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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

WORDS

Richard Ford & John Biguenet
7 p.m. Thu., March 16
Loyola University, Roussel Hall, 865-2011; www.loyola.edu

Loyola University hosts two award-winning authors with New Orleans connections for the second part of its Renewal Series, the goal of which is to examine the past and current state of the rich cultural heritage of our city. Richard Ford, who won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel Independence Day, is a former resident of New Orleans. John Biguenet, a Loyola alum and current Robert Hunter Distinguished Professor of English, is author of The Torturer's Apprentice, a collection of short stories, and Oyster, a novel. Ford and Biguenet will discuss the pre- and post-Katrina literary landscape of New Orleans. The Aspen Institute, (whose goal it is to foster "enlightened leadership" and "timeless values" through open-minded, non-partisan inquiry) and Tulane, Dillard and Xavier Universities are co-sponsors of the Renewal Series. A book signing will follow the discussion. Free and open to the public. — Katie Walenter


MUSIC

The Moaners
10 p.m. Thu., March 16
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361

In Trailer Bride, vocalist and guitarist Melissa Swingle put the signature stamp on the group's spooky, alt-country sound with a mournful Mississippi twang straight out of Tobacco Road . With her new duo act, partnered up with the hard-as-nails support of veteran punk drummer Laura King's spare, deliberate beats, the stripped-down effect is, if possible, even blacker and more foreboding. As rurally Southern as a bottle tree, the Moaners wail their way through a slow, dark landscape that gives equal props in lyrics to iconic Southern Gothic writer Flannery O'Connor and pioneering acoustic blueswoman Elizabeth Cotton, as well as riffing on "House of the Rising Sun" in the track "Paradise Club." With plenty of slide guitar and heartwrenching vocals that stop just this side of keening, the Moaners inhabit the folk blues so wholly, authentically and darkly that if you closed your eyes, you could swear you were standing at a crossroads on a moonless night. With Year Long Disaster. Tickets $10. — Alison Fensterstock


MUSIC

Mark Feldman Quartet
8 p.m. Sat., March 18
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 210-0224; www.cacno.org

One by one, they're crawling back into our consciousness; the big and small, the old and new, the one-night stands and the ongoing series. We count our cultural comeback moments as they come, knowing that after a week, a month, a season, they add up. The Contemporary Arts Center — like so many of us, working at reduced staffing and availability — takes a nice step forward on Saturday with the return of the Uptown/Downtown Series showcasing some of the most talked-about musical artists around. The Mark Feldman Quartet features the renowned violinist in concert with pianist Neil Kirkwood, bassist Drew Gress on bass and drummer Tom Rainey. And there's a twist: The night kicks off with CAC Executive Director Jay Weigel presenting a premiere of Violin Concerto No. 2 for Feldman, followed by a showcase of Feldman's material from his upcoming release. And more. Feldman will present a master class on Thursday at NOCCA/Riverfront as part of the National Performance Network Residency Program. Tickets for this performance, held in the Freeport-McMoRan Theater, are $20 general admission, $15 CAC members. — David Lee Simmons



MUSIC

Pete Fountain, with Cynthia Owen
9 p.m. Sat., March 18
Harrah's Casino New Orleans, 365 Canal St., 830-3478

The Big Easy Awards Foundation, working in conjunction with the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education, each year was responsible for both the Big Easy Entertainment Awards (celebrating achievement in music and theater) and the Tribute to the Classical Arts Luncheon). And, like some of our other favorite, red-letter dates of the social/entertainment season, Hurricane Katrina provided a nasty, wet little slap in the face that will force these events to take a year's hiatus and regroup for 2007. But that doesn't mean the music has to stop; in New Orleans, we've learned even a force of nature can't do that. And we can't think of a better way to celebrate that lovely need for sound than with one of the great living legends, clarinetist Pete Fountain. The 1998 Big Easy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is associated with some of the great pop-culture icons of the past half-century, having performed with Louis Armstrong, Lawrence Welk and Harry James, enjoying a 13-year reign as the No. 1 jazz clarinetist in the Playboy readers' poll, performing on countless network-TV specials, and even earning a gold record for his version of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." Carrying on a New Orleans instrumental tradition that traces its roots back to Sidney Bechet and continues with acolytes such as Tim Laughlin, Fountain is truly one of the great New Orleans ambassadors, so it's a special treat to hear him perform with his band and guest Cynthia Owen. Tickets to this benefit concert are $30 general admission, $50 VIP seating. — Simmons

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