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STAGE

Okra
8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, May 11-14; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15; through June 5

Southern Rep Theatre, The Shops at Canal Place, third floor, 522-6545; www.southernrep.com Theater-goers can be forgiven for wincing at the term 'Cajun comedy,' but when you look at the driving forces behind Okra , trepidation turns to intrigue. Playwright Anne Galjour, a former high school classmate of director Perry Martin, is a Louisiana native who has made a name for herself in San Francisco's competitive theater scene. Her comedy about a Louisiana woman with an addiction to video poker (to the chagrin of her daughters) earned Galjour a Best New Play honor at the recent Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Other Galjour scripts have won awards, and in 1993 she earned the inaugural Osborne Award for Emerging Playwright. Becky Allen, everyone's favorite y'at, will go Cajun in the lead role, while John Mayne, an Emmy Award-winning set designer who handled the San Francisco production, will come in for this one as well. After Wednesday's preview performance, Okra will settle into a Thursday-Saturday evening schedule along with Sunday matinees. Tickets $18 for previews, $30 for Saturday's opening-night gala, $23 for regular performances. -- David Lee Simmons


MUSIC

Caribou and Junior Boys
8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11

The Parish at House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE; www.hob.com What's in the back bacon that makes Canada the home to so much excellent indie pop? The Arcade Fire and the Dears have received a lot of attention, and this show pairs two more, though Caribou is based in London (England, not Ontario). Caribou released two acclaimed albums as Dan Snaith's Manitoba before a lawsuit forced a name change, but The Milk of Human Kindness (Leaf) shows the breadth of Snaith's vision, regardless of his band name. Everything has a trippy wispiness, but it's powered by the gently insistent beat/pulse that characterized Neu! Longer tracks are interspersed with short oddities like 'Subotnick,' which samples and elongates the opening moments of the Moments' 'Love on a Two-Way Street.' Openers Junior Boys from Hamilton, Ont. play a spare electropop on Last Exit (Kin) more interesting than the current crop of new wavers. There are certainly traces of mid-career New Order in the music, but there are also laptop and ambient techno sounds, matched with tentative indie vocals. Tickets $10. -- Alex Rawls


MUSIC

Roland Guerin CD-release party
9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday, May 13

Snug Harbor, 628 Frenchmen St., 949-0696; www.snugjazz.com Bassist Roland Guerin has anchored the rhythm section for many top players and rising stars, including Gerry Mulligan, Frank Morgan, George Benson, Marcus Roberts and John Ellis. At Snug Harbor, Guerin will step to the front of the stage and play songs from his new CD, Groove, Swing and Harmony II (Jazz Maniacs), his fifth solo album. The album focuses on driving groove-based tunes by Guerin, who delivers plenty of funky solos on electric bass. Expect to see people get up and dance at this show. Guerin, a Baton Rouge native, studied marketing at Southern University, but his heart was always in music. Alvin Batiste, Guerin's instructor at Southern, invited him to join the Jazztronauts, giving the young bassist his first big break. Guerin then spent six years touring with guitarist Mark Whitfield. Currently, Guerin performs around the world with the Marcus Roberts Trio. Tickets $18. -- Todd A. Price


MUSIC

Brave Combo with the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars
10 p.m. Thursday, May 12

Tipitinas, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS; www.tipitinas.com You'd think that Brave Combo's 2004 CD, Let's Kiss , which won a Grammy Award for Best Polka Album, would finally grant the boys from Denton, Texas, acceptance in the traditional polka community. After all, it was the second Grammy for the band, which celebrated 25 years together with Let's Kiss . 'After the Grammies,' notes co-founder Carl Finch by phone, 'we got 100 supportive emails and four super-negative ones.' That's because Brave Combo, even after a quarter-century, remains an ever-evolving work of music art, firmly schooled in the many different variations of polka but willing to play with even more forms of roots music. That's why you can hear everything from polka and Tex-Mex conjunto to ska, Latin swing and straight-ahead rock and roll. Let's Kiss is a slightly more traditional polka album, featuring riffs on 'Red River Valley' and two versions of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' along with a nod to fan Matt Groening in 'The Simpsons.' It's all in the service of opening up music so that listeners don't get caught up in the trendiness of fads. Finch was inspired to start the band at the same time '70s corporate rock inspired others to start punk bands. 'Polka is the perfect music to use because it's been maligned so long for being so corny and being 'off,' he notes. Brave Combo never stays still, and neither does its audience, which makes this 18-plus show with the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars the best opportunity to sweat in this post-Jazz Fest period. Tickets $10. -- David Lee Simmons


WORDS

New Orleans Writers' Conference
Wednesday-Sunday, May 11-15

Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 566-5045; www.neworleanswritersconference.com Founded in 1988, the New Orleans Writers' Conference (NOWC) offers a two-day flurry of workshops and networking that brings together everybody from aspiring writers to top editors to publishing powerbrokers. Sponsored by the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, the NOWC kicks off at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday with a meet-and-greet cocktail reception. On Thursday, Julia Reed moderates a panel discussion on publishing trends, Garden District Book Shop holds a book sale, and workshops cover cookbook and travel writing, tips on discovering your writing voice, writing biographies and children's books and more. Friday brings a breakfast with Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, followed by numerous workshops including writing for humor with Roy Blount Jr., non-fiction writing and more. Both evenings feature cocktail hours and dining at top French Quarter restaurants. Visit the Web site for a full schedule of events and registration info. -- Frank Etheridge


MUSIC

The Dirtbombs
10 p.m. Wednesday, May 11

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361 After the breakup of the seminal trash-blues band the Gories in the late 1990s, guitarist Danny Kroha went on to don feathered thongs with freaky blues shouters the Demolition Doll Rods, while second guitarist Mick Collins took a decidedly slicker path with the Dirtbombs. After a debut album of raw, fuzzy garage-punk, he lent his cool-as-Detroit-steel-in-winter vocals to the masterful Ultraglide in Black (In The Red), a collection of mostly soul covers that's a classic of the contemporary Detroit garage-soul sound. You can almost hear the sizzle when Collins applies his blithe, nonchalant vocal style to hot, danceable soul. This month, In The Red will release If You Don't Already Have a Look , a double-CD singles compilation with six new songs. Tickets $10. -- Alison Fensterstock


MUSIC

Mice Parade
10 p.m. Thursday, May 12

TwiRoPa (Tchoup Room), 1544 Tchoupitoulas St., 232-9503; www.twiropa.com Mice Parade has been the nom de rock for Adam Pierce, who made the previous four albums by this indie 'band' more or less on his own. On the new Bem-Vinda Vontade (Bubble Core), he has guests including Kristin Anna Valtysdóttir of Iceland's múm, who sings like an ethereal Minnie Mouse on 'Nights Wave,' but perhaps because it's such an individual project the album reflects an idiosyncratic vision. Starting with an acoustic guitar played with a hint of flamenco, tracks grow lovely, dense and become psychedelic. 'Days Before Fiction,' for example, ends up a rave-up a la Mogwai, starting quietly and gaining energy and power, though not necessarily noise. Anchoring the flights into mystery is Pierce's voice, which recalls the sonorous and earnest qualities of Nick Drake. When he sings 'This is simply mine,' the album sounds simpler and more direct than it is. Tickets $10. -- Rawls


EVENTS

Japan Fest 2005
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 15

New Orleans Museum of Art and City Park (Dreyfous Meadow), 488-2631; www.noma.org The eighth annual Japan Fest has long been known for its celebration of Japanese traditions, heritage and culture, hence the usual offerings of drumming and dance. This year features a special drumming performance by Kaminare Taiko of Houston, while Kawachi Ondo of Japan will perform both dancing and drumming on the steps of NOMA throughout the day. But this year's festival gets an exciting new wrinkle by presenting a special Anime Booth, which will showcase upcoming anime titles as well as the most recent anime films being shown in Japan. This year's festival also will feature Japanese arts and crafts, martial arts demonstrations, music and dancing. One of the more popular Japanese customs, the Tea Ceremony, will be provided to festivalgoers. At the end of the day, guests can participate in a drawing for a free, round-trip ticket to Japan, while door prizes will be awarded throughout the day. Guests can also check out one of NOMA's current exhibits, The Tortoise and the Hare: Myths and Legends in Edo-Period Japanese Painting . Free admission to the festival, half-price to NOMA and the Botanical Gardens. -- Simmons


EVENTS

La Fabulosa Festival
2 p.m. Sunday, May 15

Six Flags New Orleans, I-10 at I-510 (Exit 246-A), 253-8000 or 832-3555; www.sixflags.com/parks/neworleans Throughout its summer season, Six Flags New Orleans will honor the area's rich cultural and musical heritage with a number of mini-festivals. The first installment comes this Sunday with La Fabulosa Festival, a celebration of the local Latin-American community. Sponsored by La Fabulosa 830 AM Radio, La Prensa newspaper and the New Orleans Hispanic Network, the event will feature traditional Central American cuisine, live music and, of course, Six Flags' rides, games and attractions. The park opens at noon, and the music begins at 2 p.m. Tito Nieves, a Puerto Rican-born salsa singer who has sold millions of albums in his career, is scheduled to perform along with local favorites Vivaz, a band blending Latin jazz, salsa and Caribbean rhythms for a high-energy show. The event is free with regular park admission; advance tickets are $15.99, and $25.99 (kids under 48 inches tall) and $35.99 (adults) at the gate. -- Etheridge

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