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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

STAGE

Pippin
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., July 27-29; 2 p.m. Sun., July 30
Tulane University, Brandt Dixon Performing Arts Center, 865-5269

Life isn't easy for a young college graduate like Pippin. In the absurdly embellished fairy tale of a musical, Pippin , the hero is born a prince to the monarch Charlemagne but still finds himself embarking on an earnest search for greater meaning, happiness and a life of his choosing. With a careerÐobsessed father (fighting wars in Europe) and a meddling mother (hoping for Charlemagne's demise so she can marry a new king), Pippin sets out, not so much on his own, but with a stage full of theatricals trying to tell his otherwise humble tale. Having exhausted the promises of knowledge at the university, he casts about seeking fulfillment in work, sex and politics. All the while, he is prodded on by the Leading Player, who knows every drama demands a spectacular conclusion. The story is buoyed by an energized, Oscar-winning score by composer Stephen Schwartz. Pippin concludes Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre's 2006 season. Ed Kresley directs James Martin, Pearce Wegener, Randy Cheramie, Kenrick Goode, Elizabeth Argus, Mildred Hong and Lisa Anslemo. Tickets $25-32. — Will Coviello

MUSIC

Bram Riddlebarger and his Lonesome Band
10 p.m. Thu., July 27
Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616

Bram Riddlebarger's band is lonesome in the most technical of senses; it is, in fact, a one-man band consisting of Riddlebarger, a guitar, hi-hat and kick drum, and that's all she wrote. He's best known as the keening, grizzled-sounding vocalist for the Athens, Ohio, neo-hillbilly band the Wailin' Elroys. As the Lonesome Band, Riddlebarger stays in the same general neck of the woods, but solo, his sound is amped-up and fuzzed-out, resulting in a slightly more menacing, garage-rock effect. Traditional country is still his base element, but augmented with the kind of dirt-road, hardscrabble punk-rock rawness that works great for one-man bands like Texas' Scott H. Biram or New Orleans' own King Louie. The Lonesome Band just released an album in May, Detonation Combination (Redtail Records), packed with hollow, lo-fi, bluesy tracks with names like "Pain & Sin" and "Streptococcus Boogie." Expect a night of hard sounds and potentially harder drinking. Ghostwriter, a spare, gothy country one-man band from Austin, opens. Tickets $5. — Alison Fensterstock

MUSIC

The Church
8 p.m. Sat., July 29
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

In the late '80s, The Church scored for the first and only time on the Top 40 with "Under The Milky Way." The group has been going strong since then with their brand of shimmery, ethereal guitar rock; its latest album, Uninvited Like the Clouds (Cooking Vinyl) just dropped earlier this year. Their dreamy, psychedelia-based sound often wandered onto the experimental side but usually managed to remain accessible, as well as interesting. Making complex musical explorations lovely and listenable, even catchy, takes a lot of chops, and this is a band that audibly thinks as well as rocks. This tour, billed as "intimate," is an all-acoustic venture from an act whose sound, for the most part, depended on the electric. With 20 years of successful experiments behind them, though, you can be reasonably sure that it'll be more than just "unplugged." Rob Dickinson opens, performing songs from his seminal band the Catherine Wheel as well as off last year's solo debut, Fresh Wine for the Horses (Sanctuary). Tickets $18. — Fensterstock

MUSIC

Harry Merry
10 p.m. Mon., July 31
Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616

To navigate Harry Merry's Web site is a visit to extreme oddness, but also earnest hospitality. The Dutch organist has written up a long and enthusiastic bio in English-as-a-second-language that's positively fascinating: "You may ask yourself  — who is Harry Merry? Harry tells you himself: "Dear visitor! May I please introduce myself to you? My name is Harry Merry, songwriter and entertainer.'" And an entertainer he is, indeed. Standing well over 6 feet, bearish with a shoulder-length Prince Valiant haircut and often dressed in a choir robe, Harry Merry sings and plays charming flights of whimsy that veer between a childish toy-piano sound and deliberate moments of atonality with lyrics in clipped and precise English. Songs like "Rock and Roll Postman," "Moody Bus-Driver" and "Village Life in 1905" paint slightly off-kilter, weirdly complete little pictures. Fans of local experimental sounds will note that Merry frequently joins Ninth Ward organ-and-puppet purveyors Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat on tour. Merry's storytelling style actually has a lot in common with Quintron's, in which both use unlikely images to evoke vivid stories that you might not have thought of telling in the first place. The Microshards and local psychedelic space-rockers Bipolaroid (featuring the Junior League's Joe Adragna on drums) open. Also featuring DJ Pasta and Mr. Quintron, freshly back from his summer tour, spinning records. Tickets $5. — Fensterstock

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