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What to Know Before You Go


LL Cool J
8 p.m. Tue., Aug. 1
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Hip-hop trailblazer LL Cool J is still maintaining a healthy profile in the industry as he rolls toward 40; no small accomplishment when the sprawling monster that is the current rap game is routinely launching and forgetting acts before they're old enough to legally pass the Courvoisier. As an early signee to Def Jam records in the '80s, he took some flak for melding pop song structure with hip-hop, releasing multiple crossover hits, when rap was going either gangsta or socially conscious, but political either way. He re-established a hardcore rep in 1990 with the multimillion-selling Mama Said Knock You Out (Def Jam), which managed to touch on spirituality and the politics of racism without sacrificing a sound that could rock the party. After dabbling in the practically mandatory side games of film acting and collaborating on clothing lines, Cool James is back with a new release, Mr. Smith . His 12th album has an old-school funkafied, throwback feel and features guest appearances from Timbaland, Mary J. Blige and other stars. New Orleans natives Luke & Q open. Tickets $50. — Alison Fensterstock


Bobby Lounge
10 p.m. Sat., Aug. 5
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

The mystery piano man from Abita Springs burst on the scene, seemingly out of nowhere (and in an iron lung, no less), with an appearance at Jazz Fest 2005 and the self-released masterpiece of lunacy I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down . Revealed as an MFA-holding folk artist who lurked outside the limelight for many years due to chronic fatigue, Lounge is no less awe-inspiring, either onstage or on record. His 2006 album, Ten Foot Woman , is more of the same delicious nonsense: long, long feats of high-energy boogie-woogie piano that serves as a backdrop for contemporary folktales, rife with dirty talk, outlandish behavior and unexpected sentiment. Combine Tom Waits, Tom Lehrer, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, or force Flannery O'Connor to breed with Barry Gifford ( Wild At Heart ) and you might approximate the bizarre recipe that produces Lounge's particular talent. The Stooges Brass Band opens. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock


Taylor Grocery Band
10 p.m. Sat., Aug. 5
Maple Leaf, 8316 Oak St., 866-9359

The fried catfish served at Taylor Grocery is the stuff of legend. Fried crispy and filled with country-style goodness, the restaurant is the landmark of Taylor, Miss., a tiny artist hamlet just outside of Oxford. Playing what they call "electric catfish music," the Taylor Grocery Band pays homage to their hometown not only in name, but also in their fiery brand of music. Pulling together the diverse musical styles of the region — from Delta soul to hill country blues to Appalachian string music — TGB is a new branch from a fine Mississippi musical family tree. The line-up (Kinney Kimbrough on drums, T. Bryan Ledford on guitar, mandolin and banjo, Justin Showah on bass and Max Williams on slide guitar and lap steel) boasts members of the Kudzu Kings, Junior Kimbrough's Soul Blues Boys and The Sincere Ramblers. They've gained a wide audience in the last two years as the house band for Thacker Mountain Radio out of Oxford, where they've jammed with the likes of Elvis Costello, Del McCoury and the Drive-By Truckers. Don't forget your boogie shoes for this one. — Frank Etheridge


Satchmo Summerfest
Thu.-Sun., Aug. 3-6
French Market and other locations. (800) 673-5725;

Hundreds and hundreds of scholarly books and articles on some aspect of William Shakespeare's work are generated every year, whether we need them or not. But even a glance at recent theater offerings vouches for the continued interest in the plays. It's almost hard to believe there's so much left to say and new ways to explore his work. And in that regard, Louis Armstrong is New Orleans' Shakespeare, an artist whose work is endlessly inspiring and against whom every newcomer is inevitably compared. The Satchmo Summerfest celebrates Armstrong's birthday and offers both free music and scholarly events. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Irvin Mayfield and his quintet, the Lil Rascals, Soul Rebels, and the Treme and New Birth brass bands are among the jazz and brass bands scheduled for three outdoor stages at the French Market on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park Visitors Center in Dutch Alley hosts discussions about Armstrong, which include subjects such as why he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, his life on film, and other topics. Other special events include a Jazz Club Strut on Friday night on Frenchmen Street, a jazz mass at St. Augustine Church on Sunday morning and a second-line parade to the festival following the mass. Most events are free. — Will Coviello

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