Pete Droge may have fled his native Seattle for Portland, but he’s not without ties to the Seattle scene. The singer/songwriter’s demo tape was produced by his buddy, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who passed it on to his producer, Brendan O’Brien, who liked it enough to produce Droge’s debut, Necktie Second. Yet Droge’s midtempo acoustic rock is hardly what you’d call grunge, and neither self-deprecating humor (exemplified by the eminently catchy “If You Don’t Love Me [I’ll Kill Myself]”) nor emotional immediacy (“Hampton Inn Room 306” was written and recorded on the spot in an Atlanta hotel room) are staples of that genre. Droge opens for the irrepressible Melissa Etheridge at 8 p.m. at Constitution Hall, 18th & D Sts. NW. $23-35. (202) 628-4780. (Nicole Arthur)


Like the term “jazz” itself, no one has yet defined “harmelodics,” the musical system on which the innovative (and always controversial) composition and alto saxophone artistry of Ornette Coleman is based. But like the once equally despised bebop, it is difficult to deny the melodicism of Coleman compositions like “Theme From a Symphony” (from the shamefully unavailable Skies of America) or the oft-performed “Lonely Woman.” This rare D.C. appearance finds Coleman with his electric-based unit Prime Time, which combines melodic richness with equally appealing nods to swing and funk. Also on the bill is the hip-hop duo Get Set V.O.P. (Voice of the Projects), whose incisive texts have graced recordings by the likes of guitarist/composer John-Paul Bourelly and Geri Allen. At 8 p.m. at Lincoln Theater, 1215 U St. NW. $18-26. (202) 783-0360. (Reuben Jackson)


Art criticism isn’t usually thought of as a live medium, but Peter Schjeldahl proves that there are wonders to be wrought with a podium and a stack of index cards. He uses no slides, claiming that as a critic—not a historian—his job isn’t to impart knowledge, but to mess with things you already know. Speaking last year on Dubuffet, he delivered his acute judgments with astringent wit and a poetic sense of diction. In addition, he was charming, always tough on the artist (and on himself), and kind to the innocents in his audience. Today, the Village Voice critic returns to the Hirshhorn to discuss Bruce Nauman, the subject of a current retrospective, whom Schjeldahl calls “the best—the essential—American artist of the last quarter-century.” At 4 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Glenn Dixon)


Recasting those damnably patriarchal fairy tales has become something of a trend. And Margaret Atwood, who’s been known to pen the occasional acerbic fantasy, won’t be left out. Her Good Bones and Simple Murders, a collection of 35 very brief fictions and essays, includes “The Little Red Hen Tells All” and “Making a Man” (based on the Gingerbread Man tale). Illustrated with the author’s own line drawings, Good Bones is Atwood abbreviated; she reads from this attitudinal sampler at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. $19. (202) 357-3030. (Nathalie op de Beeck)


Sergei Paradjanov only made eight feature films in his 34-year career, but that he produced even that many is astonishing, given the Armenian/Georgian director’s antipathy to his Soviet bosses and his long periods of internal exile and imprisonment. This retrospective culminates with his four mature films, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Dec. 11, 8:15 p.m.; Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m.), The Color of Pomegranates (Dec. 18, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 19, 6 p.m.), The Legend of the Suram Fortress (pictured, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 20, 6:30 p.m.), and Ashkik Kerab (Dec. 19, 9:15 p.m.; Dec. 21, 6 p.m.), whose tales of poets, minstrels, wanderers, and martyrs are a riot of traditional imagery, arcane symbolism, and semidisguised autobiography. These are preceded by the Washington premieres of the director’s earlier films, including eccentric semisubversions of such Soviet genres as the World War II (Ukrainian Rhapsody, Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m.) and collective-industry film (Little Flower on a Stone, Dec. 9, 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 13, 6:30 p.m.). At the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6. (202) 785-4601. (Mark Jenkins)


Thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Richard Linklater, among others, ’70s music is back in a big way on the big screen—but only on soundtracks. In fact, the glorious decade featured in AFI’s “The Sounds of the Seventies” survey was dominated by the full-fledged pop musical. The series celebrates genres from punk (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Dec. 17, 8:15 p.m.) to what’s now called classic rock (The Last Waltz, Dec. 10, 8:45 p.m.; Dec. 12, 8 p.m.) to disco (Saturday Night Fever, pictured, Dec. 3, 7 & 9:15 p.m.). The latter holds up particularly well, especially in light of Tarantino’s inept direction of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction‘s overrated dance scene, a hipper-than-thou allusion that falls flat. Along with Tommy (Dec. 13, 8 p.m.; Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m.), Gimme Shelter (Dec. 9, 8 & 9:45 p.m.), The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (Dec. 17, 10 p.m.; Dec. 21, 9:15 p.m.), The Song Remains the Same (Dec. 30, 9:30 p.m.; Dec. 31, 9:15 p.m.), and Pink Floyd: The Wall (Dec. 2, 8:15 & 10:10 p.m.; Dec. 5, 9:15 p.m.), these are the midnight movies that nurtured a generation. At the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6. (202) 785-4601. (Eddie Dean)