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Duran Duran
8 p.m. Wednesday, July 13
UNO Lakefront Arena, 6801 Franklin Ave., 280-7171;

Remember when Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran got a buzz cut in late 1980s? The girls at my middle school fiercely debated whether Andy Taylor was now the cutest member of the group. Duran Duran sold 70 million albums and pioneered the video-music age, but many people refused to take seriously a band adored by pre-teen girls. A new generation of musicians that features everyone from Gwen Stefani and the Killers to the Faint have mined synth-pop tunes from the Age of MTV for inspiration. Twenty years hence, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Andy Taylor welcome back drummer Roger Taylor, who left the band in 1986. "The legacy that we left behind seems to be coming back," says Roger Taylor. "Bands want to dress up again, they want to write their own songs, be individuals again." Duran Duran's latest release, Astronaut (Epic), explores new ground without abandoning the group's signature sound, while 20-year-old hits such as "Rio," "Girls on Film" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" still sound fresh. Tickets $40 to $65. – Todd A. Price


Victor Wooten
9 p.m. Thursday, July 14
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE;

Victor Wooten has helped turn the bass into a prime-time instrument through his dazzling work with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and his well-received solo projects. On his latest album, Soul Circus (Vanguard), Wooten takes a huge step forward as a bandleader and conceptualist, writing a fistful of engaging songs, incorporating his kids into the mix without getting smarmy and delivering the instrumental pop with zero geek quotient. There have been a lot of "guitar tribute" songs segueing signature riffs from famous pickers into one long solo, but on "Bass Tribute" Wooten offers it up to his heroes of the low frequencies – Jaco Pastorious, Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Bootsy, Will Lee, Larry Graham and others. He also does a great version of Earth Wind and Fire's "Can't Hide Love." And that's not all he's got planned: Wooten's even planning to showcase his magic act at this show. Tickets $19.50. – John Swenson


Bill Engvall
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, July 16
Harrah's New Orleans Casino, Earl Turner Theatre, 512 Canal St., 533-6000;

They all seem to have their gimmick – for Jeff Foxworthy, it's the refrain, "You might be a redneck if ..." and for Larry the Cable Guy it's "Git-r-done" – and for Blue Collar Comedy mate Bill Engvall it's the popular bit "Here's Your Sign." And for the Blue Collar crew, the sign is a dollar one. Creating family-friendly humor that has transcended regional boundaries – except, perhaps, the dreaded, cynical Eastern seaboard – the Blue Comedy enterprise has translated to $75 million annually, with revenue pouring in from the tour, the movie, the ubiquitous Comedy Central show and merchandise. Engvall was rewarded with a one-hour special this past spring on the WB network, Mobile Home Disaster . The Galveston, Texas, native, who turns 48 this month, keeps it fairly safe in his routine, taking on the traditional domestic targets as his wife of 22 years ("Women have all the power," is one of his tongue-in-cheek laments) and his teenage son. Tickets $45 general admission, $59 show/buffet. – David Lee Simmons


8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 15-16; 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17; through Aug. 28
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812;

For Carl Walker's Native Tongues series, timing is everything. But beyond the recruiting some of the city's best writers to craft vignettes for the stage, process isn't everything. "The reality is there isn't a process," Walker half-sighs, trying to explain the Zen-like magic of his series now in its fourth incarnation – and his first attempt in five years. "You ask some people if they'll do it, and a lot of people say yes, and it comes down to some people can't or wind up with a blank sheet of paper. You get a lot of (works) and then you furiously see if they're cast-able. Meaning, if there's anybody at all who can do it or if there's anybody who's available to do it. And they way (the works) come around, at some certain point people start saying to me, ÔAre you ever going to do another Native Tongues ?' and that's when I do it." That process, or lack thereof, has produced works by such notables as Robert Olen Butler (who learned he won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Good Scent From a Strange Mountain two weeks after Native Tongues made its debut) and Wilbert Rideau, whose oral recollection of Oliver Stone's shooting of a scene from JFK was eventually crafted into another piece. Previous contributors include Vernel Bagneris, David Cuthbert and Patty Friedmann. This year's stellar lineup features newcomers Poppy Z. Brite, Joshua Clark, Jim Fitzmorris (left, opposite star Karen-kaia Livers) and Jon Newlin as well as veterans Kevin Allman and Frank Gagnard (the latter having been in all three previous Tongues ). The cast features Ann Casey, Kris LaMorte, Jessica Podewell and another Native Tongues regular, Carol Sutton. Tickets $29. – Simmons


Khaled and Friends
8 p.m. Wednesday, July 13
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE;

Khaled, the preeminent singer of Rai music – Algierian dance-pop – will celebrate Bastille Day with friends Don Was, KC Porter and Cuban percussionist Luis Conte, among others. Was, Porter and reggae singer Elan appear on the American version of his latest release, YA-RAYI (Wrasse), a version of last year's acclaimed album that has been remastered and resequenced, with the new track "Love to the People" recorded with Carlos Santana on guitar. Fans may miss "Zine-Zina," bumped from last year's import-only version, but the fusion of Rai and Latin works better than you might expect. All of those performers except Santana will be at the House of Blues, along with Cheb i Sabbah, the world-music DJ whose new CD, La Kahena (Six Degrees), regrooves traditional African, Arabic and Asian rhythms. As much as the guests add star power and perhaps draw the curious, Khaled is the draw. He is personally charismatic, and his voice is one of the most expressive in Rai. Tickets $30. – Alex Rawls



NO/AIDS Task Force's "Dining for Life"
Thursday, July 14
Various locations, 821-2601 ext. 250;

Helping fight HIV and AIDS in New Orleans has never been easier: just go out for dinner and drinks. The NO/AIDS Task Force, with the help of more than 50 New Orleans restaurants, will hold its 10th annual fundraiser to assist those affected by HIV and AIDS in New Orleans. The participating restaurants will donate 25 percent of the money they make on Thursday to the Task Force. So you could be saving lives on Thursday and not even know it. Since the organization was started in 1995, Dining for Life has raised more than $400,000 for the Task Force's efforts, which include testing and counseling, prevention education, housing coordination and medication distribution. Their efforts are greatly needed, too, as New Orleans ranks 11th in the country for AIDS case rates. – Colin Schoenberger


Some Enchanted Evening
7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 15-16; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17; through 31
Southern Rep, The Shops at Canal Place, third floor, 333 Canal St., 522-6545;

Their collected works practically defines the American stage musical. The music of Richard Rodgers and the book and lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II created an everlasting legacy: Oklahoma! , The King and I , The Sound of Music , South Pacific , Carousel and Allegro are just a few of the Tony-winning works. The songs alone could fill a few boxed sets: "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Shall We Dance," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," "My Favorite Things" and, of course, the title for what sounds like an aptly named evening considering Brandt Blocker is behind the scenes. Blocker is a rare bird in this town, not only one of the few consistent musical producer/directors but, even more impressive, one of the few consistently good producer/directors. Coming off a multiple-award-winning year (mainly for his work on Little Shop of Horrors and Smokey Joe's Cafe ) Blocker here directs a cast that includes Chris Carey, Terry Gervais, Amy Alvarez, Gabrielle Porter, Janet Shea and Flo Presti. JaunŽ Buisson once again collaborates on the staging, with Jonathan Foucheaux handling production design and Judy Claverie the costumes. Tickets $15. – David Lee Simmons


The Lyres and the Reigning Sound with Wayne County Ramblin' premiere
10 p.m. Saturday, July 16
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361

If the very nature of the genre didn't negate the idea totally, with its raw, lo-fi production and understated, jeans-and-dirty-T-shirt image, this show could well stand as an abridged Monsters of Garage Rock moment. Representing the new school is Memphis' Reigning Sound, who crank out rough-edged, catchy garage-pop ably led by Greg Cartwright, whose 1990s blues-punk project the Oblivians still stands as a highwater mark for the sound's latest revival. Boston's Lyres, who originally formed in the early '80s, are still going strong with grungy, throbbing, organ-driven rock in the vein of – though a bit more ragged than – their contemporaries the Real Kids and the Flamin' Groovies. As a bonus, at 9 p.m. there will be a screening of local filmmaker Dan Rose's voodoo rock 'n' roll film odyssey Wayne County Ramblin' , a feature-length journey through the musically rich, ghost-soaked Delta complete with a hipster who's-who of rock 'n' roll cameos, including Iggy Pop, Nathaniel Mayer, Tav Falco and Lyres organist Jeff Connolly. Tickets $10. – Alison Fensterstock


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