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A&E Feature

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The Meat Puppets with Built to Spill 8
8 p.m. Tue., March 4
Howlin' Wolf, 907 S. Peters St., 522-WOLF

Arizona's Meat Puppets are riding a renaissance that proves the '90s underground stars have more than endured— in spite of two decades of addiction and acrimony. Its eclectic, genre-defying blend of hardcore crunch and punked-out country earned the Puppets a moment of mainstream stardom opening for Nirvana on MTV's Unplugged in 1993. The much-lauded recent release Rise to Your Knees shows a creative resilience rarely matched in the tumultuous world of rock. Sharing the bill is another indie-rock survivor, the seminal Boise, Idaho, group Built to Spill (pictured). Singer/guitarist Doug Martsch has constructed a hall-of-fame career by going against the grain — a fiercely independent artist plying his trade on the most major of labels (Warner Bros.). He's a ratchet-tight songwriter with a tendency to wander into expansive, circuitous solos. You in Reverse , the group's sixth studio album, has a winning mix of manic guitar melody ("Goin' Against Your Mind") and lovely melancholia ("Just a Habit"). Helvetia also opens. The show is a benefit for Common Ground collective. Tickets $15. — Alison Fensterstock and Noah Bonaparte Pais


Blue Cheer
9 p.m. Sat., March 8
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361;

The West Coast trio Blue Cheer is something of a patient zero of rock, infecting dozens if not hundreds of bands that followed with the seeds of what would become heavy metal, grunge and punk. Formed in 1966, the group injected California's gently trippy garage-band scene with an amped-up blend of chaotic, titanium-heavy blues-based guitar that continues to echo through American music. It spread well before the similar distortion and aggression of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath reached American soil. Named for a particularly potent blend of LSD circulating in the Bay Area, the power trio made its mark with a bombastic 1968 cover of Eddie Cochran's petulant teen anthem "Summertime Blues," spiked with psychedelia and bubbling with raw power. With a few lineup changes and sporadic releases over the past 30 years, the band has never quite faded away. The 2007 release What Doesn't Kill You proves that it can still scorch a stage. Suplecs and the Giraffes open. Tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door. — Alison Fensterstock




Born Ruffians
10 p.m. Mon., March 10
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361;

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to quarrel over the merits and maladies of North American free trade, rock fans in the United States have no such qualms. For years, the major metropolises of our neighbor to the north have taken turns supplying new waves of superlative bands for stateside consumption: first Vancouver (Destroyer, New Pornographers, Black Mountain), then Montreal (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade), now Toronto (Broken Social Scene, Stars, Tokyo Police Club). Ontario's freshest export, Born Ruffians, is a three-piece guitar/bass/drums throwback whose February debut LP, Red, Yellow & Blue (Warp), crackles with youthful energy and unstudied exuberance. On caffeinated gang chorales like "Barnacle Goose," "I Need a Life" and the rollicking romp "Kurt Vonnegut," the Ruffians shout hooks at each other with gleeful abandon over hammerhead guitar lines and jitterbug rhythms played like a trio of teenagers who just made off with the family car full of their parents' instruments. The Edmonton, Alberta, hip-hop crew Cadence Weapon opens. Tickets $10. — Noah Bonaparte Pais




SweetArts Ball 9
9 p.m.-midnight Sat., March 8
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800;

Everyone is a rock star. Even you. That idea either comes from Andy Warhol or X-Box marketing, but it's part of the premise of the Contemporary Arts Center's SweetArts Ball "Paper Scissors Rockstar." Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews (pictured) and his band Orleans Avenue headline the event. Partygoers can get on video with their own virtual groups via Rock Band, the X-Box gaming system (which will be raffled at the end of the evening). The rider for this event includes a full compliment of cocktails — some served via ice luge — and beverages from 360 Vodka, Bonterra Vineyards, Republic Beverage and Coolbrew Coffee. Food is provided by Cochon, Herbsaint, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, Food Art, 7 on Fulton, New Orleans Ice Cream and Palate. The ball honors six foundations that have supported New Orleans' art community since Katrina including the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, the Getty Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Lord and Taylor/2007 SweetArts Katrina Fund and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation. Cabaret singer Anais St. John entertains at the honorees reception (7:30 p.m.-9 p.m.). Party tickets $100 CAC members, $150 general admission, $250-up for reception and party. — Will Coviello


They Might Be Giants
8 p.m. Fri., March 7
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Photo by Susan Anderson The enduring oddballs John Flansburgh and John Linnell have been cheerfully playing and recording pop rock 'n' roll infused with their patently quirky sense of humor for 25 years. Their endearingly dorky vocals and rather sly songwriting have made a quarter-century's worth of bizarre and sometimes nonsensical topics — like hats and metal detectors — achieve a punk rock sensibility, at least conceptually. Their latest, and 12th, studio release, The Else , is another collection of reliably whimsical, cartoonish songs that are cheerfully off-kilter and almost surprisingly smart and fresh. Having used available technology early on for unconventional music distribution — their "Dial-A-Song" service offered callers a new tune daily for years — it's not surprising that they've been taking advantage of the Internet and its possibilities, practically since the first pixel flickered, with popular audio and video podcasts released weekly. Oppenheimer opens. Tickets $21. — Fensterstock




Gotty Boi Chris with Ratty Scurvics' Singularity
9:30 p.m. Fri., March 7
Dragon's Den, 435 Esplanade Ave., 949-1750

Although New Orleans' grassroots rap scene flourishes, up-and-coming hip-hop artists rarely gig at established rock venues, often making it difficult to catch new performers until they've reached Lil Wayne proportions. This show is a unique example of genre cross-pollination, featuring two downtown artists whose styles couldn't appear more different: rising Blackhouse Entertainment recording artist Gotty Boi Chris (pictured), whose upbeat club-style rap is a direct descendant of '90s bounce originators, albeit with a little more studio sophistication, and the ever-experimental Ratty Scurvics, whose frenetic keyboard explorations are half performance art and half dance-floor fuel. The match-up may have some method to its madness. Both Gotty and Ratty bring high-energy beats and repetitive, simple lyrics intended to fire up a party, and both are likely to be joined by a rotating cast of friends and neighbors. DJ Rusty Lazer fills in the blanks between sets. Tickets $5. — Fensterstock




John Ellis and Double Wide
8 p.m. & 10 p.m., Sat., March 8
Snug Harbor, 626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696;

Although he now lives in Brooklyn, Saxophonist John Ellis has a history with New Orleans. He was one of the first members of Galactic Prophylactic, the band that birthed Galactic, as well as a constant presence gigging on the scene. He also spent six-and-a-half years touring with guitarist Charlie Hunter. Running around the jamband scene, however, has not lessened his jazz chops in the least. His new record, Dance Like There's No Tomorrow , is serious music, but there is a sense of whimsy and good-natured fun to it — whether it's the titles of tunes like "3 Legged Tango in Jackson Square" and "Zydeco Clowns on the Lam," or the way the combination of Matt Perrine's sousaphone, Gary Versace's Hammond B-3 and Jason Marsalis' percussion keep the beat bopping. Ellis' saxophone playing has a versatile sound from blustery rhythm-and-blues motifs to lovely melodic solos, but he and the band never sound like they are having anything less than a rip-roaring time. Tickets $20. — David Kunian


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