HR-57 || Among the District’s most reliable jazz destinations, HR-57 has presented a steady slate of local musicians for 20 years. The club departed from its popular digs on 14th Street NW in 2011, moving to the bustling H Street NE corridor and quickly finding a strong following in its new, spacious venue. Like its food (a plate of delicious soul food is the only culinary offering), HR-57′s music programming is anything but adventurous. That’s okay; the atmosphere is friendly and laid-back, and the mostly local, typically traditional jazz musicians featured here are expert crowd pleasers. At the club’s Wednesday and Thursday jam sessions, many of the city’s best improvisers come together to trade ideas. The sessions provide a convivial, welcoming window into the creative process that drives every city’s jazz scene.
Basic info || $15 cover, no minimum | Food $, Drinks $$ | Jazz Wed.-Sat.
Contax || 1007 H St. NE | 202-253-0044 | Official site & listings
Atlas Performing Arts Center || The Atlas was a popular movie theater from 1938 until its closing in 1976, at which point the H Street corridor had been largely abandoned by businesses and the city government. In 2001, the theater was revived as a wide-ranging performing arts venue, and functions today as a sort of avant-garde counterpart to the more famous Kennedy Center. At the Atlas’s 250-plus-seat Lang Theater, you’ll find experimental theater productions, New Music concerts featuring bold innovators in contemporary classical music, and an ongoing series of Wednesday-evening shows from some of the world’s most free-thinking young jazz musicians.
Basic info || Tickets typically $25, no minimum | Light food and drink available in lobby, $$$ | Jazz some Weds.
Contax || 1333 H St. NE | 202-399-7993 | Official site | Official listings
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About the hood
The H Street Corridor is located in the heart of the neighborhood that was known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Swampoodle; it was among D.C.’s largest communities of European immigrants and African Americans. Suburbanization and government neglect led to a decline in commercial activity and accessibility during the latter half of the 20th century, but today H Street is being aggressively rebuilt and plays a central role in D.C.’s grassroots artistic activity. It remains to be seen whether longtime residents will be allowed to share the rewards of this growth with private developers and the District government.
- For HR-57 and Atlas Performing Arts Center: Take the Metro to Union Station (Red Line). Exit from Union Station via the H Street entrance (accessible through the parking garage), and turn right onto H Street NE. Walk straight for about 10 minutes, or catch the X2 bus at H and 3rd Streets (it runs straight down H Street). Both venues will be on the right side of the street. HR-57 is located between 10th and 11th Streets; the Atlas is located between 13th and 14th Streets.