The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
Sixth & I | August 9
The acclaimed author is promoting his latest novel, which imagines what happens after workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, find a skeleton at the bottom of a well in 1972. The bones strike at the heart of a neighborhood’s Jewish and African American communities.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library | August 2
Much as punk emerged from modest garage-band origins, MLK’s summer concert program began in 2014 in the library’s basement. This is the second year the DC Punk Archive has celebrated one of the city’s native sounds on the rooftop, and the season closes with local favorites Hammered Hulls, along with Jenny Hates Techno and Emotional World.
Kennedy Center | August 14–19
After a series of much-discussed Netflix standup specials, Wong had a significant acting role in the very black comedy Beef, about the aftermath of a road-rage incident. Expect her performances at the Kennedy Center to be as unpredictable as her career.
FedEx Field | August 5-6
The superstar singer may not ride into town on the holographic horse that carries her on the cover of her latest album, Renaissance. But on her first solo tour in more than six years, Bey is guaranteed to make a dazzling appearance.
Wolf Trap | August 11
What can an 18th-century classic tell us about the way we live today? In Mozart’s version of the Don Juan legend, plenty. Don Giovanni is a cautionary tale of a rascal’s comeuppance suitable for any era, but in the 21st century, the womanizer’s downfall seems especially prescient, and it’s delivered with all the spectacle and passion you expect from a night at the opera.
Maryland State Fair
Maryland State Fairgrounds | August 24–27, August 31–September 4, and September 7–10
Nothing says America like a state fair, and Maryland has been celebrating its agricultural riches in Timonium for nearly 150 years. As summer winds down, this may be your last chance to pet a sheep, scream on a roller coaster, and stuff yourself on locally sourced fried food before school’s back in.
Hip-Hop Block Party
National Museum of African American History & Culture | August 12
The Big Bang of hip-hop is said to have taken place in 1973 at a Bronx back-to-school party. That makes this year its 50th anniversary, and the NMAAHC will celebrate with a concert (artists still TBA) and outdoor exhibit featuring artifacts from its collection.
Journal of a Black Queer Nurse by Britney Daniels
Politics and Prose (Connecticut Avenue) | August 24
Daniels draws from her personal diary to capture her experience as a “Black, masculine-presenting tattooed lesbian” working in hospital emergency rooms with patients who are sometimes startled by her appearance. Asked by one if she could have a white nurse, Daniels replied, “Sorry ma’am, we are fresh out of white nurses.”
Count Gore Presents The Day the Earth Stood Still
AFI Silver | August 12
This year, local legend Dick Dyszel celebrates 50 years of playing Count Gore De Vol, the host of the old Creature Features program on Channel 20. These days, Dyszel also introduces creepy films at the AFI, and here’s one not to miss: a 1951 classic that imagines the nation’s capital invaded by aliens.
Compagnie Käfig: Pixel
Kennedy Center | August 30–September 1
French Algerian hip-hop artist Mourad Merzouki is the founder of Lyon-based Compagnie Käfig, and in the unusual show Pixel, the group’s 11 dancers merge physical movement with digital visual effects.
This article appears in the August 2023 issue of Washingtonian.