Seen and Heard: Happenings Around Town


Seen and Heard: Happenings Around Town Live

Welcome to the Seen and Heard blog! Here you will find information for arts and entertainment news and events. Want to know what is happening at local clubs, museums, theaters and cultural centers? Check back here daily and follow WTOP Entertainment on Twitter: @WTOPEnt

  • Not so fast: Fort Reno concerts could still happen

    WASHINGTON -- There's a chance the cancelled Fort Reno Summer Concert Series could be revived.

    A source close to the situation tells WTOP the National Park Service will meet next week with the concert permit holder to find a reasonable solution.

    The event organizer has failed to get a permit from the National Park Service (NPS) for the shows due to a dispute over payment for security. According to Washington City Paper, the Park Service wanted the organizers to hire a U.S. Park Police officer for every show. But, D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh tells WTOP she might have a workaround.

    "I've been trying to explore whether the National Park Service would accept security via the Metropolitan Police Department," Cheh says. "And then if they would, can I get the Metropolitan Police Department to provide the security."

    Security aside, Cheh wonders whether more issues are at play: "There's a ray of hope, but I don't want people to get too excited until I can figure it out."

    Since 1968, the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series in Tenleytown has provided the public with free entertainment while serving as an incubator for local bands. Musicians don't get paid; rather, they play to get exposure.

    A humble wooden stage on a grassy hill surrounded by trees provides a scenic setting. Positioned on the highest elevation in the city at 429 feet above sea level, Fort Reno protected the capital's northern borders during the Civil War.

    Read the full story here.

  • Fort Reno cancels outdoor summer series 

    WASHINGTON -- The beloved outdoor summer series is grinding to a halt this year after organizers failed to reach an agreement with the National Park Service over a new requirement that at least one park officer be present at each show. 

    The organizers say they reached out to NPS, but the agency was unresponsive. 

    "With the heaviest of hearts the decision is that the concert series will be dark for 2014 in an effort to resolve this for the future," Fort Reno says in a statement. "I hope it goes without saying that this is not the outcome we expected and certainly don’t want."

    Calls to NPS and Fort Reno have not been returned. We will update this story as more information becomes available. 
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival honors Pete Seeger with free concert

    WASHINGTON -- Are you free tonight and like free music? Better, do you like Pete Seeger? 

    If you answered yes to any of the questions, you're in luck! The Smithsonian Folk Festival is honoring the late musician during a free concert Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ngoma Stage. 

    The performance is also in honor of Folklife co-founder Ralph Rinzler, who collaborated with Seeger during his lifetime. 

    See complete details here

  • Folklife Festival to remain on National Mall 

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Park Service says it has reached an agreement with the Smithsonian Institution to keep the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

    The agency announced a new five-year agreement Wednesday that will be signed during the festival's opening ceremony. Some festival supporters have worried new turf regulations on the National Mall would force the festival to relocate elsewhere.

    The agreement calls for the festival to be held on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets for the next five years whenever possible.

    Next year the festival will be held between 3rd and 7th streets on the mall during the second phase of a turf restoration project. The park service says it will work with the Smithsonian to find a suitable location during the turf overhaul.

    Smithsonian Folklife Festival Introduction
    by SmithsonianFolklife via YouTube

  • New 'Hunger Games' teaser released online

    WASHINGTON -- It's hard to believe that another installment of the wildly popular "Hunger Games" franchise is around the corner.
    And yet, here we are. 

    The first trailer for "Mockingjay: Part 1" surfaced earlier this week and features a rather creepy Donald Sutherland as President Snow. 

    Check it out below:

    President Snow's Panem Address - "Together as One" (4K)
    by The Hunger Games via YouTube

  • Katy Perry descends on D.C. in both human and wax form

    WASHINGTON -- Pop princess Katy Perry is performing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Verizon Center in Northwest D.C.

    But fans are clamoring for an early look at the star, whose wax figure is debuting today at Madame Tussauds:  

    • United States

    Weekend Best Bets: BBQ Battle, BrewFest, Outdoor World Cup Viewing

    Mary de Pompa  WTOP News

    All Weekend:

    • The 22nd Annual Safeway Barbecue Battle along Pennsylvania Avenue is non-stop music, family entertainment, cooking demos, interactive exhibits, food and more. For info 
    • Red Bull Volkswagen Rallycross in D.C. turns RFK Stadium into a motocross mecca with live music, entertainment, interactive games and of course dirt, jumps and racing. For info 
    • The Full Moon Festival at the Full Moon Ranch in Berryville, Virginia, is a weekend long family music festival ranging from acoustic, rock, country to jam bands with a little something for everyone including animal rides, hiking, hayrides and more. For info 
    • 7th Annual Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest held in Morven Park just north of Leesburg is a craft beer festival celebrating microbreweries from around the country with tastings, demonstrations, music and a kids zone. For info 
    • Great Scale Model Train Show is at the Maryland State Fairgrounds all weekend with a magical excursion into miniature world layouts transcending time and place complete with a Thomas-themed play area. For info 
    • Disney’s The Lion King at the Kennedy Center has various shows and times all weekend. For info

    Saturday, June 21:

    • The Alexandria Food & Wine Festival transforms Carlyle Square into a festival venue featuring local food, wine and artisans, a children’s corner and live entertainment. For Info 
    • The 8th Annual Clifton Wine Festival features local wineries, foods, arts and crafts, music and kids activities tucked away in the historic town of Clifton, Virginia. For info 
    • DCTV’s Community Day Festival, at Brooks Mansion in Northeast D.C. features bands, comedians, DJs, kids activities and more. For info 
    • Eastport Rockin’ in Annapolis, Maryland, is a homegrown local music festival with three stages, great eats, free kids zone and fun for everyone. For info 

    Saturday Night:

    • Wolf Trap Filene Center host Sing Along With Grease an interactive movie showing that features goody bags filled with fun props to use throughout the event. For info 
    • O Street Museum in Northwest D.C. presents award winning indie folk rockers from the UK, House of Hats. For info 
    • The Hamilton Live hosts premiere jazz trumpeter, Roy Hargrove. For info 
    • The Howard Theatre offers the Afro-punk, four octave range of Alice Smith. For info 
    • 9:30 Club presents a few local favorites with The 9 Songwriter Series. For info 
    • Rams Head Annapolis hosts the contemporary jazz quartet, Fourplay. For info 
    • Jammin' Java presents Stephen Kellogg’s SK Family BBQ with Jon McLaughlin. For info 

    Sunday June 22:

    • Tall Ship Invasion at the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland is family-friendly event with ships sailing a convoy along the Patuxent River and anchoring to re-enactment the Battle of St. Leonard Creek. For info 
    • DC United’s World Cup Viewing Party at the Reston Town Center Pavilion celebrates soccer on the big screens outdoors with food and beverages, entertainment and family zone. For into 

    Sunday Night:

    • Jiffy Lube Live host multi-instrumental folk country mix of the Zac Brown Band. For info 
    • Rams Head Annapolis presents the classic R&B, rock and soul sounds of Marc Broussard. For info 
    • The Hamilton Live presents zydeco showman Chubby Carrier Honey Island Swamp Band. For info 
    • The State Theatre hosts the reformation of Thin Lizzy with Black Star Riders. For info 
    • The Howard Theatre hosts legendary blues master in the Taj Mahal Trio. For info 
    • Jammin' Java presents Negotiations & Love Song: A Songwriters Circle Tribute to Paul Simon. For info
    • Rock n Roll Hotel presents Jolie Holland. For info 
    • Bethesda Blues & Jazz hosts two- time Grammy winner in An Evening with Rickie Lee Jones. For info 

  • See Jimmy Buffett at The Family Drive-In Theatre in Stephens City

    WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Buffett is bringing "Margaritaville" to Virginia Thursday night at the Family Drive-In Theater in Stephens City. 

    Buffett and The Coral Reef Band are livestreaming their two-hour set to 80 drive-in theaters around the country. Doors open at 7 p.m. and there will be live entertainment, including pirates and parrots, limbo contests, water slide, karaoke and, of course, margaritas. 

    The concert will be simulcast live via DIRECTV and through the theater’s digital projection systems to two screens starting at 9:50 p.m. Buffet will be performing at The Coyote Drive-In Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas. 

    Tickets for The Family Drive-In extravaganza are $18. Click here for more.

    by islandboy12 via YouTube

  • Jay Leno wins top comedy honor in D.C.

    WASHINGTON -- Newly retired from "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno is now being awarded the nation's top humor prize for following in the tradition of satire and social commentary of Mark Twain, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Wednesday.

    Leno will be honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a performance by his fellow comedians Oct. 19 in Washington. The show will be broadcast nationally Nov. 23 on PBS stations.

    The award recognizes people who have had an impact on American society through their humor and social commentary.

    "Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime's worth of humorous commentary on American daily life," said Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein in announcing the award. "For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it."

    Read the full story here.

  • AFI Docs kicks off tonight at the Newseum

    WASHINGTON -- Film buffs rejoice. One of the country's premiere film festivals opens Wednesday night with a screening of "Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey" at the Newseum. 

    by TheLipTV via YouTube

    If you don't have tickets to tonight's opening event, check out a full list of screenings at various locations in Maryland and D.C.

    The festival closes Saturday night with a screening of the Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself” followed by a Q&A between WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley and the film’s director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”). We’ll have a preview of that event, and interviews with other at AFI Docs filmmakers Friday morning on

    Life Itself - Trailer #1
    by IGN via YouTube

  • (Courtesy National Building Museum) 

    BIG Maze unveiled July 4 at the National Building Museum

    WASHINGTON -- Before the fireworks kick off this July 4, consider getting lost in a maze. 

    The National Building Museum is unveiling its latest exhibit -- an 18-foot high labyrinth fittingly named the BIG Maze. 

    The plywood structure  is being revealed this Independence Day, just in time for the museum's annual Summer Block Party, which features Sunday concerts, food from local vendors and interactive activities for the whole family. 

    The maze will be on display through September. 

    Click here to watch a livestream of the maze being built. And click here for viewing information. 
  • Disney's 'Frozen' hits the ice, comes to Patriot Center

    WASHINGTON -- Disney on Ice is bringing the lovable tale of Anna, Kristoff and Sven from "Frozen" to the Patriot Center from Oct. 22 to 27. 

    Tickets are now on sale for all dates. 

    From the release:

    "The Academy Award-winning tale will be told live for the first time in this production, capturing the dynamic between two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa.  Anna, a girl with an extraordinary heart, embarks on an epic journey to find her sister, the magical Elsa, who is determined to remain secluded as she finally feels free to test the limits of her powers. Rugged mountain man Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, the lovable and hilarious snowman Olaf and the mystical trolls help Anna along the way in this story about love conquering fear.  Audiences will get to sing along with such musical masterpieces as 'Let it Go,' 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman?' and 'Fixer Upper.'"

    Click here for details.

    Sneak Peek - Disney On Ice presents Frozen
    by Disney On Ice via YouTube

  • Weekend Best Bets 

    By Mary DePompa

    Saturday and Sunday:

    Saturday 5/14:

    Saturday Night:

    Sunday 5/15:

    Sunday Night:

  • Redskins WR Jackson to emcee comedy night in Bethesda Thursday

    WASHINGTON -- Want to meet new Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson? Check out the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club tonight, where Jackson will host a night of comedy.

    The event begins at 7 p.m., with tickets ranging from $25-$45. The lineup for the evening includes Red Grant, Huggy LowDown, Chris Paul, Chris Thomas and Tony Woods.

    Jackson will use the platform to help fight bullying, a campaign he has devoted time and effort to through his foundation.

    For more on how to get tickets for tonight's event, visit
  • Air guitar qualifier takes place this weekend

    WASHINGTON -- Prepare to rock out Saturday at the
    2014 U.
    S. Air Guitar Qualifier hosted by Solly's U Street Tavern in Northwest D.C.

    Participants will fake shred their way through the competition in hopes of advancing to the next round. 

    D.C. native and U.S. Air Guitar runner-up Doug "The Thunder" Stroock will emcee the event. There will also be a special performance by three-time D.C. champion Tommy Fretless. 

    This weekend's  winner and top two runners-up will be invited to compete in the 2014 U.S. Air Guitar Mid-Atlantic Semifinals at the 9:30 Club July 26.

    Click here for complete details.

    Nothing Really Matters: US Air Guitar 2013 Washington DC Opening Number
    by BjornTuroque via YouTube

  • Jeff Bridges serenades Alexandria

    WASHINGTON - The Dude is coming to Virginia. 

    Jeff Bridges and the Abiders will play at The Birchmere Aug. 31. Tickets go on sale Wednesday at noon and start at $89.50. Click here to purchase. 

    Bridges has been playing with the band since 2011, and will co-host this year's Austin City Limits with songstress Sheryl Crow.

    Watch Bridges and John Fogerty perform the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic "Looking Out My Back Door" below: 

    John Fogerty & Jeff Bridges - Looking out my back door
    by decadasderockandroll via YouTube

  • Morrissey reschedules local shows

    WASHINGTON -- Were you excited about seeing the Moz tonight in Baltimore or Wednesday in D.C.

    Unfortunately you will now have to wait until June 24 and 25 for said show now that Morrissey has rescheduled both dates "at the advice of his medical team."

    Morrissey canceled a show in Atlanta last week  and rescheduled an Atlantic City concert after promoters said, “Morrissey and the touring crew have come down with a virus,” according to media reports

    From 9:30 Club:

  • Wolf Trap Previews Summer 2014 Program

    Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

  • Weekend Best Bets
    By Mary DePompa

    Saturday and Sunday: 


    • BowieFest at Allen Pond features family friendly activities, rides, entertainment, art
      & crafts, food and more. For info
    • Rock the Pink Volleyball Festival, at Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, is a flagship event to raise money for breast cancer research that features outdoor volleyball with games, vendors, DJs and more! For info
    • 20th Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival, in historic downtown Manassas, features a family celebration of railroad history with vendors, entertainment, music and a train ride to Clifton with a Frozen Princess. For info

    Saturday Night:

    • IOTA Cafe presents indie rock with Sirsy and Air Traffic Controller. For info


    Sunday Night:

  • 'House of Cards' to hold Season 3 casting call in Md.

    This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, left, and Robin Wright as Clair Underwood in a scene from "House of Cards." (AP Photo/Netflix, Nathaniel E. Bell, File) 
    WASHINGTON --  "House of Cards" fans in the area could have a chance to star in the show's third season.

    The Netflix political drama is looking to fill roles during an open casting call at the Bel Air Armory, 41 North Main St. in Bel Air, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    The Emmy-winning show is looking for "all types, ages, sizes and ethnicities" for union and non-union extras and day player roles.

    Those interested in auditioning should come dressed in a "D.C. political look," bring a headshot/resume and a photo of them in "D.C. black-tie attire."

    There will be a separate line for SAG/AFTRA members. Also, those who have already submitted resumes to be in the third season do not need to attend.


  • Pharrell apologizes for wearing headdress on cover

    WASHINGTON -- Not everyone is happy about the headdress Pharrell is wearing on the cover of Elle UK's July issue.

    The cover shows Pharrell in an American feather headdress.

    The Doug Inglish photographed shoot is drawing controversy and the Native American community is sounding off about his fashion choice.

    Many people took to Twitter to express their anger.

    Read more and see the picutre on and read Pharrell's apology.

  • 'Games of Thrones' book 8 on the way?

    "Game of Thrones" fans may have one more book to add to their reading list.

    Author George R.R. Martin's editor Anne Lesley Groell hinted at the possibility of more than seven books during a question and answer session on Suvudu Universe, according to USA TODAY. 

    The plan now is seven books for seven kingdoms, Groell says.

    "There are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay," Groell wrote.

    Groell said that even she doesn't know when the sixth book will come out.
  • Weekend Best Bets: Jewish Music Festival, ROAMfest '14 

    Mary dePompa, WTOP News

    All Weekend:

    • Herndon Festival is great family fun with rides, vendors, music and a kids zone. For info 
    • 33rd annual Vintage Virginia Wine and Food Festival at Bull Run Park boasts the Commonwealth’s best in wine, food and music with chef demos, food trucks and kids activities. For info 
    • Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown celebrates one of America’s most enduring musical forms all weekend. For info 
    • Washington Folk Festival held annually at Glen Echo Park offers diversity in traditional music for the family with musicians, storytellers, dancers and craftspeople all for free. For info 
    • Washington Green Festival at the Convention Center is a vibrant dynamic marketplace with demonstrations and activities for all to learn to how to live, work, play and design green. For info 
    • UniverSoul Circus at Capital Plaza in Maryland has various shows and times all weekend. Family packs available. For info 

    Saturday, May 31:

    • Springfield Days Festival at South Run Park,Virginia,  is a community celebration with a PetFest, car show and a screening of "Frozen." For info 
    • Cheverly Day at Cheverly Town Park, Maryland, is great family fun with games, music, vendors and fireworks at dusk. For info 
    • Maritime Model Expo at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's is a day of demonstrations and exhibits, live music, family activities and more. For info 
    • Annapolis Greek Festival celebrate the culture with the family through traditional music, dance and food. For info 

    Saturday Night:

    • The Howard Theatre hosts the reggae stylings of Tarrus Riley. For info 
    • Hill Country BBQ Live presents Austin’s own Graham Wilkinson. For info 
    • Rams Head in Annapolis presents the classic rock sound of UK’s World Party.
      For info 
    • The Lincoln Theatre presents the alt-rock of the Eels with Chelsea Wolfe. For info 
    • Gypsy Sally’s offers the gospel stylings of The Lee Boys with the Watt Brothers. For info 
    • Bethesda Blues & Jazz featuring D.C.’s own Tom Principato Band with Horns. For info 

    Sunday, June 1:

    • First Sunday Arts Festival in downtown Annapolis is a family-friendly street
      festival, art market, craft fair with entertainment all rolled into one. 
      For info 
    • Strawberry Jubilee in Bluemont, Virginia, is great old fashioned family fun with music, farm contests, pie eating contest and diaper derby. For info

    Sunday Night:

    • Washington Jewish Music Festival begins at D.C.’s Jewish Community Center with an acoustic evening featuring Matisyahu. For info
    • The Birchmere hosts ROAMfest '14, featuring kids between the ages of 10 and 16 performing old and new songs. For info 
    • Rams Head Annapolis presents Kristian Bush of Sugarland with Ashley Forrest. For info 
    • Jammin' Java hosts a night of pop with Against the Current with King the Kid, Once Upon a Time and Just Another Scene. For info 
    • The Hamilton Live presents the alt-rock of Spanish Gold with Northern Faces. For info 
    • The State Theatre presents the premiere Rush tribute band, Blame It On Canada. For info 
    • Bethesda Blues & Jazz host on of Billboard’s most influential vocal groups in
      pop music history,
      The Flamingos. For info 
    • Gypsy Sally’s present CMA song of the year winner, Gretchen Peters. For
    • Sixth and i, NW hosts singer-songwriter Tom Gross. For info 
  • Kids become rock stars at The Birchmere

    WASHINGTON -- This Saturday, local kids get the rock star treatment at ROAMfest '14, which features musicians between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. 

    Seven bands from the Rock of Ages Music program in Del Ray will play original music and old classics. 

    Tickets are $15.50 for the Birchmere show. Doors at 5 p.m., bands start at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more info.

  • 'Led Zeppelin Played Here' teams up with DC Record Fair 

    WASHINGTON --  "Led Zeppelin Played Here" or did they?

    That is the question posed by a documentary of the same name, which explores the urban legend that Led Zeppelin played at the Wheaton Youth Center in 1969. 

    The screening is Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the DC Record Fair at Artisphere in Rosslyn, Virginia. Click here for complete details. This event is free with the price of admission.

    And don't miss hundred of vendors and live DJs at the biannual record fair. Early bird entry at 11 a.m. is $5 and general admission is $2.

    Watch a teaser for the film below:

    Led Zeppelin Played Here Trailer
    by Jeff Krulik via YouTube

  • GWAR launches Indiegogo campaign to open new restaurant

    WASHINGTON -- Richmond-based shock rockers GWAR have a new trick up their intergalactic sleeves.
    In effort to recruit more faithful followers, the band is raising funds to open a new restaurant, GWARbar. 

    Surviving members -- lead singer Dave Brockie died earlier this year -- hope to raise $50,000 via Indiegogo for the new venture. 

    From the band:

    "With the untimely passing of our leader, Dave Brockie, we are more determined than ever to make one of his last dreams a reality, the creation of the GWARbar! GWAR has joined forces with Travis Croxton, Richmond's restaurateur of the year 2013, to do just that. Michael Derks, better known as BalSac the Jaws 'o Death, will be using his 30+ years of restaurant experience to create a menu and cocktail program unlike any other in Richmond and all of the artist of GWAR will be contributing their talents to bring into existence a dinning environment that will make each meal an adventure."

    The eatery will be located in Richmond's historic Jackson Ward, the band says. Money raised will be used to build a smoke house, buy a meat grinder and transform the restaurant "into a fantasy land of food and beverage."

    Click here to visit the Indiegogo campaign.

    gwar bar
    by bo habb via YouTube

  • Reading Rainbow comes back to life

    WASHINGTON -- "Community" actor LeVar Burton is raising $1 million on Kickstarter to bring back "Reading Rainbow," the kids' show that got a whole generation into imagination, literacy and not taking LeVar Burton's word for anything.

     The money raised will bring new episodes of "Reading Rainbow" to the web, help produce a specialized version of the show for 1,500 classrooms and distribute it free to schools in need.

    During its original run from 1983 to 2006, "Reading Rainbow" won an 26 Emmy Awards. 

    In 2012, Burton brought the show back as an app for tablets.

    Launched Wednesday, the Kickstarter campaign has already raised almost $600,000. The biggest backer rewards include a private dinner with Burton for $3,500 and a chance to wear Geordi LaForge's  visor for $10,000.

    Click here to donate.

    Reading Rainbow: How Trash Is Recycled with LeVar Burton
    by Reading Rainbow via YouTube

  • D.C.'s best kept secret is rapper, producer yU
    Marcus J. Moore, WTOP news

    You should stop sleeping on yU. 

    WASHINGTON -- The tweet above is from Mike Tolle, the CEO of Mello Music Group, a formidable Arizona-based record label with such notable underground acts as Oddisee, Quelle Chris and Apollo Brown on its impressive roster. But yU — who is also signed to Mello — is in the best stride, and is one of the best rapper/producers on the planet right now. It's just a shame that you don't know it. 

    Born Michael F. Willingham, Jr., the D.C.-based musician is incredibly low-key and humble — two character traits that contradict rap music's chest-pounding ethos. He doesn't care about superficial things, so keep your celebrity gossip and fashion trends to yourself: "I be the last when it comes to fads, laugh, one foot on the gas," yU rhymed recently on "OohLahdHard," a free track he released in early May. "See, I'mma have to pass because that's not my bag at all. Ain't mad at y'all for being followers."

    Quips like that could be why yU is unheralded on a mainstream level. Current culture dictates that we stay plugged into all things #KimYe, reality TV and Jay Z-Solange elevator fights. We're supposed to chime in on trending topics and reveal our daily movements to "friends" on social media. yU is the anti-star, the meticulous "humble king" with impeccable wordplay and nuanced production skills. His rhymes aren't demonstrative and there aren't many eye-popping one-liners. He discusses adult topics that don't always translate to a younger audience.

    yU gets by with innate timing and a keen sense of self; he knows when to step back and let the music breathe, and when to take hold of the instrumental for one of his patented streams of consciousness. Take "First," for example, the opening salvo from yU's 2011 solo album, the EARN. Over an off-beat loop, the typically soft-spoken rapper looks inward, his words more expressive as the song plays:  

    yU - First
    by Bill Davies via YouTube

    As a member of the Diamond District — whose 2009 album, In the Ruff, is arguably the best rap album ever released from the D.C. region — yU is the cool medium between Oddisee's straight-laced aesthetic and Uptown XO's street-wise activism. It's clear that the rapper pulls from a higher source, and relies on devout spirituality to pacify his angst. "Somehow I know I ain't gon' starve," goes a lyric on In the Ruff, "hustlin' hard and my trust is in God.

    yU doesn't shy away from his personal struggle: having to stretch $5, and moving from one house to another. He's not ashamed of the circumstances, and he uses them as teachable moments for his listeners. It's about time you stop and listen.

    This year, yU is slated to drop a collaborative album — called People of Today — with long-time producer SlimKat. Also this year, the Diamond District will drop its long-awaited follow-up, March on Washington, on Mello Music Group. 

    Listen to "El(o)hsee," from yU's 2011instrumental album, A Garbage Beat Tape, below.

    yU ( Diamond District, Remainz ) - El(o)hsee
    by Blaqmozar via YouTube

  • 50 Cent not on the money

    NEW YORK -- 50 Cent was on the mound, but not on the money.

    The rap star was comically off target when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night before the Pittsburgh Pirates played the New York Mets at Citi Field.

    Standing on the rubber 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate, 50 Cent wound up and launched a left-handed toss that sailed way wide of Mets catcher Anthony Recker. The ball bounced to the backstop and nearly nicked a cameraman standing not all that far from the Mets' on-deck circle as 50 Cent and New York pitcher Jonathon Niese both smiled.

    Read more here and see the pitch below:

    50 Cents first Pitch - 50 Cent Throws First Pitch at Mets Game! Awful worst first pitch
    by SmartNews via YouTube

  • Pre-sale tickets available tomorrow for 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

    WASHINGTON -- "Jesus Christ Superstar" is coming to D.C.'s Warner Theatre Aug. 7, but fans who can't wait to see former Sex Pistol Johnny "Rotten" Lydon play King Herod can buy their pre-sale tickets tomorrow. 

    Regular sales start June 6 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $37.50 to $127.50, not including venue fees. 

    This tour features some standout performers from the worlds of rock, R&B and pop.

    From the promoters:

    "Brandon BoydGrammy nominated lead vocalist of rock band Incubus, is confirmed for the role of ‘Judas Iscariot’, Grammy nominated *NSYNC vocalist, JC Chasez, will play ‘Pontius Pilate’, Grammy Award winner and member of Destiny’s Child, Michelle Williams, will take the female lead as ‘Mary Magdalene’, English singer-songwriter and lead singer in Public Image Ltd. (PiL) and Sex Pistols, John Rotten Lydonwill play ‘King Herod’ and introducing British actor and singer, Ben Forster, who won England’s ITV Superstar competition in 2012 and played the lead role in the UK and Australian arena tours.

    King Herod: Jesus Christ Superstar
    by teledhelwen via YouTube

  • Los Angeles-based animation company heads to D.C.

    WASHINGTON -- An animation company is ditching Los Angeles and relocating to D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray announced Tuesday. 

    Pigmental Studios -- whose animators have worked with studios such as Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar -- will create content for film, TV, online and video games. About 12 employees will relocate to the area, but the company is slated to hire 50 more employees by 2016, the mayor's office says.

    “D.C.’s vibrant and cultural environment is an ideal location for inspiring and stimulating our seasoned artists,” Pigmental Studios' Marina Martins says in a statement.

     “We look forward to building a group that could interact, support and complement the independent adventurous spirit that exists in D.C.

    Watch a teaser for Pigmental's first feature film, "Kong," which is slated to be released in 2016:

    Kong 2016 Movie Teaser
    by Variety via YouTube

  • Red Hot Chili Pepper's drummer touts arts programs in D.C. 

    WASHINGTON - A federal program that has been in effect since 2012 is growing, and celebrities are using their spotlight to move it forward.

    The Turnaround Arts initiative is a public-private partnership designed to funnel money into low-performing schools for arts and music education.

    It started with eight schools and is now expanding to 35schools nationwide.

    "I probably wouldn't have graduated and gone on to have a career in music if it wasn't for arts in school," says Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    Smith is among many celebrity mentors who, under the program, travel to the schools and work with students.

    "When you do well in music and art, it just motivates you to want to excel in other areas," Smith said in an interview with WTOP.

    Smith made a stop in D.C. this week for a Turnaround Arts event at the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

    He also went to Capitol Hill to speak to House Speaker John Boehner, among others, about the importance of arts in education.

    Read the full story here

  • Best Bets

    Events, music and family fun close to home

    All Weekend:

    • DelFest in Cumberland, Maryland, is four fun-filled bluegrass stompin' days of family fun along the Potomac. For info

    • Hometown Holidays in Rockville, Maryland, is family fun with great music and food, kids activities and a parade. For info

    • Caribbean Festival at Linganore Wines in Mt. Airy, Maryland, is a family friendly, cultural celebration with music, food and more. For info

    • Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park is a day of good, old-fashioned family fun with music, games, dancing, petting farm, antique car show and more. For info

    • ViVa! Vienna! in Vienna, Virginia, is a Memorial Day weekend extravaganza for the family with rides, music, crafts, food and a kids stage. For info vivavienna.orgDinosaurs Come Alive at the Dulles Expo Center, Saturday and Sunday, is a family adventure where dinosaurs ruled the world featuring animatronic displays, roaring dragons, enchanted fairies, slides, rides and an obstacle course. For info

    • Rolling Thunder has motorcyclists from all over converging in and around the D.C. area to honor our military veterans with various events all weekend. For info

    • Kennedy Center presents the 19th Annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival celebrating a legacy of the legendary pianist. For info


    • Strawberry Jubilee at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia, is a family fun day of pickin', prizes, princesses, music, rides and more. For info
    • Brentsville Car Show in Bristow, Virginia, is a day of fun for all ages with antique cars, trucks, games, activities and more. For info
    • Brew at the Zoo at the Baltimore Zoo is an annual charity  event with beer samplings, tastings, music, kid zone and more. For info
    • SummerFest DC kicks off the season at Half Street 
    • Fairgrounds, near Nats Park, with a 21+ event with beer tastings, music,
      food and more. For info

    Saturday night:

    • Sixth and I presents the legendary singer, Art Garfunkel. For info
    • Bethesda Blues & Jazz hosts Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with a dance floor. For info
    • Gypsy Sally's features tributes to the Dead and Johnny Cash with Beggars Tomb and Cold Hard Cash. For info
    • The State Theatre hosts the World's Greatest 70s Experience with the Right on Band. For info
    • Rams Head Annapolis presents 10,000 Maniacs. For ticket info

    Sunday 5/25:

    • Virginia Renaissance Faire has begun in Spotsylvania . Take a family-friendly journey back in time to 1500-era Staffordshire with music, food, games and more. For info
    • North Point Eagles Car Show in Waldorf, Maryland, sports vehicles of all eras plus music, prizes and more. For info
    • The National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol is an annual free, family friendly event honoring our armed forces. For info

    Sunday night:

    • The National Harbor starts the free series Movies on the Potomac's outdoor screenings with the family favorite "Up." For info
    • The Birchmere hosts R&B, jazz-rock of Eric Roberson with the Revelations. For info
    • Wolf Trap Summer Blast Off features the U.S. Marine Band and fireworks display. For info
    • Rock & Roll Hotel presents the power pop, punk of indie rockers, Club Scout. For info
    • Rams Head Annapolis hosts 10,000 Maniacs. For ticket info
    • The Hamilton Live presents Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, Lisa Loeb. For info

  • Courtesy Merriweather Post Pavilion/Will Cocks

    Merriweather Post Pavilion is getting a makeover

    COLUMBIA, Md. -- Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced a $19 million plan Monday for improvements to the outdoor concert venue in Columbia.

    The renovations planned over five years are set to begin after the current concert season. They include new seating, a raised roof around the main stage, new restrooms and concessions, new artist dressing rooms and even a new stage.

    County officials say the plan leverages more than $30 million in funding by expediting the transfer of the venue to the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission.

    Read the full story here

  • Frankie Valli to headline July 4 concert in D.C. 

    WASHINGTON -- That trademark falsetto behind "Sherry," ''Big Girls Don't Cry" and other hits from 50 years ago will help celebrate July 4 on the National Mall this year as Frankie Valli headlines the "Capitol Fourth" show in Washington.

    Organizers on Monday were to announce their early plans for the show and fireworks, which draw hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall each year. The event will be broadcast nationwide on PBS.

    Valli's voice propelled the success of The Four Seasons from their first national exposure in 1962 when they performed "Sherry" on TV's "American Bandstand." Some of their other hits include "Walk Like a Man," ''December 1963 (Oh What a Night)" and his solo hit "Grease." The group has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Now that familiar voice just turned 80 years old this month, and Valli is still touring.

    Read the full story here.

    The Four Season & Frankie Valli hits live Sherry, Rag doll, Walk
    by John Leach via YouTube

  • GI Film Festival brings David Arquette, Gary Sinise to D.C., Alexandria

    WASHINGTON -- Hollywood comes to D.C. for the eighth annual GI Film Festival, which kicks off Monday with the world premiere of Civil War drama "Field of Lost Shoes" starring Jason Isaacs, David Arquette and Tom Skerritt as Gen. Ulysess S. Grant.

    Known as "Sundance for the troops," the film fest features 56 movies, red carpet soirees and exclusive events throughout the region

    The week-long celebration "covers every aspect of military triumph and struggle, from the Civil War to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Films address issues for returning veterans like PTSD and unemployment .

    Click here to see screening times and for a list of events:

  • Best Bets: Beer, bacon and music edition

    Mary dePompa, WTOP News

    All Weekend:

    • Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at the Reston Town Center offers something for everyone with fantastic artists, entertainment and food. Check out the family art park for hands-on activities. For info
    • Wine in the Woods at Merriweather Post Pavilion is a 21 and over event featuring more than 30 wineries, music, food and more. For info 
    • The Greek Festival in Frederick is a family-friendly cultural celebration with food, fun, music and entertainment. For info 
    • Beer, Bacon, Music Festival at the Frederick County Fairgrounds is billed as an all ages event offering more than 100 beer varieties, 2 tons of all-you-can-eat bacon and 10 rocking bands. For info

    Saturday, May 17:

    • National Kids to Park Day at state parks throughout Maryland encourages kids of all ages to get out and play. For info 
    • The 139th Preakness Stakes at Pilimco in Baltimore is Maryland’s jewel to the Triple Crown with music at InFieldFEST and more. For info
    • Fiesta Asia on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest is a street fair for everybody with performers, food, a kids cool lounge, interactive actives and more. For info
    • Purcellville Music and Arts Festival in Virginia is a family fun day of art, music and more. For info
    • McLean Day at Lewinsville Park in Virginia is great family fun with rides, entertainment, great food and more. For info
    • Gaithersburg Book Festival at the City Hall Grounds is an annual family event with authors, poets, songwriters featuring hands on activities, a children’s village and more. For info
    • South Riding Market Square Rocks is a free, rain or shine, family fun day with entertainment, amusements and more. For info
    • The Hamilton Live hosts Paul Barrere and Fred Tacket of Little Feat featuring the New Orleans Suspects. For info
    • 9:30 Club features the jazz-metal of Animals As Leaders. For info
    • Rams Head Annapolis presents Tony Award-winning crooner, Tom Wopat. For info
    • Hill Street BBQ presents country crooner Connor Christian and Southern Gothic. For info

    Sunday, May 18:

    • Taste of Arlington along Wilson Boulevard is the largest festival showcasing Arlington’s food scene with chef demonstrations, entertainment and music and kids activities. For info
    • The Bluebell Music Festival at the Bull Run Winery in Centreville, Va., offers a family fun day of live music, strolling magic, grape stomping and delicious food. For info
    • Beltsville Day in Maryland is a free community celebration for the family with rides, games, entertainment and more. For info
    • Art Outside in Baltimore features local artisans for display and sale, performing arts, kid’s arts and crafts and Baltimore’s best food trucks. For info
    • Free Art Museum Day at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on New York Avenue in Northwest D.C. is an annual celebration of the arts. For info
    • Rams Head Annapolis afternoon Folk n' Bluegrass Fest features Chatham County Line, Mandolin Orange and Willie Watson. For info


    • The Howard Theatre presents the R&B soul of Melanie Fiona & Black Alley. For info
    • Bethesda Blues & Jazz presents "A Night to Remember"  featuring soul legends The Intruders and Shawn Allen. For info
    • IOTA Cafe hosts singer-songwriter Jess Klein. For info
  • Washington Performing Arts offers free summer camps

    WASHINGTON -- Looking to find an alternative to typical summer camp for your creative child? Washington Performing Arts is offering free programs June 23 to August 8 at schools throughout D.C.

    Free breakfast and lunch will be provided for campers. 

    Programs include:

    Capital Jazz Camp
    Alice Deal Middle School (Subject to change)
    3815 Fort Dr. N.W, Washington, DC 20016
    June 23 - June 27, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Rising grades 6-8 (Some experience required)
    Non-refundable application fee: $45
    Registration deadline: Friday, June 6

    Capital Strings Camp
    Alice Deal Middle School (Subject to change)
    3815 Fort Dr. N.W, Washington, DC 20016
    June 23- June 27, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Rising grades 4-5 (No experience required)
    Non-refundable application fee: $45
    Registration deadline: Friday, June 6

    18th Annual Children of the Gospel Vocal Workshop
    Vermont Avenue Baptist Church (Subject to change)
    1630 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009
    July 14 – July 25, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Rising grades 4-12 (Minimum age: nine. No experience required)
    Non-refundable application fee: $90
    Registration deadline: Monday, July 7

    8th Annual Summer Steps with Step Afrika! Camp
    Anacostia High School (Subject to change)
    1601 16th St. S.E., Washington, DC 20020
    August 4 – August 8, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Applicants must be available for culminating performance on August 10
    Rising grades 4-12 (Minimum age: nine. Some experience required.)
    Non-refundable application fee: $45
    Registration deadline: Monday, July 7

    See the website for more information.
  • Carrie Fisher mostly mum about 'Star Wars' return

    Carrie Fisher is excited about her "Star Wars" return, even if she can't say much about it.

    The 57-year-old actress said she would "get in trouble" for discussing "Star Wars: Episode VII." Fisher appeared at a party Wednesday celebrating her mother, Debbie Reynolds, whose collection of Hollywood memorabilia is up for auction this weekend.

    Production begins this month on Disney's "Star Wars" film by director J.J. Abrams. Fisher said it's "trippy" to make a sequel 35 years later. Fisher's last Millennium Falcon voyage was 1983's "Return of the Jedi."Read more here.

    "Return of the Jedi" Slave Leia Scene - Special Edition
    by Bellosh101 via YouTube
  • Brad Pitt may or may not be on season 2 of 'True Detective'

    WASHINGTON -- Fans wondering what would happen to "True Detective" without Matthew 
    McConaughey and Woody Harrelson need not worry. Help is on the way. Maybe. 

    MovieWeb reports that Brad Pitt is reportedly in talks with the show's producers, even though HBO has not officially renewed it for a second season yet. 

    It would be Pitt's first TV role since he made a special appearance on "Friends" in 2001.

    Read more here.

    Watch Rust wax poetic, if not a little mean, about religion in the Deep South:

    True Detective - Rust talks about Religion ("What's the IQ of these people?") {Full Scene} [HD]
    by ProOmgHeadshot via YouTube

  • George R.R. Martin finishing 'Game of Thrones' series on DOS word processor 

    WASHINGTON -- There is no shortage of speculation about when infamously slow writer George R.
    R. Martin will conclude his beloved series, "A Song of Fire and Ice."

    As the HBO version, "Game of Thrones," speeds ahead and threatens to catch up to the as-yet-to be-finished-books, Martin went on "Conan" to set the record straight.

    Not only is he busy writing, he is doing so on a DOS word processing machine. He saves his regular computer for things like surfing the Internet and "doing taxes."

    "Did you make this computer out of wood? Did you carve it?" asks Conan incredulously. 

    "I actually like it,' Martin answers to the bafflement of millennials the world over. 

    Watch the clip below:

    George R. R. Martin Still Uses A DOS Word Processor
    by Team Coco via YouTube

  • Transgender Navy SEAL returns to region for new art exhibit

    WASHINGTON -- Kristin Beck, a.
    k.a. the 'Warrior Princess, is back with a new art exhibit at  Crystal City's Focus Gallery. 

    The abstract paintings featured in "Lady Valor" helped the artist cope with PTSD, the gallery says. 

    Beck gained national notoriety after releasing a new book, "Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming Out Transgender.

    She fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, received the military's highest honors -- the Bronze Star and Purple Heart -- and was a member of the Navy SEAL team that eventually brought down Osama bin Laden.

    After retiring in 2011, just months before bin Laden was killed, Beck decided "enough was enough." 

    Read WTOP's profile on Beck here.

    The exhibit is free, but there will be a silent auction fundraiser and reception June 6. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

    "Lady Valor" by Kristin Beck 

  • Kennedy Center to stream performance on YouTube

    WASHINGTON -- The Kennedy Center is presenting a one time only "celebration of art and technology" via YouTube. 

    Stars such as John Legend, Lindsey Stirling, Les Twins, Playing for Change, Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox, and Mike Relm will be filmed while performing at the Opera House. The show will then be uploaded to the Kennedy Center's YouTube channel. 

    The concert starts at at 7:30 p.m. May 28:

  • Capital Wheel set to open May 23

    WASHINGTON -- Prepare thyself for a new holiday ritual. The Capital Wheel in National Harbor is opening just in time for Memorial Day weekend. 

    Some fun facts about the attraction:

    Size: 180 Feet Tall (diameter of wheel is 165 feet) Visible from the Top of the Observation 
    Wheel: Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, Alexandria, Prince George’s County 
    Number of Climate-Controlled Gondolas: 42 (including 1 VIP Gondola) 
    Maximum Number of Passengers: 336 (8 per Gondola) 
    Price (estimated): $15 per ride (VIP Gondola will cost more) 
    Hours of Operation (estimated): 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., year-round 
    Ride Speed: 1.5 rotations per minute 
    Lighting: 1.6 million LED lights, fully programmable, with a spectrum of 16.7 million colors 
    Concessions: Wolfgang Puck Catering will operate concessions.

    The Observation Wheel will be available for private party rental.

  • Robert Plant denounces reunion rumors 

    WASHINGTON -- Don't ask Robert Plant about a Led Zeppelin reunion.
    He wants nothing to with that. 

    "A tour would have been an absolute menagerie of vested interests and the very essence of everything that's s***** about about big-time stadium rock. We were surrounded by a circus of people that would have had our souls on the fire. I'm not part of a jukebox!" he tells Rolling Stone

    The magazine says it could have been one of the biggest, and most lucrative, reunions in music history, potentially grossing up to $1 billion

    Read more here.

    See Led Zeppelin in their heyday below:

    Led Zeppelin - Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1970 (Full Concert)
    by Rhidalgo789 via YouTube

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