City Lights: Sittin’ In Details D.C.’s Midcentury Jazz Clubs

Jeff Gold's new book dedicates an entire chapter to images of the D.C. jazz scene in the 1940s and '50s.

If asked to visualize a jazz club in the 1940s or ’50s, most people would think of a trumpet player onstage holding their instrument high, glistening through circles of cigarette smoke, like in famous black and white photos from photographers Herman Leonard or William Gottlieb. But in music memorabilia collector Jeff Gold’s new book, Sittin’ […]

City Lights: Present.Perfect Seems Dystopian—But It’s Showing Us Our World

Present.Perfect compiles two hours from livestreaming feeds in China.

Present.Perfect When they imagined a future with jet-packs and airborne automobiles, speculative writers of yore never figured out the defining technological advance of the early 21st century: social media. Way back in the ’80s, William Gibson anticipated some aspects of the internet with his concept of cyberspace, but even then, the idea that millions of people […]

City Lights: See a Free Stream of Marnie Starring Denyce Graves

Graves plays the role of Marnie's shrewd mother.

In March, the Metropolitan Opera announced the closure of its 3,800 seat venue to curb the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the Met has dipped into its vast library of filmed operas to offer a free show each day on its website. The carefully curated productions guide viewers through the history of the opera canon while also introducing them to contemporary works, like Tuesday night’s stream of Marnie by Nico Muhly. […]

City Lights: Reed Doherty’s Music Helps Recreate Nights at Boundary Stone

The Bloomingdale bar will close until further notice this week, but Reed Doherty's music can help keep the vibes alive.

At Boundary Stone, Reed Doherty started behind the bar and ended up inside the jukebox. His EP, Reed Appleseed (2017), was at the front of the deck, alongside selections from the Chuck Brown Band and Pavement. On Thanksgiving this week, the Bloomingdale-based bar will close until further notice after nine years in the neighborhood. Over […]

City Lights: Help Out the Lesbian Bar Project With a Night of Comedy

Adams Morgan's A League of Her Own is one of the 15 bars across America that the project is trying to save.

It feels absurd to say that I’ve visited 13 percent of all the remaining lesbian bars in America, but according to the Lesbian Bar Project, only 15 are left, so I apparently have. The honor belongs to Nashville’s Lipstick Lounge and Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own, the inclusive basement space below Pitchers on 18th Street NW cleverly named after the 1992 classic that drips with subtext. […]

City Lights: Brit Bennett and Yaa Gyasi Discuss Generational Storytelling

Two celebrated authors come together for a Loyalty Bookstores-organized talk on writing stories that span generations.

Pulling off a novel that covers generations requires a steady hand. Authors must balance style and literary flair with the need to introduce, develop, and distinguish new sets of characters, all while keeping the temporal progression of the book uncomplicated enough to follow. It’s a very specific craft, argues Loyalty Books, which will host a talk on Nov. 20 with two celebrated authors who’ve recently demonstrated that they have the chops to pull it off. […]

City Lights: Let Aisslinn Nosky Build You a Musical Time Machine

The Washington National Cathedral's new artist in residence will play music from the 18th and 21st centuries in a one-hour virtual concert.

Nothing makes a relaxing night inside quite like hours of classical music. The Washington National Cathedral’s new artist in residence, violinist Aisslinn Nosky, is playing a one-hour online concert on Nov. 22. Nosky is an internationally renowned violinist—she is the current concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and was a member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra from 2005 to 2016. She also is a founding member of the Eybler Quartet, […]

City Lights: Salad Days Will Take You Out of Your House and Into the Punk Scene

Scott Crawford's documentary picks up around the time where Punk the Capital leaves off.

Local filmmaker and former fanzine editor Scott Crawford most recently got international attention for his 2019 documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, but Crawford’s 2014 debut effort, Salad Days, about the D.C. punk scene from 1980 to 1990, remains relevant. (He followed it up with a 2017 book, Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, D.C. Punk Scene; I contributed a short piece to it.) While the 2019 James Schneider and Paul Bishow documentary Punk the Capital […]

City Lights: Send the Phillips Collection Your 2020 Photos

The museum is collecting images that capture this atypical year for an upcoming exhibition.

The Phillips Collection wants to see 2020 from your lens, it has declared in its Instagram bio. For its upcoming exhibition Community in Focus, the Phillips is pulling together images from the community that capture this atypical year. The museum is inviting the public to submit original photos taken during 2020—and that includes you. The […]

City Lights: Watch a Good Talk With Mira Jacob

Jacob will discuss her graphic memoir with Loyalty Books owner Hannah Oliver Depp.

“Is it bad to be brown?” Mira Jacob’s six-year-old half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, could already sense the tension building in his family after the 2016 election. In her graphic memoir, Good Talk, Jacob recalls some of her most formative discussions about race, sexuality, family, and love, in order to honestly answer Z’s many questions about growing up brown in America. Presented in a mixed media style with monochrome illustrations and colorful photographs […]

City Lights: Pocket Poem Shows Off Anthony Pirog’s Virtuosic Talents

Some cuts on the album display loud prog-rock bravado, but others are downright pretty.

Pocket Poem D.C. guitarist Anthony Pirog plays many styles, depending on who he is collaborating with. In The Messthetics, he bangs out artsy post-punk, with Luke Stewart he plays avant-garde jazz, with The Spellcasters it’s Danny Gatton-rooted blues, swing, and rockabilly, and with his wife Janel Leppin, he plays a mix of ambient, improvisation, and […]

City Lights: Songbyrd Radio Will Fly You Back to March

Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House's radio episodes recorded in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown are nostalgic and uplifting months later.

Songbyrd Radio In March, Joe Lapan and Alisha Edmonson recorded what, until an early November set, looked like their last two episodes for Songbyrd Radio. Together, the pair runs Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House, and Songbyrd Radio was a weekly radio show Lapan hosted Sundays at the Line Hotel, just blocks away in Adams […]

City Lights: Dash & Lily Provides Early Signs of Christmas Cheer

The holiday romance is based on a book co-written by Rachel Cohn, who was born in Silver Spring.

Classic signs that Christmas is right around the corner: Carols play on the radio, snow settles on the ground, and a deluge of holiday romance plots hit the screen. Dash & Lily is Netflix’s latest entry into this annual TV tradition, adapted from the YA novel Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Silver Spring-raised author Rachel Cohn and her writing partner David Levithan. […]

City Lights: Beauty Pill’s “Instant Night” Is Still Relevant After the Election

The single's message continues to resonate after the end of a bitter, drawn-out election.

“Instant Night” How do you make the perfect single for Election Day? Start by warping a February 2017 speech from White House senior adviser Stephen Miller that declares the powers of President Donald Trump are “very substantial” and “will not be questioned.” Then, weave in the hauntingly smooth sound of Beauty Pill vocalist Erin Nelson. […]

City Lights: Yi Yi Is a Stirring Family Epic

Edward Yang's 2000 film is still fresh and powerful.

Yi Yi The late Taiwanese director Edward Yang only managed to make eight features before he died of colon cancer in 2007 at the age of 59. But his work includes some of the most celebrated—and most moving—arthouse films of the era. His final feature, the 2000 drama Yi Yi, is the epic story of a middle-class Taipei […]

City Lights: Brave the Jurassic Quest Dinosaur Drive-Thru

Act fast—“limited quantities of additional Dino-rrific souvenirs” will be available for purchase.

Election hysteria, violence, vanishing environmental protections, endless doomscrolling: Some days, you wish you could tell the fish who walked out of the primordial soup to turn around and head back in. Try, instead, making time to unplug and embrace tradition with a throwback to the Mesozoic era. […]

City Lights: Jam to Kino Musica’s Ifaan EP

The D.C.-based group, formed in 2014, has released its debut EP, Ifaan, and a music video for its lead song, "Arke Yehuma."

Ifaan In 2014, a group of D.C. musicians played together for the first time at a musician’s potluck organized by saxophonist Regan Carver. Those instrumentalists and singers soon formed the group Kino Musica. (“Kino” is the nickname of a band member’s cousin, and became part of the group’s moniker when the members could not agree on another […]

City Lights: Let Sarah Cooper Convince You Everything’s Fine

The Montgomery County-raised comic landed a Netflix deal thanks to her viral lip-syncing videos.

Comedian Sarah Cooper captured lightning in a bottle with her lip-syncing TikToks poking fun at President Trump. By swapping the podiums and press conferences that offer him a veneer of dignity for a roster of wigs and homemade props, Cooper unveiled a new shade of absurdity in Trump’s erratic soundbites. But Cooper’s apparent overnight success has been years in the making. […]

City Lights: A New Stage Features Three Dancers with D.C. Ties

Tiler Peck's hour-long collaborative dance performance features Brooklyn Mack along with sisters Chloe and Maud Arnold.

One of America’s best-loved ballerinas found a way to get back onstage, and she’s brought three D.C. dancers—Brooklyn Mack and tap-dancing sisters Chloe and Maud Arnold—along for the ride. New York City Ballet star Tiler Peck (also known for teaching barre classes to thousands on Instagram) leveraged her celebrity and launched A New Stage, an hour-long collaborative performance available on Vimeo. […]

City Lights: Dance the Night Away with the Eighties Mayhem Halloween Dance Party

Dull the pain of your protracted quarantine with three hours of new wave and goth rock this Halloween.

Many of this year’s scary-season festivities are canceled, but thanks to the Black Cat, FYM Productions, and the magic of Twitch, you can dull the pain of your protracted quarantine with three hours of new wave and goth rock this Halloween. Costumes and dancing are strongly encouraged, but if you want to log into Black Cat’s first virtual Eighties Mayhem Halloween Dance Party just to enjoy the music (courtesy of DJ Steve EP, DJ MissGuided and Killa K), that’s fine too! […]

City Lights: Stream Miss You Like Hell

The musical was recorded by students across the country and stitched together into a theater-film hybrid.

Contemporary folk-rock musical Miss You Like Hell premiered in San Diego one week before the 2016 presidential election. Now, just a few days before the 2020 election, American University is bringing the story from Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown to life again. Miss You Like Hell tells the story of teenager Olivia and her estranged mother, Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. […]

City Lights: Embassy Row Trick or Treating Goes Virtual

You're advised not to trick or treat in person this year. Take a virtual tour of the embassies instead.

Ghouls and goblins unite! Halloween is here, and it’s time for (virtual) trick or treating. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, spooky season looks a little different this year. Temporarily gone are the days of large costume parties and door-to-door candy gathering. Annual events like trick or treating at embassies are embracing new formats. […]

City Lights: Political Advertisement X Lets You Time Travel With Ads

The project, available in the AFI virtual screening room, takes viewers through decades of advertisements for the presidency.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan obliterated Walter Mondale at the polls. That was also the year that Antoni Muntadas and Marshall Reese started an art project based on a deceptively simple idea: time travel via political advertisements. Muntadas and Reese took television ads for the presidency from as far back as 1952 and strung them into a sequential chain. […]

City Lights: See Rashomon in a New Light

The 1950 classic is presented with Zhang Yimou's 2002 thriller Hero, which Rashomon inspired.

The film programming at the National Museum of Asian Art has long been one of the best deals in the District, and the institution has done its best to provide area moviegoers with streaming titles for home entertainment during the pandemic. This month, the museum gets into the drive-in game with a series of double […]

City Lights: Read Severance with East City Bookshop

Ling Ma's pandemic novel is perfect reading for a book club that has to be held over Zoom … because of a pandemic.

Independent bookstores have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, since they’re now unable to provide the usual experience of in-store perusing and author readings. Booksellers like Emilie Sommer of East City Bookshop have had to get creative to engage their local community of readers. Along with offering Stay at Home Surprise Packs of uniquely curated […]


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