Jumpin' Jupiter
Jay Jenc with Jumpin' Jupiter. Photo courtesy of Hank Dietle's.

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Thursday: Curtis Sittenfeld with Martine Powers at Sixth & I

One of the principles of improvisational comedy is “yes and,” meaning that performers should never negate or undermine their scene partners. Always agree, always build on what the other person said. It’s harder, in love, to be so agreeable; easier to say, “yes but,” “maybe,” or “what do you mean by that?” And who better than Curtis Sittenfeld, literary queen of the what ifs—what if Hillary never married Bill? What if Laura Bush was, like, cool?—to “yes and” her way through a charming love story between a witty sketch comedy writer and a sexy pop star. The twist? What if the writer was the woman and the star was the guy? Yes, and then what if COVID happened? More than a romance novel, Sittenfeld has written the story of a woman and a moment in her latest novel Romantic Comedy (published April 4). “Girl writer” Sally Milz steers clear of all the adorable ingenue cliches. Instead of perky, she is prickly, and while she is appealing, she’s not exactly endearing. (Comedians rarely are.) It makes sense that Sally would respond to attention from a hunky superstar with suspicion and bitterness; it also makes sense that, in the locked-down days of the pandemic, that she’d be the girl a man like Noah Brewster couldn’t forget. Comedy fans and gossip hounds will recognize Sittenfeld’s lightly veiled treatments of guys like Colin Jost and Pete Davidson, while romance fans will appreciate the epistolary interludes, not to mention the sweet and sexy times between the leads. Several gender-swapped Notting Hills have been making the rounds as of late, including Annabel Monaghan’s Nora Goes Off-Script, Katherine Center’s The Bodyguard, and the genuinely laugh-out-loud funny HBO Max series Starstruck, created by and starring Rose Matafeo; but it’s no question that Sittenfeld’s novel is one of the best of its kind. Curtis Sittenfeld joins Martine Powers to discuss Romantic Comedy at 7 p.m. on April 13 at Sixth & I, 600 I St. NW. sixthandi.org. $20–$35.Annie Berke

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Ferry Tales at Kennedy Center

The Potomac River, despite being ever-present in the backdrop of D.C., isn’t talked about that much, except for that time pop singer Lorde took an ill-advised swim in it. A series of performances, presented as part of the Kennedy Center’s RiverRun festival, puts the Potomac in the spotlight and makes the river its stage. People who are invested in the river, such as biologists, Indigenous stewards, and researchers, were interviewed about their passion for the Potomac and the intricacies of its ecosystem, and playwrights Robert Duffley and Jan Menafee have translated these answers into a series of parables. Animals that make their homes in and around the river like kingfishers, scad fish, mussels, and dolphins are celebrated, and the often overlooked history of the river is explored, along with potential future outcomes for the river’s environment. Each story is told at a different stop along the riverfront and the audiences can follow along for the duration, or passersby and impromptu visitors can drop in at various points along the route. The show is performed multiple times most evenings, so check the schedule to time a visit. Reserved tickets are required to board a ferry for a special performance on April 13 that will float down the route of the performance and stop on the water to take in the stories—talk about showboating. Performances take on April 13, 14, and 15 at various venues. Free, tickets required for April 13 performance. globallab.georgetown.edu/projects/ferry-tales. —Stephanie Rudig 

Friday: Jumpin’ Jupiter and Oil City Confidential at Hank Dietle’s Tavern

Thanks to streaming services, YouTube, and the vast expanse of the internet, one can explore virtually any musical genre from any era on a computer or phone while sitting at home. However, seeing musicians perform live still conveys energy and charisma that might not come through on a screen. The rockabilly of Jumpin’ Jupiter and the pub rock and R&B of Oil City Confidential are a case in point. Both local groups feature the potent range and passion of vocalist Jay Jenc. With Jupiter, Jenc can power through verses or slow things down with some “baby, baby, baby” Southern-drawled verbiage. Jenc has been rocking with Jumpin’ Jupiter’s alternately twangy and buzzing guitar and bass on originals and late 1950s covers such as Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” and Elvis Presley’s “Baby Let’s Play House” since 1992. More recently, Jenc has added his voice to Oil City Confidential, a side project band that play tribute to the mid-1970s sound of U.K. outfit Dr. Feelgood and especially their guitarist, the recently deceased Wilko Johnson, whose percussive and staccato finger-picking style and intense demeanor influenced many a punk band. Named after a 2009 film documentary about the British combo, the DMV group are led by guitarist Abaad Behram, who is best known for playing in the 1970s D.C. band Razz (who themselves will be the subject of a film showing at AFI Silver on April 29). With Oil City, Jenc delivers rugged vocals that match up with the muscular straight-ahead riffs. Behram told City Paper that he’s not generally a fan of tribute bands but says Wilko Johnson, one of his top three favorite guitarists, was so “visceral” when he saw him in Dr. Feelgood at a Baltimore gig in the 1970s that he felt inspired to do this when he heard Johnson was dying of cancer. Jumpin’ Jupiter and Oil City Confidential play at 9 p.m. on April 14 at Hank Dietle’s Tavern, 11010 Rockville Pike, Rockville. hankdietles.net. $10. —Steve Kiviat

Saturday: What About Us?

Today Debbie Allen is legendary; in 2020, she received one of the nation’s highest artistic achievements, a Kennedy Center Honor. But as a young performer, she had to fight for success. Allen grew up in Houston in the 1950s and 1960s; segregation meant the best dance training wasn’t available to her. But she eventually got a break in the 1980 movie Fame and the TV series that followed, portraying a dance instructor at a New York performing arts school. Since then, Allen has performed on Broadway, directed and produced television, had a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy, and starred in a Shondaland-produced documentary. But that first role in Fame is the one that presaged a primary part of her work today: running the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. This weekend, Allen is bringing her company of “Red Bird” dancers to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage as part of the season-long RiverRun Festival. These dancers, ages 8 to 18, will present What About Us?, a performance of spoken word, dance, and music meant to celebrate nature. What About Us? starts at 11:30 a.m. on April 15 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. kennedy-center.org. Free. Mary Scott Manning

Black Belt Eagle Scout
Black Belt Eagle Scout. Photo by Nate Lemuel of Darlisted Photography.

Tuesday: Black Belt Eagle Scout at Songbyrd

Queer Indigenous musician Katherine Paul, better known as Black Belt Eagle Scout, will perform her acclaimed February 2023 album, The Land, The Water, The Sky, to D.C. on April 18 at Songbyrd Music House. Paul’s music is influenced by her Indigenous heritage and Pacific Northwest roots, drawing inspiration from eclectic influences such as the riot grrrl movement, Hole, Nirvana, indigenous Coast Salish music, and Swinomish traditions. The album this tour is centered around tells a story of the beauty that emerges from returning home to ancestral lands. The journey may be challenging and winding, but Paul’s music shows that it’s one worth taking because it leads one to the place they not only come from, but belong. “When you stand on ancestral lands it is impossible to be alone. You feel the arms and hands that hold you up, unwilling to let you fall into sorrow or abandonment. In her songs Paul has channeled that feeling of being held. In every note she has written a love letter to indigenous strength and healing,” a promotional note on her website reads. Paul’s music is a reimagining of these lineages we come from; she views our histories as plural, communal, and queer. Her work envisions our future as being the same–abundant and full of love. I saw Paul perform in Ohio in 2019 and have thought about her work constantly ever since. I am excited to return to her work, just like she returns home on the album. A homecoming for us both. Our paths have led us to where we both belong. The show starts at 7 p.m. on April 18 at Songbyrd Music House, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com. $15–$18. Serena Zets 

Ongoing: Sandy LeBrun-Evans at Multiple Exposures Gallery

Sandy LeBrun-Evans has been photographing since the late 1980s and early 1990s, initially using black-and-white and infrared film, and more recently digital equipment. During her career, she’s taken photos in Cuba, in ghost towns in the Western U.S., in the coal mining region of West Virginia, and most recently, at a working ranch in Wyoming. Last year, a friend asked her to join her on a visit to southeast Asia. “It was not a photography tour, so I had to look for opportunities as they arose and be ready to shoot when I found myself in the right place at the right time,” LeBrun-Evans tells City Paper. She photographed the colorful but fragile “floating” houses of Tonlè Sap Lake in Cambodia as well as in the Mekong River delta. But her most impressive images are the moody, misty seascapes from an overnight cruise to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. “I had to quickly jump on opportunities when I saw them and figure out a way to photograph around crowds of people,” she says. If there’s a common thread between these and her earlier works, LeBrun-Evans says, it’s fragility, both environmental and social. “An unspoken theme is the need to protect natural resources while also preserving cultural heritage,” she says. Sandy LeBrun-Evans’s Waters of SE Asia runs through April 23 at Multiple Exposures Gallery at the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Suite 312, Alexandria. multipleexposuresgallery.com. Free. —Louis Jacobson

Plan Ahead: State of the Arts Night at the Hirshhorn

Spring is prime time for D.C. embassies, with Passport DC and other activities and tours hosted by the various envoys. But for the first time ever, this year’s festivities will be precluded by another event: the EU State of the Arts Night. Presented in partnership with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and in cooperation with various embassies, State of the Arts Night will feature artists from various EU nations. In addition to exhibits, music, and interactive performances, attendees will also get the opportunity to hear from artists and how their work explores issues critical to the EU. Although from different countries, many of the artists explore similar themes of climate change, democracy, war, and gender. And although showcasing the art is part of the event, organizers hope that attendees will engage in conversation about the work presented. “It’s an evening that’s really dedicated to fostering relationships and dialogue between Europeans and Americans through the arts on the big issues of our time,” EU Senior Cultural Affairs Officer Christine Vest says. “Each of the artists comes not just to present their work, but to interact with the local community on the values and concerns shared by both sides of the Atlantic.” State of the Arts Night will take place April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue and 7th Street SW. Free. hirshhorn.si.edu — Hannah Docter-Loeb