Enjambre plays Union Stage on Feb. 26; courtesy of Rocio Gutierrez

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Starts Thursday: Mother Tongue Film Festival at the Smithsonian

What does New York City have to do with endangered languages? That’s one question that will be asked on opening night of this year’s Mother Tongue Film Festival, which has been organized by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices program since 2016 and is returning with in-person screenings along with selected streaming titles. This year’s lineup, which features 27 films in 23 languages, focuses on the theme of “Coming Home,” which encompasses a spectrum of concepts about migration and assimilation. The opening night program, on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hirshhorn’s Ring Auditorium, includes the documentary short “New York, Just Another City,” which follows Brazilian filmmaker Patrícia Ferreira Pará Yxapy on a visit to the Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History, where she’s concerned about the institution’s display of sacred objects from her people, the Guarani Mbya. This is followed by the feature documentary Daughter of a Lost Bird, Brooke Swaney’s film about Kendra Potter, a Blackfeet/Salish woman who was raised far from Native American culture but longs to understand her heritage. But this isn’t just a documentary film festival. On Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. at the National Museum of American History’s Baird Auditorium, you can see the sci-fi drama Night Raiders, about a Cree woman who tries to rescue her daughter from an oppressive military regime. The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices initiative is a collaboration between Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Asian Pacific American Center. Mother Tongue Film Festival runs Feb. 23 through 26 at various locations. Advanced registration is required for in-person events. mothertongue.si.edu. Free. —Pat Padua 

“Evan’s Drum” directed by Ossie Michelin, 2021, screens at Mother Tongue Film Festival; courtesy of the Smithsonian

Friday: Book Launch for District Postcard Views at the DC History Center

Shedrick Pelt wants you to buy his book. And then he wants you to empty it. The local freelance photographer is the author of the just-published District Postcard Views, a book that features about 60 old-fashioned images of D.C. landmarks, with a special focus on sites of historical importance to the city’s Black community. The 5-by-7-inch postcards are all removable, so they can be sent through the mail, old-school. Pelt joins artist Jay Coleman, writer and influencer Austin Graff, educator Monique Rochon, and DJ and radio host DJ PAULHOWARD, for a book launch and conversation at the DC History Center in Mount Vernon Square. For more information on Pelt’s book, read “District Postcard Views Invites You to Send Some of D.C.’s Black History.” The book launch for Shedrick Pelt’s District Postcard Views starts at 5 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the DC History Center, 801 K St. NW. dchistory.org. Free. —Louis Jacobson

Friday: Capital City Blues Festival at DAR Constitution Hall

The Capital City Blues Fest offers locals a rare opportunity to see some of contemporary Southern soul’s leading men who have a dash of blues in their style. (Certainly, there are Southern soul women, but they’re not on this bill.) Here, “Southern soul” doesn’t mean trying to replicate R&B from the 1960s or ’70s, it means using some old-school Black, church-rooted singing techniques while adding programmed sonics alongside classic instrumentation. The lyrics often involve over-the-top braggadocio, soap opera-like tales of cheating partners, love, sadness, and fun. South Carolinian King George began posting his deep-voiced songs on YouTube in 2020 with some success, but he really took off with 2022’s “Keep on Rollin’’ audio video that has been played approximately 32 million times (and has inspired many a response song). Louisiana’s Tucka calls himself the “king of swing” and this means that on cuts like “Tipsy,” he has a relaxed, rhythmic drawl. Another Louisiana vocalist Pokey Bear has created a musical reputation with his raspy bad boy soul vocals on songs like “My Sidepiece,” which has also inspired response songs). The roster also includes North Carolina’s Calvin Richardson, Arkansas’ Lenny Williams, and Mississippi’s Theodis Ealey—each with their own take on bluesy Southern soul. Capital City Blues Festival starts at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24 at DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D St. NW. darconstitutionhall.net.  $120–$350. —Steve Kiviat

Sunday: Enjambre at Union Stage

Some people learned how to bake bread, took up crocheting, or got really good at Animal Crossing. When the pandemic turned the world upside down in 2020, the members of Mexican indie band Enjambre decided it might be a good time to learn how to bring their sound into English. The result of their efforts is Ambrosia, a four-song EP released in 2021 and the band’s first collection of fully English-language songs. (The band flirted with English songwriting on “Makin’ It Back,” a track from their popular 2010 album, Daltónico.) Ambrosia arrived two decades into Enjambre’s career, which began when brothers Rafael and Luis Humberto Navejas started writing songs together in Santa Ana, California, where their family had moved from Zacatecas, Mexico. They recruited their brother, Julian, and other musicians into Enjambre, and the band found their way to Mexico City. Over the course of seven full-length albums, Enjambre garnered buzz in the Mexican capital with their Spanish-language rock music that brings to mind groups like Maná and Los Prisioneros, as well as indie bands like the Strokes and the Libertines. Though it was written in English, Ambrosia fits seamlessly into Enjambre’s repertoire. Like their previous work, the songs on Ambrosia are full of catchy guitar hooks, thumping bass lines, and thoughtful lyrics that tackle everything from the shallowness of social media to the desire to hop in an ’80s Delorean and time travel, a la Back to the Future. The band are gearing up to release their next album, but before they do, they’re bringing their newly bilingual collection of songs to cities across the U.S., including a stop at Union Stage. Enjambre perform Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. unionstage.com. $25. Ella Feldman

Tuesday, Wednesday: Into the Woods at the Kennedy Center

Into the Woods‘ Stephanie J. Block and Sebastian Arcelus; Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

I’m finally starting to feel less sad about being a Broadway fan who lives in D.C. The new, critically acclaimed production of Into the Woods is the latest show to make a major stop at the Kennedy Center Opera House from Feb. 23 through March 19, direct from the Great White Way. The Washington Post has called this production of the late Stephen Sondheim’s classic “more popular than anyone anticipated.” For those who have never seen Into the Woods, or have only seen the Disney movie adaptation—that was an entirely different story thanks to all the time cuts—this musical, by one of the greats, explores what happens when fairy-tale characters have to grow up. The fables of Cinderella, Little Red Riding HoodJack (that guy with the beanstalk), and Rapunzel intertwine when a humble baker and his wife strike a deal with a witch in order to have a child. What follows is a tale revealing the importance of simultaneous optimism and acceptance of moral complexity. This show stars four actors reprising their roles from the recent NYC production: Montego Glover as the Witch, real-life married couple Stephanie J. Block and Sebastian Arcelus as the Baker’s Wife and Baker, and Gavin Creel as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. (Thank goodness Block is under a magic spell that prevents her from leaving the Kennedy Center, lest she be cursed for all eternity.) Under the direction of Lear deBessonet, who directed the Public Theater’s production of Hercules, this rendition of Into the Woods has captured critical and popular attention. The production’s cast recording, which was digitally released in September, earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. The New York Times called it “superb,” and noted that the original production’s “cast changes, humor, wonder, and humanity remained intact” in its transfer to Broadway, so it feels safe to assume the same is true of the Broadway show’s transition to the U.S. national tour. Sure, it’s going to be hard for this touring show to beat Signature Theatre’s recent production of Into the Woods, but let’s see these Broadway bigwigs try. Into the Woods runs from Feb. 23 to March 19 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. kennedy-center.org. $45–$179. —Alexandra Bowman