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Music Box: Capitol Fourth Celebration among noteworthy holiday weekend concerts

Happy Independence Day and a weekend full of patriotic music!

While there aren't a ton of concerts to choose from as many clubs and larger venues take some well-deserved time off, there are several public concerts on or around the Fourth of July.

There's no better place to be on Independence Day than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This year's event marks the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Scheduled artists for the Capitol Fourth Celebration include the National Symphony Orchestra, Academy Award-winning composer John Williams debuting his new arrangement of the national anthem augmented by The Joint Armed Forces Chorus, the Choral Arts Society of Washington and the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.

Also, Jack Everly will conduct the NSO, and Tom Bergeron will host the festivities. This free Fourth of July concert will be held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. No tickets are required. You can enter the West Lawn area starting at 3 p.m. with the concert starting at 8 p.m. Take the Metro to Capitol South or Smithsonian stops.

Also in Washington this weekend, there are a couple of free shows, including the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. The festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage that takes place for two weeks every summer, overlapping the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Folklife Festival has brought more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers and others to our nation's capital to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of community-based traditions.

Usually divided into programs featuring a nation, region, state or theme, the fest has featured exemplary tradition-bearers from more than 90 countries, every region of the United States, scores of ethnic communities, more than 100 American Indian groups and some 70 different occupations.

The festival normally includes daily and evening programs of music, song, dance, celebratory performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling, illustrations of workers' culture and narrative sessions for discussing cultural issues.

It's an exercise in cultural democracy, in which cultural practitioners speak for themselves, with each other and to the public.

The fest encourages visitors to participate - to learn, sing, dance, eat traditional foods and converse with people featured in the festival program. Tradition-bearers and visitors can connect with and learn from one another and, in a respectful way, begin to understand cultural differences and similarities.

This year the festival focuses on China and Kenya.

"China: Tradition and the Art of Living" highlights "reunion" and "balance," traditional principles that are of greater value than ever in China. A traditional Chinese perspective posits that all things - everything from one's health to a community's welfare - depends on a balance of internal and external forces.

China is the world's most populous country and second-biggest economy. The largest rural-to-urban migration in human history is underway as people move from the countryside to seek work in China's expanding cities.

Kenya is a country of deeply rooted traditions and a vibrant cultural crossroads. Some of the oldest artifacts of human communities have been discovered in Kenya, making the East African country truly a cradle of humanity.

Kenya's diverse landscapes - stretching from snow-capped mountains to the Great Rift Valley, from deserts to lakes, vast savannahs, lush forests and a sparkling coast - are reflected in the rich variety of the Kenyan people and their traditions.

Occurring just after the 50th anniversary of Kenya's independence from the British Empire, the "Kenya: Mambo Poa" program will present the ways in which the people of Kenya are balancing their cultural and natural heritage with the challenges and opportunities for change in the 21st century.

The 48th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival continues from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Sunday, with special events most evenings. No tickets are required (except for the evening programs). More information is available at http://www.festival.si.edu.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Star-Spangled Spectacular tonight and Friday (8 p.m.) at Oregon Ridge Park near Cockeysville (the park opens at 5 p.m). The BSO will perform Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes," followed by a grand fireworks display.

Also this Friday night enjoy an evening with vocalist Teri Roiger and her trio at the Baltimore listening room An Die Musik Live! in tribute to the late Abbey Lincoln (8 and 9:30 p.m. performances). The concert will feature songs from Trei's latest release "Dear Abbey."

"Abbey's music has had a profound influence on my life as a musician, teacher, lyricist and songwriter," Roiger said.

Saturday

You can rock out to the U2 cover band 2U appearing at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Saturday (8:30 p.m.).

Also on Saturday, Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket will perform at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. (7 p.m.), while the Goo Goo Dolls with Plain White T's and Daughtry are at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va. (6:45 p.m.).

The Saturday evening performance on the National Mall at the Folklife Festival features Chinese pipa player Wu Man and Friends (6 p.m.). Performer and composer Wu Man has been a leading ambassador for Chinese music, blending traditional and contemporary elements through the pipa, a four-stringed plucked lute. She will be joined by Haruka Fuji on percussion and Yi Yang on the zheng zither.

Sunday

Enjoy neo-soul singer Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart at Rams Head On Stage on Sunday (8 p.m.). Or head over to Wolf Trap for the television-based spectacle "American Idol Live" featuring Season 13 finalists C.J. Harris, Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson, Jessica Meuse, MK Nobilette, Alex Preston, Dexter Roberts, Majesty Rose, M and Sam Woolf (8 p.m.).

Or you can dance to the swingin' blues of The Nighthawks and the Kings of Crownsville at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz (7:30 p.m.) for just $10 a ticket.

Tuesday

Classic rocker Peter Frampton appears at The Lincoln Theatre on U Street in Washington, D.C., Tuesday (8 p.m. doors). Frampton is famous for his bestselling live album "Frampton Comes Alive" and his "Do You Feel Like We Do" stadium chorus sung with the underwater gurgling vocals filtered through a guitar effect known as the Vocoder.

And he's perhaps risen again from a career crash after releasing the sappy followup "I'm In You." What's left is a killer Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist and veteran of gritty pre-hard rock bands such as Humble Pie and his solo progressive rock band Frampton's Camel.

As a session musician, Frampton added to important rock albums from a constellation of stars including Ringo Starr, John Entwistle of The Who, George Harrison, David Bowie and many others.

Also on Tuesday, soul singer Kenny Latimore will light up Rams Head On Stage (8 p.m.).

Thursday, July 10

Looking ahead to next Thursday night, Rams Head On Stage will present Tuesday Afternoon: A Tribute to the Moody Blues (8 p.m.), while Ruthie and the Wranglers perform live rockabilly at the U.S. Botanical Garden (5 p.m. concert near the Capitol building on the National Mall).

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