Live Music and Georgetown

Georgetown is a neighborhood with a rich history of live music. At historic and long-gone venues like the Cellar Door, the Bayou and Desparado’s, Georgetown once hosted legends like Miles Davis and John Denver. But while these places are long gone, there are still some solid chances to hear live music in Georgetown.

The granddaddy of live venues in Georgetown right now is of course Blues Alley. Tucked away on its eponymous alley, Blues Alley is a legitimately great jazz supper club. It attracts top jazz talent and delivers an intimate experience. (GM once saw the Count Basie Band here and the bass player invited GM to reach up from his table and strum his bass for a few bars in the middle of a song.) There are shows practically every night, with styles spanning the jazz spectrum from smooth jazz to hard bop, and beyond.

At the far other end of the age range is Gypsy Sally’s. Opened in 2013, the club attracts more of the jam band/retro rock artist. Located at the far end of a dark road, the club probably has benefited a lot from the age of Uber. Either way, it’s a fun place enjoy some rocking sounds, whether in the flesh on stage or in the vinyl in the back room.

But if jazz or rock isn’t your thing, there are plenty of options for the chamber music lover. GM’s personal favorite is the Dumbarton Oaks Friends of Music series. This monthly series runs from October to April and is hosted in the museums breathtaking music room. Surrounded by Renaissance tapestries and paintings from the likes of El Greco, you are transported to another time and place. The music ranges from vocal groups, to quartets, to solo pianists, to large ensembles, etc. The only thing that is consistent is the quality of the work. Several years ago, Dumbarton Oaks began a composer residency program, and its first resident was none other than the young phenom (and Pulitzer-winning) Caroline Shaw. GM was lucky to witness the fantastic A Far Cry perform one of Shaw’s works with the composer in the audience.

Keeping with the Dumbarton theme, there is also the Dumbarton Concerts at Dumbarton Methodist Church. These classical concerts are often rebroadcast on WETA, but you don’t get the candlelight experience over the radio! Unlike the Dumbarton Oaks concerts, these can be bought without a subscription. (Although, to be fair, you can often get tickets to the Dumbarton Oaks concerts without a subscription if you inquire.)

Also there is the Georgetown Concert Series at St. John’s Church on O St. Like the others, this series attracts top notch artists and presents them in a lovely setting.

Branching out, of course there are often also live music being played at restaurants around Georgetown. Dean and Deluca and Pattiserie Poupon both offer jazz brunches on the weekend. And Mr. Smith’s and the Georgetown Piano Bar have live piano music all the time.

Georgetown used to be known for its raucous music scene. Those days are mostly gone, but there’s still plenty of live music available if you seek it out.

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