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There are a bunch of interesting non-rock events this weekend. Friday night offers a number of shows worth checking out. Reggae fans have two choices. Tony Java presents his 12th Anniversary Reggae Award Ceremony that, as always, is billed as a tribute to Bob Marley and Dennis Brown, and includes awards for best food caterer as well as song of the year. This year Jamaican comedians Ity & Fancy Cat will perform along with a number of local acts at the Nativity Room. At the same time, at the Marx Cafe in Mt. Pleasant, the Soundclash Crew will be presenting a dj’d tribute to legendary Jamaican dub producer King Tubby who was murdered 20 years ago. Expect the room to be shaking with the sound of Tubby’s echo and reverb techniques.
Arabesque continues on at the Kennedy Center. Somalian rapper K’naan will be there early Friday evening dispensing his Eminem meets A Tribe Called Quest style flow with lyrics about the immigrant experience and his homeland. Later that night Syria’s Ensemble Al-Kindi and the Whirling Dervishes of Aleppo join forces for a sold-out show featuring unique high-toned Arab zither and percussion instrumentation plus spinning, trance-like dancing.
O.K., I guess you could call Juana Molina, who will be at Iota for a special early show Saturday night, rock. But this Argentinian singer/guitarist/tape looper mixes in South American folk music, Brazilian bossa nova, bird sounds, and more into her eclectic sound on her fine recent 4th album Un Dia.
Meanwhile back at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, Nawal, a France-based singer/gambusi (like a banjo sorta) player from the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean will be singing occasionally guttural sounding Sufi-rooted lyrics in Comoran, Arabic, French, and English, accompanied by her strummed Arabian-Asian-you name it rhythms. Also at the Kennedy Center, jazz singer Kurt Elling , once know for scatting and beat-poetry influenced vocalese, will try to convey more warmth with “Dedicated to You,” a sold-out tribute to the 1963 album in which tenor saxaphonist John Coltrane collaborated with balladeer Johnny Hartman. Hmmm, we’ll see if he can pull it off.
Friday February 27- 12th Anniversary Reggae Awards at 9:30 p.m. at the Nativity Room, 6008 Georgia Ave NW
DC Soundclash at 10 p.m. at the Marx Cafe, 3203 Mt. Pleasant St. NW
K’naan from 6 to 7 at the Kennedy Center Milennium Stage, free
Ensemble Al-Kindi and the Whirling Dervishes of Aleppo at 8 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater (sold out)
Saturday February 28– Juana Molina at 7 at Iota, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Nawal from 6 to 7 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, free
Kurt Elling “Dedicated to You” at 7:30 and 9:30 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre (both sold out)