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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go


Anxious Sound's Holiday HO-down
8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30
The Big Top, 1638 Clio Street, 569-2700,

New Orleans' improvised music scene is one of 2005's success stories, with musicians exploring the space where jazz, rock and contemporary classical music meet. The artistic issues at work may be less conventional — explorations of timbre and texture, tension and release, melody and dissonance — but New Orleans' leading practitioners of improvised music rarely create the chaotic soundstorm the form can produce. At the Big Top, bassist James Singleton will examine the lower notes with cellist Helen Gillet, who is also a member of Singleton's string quartet. Also on the bill is Potpie, a traditional minimalist who creates drones with a sine-wave generator, sometimes accompanying himself on a treated guitar. Organizer/guitarist Rob Cambre's Ignation Ensemble adds punky aggressiveness to the affair, and his sometimes-band mate Donald Miller performs solo on 12-string acoustic guitar. Miller was a member of New York City's groundbreaking improvised music trio Borbetomagus, and he has been active in New Orleans since he moved here in 2001. The show will also serve as a CD-release party for the re-release of Borbetomagus' 1983 album, Barbed Wire Maggots (Agaric). The sound Miller created with horn players Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich was powerful and noisy, but on acoustic guitar, his tunings and fingerpicking create beautiful, complex cascades of notes. Cover $5. — Alex Rawls


Two Big Easy Girls
8 p.m. Friday; Dec. 30; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31; 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812;

They've been breaking out the big guns at Le Chat during it's post-K comeback: Ricky Graham's I'm Still Here, Me! , which has been playing to sold-out audiences, as did Bryan Batt's mid-November presentation of "Batt at Le Chat." With the end of the year comes Becky, as in Becky Allen, who is nothing if not big guns with her ample everything: figure, eyes, costumes, persona, presence, everything. Which is why we love the title of her first-time-ever collaboration with another New Orleans stage veteran, M.I. Scoggin: Two Big Easy Girls . Matt Scoggin will provide the piano accompaniment for this musical tour de force, including reminiscences of their Catholic school-girl days (firing up "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"), "C'est Si Bon" (from Scoggin's Soiree Edith Piaf ) and a whole mess of Mardi Gras tunes. Hey, speaking of Graham and Batt: Graham will perform his show at 9 p.m. Saturday after the Two Big Easy Girls performance, and Batt will return with an encore presentation of his show the following weekend. Tickets to Two Big Easy Girls $31 Friday and Sunday, $37 Saturday; tickets to I'm Still Here, Me! $37. — David Lee Simmons


Photographs by Ansel Adams and Helmut Newton
Through January
A Gallery for Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 658-1313;

"I stayed here through the storm and was lucky to have only minor damage. I didn't know anything about the flooding until I went for a walk and saw the water on Canal Street." One of an unknown number who stayed holed up in their homes and businesses and lived to talk about it, A Gallery for Fine Photography's director, Joshua Mann Pailet found out the hard way that those closest to the damage are often the last to find out what is actually happening on the ground. His decision to stay and hold down the fort was yet another example of the kind of tenacity that enabled his gallery to survive long enough to become one of the oldest photography emporia in America. Established in New Orleans in 1975, and a French Quarter fixture for decades, it's a mini-museum in its own right, with work ranging from vintage images by the early photographic greats to postmodern classics by respected contemporary artists. Adding insult — or inconvenience — to the list of Katrina-related indignities, an exhibition of work by one of this city's best known contemporary photographers, Josephine Sacabo, originally slated for autumn, has been postponed until later in the spring. Meanwhile, Ansel Adams' cosmic Western vistas and Helmut Newton's edgy Teutonic vixens continue to greet visitors in the main upstairs galleries. The ongoing presence of Adams is really kind of appropriate in some ways; a star of the gallery's 1975 debut, it may only be fitting that he also closes out this, unusually eventful, 30th anniversary season. — D. Eric Bookhardt


Roy Head, Lil' Buck Sinegal and His Buckaroos, and Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat
10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31
Circle Bar, 1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616;

For the past four years, the Ponderosa Stomp has been one of the premiere events between Jazz Fest weekends. The multi-night event has brought many of the greats of rock, soul, rockabilly and R&B to New Orleans, giving the forgotten heroes and unsung legends of American music another crack at the spotlight. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Stomp's organizers — the Mystic Knights of the Mau-Mau — decided to move the festival to Memphis for a year. It will be May 9-10 at the Gibson Factory, and it's a hurricane relief benefit. Even more than ever, it is focused on Louisiana and Gulf Coast musicians, giving them additional exposure and opportunities to perform and earn a living. This year's Stomp is getting an additional push as the Knights have organized a Ponderosa Stomp showcase night at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. This New Year's Eve show features two of the highlights from this year's Stomp. Texan Roy Head's garage soul was explosive, and he's every bit the R&B shouter he was on 1965's "Treat Her Right." He's backed by guitarist Lil' Buck Sinegal (pictured), who has been playing blues and R&B around southern Louisiana since the '50s, including a stint in the Top Cats with Buckwheat Zydeco. At this year's Stomp, he and the Top Cats backed a cavalcade of R&B vocalists, Head being one of them. Quintron may seem like an odd addition to the show, but classic R&B is just as central to his sound as his mad-scientist instruments are. Cover $10. — Rawls

click to enlarge DAVID LEE SIMMONS
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click to enlarge ae_feat-12608.jpeg
click to enlarge PHOTO  JOSEPH A. ROSE
  • Photo Joseph A. Rose


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