Arts Desk

Free All Week: Spend Your Lunchtime Watching Classic D.C. R&B

Skip Mahoney & the Casuals

If I worked downtown, I know where I'd spend my lunchbreak this week, and where I'd be Friday at the end of the workday:  The Woodrow Wilson Plaza summer lunchtime concert series is closing out with four midday concerts of classic D.C. R&B, and then on Friday it's offering the godfather of go-go, Chuck Brown, in the early evening.  All of these events are free.

Monday starts off with Skip Mahoney and the Casuals (above). When I last saw the group at Carter Barron a few years ago, this reunited 1960s and 1970s outfit offered charisma that could dazzle a Dischord fan, and Mahoney's scale-climbing vocals can impress R&B fans of any age. On Tuesday, the Legendary Orioles, featuring longtime vocalist Diz Russell, will bring back streetcorner doo-wop from the 1950s.  Russell occasionally adds some fascinating stories that nicely complement his group’s classic harmonies and lead vocals. Wednesday serves up The Clovers.  Formed in the late 1940s, and signed to Atlantic by legendary producer Ahmet Ertegun, the DC.. group became best known for “Love Potion No. 9.”  Various versions of the group have toured over the last decade or so.  No matter who’s singing, you'll hear an impressive catalog from a group that had numerous ballad and upbeat-style R&B hits in the 1950s.  On Thursday girl group The Jewels (with all but one of the original members) will showcase the early 1960s songs that they sung as an opening act for James Brown and at the Howard Theatre. Led by Little Margie Clark, these women still know how to wail. And on Friday, the week ends with Chuck Brown, whose new three disc We Got This (which includes a live CD, a live DVD, and an EP of five new songs) comes out this week.

The free concerts takes place noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

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  • Steve Kiviat

    Chuck Brown and everyone who was crammed onto the stage with him were great tonight. Lots of the usual wonderful covers. Future mayor Vincent Grey's dancing was a tad awkward.