Nick Hakim
Nick Hakim comes home to play Union Stage on Jan. 22; Credit: Jack Mckain

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Friday: Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys at the Birchmere 

Rockabilly, that frenetic combination of rock, country, blues, and jazz swing, had its prime in the 1950s, but in the 1970s and 1980s it came back, with artists such as Robert Gordon and Stray Cats hitting the charts. Locally, Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys were one of the genre’s most prominent bands. On Jan. 20, the group, circa their 1979 to 1980 lineup, reunite. Born in Abilene, Texas, Rubinowitz moved to Virginia when he was 10 and—after a college stint in Mississippi and some years traveling—returned to the D.C. area in the ’70s. The 1979 Bad Boys included guitarist Eddie Angel, who now plays in Nashville-based neo-surf act Los Straitjackets. With Rubinowitz on rhythm guitar and vocals, the band developed a repertoire of originals and covers that reflected their collective interest in up-tempo rock songs and honky-tonk ballads. The Rubinowitz-penned “Feelin’ Right Tonight,” with his deep-voiced twang, catchy chorus, and shouts to his bandmates, helped propel the track, which received local radio airplay. The band were soon getting gigs at Georgetown’s Cellar Door, the original 9:30 Club on F Street NW, and even opened for psychobilly behemoths the Cramps at the Psyche Delly in Bethesda. Rubinowitz’s slicked-back hair and guitarist Ratso’s pompadour also helped establish the band’s style. Their tuneful rock song “Hot Rod Man” was featured in the 1984 Judge Reinhold movie Roadhouse 66 (and in a Anco windshield wipers commercial), and Rubinowitz played a handful of gigs in France, but the group’s popularity never reached beyond cult status. By the end of 1988, Rubinowitz quit the band and performing all together. Other band members continued together for a time as Switchblade, and then parted ways and formed other groups. Rubinowitz spent the next few decades repairing guitars, mics, and amps, while caring for ailing members of his family. But music finally drew him back. In 2012, he began working on a rockabilly meets Dixieland jazz project with onetime Bad Boy Bob Newscaster; the project reached fruition with a 2017 album Old Man Mississippi. And, in 2018, Rubinowitz began doing occasional gigs with some former Bad Boys. While he tells City Paper that a back impairment, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic fatigue have significantly impacted him in recent years, he also says that “there’s a place of magic that takes place when you perform and you feel it and you just feel everything’s clicking and you feel connected to the audience.” Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys play at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $35. —Steve Kiviat

Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys circa 1979/80; courtesy of Tex and the Bad Boys

Saturday: Verdi’s Requiem at Strathmore

Giuseppe Verdi‘s Requiem Mass has been called his greatest opera, although it is no opera at all,” says James Conlon, the artistic advisor to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. “It is virtually the only major work he wrote that was not intended for the theater. But that it defies categorization is emblematic of its universal character, which has led it to be one of classical music’s most admired and beloved works, by both musicians and the public alike.” In its time—the 1870s—Verdi’s Requiem was considered by some as too operatic to be performed in a liturgical service yet too devout in its Latin lyrics to be a secular opera. It’s part Baroque fugue, part Gregorian chant, and utterly rapturous. Segueing between the passion of high operatic drama and the somber beauty of a Catholic mass for the dead, it is by turns bleak and brilliant. To appreciate this complex work is to grapple with the inconsistencies and contradictions, the depths of despair and soaring angelic heights. This co-presentation between the Washington Chorus and the BSO will bring Verdi’s enthralling work to the Music Center at Strathmore with four outstanding soloists: Michelle Bradley, one of the most promising Verdi sopranos; lead soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre, mezzo-soprano Yulia Matochkina; one of the most sought-after American tenors, Russell Thomas; and the impressive bass Morris Robinson. The performance will be conducted by Conlon and directed by Washington Chorus’ Artistic Director Eugene Rogers. Verdi’s Requiem plays at 8 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda. $35–$90. —Colleen Kennedy

Sunday: Ocean x KungFu at Capital One Arena

Ocean x KungFu; courtesy of Interscope Records

This Sunday, hip-hop heavyweight Future brings his star-studded Future and Friends Party Tour to Capital One Arena. This will be the first headlining tour for the “WAIT FOR U” artist since 2019, and he’ll be joined by a slew of household names and up-and-comers in the industry. A noteworthy act taking the stage is the Atlanta-based rap duo Ocean x KungFu, who are 19 and 21, respectively. The sisters have been immersed in hip-hop since childhood, partially thanks to their uncle, who pursued his own rap career. They naturally gravitated toward MCing, and received positive feedback from their community in their early teen years. The two continued honing their sound while building a significant following on social media for viral prank videos and vlogs. Since 2020, Ocean x KungFu have released only a handful of tracks, but they’re currently preparing for their major label debut on Interscope Records. They’ve rolled out two singles in recent months, maintaining their fiery confidence as they lean in to the current southern sound of heavy drums, simple melodies, and flamboyant lyricism. Their latest track, “Gangsta,” displays this evolution as they effortlessly dish out piercing insults and clever flexes over sharp 808s. Those attending the concert should prepare to be captivated by the raw energy and charisma these emerging MCs exude. Attendees will also get the chance to enjoy performances from BabyFace Ray, Kodak Black, EST Gee, Rob 49, and Trippie Redd. The Future and Friends show, with Ocean x KungFu, starts at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW. $115–$575. —Amari Newman

Sunday: Nick Hakim at Union Stage

Some of us are feeling the effects of seasonal depression, despite the undoubtedly mild winter we’re having. The soulful stylings of D.C. native Nick Hakim are the remedy we need. Hakim left the area to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, originally as a music therapy major, before relocating to Brooklyn after graduation. The crooner’s first local performance since the October release of his new album, Cometa, promises to be restorative. “I love coming back to my hometown and seeing my family and friends,” Hakim tells City Paper. “It makes me feel at home. I always get some fries and mambo sauce wherever I can.” Longtime fans will notice Hakim shaved his head ahead of his return, and his fresh collection of romantic songs allow his buoyant voice to shine unadulterated. Hakim may have traded in some of his psychedelic sound for one that’s decidedly more indie folk, but the subjects of his songs—love, desire and longing—remain familiar. “Feeling Myself” juxtaposes ’70s soul vocals with a trippy bass line and synths exuding a dreamlike quality, and Hakim’s imagery is at its most confident. “Perfume,” a personal favorite, features more haunting vocals reminiscent of indie singer James Vincent McMorrow’s, and the music itself perfectly captures the fleeting scent of an amour. Similarly, the chance to see Hakim perform at an intimate venue like Union Stage might not last. Recent work with the likes of Alex G and DJ Dahi and features on Claud and Pink Siifu’s albums prove the talented musician’s cometa (Spanish for kite) continues to rise. We know at least one song likely to be on the set list. “The song ‘Qadir’ always reminds me of D.C. and growing up there,” he shares. “This song is named after my late friend, and I always feel like he and everyone we grew up with is present when we perform it.” Nick Hakim plays at 8 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. $20–$40. —Dave Nyczepir

Thursday, Jan 26: Franny Choi and Danez Smith, virtual

Courtesy of Lost City Books

Despite what the New York Times foolishly published last month, poetry is not dead. It is nowhere near death! If anything, poetry is experiencing a modern renaissance as the genre becomes increasingly accessible to the masses and as a new generation of poets write about pressing issues of identity, politics, past traumas, current joys, and what our collective future holds for us. Franny Choi and Danez Smith, two of the most prominent voices in this revolutionary generation of poets, are bringing their important work to the DMV through a virtual event hosted by Lost City Books on Jan. 26. Choi will be reading poems from their acclaimed 2022 poetry collection, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On, named one of Time’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2022, and included on NPR’s 2022 list of “Books We Love” and Vulture’s “10 Best Books of 2022.” The collection’s poems tackle questions of dystopia and utopia as Choi reminds readers that, while this current time period can seem dire, the world has often been apocalyptic in myriad ways for marginalized communities. Similarly, Smith’s 2020 book, Homie, explores friendship, loss, and grief in a time of crisis. Rather than harp on the dystopian, Choi and Smith’s work invites us to explore the tensions of our lives and inspires us to seek hope, community, and care as we work to build a future together. If you want to know more about the state of not just the poetic world but our world at large, look no further than these two voices. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 via Lost City Books’ YouTube channel. Free. —Serena Zets