VENUES WITH MUSIC
“Venues with Music” are similar to “Performance Halls” – during shows, both types of venue truly focus on the music. But the focus of “venues with music” is not quite as “pure.” We opted for the cumbersome “venues with music” name instead of “music venues” because the places in this list tend to be multi-purpose – a lot are churches, and many are flexible spaces that can accommodate a wide variety of functions. Others are designed to optimize the music experience, but do so because the music sets the scene for the space’s true purpose – to create a party atmosphere.
You can scroll through this page or click on the following links to jump to each venue’s place on the page: American Art Museum, Anacostia Arts Center, Arts Club of Washington, Austrian Culture Center, Black Cat, BloomBars, Capital Fringe, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Church of the Epiphany, The Corner Store, Dumbarton Concerts, The Electric Maid, Evermay, First Congregational UCC, Flash, Hill Center, JACS, Millennium Stage, Levine Music, National Gallery of Art, National Presbyterian Church, National Shrine, New Vegas Lounge, Rhizome, Rock & Roll Hotel, Seekers Church, Songbyrd, SoundCheck, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, U Street Music Hall, Westminster Presbyterian Church.
AMERICAN ART – KOGOD COURTYARD
The Smithsonian American Art Museum offers two informal spaces for live music performances – the Kogod Courtyard and the Luce Center. The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard is located in the center of the building (which also houses the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery). The 28,000 square-foot, enclosed courtyard’s elegant glass canopy provides a distinctive, contemporary accent to the museums’ Greek Revival building. The Luce Foundation Center for American Art is the first visible art storage and study center in the District. It also features “Luce Unplugged” – a free, monthly local concert series. Thursday shows are a tribute to a Luce Center artwork selected by the performer. Friday evening Showcases feature two bands, selected by the Washington City Paper, a cash bar and free drink samples from a local brewery or distillery.
ANACOSTIA ARTS CENTER
The Anacostia Arts Center opened in 2013. It is 9,300 square feet, and includes a 1,000 square foot Black Box Theater, space for five galleries/boutiques, a short-term exhibition gallery called “Blank Space SE,” Nurish café, and an 800 square feet lounge area.
While The Arts Center is new, its parent organization, ARCH Development Corporation, has been working in Anacostia since 1991. For the majority of its history, ARCH focused on neighborhood small scale business development and general business support.
ARTS CLUB OF WASHINGTON
For nearly a century the Arts Club of Washington has promoted and celebrated the visual, performing, and literary arts in the nation’s capital. Gatherings for members, exhibits and performances for the public, and a range of private events are held in the club’s historic I Street mansion, which was formerly the home of President James Monroe. Arts Club members come from a wide range of artistic disciplines and professional backgrounds, joined by their shared enjoyment and appreciation of the arts.
AUSTRIAN CULTURE CENTER
The Embassy of Austria officially opened its doors to the public on October 26, 1991. The most striking feature of the building is a 5,000-square-foot sky-lit atrium in the center of the edifice, which serves as an auditorium for cultural events and offers enough space to accommodate approximately 400 people.The multi-purpose room next to the auditorium can accommodate another 150 people, and is often used during film screenings. In addition to the plethora of cultural events organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Embassy welcomes groups of students from all over the United States several times a year to introduce them to Austrian culture, history, and politics.
The Black Cat is a multi-level nightclub that has established itself as a premier venue for independent music. Musical offerings can also include DJ nights, metal, punk, and electronic, and can be local, national, or international. The Black Cat offers two stages – the second-floor “Mainstage,” which typically showcases the better-known acts and can hold about 700 people, and the first-floor “Backstage,” which hosts smaller acts and can hold about 200 people. The first floor also includes the “Red Room,” a bar/lounge, and “Food for Thought,” a restaurant that features vegetarian and vegan fare.
Some have called BloomBars an artist and non-profit incubator, performance space, art gallery, theater, youth academy, and center for health, wellness, and community engagement. BloomBars is all these things and more. Both innovative and old-school-wisdom, BloomBars is a concept that seeks to unite, energize and inspire communities through the arts. Established in 2008 in Washington, DC’s burgeoning Columbia Heights neighborhood, BloomBars is driven by a volunteer team of artists, educators, and community and business leaders. Redefining the perception of a bar, BloomBars does not serve or allow alcohol on its premises. For us, no booze = more clear and meaningful connections between the artist and the audience, all are welcome, an environment ripe for growth and inspiration.
Capital Fringe’s focus is on expanding audiences appetites for independent, Fringe theatre, music, art, dance and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art. Capital Fringe is a catalyst for cultural and community development, and a destination that brings artists and audiences together. Logan Fringe Arts Space, in its Phase 1 operation, is a functional multi-use arts facility and community center. It offers a unique producing and presenting experience for individual curators, artists and neighbors. Fringe works in partnership, providing support services, with theatre artists or producers, visual artists, musicians, individual curators and creative entrepreneurs.
CAPITOL HILL ARTS WORKSHOP (CHAW)
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) strives to build community through the arts. It is a community-based, not-for-profit organization which believes in the tranformative power of art and offers art instruction to help people connect and discover their potential. The building includes a dance studio (which doubles as a recital hall), paint studio, black box theater, art gallery, complete ceramics/pottery studio, a photography darkroom (the only “open” darkroom in D.C.), and private music instruction studios. It has a regular schedule of public events, including concerts, plays, exhibits, and workshops.
THE CHURCH OF THE EPIPHANY
The doors of the Church of the Epiphany are open Sunday through Friday to all those who work in, live in, or visit downtown Washington. In addition to daily worship, Epiphany also offers a lunchtime Tuesday Concert Series and hosts evening performances by guest ensembles.
High-quality music-making is presented in the church every Tuesday year-round 12:10–1:00pm. Talented international artists have always sought out Epiphany’s fine acoustics and exceptional musical instruments, and a strong, appreciative audience enjoys a remarkable variety of music week by week.
Epiphany also hosts guest ensembles year-round, from choirs to orchestras to solo performers. The church is a regular performance venue for Arts Nova Chamber Music, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra, Avanti Orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, as well as ensembles visiting from all over the world.
THE CORNER STORE
The Corner Store incorporated as a nonprofit arts center in 2002, making adaptive use of the building’s long history as… a corner store. The Corner Store is a neighborhood anchor and regularly showcases the work of actors, playwrights, musicians, filmmakers, artists, poets and chefs.
Performances are cozy and have the feel akin to that of a living room gathering. Wine, cheese, beer, and wine are typically available.
For almost forty years, Dumbarton Concerts has been a jewel in D.C.’s tiara. The Washington Post has described the series as one of the most intimate in Washington. Considered a well-kept secret by devoted music lovers, the candlelit sanctuary of historic Dumbarton United Methodist Church is the perfect setting in which to enjoy chamber music as its composer intended.
THE ELECTRIC MAID
The Electric Maid is a “third space” – a community living room of sorts. It is a place for the people of a community or neighborhood to come together, a type of social gathering that is as old as human civilization itself. It is a place in the community for all the people of Takoma, Old Takoma and Takoma Park to gather: attend art shows, listen to live music, hold a meeting, lead or take a class, grab a cup of coffee or a snack, meet, mingle, gather, hang out, enjoy free WiFi, get out of the heat or snow or wind or rain.
The Electric Maid is not a bar, a coffeehouse, a church, or a cult. The organizers don’t really care if people just hang out and don’t buy anything, loitering and soliciting is openly encouraged. Some events are BYOB, most events are all-ages and dry. A potluck is hosted regularly. It’s not uncommon for folkies to open for hardcore bands. It is a safe space.
Evermay, also known as the Samuel Davidson House, is an historic house in Georgetown. It was designed by architect Nicholas King, the first surveyor of Washington, D.C., and founder of the city’s first library. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing property to the Georgetown Historic District.
The beautiful Evermay estate serves as the headquarters of S&R Foundation, which supports talented individuals with great potential and high aspirations in the arts, sciences, and social entrepreneurship, especially those who are furthering international cultural collaboration. One component of the S&R endeavors is the Overtures Artist Concert Series.
1623 28th St. NW, Washington, DC 20007
-♪-♫- (Jump to top of page.)
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
The First Congregational United Church of Christ has a modern setting while being steeped in history. In the Antebellum Era, Washington had southern leanings and was hostile to Congregationalism, a church movement which was identified with northern abolitionism. The First Congregational Church of Washington, DC, was founded soon after the end of the Civil War and its promise of emancipation made possible the establishment of a “northern” church.
While First Congregational is quite historic, its setting is quite modern. The church occupies the first two floors of a premier office building that meets Gold LEED standards. Its mission is also modern – it welcomes people of all ages, abilities, racial and cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, and beliefs. It also strives to enact social action and provides its sanctuary as a public event venue, regularly hosting a variety of cultural events.
Flash opened its doors in June of 2013 as a collaboration between long-time lovers of music, former DJ’s, and music industry vets. The goal is to present an intimate space where artists can express themselves clearly and fans can hear their favorite artists in an ideal setting.
The Club Level features an acoustically treated studio-quality room showcasing a custom Funktion One sound system and a next-generation lighting rig designed to heighten the experience. It provides a balance between dance floor, fully stocked bar and wall-to-wall bench seating. The ground floor “Flash Bar” features a separate dance floor and DJ area and a fully stocked bar specializing in a wide selection of liquor and hand-crafted cocktails.
HILL CENTER AT THE OLD NAVAL HOSPITAL
Construction of the Old Naval Hospital began in 1864 to support Civil War efforts, but was not completed until 1866, after the war was over. The hospital was used as a hospital until 1911, at which time it became the Hospital Corps Training School. In 1922 it became the Temporary Home for Old Soldiers and Sailors, a private institution providing lodging for veterans pressing pension claims in the capital.
In 1962 the federal government transferred control of the site to the District of Columbia, but the facility was not properly maintained and the property declined. By 1998 the main building stood essentially vacant.
In 2000, concerned neighbors founded the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital. The Friends hired the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and a plan was developed to reuse the site as an educational center for children and adults and a gathering place for community residents. The Hill Center aims to broaden the horizons of all who enter by providing high-quality arts, education and cultural programs and other opportunities to engage more fully in the life of our city, offering classes and courses for people of all ages and backgrounds, along with space for meetings, lectures, performances, gallery exhibitions and other events.
JAZZ AND CULTURAL SOCIETY
The Jazz and Cultural Society (JACS) is a not-for-profit jazz club in Brookland. All ages are welcome. Food is available, at a cost, and beverages are $1 a piece. No alcohol is allowed or served on the premises. Shows usually run from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. (you can drop in at any time during the show); cash or check is accepted for the cover charge, food, and beverage.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, generally known as the Kennedy Center, is the busiest performing arts facility in the United States. Its offerings include opera, theater, dance, ballet, and music. The musical offerings vary widely and include orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music. It serves as the home of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. It is also home to Shear Madness, the second-longest run play in the history of American Theater (its sister production of Shear Madness in Boston is the longest-running).
The Millennium Stage is part of the concept of “Performing Arts for Everyone.” It provides free performances every evening at 6:00 pm on two specially created stages at either end of the Grand Foyer. A broad range of art forms are featured on the Millennium Stage. These include performing artists and groups from all 50 states and an Artist-in-Residence program featuring artists performing several evenings in a month. Every show on the Millennium Stage is available as a simulcast of the live show at 6:00 pm, and is archived for later viewing via the Kennedy Center’s website.
Levine Music provides diverse and comprehensive music instruction tailored to create rich and fulfilling experiences for their students and families. It is open to anyone who wants to learn about and study music, regardless of age, ability, means, or financial circumstances. Instruction is provided in rock, jazz, blues, folk, musical theater, and classical styles.
Levine Music also offers public events and performances to inspire music lovers of all ages. It presents over 200 performances each and every year featuring students, faculty members, and guest artists on stages and at venues throughout the DC area.
Sallie Mae Hall (Main Campus)
2801 Upton St. NW, Washington, DC 20008
THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus)
1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20020
(202) 610-2036 -♪-♫- (Jump to top of page.)
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART – WEST GARDEN COURT
The National Gallery of Art consists of the original, West Building, and the East Building, located across from the West Building and connected by an underground walkway. It also has an ourdoor sculpture garden and extensive indoor and outdoor gardens. The West Building has an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures by European masters from the medieval period through the late 19th century, as well as pre-20th century works by American artists. The East Building focuses on modern and contemporary art.
Beginning in 1942, a series of free Sunday evening concerts has featured the National Gallery Orchestra as well as musicians and ensembles from around the world. With programs offered in the fall and winter to the present day, this is considered the oldest continuous series of free weekly concerts in the District. Weekly Sunday concerts are also provided in the Sculpture Garden during the summer. Films and lectures are presented regularly, and public symposia are organized for selected exhibitions. Most indoor concerts are held in the West Garden Court, but concert are also occasionally held in the West Building Rotunda or East Building Auditorium.
NATIONAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The National Presbyterian Church (NPC) presents a full calendar of musical events featuring some of the finest ensembles and soloists from the DC area, across the nation and around the world.
Drawing on the gorgeous acoustics of its beautiful sanctuary, its glorious Aeolian-Skinner organ, and its ample free parking, many major arts organizations find a welcome home at NPC for their subscription seasons or special concerts.
NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America, and is one of the ten largest churches in the world. The Basilica is the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine, dedicated to the patroness of the United States – the Blessed Virgin Mary – under her title of the Immaculate Conception. It is oftentimes referred to as “America’s Catholic Church.” The Basilica is Byzantine-Romanesque in style and is home to over 70 chapels and oratories that relate to the peoples, cultures and traditions that are the fabric of the Catholic faith and the mosaic of our great nation. The Basilica also houses the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art on earth.
The Basilica offers six Masses and five hours of Confessions daily, as well as Guided Tours, a Catholic Gift Shop, a Catholic Book Store, and a Cafeteria to accommodate its visitors. Special Masses, Devotions, Pilgrimages and Concerts are held regularly throughout the year, and on Holy Days and Holidays. The Basilica’s Summer Organ Recital Series is held every Sunday, July through August. There is no charge for admission, though a free will offering will be accepted.
NEW VEGAS LOUNGE
Well into its thirty-fifth year of operation, the New Vegas Lounge is a Washington, DC institution preceded by its reputation for great music. The Out of Town Blues Band is comprised of lead vocalists Jimmy Johnson and the venerable Dr. Blues as well as a 7-piece rhythm and blues band that includes a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboardist, percussionist, and a bass & lead guitarist. It is comprised of an eclectic group of professional road musicians who have worked in the past with the likes of the late great Wilson Pickett, Gene Chandler, The Delfonics, Solomon Burke, Heat Wave, and Johnny Taylor, just to name a few.
RhizomeDC is a nonprofit community arts space in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington DC. It is dedicated to promoting creativity as a force for personal empowerment and community engagement. It also strives to provide a home for non-mainstream programming, and to serve as a hub for people in the community to connect around their shared interests and passions. Rhizome hosts programs that promote creativity in all its forms. These include concerts, workshops, performances, talks, exhibitions, and demonstration projects in areas such as art, music, technology, theater, local food, poetry, as well as in more esoteric fields of knowledge.
6950 Maple St. NW, Washington, DC 20012
(Jump to top of page.)
ROCK AND ROLL HOTEL
Rock & Roll Hotel is an independent music venue and nightclub that was established in 2006, back when northeast’s H St Corridor was still an “up and coming” part of the District. The Rock & Roll Hotel hosts original bands from around the region, country, and globe. Rock & Roll Hotel has 3 floors – the concert hall, a 2nd floor lounge, and a rooftop deck. Each level has a full-service bar. The food is served family-style and ordered from the bar.
Seekers Church regularly hosts live music, focusing primarily on Americana. Much of this music is part of their “Carroll Café” program. Carroll Café is a volunteer-supported venue that hosts fabulous local, national, and international performers. A night at Carroll Cafe is like a night of fine music in the Village or watching a gripping play at the theater. The venue is warm and welcoming, with wonderful acoustics, and the musicians are stellar and seasoned performers.
SONGBYRD MUSIC HOUSE
Songbyrd is a restaurant, bar, a record store, and a music venue. The restaurant and bar offer seasonal food and drink menus and a cozy decor. The record cafe features a full espresso bar and a menu of casual foods, complete with options for meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. The coffee comes direct from Equal Exchange, which pairs well with a browse through the vinyl stacks, where you can purchase new and used LPs. The music venue, referred to as the Byrd Cage, features a state of the art sound system and a funky basement vibe. It has a standing room capacity of 200+ and a seated capacity of up to 100. The venue hosts international, national and local artists, from live performers to DJs, as well as other live performance art forms.
SoundCheck is a 2,000 square foot, basement music venue. It boasts of “80,000 Watts of D&B Audiotechnik Sweetness,” but the loud music should not be perceptible from outside due to the club’s soundproof foam walls and cork flooring. The club includes LED walls, giant disco balls, video projectors, and laser lights. It is intended to deliver “the true nightclub experience,” and music varies between hip-hop, electronic, and international music. It offers both bottle service and local beers.
ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
In 1956, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church removed its fixed pews and changed to flexible seating that allowed for worship services to take place around a central movable altar. At that time it also introduced modern dance, plays, concerts, art shows, and social activism efforts. The church welcomes everyone, regardless of where they are on their faith journey. The church’sis flexible space can host a concert, a dinner dance for 200, and Sunday worship – all on the same weekend.
The beauty and favorable acoustics of the nave make St. Mark’s a much sought-after performance venue for musicians throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro area.
U STREET MUSIC HALL
Opened March 17th, 2010, U Street Music Hall is a DJ-owned and operated basement dance club and live music venue. Its 500-person capacity room features one of the city’s best sound systems, a 1200 square foot cork-cushioned dance floor and two bars with a full liquor selection.
WESTMINSTER JAZZ AND BLUES
Westminster was chartered in 1853, back when this part of the City was called “Tiber Island” and was still the fringe of the city. The current building was dedicated in 1965, built after the old building was torn down as part of the nation’s first urban renewal project. Westminster has always been dedicated to serve those on the margins — from early help for freed slaves to the housing of poor homeless families, from starting a ministry for those with HIV/AIDS in the early days of the epidemic to opening the sanctuary to the sounds of jazz, which had been rejected as “profane” in most churches.
“Jazz Night” is a cultural arts program presented every Friday evening at Westminster, 6 to 9 pm. It includes DC’s finest jazz artists, who help continue the heritage of classical, straight-ahead jazz. “Blue Monday Blues” was launched in 2006 and happens every Monday evening from 6 to 9 pm. Blue Monday welcomes a great many of the area’s finest electric, down- home artists who offer incredible live performances for a diverse audience of folks from around the D.C. area.