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Using the blueprint established with its Mo'Tunes series, the Mayor's Office of Economic Development is once again sponsoring and throwing its support to a new series of concerts. The new initiative is titled Uptown Saturday Night, and spotlights the city's burgeoning contemporary R&B scene. (Check out Josephine Mills' recent self-titled debut CD on Orleans Records as proof of the creative energy currently informing New Orleans' stamp on the genre.) The weekly shows are happening at the City Club (1525 St. Charles Ave.), and are organized by EBONetworks, the entrepreneurs behind www.neworleansblack.com. A diverse roster of performers is already slated for the series, and confirmed acts include Euricka (Saturday, Aug. 9), Crescendo (Aug. 16), Kelly Love Jones (Aug. 23), Jahbo (Aug. 30), and Thaddeus Ford (Sept 13). Showtime is 11 p.m., with admission $10 before midnight and $15 after midnight. National comedians will complement the music. For more information on the series, call Director of Music Business Development Scott Aiges at 329-0666. ...

As the contemporary R&B scene grows, the punk tribe is losing one of its staunchest supporters. Longtime punk impresario, New Orleans native and Devil Dolls Productions founder Deborah Toscano is leaving town and heading for California to join the new California office of Fierce Talent. Toscano has been wearing multiple hats in recent years, running her own booking agency, booking for the Shim Sham Club, and promoting shows. Those developments, coupled with the recent closing of Shim Sham Club, make the move a natural step for Toscano.

"Everything fell into place," she says. "I'd started my own agency, and Suplecs, Throw Rag, and Sixer were really moving forward, and the agency was growing. And I was just enjoying being a booking agent more than being a promoter."

Still, the move is a major one for Toscano. "I'm 36, and this is the first time I'm leaving town," she notes. Toscano's come a long way from promoting her first show, bringing the Descendants to the VFW Hall on Franklin Avenue in 1987. Since then, Toscano's championed acts such as the Dickies and the Dictators. Her personal highlight of recent years was multiple Toscano-driven appearances by legendary punk band X, but she has a hard time narrowing down the favorite shows from her formidable run.

"Each show I was really excited about, but the Humpers playing on my birthday was pretty wild," she remembers. "Everyone was drinking whiskey onstage, and most of the things I remember from that night I was TOLD. I was carried out that night." Bid Toscano farewell or stay in touch with her at debt44@earthlink.net. ...

Prepare for a massive dose of blues coming your way on Sept. 9, with the launch of Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues -- An American Journey. At first glance, the series of films (featuring work by guest directors such as Clint Eastwood and Wim Wenders) and accompanying soundtracks give New Orleans its due. Eastwood, a notorious jazz fan who helmed the Charlie Parker bio Bird, especially seems to hit the mark. His Piano Blues features tracks by New Orleans piano icons James Booker ("Junco Partner"), Fats Domino ("The Fat Man"), Professor Longhair ("Tipitina"), Archibald ("Stagger Lee") and Dr. John ("Honeydripper"). Other Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues soundtracks feature Jelly Roll Morton ("Turtle Blues") and former local residents Corey Harris and Keb Mo' cutting a new version of the warhorse "Sweet Home Chicago."

Meanwhile, resident actor/rapper/bluesman Chris Thomas King builds on his O Brother, Where Art Thou? resume with a portrayal of Blind Willie Johnson in Wenders' film Soul of a Man. Look for King and the entire film package when it debuts nationwide on PBS on Sept. 28.

On a side note, if Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues makes a dent in mainstream consciousness like Ken Burns' Jazz did, can Steven Spielberg's Pop and Oliver Stone's Psychedelia be far behind? ...

The rare club appearance by Ray Charles and his Orchestra featuring the Raylettes scheduled at House of Blues for Saturday, Aug. 9, has been cancelled. Charles is suffering from acute hip discomfort, and the show isn't currently being rescheduled. Tickets can be refunded at House of Blues or points of purchase. ...

Lafayette-based Cajun/swing/jazz ensemble the Red Stick Ramblers has signed with Memphis International Records, a new indie label founded by producer David Less and esteemed former Warner Bros. publicist Bob Merlis. The Red Stick Ramblers' sophomore CD is currently being mastered and is scheduled for an October release

click to enlarge Kelly Love Jones performs at City Club on Aug. 23 as part of the new Uptown Saturday Night series sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development.
  • Kelly Love Jones performs at City Club on Aug. 23 as part of the new Uptown Saturday Night series sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development.
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