I've never seen John Kelly live, but a video of this cross-dressing performance artist blew my gourd. Kelly eerily impersonates singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell in a show that's more faithful homage than campy send-up. Oddly compelling stuff, Friday through Sunday at Dance Place (202/269-1600). At the State Theatre (703/237-0300) Friday, it's the Grateful Dead as interpreted by a 17-piece jazz band, Joe Gallant & Illuminati. Their latest CD is a reexamination of the Dead's "Terrapin Station," and it's dang faithful to the jamming spirit of Jerry's old combo. (With Lake Trout.) Also Friday at the Black Cat (202-667-7960), find out what moody, spiritual hip-hoppers Basehead have been up to, along with rising locals, Inflatable Men and Calibos.
Lisa Moscatiello is one of the area's finest folk singers and is releasing her second CD Saturday with a concert at the Alden Theatre in McLean (703/790-9223), with the Grandsons. Paddy Mac's (301/608-3360) is the site of a rare three-set night from local country/folk/pop master Kevin Johnson and his band the Linemen. Vanilla Ice? Sure, I'm curious. Some say this former rapper has genuinely remade himself as a rowdy metal man. Check it out Saturday at Jaxx (703/569-5940). Magnetic Fields is a duo featuring songwriter Stephin Merritt, whose latest, "69 Love Songs," is a triple-CD set, each with 23 songs exploring every angle of human relationships. Hear them Saturday at the Black Cat (202-667-7960), with Stars, a cool new band out of New York. Louisiana's Cowboy Mouth may not have reinvented the wheel, but they make rip roaring rock 'n' roll of the sort that reminds you where it came from: country, blues, rockabilly, gospel. Their fervor is contagious, as you'll find out Saturday at the 9:30 club (202/393-0930). (With the Uninvited and Paul Sanchez.)
Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is best-known for her command of the classical violin repertoire, but Tuesday at the DCJCC (800/494-8497) she'll reveal her Gypsy side with a performance with guitarists (and brothers) Sergio and Odair Assad. One of the most distinctive young jazz singers of our age, Lenora Zenzalai Helm, comes to Blues Alley (202/337-4141) on Wednesday, with a trio featuring pianist Orrin Evans (who made waves at last year's Thelonious Monk Competition), bassist Miriam Sullivan and drummer Nasheet Waits. Wednesday at the State Theatre (703/237-0300), local guitar whiz Dan Leonard shows why guitar players beat a path to his gigs. This show is a CD-release event for Leonard's latest recording.
Local band Phaser releases a new CD, "Skydive," Thursday at Metro Cafe (202/518-7900). Their mix of nearly British-sounding material brings to mind the likes of Radiohead and Spiritualized. Thursday night, the Tabard Inn (202/331-8528) will launch a monthly cabaret event, beginning this week with the passionate singing of Joseph Perna. Also Thursday, it's nouveau zydeco king Terrance Simien, at Lewie's (301/652-1600).