One of the world's hottest merengue acts, Elvis Crespo, will get hips moving at the Omni Shoreham Hotel Friday (202/328-6533), after a set by Columbian salsa stars Grupo Niche. Friday night soul crooner Maxwell begins a four-night stand at Constitution Hall (202/432-7328), with opening act Melanie Comarcho.

The D.C. Blues Society's free festival Saturday at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre has a great lineup, including Lonnie Brooks, Michelle Willson, Roy Carrier and Daryl Davis, beginning at 2 p.m. (202/426-0486). Richmond's Labradford brings tape loops, samples and other tricks of electronic music into its moody rock mix with always noteworthy results. They play Saturday at the 9:30 club (202/393-0930), with Godspeed You Black Emperor and local all-instrumental combo Tone.

Tuesday, North Carolina songster Jon Shain performs a late set at IOTA (703/522-8340), after a performance from Pancho's Lament. Thursday on the same stage, Florida songstress Marianne Fleming performs, along with former Caulfields singer John Faye's Power Trip.

Local bassist Tommy Cecil is such a fixture on the jazz scene you might take him for granted. He'll remind you why you shouldn't with his CD release party Wednesday at Blues Alley (202/337-4141). Wednesday on the sidestage of the Black Cat (202/667-7960), it's another in an infrequent but always rewarding night of solo bass performances. On the same stage Thursday, two of the area's best young bands, Q and Not U and Bald Rapunzel, perform. Roomful of Blues has been swinging hard for 20 years, and they still get the joint jumping. And on Thursday, the joint is Lewie's (301/652-1600). Other joints will be jumping Thursday too: the State Theatre (703/237-0300), which will be shaking to the sounds of one of my favorite local bands, Chaise Lounge; Paddy Macs (301/608-3360), which will host swinging rockabilly cat Deke Dickerson; and Madam's Organ (202/667-5370), where the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz will throw down his rockabilly madness.