Unhappy with the musical key or her own singing, Lucinda Williams stopped less than halfway through several songs on the final night of her five-concert showcase at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles that featured a handful of her favorite recordings, each played sequentially on a different night.

It was the kind of disquieting move that in the hands of a rank amateur would brand her as entirely unprofessional. But in Williams’ case, the fits of stops and starts – which she blamed on being “such a f-ing obsessive-compulsive perfectionist” – are just part of the charm of Louisiana-raised, Los Angeles-honed singer-songwriter who stands as one of the important artists of her day.

And what a charming, intensely real show we heard on Monday night, when her self-titled de facto debut was the focus.

These are the songs that first put her on the map and earned her respect (and some much needed dough) through cover versions by Emmylou Harris, Patti Loveless, Tom Petty and others of such songs as “Passionate Kisses,” “The Night’s Too Long” and “Changed the Locks.”

“Kisses” received a breathless solo rendition, “Locks” a hefty, crunchy multi-guitar driven turn. But it was the ballads such as “Abandoned,” “Am I Too Blue,” and especially the achingly beautiful “Side of the Road” (performed by Williams with only crack guitarist Doug Pettibone accompanying) that contained the sense of loneliness, restless searching and fragile yet strong defiance that has defined her music ever since.

The post-intermission set featured a couple of mutual admirers – Harris and X’s John Doe – jamming on material from Williams’ new “West” album, unrecorded songs and a few leftover favorites that found their author in a, rare for her, jovial, nearly giddy mood.

These were once-in-a-lifetime shows (OK twice in a lifetime; they’ll be repeated in New York City at the end of the month). Thank God she recorded them for instant distribution. Get thee online and find yourselves some copies.

Blowin’ in the Wind: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 24th annual Evening for Peace takes a left turn this year, eschewing the fancy sit-down dinner for a smaller reception at Café Buenos Aires and program of music and memories at Victoria Hall Monday evening. That’s because the 2007 honorees are Peter, Paul & Mary, the famous folk-singing trio whose persistent songs of protest and dedication to non-violent causes helped spearhead the peace movement over the years. Mary Travers is recovering from back surgery (which necessitated the cancellation of a fall tour that was supposed to stop at the Arlington on Sept. 16), but Peter Yarrow and (Noel) Paul Stookey will attend the event to receive the award. Following video highlights of the trio’s career edited by the Peace Foundation’s new Director of Development and Public Affairs, Steven Crandell, Yarrow and Stookey will speak about their experiences working for justice and equality, and sing several songs – both solo and together – from their lengthy careers. The reception takes place at 5 pm, the program starts at 6:15. Tickets are $250. Call 963-3443.

Westmont’s Dr. J: Well before Egle Januleviciute settled in Santa Barbara, the Lithuanian-born pianist won several international piano competitions and secured five degrees from different music schools (including a Doctor of Musical Arts in performance from UCSB). Now an assistant professor of piano at Westmont College here in Montecito, Januleviciute has also made several recordings, the latest of which, a CD of Bach keyboard works, has just been released. Januleviciute will play a solo recital featuring works by Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Debussy in the acoustically-friendly sanctuary at the Unitarian Society on Sunday afternoon at 3. Tickets are $15 (students/seniors $10). Call 965-4235 or visit www.eglej.com.

Coming attractions: Paddy Keenan is generally acknowledged to be the most accomplished Uilleann piper currently performing. A third-generation piper from an Irish traveling family, Keenan was a founding member of the influential Bothy Band, which combined a driving rhythm section with traditional Irish tunes in a thrilling fashion. Keenan, who has been called “The Jimi Hendrix of the pipes” and earned comparisons to jazz giant John Coltrane, plays a rare SB date at Victoria Hall on Sept. 20. Tickets ($20) are available at Santa Barbara Sheet Music. Call 966-3113.