In 1986, the Twins Lounge opened as an Ethiopian restaurant in a 50-seat space that once played host to jazz and blues shows. But the musicians clamored for music to fill the crimson and mosaic-tiled walls once more—and eventually, the owners gave in. The lounge has since moved, but it remains true to its roots with a mix of classic American jazz and global flavor. Twins Lounge still offers international food in its 60- to 100-seat dining room.
Five nights a week, the air inside Jo Jo Restaurant and Bar reverberates with live jazz and blues music that filters through a dining room populated by succulent, contemporary American entrees. The Angus-beef drunken skirt steak arrives smothered in the chef's special bourbon glaze and grilled to tongue-pleasing perfection, and the pan-seared jumbo-lump crab cake doubles up on a duo of sauces—roasted-red-pepper beurre blanc and creamy mushroom. Cajun shrimps, wrapped and skewered with strips of bacon, come strewn across a bed of rice pilaf and enrobed in creole mustard sauce. Between bites, diners can tipple a bottle of house wine as nearby musicians tickle the strings of their instruments to soothe souls like a hot-stone massage from a sentient Japanese rock garden.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
With so many monuments, museums and tourists, it’s surprising that anything is hidden in Washington DC. But Blues Alley is exactly that – tucked away down a cobblestone alleyway and into an 18th-century red brick carriage house. This hidden-but-well-traveled jazz and dinner venue is nearly half a century old, with the ongoing vibe of a 1920s jazz club. The intimate stage has hosted greats ranging from Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan to Chick Corea, Tuck & Patti, John Pizzarelli and Eva Cassidy. The amazing sound system, an appreciative audience made up of in-the-know locals and music cognoscenti, the relaxed vibe and easy accessibility to the performers – who sometimes make the rounds between sets – make this the perfect jazz joint. Dinner is served in the form of Creole cuisine with steak and seafood touches, but the food is entirely secondary to the show.
Lupe Fiasco's goal is not to be a pop star, but, rather, it is to rally the people together around a common idea. In his latest album, Lasers, a crimson anarchy symbol bleeds across the artwork, overwriting the O of a neon sign that spells out Losers to transform a go-to term for oppression. On the album's tracks—which include “The Show Goes On” and “State Run Radio”—Lupe takes aim at the media, radio stations, political pundits, and even fellow Chicagoan President Obama. As Lupe declares, “I want to start a popular uprising. The music is the bait to get people to come and listen to what I’m saying.”