Voters, rappers and indie rock

Thursday, Oct. 7

Chords For John Kerry
Madams Organ

This free concert is an effort to support John Kerry and the MoveOn political action committee, said GW law school student Sean Crowley, who is putting on the event featuring performances by Mara Levi and the Avant Garde Disasters. Donations accepted. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

MCI Center
Jay-Z and R.Kelly – The Best of Both Worlds Tour

Amid a mass and variety of scandals, rumors and success, the high-profile hip-hop/R&B duo have hit the road to visit fans in more than 40 U.S. cities. Just before heading out, the pair released a video statement telling fans to be prepared for anything.

The Best of Both Worlds were meant to collide back when the team released its heavily bootlegged joint LP in March 2002, but R.Kelly, 35, was hit with 21 felony counts of child-pornography just before the album’s release – allegations involving an array of sexual acts are still pending. Despite a minor radio backlash after his arrest, listeners stuck by Kelly’s 2003 release Chocolate Factory, featuring the hit single “Ignition,” which shot to number one on the R&B charts. The Best of Both Worlds Tour has already been criticized for making light of Kelly’s suit, as he simulates intercourse in what appears to be a jail cell.

Meanwhile, headliner Jay-Z collected his fair share of appreciation at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, racking up awards for Best Rap Video, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography for his stark portrayal of Brooklyn in The Black Album’s “99 Problems.” While he’s stated plans for early retirement to MTV, the rapper/producer also affirmed a high degree of likelihood for reemergence under his birth name, Sean Carter. Tickets start at $78.

-Sacha Evans

Saturday, Oct. 9

Club Fur
Willie Ringo – Seagrams Gin Live

After releasing a new debut album and growing up with love for the rap game, Willie Ringo will join R&B artists Cee-Lo and Tweet on the Seagrams Gin Live tour.

While he is one of the newer additions to Mobbfya Blakk Records, rap first became a part of Ringo’s life at age nine, when he would watch people rapping on corners and at school competitions. “Back then it wasn’t about the bling-bling or the money, it was about expression,”said Ringo, adding that he gained inspiration from rap legends Ice-T, LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane, and that wasn’t until he was an adult that he began to take rap seriously.

Ringo’s upbringing in southeast San Diego exposed him to the negativity that later fueled his lyrics. This inspired him to try and impact the new generation of rappers and listeners. ‘[This album] explains how I survived and why I’m doing what I’m doing now.

“I rap like I’m a fan, and I try to give people what they’ve been looking for,” said Ringo. He defines his music as Ghetto Blues, music that is heartfelt and “transcends borders” while telling his life story. Combining old-school singing, R&B and “rapping with an edge,” Ringo says LikkWidd Lava describes the “ups and downs, ins and outs and how to survive in the ghetto without nothing.” Ringo says his music reaches out to everyone. ‘You feel that [I’m] heartfelt in my music. I’m not trying to be a bigshot, I’m very humble.”

-Nicole Carins

Monday, Oct. 11

MCI Center, Washington, D.C.

Vote for Change Tour, featuring Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Jurassic 5, Dave Matthews Band, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Dixie Chicks, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Keb’ Mo’, and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmons

As it is one of several politically-driven current tours, all proceeds for this show go towards the political action committee MoveOn. According to its web site, the pesky “527” group says it is presenting the tour to “make a change in the direction of our country.” “We share a belief that this is the most important election of our lifetime. We are fighting for a government that is open, rational, just, and progressive.” In order to purchase a ticket for this show, you must guarantee that you are a U.S. citizen, or at least a permanent resident alien. While the lineup changes in every city, D.C. gets the best and largest, with 13 big-name artists dropping by. Most cities get only three. Tickets start at $50

Incubus with Ben Kweller
Merriweather Post Pavilion

Incubus descends upon Maryland to promote its new album, A Crow Left of the Murder, with alt-folk rocker Ben Kweller. While the Incubus album has received mixed reviews, the band provides a popular and energetic live show. Take a stopwatch to see how long it takes for Brandon Boyd to take off his shirt. Touring partner Kweller is a sensitive singer/guitarist who somehow rocks harder than the average hurtin’ white boy. His new album, On My Way, has been extremely well-received by the critics but still remains under the pop radar. As he is just old enough to legally drink a beer Kweller started off early by forming the group Radish, which sparked a bidding war at age 15. Tickets start at $25.

-Juliet Moser

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