✔ Pick of the Pack
Concert: J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices
At some point, every country music star sings a song about roughing it. Most of them are faking it; condescending to the roughnecks and hourly workers who faithfully buy their fictions. The increasing distance between the people who make country music and the people who live it has caused something of a crisis of authenticity for the genre. Enter J.P. Harris, who along with the Tough Choices, has been "resurrecting the ghosts of a time when real, hard core honky tonk ruled the airwaves; before the words 'pop' or 'new' ever met the word 'country.'" According to his autobiography, Mr. Harris left the ranch when he was 14, and has been roughing it ever since in "hobo jungles across the country" and, for the last few years, concert venues. His songs are gritty, sad and wryly funny. "This heart ain't broken, just badly bent/every time I try to straighten it out, I wind up drunk again" goes the chorus to "Badly Bent." His heart's condition notwithstanding, Mr. Harris' music beats strong.
J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices performs Sept. 11 at Hill Country, 410 7th St. NW
Author talk: Hanna Rosin on "The End of Men"
In the summer of 2010, writer Hanna Rosin uncovered a new world order: Men are no longer in charge. "Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women, too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same." These data points led Ms. Rosin to wonder "if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women." Ms. Rosin made her claim two years ago and has a book out now to buttress it, yet political operatives with their claims about a "war on women" seem not to have noticed. Ms. Rosin will talk more about the new world order with her husband and boss, Slate's David Plotz. Sept. 11 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW
Film Festival: DC Shorts
The D.C. Shorts Film Festival is now in its ninth year. For casual filmgoers, the festival can be a bit daunting. Unlike with festivals of feature-length films, D.C. Shorts groups its movies -- 140 in total, none longer than 20 minutes -- into 90-minute showcases. These showcases feature a mix of genres, and more importantly, a mix of quality. If you so love movies that you respect the amount of effort behind even the bad ones, this cinephile suggests choosing the showcase that fits your schedule rather than your tastes (even if the movies are bad, you'll get to hear directors talk about making them). If, on the other hand, you want guaranteed bangs for your bucks, wait for the Best Of showcases that come at the festival's end.
To Sept. 16 at various locations throughout the District
For children: Cole Brothers Circus
William Washington Cole put on his first circus in 1884, calling it "W.W. Cole's New Colossal Show." At the time, Cole was competing with not just a few big names, but with hundreds -- if not thousands -- of traveling acts. When the advent of TV killed many circuses and forced the remaining, larger acts into arenas and other indoor spaces, Cole's circus continued to put on shows under a tent. More than a century later, it is not just the largest, but the only three-ring, big-top circus in the United States.
Sept. 7-9 at Virginia Academy, 19790 Ashburn Road, Ashburn, Va.
Comedy: Tommy Davidson
When discussing the city's native comic sons, Tommy Davidson gets far fewer mentions than Dave Chappelle. That may be because Mr. Davidson actually came up in Bethesda, but it's not because he lacks comedic chops. After dropping out of the University of the District of Columbia, Mr. Davidson helped start "In Living Color," one of the best sketch shows to ever host a studio audience. Since then, he's appeared in films ("Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls") and had several comedy specials. Mr. Davidson's bread and butter is impressions -- everybody from Al Jarreau to Rocky.
To Sept. 9 at the D.C. Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave NW