As far as historic, back-in-the-day music venues go, the Royal and Howard theaters top the list in this region. Both of them stopped operating decades ago, but they've become mythic in the intervening years. The likes of Solomon Burke, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Wilson Pickett have told me that those two theaters were among their favorites on the "chitlin circuit." Baltimore demolished the Royal in 1971, but D.C. kept the Howard standing, even though it looked pretty decrepit. In fact, I'd sometimes make a pilgrimage to the Howard and drive past on my way to the 9:30 Club or Ben's Chili Bowl, and it wasn't usually a pretty sight. Now, that's all changed, the theater has undergone a $28 million restoration, and it's set to reopen in early April. And here's a partial list of acts scheduled to appear over the first month or so: Wale, Robert Randolph, Mos Def, the Roots, Bad Brains, GZA, Meshell Ndegeocello, Taj Mahal, McCoy Tyner, Savion Glover, Chuck Berry, Chaka Khan, Esperanza Spalding, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I sure wish we hadn't torn down the Royal.