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What to Know Before You Go


Jo "Cool" Davis 5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 25
Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave., 670-2520;

The Trinity Artist Series continues with two of the most prominent gospel acts in New Orleans performing a Christmas concert. Many know Davis as the burly, genial emcee for shows at Tipitina's, but he is also a regular performer in the Gospel Tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He is the sort of character New Orleans seems to specialize in, eccentric enough to drive around town with his name on the side of his van, but talented enough to back it up with a warm, powerful voice. He will perform his material accompanied by pianist Cordell Chambliss. Albinas Prizgintas will perform Christmas music along with by the likes of John Lennon and Charles Brown. Those looking for insight into gospel's past, incidentally, will want to read Peter Guralnick's latest book, Dream Boogie , a biography of Sam Cooke. Guralnick's accounts of Cooke's days with the Highway QCs and the Soul Stirrers show where the mayhem in Jazz Fest's Gospel Tent comes from. Free admission. — Alex Rawls



Fred LeBlanc
10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 25
Carrollton Station, 8140 Willow St., 865-9190;

Fred LeBlanc doesn't experience subtle emotions, or if he does, he keeps them to himself. When he has something to say, he doesn't pussyfoot around; he bellows it out, often followed by a resounding, half-sung, half-spoken, "Are you with me?" That phrase is one of the keys to LeBlanc's success as singer and drummer for Cowboy Mouth. From the beginning, LeBlanc has implied that the band and the audience are together, and he has worked to make the crowd as much a part of the show as the band itself. At the "Joyful Noise" benefit recently, he had people dancing and singing along though he was alone, playing an acoustic guitar with the same sort of raw attack he brings to drumming. The result probably sounds as close to rock 'n' roll as you can get with one guitar, and his version of "My Way" was almost rockabilly with his train rhythm strumming. These days, LeBlanc's shows have had an added vitality as he turned a three-month tour — forced by Hurricane Katrina — into a 90-day celebration of New Orleans, culminating in a cathartic performance Halloween weekend at the Voodoo Music Experience. Call club for cover. — Rawls


Reveillion dinners
Through December
Begue's, Royal Sonesta, 300 Bourbon St., 553-2278; Bacco, 310 Chartres St., 522-2426;

With all eyes turned to the recovery and resilence of local traditions after Katrina, locals have an opportunity this holiday season to indulge in and support a New Orleans tradition that has already been rescued from the dustbin of history. Reveillon dinners, once an extravagant Christmas Eve meal taken by Creole families in their homes after midnight mass, had fallen into virtual obsolesence until the nonprofit French Quarter Festivals Inc. organization revived them in the 1990s. In their modern incarnation, Reveillon dinners are still extravagant meals, though now they are offered by local restaurants during December as multi-course fix prixe affairs. Only a handful of restaurants are serving Reveillon meals this season, down from dozens in years past, but they still represent a diverse range of contemporary and more traditional New Orleans restaurants each putting their own stamp on the revived tradition. At some restaurants, these meals present great values, and in all cases they set a special, celebratory atmosphere for a holiday gathering of friends. Enjoy these meals, support local restaurants and participate in a unique slice of New Orleans culinary tradition. For an updated list of participating restaurants and the available menus, visit www. frenchquarterfestivals.comIan McNulty


Marva Wright's Christmas Party
8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 25
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Blues singer Marva Wright returns with her seventh annual Christmas night party at Tipitina's, and this year's show is appropriately subtitled, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." The Charles Brown classic is one of the blues' great contributions to Christmas music, and its lyric seems particularly apt this year. Wright's Christmas party this year features guests such as Charmaine Neville, Rockin' Dopsie Jr., Davell Crawford, Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Irvin Mayfield, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Jo "Cool" Davis, Benny Turner and Veda Love — all taking their turn at the Christmas music songbook. Christmas music suits Wright's talents particularly well, as it gives her an occasion to indulge the gospel and jazz in her background as well as the blues. Hymns and secular Christmas songs provide a body of sturdy melodies that have inspired artists to see what they could do with them since the late 1930s, so Wright is part of a proud tradition. Last year, New Orleanians Greg Barnhill and Will Robinson wrote Christmas Gumbo , an album of Louisiana-themed Christmas songs, and Wright's smoldering "Stocking Full of Love" was one of the highlights. As New Orleanians continue in their hunger for any form of local music, it is events like these that resonate more deeply than others, and the seasonal theme just makes it that much more welcome an event. It also features many musicians who have been ubiquitous in the post-K scene, particularly the Wolfman, whom we've long known has the energy to play all over town regardless of the time or place. Also, Mayfield has more than fulfilled his duties as New Orleans' cultural ambassador while dealing with his grief. Season's greetings, indeed. Cover $10. — Rawls

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click to enlarge DAVID LEE SIMMONS
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