- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2007

Excuse me while I kiss the nearest stranger: The Jimi Hendrix estate has sanctioned, for the first time ever, a mini-tour tribute to the late, still enormously influential guitar hero. The kickoff date is Oct. 16 right here in the District at DAR Constitution Hall, and the slate of scheduled performers is Elysium for six-string lovers: among them blues legends Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin, young slingers Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang, ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, pedal-steel phenom Robert Randolph and former Hendrix band mates Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell.

So shut off the Guitar Hero game, kids, and behold the real thing.

This fall also promises a pair of reunions at Verizon Center — one long awaited: Van Halen with original lead singer David Lee Roth, albeit without bassist Michael Anthony (Nov. 1); the other a pleasant surprise: prog-rockers-turned-pop-stars Genesis (Sept. 23). And on Oct. 5, also at Verizon Center, there’s just a plain old union: the husband-and-wife double bill of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.

Queen Latifah, while not as tabloid fodder-prone as thrice-married Miss Lopez, is certainly a, well, queen of all media in her own right. The Oscar-nominated actress, singer, author and hip-hop label honcho will showcase her new jazz and R&B; album “Trav’lin’ Light” on Oct. 14 at the Music Center at Strathmore.

A sign, perhaps, of the fading popularity of so-called “sheds” — that is, large amphitheater-style venues — Nissan Pavilion’s end-of-season schedule is relatively quiet. Country singer-guitarist Brad Paisley plays the year’s last gig there Oct. 6.

Now for a sign of stubbornly-persisting popularity: Ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey plays DAR Nov. 2 for what his publicity is touting as one of the last shows the singer will play “for the foreseeable future.”

Over at Merriweather Post Pavilion, whose profile has risen in recent years thanks to promoters extraordinaire I.M.P. Concerts, two legendary singer-songwriters — Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello — share a bill Sept. 28. (Mr. Costello will be performing solo for the first time in 12 years, and Mr. Dylan may actually play guitar once again.) And then there’s the stellar Oct. 22 lineup of the Shins, Austin indie-rockers Spoon and alt-rock shoegazers Vetiver.

Falls Church’s State Theatre takes a breather from its battery of classic-rock tribute acts on Oct. 20 with Mason Jennings, an idiosyncratic singer-songwriter who caught the ear of Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, who signed Mr. Jennings to his Epic Records sublabel. And singer Pat Monahan will take a breather from his band Train for a solo appearance there Nov. 3.

Over at Vienna’s Jammin’ Java, roots-rock singer-songwriter Jesse Malin will appear Oct. 6 with full-band accompaniment, and the underrated pop songsmith Marshall Crenshaw turns up Oct. 14.

Back in town, on the increasingly hip H Street Northeast corridor, the Rock and Roll Hotel has quickly made its mark as a superior destination for indie-rock bands on the cusp of a national breakthrough. The Los Angeles buzz band Film School plays there Oct. 21.

Archetypal alt-rock haven the Black Cat boasts a typical slate of too-hot-for-the-mainstream unsigned indie bands. Portland, Ore.’s, the Thermals, who, as it happens, are signed (to Sub Pop), are slated for Nov. 3; their most recent album, “The Body, the Blood, the Machine,” is a noisily melodic broadside against God, Republicans and war in Mesopotamia.

Some of the season’s most hotly anticipated gigs are, inescapably, at the 9:30 Club. The New Pornographers (Oct. 27) and Kings of Leon (Sept. 23-24) have already sold out. But, at least as of this writing, tickets are still available for the first of two shows by Rilo Kiley (Sept. 26). The Japanese turntablist sensation DJ Krush appears there for an Oct. 6 late show; the justly praised, new-Dylanesque Josh Ritter, Oct. 9; and poetic Brooklyn garage rockers the Hold Steady, Nov. 20.

The venerable Birchmere Music Hall, meanwhile, will host unusually intimate gigs by the likes of Lyle Lovett (Nov. 11, 12) and Hoboken indie rockers Yo La Tengo (Oct. 23). The latter promises a “freewheeling” performance that’s part VH1 “Storytellers” and part MTV “Unplugged.”

In a similar vein, there’s country outlaw Rodney Crowell at the cozy Barns at Wolf Trap Oct. 3.

And what would 2007 be without an appearance from Bruce Springsteen, a veritable fixture on the city’s live-music landscape for several years running? Back with the E Street Band after having performed solo and with his “Seeger Sessions” folk-rock revue, Mr. Springsteen will be promoting his new album “Magic” Nov. 11 at Verizon Center.

Don’t expect any top hats or bunny rabbits, however.

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