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What to Know Before You Go

MUSIC

Billy Joel
8 p.m. Tue., March 6
New Orleans Arena, 1501 Girod St., 587-3663

Pop troubadour Billy Joel came to prominence in the '70s, when it was au courant for songs to be about things. Through dozens of albums and several stints in rehab, he's pretty much maintained his status as a big dog, and his career has run the gamut from Long Island bar band to bona fide classical composer. His music is adult contemporary, but with his soaring, emotionally drenched balladeering, he's managed to be the baby-boom icon that was waiting for the masses when the wild '60s calmed down. Joel has ushered the boomers gently into retirement age, rocking just hard enough to assure everyone that they haven't grown up and sold out, at least not completely. For proof that he speaks to the mature side of the once rebellious, just look at the wild success of Movin' Out , the modern ballet Twyla Tharp choreographed to a selection of his songs, set in the Vietnam era. (A similar project Tharp did with the music of Bob Dylan tanked, proving it's Joel and not the still-irascible and mysterious Dylan who the boomers prefer to provide the lens with which to view their past.) And all that aside, when it comes to pure chops, he stands as one of the most talented American lyricists and composers of the 20th century. Tickets $49.50. — Alison Fensterstock

STAGE

Julius Caesar
7:30 p.m. Mon., March 12
Lupin Theatre, Tulane University, 865-5105 ext. 2; www.neworleansshakespeare.com

Photo by Caesar, Brutus and Marc Antony are coming to town. The American Shakespeare Center will stage the classic tragedy Julius Caesar in its original form, taking theatre-goers to the height of the Roman Empire for a story of revenge and deceit. When Caesar defeats his rival Pompey's sons, Rome celebrates. But important men still loyal to Pompey plot against him, engaging his best friend, Brutus, in the murderous scheme. The American Shakespeare Center (ASC), hailing from Staunton, Va., performs its repertoire as Shakespeare intended: each actor plays multiple roles and brushes with the audience in fast-moving plays with minimal props. ASC on Tour is the traveling ensemble associated with the American Shakespeare Center, its Blackfriars Playhouse and its mission to perform and educate audiences about the Bard. The cast will be at a reception following the performance. Proceeds benefit the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane. Tickets $25. — Emily Hohenwarter

MUSIC

Dexter Romweber
10:30 p.m. Mon., March 12
Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616

In the early '90s, mad guitar scientist Dexter Romweber pretty much gave birth to the rough-and-ready, roots-and-blues guitar-and-drums duo concept with the electrically charged pair the Flat Duo Jets. The group released eight albums in the '90s and fit right in on the tail end of the kind of menacing, fuzzed-up and freaked-out roots phenomenon that included the Gun Club, X and the Cramps. After the Jets split in the late '90s, Romweber continued to force blues and rockabilly to befriend punk, trash and garage solo or with other drummers in the Dexter Romweber Duo. The twist in the plot for this tour, which is sure to get longtime fans all worked up, is that the other half is Dex's sister, Sara Romweber — former drummer for the seminal '80s power-pop band Let's Active and raunchy indie-rockers Snatches of Pink. Dex's last album was 2004's crackling Blues That Defy My Soul on the consistently fine catch-all label Yep Roc Records. Rumors abound that a new project with sister Sara is in the works. Tickets $5. — Fensterstock

MUSIC

Tom McDermott and Friends' New Traditional Jazz
8 p.m. Fri., March 9
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800

The Contemporary Arts Center's "Music of New Orleans" series marches on with a very pleasing quality of booking. So far it's picked some of our most unique homegrown artists to spotlight in these intimate, theater-setting shows set in the Freeport McMoRan room. Jazz pianist Tom McDermott is a longtime local fixture who has characteristically brought an audible sense of historical awareness to his performances, whether accompanying silent movies back in the day at the now-defunct Shim Sham Club or crafting intriguing, quirky albums like his recent Brazilian-inflected Choro Do Norte , which garnered appreciative ink from both Rolling Stone and The New York Times . For this show, McDermott has gathered some of New Orleans' finest musicians and composers inlcuding Bonerama's Matt Perrine on sousaphone and bass, Rick Trolsen on trombone. Tim Laughlin brings his clarinet, Jamil Sharif (who conducted the band in the film Ray in 2004) is on trumpet and Jason Marsalis mans the drums. The sextet — all accomplished composers as well as players — have written original tunes that salute and vary on the theme of New Orleans trad-jazz. Tickets $20 general admission, $15 CAC members. — Fensterstock

click to enlarge MIKE BAILEY
  • Mike Bailey
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