Don Letts
Don Letts on the New York Subway, 1981; Credit: Lisa Jones

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Saturday: Rebel Dread: The Story of Don Letts at the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art has been showing films in a series titled Burning Illusions: British Film and Thatcherism in association with its well-curated This Is Britain: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s exhibit. That exhibit includes a focus on Caribbean immigrants to the UK and can be seen through June 11. This week’s closing movie of the film series, Rebel Dread, is about Don Letts, the British-born son of Jamaican immigrants who pushed against racism to become an influential reggae DJ at legendary early punk gigs in late 1970s London, managed pioneering all-girl punk band the Slits, directed The Punk Rock Movie, made 400 music videos including ones for the Clash and Bob Marley, and was a member of the rock meets hip-hop and dub reggae band Big Audio Dynamite led by Mick Jones from the Clash. Rebel Dread (2022) was directed by William E. Badgley, best known for the music documentary Here to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits. Letts himself was the film’s executive producer and appears frequently on screen, both in recent interviews and in fascinating Super 8 footage he shot himself. While the film may primarily be of interest to fans of 1970s through 1990s British punk and reggae—who want to know how they became connected revolutionary genres—it also serves as a guide to British politics, history, and immigration. Rebel Dread touches on Letts’ childhood in Brixton, the bigotry of politician Enoch Powell, the Notting Hill riots, and the ongoing harassment Letts endured just driving his car in London. Despite his own prominent role in the making of the film, Letts acknowledges his own human flaws in it. Paul Simonon (the Clash), John Lydon (Sex Pistols), and Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) are also there, attesting to Lett’s courage, creativity, and passion. Rebel Dread: The Story of Don Letts screens, alongside “Divide and Rule Never,” on May 27 at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free; registration required. —Steve Kiviat 

Sunday: Pride on the Water at Georgetown Waterfront Park 

The first official Black Pride festival was held right here in D.C. in 1991. The concept quickly spread across the country and even internationally and, today, cities around the world host Black Prides celebrating Black LGBTQIA folks. But locally, those early DC Black Pride festivals often featured a boat cruise event on the Potomac River. DJ Honey continues the tradition this year with the second annual Pride on the Water Rooftop Cruise. In 2023, Pride on the Water is bigger and better with not just one but two boats leaving the Georgetown Waterfront dock two hours apart. This official DCBP event, sponsored by Ciroc, sets sail along the Potomac and features a top-shelf open bar, music by DJ Deluxx, DJ Lady Mysterious, and hosted by the “Captain”—Honey herself. A late brunch menu will be provided by Chef LexyLex BoogieCrocker. “On this year’s menu, I’m doing my famous salmon cheese and cheesesteak egg rolls paired with an old bay aioli and sweet chili sauce,” Crocker tells City Paper. “It’s a privilege for me to work with beautiful individuals like DJ Honey. She’s all about empowering women and impacting the people around her.” DJ Honey is one of the leading promoters of Black Pride events in D.C. and other East Coast cities. You can follow her on Instagram @djhoney215 or @partywithhoney. For more DC Black Pride events check out our roundup and Pride listings. Pride on the Water sets sail at 4:30 p.m. on May 28 from Georgetown Waterfront Park,  3303 Water St. NW. $100. —Sidney Thomas

Tuesday: Emily King at the Howard Theatre

Emily King, Special Occasion album artwork

Grammy-nominated pop-soul vocalist Emily King brings her highly anticipated North American tour to the historic Howard Theatre on Tuesday, May 30. King is touring in support of her new studio album, Special Occasion, released earlier this month on ATO Records. This is her first album in four years and she is looking forward to performing again in the Nation’s Capital. “I’m so excited to get back to D.C.! It really feels like a second home,” King tells City Paper. “I grew up a lot in D.C. I spent my early 20s learning from and collaborating with the legendary music producer Chucky Thompson. I remember going with him to a go-go for the first time and hanging out with the late great Chuck Brown, the ‘Godfather of Go-Go.’ It was a very special and unique time—feels like family to come back here.” Special Occasion is a satisfying listen and a successful follow-up to King’s critically acclaimed Scenery. The new album boasts poignant and emotionally complex themes. King smartly allows her enchanting vocals to do the heavy lifting over the crisp arrangements, accentuating the deeply personal lyrics. “I was trying to find joy in this confusing emotional vortex,” King says. “These songs helped me to communicate how I was feeling at the time. They gave me perspective and relief when I needed it.” King has weathered the storms in her personal life and delivered a collection of mesmerizing songs that may be the best project of her career. And, as she predicts defiantly on the introspective single “This Year,” this year it will be all about her. Emily King plays at 8 p.m. on May 30 at Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $35. —Sidney Thomas

June 1: Big Boi at the Bullpen

Nothing can prepare you for when Big Boi drops “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” on you live, a manic fusion of drum and bass rhythms, guitars, organs, and gospel vocals running at 155 beats per minute. The song is a reminder of how one of the greatest rap duos of all time, OutKast, transformed rap’s flow (which they felt had grown too formulaic) in the early aughts and how talented one half of that duo, Big Boi, is at keeping pace. The lead-up won’t disappoint either. Expect plenty of Outkast and solo hits—“Ms. Jackson,” “Shutterbug,” and “Lower Case (no cap)” likely among them—a testament to the force the Savannah, Georgia, rapper has been over the past two-plus decades. Big Boi has been casually touring since last summer, mostly playing festivals, so next Thursday’s show at the Bullpen is a rare opportunity to see him up close in a smaller setting. And he’s bringing guests with him. Little Rock, Arkansas, rapper Kari Faux, whose song “No Small Talk” you might remember from the HBO show Insecure, has been announced. Known for her conversational style of internet rap, Faux has a new LP titled REAL B*TCHES DON’T DIE! out Friday, May 26. The single “TURNIN’ HEADS” features Big K.R.I.T., a funky bass line and the no-frills beat we’ve come to expect for a smooth vibe. Doors for Big Boi open at 5 p.m. on June 1 at the Bullpen, 1201 Half St. SE. $35–$40. —Dave Nyczepir

Through June 4: Magdalena Correa at the Art Museum of the Americas

Magdalena Correa (Chile), from the series Suiti, 2017

The Art Museum of the Americas is not the first place one would expect to see a documentary project about the Suiti people; the museum is run by the Organization of American States and focuses heavily on Latin American art and culture, while the Suiti are a small Catholic community in an otherwise primarily Lutheran region of western Latvia. The connection is Magdalena Correa, a Chilean multimedia artist who embedded herself in the Suiti community, in the town of Alsunga, to chronicle their traditions and culture, which have been placed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Correa’s always respectful work, which includes both video and stills drawn from it, has the feel of an old-fashioned anthropological study, punctuated by a monologue of her own observations taken from contemporary diary entries; her work’s formality echoes the distinctly traditional society she’s entered. In the video, Correa’s camera lingers over the careful, unhurried dressing of a woman in traditional, colorful clothing, accompanied by a soundtrack of vocal drone singing; the video then segues into community members participating in a collective dance. Correa’s portrayal of the dance sequence is notable for offering a single, fixed view of the dance floor and focusing the lens solely below the dancers’ shoulders, as the anonymous participants flit regularly into and out of the frame. Correa’s still images, meanwhile, spotlight the community’s most antique elements, from its lace curtains and mechanical sewing machines to its cracking plaster and hand-written sheet music. Two images are especially notable: a close-cropped image of a cross covered by a mysterious layer of what appears to be lichen, and a wall in a tumbledown room where the ripped wallpaper has left a void that looks like a hunched-over figure. The Suiti community was repressed during the Soviet occupation, so the fact that Correa was able to document its survival in 2017 is no small miracle. Suiti, by Magdalena Correa, runs through June 4 at the Art Museum of the Americas, 201 18th St. NW. Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. —Louis Jacobson