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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

MUSIC

Chris Isaak
8 p.m. Tue., Sept. 5
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

Chris Isaak's clean, California-style retro-rock got catapulted into the public consciousness in 1990, when David Lynch put his hushed, moody ballad "Wicked Game" into the masterpiece Americana nightmare Wild at Heart . The Herb Ritts-directed video, which had Isaak rolling around on a beach in arty black-and-white with model Helena Christensen and her naked boobs, helped make the song a top-10 hit. His particular brand of rockabilly-influenced vintage cool draws heavily from Roy Orbison, with his emphasis on minor key and choking-back-a-sob baritone. He lives in San Francisco, so it's probably not a surprise that his surf-Western sound hearkens back to Blasters-era Dave Alvin and the West Coast rockabilly/roots revival sound of the '80s. This tour is in support of the recently released Best Of Chris Isaak album, which includes favorites like the creepy-sexy "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" (which was maybe the best thing about the 1999 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman film Eyes Wide Shut ) as well as bonus tracks, covers of Orbison's "Only the Lonely" and Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me." Tickets $45. — Alison Fensterstock

 

 

MUSIC

Rob Wagner
8 and 10 p.m., Thu. Sept. 7
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, 636 Frenchmen St., 949-0696; www.snugjazz.com

Over the years, certain musicians have taken to certain clubs and made them not only their homes but their studios, where lucky patrons can hear art being made right before their ears: Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan's, Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf and Alex McMurray at Circle Bar. Jazzman Rob Wagner has done this, but it's not simply a club where he plays but all over Frenchmen Street in assorted bands including the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, the New Thing and Los Vecinos. Heis performances have ranged from late-night gigs at the Dragon's Den on one end of the street to his pre-flood Monday night residency at d.b.a. to an occasional swinging party at Snug Harbor on the other end. Wagner has been living in New York since Katrina, but has come back for gigs and sessions. His playing has become more lyrical and yet also more muscular as his latest CD, Lost Children (Valid) attests. The melodies are pretty but never mundane and the way his band plays together and listens to each other is a beautiful thing consistent with the best traits of jazz. Tickets $10. — David Kunian

 

 

STAGE

Fences
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Sept. 8-9; 3 p.m. Sun., Sept. 10; through Sept. 30
Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-7529; www.anthonybeantheater.com

In August Wilson's Fences , Troy Maxson and his son Cory battle over his future in a changing pre-Civil Rights America. Although he played professional baseball in the negro leagues, Troy became a garbage man to bring in a steady paycheck and support his family. Now that Cory sees a future pursuing football, he and his father don't see eye to eye on what the right thing is for a man to do. But Troy's life is complicated; he's tested his own marriage by having children with other women, and he's trying to guide his family in spite of his own mistakes. Fences won four Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize when it debuted in New York in 1987. It's one of the installments in Wilson's series of dramas about African-American life, all set in Pittsburgh —Êexcept Ma Rainey's Black Bottom , which takes place in Chicago — but during a different decade of the 20th century. Wilson died last October, but left a legacy of landmark plays including The Piano Lesson , Joe Turner's Come and Gone and Jitney . Tickets $16, $14 students/seniors. — Will Coviello

 

 

STAGE

L'imitation of Life
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Sept. 8-9; 2 p.m. Sun., Sept 10; through Oct. 1
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812: www.cabaretlechatnoir.com or www.NOrunningwithscissors.com

If you imitate an imitation enough times, sooner or later you arrive at L'imitation of Life . Or that's what Running With Scissors has done in adapting an adaptation of the movie Imitation of Life , the 1957 version starring Lana Turner, which was an adulteration of the original 1934 version of Imitation of Life starring Claudette Colbert. This homage to Lana Turner's lavish presence in a story not really all about glamour features Ricky Graham as the Hollywood grand dame. True to the Turner film, the costumes are glorious, but could jewels and bright lights really gloss over a story about racial difference. Turner played a would-be starlet whose career is on the rise at the same time she takes in Annie, who is black, and her daughter Sara Jane, whose skin color is nearly white. As Sara grows older, she wants to pass for white, which has absolutely nothing to do with Lana Turner, which marked the film as an anachronistic bid by director Douglas Sirka to do something more befitting the 1940s-style of star-turn films for Hollywood divas. A particular camp ensues in this version as Graham is joined by Dorian Rush, Donald Lewis, Brian Peterson, Jack Long and others. The Friday night opening is hosted by the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon. Call 525-4498 for tickets to that show only. Tickets $25 (includes $5 bar credit). — Coviello

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