One of the area's original jam bands, New Potato Caboose, was also one of the best. They were ahead of the curve and broke up before jam bands were filling stadiums, but now and then they get together to rock out. They'll do just that on Friday at the State Theatre (703/237-0300). Opening for them is Richmond's Floating Folk Festival. Also Friday, at the Omni Shoreham hotel, Oscar Productions brings in another global star, this time it's salsa sensation Victor Manuelle (703/750-9277).

Wow, here's a post-punk show to leave home for: Milwaukee's passionate Promise Ring, D.C.'s artfully angular Burning Airlines and rising locals Q and Not U (and there are rumors of some special guests as well), all Friday night at the Black Cat (202-667-7960). Nicki Lehrer is a dang good classical guitarist with a new CD to her name, and this local girl is only 14 years old. She'll perform Friday at the White Flint Borders Books & Music (301/816-1067).

Friday night at Sting, Nation's all-night dance party hosts DJ Paul Oakenfold, one of the best-known and influential club DJs. Oakenfeld is the godfather of trance techno, and he'll be joined by one of his spiritual descendents, Dave Ralph, whose double-CD "Tranceport 2" was just released and is making big waves in clubland.

Friday and Saturday night, Constitution Hall (202/432-7328) hosts a mighty fine R&B night with Wilson Pickett, Betty Wright, Clarence Carter and Roy C. Friday through Sunday, excellent local comedian Tommy Davidson performs at the Improv (202/296-7008). Saturday at Madam's Organ (202/667-5370), bluesman Robert Lighthouse hosts a night in honor of Jimi Hendrix's birthday, and you can be sure plenty of guitar-playing guests will stop in to jam.

Twisted local garage band Lesbian Boy has a brand new CD out, and they'll play Sunday at the Galaxy Hut (703/525-8646), along with another pretty bizarre local, T.V. John Langworthy. Sunday and Monday, the Birchmere (703/549-7500) hosts near-legendary songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson, but if you miss him there, catch him performing a solo acoustic set Monday at 12:30 p.m. at the Borders of Pentagon Centre (703/418-0166).

On Thursday, the University of Maryland's excellent radio station, WMUC-FM (88.1), celebrates its 20th birthday with a big concert and DJ reunion at the Colony Ballroom in the Stamp Student Union. It features Q and Not U, Winterbrief, Saturday People, Crispus Attucks, Hott Stuf and lots of DJs and more bands. It'll be a cool scene. Check it out.