Fri.Amy Rigby, who made a spectacular entrance nearly a decade ago with "Diary of a Mod Housewife," explores the continuing vagaries of modern romance at Jammin' Java (703-255-1566). . . . Backed by pianist Ron Elliston's quintet, vocalist Ronnie Wells explores pop and jazz standards at the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel (301-953-1993).

Sat.Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founding member, string wizard and storyteller John McEuen was celebrating the wide spectrum of Americana long before the landmark country-bluegrass celebrations of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." He'll be at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown (301-528-2260). . . . Toronto quartet Metric, fronted by the ultra-cool Emily Haines, is at the 9:30 club (202-393-0930) trying to validate Alternative Press dubbing the group one of the "100 Bands You Need to Know," appearing with the Most Serene Republic. . . . The free DC Festival, organized by evangelist Luis Palau to present "Great Music & Good News," will showcase a number of top contemporary Christian artists, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, tobyMac and Jaci Velasquez. The event is Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 on the Mall (703-838-8791 or www.dcfestival.org).

Sun.Barbez, a New York-based cabaret-punk ensemble, mixes covers of Bertolt Brecht, Erik Satie and Black Sabbath songs with arty folk-rock originals at DC9 (202-483-5000). . . . Formed five years ago by a sextet of Tehran art students, Iranian rockers 127 mix American and British pop and rock with jazz and Iranian folk influences. Its journey hasn't been easy: Western music was outlawed in Iran after the revolution of 1979, and the group was denied permission to release records or play outside Tehran's university, performing publicly only five times in its first four years. Its American debut, scheduled for March at Austin's South by Southwest fest, was scuttled because of visa complications. The band arrives at the Black Cat (202-667-7960) with the Cassettes, though you might want to call first to confirm.

Mon.The Ike Reilly Assassination celebrates its new album, "Junkie Faithful," at DC9 with Robert Skoro, who has drawn comparisons to such indie emo-ters as Bright Eyes and the Postal Service. . . . Baltimore's Agents of the Sun perform at Fletcher's in Baltimore (410-558-1889) as part of a 98 Rock's "Noise in the Basement" show, also releasing its second DCide album, "Monarchs of a Fallen Society."

Tue.New Orleans's Cowboy Mouth lost most everything when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast -- except for the tour bus the band was traveling in. Now its tour has become a series of "Bail Out the Big Easy" benefits, including one starting at 4 at Lulu's Club Mardi Gras (202-861-5858) with Rebirth Brass Band, Junkyard Saints, the Grandsons, Cane Cutters, Diamond Alley, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Kelly Bell Band. Look for the Cowboys to close with their anthemic rocker, "Take Me Back to New Orleans."

Weds.Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, acclaimed for his ethereal sonic explorations, supports his new prog-titled "Metamorpheus" album with a concert at the State Theatre in Falls Church (703-237-0300).

Thu.Heading toward a Stones-like 40th anniversary, flutist Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull perform at DAR Constitution Hall (202-397-7328), where you'll be able to pick up the first copies of a special live version of "Aqualung" recorded here in November for XM Radio. . . . The Nethers, a new band featuring four out of five Carlsonics, explore an indie rock-country-psych synthesis on "In Fields We Lie," their debut for Box Theory. Their first local sighting will be at the Warehouse Next Door (202-783-3933).

-- Richard Harrington