Get ready for the downbeat. Washington, D.C., is about to put politics on the back burner as the DC Jazz Fest heats up for another year of great performances. From June 24-29, a thrilling list of artists is scheduled to perform in select venues across the capital city. Washington, D.C. will be tapping its toes to the beat of the best jazz musicians of the day, and you can be tapping your toes right along with them. Here’s the rundown to help you make your plans.
The stages will start swingin’ at the festival hub at The Hamilton Live with Paquito D’Rivera, The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, Snarky Puppy and The Brass-A-Holics, just to name a few. You’ll find the Hamilton at 1600 14th St. NW, in D.C. The beautiful voices of Helen Sung and Tia Fuller will also fill the hall. Plus, there’s a quiet rumor goin’ round that the Roy Hargrove Quintet will swing into action, playing a kickoff concert June 21.
Up from last year’s one night, you’ll see three showcase nights. Stellar performances are on tap by Akua Allrich, Frederic Yonnet, Trombone Shorty, Yasilin Bey (aka Mos Def) and one of the most revered jazz vocalists on stage today, Gregory Porter. The showcase nights will be held at the Capitol Riverfront stage at 355 Water St. SE.
The Jazz Loft Series, courtesy of CapitalBop and East River Jazz, with assists from Twins Jazz and Atlas Performing Arts Center, will get Jazz in the ’Hoods rolling. Partnering with local clubs, hotels, restaurants, museums and galleries, jazz greats will perform over 80 shows, spanning 40 venues, including the National Gallery of Arts Sculpture Garden, the Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, RLife Live at the Renaissance, and Late Night at the Loews Madison. You’ll hear Lafayette Gilchrest, Mark Cary, Allyn Johnson, Corcoran Holt and Matana Roberts, among others.
Pianist, songwriter and producer Cyrus Chestnut will play at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. By the time Chestnut was 9, he was playing at the Peabody Institute. He graduated from Berklee College of Music, having received several scholarships, the Eubie Blake among them. Chestnut and his quartet will perform his Brubeck Reimagined program, a musical romp through scores of Dave Brubeck.
On June 21-22, the National Capital Barbecue Battle will take place on Pennsylvania Ave. between 9th and 14thstreets. There will be a Pitmasters Battle, two sound stages with a great music lineup, and a BBQ Boulevard featuring more than a dozen BBQ booths, each guarding their own great recipe. For another great performance, grab a seat at Noel Coward’s Private Lives through the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The play runs from May 29 through July 13 at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St., NW.
While the focus will undoubtedly be on jazz and the great music heard around the capital, there will be a variety of choices for additional activities. While the Washington Nationals will be playing out of town, it’s still good form to show up at Joe Theismann’s Restaurant to cheer them on. Also in town June 23-29 is the Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Complimentary shuttles will run from the Rock Springs Parking Lot and the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
The Baltimore/Washington One Caribbean Carnival Pan Jam will carry the tune past the jazz festival into June 28-29, with the annual Dimanche Gras costume judging, and entertainment by local steel bands. For yet a little more music, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will present music and dance June 25-29, outdoors on the National Mall. Join 100 ethnic American groups, and participants from 70 nations around the world, as they welcome more than a million visitors to view performances that weave stories through music, craftsmanship, work and words.
You don’t have to be political to join a party in our nation’s capital; you simply have to love jazz. Break out of your routine and put these events down in your calendar to give your summer a great, upbeat tempo with some smooth bars and some sweet ‘n’ savory improv.