Jackson Browne

Durham Performing Arts CenterOne need look no further than “Take it Easy,” the most famous song the smooth-singing Jackson Browne ever wrote, to understand the deep unrest in his words. It’s a tune about escapism, or at least about not driving yourself mad. Or there’s “Running on Empty,” in which an aged protagonist reflects on his life and recounts his compulsion to find something better: “Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive/ Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive.” In the decades since he penned such hits, Browne’s substituted that anywhere-is-better stance for his quest to make the whole world better. A dedicated activist and political fundraiser, he’s stumped for Nader, No Nukes and Nicaragua. And last year, when the John McCain presidential campaign borrowed “Empty” for a television commercial, he successfully sued. After all, McCain didn’t want to get us out of anything, right? Tonight, Browne goes it alone with an acoustic at 8 p.m. for $30-$55. Visit www.dpacnc.com. Grayson Currin

Steve Kimock Crazy Engine

The ArtsCenter“It’s 11 in the afternoon/ and the insects in the room seem to be high on marijuana/ They are behaving like puppies/ I can take the stinging, but I can’t take the buzzing.” If this resonates with you, you’ll enjoy Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, the latest quartet to bear the name and sound of the virtuoso of the lap, pedal steel acoustic and electric guitar. Kimock is a decades-old staple of the jam scene, having helped to pioneer online archiving. Jerry Garcia dubbed him his “favorite unknown guitarist.” And don’t forget to cue the organ tonight: It’s played by Melvin Seals, who jammed with Garcia for 20 years in a band bearing the name of that nine-fingered legend. Pay $26 at 8:30 p.m. See www.artscenterlive.org. Joe Schwartz