SHOWBIZ ‘Lightyear,’ celebrity event, LGBT runner, Mariah Carey – 222 – Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News

Pixar’s latest film Lightyear is hitting theaters, and it has a special moment for gay fans—a same-sex kiss between the character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her female partner—that almost didn’t happen, Out Magazine noted. The kiss was removed but then re-added. Chris Evans (who stars in the movie as the title character) told Variety, “I mean, [re-adding the kiss is] great. As great as it is—and, you know, I’ve been asked the question a few times—it’s nice, and it’s wonderful. It makes me happy.” Also, in response to 14 countries banning the film because of the same-sex relationship, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, “We’re happy to see Disney standing firmly behind their LGBTQ storytelling. The countries banning this family-friendly film are a reminder of the nearly 70 countries where LGBTQ people are criminalized, and a wake-up call for global business with stakeholders in these countries that they must take urgent action to stand with LGBTQ people there.”

The event “#SeenOnPixel for PRIDE: A Night With Google Pixel, GLAAD + Out + The Advocate” recently took place at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills in West Hollywood, California, per a press release. Guests included Nick Adams, Christine Chiu, Shea Diamond, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Raquel Willis, Mollee Gray, Jeka Jane, Kent Boyd, Wils, Robinick Fernandez, Howin Wong, Jacob Tobia, Vincint, Billie Lee, Greg Mathis Jr., Elliott Cooper, Bunny Barbie, Kodye Elyse, Anna Shumate, Kelsi Davies, Daniel Franzese, Gregory Zarian and more.

Aleia Hobbs narrowly edged famed LGBT sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson by just 0.02 seconds in the women’s 100-meter race at the 2022 NYC Grand Prix, NBC News noted. However, Richardson (sporting a purple singlet with fishnets) prevailed in the 200-meter race. Also, LGBTQ+ Olympic silver medalist Raven Saunders (with appropriately rainbow-colored hair) competed in the women’s shot put and finished third. Some of the winners included Devon Allen (setting a record in the 110-meter hurdles), Noah Lyles (200 meters) Christian Coleman (100 meters) and Donald Scott (triple jump).

In other Richardson-related news, a former partner admitted to abusing her, according to The Root. Richardson revealed that she was healing from an abusive relationship she had with another female athlete—and 24-year-old Janeek Brown, a track champion from Jamaica, went live on Instagram for a recent interview where she addressed the situation. “I admit I was abusive once that there is physical evidence of,” Brown said. “And we moved on. … I was trying to move on and we still got nowhere.”

After a glittering career stuffed with No. 1 hits, Mariah Carey was finally inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame—but not before challenging her new fellow members to do better by women, USA Today noted. “I read that out of the 439 total inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, only 32 have been women, until now,” she said to huge applause. Other inductees included producers the Neptunes, the British electro-pop band Eurythmics, psychedelic bluesman Steve Miller and the iconic Isley Brothers. In addition, Lil Nas X was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award, which recognizes “gifted young songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry via their original songs.” Special guests included Smokey Robinson, Leslie Odom Jr. Questlove, Jon Batiste, St. Vincent and Usher.

Netflix will premiere the comedy special Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual on Tuesday, June 21, according to a press release. Filmed at Catch One in Los Angeles, the openly gay comic presents a uniquely crafted three-set act. Booster discusses learning the cultural nuances of being Asian as he gets older, shares his preference for threesomes with tips for successful masturbation, his fascination for human sexuality, a visit to a cat cafe and much more. The trailer is at

The Orchard—conceived, adapted and directed by theater director Igor Golyak—has a limited run through July 3 at NYC’s Baryshnikov Arts Center, per a press release. The Orchard—which stars Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jessica Hecht, among others—is an adaptation of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov as translated by Carol Rocamora, with some additional material developed by Golyak. In-person and online versions will run concurrently for each live performance. See .

Megan Thee Stallion will guest-star on season two of the Starz series P-Valley, a press release announced. The Grammy winner will play the role of Tina Snow, who will appear later this season. Stallion’s character name pays homage to her alter ego, and is also the title of her second EP.

Gay comedian Jerrod Carmichael called out Dave Chappelle over the latter’s transphobic jokes, Out Magazine noted. Carmichael told GQ, “Chappelle, do you know what comes up when you Google your name, bro? That’s the legacy? Your legacy is a bunch of opinions on trans shit? It’s an odd hill to die on.” This isn’t Carmichael’s first foray into being a trans ally; in 2015, when he had a self-titled show on NBC, he used one episode to affirm trans youth.

Out British singer/songwriter Calum Scott has released his second album, Bridges, per a press release. To celebrate the album’s arrival, Scott has shared the slice-of-life video for his recent single “Heaven.” He is also embarking on a tour of North America that will start July 30 in Seattle and end Sept. 3 in Montreal, with stops at such cities as Chicago, Dallas, San Diego and Toronto.

Oscar winner Lady Gaga, who most recently appeared in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, is in early talks to star opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Warner Bros.’ Joker: Folie a Deux, Deadline noted. While Phoenix’s deal for the new Joker film has not yet been signed, he is supposedly in advanced talks. Gaga may play Harley Quinn—the Arkham Asylum shrink who falls in love with her patient Arthur Fleck aka Joker—although her version of the character will be a DC universe apart from Margot Robbie’s in the Suicide Squad films.

Just hours after Beyonce announced that her forthcoming sixth solo album, Renaissance, will be arriving on July 29, other facets were unveiled about the project, Variety noted. The album will feature both dance and country-leaning tracks, with contributions from hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her 2008 hit “Halo” as well as hits for Adele, Taylor Swift, the Jonas Bros. and his own group, OneRepublic; and Raphael Saadiq, who has crafted hits for Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Andra Day as well as his own albums.

Job site Indeed—in partnership with Emmy winner Lena Waithe and her company, Hillman Grad Productions—celebrated season two of the Rising Voices filmmaker initiative at Tribeca Festival in NYC, a press release noted. The festival hosted the world premiere of the short films created by BIPOC filmmakers about the power and impact a job can have on someone’s life. Waithe attended along with Hillman Grad Productions President of Film/ TV Rishi Rajani, actress Cynthia Erivo and others. Indeed and Variety also hosted a panel discussion moderated by Variety Senior Award Editor Clayton Davis with all 10 Rising Voices season-two filmmakers.

Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams told Teen Vogue she was “surprised” by her character’s (Arya’s) love scene with Gendry—because she always thought Arya was queer, Deadline noted. “The first time that I was surprised by Arya, I guess, was probably in the final [season] where she whips off her clothes and sleeps with Gendry,” Williams said. Williams currently costars as punk Jordan in FX/Hulu’s Sex Pistols chronicle Pistol.

In related news, a Game of Thrones spinoff series based around Jon Snow is in early development at HBO, Variety reported. Kit Harington is attached to reprise his role as the fan-favorite hero in the live-action show, which would take place after the events of “Thrones.”

From Wondery and Rococo Punch comes the audio-first dating game show Queen of Hearts, hosted by drag queen Jujubee (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Dragnificent), a press release noted. She guides singles through a series of wild games and challenges to see if they can find their their next great loves. Jujubee will be featured in this month’s NYC Pride March on June 26 with her own Queen of Hearts float.

Tom Hanks told The New York Times Magazine that he wouldn’t play his Oscar-winning role in the movie Philadelphia today, Out Magazine noted. “Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now? No, and rightly so,” Hanks said. “The whole point of Philadelphia was, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man.” Playing gay has long been a popular way for well-respected actors to pick up Academy Awards (or at least nominations); Hanks, William Hurt, Mahershala Ali, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sean Penn, Christopher Plummer and Rami Malek have all won Oscars after playing gay men.

On the flip side, three-time Emmy winner Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) said the opportunity to portray an LGBTQ character at the top of her game on The Morning Show was too good to pass up, Deadline reported. In part, she said, “I thought that she was so smartly written, and it was such a privilege to play an LGBTQ character that was so accomplished and confident and had this incredible track history of success, but also had gone through the wringer herself so that she could get to the place where she wanted to be.”

Mehcad Brooks (Mortal Kombat; TV’s Necessary Roughness and Supergirl) is joining Law & Order in season 22 of the NBC show, per Deadline. He will help fill the void left by Anthony Anderson, who chose not to return after reprising his role in season 21 as Detective Kevin Bernard from the series’ original run. Brooks has appeared in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

The Farrah Fawcett Foundation (FFF) announced that this year’s 4th biennial Tex-Mex Fiesta benefit will be held in Dallas at The Rustic on Oct. 20, according to a press release. FFF President and CEO Alana Stewart, who was Fawcett’s longtime friend, will co-host along with Farrah’s former Charlie’s Angels co-star Jaclyn Smith. Honorees include Linda Gray, (of TV’s Dallas) and there will be a special acknowledgment to Ryan O’Neal for his continued support of the foundation.

After Whoopi Goldberg presented Tyler Perry with the Impact Award at the Apollo Theater’s recent spring benefit, Perry was so “moved and inspired” that he gifted the famous Harlem music hall with a $500,000 donation, per Page Six. The famous theater has helped launch some of music’s biggest acts including Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill and Stephanie Mills, who made a special appearance at the gala.

The Wendy Williams Show came to a bittersweet end June 17 and, according to a new report, several set props and keepsakes will simply be tossed in the trash, per Page Six. “The wigs are still there since she didn’t come and get them so they’re being thrown out,” a source close to production told The Sun, adding that Wendy’s famous “Big Purple Chair” will meet the same fate. The finale ended the show after 13 seasons. Guest host Sherri Shepherd (who is getting her own show) wished the talk-show host well on-air, as several celebs took over as hosts during the final season due to Williams’ health concerns.

In support of Pride Month, Australian LGBTQ+ pop artist RIP YOUTH partnered with Peloton to deliver an exclusive remix of his single, “It’s A Vibe,” from DJ/producer R3HAB, per a press release. The remix was premiered during Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby and Peloton’s DJ John Michael’s ‘Pride Live DJ Ride’ at Peloton New York Studios on June 10.

Netflix has released the first look at Blonde—writer and director Andrew Dominik’s NC-17 take on Marilyn Monroe, per The Hollywood Reporter. Starring Ana de Armas as Monroe and based on the fictional novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, the film is a reimagining of the professional and personal life of the enduring Hollywood icon. The film’s an active blurring between fact and fiction that explores a growing split between Monroe’s public and private self.

On a related note, Kim Kardashian wore a gown first worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 to the 2022 Met Gala—but irreparable damage seems to have been done to the dress, Elite Daily noted. However, opinions differ regarding who’s to blame. Many are questioning whether Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the company that owns the gown, should have let a celebrity wear it for an evening, even one as big as the Met Gala. Bob Mackey, who designed the gown, said letting Kardashian wear it “was a big mistake,” according to Entertainment Weekly, adding, “It was designed for [Monroe]. Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”

Samuel L. Jackson will return to Broadway in a new revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, Variety noted. He’s joined by a cast that includes Tenet star John David Washington and The Peacemaker’s Danielle Brooks. LaTanya Richardson Jackson, the actor’s wife, will direct the show; performances are slated to start Monday, Sept. 19, at the St. James Theatre.

Netflix settled a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit from Mo’Nique in a case that could have found that the streamer retaliated against the comedian by refusing to engage in good-faith negotiations after she accused the company of discrimination for opening with a low-ball offer, per The Hollywood Reporter. Netflix in 2017 started to court Mo’Nique for a comedy special during a time it was aggressively ramping up its stand-up content, the complaint says. The negotiations, however, didn’t get far because the Oscar-winning actress (Precious) did not agree to what she considered a low opening offer of $500,000 for a one-hour show that Netflix would completely control.

The HBO show Hacks has been renewed for a third season, Deadline noted. At the end of season two, Jean Smart’s Deborah Vance, a Las Vegas comedian, leaves Hannah Einbinder’s Ava Daniels by firing her as her co-writer—following a successful stand-up special that she backed herself and initially sold via QVC—so that her young protege could strike out on her own. The show also stars Carl Clemons-Hopkins and Jane Adams as well as Christopher McDonald, Kaitlin Olson, Paul W. Downs, Poppy Liu, Rose Abdoo, Mark Indelicato and others. Laurie Metcalf, Martha Kelly, Ming-Na Wen and Susie Essman as well as Margaret Cho and Devon Sawa were also featured in season two.

Justin Bieber—who recently disclosed his diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt syndrome and the facial paralysis it causes—postponed the remaining North American “Justice” tour dates originally set for June and July, Deadline noted. The overseas leg of the world tour begins July 31 in Lucca, Italy, and is set to run through March 25, 2023.

Following in the legal footsteps of pink-slipped General Hospital cast member Ingo Rademacher, two former crew members on the ABC-produced soap (Jim Wahl and Timothy Wahl) are now suing the Disney-owned network over being let go for not getting vaxxed, Deadline noted. Rademacher’s case is set to go to trial on Feb. 27, 2023.

Crime novelist James Patterson issued an apology following a prior remark on racism, Page Six noted. Speaking to the UK’s Sunday Times, Patterson said”white older male writers” aren’t getting hired for “writing gigs in film, theatre, TV or publishing” right now—claiming the phenomenon is “just another form of racism.” However, he later stated on Facebook, “I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism. I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers. Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard—in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.”

Simple Minds (who have had hits like “Alive and Kicking” and “All the Things She Said”) have released “Vision Thing”—the first track to be taken from the band’s 18th studio album, Direction of the Heart, per a press release. Direction of the Heart is Simple Minds’ first album of new material since 2018’s UK Top 5 album Walk Between Worlds. With music written by Charlie Burchill and lyrics by frontman Jim Kerr, “Vision Thing” is a tribute to Kerr’s “best pal”—his late father, who passed away in 2019.

The FBI is investigating the authenticity of more than two dozen paintings displayed in a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit in Orlando, The Hill noted, citing The New York Times. A federal subpoena dated July 27, 2021, states that 25 paintings in the Orlando Museum of Art’s “Heroes & Monsters: Jean-Michel Basquiat” exhibit are being examined by the F.B.I.’s Art Crime Team. Concerns about the authenticity of the art include a claim that the FedEx typeface featured on a piece of cardboard in the collection was not created until 1994—six years after Basquiat’s death.

Deadline reported that Hugh Jackman tested positive for COVID, according to The Music Man producer Kate Horton. As a result, standby Max Clayton will play Professor Harold Hill on Broadway alongside Sutton Foster through June 21. The news came hours after Jackman, who also had COVID late last year, performed live on stage at the Tonys with Foster and a number of other cast members.


Beyoncé announces her first album in six years, Renaissance, to be released in July | World News

Beyoncé has announced her first album in six years, 16-track Renaissance, will be released on July 29.

The chart-topping singer wrote ‘act i RENAISSANCE 7.29’ on her Instagram account to let her 293million followers know about the upcoming release date.

Streaming sites Spotify and Apple also posted artwork for the record.

Beyoncé‘s fans were expecting news after she deleted her profile picture from social media platforms last week.

Although she has not released an album since 2016, the world-class singer has collaborated with other artists and curated the soundtrack album for the 2019 remake of ‘The Lion King’.

The 40-year-old will be British Vogue’s July issue cover star.

Editor Edward Enninful said: “The creation has been a long process, she explains, with the pandemic giving her far longer to spend thinking and rethinking every decision.

“Just the way she likes it.”

British Vogue tweeted: “Beyoncé is poised for her next evolution, one that promises vision, grace – and something a little bit extra…In the July 2022 issue of British Vogue, Edward Enninful meets a superstar, as Rafael Pavarotti captures the moment.”


The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of June 16-22

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Editor’s note: Some performing arts and concert venues still require masks and proof of vaccination against the coronavirus. Check websites before purchasing tickets or making plans.

Live at the Library: Celebrate Juneteenth at the Library of Congress: The Library of Congress’s after-hours programming turns to Juneteenth this week, with a performance by the outstanding South Carolina band Ranky Tanky, whose Grammy-winning sound draws on funk, jazz and call-and-response gospel, all steeped in the Lowcountry’s Gullah culture. In addition to a preconcert discussion, the evening includes a display of Juneteenth- and emancipation-related items from the library’s collection, access to all exhibits, and drinks and snacks in the Great Hall. While admission to Live at the Library requires a free timed-entry pass, admission to the concert requires an additional ticket, which is also free. 5 to 8 p.m. Free; reservation required.

How to celebrate Juneteenth in the D.C. area

Juneteenth Takeover at Metrobar: Some bars offer a special event for Juneteenth. Metrobar’s Juneteenth takeover encompasses four nights of parties, starting with speed dating, a ’90s R&B singalong and a screening of “Love and Basketball” on Thursday. Friday is the closing night of D.C.’s Caribbean American Restaurant Week, with a fish fry, steel drum band, dominoes and DJs. Saturday gets off to an early start with the Black Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by a day party with a cookout, DJ, spirits tastings and a spades tournament from 2 to 7 p.m. DJ Jahsonic takes it home with hip-hop, funk and R&B from 7 p.m. Sunday’s highlight is a Father’s Day crab boil featuring cigars, a beard grooming station and local craft beers, beginning at 2 p.m., and a dance party to close out the weekend at 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Individual event prices vary from free to $20. The crab boil, which includes food, is $50.

‘Amazing Grace’ at the Kennedy Center: The next outdoor film screening at the Reach is one of the most powerful music documentaries in recent memory: “Amazing Grace,” starring Aretha Franklin. Film critic Ann Hornaday called the 2019 film “nothing short of a miracle” in her four-star review. In 1972, Warner Bros. recorded Franklin performing gospel classics live in Los Angeles, but the resulting footage wasn’t released for almost 50 years. Wrote Hornaday: “Secular music fans won’t want to miss ‘Amazing Grace,’ if only for one more chance to appreciate the singular genius of Franklin, who died last year. But [producer Alan] Elliott and his team have retained the enterprise’s initial spiritual purpose, not just sharing an invaluable record of a storied musical performance, but also bearing witness to sacred vocation, commitment to faith and continuity of ancestral memory.” Film begins at dusk. Free.

Sheryl Crow at Wolf Trap: Welcome to the Sheryl Crow revival. The 60-year-old songstress is known for her breezy, radio-friendly country-rock tunes — come on, try not to crack a smile when “All I Wanna Do” or “Every Day Is a Winding Road” is blasting through your stereo as wind sweeps through your hair on a road trip. But her songwriting chops and the sexism she overcame to reign atop the airwaves are finally receiving proper appreciation, including in the recent documentary “Sheryl.” Listen again to one of her most exquisite ballads, “Strong Enough,” and marvel at the way she channels the frustration of a woman who wants to forge a partnership of equals but can’t pin down why she’s feeling so unsure about everything. Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. $49-$127.

Portside Festival and Alexandria Jazz Fest: Two Alexandria festivals have merged into one two-day waterfront celebration. The 44-year-old Alexandria Jazz Festival, formerly known as the Memorial Day Jazz Festival, takes place on Friday night. Sets from Cubano Groove, Veronneau and the Eric Byrd Trio are interspersed with poetry from Alexandria poet laureate Zeina Azzam and former poet laureate KaNikki Jakarta. Saturday features a wider array of music, including salsa, folk rock and Ethiopian reggae, plus lawn games; hands-on arts activities, including printmaking; tours of the tall ship Providence; and archaeological displays. Port City Brewing hosts a beer garden, while local restaurants offer food and ice cream. Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m. Free.

‘Beyond King Tut’ at National Geographic Museum: The team behind such immersive exhibits as “Beyond Van Gogh” and “Beyond Monet” is dreaming up theatrical, large-scale projections that will tell the story of ancient Egyptian pharaohs and take you to ancient marvels such as the temple at Karnak, the pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx and King Tut’s tomb itself. Developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society, “Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience” is timed to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Through Feb. 6, 2023. $12-$20.

Flasher at Comet Ping Pong: D.C. punk duo Flasher was forced to reimagine its modus operandi after the departure of bassist Daniel Saperstein, giving drummer Emma Baker the opportunity to step up her songwriting efforts. The resulting album is decidedly dancier and more mellow than their frantic, fuzzy debut, “Constant Image,” but still vital with the band’s DIY punk spirit. Across 13 tracks, “Love Is Yours” toys with tempo and structure but stays focused on undeniable pop melodies, gentle vocal harmonies and lush layers of guitar, bass, synth and percussion that reveal themselves on repeat listenings. There’s more room for reflection this time around, which could partially be a result of the album’s long gestation. After it was recorded in June 2020, the album was delayed for two years until it made sense to tour behind it. The extra time gave Baker and guitarist Taylor Mulitz time to experiment, refine the mix and get all the little, often-rushed elements of a record release right. “It’s really nice that it’s finally going to be out in the world and we get to play it live,” Mulitz says. After the malaise and preoccupation of two years under a pandemic, “it finally feels like regaining a sense of self.” 10 p.m. $15.

Interview: Flasher reimagines its approach but keeps its punk spirit

‘The Music Man’ at Olney Theatre Center: Deaf actor James Caverly, coming off a breakout role on Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” will play the lead role of Harold Hill in Olney Theatre Center’s production of “The Music Man,” featuring a company and creative team consisting of half deaf and hard-of-hearing artists and half hearing artists. This version of the Broadway classic is co-directed by deaf performer Sandra Mae Frank (a regular on NBC’s “New Amsterdam”) and Michael Baron. The entire show will be performed in American Sign Language and spoken English and will be open captioned. Through July 24. $37-$85.

Juneteenth at the National Archives: The two most important documents relating to Juneteenth are the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that, as of Jan. 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves” with the Confederate States of America “are, and henceforward shall be free,” and General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Tex., on June 19, 1865, which announced, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” The National Archives holds original copies of both and is putting them on display from June 18 to 20, with the museum staying open until 7 p.m. all three days. A special family day on Saturday features arts and crafts and other activities from 1 to 3 p.m., while an online program Friday at 7 p.m. includes a discussion with historians and live music. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.

How to celebrate Juneteenth in the D.C. area

Columbia Pike Blues Festival: Over the last 25 years, the Columbia Pike Blues Festival has grown from an enjoyable collection of local bands playing in an elementary school’s field to a rockin’ block party that fills a stretch of South Arlington’s Walter Reed Drive. Shemekia Copeland — dubbed “the greatest blues singer of her generation” in these pages last year — headlines the free, day-long concert full of blues and soul, with Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark and Robbin Kapsalis and Vintage #18 among the openers. The festival includes a kids’ zone with games and a bouncy house, a market full of vendors, arts and crafts, a beer garden and food supplied by local restaurants. Festival events last all weekend, including a Friday night concert at William Jeffrey’s Tavern, a Sunday morning Juneteenth Walk guided by the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and a free Sunday matinee screening of “The Blues Brothers” at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. 1 to 8:30 p.m. Free.

What’s Out There Weekend: The Cultural Landscape Foundation seeks to preserve and educate people about America’s “cultural landscapes” — parks, gardens and sites that tell shared stories about culture and identity. This weekend, the group offers free tours of 25 such sites around the city, led by architects, historians and other experts. There are deeper looks at landscapes as varied as Roosevelt Island, the grounds of Gallaudet University, memorials on the Tidal Basin and Black Lives Matter Plaza. Move quickly: Reservations are required, due to capacity limits, and some tours are already sold out. Saturday and Sunday. Free; Reservations required.

Columbia Heights Day: Long held outdoors at Tubman Elementary and surrounding streets, one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhood festivals is spreading to three separate locations this year, including the Civic Plaza (a.k.a. the fountain at 14th and Park streets) and the park at 14th and Girard streets. Looking for puppet shows, live music for all ages, dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, carnival games, bike repair stations and a vendor marketplace, as well as cooking demonstrations and activities at the weekly farmers market. Local businesses offer specials during the day, including discounted samplers at Sticky Fingers bakery, $2 tacos at La Cabana and a natural wine happy hour at Queen’s English. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.

Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration: In 2021, the inaugural Juneteenth parade through Annapolis involved more than 2,000 participants, including floats, school marching bands and dancers. This year, organizers are planning to go even bigger. The parade sets off from the City Dock, passing the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, and ends at the Bates Athletic Complex on Spa Road. The festival, which begins at 2 p.m., includes two stages of entertainment: One focuses on R&B, headlined by the Chuck Brown Band and Avery Sunshine, and the Gospel Stage includes Pastor Mike Jr. and Beverly Crawford, backed by the Juneteenth Choir. The day ends with fireworks. Parking is available at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, with free shuttles to the festival. Noon to 9 p.m. Free.

How Wu-Tang Clan Transcended the Rap Game at the Northeast Neighborhood Library: The RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and the Method Man — this is how most of us were introduced to the members of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Staten Island crew that went on to change the face of hip-hop with a combination of furious rap deliveries and GZA’s skeletal beats overlaid with snatches of vintage soul. Three decades after “Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers,” author S.H. Fernando Jr. examines Wu Tang’s influence and lasting popularity in a new book, “From the Streets of Shaolin: The Wu-Tang Saga.” He visits the Northeast Neighborhood Library on Capitol Hill for a reading and discussion, sponsored by Solid State Books, followed by a book signing. 1 to 2:30 p.m. Cash might rule everything around us, but this event is free.

Jazz in the Parks at the Parks at Walter Reed: New Northwest D.C. development the Parks at Walter Reed is bringing back free Jazz in the Parks performances this summer, and the monthly outdoor concert series kicks off in June with a performance from popular local jazz vocalist Akua Allrich. Bring a blanket and relax on the Great Lawn overlooking the historic original hospital building on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Campus. Every show will kick off with a 5 p.m. performance from Baba Ras D, a must-see musician for D.C.’s toddler set. 5 to 8 p.m. Free.

Sweet Like Chocolate at Flash: Hot on the heels of their appearance on the Do LaB stage at Coachella, LA-based duo Sweet Like Chocolate brings banging, energetic house tunes to Flash’s rooftop. (You may remember DJ Alex Noize from previous Nu Androids events at the Florida Avenue club.) 4 to 9 p.m. $25-$30.

Sounds of Africa at the National Museum of African Art: Update: This concert has been postponed until July 16 due to road closures for the Something in the Water festival. The first in a series of outdoor summer concerts in the Enid A. Haupt Garden, this concert stars Eme & Heteru, featuring Chelsey Green, performing “songs of liberation” to mark Juneteenth. 6:30 to 10 p.m. Free.

Six acts you shouldn’t miss at Something in the Water

GetLitDC Literary Cocktails at the Gibson: You’ll want to do a bit of reading before you take a seat at the bar at the Gibson off U Street for Chantal Tseng’s “Literary Cocktails” series. This month’s edition of the boozy book club is inspired by Ocean Vuong’s “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” and Tseng will whip up a menu inspired by the acclaimed novel, including three cocktails and light snacks. 6 to 8 p.m. or 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. $55.

Umi at Howard Theatre: Singer Tierra Umi Wilson — who performs as Umi — has already released three EPs’ worth of sensitive and contemplative new wave R&B songs. The Seattle native’s 2022 debut album, “Forest in the City,” is full of her honest lyrics, with vulnerable reflections and big picture realizations that sound like they’re coming from a seasoned pen. On “Sorry,” Umi apologizes for many things and many times to herself, singing such lines as, “I’m sorry I never trust my gut / I’m sorry I’m always runnin’ my mouth too much.” The song has a light-handed percussion, allowing her voice’s serene quality to have its moment. Wilson’s 2020 EP, “Introspection,” was a clear indication of what was to come from this burgeoning singer. On “Where I Wander,” she sings, “Open waters, open waters / where I wonder / clear the chakras, send me higher.” She’s calling for open-mindedness to make it through a fractured relationship. Wilson effortlessly goes from a more brisk cadence to hitting higher, sweeter notes — leading the way through the wreckage with her voice. 8 p.m. $60.

Create by the Creek at Peirce Mill: Ever dreamed of creating art “en plein air”? These workshops at Rock Creek Park’s Peirce Mill, led by local artists from the Washington Studio School, let participants try their hands at creating 3D landscapes from clay, animating a short sequence using a flipbook or drawing a print with powdered graphite. Registration is required, as capacity is limited. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

The Foods of Juneteenth at the National Arboretum’s Washington Youth Garden: Learn about crops from the African diaspora — especially ones that grow well in the D.C. area — at this family-friendly, food-focused event organized by the Friends of the National Arboretum. Chef Daoud Harris leads “garden-to-table” cooking demonstrations, and FONA offers self-guided tours of the gardens and their bounty. Noon to 2 p.m. Free; donations requested.

Juneteenth Freedom Jam at Busboys and Poets Columbia: Author and NAACP Image Award winner Omar Tyree hosts an evening of poetry, hip-hop and soul at the Busboys and Poets in Columbia. A portion of proceeds benefits the Urban Literacy Project and College Bound Parenting. 6 to 9 p.m. $25.

Freedom Day Music Festival at Union Stage: Black Alley, whose genre-bending sound fuses go-go with rock and soul, performs at the Freedom Day concert alongside up-and-coming “hip-pop” vocalist Nia Dinero, singer Ruepratt and WPGC DJ Akademiks. 7 p.m. $35.

Juneteenth Community Day at the National Museum of African American History and Culture: The African American Museum on the Mall is an obvious place to celebrate Juneteenth, but it’s going to be tough to do so in person if you haven’t already made plans. The museum’s free entry tickets are claimed a month in advance, so the only option is to log on at 8:15 a.m. and try to grab a limited number of same-day passes. Those who are successful can see the original copy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the 1963 March on Washington (on display in the “A Changing America” exhibition) as well as living history experiences explaining Juneteenth and the United States Colored Troops, plus family arts and crafts activities. A performance by New Orleans jazz artists Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings will be held in the Oprah Winfrey Theater at 3 p.m. — free, but reservations are required — and will be streamed online through the museum’s website for those who didn’t get tickets. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

Ambar Lucid at Songbyrd: Ambar Lucid opens her 2020 “Garden of Lucid” album with enticing, welcoming words that make listeners wonder what they’re getting into: “Welcome to the garden / please don’t be disheartened / once you perceive insincerity.” The 21-year-old New Jersey native, whose real name is Ambar Cruz, lives in the dreamier, moodier side of R&B. Much of her music could be a soundtrack to a movie that takes place in a dark green, mystical forest. “Questioning My Mind,” in which Cruz wonders how a relationship broke down, even features faraway bird chirps. On this song, like many others, Cruz slips seamlessly between English and Spanish. Cruz is not following a pre-drawn path when it comes to mixing languages in her music: She sings in Spanish in between English thoughts, words and sentences. “Fantasmas” starts off with a hearty guitar and Cruz’s dazzling voice pulled back and softer. Then the chorus hits and she puts the power back in her voice to sing the haunting line, “Mil fantasmas gritan en calma,” or “One thousand ghosts scream calmly.” 7 p.m. $18-$20.

Arlie at DC9: Arlie is an indie pop band from Nashville that makes sunny pop songs that are still grounded in something real. The song “Poppin,” off its debut album “Break the Curse,” is a great example of what this band does best. It features a cheerful guitar and effortless drums that scream “summer jam.” Yet with lyrics like “you could crush me at any moment,” the song does that classic pop music thing of making someone’s misery something fun to dance to. The titular track leans more into the sincere, using slightly echoing vocals in the beginning to give a psychedelic feel. It’s a song about internal battle with such lyrics as, “But there’s only one way out / honest with myself somehow.” By the end of the song, the intense drums feel like the singer’s racing mind with a guitar rushing to catch up. It sounds like the chaos of knowing what your struggle is but still finding yourself stuck. 8 p.m. $15-$18.

Anteloper at Rhizome DC: Trumpeter Jaimie Branch and drummer Jason Nazary make up the jazzy, electroacoustic duo Anteloper. Along with their main instruments, Branch and Nazary bring in synths and sequencers to create their version of this free-flowing jazz. Their first album, “Kudu,” released in 2018, is only five songs, but at 49 minutes long, it offers plenty of time for the musical moments that linger, and Branch and Nazary each have time with their respective instruments to sink into the songs. Its nine-minute opener, “Oryx,” is anything but static as Branch’s trumpet rages in increments, taking small but impactful steps, as the drums play sporadically. All the while, analog-like synth sounds are sprinkled in. By the second half of the song, the drums have become vigorous while the horn takes a smoother ride to the melody. Their 2020 project “Tour Beats Vol. 1” follows the same path as their previous work. It’s much shorter this time, just four songs and 22 minutes long, but the duo still makes bold choices, wrapping EDM sensibilities with an acoustic foundation. Branch’s trumpet is fluttering echoes by the second half of the opener, “Bubble Under.” With the snares hopping, the horn eventually fades slowly out, sounding like a memory you are recalling by the end. 7 p.m. $15-$20.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: After two years of virtual events, the Smithsonian’s venerable Folklife Festival returns to its “normal” schedule of activities on the National Mall from Wednesday to June 27 and again from June 30 to July 4. The two topics — the United Arab Emirates and the Smithsonian’s sustainability-focused Earth Optimism project — were both part of the 2020 virtual “Beyond the Mall” festival but now will allow visitors to experience hands-on activities, including blending perfumes and learning to make Maasai-style jewelry, and smell the cooking meats and spices during foodways demonstrations. Learn about conservation efforts from the Chesapeake Bay to the savannas of Kenya, or try weaving a sculpture with date palms. Evenings feature special events: Wednesday’s opening night concert includes music and poetry hosted by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and Thursday combines experimental Dubai-based trio Noon with D.C. go-go stars Experience Unlimited. (The concerts will be streamed through the festival’s website.) Through June 27, then June 30 through July 4. Free.

Grag Queen at City Winery: Grag Queen stole the first series of the international drag competition Queen of the Universe thanks to her renditions of “Rise Up” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Now, with an album of original English-language tunes in the works, the 26-year-old Brazilian performer is showing off her dynamic vocal range to live audiences. 8 p.m. $15.


Stampede Lammie hailed as top promoter by African Awards | Entertainment

Popular street promoter Boswell ‘Stampede’ Lammie said that he is overjoyed after being named the 2022 Top Promoter of the Year in the inaugural African Awards.

Ghanaian broadcast firm LoversGh Network, which was established in 2016, is the brain behind the awards show, which is an initiative to celebrate “true African culture, music and arts,” according to its founder Worwornyo Isaac Newton, known in the industry as ‘Futurekynn’. Stampede has been piloting the Stampede Street Charts for over a decade independently, but first entered the music industry as a record producer in the 1980s before taking a hiatus. The move into street promotion started in 2002 and three years later, in 2005, he crossed over into the African markets. One of his major clients was Ugandan artiste Bobi Wine.

“I have a lot of clients in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa, but this award was not expected. I received several accolades for my work in the streets, but to be hailed in Africa motivates me to work harder, and is validation that people are noticing that I’m not in this for myself, but for the betterment of the global music industry,” Stampede said.

According to Newton, although Stampede does not reside in Africa, he has contributed fairly to the music arena.

“He was honoured via this platform for his hard work and contribution, as well as for his support of the young youths in Africa through non-stop street promoting,” Futurekynn told THE STAR. He shared that the group had nominations open to all African countries in 70 categories.

“We have a vision to network brands, to celebrate and reward those with potential contributing to all aspects of the industry in Africa,” he said. “People of such characteristics are what we call ‘industry players’ and Stampede needed to be celebrated; that is why we have made sure that through our efforts he gets honoured.”


A New Era for Beijing’s Quirky Music Scene – The Diplomat

The supernova-like lights dimmed on the huge stage at the new iteration of the Dusk Dawn Club (DDC) in favor of a subtler spectacle. During the 700-capacity venue’s long anticipated late-April re-launch, psych-rockers Sincerely Yours stepped aside for clarinetist Hadi, his solo a stark – but equally awing – contrast for the packed house. Then Sincerely Yours joined the clarinetist in a genre-confounding jam, recapturing the preceding DDC’s intimate artistry, even as the new stage’s lights gleamed loftily.

The zero-COVID lockdown soon halted that ambitious re-opening. A brief lifting of restrictions ended after a few short days, and the future of Beijing’s nightlife remains uncertain, with bars and music venues shuttered once again – for how long is anyone’s guess. All that and more make DDC emblematic of Beijing’s unique live music restrictions and resilience.

Opened in 2014, the first DDC’s distinctively traditional Chinese courtyard ambiance, and grab-bag bills (including jazz, Kazakh folk, and legendary punk artist Mike Watt) made it a favorite of adventurous expats and discerning locals – so much so that Rolling Stone set much of its Beijing music scene profile there.

A band performs nose-to-nose with the audience at DDC’s old location. Photo by Kyle Mullin.

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But operating a rowdy music dive isn’t easy in Beijing’s aged-yet-bohemian courtyards and hutong alleys. Rent hikes and noise complaints from elderly neighbors escalated in the late 2010s. Zoning and permit tightening upended the grey-area status quo. Officials bricked up swaths of business fronts. Meanwhile, China’s censors require musicians to submit lyrics for approval and restrict concerts because of political sensitivities. Yet DDC endured – until 2020’s revenue stifling first-wave lockdown, along with toughened alleyway regulations.

The relocated DDC’s look isn’t a mere departure; it appears built to withstand Beijing’s tumult. Its metallic door and stairs, along with abyss-esque floorspace, evoke a dystopic bomb shelter. The stage-overlooking balcony, on its own, dwarfs its hutong predecessor’s entire mosh pit. No need here to worry about noise complaints: as opposed to an airy courtyard, DDC Redux is in a basement mall in Beijing’s once nightlife-deprived Ritan Russian district. Owner Zhang Jincan, whose clout is such that he was recently quoted by the New York Times, tells The Diplomat that moving from the character-rife hutongs was his “most difficult decision.” But Zhang, whose nickname is “69,” says he can now adopt “a ‘cave’ concept, with intimacy and human touches in this unconventional space.”

Sincerely Yours frontman Shaofei says the new venue was perfect for them to showcase Hadi’s eclectic clarinet contribution, because “we’ve seen 69 welcome bands of all kinds.”

The similar relocation of top nightclub Dada from the hutongs to the Russian district, along with the proximity of the Central Business District and embassies, not to mention a comparative lack of scrutiny, made Ritan promising. And while Beijing’s experience with zero-COVID resembled the first-wave restrictions that snuffed DDC 1.0 out, 69 optimistically held on. In the meantime, he “kept the faith” because “so many young people came who’d been waiting two years for our return. It was like a carnival.”

DDC’s new location opened with a spectacular light show. Photo by Kyle Mullin.

Those young concert-goers – mostly Chinese – sang along at the re-launch and sipped imported beer and martinis. Such 2022 self-assurance is far removed from the Beijing underground’s fledgling days, when expats dominated shows and Chinese bands imitated international acts. That early 2000s stagnation compelled Michael Pettis – a Peking University school of management professor, who once ran a New York club that put on then-unknown Sonic Youth and Swans – to launch D-22 in Beijing’s Wudaokou university neighborhood in 2006. Post-rockers P.K.14 and punks Joyside honed their chops there until they became Beijing legends. (P.K.14’s D-22 live album is particularly powerful).

The catalyst: P.K.14 opening for what was billed Belgium’s “third best punk band,” “which you can imagine wasn’t very good,” Pettis says, adding that P.K.14 was given short shrift despite stealing the show. So Pettis began platforming Beijing bands, CBGB-style. His club lived up to that tall order both in and beyond Beijing, snagging coverage from NPR, The Guardian, and the BBC. Pettis also co-founded indie label Maybe Mars with P.K.14 frontman Yang Haisong. Signees Carsick Cars gained enough renown to open for Sonic Youth, while The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Ricky Maymi produced an album by Maybe Mars’ Birdstriking. Birdstriking’s other claim to fame: running afoul of China’s censors.

The band Scoff playing at D-22 as the balcony audience looks on. Photo by Kyle Mullin.

Flashy feats aside, the true breakthrough for Pettis came while chatting with a university freshman who enrolled in Beijing to live near D-22. He even carried a mixtape of songs by Carsicks Cars, Sonic Youth, and The Velvet Underground. That “floored” Pettis, who was used to Chinese friends sneering at local music. “But Carsick Cars were the model for this kid,” Pettis says, before revealing that university student was future Birdstriking drummer Wang Xinjiu. That flatters Carsick Cars frontman Zhang Shouwang, who says: “A lot of students liked us because we’re musically untrained,” and therefore relatable.

Wang Xinjiu fondly recalls Pettis being like “Don Vito Corleone” for waiving charges for artists. “The best way to attract musicians is free drinks,” says Pettis, adding: “We got criticized for being insular. For letting the same bands play over and over. But that’s how you break a scene.”

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Pettis will never forget Zhang Shouwang nearly fainting during a rapturous “I Wanna Be Your Dog” cover at D-22, leaving the audience agape. But Zhang can’t count the times D-22 “was so crowded, you’d want more oxygen.” Pettis is proud of how “musicians talked about being surrounded by faces in front, on the side and above” at D-22, the latter due to a stage-overlooking balcony, a setup then unlike anything in Beijing.

D-22’s legacy remains formidable, even though early 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of its closure. With DDC’s flashy new debut also this year, the venues bookend a special decade for Beijing’s music scene.

D-22’s end came due in part to looming government restrictions, Pettis said at the time. The Wall Street Journal reported on D-22’s final show, headlined by Mongolian punks Mohanik. Guitarist Davaajargal Tsaschikher says it was one of Mohanik’s first shows outside of Mongolia, and the tour’s most energetic. He shared hot Mongolian vodka with the audience, then drunkenly collapsed onstage and “played very long, psychedelic versions of our songs!”

Audiences flocked to the “last few shows, which were sold out. People were dismayed,” recalls P.K.14. frontman Yang Haisong. But Pettis knew it was time to move on, because D-22 achieved its scene establishing mandate. The venue’s weekly experimental showcase, Zoomin’ Nights, foreshadowed Pettis’ 2012 co-founding of XP. With that hutong venue, Pettis and co. could finally focus on the fringe.

“There was an experimental component to what everyone was doing,” Pettis says of the Maybe Mars bands’ many artsy side projects, which gave their mainstream work innovative flourishes. Audiences’ palates were broadened as a result, says Pettis, and that’s “what made Beijing a uniquely intellectual scene.”

A few years prior, the hutongs’ quintessentially Chinese architecture and popularity with backpackers made them ripe for tourism development, says Nevin Domer, booking manager at D-22 and former COO of Maybe Mars. He says much of the music scene also saw an opportunity, and converged, leading to “bigger venues for bigger audiences. Commercialization came with that, drawing more attention and government regulation.”

Before long, many older disparate venues closed. The hottest shows were happening within a few square kilometers in hutongs at the heart of China’s second biggest city – yet another 2010s Beijing quirk. P.K.14’s Haisong recalls a simultaneous music exodus from Beijing’s west end (which housed university neighborhood dives like D-22, Scream, and 13 Club), as it transformed into the Chinese Silicon Valley.

Amidst that flurry of activity, Pettis and co’s XP reveled in the avant-garde, while Liu Hao, bassist for D-22 mainstay Joyside, co-founded hutong punk dive School Bar with his friend Liu “Felix” Fei. Zhang Shouwang says that “split the scene a bit.” But Liu Hao says it was an organic parting. Felix Liu points out punks like The Diders (“pretty much… School’s house band” according to Pitchfork) often played XP, while Pettis organized experimental sets at School. Liu Felix attributes the camps’ mutual admiration and occasional collaboration to “how, in the D-22 era, punk, indie and experimental musicians all played together and were good friends.”

After XP, DDC, and the raucous Temple Bar; midsized (but fairly commercial) favorites Mao Live and Yugong Yishan; and numerous other hutong venues shut down or moved, School Bar remains a vital 2010s vestige.

Foreigners and trendy locals often romanticize the hutongs’ ambiance, and decry the crackdowns and gentrification that shoved their favorite spots out. Architect and urban planner Zhuang Ziyu understands. Years after graduating from Columbia University, he now works in a Beijing hutong studio. He says the aged alleyway businesses appeal to “people trying to find a special experience that originates from this amazing city.” Yet the hutongs are not only abounding with character, but also infrastructure issues, says Zhuang, hence the regulations.

Those hurdles prompted Zuo Ye to become one of the first 2010s venue owners to eschew the hutongs, and open his mid-size Omni Space in Beijing’s south end. “I love the hutongs and hope there will be more gigs there,” Zuo says. But he notes they’re old residential buildings, needing renovations to reach safety and soundproofing code.

Any Beijinger accused of “hutong hipster-dom” may be surprised to hear 69 agreeing with Zuo and Zhuang. Aside from the infrastructural hurdles, he is also happy to move beyond Beijing’s besieged old alleys to a “more dispersed music landscape” that “balances artistic development.”

Pettis also sees the pendulum swinging. Through much of the aughts the scene wasn’t just scattered, but patchy: D-22 was across town from many venues like the Tiananmen Square-adjacent Old What. “If you tried to visit a few venues in one night, you’d spend hours in a taxi,” he says of Beijing’s then notorious traffic between sprawling nightlife nooks. Beijing’s underground music options grew far more abundant and densely packed in the hutong-oriented 2010s, but the scene is now spreading out again, with more options than the D-22 era (a layout similar to Shanghai and other “bar street”-free major cities).

Pettis says gentrification is driving the current dispersion, adding central areas like post-crackdown hutongs are “closing anything quirky for expensive restaurants and Italian fashion. So if Beijing music revives, it’ll be outside the Second Ring Road,” an expressway encircling the capital’s increasingly commercial core.

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Left to right- Lead singers of Scoff, Carsick Cars (Zhang Shouwang), and Joyside at D-22. Photo by Kyle Mullin.

DDC and Dada indeed reopened just outside the Second Ring Road, though their untested neighborhood likely won’t proliferate like the 2010s hutongs. There are still some thriving hutong venues, especially School Bar. It is often booked six months in advance and actually expanded during the late 2010s crackdown. Part of the expansion involved ensuring its premises were up to code. Of course, situating in the northernmost Wudaoying shopping alley also bodes better for School Bar than other venues in inner residential hutongs.

But a few blocks southwest of School, in the heart of the hutongs, a nook called Nugget flourishes a year and a half after opening. It boasts rolodex-eclectic acts onstage and on its label. However, co-owner David Carey says some neighbors “definitely didn’t want us there,” leading to conflicts. That was mitigated by legions of Nugget-ites that Carey says share “ideals of community, DIY culture, and a love of art and music.”

Equally heartening: Nugget Records’ showcases at bigger venues. Carey makes merch cassette recordings of these and other gigs, doing so with a vast retro hardware spread at recently opened 24D Space this spring. It supports Pettis’ theory about outlying venues, being housed in a Fourth Ring Road bordering industrial park. Spearheading that 24D gig: MusicDish*China, which regularly coordinates up-and-comer-showcases at venues across Beijing. Founder Eric de Fontenay first visited Beijing in 2009 and was so impressed by a D-22 show and other underground stops that he soon returned, and is now a gig pillar.

Nugget, Music*Dish and 24D were live music lifelines throughout the pandemic, putting on many of the hottest post-lockdown concerts, featuring hungry upstarts. Nugget and Music*Dish have livestreamed many of those young bands’ performances during zero-COVID, the latter dedicating an entire series to pandemic founded acts called Fresh Out the Pot. de Fontenay feels “a certain sense of urgency” to tout that emerging talent not only because of the small venue dearth, but also due to a “wave of new bands since at least 2018 that has not slowed despite the challenges of COVID. It’s actually a tribute to their creative energy and perseverance that they decide to take the leap despite all the challenges.”

24D aims to be equally supportive IRL as zero-COVID finally ends. Co-booker Shao Qiao says Beijing’s big stages have “very hot shows,” but he calls the scarceness of new-band focused venues “not as fun anymore.”

Equally un-fun: the label system. Before co-launching Nugget, Carey had been industry-jaded for years as a guitarist in various signed acts. He says, “There’s a culture here of snapping up tons of young bands and then just sitting on them, hoping they will make it big in a TV show,” a prevailing notion since acts like Carsick Cars competed on the recent series The Big Band, which took indie rock mainstream. Carey wants “to do something different with Nugget Records.”

It won’t just be newbies that benefit from that leg up, say Pettis. “The problem in Beijing is we started at bottom and got really good,” he says. But “the entry level died,” and with it essential competitive lifeblood, says Pettis. Ensuing stagnation was exacerbated by the “disastrous” pandemic, he adds, because even established acts scrapped tours in 2020 and 2022.

Concert goers at a UFO show. Photo courtesy of UFO.

Zhang Shouwang can’t deny COVID-19 upended musicians’ incomes, but he says such adversity “can inspire art.” He’s equally optimistic about the fledgling east-suburban club UFO, where he played “career-best” avant-garde just before zero-COVID. UFO’s spartan decor and experimental dedication reminded Zhang of New York’s The Stone space. Pettis was equally impressed by both Zhang’s show (the first he has attended in ages) and UFO’s potential to reinvigorate experimentalism in Beijing, along with the older but well-regarded hutong adjacent fRUITYSPACE. Both venues work to end a post-XP experimentalism lull (Pettis couldn’t keep that spot open, due to restrictions yet again, along with a need to “either lose money on the label or the venue”). But UFO and fRUITYSPACE have yet to gain XP’s renown (though its Maybe Mars star power isn’t easy to emulate).

Aside from the avant garde, UFO founder Ryan Lui is passionate about supporting newbies. Yes, entry level venues have frequent “survival crises,” says Lui, but he adds that they’re also nimbly free.

As UFO, 24D, Nugget, Music*Dish, and more address systemic Beijing music issues, Zhang remains hopeful. He also praises School Bar’s weekly amateurs’ night (while 69 says DDC remains committed to novices, which was evident in its re-launch lineup).

Zhang Shouwang knows it’s nevertheless difficult for new Beijing bands to break through. But he encourages them to go DIY and “find a garage to play a show in. Make your own merch. People use their phones all the time – so they will develop a new way to make a scene around themselves,” he says, before insisting: “It’s a new era.”


kevin abosch on how blockchain technology is reshaping the art world at NFT ART DAY ZRH

NFT ART DAY ZRH’s inaugural edition


The inaugural edition of NFT ART DAY ZRH, the first annual NFT and metaverse conference in Switzerland, took place last Sunday, June 12, at the Auditorium of the Kunsthaus Zürich. During an insightful afternoon of talks, leading figures from the field of digital arts and the art market explored different topics related to NFTs within the wider realm of the history of digital art. One of the topics of the conference, titled ‘On NFTs and the Value of Art’ and moderated by Anika Meier, brought together internationally acclaimed artists and professionals, including Kevin Abosch, Georg Bak, Sarah Friend (joining virtually), and Leander Herzog, who discussed NFTs as an art form, ranging from conceptual, photography, and sculptural NFT artworks.


As media partner of NFT ART DAY ZRH, designboom brings you selected interviews and news from the conference’s inaugural edition. Following our interview with the conference’s co-founders, Katharina De Vaivre and Georg Bak, we caught up with conceptual crypto-artist Kevin Abosch to discuss how blockchain technology is changing the art world. The CryptoArt pioneer has been working with the blockchain as a method since 2013 posing ontological questions and responding to sociological dilemmas. Abosch’s work has been exhibited throughout the world, often in civic spaces, including The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, The National Museum of China, The National Gallery of Ireland, Jeu de Paume ( Paris), The Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, The Bogotá Museum of Modern Art and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM). Read our conversation with the artist in full below.


all images courtesy of NFT ART DAY ZRH, photos © Shkelzen Konxheli, unless stated otherwise

header image: Sun Signals (2021) by Kevin Abosch



INTERVIEW WITH kevin abosch 


designboom (DB): what is the focus of your NFT ART DAY ZRH talk and what do you hope visitors will take away from the conference?


Kevin Abosch (KA): As much of my work as an artist challenges conventional notions of value, so too has the emergence of blockchain tech and NFTs. I look forward to comparing notes and sharing some of my own findings.


DB: what attracted your interest in crypto art and when did you first start working with it?


KA: I first started using the blockchain as a method in my work in late 2012. I have a fondness for alphanumerics and the idea of generating these magical strings of letters and numbers that were stores of value sent me down a hole of exploration. Ten years later and I still find new ways to engage with blockchain technology itself not just as a carrier or delivery system but as a method in my practice.

kevin abosch on how blockchain technology is reshaping the art world at NFT ART DAY ZRH
Kevin Abosch at NFT ART DAY ZRH



DB: why do you think artists and collectors are moving towards NFTs? do you see any negative aspects?


KA: For decades artists working natively in the digital realm and their collectors found friction in the process of transferring the works from one custodial entity to another. NFTs have brought an elegance to the process of changing custody of a digital work. Some seem upset by what could be characterised as an enormous decentralised gambling game that has people trading or betting on NFTs, in the hopes of profiting from market dynamics. They go further to describe ‘pump and dump’ scenarios and other forms of market manipulation, but I would say this is nothing new to the art world — But with blockchain tech and crypto, it’s all been amplified.


Celebrate Juneteenth with These 15 Films, Podcasts, TV Shows, Albums, and Books | BU Today

Delve into stories that offer a multifaceted look at what it means to be Black in America

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when the last enslaved people in the United States learned that they had been freed, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

While the anniversary has been celebrated in various parts of the country ever since, Juneteenth didn’t officially become a federal holiday until last year, after Congress passed legislation on June 16 and President Biden signed it into law the following day.

In honor of Juneteenth’s cultural significance, BU Today has put together a list of media—movies, books, albums, podcasts, and more—that celebrate and offer multiple perspectives on Black life in America. 

If you plan on purchasing any of the books listed, please consider ordering them from a Black-owned bookstore.


After a four-year hiatus, Atlanta is back. The six-time Emmy Award–winning series, created by rapper/comedian Donald Glover, has been praised for its surrealist take on Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. Glover plays Earn, a Princeton dropout–turned manager for his cousin Alfred’s rap act. In season three, the main characters are no longer scrounging for success; instead, Alfred, aka Paper Boi, has begun his first European tour. With detours in Paris and Amsterdam, a surreal show becomes even more bizarre with Glover’s sense of humor leading the way. Available on Hulu.

A Black Lady Sketch Show is, in many ways, a trailblazer but to showrunner/star Robin Thede it is first and foremost a love letter to sketch comedy. The show, which includes actors Issa Rae, Ashley Nicole Black, and Quinta Brunson, was recently renewed for a fourth season. With a cast and writers’ room comprising only Black women, Thede’s target audience is no secret. Still, there are enough laughs for everyone in ABLSS’s high-energy spoofs, which take on everything from hair products, to courtroom TV to heist movies with equal irreverence. Available on HBO.


Producer and multi-instrumentalist Chaz Bundick, better known as singer-songwriter Toro y Moi, is back at his synthy, slo-mo best with the release of his seventh album. A longtime staple of the chillwave genre, Toro y Moi never trains his focus on one sound for too long—and Mahal is no exception. Psychedelia is well-worn territory for Bundick, but in Mahal the spaciness is interspersed with a focus on jazz, soul, and funk riffs. Listen to “Postman” for a dose of groovy, slap-bass nostalgia.

Vince Staples is not a good-times rapper. “To call this album entertainment would almost feel disrespectful,” Matthew Ismael Ruiz wrote in a Pitchfork review. The tracks continue Staples’ reputation as a troubled man, and while he’s been honest with us before, his emotional vulnerability is taken to new depths in songs like “Rose Street.” Sonically, Ramona Park is a breezy, sun-soaked joyride, but lyrically it’s a reconciliation of all that Staples has lost, and a bittersweet ode to his wayward youth.

Koffee makes it all seem so easy. In her first studio album, the 22-year-old Jamaican singer, songwriter, rapper, deejay, and guitarist, shows a clear instinct when it comes to weaving pop hooks with riddim vocals and upbeat lyrics with melodies that tend toward the melancholy. Her understanding of both roots reggae and pop forms–—mixed with a heavy dose of indie yearning—pulls together into something so cohesive and natural it could have been released any time in the last two decades. The resulting effort has earned the album’s title: She’s gifted, all right.


Emergency, the hit 2022 comedy/thriller directed by Carey Williams, is a buddy movie with none of the usual trappings: there are some laughs, but they’re quickly supplanted by dread as the protagonists, all young men of color, try to help a passed-out white woman at a party. Calling the police, they decide, is too dangerous. In an interview with IndieWire, Williams says that the humorous elements were the film’s “special sauce,” but the heart of the story is about the deteriorating relationship between Kunle and Sean, two Black friends of different economic backgrounds who suddenly can’t reconcile their differences when the stakes get high. Available on Prime Video.

Master, a horror/drama directed by Mariama Diallo, is the story of three Black women at Atwater, a fictional Ivy League campus “nearly as old as the country.” What begins as microaggressions and an escalating sense of isolation among the protagonists—faculty members Gail and Liv and freshman Jasmine—soon becomes an out-and-out ghost story when Jasmine uncovers the legend of a witch who appears to haunt only Black students. Unlike previous reality horror films—like Jordan Peele’s Get Out(2017)—Master subs science fiction for folklore, hinting at a collective history of atrocities that colleges like Atwater would rather keep hidden. The film stars Regina Hall, Amber Gray, and Zoe Renee. Available on Prime Video.

While his legacy is undeniable as an author and orator, Frederick Douglass’ provocative speeches were never recorded. Produced by acclaimed historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and directed by Julia Marchese, Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches aims to bring the legendary abolitionist’s words to life, using the talents of Denzel Whitaker, Colman Domingo, Nicole Beharie, Andre Holland, Jonathan Majors, and Jeffrey Wright. Each speech is representative of a different era within the 19th century, and in turn, reflects Douglass’ evolving political philosophy. Available on HBO Max and HBO On Demand.


Black queer bloggers Kid Fury and Crissle West are the hosts of The Read, a weekly podcast covering hip-hop and pop culture’s most “trying” stars. A tried-and-true intersectional favorite for many, each episode spotlights everyday Black people doing remarkable things, provides comedic takes on hot topics, answers listener letters, and calls out the issues plaguing their minds that day.

After nine years, the show has amassed a loyal following that has spawned sold-out live shows and merchandise drops, a show on Fuse TV, and an original comedy album through Issa Rae’s label Raedio.

If you’re looking to learn more pop culture and gain deeper perspectives on the issues facing the Black (and queer) community at large, The Read is a great place to get your foot in the door. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio Talk, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.

Centered on mental health and wellness, The Friend Zone is hosted by real-life friends Assanté, Dustin Ross, and HeyFranHey. The three navigate their way through discussions on platonic and romantic relationships, race, and being true to yourself.

Aided by Fran’s knowledge of holistic wellness, the show is both entertaining and informative, and is seen by many as a resource and a way to explore topics listeners might otherwise have trouble finding outlets for.

Fran’s careful consideration, Dustin’s assertive confidence, and Assanté’s ability to bring us down to Earth create a dynamic that provides insight and comedy every week. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.

This podcast features brothers Jermaine and Trevaunn (Trey) Richards and Sheldon Sabastian, who discuss “everything from laundry to alien invasion.” The three hosts’ hilarious storytelling makes fun of their lives, each other, and trending topics while still making space for vulnerable and open-minded conversations, abetted by friends who pop in as guests. 

The podcast highlights the hosts’ intersectional experiences as young adults, Caribbean descendants, and Black men living in America. If you’re looking for a guaranteed stress-reliever, this showing of “Black boy joy” is the way to go. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Acast.


Alliah L. Agostini grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where her grandfather cofounded the city’s Juneteenth Festival in 1976. In her lovely new picture book, The Juneteenth Story, the author pays tribute to her grandfather’s legacy (the Buffalo Juneteenth Festival is now one of the largest in the nation) and brings to life the Emancipation story for young readers The  book focuses on the twin legacies of slavery and emancipation in equal measure, tying in the Poor People’s Campaign and the Texas Centennial Exposition. It also explores the arduous path to making Juneteenth a federal holiday. You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays by Zora Neale Hurston (Amistad, 2022)

Author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston’s essays and criticism are sometimes overshadowed by her novels (Their Eyes Were Watching God). But this recently released collection of her essays seeks to remedy that. This anthology is the last word on Hurston’s oeuvre, drawing on 35 years of observations on Black society as it evolved from the Harlem Renaissance to the Montgomery bus boycott. With her knack for encapsulating Black joy in its limitless forms, Hurston’s voice seems more essential now than ever.

This long-awaited follow-up to How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research and BU’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, has been released in time for Juneteenth 2022. The latest book by the best-selling author and noted educator, whose call for individual actions in the face of systemic racial oppression helped earn him a 2021 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant, focuses on how individuals can foster growth and analysis among their own families, drawing on his trademark blend of research and personal experience.

In her debut novel, Tara M. Stringfellow weaves the personal and political into a family drama spanning three generations of Black women. Memphis, site of the famous April 3, 1968, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) and his assasination one day later, is also the ancestral home of Stringfellow’s fictional North family and their private triumphs and sorrows. Drawing from her own background and the historical events that impacted her family, Stringfellow weaves a narrative that spans from World War II to the present, meditating on the systemic injustice of Southern racism and the resilience it cannot erase.

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