The sky’s the limit this week, D.C. You can explore a collection of items from Frederick Douglass‘ life, see an eclectic bandleader play a solo show, and go on a walking tour of Duke Ellington hotspots. Don’t miss the latest in arts news and reviews and ticket sales at the end of this newsletter. —Kayla Randall
Frederick Douglass Family Materials from the Walter O. Evans Collection“My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes,” writes Frederick Douglass in a typically riveting passage from his classic autobiography about the deprivations he endured growing up enslaved on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Douglass’ legacy as an orator and statesman often overshadows his greatness as an author, one of the indispensable literary voices of 19th-century America. That voice is in abundance in a new exhibition featuring a treasure trove of letters, manuscripts, photographs, and family scrapbooks from the collection of Dr. Walter O. Evans. The righteous thunder of Douglass’ speeches and public writings retain their prescient power: “Our country is again in trouble … A spirit of evil has been revived which we fondly hoped was laid forever.” Read more>>> The exhibition is on view to June 14 at the National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. nga.gov. (Eddie Dean)
Vermont-based folk singer-songwriter Henry Jamison performs at DC9. 7:15 p.m. at 1940 9th St. NW. $15.
Politics and Prose at Union Market hosts author Max Porter to discuss his new fantastical novel, Lanny, about a legendary mythical figure who awakens. 7 p.m. at 1270 5th St. NE. Free.
Country-pop singer Jessie James Decker performs at the Warner Theatre. 8 p.m. at 513 13th St. NW. $26.50–$46.50.
Jim JamesThe music Jim James plays with My Morning Jacket oscillates between a syrupy folk sweetness and a crusty country earthiness. MMJ was founded in the ’90s but blew up in the 2000s, paving the way for an urban-rustic aesthetic that would culminate in the ubiquitousness of The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons. Thanks to an open approach to live performance, individual MMJ songs mutate and take new forms over time. James takes a similar approach with his solo work, using a level foundation in rock and country as a lab for conducting sonic experiments. Read more>>> Jim James performs at 6 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $41. (202) 265-0930. 930.com. (Will Lennon)
Soulful D.C. rock band Stone Driver performs at Pearl Street Warehouse. 8 p.m. at 33 Pearl St. SW. $10–$15.
Suns Cinema screens Back to the Future II, the time-traveling sequel to the 1985 classic starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. 8 p.m. at 3107 Mount Pleasant St. NW. $10.
Indie singer-songwriter Damien Jurado performs at U Street Music Hall. 7 p.m. at 1115 U St. NW. $20.
Duke Ellington Walking TourCelebrate D.C. Natives Day with the ghost of Duke Ellington, one of the holiday’s most notable namesakes. Meet on U Street NW to walk the neighborhood with tour guide Michon Boston, who will show you the sites of music schools, clubs and speakeasies, dance halls, churches, and Ellington family residences, and talk about the community that inspired and nurtured Ellington the musician. Boston is herself a D.C. native, an alumna of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and an occasional contributor to City Paper. She also has an old family photo album that includes, among its shiny black-and-whites, many candids of young Duke. Want to know how that happened? You’ll have to join the tour. Read more>>> The tour begins at 2 p.m. at Ben’s Next Door, 1211 U St. NW. $20–$30. (202) 939-0794. michonbostongroup.com. (Alexa Mills)
Electrofunk duo Chromeo performs at The Lincoln Theatre. 8 p.m. at 1215 U St. NW. $35.
Red Molly, an Americana trio known for its three-part harmonies, perform at The Hamilton. 7:30 p.m. at 600 14th St. NW. $19.75–$42.50.
Argentine folk singer Soledad Pastorutti performs at The Howard Theatre. 8 p.m. at 620 T St. NW. $65–$105.
Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental RailroadA century and a half ago, after years of isolated, often fatal labor in the American West, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad converged at Promontory, Utah. It marked the completion of the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad and revolutionized the way Americans got from here to there. To commemorate this historic moment and its 150th anniversary, the National Museum of American History is spotlighting Chinese migrants, a community of people sidelined from the better part of this country’s formal narrative despite their monumental contribution to the modern engineering age. Read more>>> The exhibition is on view to spring 2020 at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 633-1000. americanhistory.si.edu. (Amy Guay)
The Georgetown Day School Jazz Ensemble performs at Blues Alley. 7 p.m. at 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $15.
Solid State Books hosts writer Briallen Hopper, who will chat about her new book, Hard to Love, a meditation on the importance of different types of love, particularly love beyond marriage in a world built for couples. 7 p.m. at 600 H St. NE. Free.
To mark the 200th anniversary of writer Walt Whitman‘s birth, the Library of Congress displays poetry, images, and other items from his life in the Thomas Jefferson Building. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 10 First St. SE. Free.
Tonal VisionsD.C.-area photographer Alan Sislen’s new exhibition, Tonal Visions, represents an extension of his 2014 project Frozen Music, offering a range of sublimated architectural forms that were photographed in color but printed, with tonal modifications, in black-and-white. The resulting images—of such landmark buildings as Los Angeles’ Getty Center, New York’s Chrysler Building, and D.C.’s National Museum of the American Indian—emphasize their subjects’ sinuous lines and gradations in tone. Read more>>> The exhibition is on view to June 15 at Multiple Exposures Gallery at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. Free. (703) 683-2205. multipleexposuresgallery.com. (Louis Jacobson)
Art pop band Superorganism performs at 9:30 Club. 7 p.m. at 815 V St. NW. $25.
ZMEI3, a blues and soul-influenced Romanian band, perform at Union Stage. 7 p.m. at 740 Water St. SW. Free.
The Nils Lofgren Band, fronted by the rock guitarist known for his work with Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band, performs at The Birchmere. 7:30 p.m. at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $59.50.
ChromaticsIt is no surprise that directors like David Lynch and Nicolas Winding Refn love to use Chromatics’ spare compositions in their projects. The band’s music sounds like a neon-noir looks: supple, but bloody, every note dripping with sensual, minimalist melancholy. Somewhere beneath Chromatics’ glossy exterior are punk rock roots, but those have gotten much harder to detect. The sleek aesthetic comes thanks in part to Johnny Jewel, the band’s mercurial creative driver and the idiosyncratic grandmaster of its label, Italians Do It Better. Read more>>> Chromatics perform at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $31. (202) 265-0930. 930.com. (Will Lennon)
Disney Channel pop queens Aly & AJ perform at The Fillmore Silver Spring. 8 p.m. at 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $25.
Renowned composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein perform the music of Stranger Things, the hit Netflix series for which they wrote the score, at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. 7:30 p.m. at 2700 F St. NW. $19–$39.
British five-piece post-punk band Shame performs at Black Cat. 7:30 p.m. at 1811 14th St. NW. $15.
American FootballIf American Football’s Mike Kinsella couldn’t remember all of his teenage feelings and the meanings back in 1999, what hope might he have of recalling them 20 years later? The band reformed in 2014 with an unexpected reunion but has gone on to become a full-blown revival, having released its third full-length album earlier this year on Polyvinyl. Kinsella doesn’t invoke those aforementioned teenage feelings on LP3, and he was wise to avoid trying. But he does imbue the songs with a mix of exasperation, longing, and humor that reflects a reluctant transition into middle age. Read more>>> American Football perform at 7:30 p.m. at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $27–$30. (202) 667-4490. blackcatdc.com. (Matt Siblo)
Admiral William H. McRaven stops by Sixth & I Historic Synagogue to discuss his book Sea Stories, a reflection on his 37 years as a Navy SEAL and Special Operations commander, in conversation with CNN host and City Paper alum Jake Tapper. 7 p.m. at 600 I St. NW. $18–$48.
Emo-tinged indie rock band The Young Birds performs at Songbyrd Music House. 8 p.m. at 2477 18th St. NW. $12.
The Freer Gallery of Art presents Whistler in Watercolor, an exhibition revealing the standout work of prolific watercolor artist James McNeill Whistler. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. Free.
NEWS & REVIEWS YOU CAN USE
Theater: Faction of Fools asks whodunnit in The Great Commedia Hotel Murder Mystery.
Theater: The 2019 Helen Hayes Awards Awards.
Music: The success of Moechella and #DontMuteDC is galvanizing go-go.
OFFICE OF FUTURE PLANNING
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. for WPOC Sunday In The Country, featuring country band Old Dominion as the headliner, taking place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sept. 29. 2 p.m. at 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $55–$125.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. for funk group The New Mastersounds, performing at Union Stage on July 11. 8:30 p.m. at 740 Water St. SW. $20–$30.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. for Icelandic pop band Of Monsters and Men, performing at The Anthem on Sept. 4. 8 p.m. at 901 Wharf St. SW. $50–$199.
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