Fri. Enough with the "Formerly Known As" and purple jokes. His name is Prince, and he's one of the best ever in the rock-pop-R&B field. He performs for the second of three consecutive nights at MCI Center (202-397-7328). He's singing many of the old hits, albeit sometimes in medley form (with as many classic songs as he has, what choice does he have?), and his energy and showmanship live can't be beat. If you go, make sure you're on time -- the opening on this tour is not to be missed. . . . The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is at H2O (202-484-6300). The group won the 2003 Latin Billboard Award for salsa album of the year (new artist).
Sat. Alt-country songstress Lucinda Williams is at the 9:30 club (202-393-0930) with a personal fave of mine, Jim White. White is Southern Gothic at its best, with atmospheric electronic country blues tunes that offer an engagingly off-kilter perspective. Williams is a fine performer, but make sure you don't miss White. . . . The illustrious Patti LaBelle is at DAR Constitution Hall (202-397-7328) for the first of two nights. The R&B diva can still bring it. Floetry is also on the bill.
Sun. Headbangers take note. The Bad Boys of Metal -- Jani Lane (Warrant), Kevin Dubrow (Quiet Riot), Steven Adler (Guns N' Roses) -- are at Jaxx (703-569-5940). The guys are doing songs from their respective bands plus a metallic jam session.
Weds. Rappers Brand Nubian are still in the game and they're at Ottobar (410-662-0069) in Baltimore. . . . On a different playing field but also still in the game, punk forebears Stiff Little Fingers are cranking it out at Black Cat (202-667-7960), touring in support of the group's latest album, "Guitar & Drum."
Thurs. If you think French pop a la Serge Gainsbourg is the essence of how it should be done, then Les Sans Culottes is the band for you. With over-the-top live performances and catchy '60s-styled, heavily French-flavored pop music, the Brooklyn group has developed quite a cult following. Just say oui and go to the Black Cat (202-667-7960). . . . Popular British reggae group Steel Pulse is at the 9:30 club (202-393-0930). Playing since the mid-'70s, the band can still be spot-on when it's in the groove.
-- Curt Fields