There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The harmonium isn’t the most convenient (or portable) instrument for a touring musician. It can’t get tucked into a case and stuck in the back of a van; its delicate parts require more care. But that hasn’t stopped Shilpa Ray from toting her Indian harmonium to gigs for the past decade. By combining her organ tones with blues-tinged vocals, she becomes a torch singer for the 21st century, chronicling everything from feminist expectations to anonymous Internet commenters. “America’s got talent to seduce you to reduce yourself,” she wails on “I Is What I Is,” achingly lamenting a nation that appeals to culture’s least common denominator. And all the while, Ray keeps pumping the organ full of air, determined to draw one more mournful sound out of the instrument. Shilpa Ray performs at 8 p.m. at Black Cat Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-4490. blackcatdc.com.