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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

STAGE
Bitter/Sweet
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. May 4-5; through May 27
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com

Bitter/Sweet is a reality-TV-era cabaret in which a couple of local early-career performers have assembled a musical show that's about getting started in theater biz. The piece combines traditional musical theater pieces, Disney ballads and lesser-known pensive songs to vocalize the twentysomething performers' experience of shifting from young idealism to reality. The show begins with the four-person cast singing lighthearted kids' songs, but after a while they get frustrated and turn to deeper and darker subjects. The musical journey mirrors the lives of the performers, who started their careers with unfounded optimism and experience some of the profession's hard knocks. Songs include "Go the Distance" from Disney's Hercules , "Happiness" from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown , "Therapy" from Tick, Tick É Boom and "Poor Wandering One" from Pirates of Penzance . Richard Arnold came up with the idea for the show, and Sean Patterson wrote the piece. Patterson directs Arnold, Trina Beck, Natalie Boyd and Michael Tramontin. Meredith Long and Sarah Jane McMahon make guest appearances. Tickets $26 (includes $5 bar credit). —Emily Hohenwarter

MUSIC
Ween with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
9 p.m. Fri., May 4
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3805; www.cacno.org

The experimental duo of Dean and Gene Ween (a.k.a. Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo) have been gleefully confounding listeners with their sarcastic, genre-hopping sounds since their first auspicious meeting in an eighth-grade typing class in the late '80s. Over the ensuing two decades, they've released half a dozen cassette-only recordings of lo-fi warbling as well as several major-label albums aping genres from '70s AM radio soul to classic country to a never-released commercial jingle commissioned by Pizza Hut (entitled "Where the M*****f***in' Cheese At?"), keeping audiences guessing the whole way. They're currently holed up at Ween central working on a record of 20 new tracks whose character, at this point, is anyone's guess. Here, in what is potentially a genius match-up, jamband promoters Superfly Presents have paired them with the Dirty Dozen, whose melding of hip-hop and jazz with traditional second-line sounds invented the contemporary brass band genre — as evidenced on their 2006 reworking of Marvin Gaye's soul landmark album, What's Going On . Tickets $34.50 in advance, $36 at the door. — Alison Fensterstock

MUSIC
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic 9 p.m. Sat., May 5
Republic, 828 South Peters St., 528-8282; www.republicnola.com

George Clinton is the yin to his own yang. As the mastermind behind both Parliament's groove armada and Funkadelic's mind-altering mothership, Clinton set in motion two psychedelic soul trains liable to collide as the lights were switched off on the '70s. The resultant big bang formed the P-Funk Allstars, a hybridized backing group who continue to chug on today after a quarter-century of railroading its own brand of grand funk. While the collective's rotating lineup and free-for-all aesthetic likely fettered its better studio efforts — nothing post-1980 neared the heights of 1971's Maggot Brain and 1975's Chocolate City (Mayor Nagin: a Parliament man?) — its cultural significance and concert appeal remain unquestioned. For evidence of the former, look no further than the hip-hop genre, where Clinton functions as a father figure to numerous artists, from Dr. Dre and the late 2Pac to OutKast and Redman. P-Funk's latest album, 2005's How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent? , appeared on Clinton's C Kunspyruhzy imprint. Iris May Tango and DJ Soul Sister open. Tickets $34. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

MUSIC
The 6th Annual Ponderosa Stomp 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Wed., May 2
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

The secret cabal that is the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau is ready to stomp hard on New Orleans again — after a Katrina-related relocation to Memphis last year — with their sixth annual tribal gathering of underground heroes of rockabilly, soul, swamp pop, garage, and rhythm and blues. Unsung sidemen, forgotten legends and musical oddities are descending on the House of Blues this year, plus side events at the Dragon's Den (435 Esplanade Ave., 949-1750) and the Circle Bar (1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616) for the annual festival of musical mayhem that is a record geek's wet dream. The three stages (the Parish, the main room and the courtyard) at the House of Blues will feature favorites from past Stomps like Gulf Coast soul queen Barbara Lynn, blues harp dynamo Lazy Lester, manic Texan R&B singer Roy Head and hill-country guitarist and former R.L. Burnside sideman Kenny Brown, as well as familiar local faces like Creole Beethoven Wardell Quezergue and his R&B Revue, Dave Bartholomew, Jean Knight, Willie Tee, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Louisiana State Troubabour Jay Chevalier, up-and-comer Guitar Lightning, who's studied with blues-guitar master Jimmy Reed, and deep funk guitar bomber Ernie Vincent, whose early '70s track "Dap Walk" is a white-hot, underpraised New Orleans classic. New faces this year include headliner Roky Erickson, whose '60s Texas act the 13th Floor Elevators did something so menacing, psychedelic and sick to rock 'n' roll that it was never the same again. Also appearing are Augie Meyers of the Sir Douglas Quintet, who's responsible for the infectious '60s nugget "She's About A Mover," and Motown session man Dennis Coffey (pictured), whose blazing guitar appears on more than 100 gold and platinum records. Coffey will be playing solo at the Circle Bar on Thursday. So will experimental electronica pioneer Simeon (of the late-'60s New York duo the Silver Apples), along with cult-art-punk favorites Viva L'American Death Ray Music, on Tuesday. Check www.ponderosastomp.com for a full lineup, bios, streaming radio and a host of other goodies. House of Blues tickets $40. Circle Bar tickets $7. —Fensterstock

EVENT
The Music Tent on Claiborne
10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Wed. May 2; Noon to 1 a.m. Thu.-Sun, May 3-6
1500 block of N. Claiborne Avenue, (800) 957-4026

The New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund (now re-titled “Renew Our Music”), partnered with the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference, is the force behind this free outdoor festival. The temporary retail and performance venue — with a music tent set up in the yard between the Mother-in-Law Lounge and the Neighborhood Civic and Arts Center — recalls the golden age of Claiborne and St. Bernard avenues in the Treme as a vital business and entertainment corridor for New Orleans’ black community. From early afternoon until cocktail time, the tent will host activities including a merchandise area where visitors can buy CDs directly from artists, a housing and economic development panel hosted by Sen. Edwin Murray and a neighborhood-business open house. After 5 p.m., events turn more festive, with a brass band barbecue featuring the Hot 8 (pictured), James Andrews and others on Thursday as well as musical tributes to two legendary and defunct New Orleans lounges. Friday night, Rockie Charles, Guitar Slim Jr., James Winfield and friends reimagine the R&B glory days of Dorothy’s Medallion Lounge. On Saturday, Stephanie and Marlon Jordan, the Pin Stripe Brass Band and others pay tribute to Lu and Charlie’s, the former Rampart Street hot spot for contemporary jazz. Friday evening features a screening of Chris Thomas King’s film Juke Joint: You Can Never Go Home Again, which documents the last days of Tabby’s Blues Box, his father’s Baton Rouge nightclub. Visit www.cuttingedgemusicbusiness.com/musictent for a full schedule of events. Free admission. — Fensterstock

MUSIC
Dave Bartholomew
9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wed., May 2 (at the Ponderosa Stomp)
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com
You won’t get a chance to see the legendary music man who sharp-dresser Allen Toussaint lauded as “very neat” at the Fair Grounds. This gig at the Ponderosa Stomp will be Dave Bartholomew’s only live gig during Jazz Fest time this year. As a musician, writer, arranger, producer and bandleader, few artists have put their stamp on the sound of New Orleans music like Bartholomew. Starting out in the late ’40s, the trumpet player watched — and half-steered — the sound of the city as it swung from big-band swing to jump blues and R&B to soul and rock ’n’ roll. Up until the early ’60s, he oversaw everything from A&R to arrangements at Imperial Records, working on hits like Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and Smiley Lewis’ “One Night,” though he’s probably best known for his longstanding creative partnership with Fats Domino. In 1991, he was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Bartholomew is playing as a part of bandleader Wardell Quezergue’s Rhythm & Blues revue, which also features New Orleans soul-singing stars Jean Knight (Quezergue produced her 1971 No. 1 R&B hit, “Mr. Big Stuff” for the Stax label) and Tony Owens. Stomp tickets $40. — Fensterstock

Music
Roky Erickson
Midnight Wed., May 2 (at the Ponderosa Stomp)
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com or www.ponderosastomp.com
Roky Erickson’s performance rider, says a representative from the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau, stipulates that the Texan garage-rocker absolutely must have the Cartoon Network available in his hotel room. A small price to pay, all things considered, to wrangle this rare gig outside of Erickson’s home state of Texas. Erickson, beyond being a primal musical lunatic with a guitar and harmonica, is up there with Syd Barrett as one of rock ’n’ roll’s most famous head cases. During his groundbreaking work with the dangerously deranged psychedelic garage-rock group the 13th Floor Elevators in the ’60s, he pled insane on a marijuana charge, which proved to be a poor decision. Erickson endured four years of Thorazine and electroshock at a Texas asylum for the criminally insane. His music since then has been as bizarre and inspired as it has been erratic, delving into heavy metal experiments and horror and sci-fi themes. Stomp tickets $40. — Fensterstock

MUSIC
Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
8 p.m. Fri., May 4
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com
Washington, D.C., guitarist Chuck Brown — the “Godfather of Go-Go” — is credited with inventing the go-go subgenre, a slightly reggae-infused, infectious brand of lighthearted funk that Rolling Stone magazine once called “so intergalactically funky and so majestically joyful, it would convince just about any groovy extraterrestrial that humans are indeed a superior species.” Brown started out in the early ’60s playing R&B with Jerry Butler’s early band, the Earls of Rhythm. In the ’70s, he began recording versions of classic jazz and blues songs by artists like Johnny Mercer, re-imagined with the sunny, syncopated Latin percussion rhythms that would distinguish the new sound. He scored a No. 1 hit in 1979 with “Bustin’ Loose,” which provided the addictive dance beat for St. Louis rapper Nelly’s smash “Hot in Here.” His 2007 release, We’re About the Business, is a remarkably spry and up-to-speed record for an artist Brown’s age (72) — plenty of funk and soul legends can still bring it to the stage, but few could write a tune like “Chuck Baby,” his collaboration with his rapper daughter KK, which sounds fresher than half the summer party songs on Q93 today. This is Brown’s first club gig in New Orleans in 20 years. With DJ Soul Sister. Tickets $30. — Fensterstock

MUSIC
Sacred Funk with the Campbell Brothers
8 p.m. Fri., May 4
Old Point Bar, Algiers, 545 Patterson St., 364-0950
Need something different to try this Jazz Fest rather than the old reliables? Want some true funk, blues and gospel all rolled into one? Drive or ferry to Old Point Bar and get righteous with the Campbell Brothers, the sacred steel masters from New Jersey. Sacred steel is a form of gospel music using pedal steel (best known for its use in country music) as its main instrument. The Campbell Brothers’ take on it has doses of heaven in the lyrics and sentiments, but also some intimations of earth in the way it sets your backfield in motion. Last year’s legendary show went all night. This year producer/guitarist Marc Stone has added some special guests such as sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, guitarist Walter “Wolfman” Washington and vocalist Shannon McNally, all of whom will add steaming soul to an already soulful stew. Tickets $30 in advance on www.marcstonemusic.com, $40 at the door. — Kunian

MUSIC
NOMO and Ozomatli
9 p.m. Fri., May 4
Republic, 828 South Peters St., 528-8282; www.republicnola.com
Discovered by His Name Is Alive guru Warn Defever, the genre-jumping Ann Arbor, Mich., ensemble NOMO (pictured) has at times counted as many as 60 different musicians among its contributors. Always at the center, however, is Elliot Bergman, a University of Michigan music major who unwittingly founded the band in 2003 via a series of loosely organized house jams in which principles Jamie Register (bass), Dan Piccolo (drums), Erik Hall (guitar) and Dan Bennett (sax) would get together to flex their instrumental muscles. Aside from brothers-in-arms the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, NOMO’s form of multifarious funk has seen few practitioners on the national stage since the 1997 passing of Afro pop pioneer Fela Kuti, whose layered instrumentation and labyrinthine rhythms provide Bergman’s most obvious inspiration. But elements of rock, dub, free jazz and electronica also play supporting roles on the group’s terrific 2006 long-player, the Defever-produced sophomore effort New Tones (Ubiquity). Headlining is the Los Angeles-based hip hop/fusion outfit Ozomatli, which is touring in support of the April release Don’t Mess With The Dragon (Concord). Tickets $22. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

MUSIC
Gov’t Mule with Dr. John’s Night Tripper
9 p.m. Sat., May 5
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3805; www.cacno.org

Adopted Allman Brothers Warren Haynes (vocals, guitar) and Allen Woody (bass) formed Gov’t Mule after a five-year stint rounding out the legendary first family of classic Southern rock. Considered by many to be more proficient onstage than in the studio, the band seems to be rewriting that reputation with its most recent records, the ATO releases Déjà Voodoo (2004) and High & Mighty (2006). Haynes, who has presided over Gov’t Mule since Woody’s death in 2000, deserves the majority of the credit. As the primary singer and songwriter, his vision steered the group through its roughest waters (which encompassed a parade of guest bassists, including cameo appearances by Flea and Bootsy Collins, from 2000 through 2003), and his blue-collar guitar licks remain a defining characteristic. Although rough-hewn, Haynes’ voice sounds more rugged than ever on Mighty’s extended blues/rock anthem “Endless Parade” and the AC/DC-ish “Mr. High & Mighty.” On this visit, the venerable five-piece will be buoyed by boogie emeritus Dr. John and the Soul Rebels Brass Band. Tickets $36.50, $38 at the door. —Pais

click to enlarge NITIN VADUKUL
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click to enlarge NITIN VADUKUL
click to enlarge JACOB BLICKENSTAFF
click to enlarge MICHELLE ELMORE
click to enlarge DANNY CLINCH
click to enlarge STEPHANIE CHERNIKOWSKI
  • Stephanie Chernikowski
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click to enlarge JAMES HILSDON
  • James Hilsdon
click to enlarge ELISE BERGMAN
  • Elise Bergman
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