Monday, February 15, 2010

Music Monday: Music @ The Kennedy Center - For Free?

So when you found out that DC has the world class Kennedy Center in its back yard, you might have written it off (as I did) as a super-classy home of super-classy music, theater, and dance with super-classy pricing to match - far beyond the financial reach of the pockets of 20something (our fearless leader) and you (our fearless reader).

The Kennedy Center does indeed have that super-classy (and date-worthy) feel to it, but the good news is that... wait for it... there's a way in for free!

Behind the Kennedy Center's four theaters, opera house, and concert hall (all of which are amazing venues in their own ways), lies a long hallway with a stage at either end. One of these stages hosts a show every day of every week, 365 days a year (including Christmas, Arbor Day, Take-Your-Daughter To Work Day, you name it). The show is always at 6pm and is always completely free. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

While I have gone to see shows at the Millenium Stage before (Manhattan Transfer and Koolooloosh come to mind) I recently went to a show with my pal Z so I could scout the venue with the intense discerning eye that DistrictBeat requires. Here are my intense discerning thoughts (and insider tips) on the experience:
  • The Kennedy Center is about a 7-8 minute walk from the Foggy Bottom (Blue and Orange) Metro (Insider Tip: There is a maroon Kennedy Center Shuttle that picks up every 5-10 minutes from the top of the metro escalator - it drops off right at the front door).
  • The stage is situated at the end of a long and narrow hall way with about 20-50 rows of chairs, and steps that are used as bleachers on one side. Get there early if you are going to see a popular act as the seats do fill (Insider Tip: No matter how late you show up, there are always good views available from the side steps/bleachers if you are willing to have a hard seat).
  • The sound is quite good and the experience is almost always worth the cost - which is really just the time it takes to get there and back.
  • You can chat with the artists after the performance - there is no real "green room", so they are usually willing to hang out right there. Performances usually run about an hour.
We saw John Jensen on the night we were there. He was an absolutely fantastic player (though a bit short with us when we met him afterwords) and made playing really tough classic Jazz pieces seem like a piece of cake. He had that BB King-esque air of choosing notes so well that we waited for each one and felt what each was meant to convey. His band was also great - each contributed tastefully and stood out when the moment called for it. Check out a video of the performance Here. Jensen is a DC/NoVa local, so he's worth seeing if you are into classic jazz and love performers who feel every note they play.

The Millenium Stage has not let me down yet. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out their calendar of upcoming shows HERE.

Have you seen anything at the Millenium Stage? Please share any comments below...

Also - don't forget to add us to your RSS reader - that little orange box in the URL window at the top of this page - click it. We dare you.

Finally - A few shows I'll be at in the next few weeks (!). Shoot me an email ( if you plan on going...
  • Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. at the State Theater in Arlington on Thursday of this week -
  • HaDag Nachash at 6th and I on March 2nd -
- theClubScout

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