DOCTOR NIGHTLIFE is thinking of heading up to the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore this weekend to see Penn & Teller's "Refrigerator Tour," featuring the 450-pound eponymous prop ($19 to $27.50; 800/448-9009). The Doctor has always been a big Bears fan. Elsewhere:
TEXAS TRIUMVIRATE -- Years ago, Guy Clark's wife and sometime collaborator Suzanne painted a stunning watercolor, so perfect as to be almost trompe l'oeil, of his old faded denim shirt on a wire hanger. It was also the perfect metaphor for his music -- straightforward, dependable, often beautiful and familiar to the point of intimacy. Clark, fellow legend Townes Van Zandt and relative newcomer but Dr. Nightlife fave Robert Earl Keen Jr. triple-bill their drolls and drawls at the Birchmere ($15; 800/543-3041).
ALLIGATOR ALLSTARS -- It's an Alligator Records jump blues jam festival this weekend when the formerly famously unsigned frenetic San Francisco R&B roughnecks Little Charlie & the Nightcats (four albums in four years!) roll into Baltimore's 8 X 10 ($7; 301/625-2000), followed on Saturday ($8) by a pair of blues prodigies: Kenny Neal, the guitar-star son of Louisiana harp legend Raful Neal, and blues/soul multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson, whose first record, produced by Willie Dixon, was released when he was 5; and backed by the Silent Partners with guitarist Mel Brown, one of the most in-famous blues backup trios in the biz. Then the whole kit and caboodle link up for a massive boogie-off at the Bayou on Sunday ($7.50; 202/333-2897).
REVOLUTIONARY WORK -- The Washington premiere of local composer Marilyn Boyd DeReggi's "La Couleur Tombe et l'Homme Reste," a multimedia (tape and gospel choir) work commissioned by the Bourges International Festival of Experimental Music to mark the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, tops a program of new electroacoustic -- sampled and/or synthesized -- music Friday and Saturday at the French Embassy Theatre, 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW. Performing DeReggi's piece are Olufunmilayo and her African dancers and drummers, and the choirs of Elijah Methodist and Jerusalem Baptist churches of Poolesville ($12 to $15; 800/543-3041 or 301/540-8586).
WAGGISH TONE DOGS -- To be frank about it, "avant-garde" is often shorthand for "none of the above": improvisational (read: self-indulgent), eclectic (hashed together) and cutting-edge (humorless) are among the common threads. Voila! Seattle's Tone Dogs, a smart, witty, whimsical, new music/new mindset trio that manages to combine jazz, folk, Frith, feedback and fun and still have enough melodic framing to be listener-friendly. In fact, Tone Dogs may have de-oxymoronicized "accessible avant-garde." With Velocity Girl at d.c. space ($5; 202/347-1445).
GREASY KID STUFF -- The Greaseman reunites with the Village People (yes, those ViPs) for a little muscle-bulging macho-disco at Hammerjack's ($6.50, 301/659-7625). After that, the Machine does its Pink Floyd tribute bit. (Don't think about it too hard: After all, this place pays $500 for the best buns.)
AMICK, A MOCK, AMOK -- Remember Ann Arbor, Mich., where there's a tiny fine for smoking marijuana? Well, singer/songwriter Steve Amick grew up there, and you know what they say about passive inhalation. Natives used to call Ann Arbor "A " for short, but there's nothing square about Amick, a cheerful black humorist who is seriously askew. His solution to the in-law problem -- involving a taxidermist -- could be the best antidote to "Mother Love" (at Julio's on Capitol Hill; 202/546-0060).
WHEELER DEAL -- The art of fine songwriting is a notoriously thankless one -- most people remember only the performers' names from radio -- but with the breakthroughs of John Hiatt and, uh, Lowen & Navarro, maybe Timonium expatriate Cheryl Wheeler, whose latest sale "Addicted" went No. 1 country for Dan Seals, will get her turn (at the Birchmere: $15, 800/448-9009). Lowen & Navarro, incidentally, the guys who wrote those leather-pants lyrics for Pat Benatar and then sang them like polyester, play Max's on Broadway in Baltimore Thursday (301/675-6297).
GET A 'Q! -- Having got over the lukewarm reception of "Wild Weekend" and, one hopes, over the intentional sloppiness and not particularly endearing vacuity of their summer concert tour as well, NRBQ returns to its native bar-band circuit (Hammerjack's: $7.50, 301/659-7625).
SENTIMENTAL SYMPHONY -- Looking for a classical outing? The Virginia Chamber Orchestra makes you an offer you can't refuse: A most romantic program (including the "Siegfried" idyll Wagner wrote as a birthday present for Cosima) at a two-for-one price. In fact, throughout its 20th anniversary season, the VCO offers a complimentary second ticket with every purchase. This performance is at the Washington Street United Methodist Church in Alexandria ($15, $13.50 seniors and students; 703/642-0862).
BENOIT KENOBI -- After a brave foray into traditional jazz with his last album, pianist David Benoit has eased back into his contemporary pop-jazz groove, revealing his L.A.-sessions roots (and his lavish multi-tracking habit). His mechanics are remarkable, his melodies somewhat less so; although his best tracks -- "Houston" comes to mind -- would be perfectly irresistible as TV series theme songs. It's pleasant -- it just may not make a long-term deposit to your memory banks (at the Barns of Wolf Trap: $15; 202/432-0200 or 800/448-9009).
CRUISE-IN' FOR A BRUISIN' -- Laura Palmer was, of course (it's hip to be flip); and whether you like Julee Cruise's music probably depends on whether you're in -- or perhaps, still in -- to the whole surreal, supernatural cinema chiarascuro that is "Twin Peaks." Some folks find it seductive, others somnolent, and that's also the Cruise crux. Maybe you should bring your own coffee (at GU's Gaston Hall: $19.50, 800/543-3041).
JELLYFISH WITHOUT THE STING -- Officially, Washington never bit too hard on the neo-psychedelic pop-harmonic hook, but what would afternoon alternative/AOR radio be without a little look-homeward angle? Besides, the Jellyfish show is part of the 9:30 club's ongoing anti-inflation campaign -- only $5 (202/393-0930).
ANC MOTORS -- Johnny Clegg & Savuka are to the anti-apartheid movement as, say, 10,000 Maniacs are to animal rights and Peter Gabriel is to enlightenment: either inspirational and politically potent or naive and a little geeky, depending on your outlook. But rhythmically, it's a cinch. Clegg is the New World Order version of the rock 'n' roll rebel, an Englishman raised in Zimbabwe who became an adopted tribe member; but he's gradually moved away from the strict sidewalk constructionism of his "White Zulu" days toward a world-music amalgam that could serve as the soundtrack for an Amnesty International tour (at GU's Gaston Hall; $19.50, 800/543-3041 or 202/638-2008). Opening are the neoprimitive bug-grass Horseflies.
AD HOC ALL-STARS -- After eight years as a funky jazz-fusion aggregate of recording super-sessionists, drummer Ndugu Chancler, bassist Alphonso Johnson, keyboard prodigy and soundtrack composer Patrice Rushen and reedman Ernie Watts have gone formal as The Meeting and released their first album as such. It's a slick, irridescent-poplin shawl-collar drape groove that owes too much to Quincy Jones (who wrote the mentor-ish liner notes), but is mercifully pulled back from the abyss of buppie-club seduction programming primarily by mega-Watts breaks (at the Bayou: $12.50; 202/333-2897). And if they stick around until Thursday, they can sit in again with the . . .
. . . ATLANTIC ALL-STARS -- Saxophonist Gerald Albright, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and pianist Bobby Lyle all have successful contemporary jazz albums out on Atlantic Records; they all played each other's sessions (Rushen and Chancler reappear as well); so naturally they're touring as a group, the Atlantic All-Stars (through Sunday at Blues Alley; $22.50, 202/337-4141). A caveat: Jackson's album begins with a Keith Sweat number and Albright's with an L.A./Babyface hit written for Johnny Gill. "Contemporary" covers a multitude of styles, these days.
JUST ANOTHER BRICK . . . -- Celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the resulting political segregation of East and West German musicians, saxophonist Peter Broetzmann and acoustic bassist Uli Gumpert perform a Reunification Concert at d.c. space ($10; 202/783-0360).
SASSY SALUTE -- No one can replace Sarah Vaughan, the most perfect reed instrument of our time; and Betty Carter is too smart, and too smart a stylist herself, to attempt it. But she can salute the Divine One, with a concert of Vaughan favorites at the Musuem of Natural History's Baird Auditorium ($15; 202/357-3030).
ONE LAST ARPEGGIO -- We know, we know -- one more piano flourish and you're over the edge. We fell already. However, blues two-hander Charles Brown paid his dues a long time ago, and good hands are hard to find (at the Bayou: $10.50, 202/333-2897).