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MARCH 21 & 22
Congregation serves up generous portions of funk-infused soul, and while it may not always sound new, it’s always fun. When not doing original tunes, the band might throw in a Sly Stone remake or an uptempo cover of Otis Redding’s version of “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Stage lights reflect off lead singer Don Tillery’s bald head as he belts out notes in a growl throaty enough to compel Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to peek out of his coffin to see what’s going on. Tillery also doubles as a trumpet player; steam comes from his horns as he plays two simultaneously (a la Rahsaan Roland Kirk), and when the sax player joins in you can really feel the funk. The percussion, drums, and bass know when to bring it down and when to put it in the pocket. The backup vocalist gives soul sista warmth, working the tambourine for extra flavor. Guitarist David Boris’ ’70s-era idealism is simply infectious as he works the crowd, telling people to get up off their feet (and attitudes) and dance. The Congregationists’ music emphasizes musical and racial harmony—it’s a family affair whenever they play, and they’ll include anyone who wants to join their groove thang. At 9 p.m. Friday at Club Soda, 3433 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 362-9655; and 9 p.m. Saturday at State of the Union, 1357 U St. NW. $7. (202) 588-8810. (Holly Bass)