IF YOU WANT a dose of straightforward, unproblematic, breathtaking beauty, then you need to visit the Textile Museum. A show called "A Garden of Shawls: The Buta and Its Seeds" presents a sampling of precious textiles in the pattern that we know as "paisley." Some are from 19th-century Europe, where they were made on the latest in high-tech Jacquard looms. (The fabric was so popular, hard-up weavers in Paisley, Scotland, jumped on the trend and ended up giving their name to the pattern.) These textiles are as intricate and impressive as any work of art you've ever seen. Others are from Kashmir, in India, where the pattern was born. They were made on hand looms from the wool of mountain goats. If possible, they are even more entrancing than the fancy European knockoffs.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW, through March 6. Open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m. Call 202-667-0441 or visit


WE COULD ALL USE a lot more Dolly Parton in our lives. Her big blond wig, her snug sequined getups, her robusty decolletage: The 58-year-old Smoky Mountain sass machine loves to boast about how fake she is -- "You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!" -- but there's nothing phony about her national-treasure voice. For four decades now -- from 1970s yodel workout "Mule Skinner Blues" to 1980s working-class anthem "9 to 5" to recent forays into bluegrass -- Parton's down-home soprano has remained amazingly sweet, warm and pure. Same goes for her sunny, go-get-'em outlook on life. She may look like "the girl next door . . . if you happen to live next door to an amusement park," but Parton, bless her big, gaudy heart, is as real as it gets.

-- Sean Daly

At the Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. $36, $45 and $55. Call 202-397-SEAT or visit


IN JUST OVER A DECADE of performing, Noche Flamenca has strived to maintain the purity of flamenco dancing. The Madrid-based group of guitarists, singers and dancers relies less on spectacle than on powerful individual performances, which is what you can expect from the fascinating Soledad Barrio, wife of artistic director Martin Santangelo.

-- Sarah Kaufman

At George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. $25-$35. Call 301-808-6900 or visit