- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

Evolved music
The Vines are a pretty good advertisement for the benefits of after-school jobs. Lead singer and guitarist Craig Nicholls met bassist Patrick Matthews while working at a McDonald's in high school, and soon after they formed a band with friends. Now the Australian group is set to release its debut album, "Highly Evolved," on Capitol, an energetic record that recalls the glory days of grunge rock. Hear why people are already buzzing about the Vines when they play at 9 p.m. Sunday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $12. 202/393-0930.

Hip hop's other side

Gangster rap and dirty rhymes may get a lot of media attention, but there's a growing movement to add a social conscience to hip hop. At this weekend's D.C. Hip Hop Theater Festival, some of those more positive groups will be in attendance, for a weekend that includes poetry slams, plays, workshops and live concerts. Check out a poetry slam at noon tomorrow at the Ronald Reagan Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and hear Cuban Link, Coal Mann and other performers at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Theater, 1215 U St. NW. All events are free. 202/724-5613.

Handel with care

Mozart is not the only classical composer who was able to match witty comedy with opera. Though Handel's "Xerxes" is not performed nearly as frequently as Mozart's familiar works, it is a rich production in its own, with a varied score and the popular aria "Ombra mai fu," more commonly known as "Handel's Largo." The semi-comic tale revolves around the court of King Xerxes of Persia, and the rivalry with his brother for the affections of a noblewoman. See the Wolf Trap Opera Company perform it at 8 p.m. tomorrow and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1624 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $48. 703/218-6500.

Ancient Alexandria

Most visitors to Alexandria's Lyceum are used to seeing relics from Colonial days and the recent past, which is why the museum's current "Prehistoric Alexandria" exhibit is so interesting. It takes folks on a journey to see what the region looked like 20,000 years ago, around the time of the last Ice Age. Find out when humans first arrived here, what kind of plants and animals thrived and what the area looked like from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria. It's free. 703/838-4994.

Coney charms

Few people have likely spent as much time at Coney Island as photographer Harvey Stein. Over the course of 25 years, the artist took color photographs of visitors to the park, capturing how fashions and styles change, but not the urge to have fun. His work is teamed with classic black and white photographs by the late Leon Levinstein in "Coney Island: A Vintage and Modern View" from noon to 5 p.m. today through Saturday at Kathleen Ewing Gallery, 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW. The show runs until Aug. 10 and admission is free. 202/328-0955.

Holly, jolly summer

If the summer heat has been getting you down, why not take a trip to a winter wonderland via the Fairfax County Park Authority's "Christmas in July." Thanks to the folks at Strum's Special Effects, a hillside will be covered with 45 tons of snow, with toboggan races, snowball throwing contests and Christmas music all part of the festivities. Take part from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Lake Fairfax Park, 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston. It's free. 703/471-5415.

Hypnotic comedy

There's a reason that comic hypnotist Flip Orley is a regular guest at the D.C. Improv. His blend of standup comedy and standard hypnosis is different every time, because he relies on volunteers from the audience to fuel his routines. Rather than embarrassing people into clucking like chickens, he gets the group to become, say, a Southern trailer park family or evangelists hoping to save the audience. Be a volunteer yourself when he performs at 8:30 tonight and Sunday, at 8 p.m. tomorrow and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $15 to $17. 202/296-7008.

All engines go

It's been more than 80 years since a major auto-racing event came to the D.C. area, so racing fans should be sure to make it out to this weekend's Cadillac Grand Prix. Temporary road courses will be constructed in RFK Stadium for the three days' worth of racing, in addition to stunt jumping from Robbie Knievel, live music and booths. Gates open at 8 a.m. tomorrow through Sunday at RFK Stadium, 2400 E. Capitol St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $85. 202/432-SEAT.

Derek Simmonsen

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