For the better part of five decades, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has spotlighted musicians and craftspeople from specific corners of the globe. This year’s event features three themes—Campus and Community, Creativity and Crisis, and Citified—with no particular international focus. But it’s still worth braving the heat. During the day, visitors can check out the AIDS quilt, hone their green thumbs, and witness local musicians and dancers from east of the Anacostia River, including the Facez You Know go-go band, East of the River Steel Band, Smooth & Ez hand dancers, the Galilee Baptist Church singers, and the Iverson Mall Line Dancers. Expect them to demonstrate that local traditional styles can be just as vibrant as those across oceans. Also notable is a July 7 tribute to Chuck Brown, who performed at the Folklife Festival twice. But tonight, the big to-do is “Bring Back the Funk,” the first evening concert of the festival, featuring George Clinton, Meshell Ndegeocello (shown), and Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. Clinton won’t be landing his Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership on the National Mall, but maybe he’ll play “Chocolate City.” And who knows, maybe Ndegeocello will revisit her go-go roots.
“Bring Back the Funk” begins at 6 p.m. at the Panorama Room tent on the National Mall between 12th and 14th streets NW. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs today through July 8 on the National Mall. Free. festival.si.edu. (202) 633-1000.