GEORGE CRUMB INHABITS his own sonic universe; his best music could be by no other composer. Friday night the George Crumb Ensemble will offer a retrospective spanning 55 years of creative activity, from the "Three Early Songs" (1947) through the recent "Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik," based on Thelonious Monk's " 'Round Midnight." Crumb himself will be the percussionist; the other players are soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Robert Shannon and guitarist David Starobin. Crumb has just celebrated his 75th birthday and the enterprising Bridge Records label (with which Starobin is associated) is issuing an edition of "Complete Crumb" CDs, in honor of the anniversary.
-- Tim Page
At the Library of Congress's Coolidge Auditorium, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Friday at 8 p.m. Free. Call 202-707-5502 or visit www.loc.gov/concerts.
RAUL MALO, HIRSUTE frontman for the genre-rocking Mavericks and a certified member of the Clean Plate Club, sings like a saloon-born angel, his Orbisonesque tenor sweetly belying his ready-to-rumble exterior. Taking his peerless croon on a solo acoustic swing -- drool, fans, drool -- the Cuban American marvel will no doubt offer honky-tonkers from the Mavericks' hit list plus some of his own salsafied solo jaunts. If you're really lucky, though, Malo will also take great smirking delight in buckling your knees with show-stopping oldies "Moon River" and "Air That I Breathe." He knows he's good, but hoo boy, is the cockiness justified.
-- Sean Daly
At Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis. Friday at 8:30 p.m. $24.50. Call 410-268-4545 or visit www.ramsheadtavern.com. At the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Saturday at 10 p.m. $17.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com.
EVERY PERFORMING ARTS PROFESSIONAL knows that an extraordinary amount of work offstage goes into what audiences see onstage. These efforts generally carry on unseen by the public, which is what makes Doug Varone's performances at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center unusual. Varone has laid open his choreographic process through a weekly "blog" on the center's Web site, and this week the center will host discussions of his new work, "Deconstructing English," inspired by Bach's "English Suites." One more will be held after the final performance next Sunday.
-- Sarah Kaufman
At the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park. Friday at 8 p.m. and next Sunday at 3 p.m. $7-$30. Call 301-405-ARTS or visit www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.