- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Back again

After releasing “The Black Album” last year, rapper Jay-Z said he was finished with hip-hop. Several months later, the multiplatinum-selling artist announced he is co-headlining the Best of Both Worlds tour with R&B; star R. Kelly. So much for retirement. The duo plays the MCI Center tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $68 to $78. 601 F St. NW. 202/397-SEAT.

Irish tunes with a twist

The Young Dubliners don’t play your parents’ kind of Irish music. Mixing rocking guitars with after-hours pub ballads, the five have toured the United States and Europe, bringing their own kind of Irish rock to some nontraditional audiences. Touring in support of their newest release, “Absolutely,” the band opens the Barns at Wolf Trap fall season tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. 1624 Trap Road, Vienna. 703/218-6500.

Books galore

From children’s books to mysteries and thrillers, this year’s National Book Festival, on Saturday, has a book to satisfy nearly anyone’s interest. More than 70 authors will appear at the one-day festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. They include novelist and essayist Joyce Carol Oates, science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson and children’s author R.L. Stine. The festival takes place on the Mall, between Seventh and 14th streets, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, see www.loc.gov/bookfest or call 888/714-4696.

Pedal for a cure

More than a bike ride, the Tour of Hope is an inspiration for people living with cancer and those passionate about finding a cure. The eight-day, 3,500-mile ride began in Los Angeles and ends Saturday on the Ellipse. The D.C. finale includes a recreational ride of 25 to 30 miles around the District with cancer survivor and six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong (open only to those who pre-register), along with an afternoon of live music, bike clinics and other family activities. The Ellipse activities are free and open to all, and run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information see www.tour ofhope .org.

Country ‘it’ girl

Mindy Smith doesn’t sing with a Southern drawl or play a guitar painted like the American flag, but this Long Island native has managed to become one of country music’s brightest new stars. Miss Smith’s highly praised debut album, “One Moment More,” has turned the once-struggling open-mike performer into one of this year’s must-hear musicians. Miss Smith plays the Recher Theatre on Sunday. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. 512 York Road, Towson, Md. 703/218-6500

Without a genre

Not trendy enough for pop but not heavy enough to be pure rock ‘n’ roll, Inouk is a band without a genre. They’ve been compared to early Jeff Buckley, U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen, and the five members of Inouk are among this year’s indie-music darlings. Find out why when they play the 9:30 Club tomorrow with Hope of the States. The show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10. 815 V St. NW. 202/393-0930

‘Toons on the loose

Strathmore Hall is going to please children all over the area with a Family Toon Day on Sunday. Beginning at 11 a.m., popular cartoon characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo and the Power Puff Girls will parade through the grounds of Strathmore and pose for photos with their pint-size fans. Food, amusement rides and music are part of the package. The family fun continues until 4 p.m. The event is free, except for a $2 charge for character photos. 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. 301/530-0540.

— Thomas Walter

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