MusicOld Town Alexandria

Strike the Right Note in Alexandria

By October 20, 2017 No Comments

Strum to the sound of discovery in Old Town Alexandria Image courtesy of: SolStock/iStock/Getty Images Plus Collection/Getty Images.

The live music never really stops in Alexandria, where a range of venues near the Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria offer something for every musical taste. You can sample national acts, local bar bands, accomplished jazz artists and everything in between. Here’s an overview of some key venues where you can keep the tunes going all night long:

The Biggest Venues

Intimate and laid-back despite being a major player on the Washington, D.C.-area music scene, The Birchmere hosts both established and emerging artists across the American map (and beyond), from country scion Roseanne Cash and bluegrass string band Old Crow Medicine Show, to blues guitarist Tab Benoit and R&B crooner Kenny Lattimore. The largest venue in Alexandria proper, The Birchmere has a 500-seat theater, as well as Flex Stage with standing/dancing room for 1,000 fans.

The 3,000-seat theater at the MGM National Harbor complex, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Hotel Indigo, is tricked out with state-of-the art sound and lighting systems. The venue books well-established stars like pop king Bruno Mars and R&B queen Jill Scott, as well as enduring veteran acts like Cher and Tom Jones.

A Little Bit Country, Rock ‘n’ Roll

On Thursday nights, emerging local artists performing an acoustic mix of country and folk covers and original songs grace he small downstairs stage at beloved Old Town dive bar O’Shaugnessy’s Pub. On weekend nights, couples come to line dance at Nick’s Night Club, where the front-room stage features popular area acts like Baltimore’s rollicking Red Dirt Revolution Band.

On the waterfront, seafood restaurant Blackwall Hitch features live acts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights — look out for Alexandria’s own Scott Fallon, a versatile singer who riffs on country, folk and rock classics.

On Wednesday and Saturday nights at King Street’s The Light Horse, a two-story mecca for homegrown acts (as well as burgers, beers and shuffleboard), you can jam out to area favorites like ’80s cover band The Wavos, ’90s cover band White Ford Bronco and rock-blues-punk hybrid The Blackjack. Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub generally hosts Irish acoustic acts, but on Friday nights it packs them in with local rock cover bands like Both Sides and Forty Thieves.

All That Jazz (and Blues)

The D.C. area is wild about jazz and blues, and several Alexandria venues help to keep Old Town swinging. For dinner and a show, hit the swank, Art Deco-style dining room at The Carlyle Club, where supper service complements performances by jazz ensembles, Big Band-era tribute bands and solo artists like saxophonist Marcus Anderson. Or dig into creative American cuisine at Laporta’s Restaurant, a date-spot popular for its nightly performances by local jazz musicians like pianist Antonio James and torch singer Esther Haynes.

In addition to its sweet selection of whiskey and cigars, Basin Street Lounge books live jazz and blues acts every night at 9 p.m., including regulars like the Capital Blues Ensemble and bassist Holly Montgomery. Every Thursday night at O’Shaughnessy’s, guitarist/singer Damian “Sweet D” Anderson provides a heady mix of blues and soul as leader of the pub’s house band, while Friday and Saturday nights at Southern BBQ joint King Street Blues feature popular local blues acts like The Joe Chiocca Band.

Annual Music Events

The second week in October now belongs to Alexandria Live Music Week, a citywide showcase for local talent started in 2015; each night, local venues feature only area bands and artists and offer food and drink specials.

For New Year’s Eve, the party spills out onto the streets of Old Town for First Night Alexandria, which programs live performances on every corner. Big name artists in a score of genres have been known to make surprise appearances, and the night is capped off with a fireworks show high above the Potomac.