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A&E Feature

What to Know Before You Go

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MUSIC

The Palmetto Bug Stompers
9:30 p.m. Wed., July 12
Vaughan's Lounge, 800 Lesseps St., 947-5562

11 p.m. Sat., July 15
Rotolo's, 201 Decatur St., 948-3287

How long will it be before, to New Orleans ears, nine out of ten songs don't seem to carry special, emotionally pungent messages about how our town nearly washed away? On the Palmetto Bug Stompers' newest, Ol' New Orleans Home (self-released, May 2006), fresh, post-Katrina lyrics update Stephen Foster's classic "My Old Kentucky Home" into a "My Ol' New Orleans Home" that struts nearly as timelessly. And their cover of "We'll Meet Again," which Vera Lynn warbled into an anthem for World War II-era Britain, with its lyrical touchstones of dark clouds, blue skies and unbearable distance from home and hearth, tugs at the same well-yanked heartstrings. In any case, for those of us who have made it back home safe and dry over these past ten months, we've got the laid-back, lighthearted, trad-jazz sounds of Will Smith's trumpet, Seva Venet's swing guitar and the whimsical scrapings of Washboard Chaz, plus the rest of the Stompers, every other Wednesday at Vaughan's — in case you need to set a venue to meet again some sunny day. Free admission for both shows. — Alison Fensterstock

STAGE

A Midsummer Night's Dream
7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; July 13-15; 1:30 p.m. Sun. July 16; through July 22
Tulane University, Lupin Theatre, 865-5105; www.neworleansshakespeare.com

In Shakespeare's most enchanting comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play within the play is welcome comic relief from the soap operalike scheming of who will marry whom. Theseus will marry Hippolyta but declares that Hermia must marry Demetrius. But Hermia prefers Lysdander, who proposes eloping to the forest. Helena would gladly accept Demetrius so she spills the beans, but it turns out Demetrius actually likes Hermia and would prefer she stay away from Lysander. Then they're all off to the forest to sort things out with the help of the king and queen of the faeries and a quiver of Cupid's arrows, but nobody hits the right target and even more unsuitable couples arise. A little more magic and a bizarre drama meant for Theseus' wedding keep it all from becoming a nightmare. Directed by Aimee K. Michel. Tickets $35, $12.50 discounted preview Thursday and Friday, pay-what-you-will on Sunday. ($2 minimum). — Will Coviello

STAGE

Mirrors of Chartres Street: Faulkner Reflects New Orleans
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., July 14-15; 5 p.m. Sun., July 16; through July 30
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800; www.cacno.org

William Faulkner the screenwriter will never be as well remembered as Faulkner the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, even though he worked on movies like The Big Sleep. But Faulkner was not new to pulp fiction when he arrived in Hollywood in the 1940s. In fact, he got his first paid writing gig in New Orleans selling a series of sketches to The Times-Picayune . Published under the title "Mirrors of Chartres Street," which was a lampoon of a society column, Faulkner wrote lurid portraits of gamblers, whores, rum-runners and gangsters. "He was trying to sell commercial fiction. Almost pulp fiction, real pot-boiler, page-turning stuff," says Robert Florence, who created Mirrors of Chartres Street: Faulkner Reflects New Orleans , a new play about Faulkner's raucous year in the city. Faulkner arrived in 1925 to meet writer Sherwood Anderson and catch a merchant ship to Europe. Instead, he spent much of the next year drinking and carousing with his friend William Spratlin, an artist and professor at Tulane, and doing pieces for The Times-Picayune and the literary journal The Double Dealer . Florence has adapted some of those sketches and blended them with fictionalized scenes of his bohemian escapades. Tickets $15, $12 CAC members. — Coviello

MUSIC

Brightblack Morning Light
10 p.m. Tue., July 11
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.com

Indie powerhouse Matador Records' newest signees are so genuinely art-focused that they eschew the distractions of day jobs and apartments and live in a tent. They do tour, and they do record, which involves a necessary-evil level of interaction with Babylon; however, their sound is so serene and otherworldly that it only serves to somehow corroborate the mythology around them that suggests they're a happy-go-lucky group of magical sprites who eat nothing but music. Their bio on the Matador site, which is a handwritten, scanned-in text by core members Rachel "Rabob" Hughes and Nathan "Nabob" Shineywater asserts, "the majority of this recording was completed without a permanent shelter É we make a deliberate attempt to be indigenous to the Earth nearby, away from city babylons." The two native Alabamans mostly make their home in rural Northern California and play, with a rotating cast of friends and coconspirators, music so ghostly and forest-creature gentle, so pastoral, that it in itself is a pretty good argument against city Babylons. The ethereal flute that weaves through the lush mist of hushed vocals, gospel handclaps and warm, soulful keyboards on "Everybody Daylight," a track on their self-titled June release on Matador, is the sonic equivalent of a bird gliding through morning fog over an old-growth forest. It's an utterly organic sound, and wholly authentic — as if Matador, like a 21st-century Alan Lomax, had stumbled on Brightblack and captured their untouched-by-pop magic. With emergent indie-folk songstress and occasional Brightblack member Mariee Sioux. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock

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