Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for August 2011

Kennedy Center to give away tickets to every show of the 2011-2012 season

August 31, 2011 - 11:30 AM
The Kennedy Center fountain (TBD staff)

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary on Sept. 19, and in honor of the milestone, they're giving away two tickets to every single performance of the 2011-2012 season. The giveaway is open to everyone, and the entry period begins tomorrow, Sept. 1, at 10 a.m.

To be clear, KenCen is giving away two tickets to a different winner for every performance of the season, rather than giving away seats for every show to one person, a la the annual 9:30 Club giveaway. And entrants are able to state a genre preference, so that you won't get stuck with opera tickets if you're a big jazz fan, or vice versa (although "selecting a preference does not guarantee winning in the specified category," according to a press release).

Between tomorrow and Sept. 19, participants can enter online (at beginning tomorrow morning), in person at the Kennedy Center box office, or by phone via Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Everyone who enters will also be eligible to win one of three Grand Prizes: Tickets to the Kennedy Center Honors(!), the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony, or the NSO Season Opening Ball.

The giveaway also marks the launch of MyTix, a program designed to increase access to performances for "young people aged 18-30, the underserved, and members of the armed forces," according to the release. Full text of the announcement is below:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—On Monday, September 19 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate its 40th birthday with a free ticket giveaway. The 40th Anniversary Ticket Giveaway will award two FREE tickets to every Kennedy Center–presented performance taking place throughout the 2011–2012 season. The giveaway also serves as the launch of MyTix, a program designed to increase access to performances for young people aged 18-30, the underserved, and members of the armed forces. Funded by Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and his wife Alice Rubenstein, MyTix is part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program which enables audiences to engage in more ways, at more times, and in more places than ever before.

The 40th Anniversary Ticket Giveaway is open to all. The entry period opens September 1 at 10 a.m. At that time participants will be able to register to win a pair of tickets to a performance in the 2011-2012 season. Participants may enter online by completing an entry form at, in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office, or by phone via Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Patrons will be asked to indicate a genre preference (Theater, Ballet, Dance, Chamber Music, Jazz, National Symphony Orchestra, NSO Pops, Washington National Opera, or Family) although selecting a preference does not guarantee winning in the specified category. All who enter will also be eligible to win one of three Grand Prizes: performance tickets to the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, or the NSO Season Opening Ball. Once the registration period closes on September 19, winners will be randomly selected and then notified by email no later than September 22. Winners will be listed on the Kennedy Center website and will receive their tickets by mail.

For the official rules and regulations of the ticket giveaway visit

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New releases: Lil Wayne, Glen Campbell, Cobra Starship

August 30, 2011 - 03:30 PM

New music to buy/stream/steal

Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV

The Internet says: "Lil Wayne is not yet 29 and has been recording professionally almost exactly as long as West. But he is now, officially, on the other side of greatness." (SPIN)

Watch: The message-driven video for "How to Love," the track that has divided Wayne fans and critics like no other track on Tha Carter IV.

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Baking a birthday cake for Chuck Brown

August 30, 2011 - 11:15 AM
Chuck Brown, who just turned 75. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

Chuck Brown celebrated his 75th birthday with a show at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, and the party included special guest performances (from singer Ledisi, many go-go notables, and others), tons of fans, and a big custom birthday cake for the Godfather of Go-Go, created by Tiffany MacIsaac of Buzz Bakery.

"It was super fun," says MacIssac—who is also the pasty chef behind the beloved 9:30 cupcakes—of making the cake. "I hope he enjoyed it—we really enjoyed making it. My sous chef and I worked on it together. The [9:30 Club's] bar manager called us--they weren't too specific, but they said there's a funk song that refers to D.C. as 'Chocolate City,' so we did a devil's food cake with chocolate buttercream."

The two-tier chocolate cake was decorated with a D.C. skyline on the bottom tier, and musical notes on the top tier, but MacIsaac didn't just duplicate some generic piece of sheet music.

"I imagined the music notes just floating on the top tier, but the bottom tier was so clean and linear--I wanted the top tier to have the same look. So, I looked up some Chuck Brown sheet music," MacIsaac says. "I lifted a bar from the drum beat from 'Bustin Loose.'

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This week's concerts: Mose Allison, Vieux Farka Toure, and Abbey Road on the River

August 29, 2011 - 03:30 PM
Mose Allison is at Blues Alley from Thursday through Sunday. (press photo)

THURSDAY-SUNDAY: Mose Allison at Blues Alley

The blues/jazz pianist/composer, who has been covered by everyone from the Who to the Bangles, is currently promoting his most recent album, 2010's The Way of the World. Thursday through Sunday, two shows (8 p.m. and 10 p.m.) each night. $25.

TUESDAY: Vieux Farka Touré at the 9:30 Club

Vieux Farka Touré is the son of one of the greatest guitarists of all time—Malian musical genius Ali Farka Touré, who passed away in 2006. But the younger musician has earned his own sweet title: "The Hendrix of the Sahara." 7 p.m. doors, $25.

THURSDAY-MONDAY: Abbey Road on the River at National Harbor

Five days of Beatles cover bands in various flavors, plus films, talks, vendors, and other activities for those with an appreciation of all things Fab Four: $35-199.95.

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Virgin FreeFest "Book the Band" voting opens today

August 29, 2011 - 01:34 PM

If you're going to Virgin FreeFest at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 10 and want to have a hand in choosing the opening band on the "WHOOZNXT" stage (or you're a resident of Columbia, Md., and you want to exercise some control over the sort of noise you'll be bombarded with that day), you may be interested in voting in the festival's Book the Band contest.

As in previous years, several up-and-coming bands are competing for an early opening slot on the bill. Ten bands made the finals, and the last round of voting opened today. It should be noted that two of the groups competing for the honor of opening for TV on the Radio and the Black Keys are local: Fairfax's Fourth Quarter Comeback and Ellicott City, Md.'s Clear for Takeoff.

Cast your vote, via Facebook.

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Happy birthday, MJ

August 29, 2011 - 11:45 AM
Michael Jackson (AP photo)

Happy birthday, Michael Jackson—the King of Pop would've turned 53 today. The big annual DJ Dredd MJ birthday celebration took place at the 9:30 Club on Friday night, but there are plenty of other birthday week festivities on deck.

*Tonight at Marvin, DJ Jahsonic presents a special, all-Mike edition of the popular Main Ingredient night. Things get started around 9 p.m. Arrive early to avoid a long line. 2007 14th St., NW. Free.

* Tomorrow night, the regular Up and Up Open Microphone at Liv becomes a special tribute to Jackson, featuring incredible vocalist Maimouna Yousef "and friends." Based on the Up and Up's track record, we're guessing those pals will be some of the best musicians in the DMV. 2001 11th St., NW. 9:30 p.m. Free before 8 p.m., $10.00 after.

* Thanks to last week's earthquake, the Scenario DJ night's special MJ tribute (another Jahsonic production) at the Topaz Hotel Lounge was postponed—the rescheduled date is tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30, at 1733 N Street, NW. 5 p.m. Free.

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Weekend events, canceled and ongoing, as Hurricane Irene blows through

August 26, 2011 - 12:50 PM
MLK memorial
This statue is going to get wet. (Photo: Joshua Yospyn)

In D.C., where people forget how to drive in rainy weather and flee their buildings when there's a little earthquake, it's only natural we're freaking out over Hurricane Irene. The Category 2 hurricane, the strongest storm to hit the East Coast in seven years is scheduled to barrel into town late Saturday — it's already terrifying astronauts.

The Full Democracy and Freedom march will have to wait, along with a slew of other events.

Sunday's MLK Memorial dedication ceremony on the National Mall is postponed until a later date in September or October — this monument's debut is just not going as planned.

The Silopanna Music Festival at Anne Arundel Fairgrounds on Saturday, with headliners Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Matt & Kim, and Fitz and the Tantrum, is canceled indefinitely over concerns of strong winds posing a danger to the stage.

Columbia Heights Day at Harriet Tubman Elementary Field on Saturday, where organizers were determined to brace the storm, is now canceled. A release said, "[I]t saddens us to say, due to circumstances beyond our control, the 5th Annual Columbia Heights Day Festival is canceled. Many of the companies and services that we rely on to present the festival are unable to perform their contracted duties for us, due to the potential of extreme weather." UPDATE 2:53 P.M.: Several vendors of comestibles in Columbia Heights -- Meridian Pint, Red Rocks, Room 11, and Wonderland -- will offer drink specials from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday. Columbia Heights Day T-shirts will be available.

The posh invite-only MLK Gala Dinner, originally to be held in the National Building Museum is now moved to the Washington Convention Center, after the building sustained damage from Tuesday's earthquake (the Lego buildings there took some hits, too!). The Hip Hop Caucus show at 9:30 will continue as well (UPDATE 3:23 P.M.: No it won't, it's been canceled), as will "MLK: A Monumental Life" at Constitution Hall.

Parrotheads furious about Jiffy Lube's new no-tailgating policy will be left to fantasize about how the Man was going to confiscate their booze in 70 mph winds at this weekend's Jimmy Buffett concert? Sadly, the event's now postponed until Sept. 1.

UPDATE: 3:15 P.M. Busboys and Poets has canceled Saturday's event "Music in the Movement: A Soulful Evening with Ayanna Gregory." The singer (and daughter of activist Dick Gregory) was supposed to perform at the 14th and V, NW location; the venue said the show will be rescheduled.

UPDATE 3:18 P.M.: The Joe Pernice show at Jammin' Java has been canceled, apparently.

UPDATE 3:50 P.M. The Morehouse College tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., scheduled to take place at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, has been postponed. ALSO: The Corcoran Gallery of Art will close at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 28, and reopen on Wednesday, August 31, according to a press release. Don't freak out, though—the gallery is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

UPDATE 4:21: Artisphere will be closed this weekend.

UPDATE 5:28: Rams Head Group has canceled most of its weekend offerings: Tonight's Larry Graham show at Rams Head On Stage, tomorrow's John Prine concert at Pier Six Pavilion and N’Dambi show at Rams Head On Stage, and Sunday's Jessica Lea Mayfield concert at Rams Head On Stage have all been postponed.

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Befriend a GWU student, see Girl Talk for free

August 25, 2011 - 01:00 PM

Campus concerts at George Washington University (unlike at, say, Howard University) are, more often than not, for students only. So, it's no big surprise that the school's 2011 Fall Fest is closed to the public.

The annual festival will take place on Sept. 4 on the University Yard, and, as the GW Hatchet reported this morning, Girl Talk will be the headliner this year.

Although the event is technically a perk intended only for those who are paying the institution's soul-crushing tuition, the George Washington University Program Board, organizers of the event, say there is a loophole: Each student is permitted to bring one non-student guest to the event. Or, if you don't know any G.W. students who'd be willing to get you in, you can always wait for the inevitable Craigslist offers, or just hang out on 21st Street, NW, the day of the show—you should be able to hear just fine.

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Silopanna Music Festival: CANCELED

August 25, 2011 - 11:33 AM

The Silopanna Music Festival, set to take place on Saturday, at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, has been canceled due to concerns about Hurricane Irene, organizers said in a press release.

The Rams Head Productions event was to feature national headliners, including Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Matt & Kim, and Fitz and the Tantrums, along with a slew of regional acts.

Rams Head Group president Kyle Muehlhauser said the biggest concern was the possibility of issues with the stage due to the wind, which was the key factor in a fatal Indiana stage collapse earlier this month.

The festival will not be rescheduled; refunds will be available at points of purchase. Full text of the press release below.

Annapolis, MD August 25, 2011: Due to the potential effects of Hurricane Irene, Silopanna Music Festival promoters, along with the scheduled bands, have decided for safety reasons to cancel the Silopanna Music Festival on Saturday August 27th, 2011.

“We have been watching the weather very closely this week,” said Kyle Muehlhauser, President of the Rams Head Group. “Safety for the fans, bands, staff and volunteers is of the utmost importance. As difficult as this is for me to announce, we feel the responsible move is to cancel the festival.”

According to Muehlhauser, the call to cancel the festival had to be made by 7:30am EST Thursday. “There are a lot of moving parts to a festival this large; bands are flying in from out of town, there are two days worth of stage & lighting to be built and crews are starting to pack up gear in of support the national bands. This decision had to be made by Thursday morning. Our biggest concern is the wind factor; we just don’t want to risk having any issues with the stage.”

The Silopanna Music Festival, sponsored by Rams Head Promotions, 103.1 WRNR, Budweiser, Fordham Brewing Company, b newspaper and Jack Daniels, scheduled headliners Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Matt & Kim, Fitz and the Tantrums, Harper Blynn plus 15 regional bands.

Due to the nature of the festival and the routing of the bands, the festival will not be rescheduled. Refunds will be available at the point of purchase. Tickets purchase through bands will need to be returned to the Rams Head Box Office for a refund. For more information, please call the Rams Head Box Offices: 410.244.1131 or 410.268.4545, follow Silopanna on Facebook ( or Twitter (

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Michael Jackson Slept Here

August 24, 2011 - 01:30 PM

Michael Jackson's birthday is Monday—the King of Pop would've been 53 years old on August 29. And while D.C. will, understandably, be preoccupied with Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial festivities this weekend, there are definitely some tributes taking place.

We'll be rounding up some of the best "Happy b-day, MJ" events later in the week, but right now, can we just take a moment to revisit one of the best D.C.-related Michael Jackson stories of all time? In March of 2004, Del Walters (current Ebony columnist and a former ABC7/WJLA anchor) let Jackson hide out in his Loudoun County, Va., home. Jackson had an event to attend in D.C., and wanted to stay in a private residence, so Walters and his family temporarily relocated to a hotel, and Jackson and a huge entourage moved in, for nine days.

Walters talked about the secret visit only after Jackson's death in June of 2009—he recounted the strange experience in a July 2009 Washingtonian piece, which you can read here.


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MSG's best shows

August 24, 2011 - 12:30 PM
MSG nightclub: Still closed.

MSG's future is uncertain, but it seems that the P.G. County nightclub, shut down by authorities following a fatal shooting earlier this month, will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

The violence that has plagued the nightclub, formerly Le Pearl and, before that, Mad Chef, is undeniably horrible and tragic. Still, whether one believes that the club should be shuttered permanently or not, it's undeniable that some great music was created inside of the Capital Heights storefront over the last decade.

A sampling of just some of the music to come out of shows at the nightclub:

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I Am Music festival set for Sept. 21

August 23, 2011 - 09:30 AM
Tabi Bonney will perform at the I Am Music festival. (publicity photo)

The annual I Am Music festival is technically a hip-hop industry event, created to help independent artists gain media attention and better promote their music. But this year's panel and showcase should appeal to hip-hop insiders and fans alike.

The 2011 I Am Music fest will take place Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, organizers have announced. The evening will feature a beat battle judged by the well-known Florida production team J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, a panel discussion featuring advice from writers from MTV and VIBE, and performances from Tabi Bonney and other D.C.-based artists. Slow bounce go-go crew X.I.B will serve as the house band for the evening.

Tickets are $15, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the GRAMMY Foundation's MusiCares initiative.

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The best Chris Martin videos

August 23, 2011 - 05:00 AM
Chris Martin 'Griffin'
Chris Martin, 'Griffin,' 1980, courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Here is the thing about Chris Martin: He says things like "That's all it is, is," and expresses a desire to fill big spaces with big paintings. Which he then does! Here is another thing about Chris Martin: He is no stranger to online video.

A big reason for that is James Kalm, a pseudonymous artist, art critic, and blogger who's a friend of Martin's. In 2008, Kalm, whose videos' disconcerting signature is his heavy breathing, took viewers on a tour of Martin's Brooklyn studio.

Kalm just posted a video of himself touring "Painting Big," the Martin exhibition up at the Corcoran right now.


There are a number of good moments in this, but my favorite comes at 9 when Kalm goes "on the down-low" to finish his video tour of the exhibition after intervention from a Corc guard.

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This week's concerts: Another Simon & Garfunkel tribute, Alma Tropicalia, Uke Fest

August 22, 2011 - 03:30 PM
If you like Simon and Garfunkel you're kind of in for a treat this week. (AP Photo)

Simon and Garfunkel tribute, Thursday at the Strathmore Music Center

Last summer, D.C. hosted a ton of Beatles tribute concerts. This summer, it seems everyone is covering Simon and Garfunkel. The Birchmere hosted a night of music from the Paul and Art songbook in July; now Strathmore is getting in on the action. More than 60 artists from the area, including Eric Brace, Alan MacEwen, Deanna Bogart, Julia Nixon, Esther Haynes, Ed O’Connell, Margot MacDonald, and Ted Garber, will perform. 7:30 p.m. SOLD OUT.

Alma Tropicalia, Monday at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

Still haven't seen this amazing D.C.-based group perform live? Tonight they will play the music of tropicalia greats such as Tom Zé, Caetano Veloso,Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Os Mutantes for free, at the Kennedy Center, so no more excuses. 6 p.m. (Performance also streams online).

Uke Fest, Wednesday at the Strathmore Music Center

In addition to performances, classes, and general ukulele-inspired merriment, this year's Uke Fest will include a group effort to break the Guinness World Record in the "Largest Ukulele Ensemble" category. The gathering will have to attract more than 850 uke players to the Strathmore in order pull it off, so don't be afraid to join the effort. 7 p.m.

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CNN discovers go-go

August 22, 2011 - 12:00 PM
Chuck Brown recently chatted with CNN. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

An early birthday present for the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, who turns 75 this month — has put together a nice piece on him, and the genre he created.

While the package sticks to the expected go-go talking points — the sound is dependent on percussion and call-and-response, it's unique to D.C., it never went "national" — it's still pretty cool that a CNN camera crew took a trip out to Takoma Station.

Check out the video, featuring interviews with Brown, television host/radio personality Donnie Simpson, go-go fans, and others, below. (H/T Take Me Out to the Go-Go)

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Weekend concerts: Shabba Ranks, Junkyard Reunion, Amel Larrieux

August 19, 2011 - 03:30 PM
Girl, flex: Shabba Ranks is at DC Star tomorrow night.

The Washington City Paper's Ally Schweitzer has called the next seven days "The Worst Week Ever" in terms of live music offerings. And, boy, does she ever make a case. Ke$ha, a Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow double-header, and an "American Idols Live!" show are among the concerts coming to town in the coming week. There are, however, a few good shows hiding beneath the crap. A few weekend gems:

Shabba Ranks (Saturday at DC Star)

Shabba! Unless you're a real die-hard dancehall fan, your first introduction to the reggae sub-genre was probably via this man, who brought a mainstream-friendly version of the slack sound to American radio in the '90s. 9 p.m. doors. $40 admission.

The Junkyard Band reunion (Saturday at the Crystal City Hilton)

Junkyard loves reunions! Hey, any excuse to get the members of the pioneering go-go group together is fine by us. 9 p.m. $30-40.

Amel Larrieux (Friday at the Park)

The bohemian songstress, who was one half of the '90s soul duo Groove Theory, will sing adult contemporary favorites such as "Get Up" and "Gills and Tails" at one of the classiest joints in town. 5 p.m. doors. RSVP to before 7 p.m. for free entry.

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See giant close-ups of Ozzy Osbourne's face on local movie screens

August 19, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Is the world ready for a cinematic look into the mind of rock god Ozzy Osbourne? We will find out next week, when God Bless Ozzy Osbourne screens at movie houses across the country (including six local theaters).

The documentary was produced by Osbourne's son, Jack, and shot by directors Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli over the course of three years. The film includes interviews with Ozzy as he recounts "his troubled youth, his early career with Black Sabbath and the impact of fame and addictions on his first marriage," according to a press release. And for Sabbath fans, there's also plenty of performance footage.

The film screens on Wednesday, August 24 and Monday, August 29 at 7:30 p.m. at three Maryland theaters (the Regal Bowie Stadium in Bowie, the Regal Snowden Square in Columbia, and the Regal Germantown Stadium in Germantown) and three Virginia theaters (AMC Hoffman in Alexandria, Regal Ballston Commons in Arlington and Regal Fairfax Towne Center in Fairfax).

Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at

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This week's concerts: Chris Botti, Identity Fest, The Ebony Hillbillies

August 15, 2011 - 04:00 PM
Chris Botti plays Wolf Trap this week. (publicity photo)

Wednesday: Chris Botti at Wolf Trap

The Washington Times has declared this week "Wolf Trap's Rockin' Week"—pointing to shows from Guster, Chicago, the Beach Boys, and Paul Anka to back up its claim. But perhaps the biggest show of the week—at least among all of the Audi wagon-driving, Chardonnay-sipping folks within a 30-mile radius—is a Wednesday night concert from jazz-pop horn man Chris Botti. 8 p.m. $25-42.

Thursday: Identity Festival at Jiffy Lube Live

Much fuss has been made over the fact that the Identity Festival is the “first-ever touring electronic ONLY music festival." Almost as historic: Getting to see all of those acts —including Kaskade, Rusko, and Ken Aoki—outdoors, in the middle of the afternoon. Gates open at 1 p.m. $74.

Tuesday: The Ebony Hillbillies at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage

Henrique Prince, Norris Bennett, William ”Salty Bill” Salter, Newman Taylor, and Gloria Thomas Gassaway are the Ebony Hillbillies, the only New York City-based black string band, and one of the few black string bands that is still active. Hear them jam with washboards, bones, and banjos at the Kennedy Center, as part of the Millennium Stage series. FREE.

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Chuck Brown to give talk while surrounded by Chuck Brown photos

August 15, 2011 - 10:59 AM
Chuck Brown, turning the tables on photrographer Thomas Sayers Ellis. (Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Sayers Ellis)

If you haven't yet made it to "(Un)Lock It: The Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket," the incredible exhibit of Thomas Sayers Ellis' go-go photographs currently hanging at Southeast's Gallery at Vivid Solutions, this weekend may be a good time to check it out.

On Saturday, August 20, Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go and the subject of some of the photographs on display, will visit the gallery to sign some of Ellis' photographs and be interviewed by artist.

“I’ve interviewed Chuck Brown before and have been in numerous private and public settings over the years with him but interviewing him about his presence as a photographic symbol for a genre of music that he created, well, that’s quite different and a dream come true!” Ellis said in a press release.

Even if you can't make it to the gallery between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday to see Brown, you still have plenty of time to catch the show, which is up until October 7.

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Shuttering nightclubs for violence without shuttering them for violence

August 11, 2011 - 02:45 PM

The troubled Capitol Heights nightclub MSG has been shut down by P.G. County police, following a Monday morning drive-by shooting that left one young patron dead and another seriously injured. As the Washington Post reported this morning, the closing of the business marks the first time the county has shuttered a nightclub using a new dance hall law, passed in July, that beefs up regulation of those businesses (a ban on dancing after 2 a.m. is included in the legislation) and allows the county to close them if they don't comply or are considered a threat to public safety.

The law is yet another weapon in the county's battle to get rid of nightclubs with histories of violence. Closing such clubs, in P.G. County and elsewhere around the country, is something that is difficult to do based solely on the violent acts themselves.

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