DOCTOR NIGHTLIFE is drinking heartbreak motor oil and Bombay gin. It's an acoustic Dante's progress from Warren Zevon (two shows Sunday at the Bayou: $18.50, 202/333-2897) to Marshall Crenshaw (Sunday and Monday at the 9:30: $18, 202/393-0930). Of course, there's Hot Tuna, too, but that's definitely an alternative universe (Tuesday at the Bayou; $12.50). Meanwhile:
THEY CALL HIM 'MR. FATHEAD' --
Sweetness David "Fathead" Newman, one of the most resonant sax and flute lips around -- he spent the '50s warming up R&B with Ray Charles -- released a raveup album a few months ago called "Bluesiana Triangle" with Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) and the late great Art Blakey. Get to Cates to hear Newman (through Sunday, $9.50-$14.50; 202/363-2600) and then ask Santa for the album. Incidentally, it was a short-sighted high school music teacher who dubbed him "Fathead," but it was Ray Charles, with better inner vision, who renamed him "Brains."
THE WIRTZ IS YET TO COME --
The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, the piano-pulpit pounding founder of the First House of Polyester Worship and Horizontal Throbbing Teenage Desire returns to boogie-woogie Satan out of your pores, Friday and Saturday at 15 Minutes ($6; 202/408-1855). Wirtz falls somewhere in between Jerry Lee Lewis's angel and devil sides, but he takes life a lot easier.
THE INCREDIBLE EXPANDING JOHNSONS --
Just when you think you might have gotten it straight, the Incredible Johnsons move in on the Red-Hot Swinging Johnsons' home joint, the Sunset Grille, Friday and Saturday (703/658-0928), then head back to the Wharf on Sunday (703/836-2834). To make it even stranger, Incredible John O'Connor says he and Swinging Ted Watkin and Joe Stanley used to play together, and that the two bands came up with their names almost simultaneously. Incredible, but true.
MULTI-KULTI CULT --
Jazz, flamenco, African and Asian strains run through Spencer Barefield's guitar compositions, he and his quartet make the perfect choice for district curators' "Multi-Kulti" series at d.c. space. It's the first Washington appearance by Barefield, who plays six- and 12-string guitars, electric and acoustic, and African harp; he's joined by bassist Richard Davis, drummer Tani Tabbal and saxophonist James Carter ($10; 202/783-0360).
INNOCENCE A-BROADENING --
The Innocence Mission has held its own in the Grace Poole mirror-darkly mode, but several months on the road should have honed the harder edges; Karen Peris's introspective lyrics do best with a little corporal partnership (at the 9:30: $8, 202/393-0930). And the whole band is more solid live.
FRYE'D FOODS AND FUN --
The way to a music-lover's ear is through his stomach; and the Seals & Crofts-ish duo of Wall & Frye celebrate the release of their seven-song CD "Head to the Heart" at Durty Nelly's with a free buffet between 7 and 9:30, when the band steps on stage (301/652-1444).
SUNDAY TOY FOR TOTT'S --
Although the Yacht Club is usually closed on Sunday, it's open for a special Toys for Tots fund-raiser starting at 7; bring new or functional good toys -- nothing requiring batteries, and only new teddy bears -- and trend doctor Tommy Curtis may stake you to a toast for toys (301/654-2396).
MONSTERS OF SKA --
It's practically a dynastic match: Combine members of the English Beat and the Specials and you have, naturally, Special Beat, the ska/reggae band fronted by dub divo Ranking Roger (at the 9:30 club: $20; 202/393-0930). Opening is the dread heavy Skatley Crue, who were recently mentioned (passingly) in Rolling Stone.
NEW D&A PATTERNS --
Okay, okay, Doctor Nightlife is sorry she called Derryberry & Alagia the Brewer & Shipley of Washington. After all, there is only a certain range of male voices that can blend into a duo (see Wall & Frye above), and you just have to make allowances. Anyway, they're still writing, still singing, and getting stronger with time. Celebrating their second album, "Rutabaga Stew," D&A headline at the Bayou ($5; 202/333-2897); opening is budding bluesmeister Linwood Taylor.
MONSTERS OF FUNK --
Johnny Quest, a white-but-tight P-Funk trio that is a North Carolina frat-freak legend, plays heavy metal/redneck rebel/social satire grunt rock that makes for truly great dumb dancing. Call it Spinal Rap. JQ opens for pop-funky, less nasty boys Egypt, the Washington area's latest gift to the Miller Band Tour, at the Bayou ($5; 202/333-2897).