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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

MUSIC

Summer Music Camp with Washboard Chaz Blues Trio
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fri., July 7
Big Top, 1638 Clio St., 569-2700; www.3rcp.com

The latest in the 3 Ring Circus Arts Education Center's summer series features New Orleans favorite Washboard Chaz scraping the blues to educate local youngsters on their hometown sound. The series, which has events every other Friday, has so far featured nontraditionally kid-friendly acts like a Coasters rhythm-and-blues sing-along, with guests including the Soul Rebels Brass Band still to come. Parents can repair to the cash bar while the munchkins sing, play and take advantage of the arts-and-crafts table. It's a great way to get kids started on an appreciation of good music. the simple beats and engaging narratives of traditional blues and rock 'n' roll are friendly to small ears, and hopefully on the next long drive, the voice from the backseat will be putting in requests for rock instead of Raffi. Next, they'll be asking for free jazz and John Cage. Tickets free for kids/3 Ring Circus members, $5 for nonmembers. — Alison Fensterstock

STAGE

Three on the Edge
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., July 7-8; 2 p.m. Sun. July 9; Through July 16
Marigny Theater, 1020 Marigny St., 361-8273

Dennis Monn directs three one-act plays, including one he authored, about or touching on issues of gay identity. While the opening piece, Mister Charles Currently of Palm Beach is a campy, slapstick riff about a radio program host fielding calls, the two longer pieces are more serious dramas. The Madness of Lady Bright by Lanford Wilson is a profile of a New York transvestite in the '60s who tried to find love from her closeted corner of the city. Monn's play Corn Bread is about an eccentric grandmother who prepares a grand meal for a visiting son and grandson who then leave her with a hitchhiker they picked up along the way. Estranged from her family, she paints a portrait of her life that doesn't meet the eye. "I like these two pieces together," Monn says. "They both look at profiles of lonely women." Next month, he'll present a production of Corn Bread at the Fringe Festival in Minnesota. Tickets $15. — Will Coviello

MUSIC

Octastival with Big Blue Marble, The Tomatoes, The Fantastic Ooze, The City Life, The Transmission
9 p.m. Fri., July 7
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net

Why is it called the Octastival? Because the Fantastic Ooze's whimsical, invented band history involves a magical octopus named Octastic. That said, this is a five-band blowout of local indie rock headlined by Big Blue Marble, which bring well-crafted, thoughtful indie-pop in the vein of the Walkmen that we're all surprised hasn't been on The O.C. by now. The Tomatoes play bouncy garage rock that, while guttural and funny, somehow contains absolutely no menace but is highly danceable, as is the excitable yelping of the Ooze's electronic rock. (The Ooze has moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, since the storm, where they will surely catch on, but will be surrounded by bands that sound exactly like them.) The Transmission, a speedy electro-garage outfit from Lafayette that rocks in skinny black suits with a great debt to space-alien robot bands like Man or Astroman? and Servotron, provides a fine soundtrack for jumping on a pogo stick. Also with the City Life, a clean, well-produced outfit that draws heavily from the same well as recent U.K. popsters like Franz Ferdinand. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock

EVENTS

Go 4th on the River
1 p.m. to 9 p.m. fireworks show
French Quarter and downtown riverfront; www.go4thontheriver.com

Add Independence Day to the list of festivals for which New Orleans is putting its best foot forward. Though it has become a regular expectation locally, the annual Riverfront fireworks show from dueling barges is one of the largest Fourth of July pyrotechnic shows in the nation. A soundtrack for the fireworks, including Louis Armstrong's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," will be simulcast on WWL 870 AM and Magic 101.9 FM. Go 4th on the River, the daylong event, sponsored by various riverfront attractions and corporate sponsors, is also hosting a Parade of Heroes this year. The parade was initiated last year, and this summer it is dedicated to Katrina's first responders and military service personnel in Iraq and has grown to include fire companies from across the state. The procession also will include several Mardi Gras floats and brass bands and march from Elysian Fields Avenue at Decatur Street across the French Quarter to the bottom of Canal Street. During the day, there is free music along the Riverfront from Dutch Alley (1 p.m.-3 p.m.) to Spanish Plaza at Riverwalk (3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.), where Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, The Topcats and The Bucktown Allstars will play. Mardi Gras World is hosting music at its West Bank dens from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. The parade begins at 6 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. — Coviello

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