DOCTOR NIGHTLIFE has been playing the new Chris Thomas tape at full blast with the top down ("I wanna drive with a smile on my face") and expects his show at the 9:30 club on Friday ($8; 393-0930) to blow the roof off the club, too. Elsewhere: FRIDAY


A series of six free Friday evening cool-off concerts at Freedom Plaza, organized by the Washington Area Music Association and sponsored in part by those music-loving mugs at Miller Genuine Draft, kicks off this week with an acoustic/folk lineup featuring Derryberry & Alagia, Pete Kennedy and the New St. George, along with airwaves ace Damien as emcee. The shows are 5 to 8, with pizza from the musically hip Armand's on sale, and of course the suds of the corporate sponsor. The July 13 concert will showcase jazz and R&B (the Charlie Hampton Trio, Pearl, Projekt and DATA); later shows will lean to the reggae/Third World, blues, and alternative rock flavors.


Hammer dulcimer master John McCutcheon, the "aggressively traditional" Hazel Dickens, who provided much of the music for the Oscar-winning "Harlan County, U.S.A.", and black folk archivist and bottleneck bluesman Sparky Rucker combine for a "Tree of Life" concert (from the old spiritual, "Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life") to benefit the Labor Heritage Foundation at the First Congregational Church, 10th and G NW. Tickets $12 in advance (House of Musical Traditions, Common Concerns and Chapters bookstores and Olsson's/Alexandria) and $14 at the door; 842-7880.


Better yet, the strobe light, 'cause tonight's the night. The B-52's are the Embraceable Ewes of bubblegum, Gidget goes white trash reconstructed by Thomas Dolby. Thank God they learned a trade -- and it's rock 'n' roll. The freemasons of frug bounce into Merriweather Post Love Shack with reggae scion Ziggy Marley; only lawn seats are left ($17.50, 800/543-3041), but then you can't dance in the pavilion).


Before there was Nell Carter, there was Shirley Hemphill, slipping her substantial bulk and her implicitly blue black humor into a waitress's uniform on "What's Happening!" Hemphill is still on the hash-slinging circuit, comedy-wise, appearing Friday and Saturday at the Laugh Inn at Phillips Flagship on the wharf ($12; 783-2442). SATURDAY


Still feeling your B-52 shots? Don't worry -- it's psychedelic Saturday at d.c. space, beginning with Richmond's entry into the '60s stakes, Vacant Stare Case, and Kim Kane's shimmy-bop Dait Bait, adorned with the Nudenik dancers -- Bubbles, Lustine and Ruth. Don't say we didn't warn you ($5; 347-1445).


Shooting Back, a nonprofit organization that involves homeless and at-risk children in photography workshops -- more than 50 in its first year -- is the beneficiary of a dance triple bill at this year's Art Directors Club gala at the Grand Hyatt featuring the new-rock Bruno Loves Danger, new-pop Fear of Man and the new-garage Positive Spin (9:30 in the Independence Ballroom; $15, 842-4177). SUNDAY

LUCKY 13 --

"Continuous country" radio station WMZQ celebrates its 13th birthday with a continuous country outing at Wild World, culminating in a free concert by envelope-pusher Rodney Crowell, pop pouter Tanya Tucker and post-Poco country rockers Restless Heart. Park at Prince George's Community College and take the shuttle anytime after 2, and 'MZQ will hand you a ticket to enter the amusement park free, too. Free tickets also available at Branch electric stores and Ourismann Dodge; for more information call 362-8330. No coolers or chairs allowed.


Promotionally hip alternative rockers Art Frontier are dabbling in that dance-hall thang, with a new-house number and even an industrial piledriver -- both embellished with "hallucinatory" costumes suitable for laser display. We'll see, at their "theatrical performance" at the Vault ($7; 347-8079). MONDAY


Doctor's Advisory: Five of the area's most promising bands -- the hard folk Devils Wielding Scimitars, the hard young Kage, the hard glam East Is East, and the hard-pop alternatives Fear of Man and Radioblue -- are showcasing for music publishers and industry reps at the Bayou -- and for $5 you can help sell them (333-2897).


The first time the Doctor saw Marty Stuart, he was 13 -- and a full-time member of Lester Flatt's band. Since then he's taken his mandolin and guitar on tour with newgrass magus Vassar Clements, backed Doc Watson and spent six years as the Man in Black's man in back. He's become a rockabilly revivalist, too -- he was part of the studio band for the Million Dollar reunion -- and his new album "Hillbilly Rock" is a new-traditional ball o' fire (at Zed in Alexandria; for reservations call 768-5558).


The Jiving Lindy Hoppers is a London-based troupe that cadged its first jitterbugs from old Marx Brothers films, and finally flew to New York -- turning the original Lindy Hop on its head -- to study with the remaining Cotton Club and Savoy stars in Harlem. The Hoppers make two local stops, Monday at the Smithsonian (Baird Auditorium, $16; 357-3030) and Tuesday at Glen Echo (the Spanish Ballroom, $10; 779-0234). Both performances feature the music of Brooks Tegler's Hot Jazz, but it's a matter of voting with your feet -- you can dance in Glen Echo. TUESDAY


They're on the rise: Sundays are the latest British soul invaders to bolt up the college charts, and they're a biz bet to cross over bigtime, thanks to Harriet Wheeler's vocals and a mild moratorium on angst (at the 9:30 club; $12, 393-0930).