The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of Sept. 15-21
Annapolis Songwriters Festival: What do the Chesapeake Bay and the Florida Keys have in common? Annapolis is taking a page from Key West and launching its own version of the long-running Key West Songwriters Festival. Like the Florida concert series, the Annapolis Songwriters Festival brings together a mix of free and ticketed musical performances. Find shows happening all over downtown Annapolis, from Rams Head On Stage to outdoors at the City Dock. The inaugural festival snagged a few big-name musicians, including Lucinda Williams, Jake Owen, Josh Ritter, Amos Lee and Fantastic Negrito. Through Saturday. Free to $500.
White Ford Bronco at the Bullpen: D.C.’s favorite retro cover band is back at the Bullpen — and this time, when you’re singing along to Britney, No Doubt and Third Eye Blind, it’s for a good cause: Tickets benefit MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Regular tickets include a cash bar; VIP tickets add a pre-show reception catered by Buffalo and Bergen. 7 p.m. $25-$50.
Live at the Library with the Kitchen Sisters and Frances McDormand at the Library of Congress: The Library of Congress’s weekly after-hours events allow visitors to explore the magnificent Main Reading Room or tour exhibits every Thursday evening. Sometimes they bring special guests, too. This week, it’s the Kitchen Sisters, the radio and podcast producers who have been telling stories of offbeat and oft-overlooked history since 1979. The library acquired the Kitchen Sisters’ archive — “approximately 146,400 mixed material items” — earlier this year, and Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva will discuss their career with Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, followed by a Q&A. 5 to 8:30 p.m. Free; reservation required.
Oktoberfest at Atlas Brew Works: Atlas gets a jump on Oktoberfest at its Half Street brewpub, where a ticket is good for two hours of unlimited beers, spirits and wine, even if the freshly tapped Festbier is the star of the show. Beers come in a souvenir liter or half-liter glass, and German food, such as pretzels and brats, is available for purchase. 6 to 8 p.m. $30-$40.
Silver Branch Oktoberfest: Silver Branch Brewing crafts a wide variety of IPAs, but some of its most satisfying products have a distinctly German character. The Silver Spring brewery celebrates Oktoberfest with the release of a traditional amber-colored Märzen. Settle into the long biergarten-style tables on the patio this weekend for beers, live music (including the Polka Terps after work on Friday) and a menu of freshly grilled brats. Saturday afternoon features a stein-holding competition as well as a German fashion contest. Through Sunday. Free.
Julia Jacklin at 9:30 Club: Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin has been making honest and delicately heartbreaking indie pop songs for three albums now. Her latest project, “Pre Pleasure,” which was released in August, lives in that vulnerable space she’s made for herself while allowing her music to expand. There are new and bolder instrument choices, including a stunning orchestra that dramatically closes the album, allowing listeners to bask in its glory while reminiscing on the album they just finished. And her revealing pen remains: On the song “Magic,” she sings, “I feel adored tonight, ignore intrusive thoughts tonight,” as a steady guitar follows her. Jacklin’s ability to make devastating observations about herself into beautiful lyrics is one of her great talents. She moves from differing subject matter with ease on “Pre Pleasure.” Her desires for her relationship with her mother are explored on “Less of a Stranger.” She wishes they were closer, that they could see each other more clearly. “Ever since I left your body, I’ve been a pretty fast swimmer,” Jacklin sings, as succinct and brutal as ever. 7 p.m. (doors open). $20.
Washington Ukrainian Festival at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral: Silver Spring’s St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral has held a Ukrainian Festival since 2003, but it’s taken on extra meaning this year. Featured performers include former Eurovision Song Contest winner and Ukrainian MP Ruslana, singer Oksana Bilozir and violinist Vasyl Popadiuk, in addition to traditional dance troupes and musicians from the D.C. area and farther afield. The festival includes vendors; crafts and activities for children; a wide variety of Ukrainian dishes, from pierogies to holubtsi; and a Ukrainian beer garden. A portion of proceeds benefits humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Through Sunday. $20; $10 for senior citizens; free for those younger than 21.
Perchfest at the Perch at Capital One Center: It’s been a busy first year for the Perch, the 2 ½-acre park located 11 stories above the Capital One Center in Tysons. The initial stage, with a Starr Hill beer garden, a dog park, lawn games and a terraced grassy area facing an amphitheater stage, opened last fall; this spring brought even more space, including a gorgeous 18-hole mini golf course, rum bar and food truck area. This weekend’s three-day Perchfest features eight bands and a DJ over three days, plus adoptable rescue dogs, game tournaments and family entertainment. Be warned that, since access is by elevator, lines can form at prime times. Friday through Sunday. Free.
‘The Nightsong of Orpheus’ at Dupont Underground: The journey down the dark stairs and long echoing hallways of Dupont Underground might feel, at times, like a trip to the underworld — and even more so now that Orpheus, Eurydice and Hades are making an appearance at the subterranean venue. In a spin on the classic tale that deviates from “Hadestown,” which took over the Kennedy Center for 2 ½ weeks last October, this version by famed librettist Claudio Monteverdi is combined with influences of Japanese Noh. With direction from Theatre Nohgaku specialists, the performance features masks in the Japanese dramatic tradition and is performed in Japanese and English. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $35-$55.
Oktoberfest at Wunder Garten: The NoMa beer garden is a hive of activity over the next four weekends. Fridays hum with the sound of oompah duos and DJs. Saturdays feature live bands in the afternoons, followed by DJs. Sundays bring a pet-friendly “Dogtoberfest,” with discounts for dogs in Bavarian dress. Then there are stein-holding contests (Friday and Saturday), Pridetoberfest celebrations with Capital Pride (Saturday and Oct. 6), happy hours (Tuesdays) and other activities. Seasonal beers from both Germany and the D.C. area are on tap. Through Oct. 9. Free admission.
H Street Festival: This neighborhood celebration shuts down the H Street NE corridor between Third Street and Florida Avenue, filling the pavement with pop-up beer gardens; art displays; rows of vendors; and stages hosting live music, dance demonstrations and fashion shows, among other entertainment. Hop between businesses along the route to find special events, such as a day party with DJs Jahsonic and Farrah Flosscett at Lydia on H and an Oktoberfest kickoff with beers, music and pork shanks at Biergarten Haus. More than 150,000 people were estimated to attend the festival before the pandemic, making it one of D.C.’s biggest events. Noon to 7 p.m. Free.
WalkingTown DC: No matter how long you’ve lived here or how well you think you know the city, WalkingTown DC finds new ways to surprise, educate and delight. Held since 2005, WalkingTown features dozens of free guided tours exploring various aspects of D.C. history. There are deep dives into neighborhoods such as Hillcrest, Brookland, LeDroit Park and Chevy Chase. Find out why Van Ness is the home of American viticulture, see where Frederick Douglass lived and worked on Capitol Hill, and learn about the fascinating memorials in Rock Creek Cemetery. The only problem: Organizers ask participants not to sign up for more than three tours. Good luck narrowing them down. Through Sept. 25. Free. Donations accepted.
Downtown Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival: “Arts and Ales” says everything you need to know about Hyattsville’s annual festival, being held for the first time since 2019: Browse works by more than 100 juried artists and crafters or participate in DIY arts, such as jewelry making or a tie-dye workshop. Listen to six bands, ranging from Afro-pop to zydeco, and taste beers from Maryland breweries in the beer garden. Noon to 6 p.m. Free.
Hispanic Heritage Month Family Festival at the National Museum of American History: The National Museum of the American Latino marks Hispanic Heritage Month and the opening of the Molina Family Latino Gallery with a day-long celebration for all ages. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza discusses the intersection of Mexican food and lowrider culture, Colorado Rockies owner Linda Alvarado talks about being the first Latina to own a Major League Baseball team, and curators share artifacts from the museum’s collections that aren’t usually on display. Hands-on activities and performances are featured all day, and the evening is capped with a 6 p.m. concert including Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles and the D.C. Cuban All Stars. 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Free.
Homecoming at President Lincoln’s Cottage: Family day at Abraham Lincoln’s favorite summer retreat starts with a 5K and fun run — including a “100-foot Tot Dash” — before shifting gears into arts and craft projects, storytelling and, in honor of the president’s horse-loving son Tad Lincoln, free pony rides. From 3 to 6 p.m., there’s live entertainment from Baba Ras D and jazz by Donvonte McCoy. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Most activities free; 5K registration $40-$50; tours of the cottage free-$15.
Free Museum Day: When the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art are on your doorstep, it can be easy to forget that many museums don’t offer free admission. On the annual Museum Day, museums around the country open their doors to anyone with a free ticket. In the D.C. area, those include the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, the College Park Aviation Museum and multiple historic sites in Old Town Alexandria, including Gadsby’s Tavern. A searchable list of participating museums is at smithsonianmag.com/museumday. Hours vary. Free.
Fall Festival at Summers Farm: Families have visited Summers Farm for fall fun for more than 26 years, but this year, be sure to take note of the farm’s new address. “It’s all the same activities, the same ownership, just a different farm four miles down the road,” explains owner Teresa Summers. The new, larger farm near Frederick is set up for wagon rides and a Dolly Parton-themed corn maze, as well as other kid-friendly activities like zip lines, slides and tug of war. The pumpkin patch and fall festival kick off Saturday and run through Halloween, with fireworks displays on Friday and Saturday nights starting Sept. 30. Open daily through Oct. 31. $12.50-$17.50 online, $15.50-$20.50 at the gate; free for children 2 and younger.
Bluemont Fair: If you want your city-slicker kid to get the chance to ride a pony and compete in a sack race while getting a dose of fresh mountain air, make the drive out to the Bluemont Fair. This Loudoun County village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains throws a fall festival with all sorts of wholesome activities and demonstrations, including model train collections, quilt shows, pickle and pie competitions, bake sales, antique markets and blacksmith demos. Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $10; free for children 9 and younger.
Bluejacket Oktoberfest: How many German-style beers does Bluejacket create at its Navy Yard brewery? You might be surprised. To mark the start of Oktoberfest, seven beers are being served in traditional Franconian-style gravity kegs, which pour naturally carbonated beers without the extra carbon dioxide used to dispense beer through “normal” taps. In addition to Hill House, the annual fest beer release, selections include Change Tomorrow, a Bavarian-style Pilsener; Before Sunrise, a Märzen; and Always Wonder, a low-alcohol schankbier, or table beer. Listen to tunes from the Edelweiss Band and Polka Terps while noshing on brats and pretzels. (Also, look for limited-edition cans, including five-liter mini-kegs of Hill House, on the way out.) 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 300 Tingey St. SE. bluejacketdc.com. Free.
Oktoberfest at the Boro: The Sandlot Tysons beer garden hosts a polka show from the powerhouse TKO Band, while the nearby Boro Park hosts games, stations for making pretzel necklaces or getting a glitter tattoo, and social media backdrops. Grab a stein of something — the first 150 arrivals receive a glass with a logo — and wander among the music and activities. 2 to 5 p.m. 8350 Broad St., Tysons, Va. theborotysons.com. Free.
Even more Oktoberfest: German restaurants around the area are less focused on Oktoberfest kickoff events than Oktoberfest season. Glover Park’s venerable Old Europe — in business since 1948 — kicks off Oktoberfest on Saturday with liters of beer and platters of schnitzel in an old-world atmosphere filled with antique steins and model ships. Cafe Berlin on the Hill offers a menu of pork shank and brats in its beer garden, where each weekend includes special events, such as a “Bavarian brunch” with live music (Sunday) or a pig roast (Sept. 24). The Old Stein in Edgewater begins its party Saturday with strolling accordionist Silvia — a fixture at the now-shuttered Cafe Mozart — and Mike Surratt and the Continentals on Sunday, with live music most weekends through October.
Maryland Wine Festival at the Carroll County Farm Museum: The peaceful grounds of the Carroll County Farm Museum will be a great place to explore Maryland’s wine scene as dozens of wineries from the state set up shop with pours to sample and bottles to purchase. (You can check out a Maryland Cheese Pavilion for locally made cheddars, too). There are two tiers of tickets: The basic level provides access to the main field, where you’ll find wineries, food options, live music, and arts and crafts for sale, or you can upgrade to access an explorer village offering a different set of Maryland-grown wines and amenities like picnic tables and air-conditioned restrooms. Saturday and Sunday. Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, Md. marylandwine.org/mwf. $20-$65.
Outlaw Music Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion: As a subgenre, outlaw country emerged as a handful of iconoclasts rebelled against the prevailing winds of Nashville’s country music assembly line. Nearly five decades after the sound and spirit of outlaw country were first established, one of its best-known proponents — Willie Nelson — is still flying its flag alongside a new generation of artists whose music speaks to the breadth and depth of country music. Joining the 89-year-old on this stop of the Outlaw Music Festival are Americana superstars the Avett Brothers; Zach Bryan, touring in support of his true-to-title triple album “American Heartbreak”; sisterly roots rockers Larkin Poe; and Brittney Spencer, a Baltimore-born upstart who is among a class of Black women who are country’s latest boundary breakers. 4:30 p.m. $79.50-$109.50.
Guatemalan Cultural Celebration: Hispanic Heritage Month begins Thursday, and the Embassy of Guatemala is jumping straight into a two-day celebration. In partnership with the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, it’s hosting a festival on District Pier at the Wharf featuring Guatemalan dances, foods, performances and more. This celebration also kicks off Fiesta DC, a multicultural parade and performance series on Pennsylvania Avenue. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Celebrate Petworth: This annual block party tries to have something for everyone in the neighborhood: live bands ranging from hip-hop to reggae to cumbia; a dog show; a kids’ area with skate lessons, singing, face painting and other activities; a pop-up market stocked with art, pottery, clothing and vintage records; an oral history segment featuring historians and longtime residents; and a “Taste of Petworth” featuring local restaurants. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Clayfest at the Brookland Arts Walk: Potters and ceramic artists from across the D.C. region come together at the Brookland Arts Walk for Clayfest, an all-day, open-air market. Chat with visiting ceramists and purchase their work, while music from a DJ makes shopping feel like a party. Kids can get creative with free chalk and clay to play with, and dogs are welcome, too. The 27 artists’ studios located along the Brookland Arts Walk are also open, in case you want to get a jump-start on your holiday shopping. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
Voxtrot at the Black Cat: In the second half of the aughts, Austin-based Voxtrot garnered acclaim and accolades with jangly, twee pop songs that benefited from frontman Ramesh Srivastava’s ear for timeless, softhearted melodies and the band’s feel for danceable beats that were all the rage during the “indie dance” era. After just one album, the band disbanded in 2010, with Srivastava describing Voxtrot’s career path as “one of long, simmering build, explosion and almost instantaneous decay.” But to paraphrase the oft-mangled F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, Voxtrot will get a second act. Earlier this year, the band released its first two buzz-building EPs as “Early Music” and an album of rarities and B-sides titled “Cut From the Stone,” and will return to one of the venues where it said farewell over a decade ago. 7:30 p.m. (doors open). $25-$28.
Public Figures at Songbyrd: Van Hillard grew up dreaming of aliens. His childhood in Caddo Parish, La., was spent staring at the night sky — what he calls “imagination fodder.” Decades later, the self-described “cryptid-head” makes music for the “amplified imagination” with D.C.-based punk rock band Public Figures. Its sophomore album, “Where to Find a Werewolf,” drops at the end of September. Named for John Keel’s paranormal “The Mothman Prophecies,” the band’s first release, “Year of the Garuda,” is musically intense — crashing drums, heavy bass rig and occasional synth — and lyrically easygoing: The raw vocals of the single “Shark Song” repeat endlessly, “All hail the shark.” Hillard says he uses that repetitive framework to “tell a story.” 7 p.m. $14-$17.
Michelle Branch at 9:30 Club: Like countless artists, Michelle Branch recorded her most recent album during early-covid lockdowns, a change in plans that forced the collaboration-friendly singer-songwriter to write songs on her own for the first time in years. As she told Billboard, “It was nice to use that muscle again, and force myself to finish things on my own.” The first taste of “The Trouble with Fever” (due out Sept. 16) is “I’m A Man,” a bluesy rocker that contrasts the struggles of men grappling with toxic masculinity (“I’m out of control / And I can’t help myself”) with those of women navigating its effects (“I’m so tired of being told by everybody / That I can’t make decisions ’bout my own d— body”). 7 p.m. (doors open). $35.
Bomba Estéreo at the Fillmore Silver Spring: Founded in 2005 in Bogotá, Bomba Estéreo has been at the leading edge of the movement to globalize Latin American music by infusing rhythms from sounds like salsa and cumbia with elements of electronic music and hip-hop. The group scored a viral hit with 2015’s “Soy Yo,” which NPR described as “one of the most iconic anthems of Latinx identity,” and has continued to provide purpose-driven fuel for dance floor fires on the albums since. It also linked with a like-minded musician, Bad Bunny, for the sun-stroked “Ojitos Lindos” on the Puerto Rican megastar’s massive album “Un Verano Sin Ti.” 8 p.m. $30.
Battle of the Barrel-Aged Beers at Boundary Stone: Usually one of the most anticipated events of DC Beer Week, this nine-year-old battle pits seven local breweries against each other to see which can craft the most delicious and interesting beer aged in a wooden barrel. DC Brau, the returning champion, will face Atlas, Denizens, Hellbender, Other Half Brewing, Port City and Right Proper. Tickets include tastes of each of the barrel-aged beers, complementary food, a pint of DC Brau — the winner keeps its beer on tap at Boundary Stone for a year — and one vote for the champion. The Stone is once again offering a taste-at-home “virtual option” for two, which contains seven reusable crowlers, a T-shirt and merch, including a pint glass, as well as a vote. 5 to 10 p.m. $60; $80 with T-shirt and swag; $125 virtual.
NSO in your Neighborhood: The National Symphony Orchestra’s NSO in Your Neighborhood program brings world-class musicians and collaborations to unlikely places. Wednesday’s program at Fort Stanton Recreation Center, guest starring local ensemble the String Queens, features works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and, uh, a medley of Adele and Gnarls Barkley, while Thursday’s performance at the Entertainment and Sports Arena promises a go-go band and guest musicians. Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Free.
‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’ at Studio Theatre: Four friends reunite under the Wyoming night sky after a celebration at their Catholic alma mater in playwright Will Arbery’s “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” which opens Studio Theatre’s 2022-23 season. Arbery also worked as a writer for HBO’s “Succession,” and “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020. This play peers into the souls of present-day conservative Catholic millennials, and Arbery is writing what he knows: His father is president of Wyoming Catholic College, where his mother works as a professor of political philosophy. Through Oct. 23. $50-$95.
Hairspray! Singalong: You can’t stop the beat at Shaw’s Tavern, where the bar is bringing a bit of 1960s Baltimore to the Florida Avenue hangout. The piano bar is set to play all the fan favorites from the 2002 musical, which was later adapted into the 2007 film feature starring John Travolta, Christopher Walken and Zac Efron, while the crowd sings along. Reservations are not required for the bar, but those who need to give their dancing feet a break can reserve a table online. 8 p.m. Free.