Maybe more than any other type of business, indoor music and entertainment venues have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic. The survivors, to the relief of eager and loyal fans, are navigating the ever-changing restrictions to book bands and other performers.
Ira Skinner, booking agent at The Russ Room, says it’s been a week-to-week planning process as the goalpost keeps moving and many of the artists have been out of circulation.
“Most of the musicians I know haven’t done much in the last year, and it’s been difficult to book acts,” he says. “It feels like you are pulling people out of retirement.”
But patience and persistence pay off, and the team is eager to bring this fresh new music and comedy venue back online after it shut down just a few months after opening its doors in late 2019.
The Russ Room, named for late Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, is a modern, vibrantly designed space above Solomon’s deli on K Street. It has an eclectic slate of performances by local artists scheduled this summer ranging from hip-hop to rock, folk and country. In July alone, The Russ Room has plenty to offer: Look for “Delicious” with DJ Chris Hopkins Thursdays, “Mt. St. Mtn. Presents” Cindy, Julian Never and Blues Lawyer on July 9, The Storytellers and The Halcones on July 10, Band of Coyotes and Brotherly Mud on July 23, “Club 86” with DJ My Cousin Vinny and DJ Mike Diamond on July 30 and Drifts and Tyler Miles on July 31. Comedy Night with host Johnny Taylor Jr. and Guests plays July 24.
The Russ Room
Location: 730 K St., above Solomon’s
Five More Live Venues
Golden 1 Center
With its gold-standard industry designations, Golden 1 Center has demonstrated enhanced strategies in making the venue safe and sanitized so that it can welcome people back inside. Live music begins Aug. 15 with Justin Bieber, followed by Harry Styles on Aug. 21 and Celine Dion on Sept. 1, Maluma on Sept. 2 and Alejandro Fernández on Sept. 11. golden1center.com
Ace of Spades
Live music starts again with fashion-art rock The Noise and Ones to Watch presenting Palaye Royale on July 31, Beartooth—The Below Tour Aug. 17, and Between The Buried And Me: An Evening With Aug. 31. Face coverings are required at this hip R Street venue. aceofspadessac.com
Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub
Harlow’s reopens for live shows on its main stage and in the Starlet Room with Agent Orange and The Spice Pistols Aug. 19, Stevie Redstone Aug. 21, Electric Six Sept. 3, Creux Lies and Twin Tribes Sept. 16, Tainted Love Sept. 17 and 18 and Jukebox the Ghost Sept. 19. harlows.com
After new paint inside and out, updated upholstery and a new sound system, the venerable and always fun Torch Club downtown has reopened, welcoming people Thursday through Sunday who have been fully vaccinated and wearing masks. Among the summer shows on the calendar are Stacie Eakes and the Super Freaks on Aug. 7, and Niki Crawford, formerly of Orgone, on Aug. 14. torchclub.net
The Side Door
This Curtis Park venue inside Fifth String is again hosting live shows on weekends for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and will also continue to livestream shows for those who can’t attend in person. An intimate and casual venue for people who come to hear the music, The Side Door does not sell alcohol, but guests are welcome to slip next door to Hop Gardens for a beer or glass of wine between sets. The music is varied: bluegrass, jazz, rock and Americana. thesidedoor.net