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There’s a long weekend ahead of us, but don’t assume that means there will be downtime. This weekend sees the return of both DC JazzFest and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival, both of which are free and bringing some big names. But there’s also lots more to keep you up late all weekend long.
Thursday: Rema at Fillmore
Nigerian vocalist Rema first significantly spread his reputation with Afrobeat fans worldwide in 2019 with his catchy, rhythmic song “Dumebi.” While many of the tune’s lyrics are clichéd sophomoric raunch, the then 19-year-old, born Divine Ikubor, pulled listeners in with the joyful rapped repetition of certain words and syllables (“pon-pon-pon”) and his seamless transition into a falsetto melody on other verses and the title chorus. Add in the minimalistic, club-friendly production by Ozedikus and it’s clear why the song has generated millions of streams. Another 2019 Rema cut, “Ironman,” gained crossover attention thanks to its appearance on Barack Obama’s summer playlist from that year. Again, it’s Rema’s smooth flow that sparkles. Once a gospel rapper, Rema here uses a slower, nearly Middle Eastern-sounding pitch over the song’s slower tempo Afrobeats that seem to draw from North Africa as well. Rema’s skilled delivery subsequently could be found on one-off collaborations with FKA Twigs, Drake, and UK Nigerian grime rapper Skepta. On his 2022 debut album, Rave and Roses, the polished “Soundgasm” shines thanks to his creative use of vocal repetition. The song, which combines Afrobeats and R&B, is successful due to his high-pitched, ear-grabbing “Doo, Doo, Doo” in the intro and chorus and not his verses about sex. Rema doesn’t need to use repetition every time though. On “Calm Down,” this now-22-year-old utilizes a spoken delivery that at times magically goes up a few scales into a more gorgeous sung portion. Working on the album largely with Nigerian producer London, Rema showcases this adept vocal range over a variety of musical styles that occasionally nod in the directions of trap rap, R&B, dancehall, and reggaeton, but remain distinctively Nigerian. Rema plays at 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. livenation.com. $90–$195. —Steve Kiviat
Thursday through Sunday: DC JazzFest in Southwest
D.C.’s rich history of jazz music will take center stage for this weekend’s 18th annual JazzFest. Originally known as the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the beloved tradition keeps the spirit of jazz music alive and well in the district as smooth music croons with the last of the summer cicadas along the Potomac River at the Wharf. On Saturday, Sept. 3, the lineup features Cindy Blackman Santana (the talented wife of Carlos Santana), who’s known for her soulful fusion of jazz and rock, artistic drumming, and sultry voice. Also on the roster is Heidi Martin, an up-and-comer from D.C. with a voice like Corinne Bailey Rae meeting Joni Mitchell, but with a distinct growl. The 23-year-old trumpeter Giveton Gelin is quickly making a name for himself since graduating from Juilliard. Gelin’s artistry and composition harken back to another era of sophisticated jazz and brings to mind sipping sidecars in a small, dark club. Ron Carter, the most-recorded jazz bassist in history, with three Grammy Awards under his belt, will tug at your heartstrings and soothe your soul. Performances from the Duke Ellington School of Art Jazz Combo and a showing of Hargrove, a documentary on jazz trumpet legend Roy Hargrove showing at Arena Stage, complete Saturday’s lineup. Sunday, Sept. 4 will showcase Vox Sambou, whose lyrics mix various languages including Creole, English, and Portuguese together for a unique sound. Dayramir Gonzalez will transport you to Cuba with a blend of Afro-Cuban jazz (really transport yourself by grabbing a Cuban coffee from the nearby Colada Shop before his set). Taiwanese artist Chien Chien Lu has a fresh approach to contemporary jazz with plenty of R&B, and Richmond jazz quintet Butcher Brown will bring a fun and eclectic throwback of ’70s jazz-funk with a mix of hip-hop and soul. JazzFest runs through Sept. 4 at the Wharf, Pearl Street Warehouse, Union Stage, Arena Stage, and other locations dcjazzfest.org. Free. —Simone Goldstone
Saturday: National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
The Library of Congress will once again host the National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this Saturday, Sept. 3. The free event will feature authors, actors, singers, playwrights, and screenwriters taking part in book signings, panel discussions, and more. Notably, Janelle Monáe, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and actor who appeared in films such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures (and will star in December’s Knives Out sequel), will be in attendance to launch her book, The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. The collection of short fiction stories is based on the world of her 2018 album, Dirty Computer. Addressing themes of racism, feminism, and homophobia, the book is set in a future where memories can be controlled or erased, raising the debate of censorship and truth. The poets of City Lights, who fought book bans decades prior, would smile in approval at Monáe’s debut narrative. Also of note, Nick Offerman, best known for playing the bacon-loving Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, will be there promoting his newest literary work, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside. The book is an amusing philosophical ode to the country’s outdoors and national parks. Inspired by Offerman’s journeys to Glacier National Park and his Airstream trailer trek across the country, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play contemplates, examines, and celebrates the land we inhabit and the people we stole it from. Also in attendance will be Nyle DiMarco, from cycle 22 of America’s Next Top Model, Dancing with the Stars, and Switched at Birth, promoting his memoir Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—and a Love Letter to a Way of Life, and Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the recently published Take My Hand, a fictional account inspired by real events of two young Black girls sterilized by the American medical system. Book talks will focus on racism in writing, women true crime authors, bald eagles, and more. The National Book Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 3 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW. loc.gov. Free. —Simone Goldstone
Tuesday: Knives Out at Georgetown Waterfront Park
Although summer may be coming to an end, Georgetown Sunset Cinema still has one more outdoor movie in store. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, gather at the Georgetown Waterfront Park for a free showing of the 2019 whodunit Knives Out. The movie chronicles the investigation of the death of a wealthy mystery novelist, Harlan Thrombey (a name inspired by a 1981 Choose Your Own Adventure book). Manning the investigation is detective Benoit Blanc, played by none other than Daniel Craig sporting an extremely questionable southern-esque accent. The James Bond actor is joined by an ensemble cast, including Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and Toni Collette. As someone who typically hates thrillers of any sort, I found Knives Out to be a fun, stress-free watch, reminiscent of Clue or an Agatha Christie novel. The film starts at sunset, but organizers encourage attendees to arrive early to get the best views of the big screen. A number of local restaurants, such as Pizzeria Paradiso and Bozzelli’s, are offering deals for moviegoers. And if you’re itching for more Craig as Benoit Blanc action after watching, he’ll be returning in the film’s unusually named sequel, Glass Onion, which arrives on Netflix this December. Georgetown Sunset Cinema starts at 7 p.m. at the Georgetown Waterfront Park, 3303 Water St. NW. georgetowndc.com. Free. —Hannah Docter-Loeb
Through Oct. 31: The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900 at the National Gallery of Art
The Double bills itself as “the first major exhibition to consider how and why modern and contemporary artists have employed doubled formats to explore perceptual, conceptual, and psychological themes.” Thematically, the exhibit meanders through wildly divergent definitions of doubling—works that use duplicate images (Andy Warhol’s “Ambulance Disaster”), “meta” portrayals of reality (Rene Magritte’s “The Human Condition”), reproductions of existing images (Sherrie Levine’s rephotographs of images by Walker Evans), images of twins (Diane Arbus’ famed image of identical twins), artist portrayals of their own split identities (Frank Moore’s divided-face portrait “Easter Basket”), shadow portraits (Alfred Stieglitz’s self-portrait as a lake-bottom shadow), and artists who are twins themselves (Doug and Mike “Starn”) or couples (Gilbert & George). The notion of doubling is not new: look no further than Walter Benjamin’s 1935 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” or, for that matter, any photographic print since the 19th century made from a negative. But the exhibit’s most valuable accomplishment is plucking a number of intellectually thought-provoking works from relative obscurity. They include Mary Kelly’s “WLM Remix,” which projects overlapping photographs of a 1970s feminist march and a recreation of it years later; Nam June Paik’s side-by-side videos of Richard Nixon speaking, his face distorted by the activation and deactivation of magnetic coils; Alighiero Boetti’s paired metal works painted in similar but distinct colors, which require much effort to determine whether they are three-dimensional or trompe l’œil; Peter Liversidge’s pair of dreamy blue images of the surface of a swimming pool, which, like two snowflakes, can never be identical; and Jorge Macchi’s two broken panes of glass, one shattered naturally and the other meticulously cut to mimic the first. Special appreciation to the curators for reuniting tightly connected works that are usually housed at different museums —two versions of Arshile Gorky’s “The Artist and His Mother” from the NGA and the Whitney, and Robert Rauschenberg’s “Factum I” and “Factum II,” from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Modern Art, respectively. The Double runs through Oct. 31 at the National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue. NW. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. nga.gov. Free. —Louis Jacobson
Thursday: Lupe Fiasco at the Howard Theatre
One night in D.C. was not enough to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Lupe Fiasco’s Grammy-nominated second album, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. Due to high demand, the Howard Theatre added a second show on Thursday, Sept. 8 so fans can reminisce over hits like “Paris, Tokyo” and “Superstar.” Devotees of the Chicago MC who listen to more than just the singles are in for a treat because Fiasco will perform his entire album from start to finish. Released in 2007, The Cool is one of the rare follow-up projects to glide past the “sophomore slump” and onto critical acclaim, selling more than 140,000 copies in its first week. Building on his 2006 debut album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, The Cool explores the temptations of street life, navigating the music industry, traveling the world, questioning his artistic abilities, and more through the lens of a fictional character Michael Young History, and features memorable performances from Matthew Santos, Snoop Dogg, and Gemini. From tracks like “Streets on Fire,” depicting an apocalyptic world where “the virus is spreading in all directions,” to the graphic telling of children with access to “AK-47s that they shooting into heaven” on “Little Weapon,” the album still slaps all these years later because its themes remain, sadly, relevant. Following his five-city mini tour, the fast-rhyming lyricist hopes to retire the project once it’s certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, which would be a first for Fiasco. But as of June 2022, he has plenty of new material on his latest album, Drill Music in Zion, to share. Although Washingtonians may argue with the rapper about what “the best city in the whole wide-wide world” is, there’s no doubt where the best spot in town will be on Thursday night. Doors open at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. thehowardtheatre.com. $39–$75. —Alexis P. Williams