Mid-Atlantic Song Contest Awards Gala at Jammin' Java Sunday

When it comes to crafting a song, a good song, there are certain ingredients that can make the recipe stand out from the herd. Having a strong beginning, a solid middle and a great ending are just a few keys to success.

"Does it have a memorable hook?" said Loralyn Coles, director of the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, explaining the criteria that the competition's judges consider. "Are the lyrics fresh? Does the melody match the lyric and the mood?" Does the bridge take you somewhere? Those are the types of things the judges are looking for."

The Mid-Atlantic Song Contest Awards Gala is Sunday evening at Jammin' Java.

Now in its 29th year, the MASC is put on by the Songwriters Association of Washington. Songs are submitted from June 1 through Sept. 30, then voted on by judges with ties to the music industry.

Winners are announced in multiple categories, with the grand prize winners revealed at Sunday's gala. The event at Jammin' Java will also include 13 performers, all of whom placed first or second in a category.

Coles said that the idea behind the MASC is to help make songwriters better, and to give them a boost.

"It started because we wanted to provide songwriters with credentials to make their songs stand out," she said.

In considering what makes a good song, there's one universal truth.

"Do you want to hear the song again?" Coles said.

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Info: $10 in advance, $12 day of; jamminjava.com; saw.org

Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Strathmore Friday

Just a few tickets remain to see this legendary musical act performing at the Strathmore.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Info: $25 to $65; strathmore.org

Cowboy Mouth at the 9:30 Club Saturday

New Orleans rock act Cowboy Mouth has been around for 20 years now. Hear what the fuss is about at the 9:30 Club. With All Mighty Senators.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $25, 930.com

Washington Wine Academy's 1K Beer Walk Saturday and Sunday

Last week featured the 1K Wine Walk. Now it's time for beer lovers to start stretching for the Washington Wine Academy's 1K Beer Walk. Enjoy multiple brews in Crystal City at this very doable course.

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday

Info: $30 on Sunday, $35 on Saturday; washingtonwineacademy.org

Alexandria Restaurant Week through Sunday

Sixty Alexandria establishments are participating in this year's Alexandria Restaurant Week. Enjoy either a three-course meal for $35 or a dinner for two for $35.

When: Through Sunday

Info: $35; visitalexandriava.com