portion of all sales of RosĂŠ hard cider to The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Break out the


Brown Stuff By Kirsten Schofield

Jos. A. Magnus & Co. Private Barrel // Photo: Bultema Group

Gin is the spirit of summer. Clear, light and reminiscent of an herb garden: it’s perfect for three-digit temperatures and Collins glasses overflowing with ice. But the second the mercury dips below 80? Forget it. The only thing you want is bourbon. With autumn in the air, it’s time to break out the brown stuff. September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, and while sketching out the details of a road trip to central Kentucky might be tempting, there are plenty of distilleries in the area offering top-notch spirits crafted from local grains. Today, Kentucky is making the vast majority of bourbon in America, but it isn’t the birthplace of American whiskey – this is the cradle of American spirits. Times were tough in the early days, and paramount among the colonists’ priorities was making some decent hooch. As early as 1620, colonists were writing home about the distilled corn spirits they were making in Virginia. “Wee have found a waie to make soe good drink of Indian corne I have divers times refused to drinke good stronge English beare and chose to drinke that,” wrote George Thorpe, an early resident of Williamsburg who had either been drinking at the time he penned this correspondence or was taking full advantage of English’s not-yetformalized spelling conventions.



By the late 1700s, even the Founding Fathers had gotten into the game. After his presidency, George Washington retired to Mount Vernon and by the time he died, the plantation was pumping out about 11,000 gallons each year of what we’d today probably call rye. Over the next century, production moved west and one by one, the DMV distilleries shuttered. By the time Prohibition was underway, there weren’t many distilleries left to close. But in 1934, bourbon came back to Virginia when A. Smith Bowman, a jack-of-all-trades from Louisiana, returned to his family’s ancestral home in Fairfax to start a granary. “Our founder was actually in the industry prior to Prohibition,” says Brian Prewitt, A. Smith Bowman Distillery’s sixth master distiller. “He was running one of the biggest distilleries in America down in Algiers Point, Louisiana. It didn’t survive Prohibition and went under around 1916. He did a lot of things in between but wanted to get back to his roots and heritage in Virginia. I think he knew Prohibition was ending.” Prewitt says one of the really interesting parts of his heritage as a distiller is that Kentucky used to be part of Virginia. “If you look at it like that, it’s where American whiskey really started. Being that we’re the oldest distillery in Virginia, that was what we started with right off the bat – that history.”

Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels

Every batch of Dark Hollow is patiently aged in charred American oak bourbon barrels, absorbing the deep characteristics of both whiskey and wood. The result is our ever-popular imperial stout—rich with notes of bourbon, caramel and vanilla, and uniquely satisfying every time.


The distillery has since moved to Fredericksburg, 50-plus miles outside of the District. If that’s a hair too far, look for Prewitt and his colleagues at Virginia ABC stores where they’re planning to do many tastings of their bourbon. In the District proper, several distilleries are making bourbon these days including One Eight Distilling and Jos. A. Magnus & Co. Distillery. Though they’re shoulder-to-shoulder in Ivy City, they’re taking radically different approaches when approaching their heritages. One Eight takes its name from the section of the Constitution that provided for the establishment of DC, and is looking decisively toward the future of small-batch bourbon. “We’re a grain-to-bottle distillery and all our suppliers are from within a hundred miles of One Eight,” says Cara Webster, One Eight’s events and marketing director. “Rye was the first chapter of American whiskey, so we started there.” Today, the distillery makes a rye-forward bourbon to which lovers of Basil Hayden’s or Bulleit will surely fawn over. One Eight is offering two events for Bourbon Heritage Month. On September 8, open house-style event Tribe Vibes will offer mixology classes, distillery tours and West African-inspired hors d’oeuvres. The sixth annual Battle of the Barrel-Aged Beers on September 10 will showcase the District’s six breweries that make beers aged in liquor barrels: 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, Hellbender, Port City and Right Proper. The latter is one of One Eight’s most popular events, so be sure to order tickets in advance. Around the corner is Jos. A. Magnus & Co., a revitalized brand that launched in 2015. Though the distillery was originally in Cincinnati, bourbon bearing the Magnus name was sold in DC where the family decided to begin anew before Prohibition. “The genesis of Jos. A. Magnus & Company’s re-establishment in 2015 was the discovery of a carefully preserved bottle passed down through generations,” says general manager Ali Anderson. “Magnus’



great-grandson, unaware of just how remarkable the bourbon was, wrapped the bottle in a T-shirt, tossed it in a bag and boarded a plane to Kentucky.” That the TSA inspectors didn’t break the bottle and the seal only leaked a little is perhaps proof of divine intervention. The whiskey survived all the way to Louisville for industry veterans to taste. Working together, they teased out a contemporary version of the old recipe, which is made today in Ivy City. Don’t worry about the bottle that started it all, though: today it’s stored safely in a military-grade case in a temperature-controlled environment. To celebrate their remarkable heritage, Jos. A. Magnus is teaming up with Virginia ABC for Spirit Bourbon Day on September 19. Around the Commonwealth, look for Magnus whiskies with special discounts. These sales are rare, so stock up. Whichever of these origin stories appeals to you most, take advantage of the opportunity to learn a little more about the bourbon heritage of the area. Drinking a nice spicy nip of whiskey on a cold day is, of course, the greatest autumnal joy. But the real reward comes when you get to interject, “Well, actually” at bar trivia when someone tries to tell you bourbon can only be made in Kentucky. Sip some bourbon at these local distilleries: A. Smith Bowman Distillery: 1 Bowman Dr. Fredericksburg, VA Jos. A. Magnus & Co. Distillery: 2052 West Virginia Ave. NE, DC One Eight Distilling: 1135 Okie St. NE, DC;

Big Flavors, Bal ler Bubbles


Zeppelin By Sabrina Medora



Heartbreaker // Photo: Raisa Aziz

Toki Highballer // Photo: Raisa Aziz

Ari and Micah Wilder // Photo: Robert Fairbairn for The Aperture Group

While frosé floods the District in warm weather months, the creative minds behind Zeppelin encourage discerning drinkers to sip on something a little bit more progressive this fall. From the brothers behind the extensive cocktail list at Chaplin’s in Logan Circle, Micah and Ari Wilder crafted Zeppelin’s short but heavy-hitting cocktail list with one goal: be approachably esoteric. “We steer clear of trendy,” Micah says bluntly. “Whatever’s in, we try not to capitalize [on it].” Their approach at the Shaw newcomer, which opened this spring, is to draw inspiration from experiencing taste and travel. From architectural aesthetics to discovery of an unusual and savory ingredient, the Wilder brothers pride themselves on not acting on things they see everyone else doing. “[Ideas] don’t just come from our dining experiences,” Ari adds. “It’s not always from other restaurants and cocktail bars. A lot of it is a blank canvas with very little influence from other people and places. That’s what’s always been great about us working together. We can bounce ideas off each other and one thought turns into a whole new direction.” A large portion of the cocktail list at Zeppelin is dedicated to the highball, a tried and true cocktail that requires only a few basic ingredients: ice, a base spirit and soda water. At Zeppelin, the base spirit varies between whisky, bourbon, gin or vodka. The common denominator? They’re all Japanese and hard to find elsewhere in the city. While most highballs are meant to be slow-sipping, many fall flat as the soda bubbles dissipate. To create the perfect cocktail, the Wilder brothers asked themselves how they could ensure a drink for sipping and savoring throughout the meal. “We love champagne,” Ari says. “We enjoy playing with bubbles.” Enter the Toki highball machine, a device that is able to procure champagne-like effervescence by running water through a coil system that creates small, continuous bubbles. The bubbles pass through a baking soda tablet and finish as a stream. The water pours out slower than a soda dispenser, but the result is longlasting bubbles. “It’s like what you see what you’re looking at the bottom of a freshly opened bottle of champagne,” Ari continues. “Bubbles continuously rising, velvety texture. It keeps going and going.” Rather than just using champagne or a sparkling wine to enhance the cocktails, each libation is finished with highball bubbles so the drinker can enjoy a well-balanced, bubbly cocktail over a long period of time without the effect falling flat. The brothers are proud enough of this finishing touch to include it in the list of ingredients as “Baller Bubbles.” While the use of a highball machine isn’t the most unusual idea (it’s popular in New York and Chicago), the brothers continue to revolutionize their take on highballs by mixing Japanese spirits with unusual combinations of sweet and savory ingredients.

“We didn’t want a huge, ridiculous scotch program because it doesn’t play with most of our food,” Ari comments. “The direction was to have a smaller, procured program that would focus on newer brands of spirits that aren’t everywhere.” In fact, food plays a big factor in their approach to Zeppelin’s cocktail program. “Sometimes you see things that you normally wouldn’t even think to add,” Micah explains. “You take sweet in a different direction. A combination of several ingredients gives us an idea. Food is definitely more of an inspiration than beverage.” At Zeppelin, Chef Minoru Ogawa influences the cocktail list not by way of menu planning but by providing access to lesser-known ingredients to the expansive sushi menu and Japanese street fare. “Inspiration is just walking through our kitchens and discovering cool ingredients we’ve never heard of,” Ari continues. “A part of how we’re discovering ingredients is seeing how the chefs use [them] in their sauces. We get to see and test fermented pastes. We ask the chefs about it. We start playing with [the ingredients].” Fermented yuzu kosho (a fermented paste made from green or red Thai chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt) and sansho (Japanese peppercorns, which are similar to but more potent than Sichuan peppercorns) are both put to work along with ingredients like pandan, tamarind vinegar and choya plum to create the cocktails on Zeppelin’s menu. The yuzu kosho in particular is the defining ingredient for Zeppelin’s number one bestselling cocktail: The Heartbreaker. “It really pushes the depth of the cocktail,” Micah confirms. The brothers take pride in how often regulars will come into both of their locations with questions about hard-to-find spirits and liquors. They’re both emphatic about being an approachable neighborhood restaurant. “We have a good chef and we love the neighborhood,” Micah says of their Shaw location. “We want to give the neighborhood what it needs.” Ari adds that their passion is reinforced by people, and “it feels so much more valuable for us to develop such an amazing staff and culture of regulars and neighborhood supporters.” So the next time you’re at Zeppelin, dive in with questions about the cocktail program. If you’re looking for a certain spirit, the Wilder brothers will most likely source it for you and incorporate it into the next iteration of their drink menu. “[Our customers] continue to be a part of the decisions we make.”

“That’s what’s always been great about us working together. We can bounce ideas off each other and one thought turns into a whole new direction.”



Learn more about Zeppelin at Zeppelin: 1544 9th St. NW, DC; 202-506-1068;

P T E M B E R 8 –1 5 E PETMEBMEBRE R8 –81– 5 15 S E PS T S E P T E M B E R 8 –1 5


S E P T E M B E R 8 –1 5

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Photo: courtesy of Via Sophia

By Lani Furbank

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.

Casta’s Rum Bar Open: August 2 Location: West End Lowdown: This colorful Cuban oasis is the result of a collaboration between the mayor-appointed Chairman of Nightlife and Culture, Vinoda Basnayake (who is also behind Heist Night Club and Morris American Bar) and the Cuban owner of Castañeda Cigars, Arian Castañeda. The indoor dining area and bar hides underground, but is full of life thanks to plenty of greenery, weathered walls and murals of the streets of Havana. Outside, the patio is infinitely Instagrammable, with lots more wall art and plants, dangling string lights and leaf tropical print upholstery. Chef Alberto Vega’s menu is made up of Cuban classics like a Cuban sandwich, empanadas, croquetas and ceviche Caribeño with citrus, mango, pineapple, cucumber and plantain chips. Cocktails are mainly rum-based and they don’t skimp on the rum. Choose from a simple mojito or a playful frozen Sexo Tropical with cognac, rum, coconut Red Bull and watermelon. For the full Cuban experience, pair your meal or drink with a cigar in the designated area of the patio. 1121 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC;

Oak Steakhouse Open: July 12 Location: Old Town Alexandria Lowdown: Oak Steakhouse from Charleston-based restaurant group Indigo Road Hospitality has sprouted up in Alexandria. It’s the group’s second outpost in the area – the first being O-Ku Sushi restaurant in the Union Market neighborhood. Executive chef Joseph Conrad



helms the newest location of Oak, highlighting Virginia ingredients with modern flair. The rustic reclaimed wood and exposed brick dining room gives way to a pewter tile open kitchen, where steaks and chops are the centerpiece. The options range from a modest 8-oz. Certified Angus Beef filet to a massive 36-oz., 60-day, dry-aged prime porterhouse for two. All the cuts can be enhanced with sauces and butters like the house steak sauce or black truffle butter, as well as accompaniments like a grilled half lobster tail or bone marrow. As if that wasn’t enough, there are decadent sides like baked and fried potatoes and crispy Brussels sprouts. Don’t forget to start with appetizers like parker house rolls with cultured butter or creamy oysters Rockefeller. For dessert, opt for the peanut butter semifreddo, which mimics the flavors of a caramel apple, with caramel sauce, peanuts and Granny Smith chunks. 901 North Saint Asaph St. Alexandria, VA;

Piccolina Open: July 29 Location: CityCenter Lowdown: Chef Amy Brandwein’s restaurant family has grown by one with the addition of Piccolina, or “little one.” Her second restaurant complements the first, as an all-day café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s right across the alley from Centrolina restaurant and market, in the former RareSweets space, which was given an Italian makeover with brushed wood, hammered copper countertops, colorful and comfortable seating and a wood-fired oven. Much of the menu comes from that oven, including 10 rotating varieties of freshly baked breads and sandwiches, crepes and omelets cooked in custom long-handled iron pans and roasted fruits and vegetables



like grapefruit and broccoli rabe. In addition, Piccolina is now home to several of the market offerings formerly at Centrolina, like pastries, coffee and prepared items like chicken salad, caponata and the beloved eggplant Parm. Rotating Italian varietals of wine as well as spritzes and house-made sodas pair well with the selections. Brandwein took significant time to prepare for the opening of Piccolina – she took a research and development trip to Sicily to perfect one of the featured wood-fired menu items, a stuffed flatbread called scacce. She also attended the San Francisco Baking Institute to learn the craft of bread baking. The menu will change with the seasons, as ingredients are available from the nonprofit farm DC Urban Greens. 963 Palmer Alley, NW, DC;

Via Sophia

Location: Park View Lowdown: DC’s coolest new event space has taken shape in a 13,500-square-foot 1940s building, with modern touches that don’t erase the antique character. On the walls, dark black bricks – actual cinderblocks – peek through industrial fixtures and a 15-foot projector screen. The café and tavern takes after its namesake, Captain Hook: Hook Hall is a place where no one will tell you to grow up. Dog- and kid-friendly, the space is filled with lawn games, communal tables and cabanas on the outdoor synthetic lawn. During the day, the café offers Vigilante coffee and food from Bread and Chocolate. In the evening, it turns into a bar and beer garden with cocktails, beer, wine and food from rotating local vendors like Rocklands, Smoke and Ember and Sunrise Caribbean. (After 9pm, it’s 21+.) The venue is regularly open to the public and also available for private bookings. Owner Anna Valero also plans to offer events like beer and wine festivals, edutainment courses, screenings of sporting events (including international soccer), workout classes and more. 3400 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

Odd Provisions at Dio Wine Bar Location: H Street Lowdown: Pioneering natural wine bar, Dio, has partnered with a fellow woman-owned business to revamp their food offerings. Odd@ Dio began this summer and is here to stay, featuring the food by Odd Provisions, a contemporary corner market in Columbia Heights. The new menu was designed with wine in mind – think cheese and charcuterie pairings, snacks like chicken liver mousse, hummus and pickles, as well as seasonal salads and sandwiches like the spicy salami with herb pesto, Gordy’s cherry pepper spread, fennel confit and pecorino. The partnership also means you can place special orders to buy Dio wines through Odd Provisions. 904 H St. NE, DC;

Photo: Jennifer Chase

Open: June 12 Location: Downtown Lowdown: As part of the Hamilton Hotel’s multi-million dollar renovation, the property is now home to Via Sophia, a southern Italian osteria. The restaurant is headed up by executive chef Colin Clark, who served as the chef de cuisine at Fiola Mare. Sleek and bright, the space lined is with black and white quartz, illuminated by geometric fixtures and dotted with antique pizza paraphernalia. On the menu, Neapolitan pizza is a focus, kissed by the flames of the oak-burning oven handmade in Italy. Antipasti, crudo, pasta and hearty entrees like monkfish ossobucco round out the offerings. The beverage program skews heavily toward Italian wines, with local craft beers and spirits available as well. For an aperitif or a nightcap, head around the corner to the micro cocktail bar, situated off the lobby and hidden by day. Society is revealed at happy hour, when the 1920s art deco-inspired bar and lounge opens to the public. With dim lighting, dark leather, diamond glass chandeliers and curious artifacts, the space is reminiscent of the alleged interior of Yale’s Skull and Bones Society’s meeting hall. The succinct menu includes craft libations like the Triumvirate with whiskey, walnut liqueurs, dry vermouth and house bitters. 1001 14th St. NW, DC;

Hook Hall


Photo: Rey Lopez


Photo: courtesy of Hook Hall

Photo: courtesy of Piccolina Photo: courtesy of Dio





1 from every case of Pacifico sold will be donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation!

The Brighton Cantina Bambina Tiki TNT Kirwan’s Hanks Oyster Bar Sequoia

Agua 301 El Rey El Bebe Whitlow’s on Wilson Spider Kelly’s Calico Coconut Club

The Harbour Grille Madigan’s Waterfront Electric Palm Fish Market Chadwick’s Bugsy’s

Tiki on 18th Opens Above Filipino-Inspired Sports Bar By Alex Thompson



Jo-Jo Valenzuela // Photo: Sarah Price

The Best of Both Worlds

To stand out in the rising culinary metropolis that is the DC area and have staying power, you should be prepared to offer up something different from the crowded pack of gems. That is exactly how Jo-Jo Valenzuela approached serving up mouthwatering Filipino food at sports bar The Game in Adams Morgan, and the menu at their new upstairs getaway Tiki on 18th. After all, one can go to any sports bar in the District and get a beer and watch the game. But where can you find one that also serves up meticulously prepared sizzling sisig – a popular Filipino dish of grilled pig’s ears with crispy pork belly – or lumpiang shanghai, heavenly pork and mushroom spring rolls with a sweet mango chili sauce? “The funniest thing I’ve ever heard was when somebody looked at the menu and then just asked me, ‘What is this?’” Valenzuela says of The Game’s menu. “And I said, ‘Well, I’m Filipino.’ And the individual said, ‘Oh, so you’re a Filipino bar?’ And I said, ‘No, we are a sports bar. The cook just happens to be Filipino.’” Valenzuela is well-known in the area for his expert mixology skills, with previous stints at Brine in Mosaic and AdMo’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon. But, The Game and now Tiki on 18th take Valenzuela from overseeing the bar to also being in the kitchen. “If you’re passionate about making good drinks, cooking is a big part of mixology and it basically evolved into that,” he says. “Anyone can make wings, burgers or nachos and buy the best ingredients, and it’ll be good. But I grew up in the Philippines and know Filipino food, and that’s my passion. So, if I’m doing a sports bar, I’m going to do the food I’m comfortable with.” A packed crowd on a recent college football Saturday certainly suggests customers are as equally comfortable with Valenzuela’s food. “We have one customer that will sit in an hour’s worth of traffic just to come have the sisig,” Valenzuela says of the dish, which involves quite the tedious but worthwhile preparation process. “That’s pretty amazing.” Along with the sisig, which Valenzuela says The Game has become known for, other dishes he recommends are the gambas al ajillo – shrimp with garlic chili oil

Beef pares // Photo: Sieg Fuster

In the vast array of DC restaurant concepts, Filipino food in a sports bar on one floor and a tiki bar with tacos and kebabs on another is certainly a unique setup. and lemon served with crusty ciabatta – or the rice bowls, especially the beef pares with braised beef brisket and garlic fried rice. For drinks, Valenzuela’s 2015 DC Rickey Competition-winning rizal is on the menu, as is a creative riff on the old fashioned. I Love My BBC (Bacon, Bourbon, Chocolate) combines bacon fat-washed Bulleit Bourbon, orange-maple syrup and chocolate bitters for a fresh take on the classic cocktail. Upon venturing up the stairway from The Game to the second-floor Tiki on 18th, which opened this July, the vibe immediately changes to an island green paradise. Bright, palm-printed paper covers the walls of the intimate space, with gigantic wicker-patterned chandeliers and an eye-catching tiki bar to complete the tropical vibe. Guests can venture out to the Luau Patio, accented by the “Let’s Tiki, Baby” neon sign. And while the DC area is no stranger to tiki bars – with the likes of Coconut Club near Union Market and Tiki TNT at The Wharf opening recently – the combination of talent behind the cocktails and bites at Tiki on 18th is giving it some significant advantage. Valenzuela’s partners at the tropical spot include Jonathan Peterson, co-founder of Rum Day DC, and former Service Bar bartender Saab Harrison. “I’ve had cocktails in the area and in Chicago and New York, and the drinks we have up here are some of the best,” Valenzuela says. “We are extremely careful with how we do things upstairs.” Cocktail favorites include the Missionary’s Downfall, a made-to-order,

frothy, mint-and-fruit concoction that comes in a decorative whiteand-green cup, topped with colorful fresh mint. The menu playfully describes the drink as “a pineapple, mint, peach jacuzzi in a blender.” Valenzuela recommends adding the 1933 Mai Tai to your tasting list as well. The original recipe uses Jamaican rum, Demerara rum, lime and orgeat, creating the perfect flavor combination with a colorful pinkand-yellow tone. Another favorite is the Dons Mix Paloma. Described as “on a Mexican beach with earnest,” the tequila, lime, grapefruit and soda cocktail with a hint of cinnamon is served in a tall tiki cup. To complement the cocktails, Valenzuela offers a tasty menu at Tiki on 18th of “easy bites” including pulled pork tacos, fatty braised beef tostada, grilled skewers and Mexican street corn. Filipino flavors still inspire the menu upstairs, with BBQ glaze marinade on the pork belly kebabs and a heavenly seasoning on the beef skewers. On Sundays, guests can enjoy all-day brunch from 12-8 p.m. with offerings including avocado toast with grilled pork belly, enchiladas with eggs and tostadas with kālua pork. In the vast array of DC restaurant concepts, Filipino food in a sports bar on one floor and a tiki bar with tacos and kebabs on another is certainly a unique setup. But Valenzuela laments that if you want to be successful in this business, you truly need to find a niche – and you need to be in it for the right reasons. “All the big places are closing and that’s really sad, but that just means that everyone needs to step their game up. You have to love what you are doing, otherwise there is no point in doing it.” Valenzuela says he is hoping to keep the foot traffic flowing through The Game as various sports seasons start getting underway this fall, with plenty of televisions and game-day specials to come. Meanwhile at Tiki on 18th, as the temperature in the District begins to cool down, the tropical escape is sure to keep everyone warm. Tiki on 18th and The Game: 2411 18th St. NW, DC; 202-846-1952 and | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 Labor Day Party at The W Hotel An ode to the end of a long, hot summer, what better way to staycation than on a rooftop sipping cocktails and champagne overlooking the monuments? Join The W Hotel for their sixth annual Labor Day Party. Attendees are encouraged to dress in their favorite summer outfits. That means your best hats, sundresses, bright button-ups and white, of course. RSVP in advance. 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. Tickets $22. The W Washington DC Hotel: 515 15th St. NW, DC; Rooftop Labor Day Party at the Graham Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer, and if you’re not celebrating on a rooftop, you’re doing it wrong. The celebration starts at noon and lasts until midnight, with music from 2-8 p.m. and delicious food and drink specials available from The Graham’s new Rooftop EATS Kitchen. Free to attend. Noon to midnight. The Graham Rooftop: 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, DC;

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 Labor Day Luau at City Tap Dupont If you can’t escape the city this Labor Day, take a trip to the beach at City Tap’s luau. Indulge in Hawaiian-themed food specials such as pineapple burgers and pulled pork tacos, and an open bar with select draft beers, house wines and mixed drinks. Free to attend. $45 for the open bar. City Tap Dupont: 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 AND SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 15, 29 CAMP at The LINE DC CAMP at the LINE DC is a rooftop event series through October from Chef Spike Gjerde and Corey Polyoka of A Rake’s Progress. CAMP will offer an escape from the city and takes inspiration from summer and fall travels with friends and family, downtime well spent over food and drinks, and the LINE’s panoramic rooftop view of DC. Each event features a local community cultural partner with a portion of the ticket sales donated in support of each organization’s work and mission. Entry fee includes a $5 donation to the day’s local partner and unlimited passed snacks from the Rake’s team. The menu includes bites like miniature Rake’s burgers, smoked rockfish croquettes and grilled spring onion skewers with Gochujang and Benne. CAMP will also offer a fully stocked bar with cocktails, bottled and canned wines, beers and other locally made beverages. Book tickets through Resy for 11 a.m., 2 p.m. or 5 p.m. Tickets $35. The LINE DC: 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC;

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 4 AND 25 #FRAYLIFE Night Out with The Nats Root, root, root for the home team! DC Fray’s got tickets to see our very own Washington Nationals. Special tickets include pre-game drink specials from Walter’s Sports Bar when you go there to pick up your tickets. Seats are in the Scoreboard Pavilion in the prime viewing location, section 238. These special tickets are limited. Happy hour at 6 p.m., game starts at 7:05 p.m. Tickets $20. Walter Sports Bar: 10th N St. SE, DC;




DC Super Schmooze Spend September with your friends at Bisnow, as well as DC’s top developers, thought leaders and influencers. Enjoy an open bar and great food, as well as live music and activities, and get ready to connect and schmooze with old friends and new. The summer will eventually be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean the sunshine and good vibes have to end. The best of 2019 is yet to come. 6 p.m. Tickets $79. Franklin Court: Intersection of 14th and L Streets, NW, DC;

DC Tacos N Taps Festival Get ready to put on your party sombrero. The Tacos N Taps Festival will take you south of the border for some foodie fun. This all-you-care-to-taste beer and tequila festival offers up some of DC’s best tacos and Mexican food along with great live music, margaritas, piñata punching, contests and many other surprises. This is nacho average taco festival. VIP session is noon-5 p.m., general admission is 1-5 p.m. Tickets $40-$70. Akridge Lot: 1880 2nd St. SW, DC;

Tunes in The Triangle: Pebble to Pearl Join the Mount Vernon Triangle CID and your neighbors at the Tunes in the Triangle concert series held in Milian Park with live music from Pebble to Pearl. Feel free to bring your own refreshments, picnic blankets and chairs. 6-8 p.m. Free to attend. Milian Park: 499 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC;

Rosslyn Jazz Fest The 29th annual Rosslyn Jazz Fest will feature a unique synthesis of sounds from the Gulf Coast that evoke jazz, blues, soul, funk and Caribbean genres. This year’s event will be headlined by Houston-based band The Suffers, Grammynominated New Orleans brass band Cha Wa, singer/cellist Leyla McCalla (formerly of the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops), and DC’s go-go/jazz ensemble JoGo Project. 1-7 p.m. Free to attend. Gateway Park: 1300 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA;

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Hungry Human Hippos Back by popular demand, your favorite childhood board game returns in full size at Medstar Capitals Iceplex. The game is more badass in real life, because you’re the hippo. Teams of four-six people will compete for Hungry Human Hippos (HHH) glory. Strategize positions to collect the most “food” (balls) on ice. Top teams will advance to the championship round for the chance to win the grand prize of $100 in DC Fray credit and swag bags. Starts at 7 p.m. Register a team for $30. Medstar Iceplex: 627 N Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA;

Sneaker Con DC The greatest sneaker show on earth is back and better than ever, headed to DC for a special two-day event. As always, some of the greatest sneakers on the planet will be in attendance, ranging from the entirety of the Off-White x Nike “The Ten” collection to the recently released Air Jordan 1s. Noon - 7 p.m. Tickets $25-$40. Walter E. Washington Convention Center: 801 Mt. Vernon Pl. NW, DC;

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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 Adams Morgan Day As Washington DC’s longest running neighborhood festival, Adams Morgan celebrated its 40 year anniversary in 2018 and is excited for the 41st in 2019! This is a family-friendly celebration with music, art and activities for all ages. Residents and visitors alike can come out and meet the neighborhood businesses, artists and service organizations. Attendance and entertainment are free, and local businesses and restaurants offer deals for the day. Noon - 6 p.m. 18th Street to Kalorama and Columbia Roads in NW, DC; DC State Fair The DC State Fair is a free showcase of the District’s agricultural and creative talents and a daylong celebration of all things homegrown. The 10th annual event will have a new location at Gateway DC, an innovative and unique stateof-the-art park and pavilion in the heart of St. Elizabeths East Campus. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Free to attend. Gateway DC: 2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE, DC;






Glow Yoga at Audi Field This is no ordinary yoga class, because you’ll be glowing right on the pitch of Audi Field. Meet the DC Fray team at Audi Field at the Premium entrance on the east side of the stadium to light up the night in glow sticks and paint. Bring your own mat, and glow against the skyline during golden hour. All levels welcome, so grab some friends and get zen! 7 p.m. Tickets $25-$30. Audi Field: 100 Potomac Ave. SW, DC;

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 Capital Book Fest Visit the downtown DC popup book sale on Wilson Plaza to browse over 12,000 gently used books, CDs and DVDs, all on sale for under $6. Books are provided by Carpe Librum, a used, donation-based bookstore

benefiting the DC nonprofit Turning the Page. There’s something for everyone at this sale: children’s books, teen reads, brand-new bestsellers in amazing condition, classic vintage hardbacks and more. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Free to attend. Woodrow Wilson Plaza: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; Zoo Uncorked Get ready for the wildest wine tasting in town at Zoo Uncorked, sponsored by Total Wine & More. Raise your glass for conservation and enjoy a wide-ranging winery and vineyard tour that takes place entirely at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Throughout the evening, enjoy unlimited wine tastings — every wine at Zoo Uncorked comes with a rating of 90 or above — live music and entertainment, and incredible animal encounters, including an African penguin. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $40-$115. Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 AND 27 Budweiser Music Series at Nationals Park Every Friday home game, the best place to pregame is at the Budweiser Terrace inside the ballpark. As the Nationals warm up to play on Sept. 13 and 27 at 7:05 p.m., head to the Budweiser Terrace pregame show for live music from Driven to Clarity on Sept. 13, and Turtle Recall on Sept. 17. 5-7 p.m. Purchase Nationals tickets at nationals/tickets. Nationals Park: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, DC; DC Wine Fest: Fall Edition DC Wine Fest is the ultimate wine tasting experience. Sample premium varietals from some of the best wineries, all while music performers keep the party lively during this all-day, all-night wine experience. Noon - 10 p.m. Tickets $35-$60. National Union Building: 918 F St. NW, DC;

November 15 – December 30, 2019 ICE! Featuring Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas™ is Washington, D.C. Region’s Must-See indoor winter wonderland featuring: • A colorful walk-through holiday attraction with larger than life sized ice sculptures carved from over two million pounds of ice • Kept at a chilly 9 degrees • Hand-crafted by 40 artisans from Harbin, China • Enjoy four two-story tall colorful ice slides and a full Nativity in stunning crystal clear ice A PART OF

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 Oktoberfest at Dacha Navy Yard Dacha Navy Yard presents Oktoberfest Weihenstephan from September 21 through October 6. Visit Dacha every Saturday and Sunday to kick off autumn with festivities full of seasonal brews and fall surprises. Times and details to come at www.dcfray. com. Dacha Navy Yard: 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 Chesapeake Oyster Wine & Beer Festival Have a shucking good time at this seafood and libations celebration, broken up into two big sessions. Enjoy the world’s best shuckers, shucking just for you, smell the fire under the grilled oysters, taste the briny flavor of the steamed seafood, and watch the action while the symphony of flavors plays on right before your eyes. There’s over 30 all-you-care-totaste beers, wines, and spirits, all-you-care-to-taste oysters and other seafood dishes with access to restaurant tasting stations, and great music on the main stage. Session one: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.,


Devils Backbone Hoopla Festival Join Devils Backbone Brewing Company from September 27-29 for Hoopla 2019, featuring live music, awardwinning beers, camping, and fun for the whole family. The weekend includes popup beer tastings, outdoor adventures, property tours, crafts, great eats and tons of incredible live music. The lineup showcases tons of artists such as CAAMP, The Motet, Ripe and Ona. Use discount code ONTAP for 15 percent off multi-day music and adventure passes. Times and tickets vary. Devils Backbone Brewing Company: 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland, VA; session two: 5-9 p.m.Tickets $59$79. Dock 5 at Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; Clarendon Day At this year’s Clarendon Day, there will be tons of arts and crafts vendors featuring everything from apparel to jewelry to art and photography and more. There will also be a number of food purveyors including many of Clarendon’s favorites. With local in mind, there will also be several local nonprofits in attendance to make it easy for the community to connect with its service providers. 11 am. - 6 p.m. Free to attend. 3100 Clarendon Blvd.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 Unite The District Fest The first-of-its-kind twoday festival hosted by D.C. United at Audi Field, Unite The District Fest combines the vibrant cuisine, arts and culture of the District. You’ll be able to enjoy tastings from 20+ restaurants, 10+ breweries and live music from local artists such as Black Alley, White Ford Bronco and DJ Dom. Experience Audi Field like never before through interactive art installations, cooking competitions and more. Event starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets $20-$35. Audi Field: 100 Potomac Ave. SW, DC; Suite 200, Arlington, VA; H Street Festival H Street Festival is one of the most anticipated and highly attended single-day festivals in DC. The festival is 11 blocks long and has 14 staging areas that are diversely themed and programmed to target the different segments of audiences. The staging areas feature music of different genres, dance, youth-based performances, interactive children’s programs, fashion, heritage arts, poetry and much more. Noon - 7 p.m. Along H Street in NE, DC;

River & Brews Festival Bring your family to Front Royal and enjoy a day of fun, delicious food, great live entertainment, and of course, beer tasting. The festival gates open at noon with activities including corn hole and yard games, and live entertainment from Ryan Jewel and The Reflex. Choose from 60+ different beers from breweries all over Virginia and elsewhere. Food trucks and vendors will be offer a myriad of tasty treats and you can always stroll downtown for local eateries and shopping opportunities. Your ticket includes a souvenir tasting glass and five tickets for sampling or full pour purchases. 12-6 p.m. Tickets $25 in advance, $30 at the event and $65 for VIP. Historic Downtown Front Royal: 24 W Main St. Front Royal, VA; Wiener 500 Oktoberfest at The Wharf Celebrate Wiener 500 Oktoberfest at The Wharf on District Pier. Watch some of the speediest dogs compete for prizes. All race proceeds benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Enjoy the music, drink cold Oktoberfest beer, participate in the stein hoisting competition, munch on great food and watch the races on a 17-foot jumbotron. Don’t have a Dachshund? All dogs can enter the contest for best-dressed! Plus, there will be local vendors and giveaways from DC’s best pet-friendly businesses. 1-5 p.m. Free to attend, $30 to register a Dachshund. District Pier: 101 District Sq. SW, DC;

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 DC Polo: Brunch & Brews Join DC Polo Society for this month’s match with a brunch and brews theme. Arrive early for a special rosé bar, and celebrate the end of summer with local brew samplings too. Transportation available from DC and VA. 2-5 p.m. Tickets $10$85. Congressional Polo Club: 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD;


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#FrayLife DC United Pregame Cornhole Tournament Celebrate fall with cornhole and a D.C. United game against the Seattle Sounders. The tournament will be a great opportunity to bring friends together before the game, pregame with a little friendly competition in this double elimination tournament. The playing field will have several active sets of boards as teams fight their way to the winner’s circle. Your registration fee includes entrance into the tournament, a D.C. United game ticket, plus DC Fray drink specials. Starts at 5 p.m. Registration fee TBD. Audi Field: 100 Potomac Ave. SW, DC; HERA Fest 2019 ProjectHERA is a DC-based, 501c(3) nonprofit organization for women in music that aims to provide opportunities for women of all ages to connect and support each other, as well as promote their music to the general public. With a special emphasis on the younger generation of girls, ProjectHERA works to inspire them to chase their musical dreams. Don’t miss the third annual HERA Music Fest, showcasing women of all ages in music in full bands, acoustic acts and DJs. Noon - 8 p.m. Tickets $20-$40. City Winery DC: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC;

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 D.C. United Game Watch Party Head to the Pearl Street pitch to cheer on D.C. United as they take on New York, where the street transforms into an away game viewing party destination. Watch the game broadcast live on the jumbotron and DJ Stylus Chris, official in-game DJ of D.C. United, will spin tunes pre-match. Grab a beer from the Heineken bars, play games and sign up for cool team gear.

Plus, enter to win jerseys, game tickets and more! 4-8:30 p.m. Free to attend. Pearl Street: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; The Coconut Market: DC’s Tropical Shopping Oasis Celebrating African, Asian, Caribbean and Latin-American cultures to create the most unique shopping experience. DC’s Tropical Shopping Oasis joins Engine Company 12 to provide the best shopping experience. Eat and drink downstairs in the beautiful and unique space of Engine Company 12, and upstairs you can shop from some of DC, MD and VA’s best small businesses and artisans. 3-7 p.m. Tickets free for early bird registration, $5 for regular tickets. Engine Company 12: 1626 North Capitol St. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 Samuel Beckett’s Celtic Festival Beckett’s sixth annual Celtic Festival is upon us! Celebrate all day long, and after 7 p.m., the party will continue inside with a band starting at 9:30 p.m. going until 1:30 a.m. Campbell Avenue will be shut down for the day, playing host to some fantastic live music, dancers, pipers and plenty of food and drink. All are welcome to come enjoy food and drinks outside, plus live music and dancers. 12-7 p.m. Free to attend. Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub: 2800 S Randolph St. #110, Arlington, VA;


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 | 1PM–5PM District Pier at The Wharf




Self-portrait // Photo: Tony Powell


Renaissance Man Photographer

Tony Powell By Trent Johnson Tony Powell is fierce with a camera. He’s prompt and demanding of himself and his subjects. He’s direct but not unkind. He’s energetic but not overwhelming. And his work is everywhere in DC, adorning program pages for Arena Stage productions and plastered on the covers of Washington Life. He’s shot for The Atlantic. He’s shot for the Pope. He’s shot most of the President’s cabinet. “I’ve never been more present, I’ve never been more alive, I’ve never been more secure and solid in what I’m doing,” Powell tells me in Georgetown while savoring a vegan concoction from South Block. “I have friends in every quarter of power in Washington. I’m in the homes of the secretaries, our cabinet here. The photography has just taken off.” Powell is always positive. | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


Early Experience For a long time, photography was just one of many tools on his utility belt of expression: a portrait here, a selfie there. Many years prior to his time asking people to smile in the studio, Powell was on the stage. In the late 70s, when he was a child attending elementary school in Chevy Chase, Maryland, he participated in a dance organized by a visiting troupe from Howard University’s drama department. Like the other 500 kids, Powell froclicked and moved freely and effortlessly, but unlike the other children, he was noticed. “They called me on the loud speaker: ‘Anthony Powell, come to the office,’ and I thought I had done something wrong,” Powell says. “I really couldn’t figure out what I’d done. So I get there and they said, ‘Would you be interested in auditioning for a performance?’ They really liked the way I danced and told me I had a wonderful sense of presence. I said, ‘Sure.’” Powell found himself on the European leg of Raisin, replacing Ralph Carter of Good Times fame. Here, at the age of 9, he got to experience orchestral performances, professional singers, dancers and creative professionals up close. “I got to see how an orchestra was put together. I watched the choreographers during the musical, and I watched how the lighting came together in the costume design and set design all in one major production,” he says. “It was like a fulfillment of an artistic dream of mine, even though I hadn’t yet had the dream. I was able to subconsciously see how it all comes together.” This almost unreal experience served as reinforcement for Powell’s eventual career in the arts. Growing up, his family had always encouraged him to pursue creative endeavors, but upon seeing the multitude of outlets in which he could do so, he embraced them all. “I was shown at a very young age that the arts were a viable avenue for my life – for livelihood,” Powell says. “I think it’s so important to expose children to the arts at an early age, to really give them a chance to see it as an option. I’m just really blessed, when I look back, that my parents were not closed-minded in that regard.”

A Juilliard Grad Upon returning, Powell performed throughout the DC area in ballets, plays and other art forms. As a teen, he modeled in print ads, acted in television shows and movies, and was a frequent audition for plays in New York. At 17, Powell almost shifted gears completely to become an architect. “I was going to either be an architect or go to Juilliard,” Powell declares. Once the famed school accepted him, it was a no-brainer which direction he’d choose, and he enrolled in 1986 to study dance. The first three years were successful, but during his senior year, he encountered his first bout with alcohol addiction. After an intervention with school officials and his parents, Powell agreed to get sober and finish out the year, but he ultimately failed. “It was a chemical dependence,” Powell says. “It’s a disease, and at first it was innocuous. I didn’t have a problem with it for a long time. I could take it or leave it. They let me come back in 1995 after two of my professors fought for me. I had gotten sober and they championed my cause.” During this time, Powell says he lived with famed choreographer Anna Sokolow, who introduced him to other renowned artists like



choreographer Jerome Robbins and actor Lauren Bacall. He also began composing music between taking classes, dipping his toe into yet another medium. “In my mind, it was more interesting for me to write music than it was to play someone else’s,” he says. “That period of time was just nonstop: three to five new ballets a year with my company Tony Powell/Music & Movement.”

Return to DC From 1995 to 2002, Powell was a fixture in the DC arts scene, performing at the Kennedy Center, composing and choreographing pieces for the Joffrey Ballet, and making films. He was featured in numerous publications ranging from The Washington Post and The Washington Post Magazine to Washington Flyer, where he was often referred to as a “Renaissance man,” “precocious” and “diverse.” “I wanted people to have multiple levels of experience when they came to my work,” he says. “I’m going to not only see a dance, to hear a piece or to see a film, but I wanted to challenge people on different levels. So many people around town supported my work at a high level. But by the end, the drinking destroyed all that.” Powell began drinking again in 2002, and like a river bursting through a dam, all hell broke loose. “[In] 2002, I had probably the greatest performance I’d ever had in my life at the Kennedy Center,” Powell explains. “It was like an apex of my work. It was a combination of everything that I had ever come up with: film, five or six ballets, music. The Washington Post gave me one of the best reviews of my life, and I said to myself, ‘Oh, now I can have a drink.’” One drink ultimately turned into a divorce and his dance company failing. Seemingly moments after he had finally arrived as a mature artist with great variance and focus, he was gone. “I felt like, here it is,” Powell says, reflecting on the moment. “What do I do? It was a rapid decline because when I start, I can’t stop. I literally can’t function.” Powell didn’t finally get sober until 2009. He’s close with all four of his children, and the youngest one has never seen him inebriated. His most prevalent creative outlet is his photography, and he’s now more often behind the camera than in front of it. In a few hours, he’ll be photographing Ben’s Chili Bowl Founder Virginia Ali before donning a suit to cover a conference featuring top doctors from around the world. “In one day, I can’t believe how much fun I get to have doing what I love to do,” he says. The artist still composes music and choreographs movements, but on a much smaller scale. He’ll do a piece for a friend here or get commissioned by a company there, if it fits his shoot schedule. When I suggest a new apex performance in the future that once again marries all his arts mastery, he’s coy but positive. Powell is always positive. “I had all of that pain to know what that’s like to really know how happy I am today,” Powell says. For more information about Tony Powell, follow him on Instagram @tonypowell1 and on Twitter @powellarts.

By Trent Johnson Three years ago, a month became a movement for the DC creative community. “There were so many things coming to the forefront of the creative community,” says Angie Gates, director of the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME). “It started out with the intent to highlight our diverse and vibrant community. The original [idea] was to have the month of September be the main focus of highlighting our creatives. What we quickly realized after year one was: we can’t stop.” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser established 202Creates in September 2016 to celebrate the city’s creative economy and culture, with input from the DC’s OCTFME, Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Office of Planning and Economic Development. What began as a designated month of events has since transformed into a relationship between the local government and its luminaries including fellowships, studio space and networking opportunities. “To know that the mayor and the community are behind the creatives speaks to the climate of where we are and [the community’s] understanding of the arts in the District,” says local musician James Poet of indie group FutureBandDC. “There’s such a melting pot of creatives in the area. There’s so many visual artists and filmmakers and [musicians]. They’re part of the pulse of the community. It makes sense for the city to come in and make sure we have a voice and platform.” Though the idea rapidly outgrew 30 days, September still holds significance for 202Creates. This year’s kickoff event on August 29 at Eaton DC will promote art installations, musical performances, dance activations and more. Other festivities included in the celebration are Art All Night on September 14, the DC Radio Anniversary event on September 19, and the 202Creates Month closeout event on September 28 featuring Poet and his band. “I think 202Creates is a staple in DC,” Poet continues. “It’s the go-to for creatives in providing a platform for us to elevate our talents. They’ve created this platform to support the creativity community in all its functions, and we definitely wanted to make sure we support this initiative.” The 202Creates community has grown because of the city’s willingness to increase support and provide a foundation for people

looking to get their foot in the proverbial creative door, Gates says, mentioning the OCTFME television and radio stations. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” Gates says. “I fondly refer to DC as the capital of creativity. Not only have [we] had an impact here in the District, but nationally people are [recognizing] what we’re doing here.” And this form of support isn’t limited to people in the entertainment industry or people who deal in traditional mediums like photography or painting, as the city also considers practices like cosmetology and cooking to be artistic expressions that fall under 202Creates’ purview. “It wasn’t so much about the government as much as this is how the government can help you find a creative pathway to the middle class,” Gates says. “What it really does is highlight the different resources and platforms that we have as a government that we can provide our creatives. It’s really about the creatives having a seat at the table and showcasing the talents of the city.” Three years in, she says there are still people just learning about 202Creates and its programs, whether it be artists-in-residence or the coworking office on 200 I St. Through installations and social media, the movement has touched all eight wards of the District, unearthing and shepherding talent in a supportive manner. “I think it would be a travesty if we didn’t grow each year,” she says. “When you have other artists and other things to spark your creativity around you, you start to expand and grow and develop. That’s the beauty of it all: to look at where we were in 2016 and where we are today.” So how can locals gain access to these resources? Gates says it’s as easy as sending an email via, but she’s also fielded pitches in person and over Instagram. “We’re asking everyone to just come out and meet us,” she continues. “We have an open-door policy at our studios. The goal is to make sure our creatives can work closely with us. The main thing is to get engaged once you’re here and familiar with it.” For a list of participating 202Creates Month events or for information on the initiative, visit the website at or www.entertainment. Follow along with the community on Instagram @202Creates. | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


Where Culture + Community Collide

Photo: Rich Kessler

By Monica Alford Art without restrictions. Interactive installations with immersive experiences. Structured, well-funded programming. Consistent, tangible support of the local community. These are among the priorities reinforced by the leadership at community arts organization Culture House DC in Ward 6. When three strong voices echo the same sentiment in separate conversations, the shared vision and determination of the nonprofit space’s team become palpable – and worth digging into further. Culture House DC turns six this month, fresh off the heels of a strategic rebrand that whittled the organization down to a simple, very focused ethos: to house all ideations of culture in an encompassing environment including everything from music, multimedia art and fashion to food and fitness.



“We were inspired by the German concept of a kunsthalle: a place for art but also for creatives and community,” says co-founder Stephen Tanner. “There isn’t a word in the English language like it.” Tanner, who oversees financial planning for the repurposed historic church, had plans to redevelop the space in 2013 but first tried his hand at a short-term art experience with co-founder and executive director Ian Callender. What started as a pop-up in the more than 15,000-square-foot art space – one of several takeovers of abandoned, dilapidated facilities throughout the city to provide community programming – organically developed into a mixed-used, art-centered, long-term development project. Tucked at the end of a cul-de-sac on Delaware Avenue in Southwest DC, the iconic building is likely one you’ve seen populate

your Instagram feed. With bold swirls of color and abstract shapes lining the exterior in its entirety, it forms one bright, cohesive mural. And chances are, you’ve attended an event there too, or at least seen one pop up on Eventbrite. From Swatchroom Co-Founder and artist Maggie O’Neill’s monthlong “Superfierce” event promoting the female art community to TBD Immersive’s In Cabaret We Trust theatre experience – complete with fire performers and burlesque – the experiences housed in the space have been versatile, to say the least. Tanner and Callender realized from the get-go that there weren’t other spaces like it, and they capitalized on the opportunity. “It’s rare to have an art experience with this many different components,” Callender says of the building’s sheer size and scale. “We knew that, and we wanted to enhance the art experience with food and music, but really have an environment that encompassed that – especially in this part of Southwest.” Since then, Callender has worked tirelessly to bring in a range of events to the space – from outside-the-box art exhibits and culinary experiences to private parties and weddings. As a space that relies on funding from the local community while also acting as a space to support that very same community, he built relationships with corporate sponsors to keep the organization on an upward trajectory. Like many labors of love that undergo creative changes, Culture House has evolved with the times. The organization started out as Blind Whino SW Arts Club but switched to just SW Arts Club in 2017 when the connotations associated with “Whino” started limiting the scope of their collaborations. And now, after six years of hosting a vast and eclectic range of events while also creating opportunities for artists to expand their reach and display their works in original ways, Callender and Tanner are ready to streamline their mission and take Culture House DC next-level. “We’re not looking to move or shift,” Callender says of his growing staff, which now includes resident art advisor Andrew Jacobson, a marketing and PR rep, a culinary team, and more. “We’re looking to build organically from the ground up […] with a newer identity.” Jacobson joined the team this spring and is focused on increasing funding around exhibits and planning additional events to support and promote them. He believes this can be made possible by pushing Culture House to become a more structured organization where programming is set further in advance. “If you have solid programming, it’s an all-around win for the organization,” he says. Jacobson, whose background includes art curation, music production and involvement in huge art fairs like Art Basel, sees a wealth of untapped potential for the space and is eager to put those plans into motion. “Culture House wants to be the premier art and events space in Washington, DC. I think we are en route, but we need to make some tweaks to really rightfully claim that title. There’s some things we can do that will really make the venue outstanding.” Chief among his priorities is pursuing more interactive, thematic installations that can directly serve the community, especially underserved segments, that are right around the corner from the space. And he’s off to a great start, with a two-month exhibit from DC-based conceptual artist Maps Glover opening at the beginning of September. “Save The Seed” offers an interactive experience for audiences to “share and exchange stories and evaluate the value of

the soul,” and is built around the artist’s vision of a black seed as a metaphor for the black soul. Callender views Glover’s show as an artistic vehicle for utilizing Culture House’s space in ways that people haven’t seen, and to get more immersive and integrate unique experiences into the art. “Maps, from what I’ve seen, has an ability to really articulate that conversation,” Callender says. “That’s what excites me the most: to be able to have a space where [artists] can get creative without any restrictions. I think this particular show will achieve that.” He’s looking five steps ahead – way past the show being mounted and opening – to artist talks, panels, receptions and other opportunities for expanding “Save The Seed” and making the exhibit as multidimensional as possible. “[We can] make it not just singular in its approach [by] taking advantage of the space and knowing this will be [Glover’s] home for the next couple of months. If it’s your home, what would you do at home? Invite your people into your home. I’m very excited to see what he has to offer.” Looking ahead, Callender is envisioning other exhibits that move beyond utilizing just four walls to all six, where the ceiling and the floor also become part of the composition. At the top of his wish list is commissioning an artist to paint a basketball court in Culture House’s expansive upstairs space, and then installing a basketballcentric exhibit. And because the building is the organization’s best canvas, Callender and his team are considering a new iteration of the exterior’s mural – or maybe even just painting Culture House white and inviting people to throw paint balloons at its walls. Though the façade might change and the scope of programming might narrow, one aspect of Culture House has remained intact since day one: supporting the artists and the surrounding community. “This is always our goal,” Tanner reiterates. “We do this by making most events free of charge, with a suggested donation. With the community’s help and generosity, and with the city realizing how we support community, we can continue providing experiences and access like we’ve been doing for six years.” Jacoboson shares this ethos, stressing the importance of raising more funds for Culture House’s no-commission art exhibits. “Without money, you can’t do the right type of programming. You can’t get the right type of artists. You’re throwing things together at the last minute and hoping they stick. That’s not the way that you implement strong, consistent programming and without that, we can’t serve the community. I have a social and a moral obligation to support things that are going to contribute to the betterment of the community. With more help on that front, we can do a lot more.” Their resounding commitment to functioning as a true community arts space is only reinforced by the third and final voice of Callender. “It’s imperative for us to support [our artist community] in nontraditional ways – not just buying art but giving them a platform so that they can do what they do best. Community can mean so many different things to a person, but at the end of the day, it’s all communal. Culture can mean so many different things to a person, but at the end of the day, it’s all a singular node. There should always be a place where culture and community collide. Culture House is where culture meets community.” Maps Glover’s “Save the Seed” exhibit runs at Culture House through September and October. Follow Culture House on social media @culturehousedc and learn more about upcoming events, including a soon-to-be-announced sixth anniversary party, at Culture House DC: 700 Delaware Ave. SW, DC; 202-554-0103; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


DC Shorts Returns

with Impeccable Taste & International Flair By Trent Johnson “We didn’t want to wait around for other people to let us do it.” Actor, writer and director Mike Doyle, perhaps best known for his Law & Order: Special Victims Unit appearances, is telling me about his latest short film The Chase. Doyle is no stranger to feature films, adding that he has a romantic comedy making the rounds at festivals at this very moment. But there’s politics to producing a longform theatrical release – you need money, time and a prolonged story. “The great thing about [short films] is that they’re distilled short stories that live in the span of six to 15 minutes,” Doyle continues. “I love that there’s a place like DC Shorts that promotes that kind of storytelling.” The DC Shorts tagline is simply, “We champion short filmmaking.” Since 2003, the homegrown festival has proven Doyle’s sentiment correct, showcasing a variety of films in every genre from documentary to comedy to drama to action. This year’s International Film Festival & Screenplay Competition is no different, offering more than 156 films from 38 countries on September 19-28 around the city. “It’s remarkable what you can tell in a short amount of time,” says Bex Singleton, director of short documentary The Cowfoot Prince. “It’s good for people to come away with questions they can explore on their own volition. I don’t think there’s any shame in leaving an audience wanting more.” Singleton admittedly learned most of what she knows about shorts from film school; The Cowfoot Prince was her final project in college and made its international debut at DC Shorts. The documentary follows Usifu Jalloh, a storyteller from Sierra Leone, and his journey from his adopted home of London to the village where he was born. The first-time director, who lived in Sierra Leone as a photographer, met Jalloh at a fundraising event. After being knocked sideways by his performance, she approached him with an offer to make him the main subject of her graduation film. “The story is about the complexity of the relationship with the place



The Cowfoot Prince // P

you’re from and the place you live,” she says. “Sierra Leone changed the way I saw the U.K., and if you look at the source material that’s easy to access about Sierra Leone, it’s about war or disease. You don’t often see characters. Usifu is such a strong and interesting character.” The documentary is about 28 minutes long, pushing the boundaries of a short, but Singleton acknowledges the struggles of even getting below 40 minutes. After seven weeks of shooting, both in the U.K. and Sierra Leone, Jalloh’s energy was captivating and worthy of an even longer feature-length documentary. “He has more energy than anyone else I had ever met,” Singleton says of her film’s subject. “Actually, trying to have an emotional journey through the film and understand what an optimistic person he is – that felt like quite a delicate balancing act. I’m not that used to documentaries where there’s a lot of flipping through happiness to sadness to seriousness to lightness.” While The Cowfoot Prince marked the first time Singleton and Jalloh had worked together, Doyle’s The Chase marked the latest of several collaborations between the director and scriptwriter Nick Jandle, who based the story on a personal experience where someone snatched his phone off of a restaurant table. “He was out with his wife one night in Los Angeles and the phone was stolen from the table,” Doyle says. “His wife chased, and he followed. We wanted to fuse that with bigger stakes, more drama. Nick’s character, Tim, is ineffectual. His instinct is not to run after [her]. I wanted to make a road movie on foot.” Upon reading the synopsis for The Chase, you’ll likely have little faith they can squeeze all it promises in the limited 11-minute runtime. In that short amount of time, the film features “a complex intersection of race, justice and self-discovery.” “We’re living in a time of division and misconception of the other – from all sides,” Doyle says. “In telling this story about a white guy,

Photo: courtesy of Bex Singleton

“It’s good for people to come away with questions they can explore on their own volition. I don’t think there’s any shame in leaving an audience wanting more.”

For more information regarding the two films, the entire DC Shorts schedule and ticket prices, visit DC Shorts International Film Festival & Screenplay Competition: Various venues in DC;

Photos: Kimchi Photography

a black guy and a mixed-race wife, it speaks to ultimately the good of human nature and how we can cast away some prejudgment and learn something about ourselves in the process.” Doyle and the rest of the crew filmed the short over two night shoots. With a script of 15 pages, he knew he had to trim about five minutes of content for a better chance on the festival circuit. Luckily, the small-scale nature of the story lent itself to a compact runtime. But editing for tone proved to be the most creatively demanding aspect. “The film walks a fine line between drama and comedy, and I wanted to make sure the comedic moments sprung from the drama and absurd elements,” he says. “I wanted to make sure we honored those moments.” The short debuted earlier this year to applause and laughter in Los Angeles. While a premier for a film is always a bit nerve-wracking, the positive reception allowed Doyle to focus on how to market the piece going forward. “DC Shorts was at the top of the list because I had such a great experience there previously,” Doyle says. “I think it’s a great showcase for stories such as these.” The festival sticks out to him as a filmmaker because of its integrity and standards, and with films like The Chase and The Cowfoot Prince, this year’s selection is positioned to captivate audiences again and again. “They just curate really well, so you’re getting the best of the best,” Doyle says. “It’s not just someone who slaps their iPhone out. They have impeccable taste.” Every Friday night home game at Nationals Park is best spent on the Budweiser Terrace. As the Nationals warmed up to play the Brewers on August 16, fans enjoyed 90s hits from As If and ice-cold beer. | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


MIKE BIRBIGLIA Brings Deeply Personal, Universally Relatable


On Tap: At what point did you know this story was a one-person show? What about the narrative lent itself to that kind of performance? Mike Birbiglia: There was actually a gag order in my family about talking about the pregnancy or having a child for the first year, where I would tell [my wife] Jen [Stein] jokes I was working on and she’d say, “I don’t think you should talk about that.” At a certain point, I was in Nantucket at the film festival and they asked me to tell a story about jealousy. I said, “No, I don’t think I’m gonna tell a story.” My wife said, “Well, you’re jealous of Oona.” That’s our daughter. And I said, “That’s true.” On that trip, Jen and I started writing a story together about how I’m jealous of our daughter and that’s the seed of what became the show. Jen started sharing her writing with me and I started sharing my writing with her, and we got really honest about what had happened in that first year [as parents] and the things we had struggled with. That’s why ultimately the show is really funny and has a ton of jokes, but it’s also very close to the bone and I couldn’t have written it without Jen for that reason. OT: With something so personal, it’s likely you weren’t necessarily planning on telling this story while you were living through it. How do you know when something you’re going through can become a story? MB: Once you decide that you’re a storyteller of any kind, your whole life is forever looked at through the lens of, “Could that be used as a story?” No matter how happy or sad or weird or strange or cool, it does cross your mind. If a writer says it doesn’t cross their mind, they’re probably lying. My stories, they’re so personal. So, it was important to me that Jen and I were both



Photo: courtesy of Mike Birbiglia

When Lin-Manuel Miranda calls your one-man show “As perfect a night as you’re gonna get,” it might seem like an it’s-all-downhill-from-here moment. But for Mike Birbiglia, there is no downhill, as the comic, actor, playwright and director’s personal projects continually supersede their predecessors. His latest one-man show, 2017’s The New One, which inspired Miranda’s sterling review, is also Birbiglia’s most honest and transparent performance to date. The show wrestles with Birbiglia’s initial opposition to having children, and how his thoughts on parenting rapidly shifted toward clichés such as, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” While the story contains tons of jokes, he gets real about feeling like an intern in his own family and having bouts of jealousy toward his daughter. Known for his versatile storytelling, Birbiglia has made frequent stops on NPR’s This American Life, directed films Sleepwalk with Me and Don’t Think Twice (and starred in the former), and has appeared in several popular TV shows. Before he brings his Broadway show to National Theatre on September 2429, we caught up with him about his process, writing about the personal and his first year as a dad.

on the same page about telling the story. Ultimately, the story is about change and how I never wanted to have a child and [how] I was so glad that we had a child. Really, it’s about transformation and the idea that the things we’re sometimes the most reluctant to do are the things that we need most. OT: What was the toughest thing to admit and be honest about when writing about yourself? MB: I think the toughest thing was admitting that I could have done better as a dad in that first year of my daughter’s life. I worked too many hours. I traveled too much. I say it in the show, but I was basically the intern of our family. I was the pudgy, milkless vice president. Huge title, no power, also oversees Congress. But if I’m being completely honest, I could have been a better intern. OT: What’s the writing process for your one-man shows? How do you approach formulating the narrative? MB: My director Seth Barrish and I have worked on four solo plays that have been off-Broadway: Sleepwalk with Me, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Thank God for Jokes and now The New One, which moved to Broadway. The way we work is when we arrive at what we believe to be the main event of the show, we work backwards. In other words, with Sleepwalk with Me, it was jumping through a second-story window. With My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, it was being in a car accident and deciding to get married. With Thank God for Jokes, it was telling an inappropriate joke at an awards show. And with this one, it was the moment I understand all the clichés people say about having children. All the things I made fun of and laughed about for all these years [suddenly] made sense to me. So, we really built backwards from that to understand what’s the most impactful way to arrive at that feeling. OT: What does it mean to have had this performance on Broadway? Was that something you aspired to? How did that experience differ from your previous productions? MB: Going to Broadway was something we had talked about with all three of the other shows. This one felt like it was the right thing because it was in some ways the most universal. It’s about having a child, but it’s also really just about change and deciding to be alive and what it means to be alive and why we choose to be alive. Plus, it was maybe the funniest of the shows. In terms of Broadway itself, I think what’s special about that is that you enter a community of people who you admire coming to your shows and you going to their shows. I went to Heidi Schreck’s show What the Constitution Means to Me and she came to my show. I went to Rachel Chavkin’s musical Hadestown and she came to my show. That kind of back-and-forth between being in a community of shows and supporting each other, I think that’s the most special part of it. For me, it’s not what street you’re on.

Mike Birbiglia’s The New One runs at National Theatre from Tuesday, September 24 through Sunday, September 29. Tickets start at $39. For more about the one-man show and Birbiglia, visit National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC 202-628-6161;

Photos: Beauty By Photography

OT: You went to Georgetown University and had a stint at DC Improv. Does performing in DC feel like coming home at all? MB: I think the most exciting thing about performing in DC is that I can invite Jake Tapper and Neal Katyal to come to the shows. The second most important thing is that I lived in DC and started doing comedy there. It’s very meaningful to me to think that when I was seating people and bringing nachos to tables at DC Improv, the idea that I would be performing my Broadway show at National Theatre down the street would be unfathomable. But in the same way, everything in your life is unfathomable. It’s just a matter of which type of unfathomable it ends up being. At Ford’s Theatre’s Museum Night on August 1, guests explored the museum and theater while enjoying complimentary beer and wine and mingling with other arts and history lovers. | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


A Day

Life in the



Nell Gwynn at Folger Theatre // Photo: Teresa Castracane

When Regina Aquino’s name was announced as the winner of the 2019 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play, the Filipino American actor was sure to pay tribute to her family in her acceptance speech. But she also made note of how big an honor it was to win during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and said she was “proud to be from DC.” “It was such a huge thing for me,” she says. “I’m from the DC area and to be recognized by my peers for a show that was very, very important to me was humbling. I was deeply honored. It meant so much.” For her award-winning role in Theater Alliance’s The Events last fall, Aquino played Claire – the only survivor of a mass shooting, haunted by thoughts of the shooter and searching for the peace she needs. “We worked so hard on that show. To do a show about gun violence in this world we live in was very important to all of us in the room. I was honored that my community saw the work and thought it was noteworthy.” The mother of two, whose repertoire includes productions at Folger Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre and Olney Theatre Center, chatted with us about her beginnings in theatre, the importance of breaking stereotypes in her roles, and her upcoming productions this winter with Mosaic Theater Company and Folger Theatre. On Tap: What made you want to pursue acting as a career? Regina Aquino: I’ve always been a performer. I think I was 4 years old when I decided I was going to act or sing – or do both. I did my first play in second grade and it was always a given. That’s what my personality and my dreams have always been. My mother was very supportive of it from a young age. She put me in a lot of theatre camps, and I went to Duke Ellington and studied theatre in high school.



OT: You work a great deal in the DC area and are known for being a great champion of the local theatre community. You even talked about it a bit in your 2019 acceptance speech. Why is it important for you to act in DC? RA: Being from this area, I don’t go to New York unless they call me. It’s not my aspiration to be there. It’s my goal to stay in DC and do good theatre here. I love the sense of community here. It’s impossible to not know everyone. Everyone supports each other’s work and we all go to see each other’s shows. I love DC because there are so many theaters that push really subversive and challenging work, and there’s an audience base that looks for that. Plus, it’s an area where you can be a performing artist and have a family. OT: What do you look for in a role? RA: I have to align with the art that I make – socially, politically and emotionally. I am very conscious of the type of roles I audition for, and choose what I am offered based on how my ethnicity informs that [and] how being a woman informs that. I won’t participate in things that promulgate stereotypes. I will never play a maid again unless the point of the play is to make a comment about that particular role being given to an Asian American. I have to believe in the work and the people producing it and what their goals are. I’m very conscious [of ] not participating in tokenism. I have to know everyone has the best intentions. OT: What have you been working on lately? RA: I just finished a production called Tiger Style [at Olney Theatre] about a Chinese-American family who is trying to find their place in the world. They are frustrated with how race identifies them within this country, so they go back to China and try to find themselves there

“I have to align with the art that I make – socially, politically and emotionally.” Vietgone at Studio Theatre // Photo: Teresa Wood

WORK MUST-HAVES Headphones to listen to playlists Journal with thoughts + reflections of my shows Altar with photos of my grandparents + kids Waterproof liquid eyeliner Time in the theater space alone

said I would make a career in classical theatre because my ethnicity wouldn’t matter, which is really an offensive thing to say. But it just isn’t true. I think the idea of diversity in classical theatre has only recently been pushed. I’m usually called in for new plays where my ethnicity is either dictated or I’m working with a theatre company where American does not default as white. I haven’t spoken in iambic pentameter in forever, so we’ll see if I remember how to do it. Follow Aquino on Twitter @avereginaaquino. Don’t miss her in Mosaic Theater’s Eureka Day at Atlas Performing Arts Center from December 4 to January 5 and in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Folger Theatre from January 14 to March 1. Learn more at and

and realize they don’t really fit in there either. It’s a coming-of-age identity play about the Asian-American experience of being secondor third-generation instead of immigrants, which is something I don’t get to see very frequently. OT: Any upcoming productions that DC audiences can see you in? RA: I’m going to be working on Eureka Day, a play about anti-vaxxers in the Pacific Northwest, which should be super interesting and exciting. Then, I’ll be doing The Merry Wives of Windsor back at Folger. I haven’t done Shakespeare in 15 years, so I’m excited to be doing that – excited and scared.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT Music Downtime with my family Lattes A diamond necklace with the letter “R” on it Rice

OT: Have you made it a conscious choice to not do Shakespeare? RA: No. It’s funny because when I was in school, my teachers always | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP





REACH at the Kennedy Center

The REACH at the Kennedy Center is a new, multifaceted memorial to its namesake and a living, breathing hub for all things creative in the city. Dive into the Center’s expansion (the structure’s name serves as an acronym for its vision: to renew, experience, activate, create and honor the 35th president’s legacy) to learn about the artists driving the opening festival on September 7-22, the art and architecture that make up its state-of-the-art subterranean spaces, and the leadership’s shared vision for inclusive and interactive programming, open collaborations, and diverse art forms.

Skylight pavilion + EDS building from southeast at dusk // Photo: Richard Barnes | SEPTEMBER 2019 | On Tap





By Monica Alford

“Listen man, Q-Tip is one of my heroes.” I’m going to venture an educated guess that the first image that comes to mind when someone mentions the Kennedy Center isn’t a Haitian-American playwright and spoken-word poet choking back tears as he describes what 90s hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest means to him. And yet, here we are. I’m sitting next to Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the Kennedy Center’s vice president and artistic director of social impact, in a stateof-the-art, subterranean studio space having a deeply personal conversation about how hip-hop shaped his formative years and how he now gets to work alongside one of his idols for one of the world’s most renowned arts organizations. It is at this exact moment that the driving force behind the Center’s highly anticipated expansion of its campus – The REACH – clicks into place for me. The three sloping structures opening to the public this month were built upon the pillars of inclusivity, accessibility and interactivity as spaces to facilitate shared artistic experiences for the community. And while the Center’s leadership has invested years of strategic planning and creative thinking behind how to make the spaces as innovative as possible, they ultimately exist as a platform for artists and the community to connect on their own terms. “We’re inaugurating a way of being in public space,” Joseph says. “People make place. While there’s been an incredible investment in the built capital of these three interconnected pavilions, there has to continue to be investment in the social capital and the social possibility that is made through the creative enterprise.” Though the Center’s chairman of the board of trustees, David Rubenstein, had a vision for launching The REACH in 2017 to celebrate John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter says she believes the space is opening now because it is the right time to unveil it and share it with the world. “It’s a time in our society where people crave authentic experiences they can share with others,” she says. “There is a thirst for a sense of community and inclusivity, and The REACH gives us a place for those kinds of experiences.” Rutter likens The REACH to her own analog version of the Internet. “I don’t believe that the only way to learn about art is through YouTube or a Google search – no matter how extensive – but rather by experiencing it firsthand. There is no question that the desire to have a shared performance experience is really high, and whatever we can do to promote that is really important.” The spaces have garnered most of their buzz thus far surrounding The REACH’s opening festival from September 7-22 with nearly 500 events, but Rutter assures that the project will only gain forward momentum with nonstop programming from day one. The REACH will operate as both an education center and public incubator, while offering rehearsal and studio spaces where artists can practice, create, collaborate and perform. Rutter notes she’s quite proud of the artistic programming behind projects like Studio K’s (the other two studios are Studio J and Studio F, a clever acronym for the space’s namesake) transformation into a cross-genre club and destination for locals to hang out and hear jazz or pop music or spoken word. She also credits the education team for planning curriculum for “maker space” Moonshot Studio (named for “Kennedy’s call for America to think big and travel to the moon”) that’s universally relevant and ties back to programming taking place in the Center’s main hall. The artistic and education teams behind The REACH are integral to driving its mission forward through immersive programming, and Joseph in particular is invaluable to both sides of the house as he’s uniquely equipped to ride the fine line between artist and administrator. Marc Bamuthi Joseph // Photos: Tony Powell | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


“To have an artist on staff is so reassuring,” Rutter says. “It’s really helpful because it helps our administrators think about their work through that lens as well. Each of our administrators works with artists in a variety of different ways but to have one as a peer, [and as] somebody who is so enormously articulate to provide the connective tissue between ideas and programming, is invaluable.” The Center’s president gives a great example in Dear Evan Hansen. While the marketing team is interested in sharing the date and time of the next performance with the public, Joseph is focusing his attention on how the Center can communicate that this work debates and explores difficult emotional ideas of what’s happening with young people today. Both are critical pieces of information, but with very different messaging. “That piece for me is why it’s so important for the Kennedy Center to do this work around mission, which is to hold a mirror up to our society, to talk about the good, bad and ugly in our everyday lives, and to use art to have greater understanding of who we are,” Rutter continues. “And Marc is the kind of guy who has the capacity to do that on a huge range of topics. He [joins] a team who is so proud and excited to have somebody who can help them take great work to the next level.” Joseph remains humble during our conversation, saying he doesn’t see a delineation between the two roles – they blur together in everything he does. “I make culture,” he says. “Some of us, we make dances. Some of us, we make plays. Some of us, we make spreadsheets. But I work with others to make culture. I don’t segment or even bifurcate this notion of administrator and artist. Artists are entrepreneurs and administrators. There isn’t so much of a fixed economy for us.” He notes that he’s a first-generation American who comes from struggle, and “that never leaves.” In many ways, it’s shaped his professional and creative ideology. “In terms of my artistic practice and in terms of my administrative practice, there’s a commitment to a kind of equity – a kind of inspired, inclusive and expansive community – that I have to adhere to. What makes sense for me is culture: an inspired, collaborative, expansive, inclusive, loving culture. Anything I can do to make that happen, whether it’s making poems or making programs, I’m gonna do.” Joseph speaks of a culture of invitation being born through The REACH, where he and his colleagues continue to shine light on culture makers of all stripes. He’s aiming to achieve this in the shortterm through the Culture Caucus, a group of 35 artist organizations and individuals handpicked by the Center’s leadership because of their contributions to DC’s broad cultural landscape. He describes them as “community-facing artists-in-residence at work and at play” within The REACH’s walls. Within the next six months, Joseph and his peers will initiate an impact band of programming to include discussion groups where instead of trying to get people to engage culture on the Center’s terms, they’ll be trying to resource artists whose work amplifies what’s happening in the local community. “I think that the level of access to culture is different than the level of access to the Kennedy Center and I think that the Kennedy Center – and quite frankly, most arts institutions – have to see themselves as organic citizens within the body politic in a different kind of way,” he says. “It’s a reorientation of the institutional psychology. This is not something that’s just going to happen, but certainly something I’m committed to is recognizing the broad ecosystem of culture makers where they are, resourcing programs where they happen and thinking about the same thing on a national scale.” He breaks it down for me in simpler terms. Joseph isn’t who you go to for discounted tickets to productions at the Kennedy Center. He’s who you tap when you want to amplify the artistic work being done around the city. “Resource that and attach commitments of documentation or education or pedagogical support like this. We [as an organization] are a node, but we recognize that there are many, many spokes and



many, many stars in this constellation.” Thinking in broader terms across the nation, Joseph says the next iteration of engagement for arts organizations should be thinking about empowerment, the creative imagination and inspiration as a democratic ideal. “I’ve been brought in [to The REACH] to infuse the institutional psychology and institutional DNA with a different way of thinking about what is sublime in the arts.” The sense of openness at the Center lends itself to Joseph’s vision for the future, and Rutter has much to do with it. In the past five years, she’s placed giving DC a seat at the table among more traditional arts & culture hubs like New York and L.A. at the top of her list. Rutter has watched the city experience tangible changes on this front, and although she won’t give herself the credit she most certainly deserves, she along with the leaders of other influential arts institutions has helped break the stereotype of DC as a straight-laced government town. Together, DC’s arts leadership is offering a wave of cultural experiences that are both approachable and accessible to our city’s diverse community. “I really believe that the DNA of the city has changed in a lot of different ways and that which was already of interest to the people of the city has now been able to be fully embraced,” she says. “If we can demonstrate that really exciting, interesting stuff is happening in Washington, DC and that we are bringing the country together through the arts, then we can change how people think about the importance of arts in our day-to-day life. That’s why it’s really important that as the national cultural center, we invite everybody to be here – from our elected officials to the people who can’t afford to buy tickets to the people who are avid arts lovers.” While Rutter and Joseph agree that change is gradual, they’re both committed to the baby steps we as a city need to take. In the shortterm, they’re both looking forward to this month’s opening festival and the reverberations of the its creative energy. Joseph says the hip-hop block party with headliners De La Soul on September 14 will be “off the chain” but he’s equally amped up about former Wailer (of Bob Marley and The Wailers) Junior Marvin’s DC Lovers Rock on September 22. “I’m excited about that because love is a thing. Love is not a fourletter word. I want to center love in what it is that we do and how it is that we identify and so doing a reggae-driven ode to love at the close of summer on the river – the romantic in me just loves that.” Rutter, on the other hand, chooses not to pinpoint just one or two events. Instead, she says she’s most excited about the juxtaposition of different kinds of activities happening simultaneously – a jazz opera going on at the same time as a dance program or taking in a Lichtenstein sculpture and then wandering over to the river pavilion and playing on the brand-new Sing for Hope Piano. At the end of the day, her goal both for the festival and The REACH as a whole is to invite all of the other cultural organizations in our community and from around the world to share and experience the art being created and explored at the Center’s many spaces. She’s especially looking forward to seeing artists collaborate in-studio and appreciate each other’s work through The REACH’s open spaces. “I really believe that art and artists hold a mirror up to who we are as a society and if we [act as a] facilitator, we can see into the process and understand why and how that story is being told. That’s the magic that we can do through places like this. We can’t force those new relationships, but we’re excited about creating a space where that can happen.” Learn more about everything Deborah Rutter, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and the rest of their creative, committed colleagues have in store at The REACH by visiting The REACH at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600;

the Art &


Welcome pavilion from south with sedum swoop // Photo: Richard Barnes

By M.K. Koszycki

The Kennedy Center’s original building may be a box-like structure in its physical form, but it has truly grown into a space that cannot be boxed in. A monument, performing arts space, educational center and must-see stop on a list of tourist travel plans: these are all roles the space has held since opening in 1971. Naturally, as the Center’s roles have shifted, so have the needs of the community it serves. That’s where The REACH comes in. An expansion of the Center, its sprawling, subterranean layout and public art installations are just as integral to the vision of this new endeavor as the programming that will take place in it. The care and attention to detail invoked by those involved in designing the building and placing the art within provides another layer to the deep commitment of the Center – not only to the legacy of its namesake who cherished the arts so dearly, but for the community it will serve in the years to come.


Chris McVoy, senior partner at Steven Holl Architects, says the selection of their firm to design The REACH was a once-in-a-lifetime commission – the kind of project that makes up an architect’s dream. With its serene, subterranean layout, exterior slopes made up of glistening white titanium concrete and lush greenery surrounding the grounds, McVoy says The REACH represents more than a stunning arts campus or extension of the institution the Center established with its original building. “We had a chance to transform a 1970s notion of what a national performing arts center [is] into a 21st century vision,” he says. “It’s an expansion of an existing building that hasn’t really been touched since 1971.” McVoy notes how the performing arts and the spaces that house them have changed since the Center opened, both in the District and nationally. “This was a chance to take that 1971 model and completely transform it and open it up. In the original building, [the arts] are really now held within a box – a very large box. This was a chance to break that open, turn it inside out and open it up to the city.” Although the building is made of the aforementioned white titanium concrete, another material is an essential part of the building: natural light. McVoy says that Holl will always say natural light is his favorite material when asked what he prefers to work with. That affinity followed Holl, McVoy and their team to The REACH in an especially effective way. The sweeping windows, skylights and frosted glass blur the lines between the natural and the manmade. When walking through The REACH, it’s easy to forget you’re in an urban space as you’re enveloped by sunshine and greenery throughout. “[Natural light] is essential to your psychological sense of wellbeing,” McVoy continues. “You feel good when you have a connection to the outdoors. You know what the weather is like outside, you know what time of day it is, you know what season it is. When you put that in a rehearsal space or performance space, it gives the artists or the audience a critical connection to the outdoors. It’s inspiring. Often when you’re rehearsing, you’re there eight hours a day. To have this feeling of relief in the light gives a whole inspiration to the process of making art.” McVoy and senior associate Garrick Ambrose felt inspired during the process of constructing The REACH, pioneering an internal design element with their team just for the space. Called crinkle concrete, it adorns the walls of the Justice Forum and other rehearsal spaces. And although the Justice Forum is the only room in the space without windows, the fluidity created by the design also emulates the same



natural serenity as the rest of the building. Its crisp acoustics are also novel, as concrete is not necessarily known for creating purity of sound. McVoy notes that his team had the idea to imprint the concrete with a texture that does the acoustical work of diffusing the sound. “We did many studies of what kind of texture we could put into the form work of the concrete to create this diffusion. [Ambrose] was doing experiments and found this idea of a crinkle concrete, where by taking a sheet of aluminum and bending it and banging it up and then using that as the liner that the concrete is cast against, [it] creates the ideal acoustical texture to mitigate flutter echo and diffuse the sound in the space.” Once perfected, the team took their creation to the rest of the rehearsal spaces. While they met their goal acoustically, the accomplishment is twofold. The fluidity provided by the crinkle concrete is not only aesthetically appealing but provides a metaphorical distinction of the fluidity in the arts that The REACH itself represents. “When you see this texture, especially in the Justice Forum, it’s immaterial,” McVoy explains. “On the one hand, it [appears] carved out of solid rock. And then on the other hand, it seems as light as folded paper. And then, especially in the Justice Forum where we’re lighting it right along the surface – we’re just raking it with light – the textures [are] particularly pronounced and immaterial. In fact, it’s a concrete structural wall but it feels like a folded texture of light.” Though the Center’s original space will always stand as the iconic monument to its namesake’s legacy and commitment to the arts, the fluid and flexible notions brought forth in The REACH – both in structure and ideology – surely show the creative future Kennedy advocated for as the catalyst of change in our modern times.


Longtime DC residents will be greeted by a familiar figure when entering the grounds of The REACH: Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstrokes, on loan from The Hirshhorn. The 1996 sculpture is just one of three outdoor sculptures that, along with many other pieces of art indoors, were selected with the help of Dr. Elizabeth Broun. “I’ve been a longtime admirer of the Kennedy Center and the role they play – not just in Washington but across the country – to encourage the performing arts,” says Broun, The REACH’s visual arts advisor. “It’s an organization with a deep sense of mission and a real commitment to the idea that the arts can really express American life.” Broun, who served for many years as the director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and retired in 2016, says her involvement in The REACH is a perfect way for her to stay engaged with the arts and work with one of the most prestigious, fabulous arts organizations in America. She took Kennedy’s legacy as a powerful arts advocate to heart while working with artists, museums and donors to adorn the space. She notes that while a connection to the Kennedy administration was not a necessary requirement for inclusion, there are some beautiful connections to his life that make an appearance at The REACH – namely in the case of painter Sam Gilliam and sculptor Joel Shapiro. Gilliam’s work, which Broun describes as “lyrical and musical,” drapes across the interior space. Shapiro’s sculpture almost appears to “pirouette” across the lawn, and she envisions it becoming something of an iconic symbol of The REACH due to its visibility from the river, the highway and within the landscape of the building. “[Gilliam] is really the internationally acclaimed dean of Washington’s artists. He’s long been affiliated with Washington. He came to the city in 1962 during the Kennedy administration, so we liked that reference. We liked that Joel Shapiro was actually in the

Triangle stairs // Photo: Richard Barnes | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


We had a chance to transform a 1970s notion of what a national performing arts center is into a 21st century vision.

third cohort of Peace Corps volunteers in India. The Kennedy legacy really does live on and is a very active component in the arts.” In working to bring this incredible array of American art to The REACH, Broun’s hopes lie in the idea that patrons will see the multidimensional impacts of the arts that harken back to the Kennedy legacy it so gracefully pays tribute to. “People mostly don’t think of the Kennedy Center as being about art, except for maybe that great big bronze head of Kennedy that’s in the foyer. I hope it makes them sort of reflect a little bit that yes, this is a great center for all of the arts in America. It’s encouraging the arts of every type. It’s comprehensive in the same way that President Kennedy’s vision for the arts was to be a beacon and related to our democracy. It’s about public spaces and public art. I hope they respond to all of that.”

Crinkle concrete close-up in Studio K // Photo: Richard Barnes

For more on the work of Chris McVoy and Steven Holl Architects, go to Visit for continuing announcements about upcoming programming at The REACH.


Photo: courtesy of The REACH ON TAP | SEPTEMBER 2019 |


FESTIVAL By Trent Johnson

Alysia Lee + Ty Defoe // Photo: Tony Powell | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



he inside spaces of the Kennedy Center’s The REACH are spacious and cavernous, like an underground college building with rooms ripe for seminars, classes, performances, films and whatever other kind of programming the Center offers, which is to say almost anything. The outside buildings are equally stunning, standing tall not in an intimidation, but a reassurance. The facility had yet to open when we walked through the grounds in mid-July, but it was easy to close your eyes and imagine a swath of people congregating in one of the spacious fields for a concert or a movie projected directly on the side of their sloping creations. Soon, there won’t be much left to the imagination as the Center is set to unleash every kind of installation you can think of – big name to small name, hip-hop to opera, dance to painting, sculpture to DJs. “We’ll achieve a vision in people’s minds,” says Robert van Leer, the Kennedy Center’s senior vice president of artistic planning. “And I mean everyone: artists, staff, visitors, civic leaders. When you open a new building, there’s a process that comes up with that vision, but it’s important to start with what it can be.” From Saturday, September 7 through Sunday, September 22, the Kennedy Center’s The REACH Opening Festival will feature close to 500 free events inviting people to explore the space, participate in workshops, and see headlining acts such as Robert Glasper, Bootsy Collins, The Second City, Thievery Corporation and so much more. “It’s a great way to illustrate what The REACH can do,” van Leer continues. “It’s a combination of all of those things and a chance to learn with the artists to see what the future opportunities can be.” Artists Ty Defoe and Alysia Lee are perfect examples of the diverse range of creative talent participating in the festivities. Both will travel from different East Coast cities – Baltimore and NYC, respectively – to support The REACH and take part in the public’s first invitation to the campus. “I like the word festival,” Defoe says. “I like the word joy and I like the word connection. I feel like among those words, it reminds me that we’re at a time right now where the arts are a place of healing, celebration and activation. The arts not only change people’s minds, but people’s hearts. I feel like we’re in a time where that is very necessary right now.” Defoe is an interdisciplinary artist from New York slated to participate in two events: a panel titled “The New Contemporary in Native American Art” and an interactive participatory hoop dance. The latter is only allotted 15 minutes, but despite this expedited runtime, the movement has several different layers all geared toward a unique experience. “I’ve been working on this since I was 7 years old,” Defoe says. “It gets at a lot of intersections that I like to operate in, which is contemporary indigenous culture, community, spectacle, and utilizing spaces [both] indoors and outdoors. Also, [knowing] this festival will have all these amazing people of culture coming together in that circle, there was no other thing in my mind that came up besides this.” The dance starts off with a story about finding a way through fighting and warring as a community, but it’s not all spoken. For some, the narrative is better understood through a series of physical steps, hence the hoop dance. “I’ll weave myself in and out of these hoops to make different shapes – things you’d see in nature like trees, plants, flowers and animals – to pay honor to the equity of all living things,” Defoe



continues. “The interactive part breaks down the multigenerational part because as adults, we are sometimes living in our heads and not able to feel. No matter who you are – shape, size, color – you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with your friend or relative.” While Defoe’s interactive performance welcomes all people in attendance to gather around and dance, Lee’s workshop about protest songs will focus on inspiring middle school children to express themselves in tune. As a Kennedy Center 2019-2020 Citizen Arts Fellow and multifaceted vocalist, Lee is an obvious choice to lead an educational workshop for the opening festival. “I really want to have something where kids walk away with something they created,” Lee says. “I want collaboration and sharing, and something where there will be high incentive and high reward to move quickly together.” Lee came up with the activity upon learning that a majority of 60s protest songs were parodies of oldies from the 40s and 50s. The format took form when she thought of using modern pop music to help kids write their own pieces. “What do we care about and how can we use music as a way to voice our opinions? The accessibility of these protest songs is super cool because you can get kids to take their favorite hits and use them for social change.” Lee feels confident that the children participating will be up for protesting, whether it be concerns about global warming or requests for more snack machines. “Kids nowadays are so in tune because of social media,” she says. “They’re so in touch with the world in a way that I wasn’t. Kids really feel very strongly and passionately about things that are beyond them. They feel more connected to the global society.” The REACH is also slated to feature a number of DC-based artists as part of the festival’s lineup. GIRLAAA Collective Founder Dominique Wells has coordinated a full slate of curation on opening day with a panel of female DJs – including Mane Squeeze, Ayes Cold and Niara Sterling – followed by a performance. “We want to discuss women in the music industry and how they’re doing more than just following contemporary trends – they’re breaking barriers,” Wells says. “I feel like what they’re doing is important and monumental and necessary.” The DC native sees The REACH as an opportunity for the Kennedy Center to better serve the underprivileged in the community by introducing them to art by way of free workshops and performances, much like the programming for the festival. “It’s about what’s happening beyond their main space,” Wells says. “I think The REACH is going to offer a lot of people who otherwise might not come there an opportunity to experience something inclusive and diverse. They have a great team of people who are working really hard, and they’re listening to people.” From local to national, big to small, contemporary to classical, the Kennedy Center’s The REACH Opening Festival is a multi-dimensional playground for patrons of the arts from any background. Van Leer says there are no plans to make this an annual tentpole event, so you will definitely want to revel in it while you can. “You see all the cross-pollination that’s occurring,” Lee says of the festival programming. “It’s really inspiring and makes me think about the through-line of creativity and how things can speak. I love that the festival is a place for that. It’s hard to even fathom missing one day of it.” To peruse the comprehensive list of events at The REACH’s Opening Festival, visit For announcements about upcoming programming at The REACH, go to

30SHOWS must-see

Performing arts season is in full swing, and with it comes our staff picks for some of the most interesting and buzzworthy shows of the 2019-2020 season – from daring theatre productions and robust film festivals to contemporary dance and riveting opera. We also picked the brains of three directors and a playwright about their respective upcoming productions at some of our favorite theaters including season openers Doubt at Studio Theatre and Everybody at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Though our city’s performing arts scene is too expansive to capture in just one list, we're confident that we’ve put together a solid rundown of works that will resonate with arts enthusiasts across the District. | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


Matt Torney // Photo: Teddy Wolff


Where did society’s curiosity go? What happened to the doubts? These are some of the questions that playwright John Patrick Shanley asks in his 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt: A Parable. Studio Theatre brings the thoughtful play to 14th Street from September 4 to October 6 with associate artistic director Matt Torney at the helm. The story centers on a 1964 Brooklyn Catholic school where a charismatic priest takes an interest in a young boy, leaving the school’s headmaster suspicious of foul play. As Studio prepares to ask the play’s many questions, we talked to Torney about this contemporary masterpiece and its jarring subject matter. On Tap: Why did you decide this season was the right fit for Doubt? Matt Torney: The first thing is that it’s one of the plays that seems to be many years ahead of its time. In the preface, the playwright talks about the year he’s living in [as] an age of certainty [where] everyone was very certain about what they believed and what they experienced. He wanted to know what happened to doubt, what happened to curiosity. We’re always looking for contemporary classics, and the political time we’re living in is fraught and certainty is rampant. We thought it was a great time for us to visit the play, and to see how it’s aged and how it can reengage. OT: What specifically drew you to the play? MT: I’m from Ireland [and] I went to a Catholic school, and the idea of what it means to be a Catholic and have that history is something personally relevant to me. This play made me feel uncomfortable and scared me a little bit, and that’s always a good sign. It got under my skin, and I had some questions I didn’t have answers to.

Unanswered Questions Remain Relevant in

Doubt: A Parable Photo: courtesy of Studio Theatre

By Trent Johnson

OT: What is your approach when directing a play with so much clout and acclaim? Does it make you want to bring your own vision more or less? MT: My process always begins with the actors. We have to make it feel very alive. Even when you do contemporary classics, you don’t want to treat them as museum pieces. You have to make it feel vivid right now. The thing that drew me to it is that the questions felt very alive to me. The play hadn’t been answered or solved, and the questions it was built on were so relevant and poignant. OT: One of my favorite aspects of Studio’s productions are the set pieces and the intimacy of the spaces. How are you approaching Doubt from those perspectives? MT: Just the [set design] alone is perfect for an intimate space. You’re being invited into a private office and a private garden. It’s an enclosed world that’s opened up a crack [and] you’re able to peek into [it]. What happens behind closed doors? What are the conversations about power and faith? OT: What would you say to people who are unfamiliar with the play? Why do you think it’s not to be missed? MT: [At] the center of the play is an accusation against a priest. There’s not much evidence to prove it, but there’s a lot of circumstances that cause the accusers to be certain. That mystery of the play is interesting dramatically because who’s right and who’s wrong isn’t clear. There’s a huge gray area of challenging power dynamics and gender dynamics. Doubt: A Parable runs from Wednesday, September 4 through Sunday, October 6. Times vary. Tickets $60-$80. Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; 202-332-3300









Cabaret Directed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Alan Paul, this Tony-winning classic musical set in 1929 Berlin follows novelist Cliff, who finds himself swept up in the life of the cabaret. Bunked at Fräulein Schneider’s boarding house with bawdy emcee and provocateur Sally Bowles, unexpected relationships form – including one between their landlord and a Jewish fruit seller. The score features classics such as “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Money.” Tickets are $37-$85. Olney Theatre: 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Rd. Olney, MD;


By Trent Johnson and Keith Loria

Hollywood hats with stints as an actor, podcaster and producer, but his true calling has always been on the stage, raising his voice and yelling jokes directly in your grill with the kind of apathetic humor only a lifelong Knicks fan could possess. Various times and ticket prices. DC Improv: 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 Atlas Presents Dance: Cafe Flamenco In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, dancers from FuriaFlamenca Dance Company offers a fun evening of cabaretstyle entertainment. Led by artistic director Estela Vélez de Paredes, dancers will perform traditional flamenco dance. Guitarist Torcuato Zamora will provide live music. Tickets are $20-$30. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC;



Washington Improv Theatre Road Show Washington Improv Theatre’s company performs alongside featured comedic ensembles like I Don’t Know Her, Goodison and Bring Back the 90s. Every night offers something new and exciting, as the lineup changes and different guests take part. Therefore, no two performances are ever the same. Tickets are $18. DC Arts Center: 2438 18th St. NW, DC;

Bentzen Ball It’s the 10th anniversary of the Bentzen Ball, Tig Notaro’s collaboration with Brightest Young Things and perhaps the funniest weekend in the District. This year, Notaro’s recruited the likes of Maria Bamford, Pete Holmes, Jamie Lee and the New Negroes (featuring but not limited to Baron Vaughan of 30 Rock, Jaboukie Young-White, a.k.a. one of the funniest people on Twitter, and musician/comedian Open Mike Eagle). There’s even more to be announced, including a very special guest who will join Notaro herself onstage. Times vary. Festival tickets $154.20, individual show tickets also available. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12 Taffety Punk Presents Riot Grrrls: Othello Don’t miss an all-women production of Shakespeare’s Othello starring Danielle A. Drakes in the titular role and Lise Bruneau as Iago. The women of Taffety Punk Theatre Company began the Riot Grrrls theatre project as an activist reaction to the lack of gender parity on DC stages. Directed by Kelsey Mesa, this production includes all the tragedy and excitement of the Bard’s play including swords, daggers and murder, performed by some bad-ass actors. Capitol Hill Arts Workshop: 545 7th St. SE, DC;

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 Michael Rapaport Outspoken, opinionated and very New York, Michael Rapaport will make his first visit to DC Improv this fall, bringing a flair for the dramatic while comedically complaining. He’s worn various

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1 - SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22 Disney’s Newsies Based on the true story of New York City’s newsboys going on strike in the summer of 1899, Newsies was a hit movie before going on to Broadway in 1992, capturing a Tony Award for best score. With songs like “Carrying the Banner,” “King of New York” and “Seize the Day,” it’s easy to understand why. The musical boasts music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein. For Arena’s production, Edward Gero plays Joseph Pulitzer and Erin Weaver plays Katherine. Tickets are $66-$115. Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



August Wilson’s Fences Tackles Issues of Race, Identity + Family By Trent Johnson August Wilson’s Fences offers an enduring look at the everyday struggles of black Americans through the lens of ex-ball player Troy Maxson and his complicated relationship with his family. Though the groundbreaking Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play takes place in 1950s Pittsburgh, the text has resonated with theatregoers since its run in the late 80s on Broadway and will continue to do so at Ford’s Theatre from September 27 to October 27. We spoke with director Timothy Douglas, one of the foremost Wilson interpreters, about why he’s drawn to the playwright’s work and how Fences continues to hold relevance with today’s audiences. On Tap: Fences is a legendary production. Its Broadway runs featured both Denzel Washington and James Earl Jones as Troy, and Washington recently directed and starred in the Oscarnominated film adaptation. Why do you think this material is so powerful 34 years after August Wilson penned it? Timothy Douglas: August Wilson is one of the world’s great playwrights, and the play can speak and reflect [on] the ongoing relevance in and of itself and the world it exists in. It’s a milestone in inviting the intimacy of what it’s like to be black in America, so you can get a sense of that while August unfolds his own story. OT: How difficult is the balancing act of honoring the source and adding your own personal twist to a story like this? TD: Any well-written play, and specifically Fences, for me is like dough. I have to knead the dough and let it rest. When I come back, it expands. I can’t bring anything to Fences. I’m the conduit for which the play further expresses itself. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.



Erika Rose + Craig Wallace in Fences // Photo: Scott Suchman

OT: One of DC’s notable actors who you’ve directed before, Craig Wallace, is set to play Troy. How excited are you for him to be able to take on this role? TD: One of the reasons Ford’s programmed this play is [because] Craig Wallace is at a point in his career where he’s ready for Troy and Troy is ready to be interpreted through him. I’m the one who holds the reigns of this great union, but I’m just there to make sure they’re speaking for each other. OT: Throughout your career, you’ve been involved in a number of August Wilson plays. Why do you keep coming back to his works? TD: These works will never be the definitive production because it’s impossible to encapsulate it all in one production. It’s my sixth time directing Fences, and I am just picking up where I left off and seeing how much deeper I can dig into the basement of it. OT: This play obviously deals with race and issues around race in America. Does it mean more to you directing this play in the nation’s capital? TD: It does. In my experience, the majority of audiences in DC are typically white and don’t know the realities of black people in America. For the first time in my life, there are more white people engaged in the curiosity of what it’s like to be black in America, so they can better perceive the material of this play. August Wilson’s Fences runs from Friday, September 27 through Sunday, October 27. Times vary. Tickets $20-$70. Ford’s Theatre: 511 10th St. NW, DC; 202-347-4833;



SOLE Defined As the inaugural Dance Place Artist-in-Residence, SOLE Defined, is set to turn their bodies into percussive instruments of the utmost versatility. Whether through tap dance or loud thuds caused by their bodies bouncing off each other and their surroundings, this Maryland dance theatre will translate global rhythms into a powerful, expressive art form. 8-10 p.m. on Saturday, 4-6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets $25-$30. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC;

The Merry Wives of Windsor Directed by Aaron Posner and starring 2019 Helen Hayes Award winner Regina Aquino and theater veteran Brian Mani, the Bard’s comedy is a story of marriage, jealousy, wealth and lies. The plot follows Falstaff, whose dubious plan to woo Windsor’s wealthy housewives is met with hilarious retaliation when the women devise a plot to teach him a lesson. Come experience the reason this show is often described as William Shakespeare’s more satirical. Tickets $27$85. Folger Theatre: 201 E. Capitol St. SE, DC;

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10 Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith From the front of a gas station to the mall to Hollywood to Hollywood again? Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith are returning to the big screen this fall as Jay and Silent Bob in Smith’s latest film Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. To celebrate the duo’s return to the big screen, Smith and Mewes are hitting the road with a live show, where fans can peep the movie with its stars. Snoochie boochies. 9 p.m. Tickets $50+. Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse: 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA;

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12 - SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Rent The 20th anniversary production of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning musical returns to the National Theatre. Based on a reimagining of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” the musical follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven New York City artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With a memorable score, the show is a rollercoaster of emotions and one of theater’s most lauded musicals of the past two decades. Tickets are $54-$114. National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20 - SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24 8th Annual Film Festival: REEL TIME AT GALA The GALA Hispanic Theatre will take storytelling from the stage to the screen as the famed company produces the 8th iteration of its Latin American film festival, focusing on Bolivia, Mexico and Brazil. From classics to contemporary works, the movies shown over the course of the event will provide viewers with a glimpse of the vast amount of stories from around the world. Times and ticket details to come. Gala Hispanic Theatre: 3333 14th St. NW, DC;



Sheltered America didn’t get involved in World War II until the later stages, so when Hitler began his assault on Jewish people in Europe, it wasn’t uncommon for new stories to get buried beneath the fold. Sheltered takes place in 1939, during America’s stint of inaction, at a cocktail party that turns into a political and moral debate, as a couple attempts to make a decision that could save the lives of suffering children the world over. You might be wondering, what’s the debate? Well, as you’ve likely experienced in the past few years at cocktail parties and family holiday dinners, bringing up politics (no matter how life or death) often causes tension. Times and dates vary. Tickets $30-$69. Theater J: 1529 16th St. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Presents Charlie Chaplin’s Legacy: Classical Music in Film Perhaps the first king of comedy, the British Charlie Chaplin pioneered silent humor before talkies were en vogue. Beyond his diminutive frame and slapstick antics, Chaplin was a riveting story teller, using every aspect of a film to form an entertaining and often thoughtful narrative. Without quips and monologues, Chaplin couldn’t joke his way through a story, heightening the importance of an impactful score. To celebrate what would be Chaplin’s 130th birthday, the BSO will pay homage to his use of music. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $35-$90. Music Center at Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, Maryland;

SUNDAY, MARCH 1 - SATURDAY, MARCH 21 Washington National Opera: Samson and Delilah This sensual grand opera tells the story of Samson, who has everything it takes to free the enslaved Hebrews from the Philistines. But when the bewitching Delilah seduces Samson into revealing the source of his physical power, his faith is tested. With music by Camille Saint-Saëns and libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire, the story is told in French with projected English titles. Directed by Peter Kazaras, the show stars J’Nai Bridges as Delilah and Roberto Aronica as Samson. Tickets are $45-$299. Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC;

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11 - SUNDAY, MARCH 29 Inherit the Windbag Americans are way too into debates. No, not the ones held at schools and universities between teams of intellectuals. I’m talking about the hot take, punditry BS that is so rampant in society and pop culture that the people famous for these pseudo acts of discourse are more parody than their parodies. In 1968 liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley met for a series of televised debates which wet society’s appetite for debate, conflict and arguments. Playwright Alexandra Petri is set to reprise the infamous debate, with satire and guest appearances from past and present. Times vary. Tickets $20-$65. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC;

Spring MONDAY, APRIL 6 - SUNDAY, MAY 3 There’s Always the Hudson In this Woolly Mammoth production, revenge is a dish best served on time, especially when you have a pact. Sexual abuse survivors Lola and T are running up against the clock, as their deadline for getting revenge on everyone who’s ever “f--ked with them” fast approaches. Continued on page 68 | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


Photo: Tony Powell



Promotes Inclusivity + Explores the Impermanence of the Human Condition By Monica Alford

What would it look like to put our baggage onstage, in the role of Stuff? Or our regrets, in the role of All the Shitty Things One Has Ever Done in Their Life? Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins puts these weighty emotions into physical form along with the elements of Time and Love and Death, among others, in Everybody. The production comes to Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC)’s Lansburgh Theatre from October 15 to November 17 under the direction of Will Davis in the most original of ways. Each night, six of the nine roles will be assigned to actors onstage as part of a bingo-style lottery. At the center of this comedy about death is the Hero, picked at random each night to embark on a journey where he or she prepares to die. Heavy in subject matter but light in thematic style, Davis walked me through



what drew him to this play, why it’s so important to connect with audiences and how diversity in casting is multifaceted. On Tap: How does it feel to be directing the first production of the season at STC, as well as the first production under new artistic director Simon Godwin’s leadership? Will Davis: It’s such a privilege, honestly. It means a lot to me to be entrusted with Simon’s first season opener and I have really enjoyed the time that I’ve had to speak with him so far. He’s so obviously a leader and a director who’s interested in creating space for other artists, which I think is the number one thing you want in an artistic leader.

When I read Shakespeare, all I can think to myself is, “My God, this material is so punk rock.” There’s so much space inside of Shakespeare for an openness about people’s humanity and I think it’s a great place for us to be able to show each other that. OT: Have you ever directed anything like Everybody before where a different role is assigned to a small cast of actors onstage each night? WD: I’ve never directed anything that has this particular lottery concept in it but I have definitely made it a focal point [to direct pieces that are] really ambitious for the theatre to accomplish. [One] of the things I’m looking for in a play is some element of the impossible involved. In this case, [the] little piece of impossibility is there’s actually no way for me to rehearse each actor doing every possible combination of roles that they could perform. [I have to] think about, “How do I rehearse this? How do I create the right container for this play to really succeed knowing that to a certain extent, chance is built into the concept of the play?” OT: What was your role in the casting process? How important was it to cast a diverse range of actors for this production? WD: I’m definitely interested in making sure that the cast is racially diverse and also that the gender presentation of the folks cast is diverse as well. I’m a trans person so part of what is exciting for me is giving audiences an opportunity to think about gender parity a little bit bigger than this binary idea of men and women. [Instead], to think about gender being a more holistic thing [and] far more about the gray areas than one thing or another. The other thing I think about when casting is age. This play has a really beautifully open casting template. You’re looking for someone who is going to play Time and Love and Death and God. Just saying, “Which person’s energy best feels like it represents the concept of love?” leaves it far more open. It’s a far more exciting casting process. OT: What feelings do you hope to evoke from the audience? WD: What I’ve been trying to say is, there’s a dark comedy irony to it that I think leaves you feeling a sense of comradery. The audience should have a real sense of kinship with everyone else who’s in the theater with them on that given night and of course, one of the reasons they have that feeling is because the show they see will be unique. No one else who sees the show the day before or the day after will see the same show. It’s such a smart, smart thing that the playwright’s done in writing this play that’s a meditation on impermanence and humanity, [and] every night that an audience comes to see it will be its own impermanent moment. OT: In the time I’ve been covering local theatre, STC has done a fantastic job not only of being inclusive and diverse in its casting but also in expanding the identity of gender and exploring those gray areas you mentioned earlier. WD: I love that you say that. The thing that occurs to me is the exploration of that gray area or areas. Every single one of us lives there. There isn’t actually any person that you or I know that is definitively male or definitively female. We’re all a loose collection of traits and identities that makes sense to us. I think the more we see that onstage, the more we [can] embrace that in ourselves and

our families and our children. And the other thing about Shakespeare that I always find so funny is when I read Shakespeare, all I can think to myself is, “My God, this material is so punk rock.” There’s so much space inside of Shakespeare for an openness about people’s humanity and I think it’s a great place for us to be able to show each other that. It’s a space where a lot of the conversations we’re having as a culture can really be explored and cherished. OT: What makes Everybody relatable to millennial audiences? WD: The way the playwright writes is that he takes things that feel old, discarded or not relevant and pulls them through a modern framework and creates this whole other world. He, in his own way, is a really punk rock writer. I also think speaking from my part of the circle, I’m trying to create an experience that will be really deeply affecting but also have a festival atmosphere. The whole design of the play is based around balloons. There’s a dance break in the middle of the show where the full cast is going to be performing with some very, very large balloon sculptures. I spend a lot of time thinking about, “What are the ways to tie these larger theatrical gestures to something that feels really meaningful and emotional?” I think that’s what we need to do onstage is really pay attention to the fact that it’s a live form and people who show up as an audience need to be respected and cherished for the fact that they are alive and in the room. Experience a completely unique performance of Everybody between October 15 to November 17 at STC’s Lansburgh Theatre. Young Prose Night is Friday, October 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49. Learn more at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre: 450 7th St. NW, DC 202-547-1122;

TUNES INin Tunes The Triangle THE TRIANGLE

6:30 pm–8:30 at Milian Park (Masspm Ave & 5th St.)

• Thursday, July 21: The Oxymorons at Milian Park (Mass Ave & 5th St.)

Wednesday, September 5 • Tuesday, august 2: Alison Carney Special concert and 6 family - 8pmactivities for National Night Out at 5th & K Parking Lot

Pebble to Pearl

• Thursday, august 18: Justin Trawick at Milian Park

STOP BY WITH YOUR FRIENDS, Stop by with FAMILY, ANDyour PETSfriendS, FOR family, and petS for FREE SUMMER free Summer CONCERTS concertS @MVTCiD | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



Unwilling to let the truce between them fall to the wayside, these two escalate their respective plots for retribution by unleashing the pent up anger on a fearless adventure. Tickets are $20 to $64. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: 641 D St. NW, DC;

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 - SUNDAY, MAY 17 Life Is a Dream What’s real and what’s not? Is destiny a thing or do we control our own narratives and fate? These questions have been at the forefront of human consciousness since, well, forever, and likely always will be. Stories that tap into these existential questions have stood the test of time, and Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s Life Is a Dream is no exception, making the rounds internationally for almost 400 years. The latest adaptation comes to the DMV by way of Synetic Theatre, as the company is set to offer a gritty look at Prince Segismundo and his father’s tale of destiny, prophecy and free will. Times vary. Tickets go on sale in early 2020. Synetic Theater: 1800 South Bell St. Arlington, VA;

follows the two married millennials on their quest for happiness, which leads them to a community very much stuck in the John Travolta Grease-era of the world, where leather jackets and cigarettes were prevalent. This isn’t an instant turn off for our protagonists, as they receive new identities and attempt to see if the grass is greener on the oth...I mean, back in time. Times and ticket prices TBA. Spooky Action Theater: 1810 16th St. NW, DC;

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10 - FRIDAY, JULY 3 Hatef*ck A provocative romantic comedy between two Muslim-Americans who have nothing in common except their race. Layla and Imran are a literature professor and novelist, respectively, and clash over faith, politics and cultural clichés. Written by Rehana Lew Mirza and directed by Nicole A. Watson, the show proves that good sex doesn’t always make good bedfellows. Individual ticket prices TBA. Round House Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD;



Filmfest DC 2020 DC’s most ambitious film festival returns in 2020, with 80 films from 45 countries over the course of 11 days. For people who love films and movie theaters, any opportunity to see strange, eclectic submissions from far parts of the world is a joyous occasion, and no festival in the District meets the variety that Filmfest brings on an annual basis. Whether you’re into shorts or features, comedies or dramas, English or French, there’s probably a reel you’ll dig. Times vary. Tickets available in 2020. Filmfest DC: Various locations in Washington, DC;

AFI DOCS Film Festival The nation’s annual documentary film festival is beloved for showcasing the best in documentary filmmaking from both the U.S. and around the world. District Architecture Center serves as the festival’s central meeting place for guest registration, forum panels and talks, as well as a place for filmmakers and select pass holders to gather. Screenings will take place around landmark venues in DC and the world-class AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Advisory board members for the festival include noted filmmakers Ken Burns, Spike Lee and Barbara Kopple. Times and ticket prices TBA. District Architecture Center: 421 7th St. NW, DC;

THURSDAY, APRIL 23 - SUNDAY, MAY 7 Always Patsy Cline Created by Ted Swindley and based on a true story about the legendary country singer’s odd friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, the musical offers plenty of humor, great music and even a bit of audience participation. More than two dozen Cline favorites are part of the score, including “Crazy,”“I Fall to Pieces” and “Walking After Midnight.” With songs like those, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most produced musicals in the U.S. today. Creative Cauldron: 410 S. Maple Ave. Falls Church, VA;

SATURDAY, MAY 16 - SUNDAY, JUNE 14 The Blackest Battle Another entry from DC’s foremost hip-hop theatre director Psalmayene 24, The Blackest Battle takes place in a future after African Americans receive reparations. With conflict between warring hip-hop factions, this musical’s characters struggle to wrestle with their lives while encountering love, violence and the significance of the Fourth of July. Tickets are $40. Anacostia Playhouse: 2020 Shannon Pl. SE, DC:



Maple and Vine Were the 1950s really that great? Well, that’s what Katha and Ryu have to figure out in Spooky Action’s Maple and Vine. The play



FRIDAY, JULY 24 - SUNDAY, AUGUST 23 Hedwig and the Angry Inch With a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, this groundbreaking Tony-winning musical got its start off-Broadway and developed a cult following. The musical tells the tale of Hedwig Schmidt, an East German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who was the victim of a botched sex change operation, leaving her with an “angry inch.” Backed by a hard-rocking band, Hedwig conveys her funny, touching and ultimately inspiring story in dazzling fashion. Times and individual ticket prices TBA. Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC;

TUESDAY, AUGUST 25 - SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 To Kill a Mockingbird When an Academy Award winner adapts Pulitzer Prize-winning material, it’s likely that said adaptation would be a hit, right? Well, like some sort of literary math, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird delivers about what you’d expect: a dramatic, gut-wrenching story that adds to the legendary characters we remember so well from the novel. Though Sorkin’s spin doesn’t deviate too much from Lee’s original framework, his creative flourishes to dialogue and added character dynamics has made this reimagined classic one of Broadway’s hottest tickets. Tickets are $49-$139. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC;

By M.K. Koszycki

Playwright Dani Stoller Talks World Premiere of Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes DC-by-way-of-Brooklyn playwright Dani Stoller’s original play Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes is a female-forward work coming to Signature Theatre in Shirlington from February 18 to March 29. Stoller’s piece is part of the Heidi Thomas Writer’s Initiative, which presents world premieres by female playwrights with female directors. We chatted with the up-and-coming playwright to get the lowdown on the play directly from the source and to learn more about what it’s like to work with other talented women in theatre. On Tap: In your own words, what is Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes about? Dani Stoller: It’s actually a love letter to my mom. I think it’s also about the ways that we go about getting pleasure, the kind of risks we take and the consequences of the routes we take to getting that gratified – either in terms of the attention or the sex we want.

child through something that you are so vehemently against [in a] moral space? It initially started as a reconciliation between two lovers, between the husband and wife. It wound up really being about a reconciliation between a mother and her daughter, because they have to understand one another in order for them to fully get healed in that way.

It wound up really being about a reconciliation between a mother and her daughter, because they have to understand one another in order for them to fully get healed in that way.

OT: How much of it was informed by your family, relationships or personal experiences? DS: Originally, a friend of mine wanted an adaptation of The Scarlet Letter and I was like, “I’m going to try and write that.” But it had already been done by some really great writers. So, I decided to try my own version, and we had been talking about affairs. Not that I would ever recommend anyone having an affair, nor do I condone it, but there’s a lot of thoughts that my mother has on sex and intimacy that are very far removed from mine. Specifically, how can you support your

OT: What has it been like working on this play as part of the Heidi Thomas Writer’s Initiative? DS: It’s so cool. They do one new world premiere work by a woman every year, directed by a woman, which I think is awesome. I feel really, really blessed about the director we got – Stevie Zimmerman. She’s amazing. We interviewed a bunch of women and he just kind of just fit the bill on all levels of what we were looking for. I was just like, “Yeah, I think that this woman will kill it at the helm of this very odd little piece.”

Stoller’s Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes runs at Signature Theatre from February 18 to March 29. Tickets are $66. For more information, visit For more on Stoller and her work, visit Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA 703-820-9771; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



Talks New Mus the Best Show

By M.K. Koszycki

wo original songs, a Black Keys cover and a Battle of the Bands competition make up the beginnings of Lavender. Formed originally as a one-time thing between friends and ardent music lovers at American University, their intention was not to get to the level of notoriety they currently possess on the local music circuit. Nevertheless, the band is well-loved for their anthemic indie-pop sound and the affinity they possess for one another, both creatively and personally, that translates beautifully into their music. The four-piece band, made up of Emily Carlson (bass/ vocals), Alli Vega (guitar/backup vocals), Matt Wright (drums) and Trent Burns (guitar), has come a long way since their supposedly one-night-only gig. They caught up with On Tap about their influences, new music, the support the city has given to them and more. On Tap: At the beginning, you were all living in a house together. How did that help or hinder your musical process? Matt Wright: Band practice was super easy [all laugh]. One of us would just go into the extra room that we converted into a practice room and yell for the others, or I would just play the drums. Everyone would come down. It was a different kind of way to experience music, with us all living together. OT: It seems that your incredible closeness to one another is a hallmark of your band. How do you work to translate this to your music? MW: I think it has helped the songwriting process a little bit because it’s gotten to the point where we can read each other super easily. And so when one of us has an idea, it just takes a look from Alli to



know, “We’re not gonna do that.” Alli Vega: [Laughs] I literally knew you were going to say that. I’m the one who can’t hide feelings, ever. So if I like or don’t like an idea, it’s very apparent. OT: You list a ton of influences on your social media. With four band members and diverse tastes, how do you incorporate everything that inspires you into Lavender’s music? Trent Burns: Something that I really appreciate about the band is that I think we all also have various genres or artists that we’re into that are outside of each other’s wheelhouses. I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for indie pop through Alli and Emily’s tastes. AV: I am constantly surprised by what Matt listens to. Matt, you have such eclectic taste in music. Who is that guy from YouTube who is kind of a joke but really talented at piano? MW: Oh, Lewis Cole. He’s a hilarious multi-instrumentalist but he’s also just a bizarre person. I sort of pride myself on my ability to send Alli strange things and say, “Hey, we should do something like this.” OT: You’ve played alongside some incredible local and national acts in a ton of different area venues. Any favorite experiences? All in unison: Opening for Wolf Alice. AV: It was so random. I think that was Trent’s second show with us. We got a phone call that was like, “Hey, Wolf Alice wants you to open!” And Wolf Alice is one of my favorite bands. So going into the venue and it being sold out and for one of my favorite bands - and they were so nice to us - like all of that. I was like, “This is what I want. I want this forever.” Emily Carlson: There’s a small moment that stuck with me. I think

sic, Friendship and w They’ve Ever Played Lavender’s Matt Wright, Emily Carlson, Alli Vega + Trent Burns // Photo: Zoe Hannah


it was a Songbyrd show where a father came up to me and he had a little girl with him who was maybe 9 or 10, and she looked so shy and he was like, “This is her first concert ever and she’s just amazed.” I was like, “Wait a minute, I can do that for someone?” That was such a cool moment of like, “Oh yeah, we do music for us. But we do music because it’s impactful.” OT: I noticed your Instagram bio is “We swear there’s new music coming.” Was that in response to people asking about new music? Alli Vega: The song we’ve been working on, we’ve been working on for well over a year now. We had all these songs we’ve been playing live that were originally recorded last fall to help our friend’s capstone project. I work at a music venue and fall is a busy time of year and Emily’s a teacher, so things kept getting pushed back. All these songs that were new at the time are like a year old and still not out. People who come to our shows are like, “So do you have a recording?” And we’re like, “Yes.” Now we actually do. We have a release date. There’s a single coming out September 6. It’s going to be great. We’re finally there. [The Instagram bio] is mostly for [us] to be honest. We’re holding ourselves accountable.



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Lavender’s new single “Head in the Clouds” will be released on September 6 with an EP to follow. Celebrate its release at Pie Shop with the band on October 20. Tickets are $12, doors are at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more on Lavender, visit Pie Shop: 1339 H St. NE, DC; 202-398-7437;




Photo: Taylor Bonin

The Growlers

Just Keep Going By M.K. Koszycki



The Growlers’ frontman Brooks Nielsen brings up his band being sued – unprompted – several times throughout our conversation. Nielsen, who also tells me at the front of our call that he’s “sweating his ass off in Louisiana,” seems to wear the lawsuit as a badge of honor. The scrappy band, formed in California’s sprawling multigenre DIY scene in 2006, occupies a hallowed space in the music industry. Most attuned to modern music know the band, but they exist in a world of their own creation – sometimes letting big name collaborators in, but always staying true to their intentions. And when a wanton outside influence tried to knock them down, they won. If I found myself in his shoes, I’d be proud, too. At the center of the suit was the name “beach goth,” a term coined by Nielsen and company that he says has always existed as a nickname for the band. In 2012, they made Beach Goth into a full-on festival around Halloween with revelers running around in costumes, enjoying music and watching live performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the beach. “It got a little too big too quick,” he elaborates. “We were working with the promoter, and the guy was a douchebag and kind of just taking his own liberties. He was thinking about money and trying to grow real quick. We figured it out and called his bullshit, and he sued us. There were a lot of learning experiences in the festival world of how this business really works.” But Nielsen says they survived the lawsuit, and have the name and are working to continue it. “Now we have all control, so we’re doing it our way. We just want [to use it for] our own parties again. We get to curate it completely ourselves. It’s been a roller coaster, but it’s still fun ‘cause the kids love it.” From the sound of it, Nielsen loves it too. They returned to another true form recently, self-producing and releasing their upcoming sixth record Natural Affair on their own (you guessed it) Beach Goth Records. Nielsen insists the creative process between him and the only other permanent Growler, guitarist Matt Taylor, and their “secret Growler” collaborator Kyle Malarkey hasn’t changed much since the band’s inception. But eliminating outside influences of some too-bigto-fail names (Julian Casablancas and Dan Auerbach, to name a few) allows them further clarity of voice and vision.

In a world where plenty of bands seem to always be on the prowl to capitalize on whatever zeitgeist of sound has captivated the music press, The Growlers subvert that trap by keeping things pristinely consistent. When it comes to purity of sound, Nielsen is something of a selfproclaimed musical isolationist. Aside from being a voracious reader and trusting his gut when it comes to writing, the frontman doesn’t look to much else for inspiration. This isn’t a bad thing, though. In a world where plenty of bands seem to always be on the prowl to capitalize on whatever zeitgeist of sound has captivated the music press, The Growlers subvert that trap by keeping things pristinely consistent. “We haven’t really progressed that much musically – it’s a slow growth,” Nielsen says of his creative modes. “And I’m still an old grump and I don’t look at anything [or] really listen to anything. I just read a little and try and get as much time in with my people when I’m home. I’m not really affected by the outside world at all. It’s kind of still in that same zone.” Despite his reluctance to allow his creative bubble to be permeated by outside influences, literature remains at the center of Nielsen’s process, serving a twofold function: helping him to craft the observant, poetic if sometimes dark lyrics (where the beach goth ethos comes into play) and keeping him sharp during marathon tours. “When we’re on the road, we get really stunted. It’s six guys and boredom and drinking too much [while] confined in small quarters. You start turning into a child again. It helps spring my creativity and vocabulary back.” Be it a festival, album or tour, no matter what The Growlers do, it’s all done authentically. There’s something to be said for having trust and total control over your own process, and not letting anyone – not even a lawsuit – sway you from your vision. “It just has to come naturally,” Nielsen says of Natural Affair, but he could be speaking of any one of the band’s endeavors. “We don’t discuss what the record’s going to be, what it will sound like or what style we should go for. It just feels taboo. [We have this] kind of gradual, slow growth that people can accept. It’s not too much of a jump [from] the shark.” The Growlers play the Black Cat on Friday, September 13. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $35. For more on the band and Natural Affair’s fall release, visit Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP



By Amanda Weisbrod

Cha Wa’s J’Wan Boudreaux and Joe Gelini // Photos: Erica Goldring

t starts with a needle and thread. “You have to want to sew to be an Indian – that’s the key rule,” says J’Wan Boudreaux, lead singer of Cha Wa, a Mardi Gras Indian brass band from New Orleans. To truly join a tribe, one has to sew his own suit adorned with colorful feathers, beads and patches. Each suit represents the soul of its creator, its wearer. That’s why Boudreaux stitched images of dream catchers, Native Americans and the tools with which they hunt on to his own. “Everybody has their own personal connection to their suit,” he says. “My connection is more spiritual because of all of my patches. We all pick our own patches, and I’m feeling this way.” Cha Wa, translating to “We’re comin’ for ya” in Indian dialect, digs deep to honor its ancestral roots in their latest album Spyboy, which earned the group a 2018 Grammy nomination in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category. The six-piece jazz group is taking the stage at the 29th annual Rosslyn Jazz Fest on September 7 to bring a little Mardi Gras magic to the District. Boudreaux shares that the concept for the Grammy-nominated album came from his own personal growth as a vocalist, but the title of Spyboy itself represents the position he holds in his tribe the Golden Eagles.



“Spyboy is the eyes of the tribe,” he says. “I lead the way along the parades, and I’m the one that makes sure we’re going where we’re supposed to go. At one point throughout this album, I stepped up – it was now or never. Everybody had a hand in the album, but it’s about my personal experience.” Boudreaux says his grandfather Monk Boudreaux, who is the Big Chief of the Golden Eagles, has been a source of inspiration and guidance to him since he was about two years old. Monk is a musician himself and was once a vocalist and conga player for the Wild Magnolias, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe that heavily influenced Cha Wa. Joe Gelini, Cha Wa’s drummer and founder, used to play percussion with Big Chief Monk in the Wild Magnolias. But in 2014, he officially decided to break off and create his own group. He pulled J’Wan into the project and Cha Wa was born. “I was fascinated with the music and the culture and art of Mardi Gras Indians,” Gelini says. “As a drummer, I was particularly intrigued because the rhythms are prominent force in New Orleans music. I was hooked.” The tradition of Mardi Gras Indians stems back to the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, when black men first dressed as Native Americans during the Mardi Gras parade to pay homage to the natives who helped so many slaves escape to freedom.

It’s about informing people about the culture and not just the music. Today, Mardi Gras Indian tribes continue the tradition of honoring both their Native American and enslaved African American ancestors by parading down the streets of New Orleans and performing the music that is unique to this region and group of people. “It’s [about] informing people about the culture and not just the music,” Boudreaux says. “We talk about slaves trying to escape with the Native American Indians, and from them showing us their ways, that’s where we get our singing, dancing and music. We’re saying, ‘Thank you.’” Gelini says he’s excited to share the Mardi Gras Indians’ music and culture with the District this fall because of the city’s own unique go-go music scene, which the drummer compares to New Orleans brass bands. “We’re going to bring the New Orleans street parade to the stage,” he says. “We’re performing songs from Spyboy and some new stuff including a new single, ‘Wild Man,’ which will be released before we perform at Rosslyn Jazz Fest.” Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, says she’s looking forward to the “diverse and powerful acts” featured at the festival this year – including Cha Wa. “Year after year, we’ve seen an increasing enthusiasm for New Orleans bands and the great energy they bring, and we believe Cha Wa will continue to build on this tradition,” Burick says. “They’re extraordinary artists who really reflect the spirit of the festival by performing social music that sparks excitement and interactions amongst festival goers.” On his last words considering Mardi Gras Indians, sewing elaborate suits and performing at the Rosslyn Jazz Fest, Boudreaux had this to say: “Cha Wa means we’re comin’ for ya.” Don’t miss the 29th annual Rosslyn Jazz Fest on Saturday, September 7 from 1-7 p.m. Go to for more information on the festival, and to to learn more about Cha Wa. Rosslyn Jazz Fest at Gateway Park: 1300 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA;



By M.K. Kosyzcki

Christelle Bofale

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 Benjamin Francis Leftwich While this young English artist may have landed on your radar for his hauntingly beautiful covers of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” and The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” don’t sleep on his original music. Although Leftwich does craft tracks you could easily drift off to, I promise that’s a compliment. Hearing his dreamy, ethereal folk live is the perfect way to usher in the cozy months of fall. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $17. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC Jennifer Hudson and the National Symphony Orchestra Since sweeping America during the third season of American Idol, Jennifer Hudson’s star quality has been undeniable. See the singer and actress in a new light this summer. Led by National Symphony Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins, this unique take on Hudson’s work will offer listeners the opportunity to enjoy Hudson’s talent and the NSO’s beautiful arrangements against the stunning backdrop of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; Jenny Lewis Jenny Lewis is perhaps best known as part of the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, but her solo career is equally prolific. Lewis comes to The Anthem with songs from this year’s critically acclaimed and all-around excellent On The Line in tow. Her alt-folk tunes and acerbic lyrics have already solidified her as one of the best musicians of a generation. Here’s a fun fact to tide you over until you see Lewis in the flesh: Did you know she starred in the 80s comedy Troop Beverly Hills? Truly a



woman of many talents. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40. Show at 8 p.m. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; Queen of Jeans Underneath the sun-soaked sounds of this trio are some intense, introspective and healing lyrics, making for a listening experience that’s equal parts cathartic and calming. Late last month, the band released their second album If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid, a continuation of their fresh-but-retro sound. For the ultimate introduction to the group, start with the album’s lead single “Only Obvious to You,” a captivating breakup song, and dive into the rest of their catalogue from there. Doors at 7 p.m. , show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 SG Lewis You name a successful alt-pop artist from the past several years, and SG Lewis is most likely a collaborator. The likes of AlunaGeorge, Clairo, HONNE and more have turned to the British DJ, songwriter and producer to give them the edgy and atmospheric sound that established his star power. He definitely doesn’t need the help of other artists - it’s more a relationship where they bring out the best in each other - and his solo work is similarly affecting and catching. He’ll appear live in DC, not just as part of a DJ set, which means you’re in for a treat, as Lewis has a gorgeous voice of his own. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets begin at $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;

Katie Alice Greer



Banks Genre-bending crooner Banks took several years off at the height of her career to truly hone in on writing and recording new music, leading up to the release of this year’s record III. Feeling burnt out from a grueling tour schedule around her first two records, her retreat to solitude and creativity allowed her to perfect her craft and return with what Pitchfork called her “best album to date.” Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

Bloc Party Sure, there has been a whole slew of bands announcing anniversary tours around their best albums over the last 10, 15 or even 20 years. But Bloc Party is playing its iconic record Silent Alarm in full on this tour, an album that’s not only the group’s best, but arguably the seminal work in the pantheon of bands producing explosively good records throughout the early 2000s. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC;

The Messthetics While The Messthetics were somewhat born of the ashes of the everrelevant Fugazi (drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally were both members), they’re joined by fellow DC denizen Anthony Pirog on guitar to create a sound that epitomizes the local DIY spirit but still keeps it innovative. To celebrate the release of their forthcoming record Anthropocosmic Nest, they stop by the Black Cat, a venue as important to the local scene as each of Messthetics’ members. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 Seratones Rock and motown have always been inextricably linked, but Shreveport, L.A.’s Seratones have perfected the blend for the modern age on their sophomore album, Power. Power is right, as you’re instantly taken in by frontwoman AJ Haynes’ captivating voice, layered perfectly with the rest of the four-piece band’s gritty instrumentation. Wrapped up in production courtesy of Cage the Elephant’s Brad Shultz, the breakout band has entered an exciting new chapter in what’s sure to be a long career. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 KAG + Sir E.U Katie Alice Greer, of local post-punk outfit Priests and Sister Polygon Records, has stated on Twitter that she plans to debut new solo material at this show. While Greer has released work outside of Priests as far back as 2015 (including recording her own take on The Dixie Chicks’ Fly), anyone itching to hear what’s next to come from Greer’s ever-expanding body of work won’t want to miss this show in the Black Cat’s Red Room. Greer is joined by another notable name in the DC music world, Sir E.U, whose transcendental take on rap is not to be overlooked. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 Marina You might know this Greek-English singer from when she still recorded under the name Marina and the Diamonds. Now that she’s dropped the diamonds from the stage name, the pop star born Marina Diamandis has ushered in a new era for herself as an artist. She’s touring around not one but two albums she released this year (Love and Fear, respectively) and although one can hope for some old bops to be thrown into the mix, I’m excited to see what this new name and era looks like for one of the most interesting musicians of the decade. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; | SEPTEMBER 2019 | ON TAP


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 Ezra Bell Portland’s Ezra Bell sounds very much like they are from Portland. While their musicianship is masterful, their devil-may-care ethos of combining almost every genre under the sun is something that could most certainly only have generated from the cool and carefree Pacific Northwest. If your music taste skews to the classics of the 60s and 70s, this is not a band to sleep on. Instead, head to Gypsy Sally’s and dance through your Wednesday night. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC;




Ride After a notable split at the height of the UK’s shoegaze scene in the 90s saw each member of Ride off to their own endeavors (most notably, bassist Andy Bell joining Brit-pop legends Oasis), it was unclear if the group would ever produce new work in the future. Two reunions and many years later, they’re not only back together, but releasing new music as well. Perhaps their reunion could be credited to the increased interest in shoegaze from modern artists, or maybe Ride has just been itching to release new music. No matter the reason, don’t miss some of the pioneers of the genre live. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $35. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC:

Oh Land Nanna Øland Fabricius takes her stage name, Oh Land, as a variant of her middle name. The Danish musician contributes to the brand of icy pop that the region is known for. Her 2019 album Family Tree marks her first album in five years. She’s been busy in the interim, though, starring alongside Mads Mikkelsen in the Danish Western movie The Salvation, composed music for ballet and became a mom. With a background in dance and stage performance, her live show is sure to be a vibrantly good time. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC;


Tasha + Christelle Bofale Two of Father Daughter Records’ finest signees on the same bill? I can hardly think of a better way to spend your Sunday. Tasha is a musician and poet from Chicago who crafts warm, dreamy songs about the beauty of black love. Christelle Bofale, who is Congolese and hails from Austin, Texas uses her rich family heritage to inform her guitar driven songs. Here, you’re presented with the opportunity to hear two voices who will inevitably do even bigger things in the coming years, so clear your schedule. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC;

Frankie Cosmos Earlier this month, Frankie Cosmos (née Greta Kline) released the whopping 21 track long Close It Quietly, a welcome continuation of the confessional, poem like songwriting that’s made her a go-to voice in the indie rock scene. While I couldn’t complain if Kline played all 21 new songs on this tour, here’s to hoping we hear the old stuff that put Kline on the map, too. For more on Close It Quietly, read assistant editor Trent Johnson’s interview with Kline at Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;



Cosmo Sheldrake Cosmo Sheldrake is an incredibly whimsical artist. So whimsical, in fact, that I’d be willing to bet if a quirky sort of for kids, but mostly for adults movie like Where The Wild Things Are were made today, he’d be the first choice to score the film. Case in point: his most popular song, “Come Along,” unironically refers to a “heffalump,” of Winnie the Pooh fame. Because of all this, Sheldrake’s electro-folk sensibilities and nonsensical, improvisational style provide the perfect music to get lost in. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC;

Generationals Even if you’ve never heard of Generationals, you’ve probably heard their retro pop sound in a commercial or soundtrack without even realizing it. Sleeper hits like “TenTwentyTen” and “Put a Light On” certainly have a cinematic quality about them. The duo’s new record, Reader as Detective, shows off their evolving sweet but jangly sound into something still modern, always exciting and ready to soundtrack at least the next several year’s worth of movies and TV shows. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Whitney Generating from the dissolution of garage rockers Smith Westerns, Whitney takes some of those same influences but spins their sound into something completely their own. Add some blues and folk sounds to the aforementioned jangly nature of rock they’ve been known to play, and you have the makings of a sound that may not make sense on paper but is incredible in practice. The band tours around their new album Forever Turned Around, released last month, which they’ve been quoted as saying to DIY Magazine deals with topics “fear, confusion, and substance abuse.” Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC:



Sir Babygirl I became familiar with Sir Babygirl, AKA Kelsie Hogue, as an incredibly hilarious and endearing comedic personality on the internet before I ever even heard her music. When I realized she was making music born out of my early 90s, Lisa Frank power-pop fever dreams, in addition to being the funniest queer person on the web, I was fully indoctrinated into the cult of Sir Babygirl. You should join this fun and fluid pop revolution. Consider her live show your baptism. Doors at 7 p.m. Show’s at 8 pm. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC;

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September 2019