It’s hard to remember a time when Kris Kristofferson wasn’t an icon — a terrific singer-songwriter who parlayed his fame into a prolific if somewhat scattershot acting career. But as his movie and TV work devoured more of his attention, the songs he conceived in the most turbulent part of the ’60s and ’70s grew in stature, claiming a rightful place among the most influential and affecting of the 20th century. Long before he became a household name, Kristofferson’s work was recognized by some of the most potent voices of the past 50 years, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. As singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman describes his pal in the liner notes of a new compilation, Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72, Kristofferson was “the most talented janitor in Nashville.” This much is certain: Kristofferson’s powerful and timeless songs will outlive us all. He performs at the Kent Stage at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $75. —Brian Baker
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