Epic screening It makes sense that J.R.R. Tolkien would make the diminutive hobbits his heroes - prosaic homebodies, fond of second breakfasts, pipes and ale, they were similar to their creator, an Oxford don and frequenter of pubs. The hobbits were also archetypes of the mass of ordinary men wrenched into huge conflicts, whose roles in history are subsumed in tales of individual heroism. Tolkien was one of those pulled into the First World War, where he saw action on the Somme and almost all of his friends killed. So it's the hobbit point of view he took in The Lord of the Rings, his epic fantasy of the folly of war and evil. It took 50 years for movie technology to catch up with the writer's imagination. When it did, the result was a cinema classic, the winner of 17 Academy Awards. The trilogy is run complete in a marathon showing, with The Fellowship of the Ring screening at 10 a.m., The Two Towers at 2:15 p.m., and The Return of the King at 7:15 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville. Tickets are $20 for all three films; $8 per film. Call 610-917-1228.

Music for a cause A stellar lineup - soulful chamber pop muse Pepi Ginsberg, dreamy techno combo A Sunny Day in Glasgow, one-man band Oh! Pears, and new-edge vocal quartet Neighborhood Choir - plays a benefit for the United Way's Stuff the Bus Project, which delivers book bags and school supplies to children living in homeless shelters throughout the region. The show starts at 8 p.m. at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets are $12. Call 215-222-1400.


Out front Drive-By Truckers front man Patterson Hood revisited some early cassette-mix songs, added some new ones, and ended up with a side project that has now blossomed into a second album. As you might expect, it's guitar-heavy smart rock, with a bit less of the Southern Gothic vibe of his day job. He plays with his band the Screwtopians at 8 p.m. at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets are $12. Call 215-222-1400.


Flaming youth Based on Frank Wedekind's 1891 play about teens dealing with rebellion and the tumult of sexual feelings, Spring Awakening features music by emo icon Duncan Sheik and choreography by modern dance master Bill T. Jones. The Tony Award-winning musical goes on at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $25 to $80. Call 215-731-3333.


Going for baroque When lawyer John Fowler found his legal career stymied by the economic downturn, he looked to the past - as in the 17th century - for a new start. A professionally trained baritone and former president of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, he formed the Buxtehude Consort, devoted to period performances of the baroque master's works. The ensemble performs a recital of the composer's sublime cantatas at 8 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 1625 Locust St. Tickets are $10 to $50. Call 215-715-0180.

Future jazz Led by Jim Black on drums and laptop, the combo AlasNoAxis explores the outer limits of jazz and avant-electronica with a melodic inventiveness. The quartet plays at 8 p.m. at the Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. Tickets are $12. Call 215-545-4302.


Haunted cabaret Brat Productions gets ready for the October debut of their Poe project with the cabaret Murder Ballads, Shanties, and Other Poe-etics, featuring comic-book artist and musician Dame Darcy (Meat Cake), singer and comedian Jessica Delfino, Poe impersonator Helen McKenna-Uff, Blood Feathers guitarist Drew Mills, gothic folkie Fern Night, and the avant-folk collective Yellow Humphrey. The show goes on 9 p.m. at the Latvian Society, 531 Seventh St. Tickets are $5. Call 1-800-838-3006.

With strings The sensational Brooklyn quartet Skidmore Fountain may feature cellist Topu Lyo putting down on a classical foundation, but the result is clear-cut power pop. They play on a three-band bill at 9 p.m. at the Khyber, 56 S. Second St. Tickets are $8. Call 215-238-5888.

Friday & Saturday

Out of the past Two reasons why the 1970s were a great time for pop: Boz Scaggs, who put a blues vibe on disco ballads, and Michael McDonald, who brought a dash of blue-eyed soul to the Doobie Brothers' boogie-rock. They team up at the Mann Center, 52d Street and Parkside Ave., at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $39 to $85. Call 215-893-1999.

Unrealized utopia Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's Fordlandia was inspired by automaker Henry Ford's doomed attempt to create a white-picket fence suburban America in the Amazon in the 1920s. The layered electronic melodies build upon each other, sounding like the soundtrack to a film never made. Jóhannsson plays on a double bill with drone vocalist Lichens at the Gatherings, St. Mary's Hamilton Village, 3916 Locust Walk, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Call 610-734-1009.

Country girl Dynamite honky-tonk singer Angela Easterling brings a tough traditionalist sound to ballads and ravers alike on her fine new CD Black Top Road. She opens for Rodeo Beatniks at Milkboy Coffee, 2 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12. Call 610-645-5269.