You really should go see Robert Randolph & the Family Band at the 9:30 club (202-393-0930) Friday. I've seen them on more than one occasion and they don't disappoint. Caroline Herring has been garnering the proverbial critical acclaim for her folk-bluegrass music. You can find out why Friday at Half Moon Barbeque (301-585-1290). Also Friday, you can do a good deed if you stop by Chief Ike's Mambo Room (202-332-2211) for a benefit show featuring Los Hermanos Rodriguez, the Hipnotics and Flinch. Bring an unwrapped toy to go to the Children's Hospital and get a great deal on drinks.

You'll have three chances to hear country music star Kathy Mattea this weekend. She's at DAR Constitution Hall (202-628-4780) Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

New York vocalist and composer Rick Jensen will be hosting Cabaret Showcase: The Best Songs You Never Heard Saturday at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre (703-228-1850). Joining him will be Terri Allen, Wendy Lane Bailey, Tim Tourbin and James Van Slyke.

Also Saturday, Lalo Rodriguez, a two-time Grammy winner, performs at Insomnia (202-737-1003). Rodriguez has quite the vocal range. But if you're already a fan of Latin music, you knew that.

Sunday at IOTA (703-522-8340) it's guitarist Jon Dee Graham, formerly of Austin's True Believers and the John Doe Band. He nabbed songwriter of the year honors at the Austin Music Awards a couple of years ago (no small feat in that town) and has a voice that's often been compared to Tom Waits. Sounds like a winning combo, doesn't it?

Wednesday at the State Theatre (703-237-0300) you can have fun and support a good cause at the same time. That's where Santa Jam 6 will be taking place. It's a benefit for the Northern Virginia Shelters for Homeless and Battered Women and among the folks scheduled to take the stage are the Nighthawks, Radio Mosaic, Tom Principato Band, Tommy Lepson Band and Perry, Polman & Gamble among others. Admission is one unwrapped toy or a minimum $10 donation at the door.

No, it's not the all-girl Canadian group you'll hear at Lewie's (301-652-1600) Thursday if you stop by. Instead, this Sugar Jones is Chad Thevenot. He's based in D.C. and produces a Southern-fried funky sound. Also Thursday, the extremely talented Common brings his hip-hop fusion to the 9:30 club (202-393-0930).

-- Curt Fields