ABDEL WRIGHT KNOWS from struggle: Orphaned as a baby, he bounced from foster home to foster home in his native Jamaica before landing on the island country's gritty streets . . . where he was summarily arrested for gun possession. After a trying five-year turn in prison, Wright tried to kick-start a music career. But the aspiring artist -- he'd been playing guitar since he was 12 and writing songs since the age of 18, shortly before his arrest -- stumbled into a minefield of rejection. He was turned down, he says, "by every leading producer in Jamaica." A funny thing happened on the road to abject failure, though. Wright's sociopolitical folk-reggae caught the ear of Dave Stewart, and the ex-Eurythmic signed Wright to his unfortunately named label, Weapons of Mass Entertainment. An album of protest music was recorded (due out Aug. 16), and Bono became an instant uberfan -- to the point that the U2 frontman declared Wright "the most important Jamaican artist since Marley." (Presumably he meant Bob, not Damian.) Bono is famously prone to hyperbole, but he wasn't too far off the mark regarding Wright, whose struggles just may be a thing of the past.

-- J. Freedom du Lac

At Jammin' Java, 227 E. Maple Ave., Vienna. Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. $10. Call 703-255-1566 or visit www.jamminjava.com.


"PAINTING AND SCULPTURE from the School of Paris," says the sign outside a pair of temporary exhibition spaces on the ground floor of the National Gallery's East Building. That's truth in advertising for you. The front room has a pile of lovely portraits and figures by Amedeo Modigliani, along with a few gems by Chaim Soutine. (One of the Modiglianis is a portrait of Soutine. Soutine's powerful "Side of Beef," recently acquired by the gallery, might as well be of his friend Modi as his famous dissolution ate away at him.) The room behind has a more motley mix of School of Paris-ites: There's a "Classical Head" by Picasso, some nice Andre Derain paintings, a few Matisses with an appealing clumsiness and, especially, several intriguing, tough-minded works by Georges Braque. You won't find mention of this display in any of the gallery's summer publicity. It's not even on the NGA Web site. But it provides the kind of certain pleasure and insight that any national collection is supposed to be about.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Constitution Avenue between Third and Seventh streets NW. Free. Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 202-842-6690 or visit www.nga.gov.


ROMANCE, TRADITION and the sheer joy of dancing all have a role in the Bolshoi Ballet's version of "Don Quixote," or at least they did when it was memorably performed here five years ago. The company returns this week with that same production, as well as its own orchestra. Look for zesty bravura dancing, dramatic flair and a sure touch with the sultry Spanish-style dancing that should be as much a part of the ballet as the kick-the-back-of-the-head leaps for which the Russians are renowned. This engagement is part of the company's first American tour under the direction of 37-year-old Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky.

-- Sarah Kaufman

At Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $18-$65. Call 703-255-1800 or visit www.wolf-trap.org.