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Barbara Manning grew up living in a school bus outside San Francisco. As a singer-songwriter, Manning has turned this hippie cliché into musical inspiration. Her songs and recordings have always been context-specificfrom her swingy “Baseball Trilogy” to the rotating cast of musicians in her band, the SF Seals. In 1995, she travelled to Chicago to record an album of obscure indie covers, insisting on playing with the original artists such as Mekon Jon Langford and Young Marble Giant Stuart Moxham. Now, following in the footsteps of Michelle Shocked and, more recently, of Cat Power’s Chan Marshallwho went to AustraliaManning joins her fellow bluesy travelers in a musical game of country-hopping. Her latest, In New Zealand, plants Manning deep in that island’s indie-pop scene, most notably with some 3Ds and Chris Knox. It’s less Paul Simon imperialism than just wholesome fandom. Manning only embellishes her sweet spot for shadowy vulnerability, working in slow-mo guitars with minor piano chords as tinsel around her short swoons. With Aden and the Aluminum Group tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $6. (202) 667-7960; and tomorrow with the Renderers at 9:30 p.m. at Iota, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $6. (703) 522-8340. (Jason Cherkis)