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Folkies catch expanding-your-sound disease more often than most musicians. But what folk singers need to know is that they are playing a personality contest. If audiences really, really like you, they will memorize your every word—and possibly even travel to Wolf Trap to see one of your shows. No one understands this axiom better than Lois Maffeo. The singer has fronted several lineups of backing musicians and tried out different production strategies (yes, dub!), but still remains essentially herself—equal parts kindergarten teacher, best bud, and chatty charmer. At her most convincing, she struts through her songs as if she’s indie rock’s answer to Petula Clark. With her fifth album, The Union Themes, recorded with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty, she dabbles in fleshed-out country tweakers, softie ballads—and dare I say—superclean production. But Maffeo, through it all, is herself. And that’s good enough. She performs with Ida and Pedro the Lion at 8:30 p.m. the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Jason Cherkis)