Posted at 8:58 AM ET, 08/20/2009

Double Talk: Vandaveer and Roofwalkers

Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin celebrate the release of the new Vandaveer album Thursday at the Black Cat. (Courtesy Romo PR)

On Thursday the Black Cat hosts a mighty fine all-local bill. Two of those bands, Vandaveer (above) and Roofwalkers, have brand new albums out. Vandaveer's "Divide & Conquer" will be available at Thursday's show; Roofwalkers' self-titled album will be out on Aug. 25, with the official CD release show on Sept. 18 at the Writer's Center in Bethesda. (Really!) Vandaveer is the vehicle of Mark Charles Heidinger; he plays elegant folk songs that are refreshingly earnest, with smart lyrics and smart arrangements. Roofwalkers, helmed by Ben Licciardi, is a six-piece band that specializes in tunes that are dreamy but never sleepy, catchy and complex at the same time. Earlier this week I got the two of them to talk to each other about their new albums, creative process and a little bit of Dylan. Which I swear I didn't even ask them to do.

Ben Licciardi (Roofwalkers): Hi Mark. I've been enjoying "Divide and Conquer" all day. The first thing that hit me about it is how nuanced and beautifully arranged the songs are. I've heard you play a few of them live, but it was only you and a guitar. Did you flesh the songs out in the studio just for the album, or did you always imagine them in this form?

Mark Charles Heidinger (Vandaveer): I think this is the first time I gave myself the time and freedom to let each idea or song fully materialize in a particular way before rushing it to tape, or to hard drive. I don't necessarily feel like the versions of these particular songs that made it onto the record are definitive, but I do feel like they are fully realized ideas.

Recordings are like Polaroid snapshots, I think. Songs live. They breathe. Sometimes they thrive. Other times they putter out. They aren't stagnant things, and a recording is really just a glorified way of documenting something at a certain point. A recording is an artifact, really. I like allowing myself the freedom to release an album of songs recorded one way, but performed live another. May not be the best marketing plan, but it feels right, so...

Vandaveer - "Turpentine"

Roofwalkers - "Chin Music"

(Read more after the jump.)

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By David Malitz  |  August 20, 2009; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Posted at 10:59 PM ET, 08/18/2009

Nightlife Agenda

Will Eastman's Bliss dance party -- shown here back in the heady pre-laptop/iPod days of 2001 -- celebrates its ninth anniversary on Saturday night. (Mark Finkenstaedt - For The Washington Post)

Chuck Brown gets a street named after him, Asylum turns 18 with beers for 18 cents, three local bands are celebrating new releases, Rich Medina does Afropop right, Current and Tattoo give away free drinks, Flashpoint hosts a Twister tournament and author Jessica Hopper shows why girls rock.

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By Fritz Hahn  |  August 18, 2009; 10:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Posted at 7:24 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Free and Easy Events

Don't forget about Asian Elephant Day at the Zoo -- you know the guests of honor won't. (Joe Elbert/`The Washington Post)

Every week, the Going Out Gurus suggest ways to enjoy Washington's cultural scene without spending any money. Have an idea for us? Send it to

Pakistan Festival USA at George Mason University
Pakistani pop musicians, folk singers, dancers, comics and movie and TV stars will be appearing at this day-long celebration of the country's independence day. Vendors dish up curries and kebabs, sell crafts and offer henna tattoos. Look your best: the festivities will be broadcast on television in Pakistan.

"Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life" at the National Gallery of Art
There's less than a week left to catch this large exhibition of the acclaimed 18th-century Spanish painter's works, which feature tricks of light that dazzle the eye.

Doug Segree at Midtown Loft
Guitarist Doug Segree, known for hosting the Suicide Sunday parties at Dewey Beach's raucous Starboard, brings his mix of infectious, Dave Matthews-esque alternative rock to a brand-new Dupont Circle bar and lounge. There's no cover or dress code, and draft beer is free from 5 to 6.

"Lost and Found: 15 years of the 2.D.K. LAB" at Miss Pixie's Furnishings & Whatnot
This unique show of art, photography and sculpture features works by famed D.C. graffiti artists, including Cool "Disco" Dan and Borf, as well as works from the D.C. Urban Arts Academy.

"Slumdog Millionaire" at the Mansion at Strathmore
Held on Strathmore's huge lawn, the family-friendly Comcast Outdoor Film Festival showcases popular films, including the 2008 Best Picture winner "Slumdog Millionaire." Admission is free and you're welcome to bring a picnic; however, concession sales benefit NIH Children's Charities.

Arlington County Fair
The closest fair to Washington that lacks an admission fee, Arlington's annual gathering includes midway rides that you do have to pay for. But there's no charge for the outdoor screening of "Twilight" or to watch a "Dating Game"-style event with "Rock of Love" winner Ambre Lake.

Celebrate Asian Elephants at the National Zoo
Learn about a day in the life of a zoo elephant as the National Zoo's largest residents are bathed, trained and weighed. The Sri Lankan homeland of the zoo's elephant Shanthi is honored with traditional dances, craft displays and free Ceylon tea.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  |  August 14, 2009; 7:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Posted at 4:37 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Get Your Fill During D.C. Beer Week

Craft beer bars like Birreria Paradiso, Brasserie Beck, R.F.D. and Granville Moore's have helped turn Washington into a capital-B Beer Town in recent years, but it's always been a sum-of-the-parts collection of microbrew-friendly destinations instead of a unified front.

That's about to change, though, with the launch of D.C. Beer Week, a six-day celebration of beer that involves taverns and restaurants across the city, from high-end hop havens to laid-back neighborhood bars.

And while beer lovers can get their fix of rare Belgian styles, limited-edition Dogfish Head concoctions and tasty cask ales, there's more than just boozing on the agenda -- try live music, cheese tasting, a freak show and even baseball.

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By Fritz Hahn  |  August 14, 2009; 4:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 08/14/2009

BlackSalt Is Losing A Great Catch

Scott Weinstein, the friendly fishmonger at BlackSalt, will leave his post this fall. (Charma Le Edmonds)

Attention, shoppers: The city's top fishmonger is leaving his iced display case in the Palisades. BlackSalt's Scott Weinstein -- the gangly dude behind the retail counter in the front of the seafood restaurant -- says he'll be leaving the job at the end of October.

He and his boss, restaurateur Jeff Black, are parting on good terms, and Weinstein, 30, says he wants to leave the five-year-old gig while he's still having fun. That said, "I'm definitely going to do my own thing," the chef tells me, "and it will definitely be seafood-oriented." A Bethesda native, the fishmonger hopes to remain in the area, too.

When Weinstein started at the restaurant, he peppered Black with queries. "Now, he's so good," reports Black, "I ask him the fish questions." During Weinstein's tenure, it seemed he could locate all kinds of obscure watery ingredients, from rose fish to live abalone, and he brought them to BlackSalt. Weinstein even began sourcing fish and seafood for wholesalers in the area.

"He's a fixture" at BlackSalt, says Black. "He'll be tough to replace."

The search is now on for a fresh face. Since Weinstein's replacement will be dealing with shoppers, Black says he's looking for someone with "a cooking background and a Type-A personality." One of the perks of the day job: "No nights."

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  |  August 14, 2009; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Happy Hour Recap

Mmmm ... Georgetown Cupcakes. (Dakota Fine)

A big thanks to everyone who came to happy hour at Clarendon Ballroom last night. We hope you got there early enough to get one of those ridiculously delicious cupcakes courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake. They were tasty.

One lucky winner went home with a gift certificate good for a dozen of those scrumptious cupcakes. And lots -- lots -- of people went home with t-shirts and assorted board games. That was certainly the longest giveaway portion of any Going Out Gurus Happy Hour. Our final prize goes to Rob Ramey, who wins two nights at the Bellmoor Inn in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Congrats, Rob!

Our next happy hour will be on Thursday, Sept. 10 at Public Bar. See you there! For now, enjoy pictures from last night, all by our ace photog, Dakota Fine.

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By David Malitz  |  August 14, 2009; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 08/14/2009

Got Plans? Redux: Day Trippers

Quick getaways are on everyone's minds this August. In yesterday's chat, we dished about day trips to Frederick and Charlottesville, nightlife in Warrenton, where to find sweet potato pie, unique date-night ideas and rock clubs for 15-year-olds.

Read the full transcript here. Got comments? Leave 'em below or submit them to next week's discussion.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  |  August 14, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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