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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

MUSIC

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
9 p.m. Wed., Sept. 13
The Parish at the House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

Ted Leo is a graduate cum laude of the new associations the word "punk" accumulated in the '90s. He's best known for membership in the Washington, D.C., Minor Threat-era band Chisel, when the birth of the do-it-yourself aesthetic created punks who were earnest, vegan and Xeroxed their own fanzines about it. After a playful, sample-filled solo record, he formed the Pharmacists and signed to Lookout! Records, the Berkeley label that gave us the manic, cheerful pop-punk of bands like Green Day. The Pharmacists, in recent years, have become mainstream-media indie-label darlings, and it's easy to see why; almost every song is a bouncy, hook-filled romp with lyrics that are just disaffected enough. You can easily hear the influence from bands like Mission of Burma and the Jam, but the Pharmacists are somehow friendlier, cleaner and less threatening. Their latest album, Shake the Sheets on new label Touch and Go/Quarterstick, brings more tidily packaged anthems for sweater-wearing emo kids to nod their heads vigorously to. With Rotary Downs. Tickets $10. — Alison Fensterstock

EVENTS

Louisiana Children's Museum's 20th Birthday
11 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 16
420 Julia St., 523-1357; www.lcm.org

The Lousiana Children's Museum will never be too old to play. Kids can enjoy an extra special day at the hands-on playland's 20th birthday party. Special entertainment for the party includes singer Theresa Andersson, Adella the Story Teller, Jo-Jo the Clown making balloon animals and performing magic, and Frank Levy presenting an interactive history of the museum. At 3 p.m., the Cat in the Hat will lead a second-line parade through the museum, which will conclude with the birthday song and complimentary birthday cake. Other festivities include face painting, party games, karaoke and arts and crafts. The museum's current special exhibit features Dr. Seuss in all sorts of interactive games and oddities celebrating famous Seuss characters and stories like Green Eggs and Ham . The museum has educational play activities for toddlers up through age 10. In the wake of Katrina, the children's museum has had a child psychologist on site available to talk with parents, and there is expanded programming emphasizing New Orleans' cultural heritage. Tickets $7, free 12 months and younger. — Will Coviello

MUSIC

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 16
New Orleans Convention Center Theater, 900 Convention Center Blvd., 523-6530; www.lpomusic.com

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra raises the curtain on its 2006-07 season under the direction of Carlos Miguel Prieto, one of North America's most exciting new conductors. The program for opening night includes Stravinsky's Rite of Spring , De Falla's El Amor Brujo and Tomas Marco's Apoteosis del Fandango , featuring soloist mezzo soprano Lucille Beer. Opening night even includes complimentary champagne during intermission. The Mexican-born, Ivy League-educated Prieto has served as musical director of Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, Mexico's oldest orchestra, and will have a busy year making appearances with many American symphonies and debuting with the Budapest Symphony. In 2002, he was voted Mexico's conductor of the year by the national musician's union. The LPO is looking forward to a full and diverse 16th season, performing classical, pops, casual dress and outdoor concerts in five parishes, and doing performances with orchestras from New York and elsewhere as a continuation of relationships developed last year in the wake of Katrina. Former conductor Klauspeter Seibel is scheduled to return for several guest appearances. The LPO will perform primarily at the Convention Center Theater and First Baptist Church this year. Tickets $25-$65. — Coviello

MUSIC

Calexico
10 p.m. Mon., Sept. 18
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net

Tucson natives Calexico have always, even through a pretty diverse decadelong career, been relied upon for a sound that, like the desert, is somehow spare and sweeping all at once. The duo at the band's core, Joey Burns and John Convertino, was, along with Howe Gelb, part of the seminal Americana group Giant Sand for more than a decade. That band was remarkable for its blurred boundaries, making albums and performing with so many guest artists — including Lucinda Williams, Neko Case and Vic Chesnutt — that it's hard to tell whether it's a discrete rock group or some kind of sprawling art project. When Calexico branched off in 1996, the vital experimental vibe stayed, and the group's recordings have wandered all over the place according to the whims of members' influences. The tinge of Southwestern flavor and whispery, echoing vocals — ‡ la Ennio Morricone's minimalist, surreal take on the frontier — have been reasonably constant. It's blended disparate elements like mariachis and hushed guitar to create a sound that's tear-jerkingly empty and beautiful, and conjures the American West better than Ken Burns. Calexico's latest, Garden Ruin (Quarterstick), turns up the rock in a way that will surprise longtime fans with bright steel guitars, upbeat tempos and even — shock — time spent in the major keys. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock

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