July 3-6 | Prince (pictured) headlines Essence Festival at the Superdome. The lineup includes Lionel Richie, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, Nas, The Roots, Ledisi, Charlie Wilson, Kourtney Heart and others. There also is a full slate of speeches by political leaders, writers and empowerment speakers at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Fri. July 4 | The grandson of legendary Creole musician Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin, Chris Ardoin is part of generation of zydeco musicians incorporating hip-hop and reggae. At 10 p.m. at d.b.a.
Fri. July 4 | Montreal's Ought practices the kind of anxious, youthful burning and disjointed guitar riffing of bands like The Feelies and Gang of Four. On its debut album, April's More than Any Other Day, the band seems ready to explode at any moment from the opener "Pleasant Heart" to the album's single "The Weather Song," which bounces along with a catchy keyboard line. Dub Thompson opens at 9 p.m. at Gasa Gasa.
Sat. July 5 | Saxophonist, creator of nouveau swing, jazz educator and Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Donald Harrison leads his quintet at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Snug Harbor.
Sat. July 5 | The co-founder of seminal Philadelphia hip-hop outfit The Roots got a promotion along with the rest of his crew when the Late Night house band followed Jimmy Fallon to The Tonight Show earlier this year. Quest — also a producer and culture critic (a series of provocative essays for New York Magazine's Vulture website about "how hip-hop failed black America") — performs a DJ set. DJ Soul Sister opens at 11 p.m. at Tipitina's.
Sat. July 5 | Songwriter Mike Patton (no, not that one) performs material from his longtime New Orleans bubblegum pop-punk band The Robinsons (think sweet-boy harmony sing-alongs to Ramones songs about Chalmatian romance). Richard Bates opens at 9 p.m. at Circle Bar.