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A&E Feature

What to Know Before You Go


Yonder Mountain String Band
9 p.m. Tue., Feb. 5
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before the long, fiery string instrumentals that heat up traditional bluegrass tunes started to earn notice in the folk-friendly jamband arena, where lengthy, complex sonic explorations by technical virtuosos from Les Claypool to the Mars Volta are much prized for their improvisational prowess. The Colorado-based Yonder Mountain String Band rocks its traditional instrumentation of mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar and upright bass from a classically solid launchpad way into the stratosphere, and that has attracted legions of fans on the jam circuit. The band's self-titled 2006 release on Vanguard is a showcase for the members' willingness to experiment on a theme, with the addition of a rock drummer — Elvis Costello alum Pete Thomas — and extended, fuzzed-out mandolin feedback. It's a psychedelic hayride that would have Bill Monroe scratching his head but stomping his boot just the same. Tickets $18.50. — Alison Fensterstock




Van Halen
8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 8
New Orleans Arena, 1501 Girod St., 587-3663

Hair metal fans everywhere have been pumping devil horns in the air ever since reports of this tour — a Van Halen reunion featuring the return of frontman David Lee Roth — hit the wires. The Southern California-formed band enjoyed more than a decade of hard rock supremacy that started in the mid-'70s and nearly survived the grunge era, though the stress of controversy-laden departures by both Roth and his successor, Sammy Hagar, eventually put the band up on blocks. The balance between the goofy flamboyance of Roth (which raged out of control during his '80s solo career — remember "Just a Gigolo"?) and Eddie Van Halen's astounding technical chops garnered them a nation of fans. Ultimately, the creative tension between the ebullient ham and the serious guitar wizard led to Roth's 1985 departure, just a year after the release of the band's commercial apex, 1984 , which contained the pole-dancing classic "Hot for Teacher." Teenage Wolfgang Van Halen, progeny of Eddie and Valerie Bertinelli, has taken over the bass chair. Tickets $47.50-$147.50. — Fensterstock




Gabriel Alegria Sextet
8 & 10 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Feb. 9-10
Snug Harbor, 626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696;

Well-known Peruvian jazz composer and trumpeter Gabriel Alegria returns to New Orleans for his second visit, on the heels of his latest album, Nuevo Mundo , which was released in mid-January. In translation, the title is entirely appropriate for Alegria's much-lauded sound, which combines the traditional polyrhythms of Afro-Peruvian jazz with his own distinct style. Alegria also is skilled at surrounding himself with talented friends. Nuevo Mundo features guest spots from vocalist Tierney Sutton, as well as Grammy-winning jazz luminaries Russell Ferrante and Bill Watrous. For the performance, master percussionist Freddy "Huevito" Lobaton plays traditional Afro-Peruvian instruments like the cajon (box drum) and quijada (jawbone) as well as adding episodes of zapateo dancing. Tickets $20. The late Sunday show (10 p.m.) is $15. — Fensterstock




7 p.m. Mon., Feb. 11
NOCCA|Riverfront, Lupin Hall, 2800 Chartres St., 940-2900;

In John Sayles' Honeydripper , Tyrone "Pine Top" Purvis (Danny Glover) is a piano player and club owner who's staring down mounting bills and tough competition from a bar with a jukebox across the small Alabama town where the film is set. Social change via the Civil Rights Movement is looming, but it's also an amazing period for music in the Deep South as rhythm and blues are heating up in New Orleans and rock and roll is on the horizon. Purvis has enough to worry about with his wife (Lisa Gay Hamilton) beginning to wonder if running a lounge isn't a righteous path to follow, but he decides to bring in a big-name musician from the Crescent City to try to get his customers back and pay his bills all in one night. Sayles' story is richly complicated by all the people and problems that can crop up while running a music club in a tiny, segregated Southern town, and the backdrop of black musical history of the era — from gospel to blues to rock — shows the director's typical love of authentic detail. Keb' Mo' and new young musicians appear in the picture. This is the film's local premiere and Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi will attend and participate in a question and answer forum after the screening. Tickets $15 general admission, $10 students. — Will Coviello

  • Kevin Masur
  • 2007 Emerging Pictures

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