DOCTOR NIGHTLIFE notes with delight the number of offbeat, back beat, world beat, bayou beat and all-around non-caroling bands on tap this week. And it just begins with Baba Olatunji (Friday at Kilimanjaro: $12 advance, $14 at door; 202/328-3838). For instance: FRIDAY
BABA AU RHUMBA --
Baltimore's Rhumba Club has at least four things going for it: its sugar-rush salsa-funk groove, which plays knickknack-paddywhack down your spinal chord with everything from congas to cowbells; its eclectic but understated range, which without false nostalgia evokes the feverish, streets-of-gold Cubanojazz dream of the '50s; its professionalism, which allows it to mix exuberant original material with covers of Tito Puente, Dudu Pakwana, Freddy Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie; and its manic good humor. Who can resist a Spanish Harlem expatriate bassist named Bermuda Schwartz? The Rhumba Club entertains -- entices -- at Synergy ($10 in advance, $11 at door; 202/363-4664). World beat freaks, take note: Former Beatology percussionist Steve Bloom is now a Rhumba bum.
HEIRS AND GRACES --
Jazz, like the calendar, is ringing out with the old and in with the new. Fresh from his Kennedy Center honors, jazz trumpet pater familias and Blues Alley spiritual advisor Dizzy Gillespie reels in the years through Sunday at Blues Alley ($25; 202/337-4141). And right on his heels, just as swift and valve-oline smooth, comes the jazz scion and trumpet honoree of the future: Wynton Marsalis, Tuesday through Dec. 16 ($16 through Thursday, $18.50 Dec. 14-16).
GATOR AID --
More help for the holiday-impaired: Austin's swampabilly Tail Gators, blues-bar border babies (from Texas, but using plenty of Cajun spice) play the Roxy on Friday ($6; 202/296-9292) and Baltimore's 8 X 10 Saturday ($6; 301/625-2001). Twang guitarist Don Leady plays fiddle and accordion, but lately he's been sticking to the roadside.
TOUCH ME IN THE MORNING --
The Vault swings open again, this time yclept The Touch; and laser light/alternative paisley (and see-through chiffon) band Art Frontier returns for a midnight performance in between DJ sets ($7; 202/347-8079).
KING SONNY --
Sonny Rollins, arguably the greatest jazz saxophone assimilationist of all time, has a leonine presence that flows through his reed, lending any of the rhythms he is master of -- bop, calypso, ballad, even jittery avant-garde and improv -- an unmatched persuasiveness and explosive fervor. Rollins performs at GWU's Lisner Auditorium ($22; 202/432-0200).
NO WORDS FOR THE WISE --
Blues harmonica flash Larry Wise, whose interest in performing was sparked when he happened on Flora Molton playing on a downtown sidewalk (he later spent five years in her band) inaugurates a monthly D.C. Blues Society showcase at 15 Minutes ($6; 301/369-6781).
ALL-NIGHT AMNESTY --
Astraea, the round-the-clock bookstore/cafe at 13th and Penn, hosts Amnesty International's 24-hour Human Rights Day celebration, beginning at 10 p.m. with Poet Song, followed at midnight by the "urban lounge act" The Zimmermans (does that description make you as nervous as it makes us?). Videos, news clips and panel discussions on refugee issues fill the daylight hours, then at 7 p.m. Sunday, the music picks up again with folk favorites Magpie and, at 9, the Pheromones. All events free; for more information call 202/332-5241.
KEENE TO RETURN --
So maybe the rest of the country didn't hear as much in Tommy Keene's user-friendly post-Beatles power pop as Washington did. So maybe the advance word was a little too warm. Who cares? There is life after hyper space (and a little Razzing never hurt anybody). Welcome back (to the 9:30 club: $9, 202/393-0930).
LUCKY NUMBERS --
With all those gumbo/fishhead/bayou/zydecajun/swamp rock bands bubbling up from the South, it may take some hard swallowing to hear that one of the greasiest, craziest, most irresistible versions of Tabascobilly being cooked up is from a New York City combo. Yes, brothers and sisters, it's Lucky 7 -- really five, but named in honor of the old Dr. Feelgood raveup -- a roadhouse band founded by Mink DeVille's Kenny Margolis (who plays both organ and accordion to make ? proud) and Rockat guitarist Barry Ryan, who clearly have spent too much time sitting in darkened spaghetti-western theaters (marimbas? washboards? trumpets?). Lucky 7 is one of the best entries yet in Allan Veatch's Sunday night "barn-dances" at 15 Minutes ($8; 202/408-1855).
MORE RUMBLING DOWN BELOW --
So maybe the rest of the country didn't hear as much in Billy Kemp's post-Cougar blue-collar rock as he did. So maybe the advance word was a little too wan. There is life as a hired gun (and a little razzing does wonders sometimes). Kemp gets back on track rolling with longtime bar circuit breakers Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers at the Bayou ($12.50; 202/333-2897).
NOISE AGAINST NUKES --
The Graverobbers, a rude reel-life guitar band boasting not one but two ex-Date Bait lead guitarists (the DBs are beginning to look like the Art Blakeys of Washington fun grunge) join the current Date Bait and the Rhomboids in an anti-nuke rally and fundraiser at 15 Minutes ($5; 202/408-1855).
GETTING INTO GEAR --
Baltimore's Phantom Gear is a new-rock/folk fivesome that, with a little cask aging, should produce a beautiful vintage. Vocalist Lucy Bochiarro has a crystalline ballad thrill and Steve Carmody's songs, though simple, often stumble on a shiver (at the Grog & Tankard; 202/333-3114).
BLUE VERY JAM --
If you like those long, looping, funky meanderings down rock-memory lane, you'll love Blues Traveler (at the Bayou: $8, 202/333-2897); they're the New Potato Caboose of New York.