As local performance venues go, there are a few reasons why the Kennedy Center can be a tough draw: It’s hard to get to, parking costs are exorbitant, Newt Gingrich hangs out there, etc. And for musicians, there’s an added gripe: “We don’t usually get to have drinks on stage,” remarked National Symphony violinist Joel Fuller, cocktail in hand, at Busboys and Poets during last year’s inaugural “NSO in Your Neighborhood.” It was such a hit with audiences that the NSO wisely brought it back this year in U Street, Howard, Shaw, and Logan Circle, a broad geography that overlaps a bit with the last festival. Fuller’s Kari Quartet returns to Busboys tonight; other highlights include the opening concert at the Howard Theatre followed by a trombone ensemble at Ben’s Chili Bowl on the 8th, famed all-female percussion group Batalá Washington at the 9:30 Club and a Kojo Nnamdi-narrated performance of Peter and the Wolf at the Lincoln Theatre on the 12th, and a Duke Ellington concert at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on the 14th. With this kind of variety, trekking out to Foggy Bottom for performances begins to seem a little extravagant.
“NSO in Your Neighborhood” runs to Jan. 14th at various venues. Free. Registration required for some performances. (202) 467-4600. kennedy-center.org.