First of all, if you haven’t been to The Hamilton yet, get over there! Most recently the building housed the Borders books across the street from the Willard Hotel, the building was first erected as the flagship Garfinkels Department Store in 1929 and re-opened as The Hamilton in mid-December of this year. The ground floor is now a multi-roomed restaurant, part of DC’s Clyde’s Restaurant Group, with several impressive built-in bars, gorgeous original art as well as an extensive print collection of Audubon’s Fifty Best Birds of America, among other avian and musically themed artwork. The downstairs music venue boasts dramatic lighting, lovely seated tables where the audience can order dinner while they enjoy the show, and incredible large-scale black and white photographic prints of essential musicians dotting the walls.
Interestingly, the original flagship Garfinkels store rose in race-relations infamy as they initially refused to allow blacks to try on clothing, The Hamilton chooses to rewrite the building’s history by primarily showcasing music of America’s diverse and authentic national culture, such as rock, blues, jazz, folk, R&B, and stand-up comedy. The Rebirth Brass Band, New Orleans’ first Grammy-winning group, so successfully roused the dining audience that they got up to dance and dance to their infectious and joyful musical stylings, which were energetically performed in the two set concert. Unfortunately restrictions against flash photography prevented me from capturing much of the audience in action, but the aisles were definitely filled with Washingtonians of all ages getting up to get down. The Rebirth Brass Band was truly a joy for both the ears and eyes, and the sold-out house certainly agreed. Check out The Hamilton’s schedule here, and make plans to experience this hot new DC landmark.