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Posted at 5:46 PM ET, 04/29/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

It's Cinco de Mayo weekend, so there are parties, margarita deals and mariachis galore, but don't miss a benefit for Mt.Pleasant fire victims, a DJ battle and happy hour at the Phillips Collection, the "Booze for Boobs" fundraiser, an Oscar de la Hoya fight-watching party and a 24-year-old New Englander whose voice seems to come from a long-lost Stax 45.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Monday | Tuesday

Wednesday April 30
People are still feeling the effects of the March fire in Mt. Pleasant that left 200 people searching for new homes, at least temporarily. There's a benefit show tonight at La Casa, and in instances like this, the quality of the bands is secondary. Still, there are some quality local acts on the bill including woozy folkies Kitty Hawk, Headcoatees-soundalikes Sugarcane Crawl and the always energetic Ra Ra Rasputin. Also: Fever, Us Royalty, Wild Fictions and the Coats. All donations go to Neighbors' Consejo, an organization aiding fire victims.

The description of the Moaners (listen) on the show flyer sitting on a table in the Black Cat's Red Room is just too perfect not to quote: "If Sleater-Kinney and Mary Timony had a baby named Lightning Johnson." That one line does a great job of capturing the different sides of the North Carolina duo's sound, which is equally informed by post-riot grrl sounds and the Delta blues traditions. Last year's "Blackwing Yalobusha" was a woozy, slide-guitar heavy romp through rocked-up blues tunes, but you really need to hear these songs live. Drummer Laura King can wail away with enough power to make you forget there are only two people on stage.

Thursday, May 1
The first of May is a double holiday in France: Residents will be celebrating May Day by handing out lilies of the valley for good luck, and probably celebrating Labor Day -- Le Fete de Travail -- with strikes and hopefully a march or two. May 1 is a government holiday in France, but thankfully the organizers of the Alliance Francaise's happy hours aren't taking the day off. Instead, they've organized the latest Soiree Carte Blanche at the Phillips Collection, showing artsy French videos and offering tours of the museum's exquisite collection of French paintings at 6:30 and 7:30. There's free food and a cash bar, and as usual, a DJ will spin electronic dance music for most of the night, but guests can bring their iPods and spin a three-song set. The best one -- as judged by the audience -- wins memberships to both the Phillips Contemporaries and the Alliance. Admission is $10 in advance from francedc.org or $12 at the door; members of the Phillips or the Alliance Francaise pay $4 less.

Cinco de Mayo isn't until Monday, but some people just can't wait to get the party started. At Costa Verde, a weekly salsa gathering spot in Clarendon, local salsa hotshots Sin Miedo (listen) are augmenting DJ Andy's dance floor-filling mix. There's a lesson for beginners from 7:30 to 8:30, and intermediate students can get their pointers from 8:30 to 9:30. Admission -- including lessons -- is $10 before 9 and $12 after.

While Washington's underground hip-hop and soul movements continue their grind towards recognition, Aniekan Udofia works in parallel in the visual arts world, often lending his brush to the musicians' album art and creating pieces on the spot at events as part of the AM Radio collective. Udofia's portraits have gotten placement in hip-hop magazines such as XXL as well as on murals around the city. His work borrows from grafitti art and surrealism, and it often touches on themes of social injustice. Tonight at Bossa, he's showing a collection of new pieces available for sale. Veteran hip-hop scene anchor DJ Eskimo will provide the tunes and possibly a microphone for surprise guests who might stop by to rock an impromptu verse or two.

Friday, May 2
Tonight's Cinco de Mayo highlights:
* The Hispanic Bar Association, the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs are among the groups sponsoring a Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour at Ultrabar. Arrive early for free food, and beer and tequila specials; stick around for three floors of dancing and live entertainment, ranging from Mariachi Las Americas to modern DJs.

* There's a mini-bar crawl called Dos De Mayo taking place among five bars near the intersection of 19th and M streets NW, including Porter's, Rumors and the Madhatter. Pay a $5 cover at any participating bar and get drink specials at the others, including $2 Miller Lites and $3 Jose Cuervo margaritas, plus food specials and cheesy seasonal giveaways like sombreros and shot glasses.

* Take introductory salsa classes at Cecilia's, one of our favorite salsa clubs, then put your newfound skills to the test during a dance contest. The evening, organized by the Pros in the City group, also features live music by Sin Miedo and food and drink specials until 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance from prosinthecity.com.

You can't get much further apart than New Wave and No Wave. While the former movement apparently included everyone from the Talking Heads and Elvis Costello to Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran -- David dubbed it "punk with keyboards instead of guitars and makeup instead of missing teeth" -- the latter was a New York-based avant garde scene that was more about art than top 40 singles, often abrasive and atonal, using droning, overdriven guitars as texture and rejecting hook-filled melodies in favor of angst-driven lyrics. Despite its anti-mainstream stance -- No Wave's formation was in part a reaction to the growing commercialism of punk -- you can hear echoes of groups like Suicide, Theoretical Girls and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in bands like Sonic Youth, Liquid Liquid and ESG, which eventually filtered down to contemporaries like the Rapture, Mogwai and even the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Arlington resident Marc Masters recently penned an exhaustive, engaging and eminently readable book on No Wave, helpfully titled "No Wave," which interviews many of the key players and reproduces rare flyers and photos. He'll be talking about the genre tonight at Crooked Beat Records at 7 p.m. Afterwards, Masters heads up to We Fought the Big One at the Marx Cafe, where he'll be spinning tunes at one of the area's most interesting (and resolutely non-commercial) DJ nights.

You can tell the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Komen Race for the Cure are on the horizon. Last week, we had the annual Babes for Boobs bachelor/bachelorette auction, which benefited the organizers' Avon Walk team. This weekend, it's the annual Booze for Boobs fundraiser at Bridges. Get those images of Mardi Gras (mostly) out of your head: This is an enjoyable night of bachelor and bachelorette date auctions, drinks and dancing to raise money for the Race for the Cure. The team is raffling off its own members as well as friends; each participant comes with a gift certificate for a dinner-date at a local restaurant. Tickets are $1, and you can buy as many as you'd like. (See the babesforacure.com page for photos of your potential future soulmates.) There will also be special pink cocktails, pink shots and a pink bead contest -- collect the most to win prizes. DJs spin hip-hop and top 40 music all night. Doors open at 9, and the $5 cover goes to charity.

Saturday, May 3
Tonight's Cinco de Mayo Highlights:
* The annual Cinco de Mania Fiesta at the Clarendon Ballroom will have two huge lines: One to get into the building, where local rock bands Everyone But Pete (listen) and Karma Elektra (listen)will be performing, along with party DJs Lil' Fos and Rene, and another to get up to the always-packed rooftop deck. Arrive early: Admission is free from 6 to 7 and $5 afterward, eventually increasing to $15. "Fiesta-style" attire, including sombreros, is suggested.

* Austin Grill at Rockville Town Square is hosting a day-long party with rock and alt-country bands performing indoors and out. On the patio, there will be music from noon to 8 with the Guzzlers, the Joint Chiefs, Justin Trawick Group, Everyone But Pete and Justin Jones & the Driving Rain. The party moves back in at 9:30 for honkytonk and old-school country from J.B. Beverley & the Wayward Drifters. There's no cover.

* Is there some rule that Oscar de la Hoya has to fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend? Tonight's pay-per-view bout with former "Contender" contestant (and Super Featherweight champ) Stephen Forbes probably won't be as entertaining as last May's De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather matchup, but it should be good practice for the Golden Boy, who's facing Mayweather again in September. Anyway, Buffalo Billiards will be showing the fight on dozens of HD screens -- including several projection models -- and serving Cinco de Mayo drink specials, including $3 Corona and Modelo beers. There's no cover.

Besides Cinco de Mayo and Gold Cup, this weekend also brings us the Kentucky Derby. We'd love to tell you why we're putting our $2 on Big Brown (or Pyro and Gayego for an exacta), but let's just skip to the mint juleps, shall we? The annual Bonnets and Bow-Ties Kentucky Derby Party at the Willard Hotel's Round Robin Bar serves one of the finest cocktails in town, and it draws a crowd dressed for the occasion and ready to sing "My Old Kentucky Home" before the post. Admission is on the pricey side at $49 per person, but that includes two mint juleps made with Henry Clay's 19th-century recipe (and served in this year's official Kentucky Derby glassware) and a full buffet spread with baked ham, coleslaw, potato salad and Derby pies. True to the party's name, there's a contest for the best hats and bowties, with plenty of prizes.

Although known for his weekly underground hip-hop parties that energized the city a couple of years ago and backing up Head-Roc on stage, DJ Eurok (listen) has party-conducting skills that go beyond the uprock and the head nod. He explored downtempo styles on his solo release "Self Realization," but at Eighteenth Street Lounge tonight he'll crank it up into funk, breaks and Latin territory. While normally quite welcome, EPMD requests probably won't fly tonight unless Eurok can pull from his collection of obscure, white-label hip-hop remixes.

When the Brightest Young Things crew decides to throw a party, they really throw a party. To celebrate the relaunch of their Web site, the group has organized a giant throwdown in the sprawling space that will be the home of Artomatic less than a week later. The event kicks off at 6 with a show of works by BYT's contributing photographers, with music provided by Geologist, the sampler/mixer/electronic noise artist of innovative hipster favs Animal Collective. The focus switches to live music at 8, as locals Video Hippos, Food for Animals (listen), Apes (listen) and the Dance Party (listen) take the stage, followed by DJ sets from Disco City's discoriffic Chris Burns and BYT resident Cale. A $10 "donation" is requested at the door, and the dress code is ... well, look your best, whether that's day-glo jackets or stylish '60s dresses. Only caveat: RSVPs are required in advance, so you have to e-mail RSVP@brightestyoungthings.com if you want to attend.

Today is Conor Underwood's lucky day. You may not think so from reading about the little boy, who was recently diagnosed with a fatal form of muscular dystrophy, but his parents are hoping that, through raising funds and awareness, they can help find a cure within their son's lifetime. Stop by Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle between 3 and 7 to listen to Irish music, watch some dancing and bid on items in a silent auction. Half of the proceeds will go to the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, while the rest is earmarked for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which seeks to improve treatment and quality of life for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Sunday, May 4
Here's one act where nobody in their right mind will be able to lob that tired accusation of D.C. audiences not dancing at shows. Stars of the Lid (listen) don't make music for dancing or really even standing. Iota might want to provide cots, or at least fluffy rugs for the Austin, Tex., duo's performance. Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride create slow-as-molasses soundscapes that drone on and on but in beautiful ways. A single bass note might be all that distinguishes a three-minute long passage, but the pair are master manipulators of their ambient sounds. It's closer to classical music than any sort of rock music, and this is one show that you have to hope won't be overrun by the usual Iota Chatters. The equally dreamy Christopher Willits (listen) and Hammock (listen) open.

Monday, May 5
Por fin, hoy es Cinco de Mayo!
Let's just run down your options:
* Austin Grill of Silver Spring is throwing a family-friendly block party, closing down Ellsworth Drive and putting a stage in the middle of the street. Highlights include live mariachi music, salsa performances and free dance lessons. Kids can go to one area for face painting, games and arts and crafts, while older folks can chill in Austin Grill's special Mexican beer garden -- the restaurant's patio is being extended 60 feet for the day. At 9 p.m., the party moves back inside, where a number of the Grill's regular performers will take turns performing short "showcase" sets on stage. There's no cover all day.

* Cafe Citron loves to poke fun of stereotypes on Cinco de Mayo. Two years ago, revelers got a free shot of Jose Cuervo at the door if they yelled "Viva Mexico!" and got free chips and salsa if they did a Speedy Gonzales impression. Last time around, it was a Mexican costume contest. And for 2008, organizers are asking customers to dress in red, green and white -- the colors of the Mexican flag -- for a free shot of tequila. Guys can also get one by wearing "a big mustache" while women earn drinks for wearing a bikini. (Somehow, we think the top will be fine if you pair it with jeans or a skirt.) Even if you don't dress up for free shots, there are plenty of specials inside to go along with pumping dance music: $5 Jose Cuervo shots or margaritas; $7 Patron and Don Julio tequila shots; $25 margarita pitchers; and $4 Corona bottles.

* Lima's celebration includes all of the usual highlights of Monday night, including an open bar for women from 9 to 11 and free salsa lessons beginning at 9, followed by music to dance to. However, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, everything gets underway at 6 on the restaurant's patio, with two-for-one frozen margaritas all night long.

* We think Caribbean Breeze has one of the best happy hours around ($2.99 beers, $2.99 appetizer plates, $5 mojitos), but it's being jazzed up tonight with a mariachi band, a bar on the lovely patio, special Mexican beers, an expanded menu and models passing out free shooters and tequila shots. Mariachis will play until 8, and then DJs spin all types of Latin music from 10 to 2. There's no cover.

Tuesday, May 6
If you randomly heard a song by Eli "Paperboy" Reed (listen) -- say, "Am I Just Fooling Myself" -- you might think that it was some lost funk/soul 45 from the late-'60s or early-'70s, released on some tiny label hoping to become the next Stax and just recently unearthed by some committed crate digger. The slow-build brass, the soulful, gut-wrenching wailing, the classic fade out -- the song is at least a first cousin to Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)." Reed even has a song called "It's Easier" that begins with the lyrics "I've been loving you for oh so long, yeah / And my love just keeps lingering on." But Reed is no relic; he's one of the most convincing throwbacks we've come across in a long while. How a 24-year-old New Englander has the voice and talent -- let alone the guts -- to make you think of Redding and Sam Cooke is beyond us, but we're not complaining. Like Sharon Jones, he's blessed with a voice that fits perfectly with classic soul, and he creates some stirring songs that sound great on vinyl -- in a nod to his classic influences, he's released a handful of 7" records -- but probably really smoke in a live setting. He's on the road with a seven-piece band, which includes a three-piece horn section, and his show at DC9 could be one of those that people are talking about for a while afterward.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 29, 2008; 5:46 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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