Peni Candra Rini
Indonesian singer and composer Peni Candra Rini performs at Hill Center on May 6; Credit: Arief Budianto

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Saturday: Identity and Culture in the Digital Age at Freer Gallery

Now through May 14, the National Museum of Asian Art’s Centennial Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Festival is in full swing. The inaugural festival is packed with plenty of artists with international acclaim, such as singer-songwriters Eric Nam and Raveena, performing at the sold-out concert on May 13. However, true to NMAA’s organizing theme of “Journeys,” the festival will also highlight Asian creatives closer to home who engage alternative mediums to express their unique heritage and paths, including a panel discussion on identity and culture in the digital age with multi-hyphenated, local content creators on May 6. Linh Truong is a proud 21-year-old Vietnamese creator whose social platforms—covering her daily life, college experiences, and more—have become “a hub for Gen Z inspiration,” according to her bio. Meanwhile, DMV native Jade Womack helps fellow Washingtonians enjoy all corners of D.C. via her award-winning Instagram blog, Clockout DC. And local influencer and Ph.D. candidate Rohini Manickam also joins the conversation. Per the panel’s Eventbrite description, the three will “reflect on how identity and culture influence their digital content creation and messaging to a global network of followers.” Event attendees can also expect to learn how these creators leverage their platforms to invite multicultural exchange and discussion on current social affairs. It’s a conversation that’ll weave the local with the global that you won’t want to miss. Identity and Culture in the Digital Age starts at noon on May 6 at Freer Gallery of Art, Independence Avenue at 12th Street SW. Free. —Irene Bantigue

Jade Womack, Linh Truong, Rohini Manickam; courtesy of Eventbrite

Saturday: Peni Candra Rini at the Hill Center

Indonesian singer and composer Peni Candra Rini’s vocals offer range, power, and subtlety. She sings ethereal pop-inflected songs, traditional Javanese gamelan tracks, delicate jazz-tinged numbers, and some out-there compositions on which she screeches avant-garde style and stretches out operatically. She does all of this accompanied by a ringing metal-keyed xylophone, gongs, keyboard, drums, and Indonesian stringed instruments. Rini, the daughter of a master puppeteer father and a singing mother who taught her gamelan music, also performs dramatic Indonesian meets European classical dance moves while onstage. Rini is now one of only a few women gamelan composers and one of few who writes poetic lyrics with a feminist touch. Since January, Rini, who is also a lecturer at the Indonesian Institute of Art, has been a visiting Fulbright scholar at the University of Richmond, and for her D.C. show she will be backed by Virginia-based musicians including members of Rumput and Gamelan Raga Kusuma, as well as some music faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond.  Rini recently worked with the Kronos Quartet and rock band Deerhoof, and attendees can expect to hear work from both projects. As she told Richmond magazine in April, she uses “tradition in a contemporary way.” Peni Candra Rini performs at 7 p.m. on May 6 at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. $22. —Steve Kiviat

Monday: The Best of Bond at Alamo Drafthouse

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse

Dalton, Timothy Dalton. That’s one cat who might be feeling a bit unloved with the Alamo Drafthouse’s announcement that both its Bryant Street NE and Crystal City locations will be showing classic 007 flicks on each of the five Mondays in May. And their picks are unimpeachable, representing what most fans—this one, anyway—will tell you is each Bond actor’s best outing in the role. Sure, there are people who maintain that 1964’s flashy Goldfinger, not 1963’s more suspenseful From Russia With Love (which screened May 1—sorry!), is Sean Connery’s best Bond, just as many will insist that 2012’s grandiose Skyfall represents the pinnacle of Daniel Craig’s tenure, rather than 2006’s emotionally complex reboot Casino Royale (May 31). These people are wrong. The 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me (May 15) is where the producers figured out, after two prior attempts, how to adapt the series to Roger Moore’s more hairspray-driven style of performance (bonus points for the cold open with the ski jump and the Union Jack parachute), while 1995’s Goldeneye (May 22) is where 007-in-waiting Pierce Brosnan renewed the franchise that legal problems had kept out of cinemas for the first half of the 1990s. The fact that the Drafthouse folks have chosen to include 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (May 8), a bizarre but wonderful curio featuring Australian model George Lazenby in his one and only outing as James Bond, just proves that they’re taking their responsibilities seriously. The story of how Lazenby, a man who’d never spoken a single line on stage or screen when Connery walked away, scored the biggest role in movies at the time and then lost it just as quickly, is as unlikely and amusing as any espionage plot 007 creator Ian Fleming ever dreamed up after one of his four-martini breakfasts. Missing in action from the series is 1987’s The Living Daylights, the first of Dalton’s two appearances. Sorry, Timmy. This is perhaps the only time I’ve ever lamented that a month does not have enough Mondays. The Best of Bond runs every Monday in May at 7:30 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse Bryant Street, 630 Rhode Island Ave. NE; and Crystal City’s location, 1660 Crystal Dr., Arlington. $11. —Chris Klimek

Monday: Country Westerns at the Runaway

Country Westerns, courtesy of

All three members of the Nashville cowpunk trio Country Westerns have done prior stints in notable bands: frontperson Joseph Plunket used to lead the Brooklyn outfit the Weight; drummer Brian Kotzur played with Silver Jews; bassist Jordan Jones was in a glam-rock outfit called Easy. But with the April 28 release of their splendid sophomore album Forgive the City, Country Westerns have something none of their members’ prior concerns had: a title song. While it’s possible the Weight may have named themselves after the classic from the Band’s Music From Big Pink, they did not write that song. Anyway, introductory songs for musical acts is just good promotional practice: Bruce Springsteen has the E Street Band playing the 50-year-old album cut “The E Street Shuffle” on tour this year, and can you even fathom what the legacy of the Wu-Tang Clan might have been had Enter the 36 Chambers omitted “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit”? Those two signposts suggest sprawl, and Country Westerns are all about pith. Forgive the City’s dozen songs blow by in a raucous and rowdy 31 minutes, with “Country Westerns” arriving right in the middle. “Lost lifers with a long list of reasons to load and roll the dice,” Plunket growls by way of introduction, and the way Jones’ bass gallops along beneath Plunket’s peals of heroic tremolo guitar make it almost impossible not to visualize a clip reel of this road-worn trio’s adventures staying one step ahead of the law. The song isn’t as funny as their rave-up “Cussin’ Christians” or as dreamy as the ballad “Speaking Ill of the Blues,” a dashboard-pounding banger that would’ve been a massive FM hit if these guys could’ve released it in 1979. Don’t file Country Westerns under Country or Western. File them somewhere in between Drive-By Truckers and The War on Drugs. As niches go, there are worse ones. Country Westerns play at 8:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Runaway, 3523 12th St. NE. $12–$15. —Chris Klimek

Closing Thursday: Italian Wonder at the Embassy of Italy

From Massimo Listri’s Italian Wonder; courtesy of the Embassy of Italy

Finding beautiful interiors in Italy is almost comically easy, but even by that standard, Massimo Listri’s photographs, currently on display at the Embassy of Italy, are stunning. Sixteen of Listri’s large-scale photos, arrayed in two opposing semicircles in the embassy’s airy lobby, document Italian palaces, museums, and other interiors, most of them luxurious but some spartan, and always devoid of people. For a photographer skilled at capturing flat architectural surfaces, Listri is also talented at communicating depth; in several images, he aims his lens through a series of open doorways, drawing the eye through as many as four successive rooms. In one photograph from Venice, Listri toys with two- and three-dimensionality by capturing a romantic trompe l’oeil that surrounds a headless marble sculpture and lemon trees. While some of Listri’s locations are relatively monochromatic, the photographer manages to find a notable array of blue hues, including robin’s egg, powder, and most strikingly, a patterned, royal blue fabric wall-covering in a room under renovation in Palermo. For all the rococo ceilings, marble columns and crystal chandeliers, however, the most memorable features in Listri’s images are probably the black-and-white patterns on the floors. Most of them are timelessly elegant, minimalist checkerboards, but one, in Venice, has an unexpectedly modernist spiral pattern. If you miss this exhibit, the embassy’s next one, featuring photographs of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, will open May 24. Italian Wonder is on view May 5, 9, and 11 at the Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven St. NW. Free, but appointments are required: —Louis Jacobson