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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go


Alicia Keys
7:30 p.m. Thu., May 22
New Orleans Arena, 1501 Girod St., 587-3663

Overachiever Alicia Keys hasn't wasted much time in her career. The Harlem native graduated a year early — as valedictorian — from New York City's prestigious Professional Performing Arts High School and within two years, at 19 years old, released an astonishing debut record, Songs in A Minor , that sold more than 50,000 copies on its first day, topped the charts and raked in five Grammies. Now 27, Keys has proven to be more than just a wunderkind. She's dabbled in film acting, published a book of lyrics and poetry, sold more than 20 million albums and upped her Grammy count to nine. Her romantic power ballads showcase her formidable neo-R&B pipes and PG-13, nice-girl sex appeal — who else could sell a single about cutting an eager date off at third base? Tickets $37.50. — Alison Fensterstock




Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo
5 p.m.-9 p.m. Fri., May 23; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., May 24
Bayou St. John (Orleans Avenue at Jefferson Davis Parkway), 488-3865;

Created in 2006 to cheerlead the repopulation of Mid-City after the levee failures, this music and arts festival on the banks of Bayou St. John has now grown enough to include a second day of festivities. With three live music stages, food and drink vendors from neighborhood restaurants, and a shopping bazaar and arts market, the fest is fast becoming a fine reason to return to Mid-City long after the hoopla at the Fair Grounds has died down. Friday evening's headliners include Marc Stone (pictured), Papa Grows Funk, Johnny Sansone, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and others. Saturday's all-day party reprises acts from the night before, plus dozens of others, including the Panorama Jazz Band, Rick Trolsen, Groovesect, Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove, the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Rumba Buena, Ingrid Lucia and the Rebirth Brass Band. Free admission. — Fensterstock




David Torkanowsky, Justin Peake, Rick Trolsen and Tim Green
10 p.m. Sun., May 25
Hi-Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 945-HIHO

Contemporary jazz pianist and dependable sideman David Torkanowsky wanders into the weird world of New Orleans' more outré improvisers with this gig, titled by promoters as the "Are You F***ing Kidding Me 4tet." Torkanowsky joins versatile sax man Tim Green, veteran improviser Rick Trolsen (pictured) on trombone and the local experimental music ringleader, percussionist Justin Peake (who has signed on to produce Torkanowsky's next solo album) on drums. Peake also handles "software environments" — live computer mixing that allows the interjection of electronic noises and neat tricks like instant sampling and playback. What happens when a quartet of first-call jazz artists, who are more than able to play it straight, get together to get strange? "I don't know. I honestly have no idea," Torkanowsy says. Tickets $5. — Fensterstock




New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
Tue.-Sat., May 20-24
Various locations;

Who says fine wine and Astroturf (or Mardi Grass) don't mix? The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has grown to such proportions that the only wine bucket big enough for its Grand Tastings is the Louisiana Superdome. The tasting events (5 p.m.-8 p.m. Fri., May 23; 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sat., May 24) at the Dome will feature 75 local restaurants and roughly 1,000 wines from 175 wineries around the globe. The five-day event also includes seminars by wine and entertaining experts, a wine auction and the Royal Street Stroll. The auction, Vinola (2 p.m.-4 p.m. Thu., May 22; Ritz-Carlton, 921 Canal St.), is a premium tasting event (wines retail for more than $75) and is capped at 200 participants. Wine dinners kick off the wine and food pairing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Chefs and vintners team up to create multi-course meals at restaurants around town. Thursday features the Royal Street Stroll with art and antique galleries opening their doors to wine makers and jazz trios playing on the promenade. Proceeds benefit various local educational and charitable foundations. See the Web site for complete details on events and participating restaurants and wineries. Grand Tasting tickets $89 in advance, $100 at the door. — Will Coviello

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