Events » New Orleans Event Previews

A&E Feature

What to Know Before You Go


Average White Band
8 p.m. Tue., Sept. 25
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

How many people can brag that there was a moment when nothing but Cher kept them tethered to the world of the living? Average White Band guitarist Alan Gorrie can — or at least rumor has it that the curly-haired glamazon slapped him back to consciousness after a 1974 OD. (Original drummer Robbie McIntosh, who died during the same incident, wasn't so lucky — but then, drummers never are.) Gossip notwithstanding, the Scottish funk/disco outfit with the self-effacing moniker traveled from the land of kilts and golf straight to the top of the charts in the '70s on Atlantic Records, the home of bona fide American rhythm and blues legends like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. In 1977, the group even cut a whole album backing the soulful vocalist and former Drifter Ben. E. King. In the '80s and '90s, hip-hop artists from Public Enemy to Lil' Kim made heavy sampling use of tracks like "Cut the Cake" and "Schoolboy Crush," erasing any remaining doubt that a group of Scotsmen could be stuffed like a haggis with soul. Local trombone stylist Big Sam Williams — who just moved back to town after a two-year Katrina-related hiatus and a successful summer tour with Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello — and his Funky Nation open. Tickets $21. — Alison Fensterstock




10 p.m. Wed., Sept. 26
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Minneapolis-based indie rap outfit Atmosphere approaches the hip-hop game a little differently. Early on in its eight-year career, a friend published a full-length comic book chronicling the adventures of the duo through the ups and downs of Midwestern underground rap. They put out a hip-hop album on the well-known underground punk-rock label Epitaph. And with a side project, Felt, the pair released two full-length albums in total deadpan tribute to Lisa Bonet and Christina Ricci. Far from being geeked-out fan boys, though, rapper Slug and DJ/producer Ant have a laid-back, listenable sound that straddles indie rock and minimalist, old-school-style hip-hop. They've got six full-length albums under their belts, plus this summer's EP Sad Clown Bad Summer Number 9, which showcases Slug's clean, calm and collected style on the mic and Ant's judicious mixing, combining his own quirky beats with the organic sounds of a full, live rock band. Like the Midwest itself, there's plenty of room to breathe in Atmosphere's sound; it's unhurried, uncrowded and full of understated, intriguing weirdness. It's joined by alternative hip-hop contemporaries including the venomously witty Kansas City MC Mac Lethal, eerie horrorcore rap duo Grayskul and L.A. rapper Luckyiam, who delivers tricky, thoughtful lyrics over smooth-as-ice soul. Tickets $18. — Fensterstock




Rivalfest with Cowboy Mouth and Benjy Davis Project
5:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 28
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800;

In the parking lot of a West Bank strip mall last week, I saw a clever piece of merchandise for the first time: the "House Divided" Tulane and L.S.U. split-logo vanity license plate, presumably designed for families with two disagreeing sports fans but only one car. That'll be the situation on a large scale at Rivalfest 2007, a blowout tailgate party designed to ratchet up the excitement over Saturday's Green Wave-versus-Tigers football game. Thrown by a team of native New Orleanians who have put together Super Bowl parties for Maxim magazine, the party should diffuse latent tension between the two camps with diversions like an interactive sports video-game lounge with plasma TVs and an Abita beer garden offering samples of the brewery's full line of quaffables. Feel-good jam-rockers Cowboy Mouth — who have been wanting to know if you're glad to be alive for the past 20 years — top the bill. Also on tap is up-and-coming Baton Rouge college-rock act the Benjy Davis Project (pictured), a favorite on both campuses, whose fourth full-length album Dust hit the streets last week. The party takes place in the raw warehouse area behind the CAC and should spill over into the neighboring parking lot for an authentic tailgate-party feel. The event kicks off with a 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. happy hour with complimentary WOW Cafe & Wingery snacks and beverages provided by Abita for those with a VIP ticket. Tickets $25 general admission, $50 VIP. — Fensterstock




Congo Square Rhythms Festival
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun., Sept. 30
Congo Square at Armstrong Park (N. Rampart St. at St. Ann St.), 558-6100

During the era when slavery was in practice in America, Congo Square — in what's now Armstrong Park — was a spot unlike any other; it was the place where Haitian, Caribbean and African-born slaves were allowed to congregate each Sunday and play music, sing and perform the songs, dances and instruments of the countries they'd been taken from. The strange legacy — a tiny dot of freedom and music in the middle of oppression stretching hundreds of miles and hundreds of years — still imbues the spot with powerful meaning. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, fittingly, has chosen the site for a new event — a festival celebrating the contributions of Afro-Caribbean traditions to New Orleans' unique and potent cultural blend. The day starts off at St. Augustine Church in Treme (1210 Gov. Nicholls St.) with the "Amistad Mass: A Tribute to the Unknown Slave," featuring a performance by the Grammy-winning gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama. From there, the Treme Brass Band will lead a procession to the park for a ceremony blessing of the ground in Congo Square with traditional African dance and an open-to-the-public drum circle. Then, all day long, it's a party with African dance, theater and drummers on the Calinda Stage. Bamboula 2000, Big Sam's Funky Nation (Big Sam pictured), Donald Harrison Jr. and Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk will play on the Bamboula Stage. For kids, there will be storytelling, mask-making, dance and other workshops. The festival also includes food and art vendors showcasing the culinary and craft styles of Africa and the islands. Free admission. — Fensterstock


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