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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go


Open Ears Music Series Music Mashup v1.0
9 p.m. Wed., Nov. 21
Blue Nile, 534 Frenchmen St., 948-2583

On Wednesdays in November and into December, the Blue Nile is hosting a series of what Jeff Albert (pictured), the improvisational trombonist who's played with George Porter, Michael Ray's Cosmic Krewe and the Naked Orchestra, calls "adventure jazz." Along with his co-curators, drummer Justin Peake and sax player Dan Oestreicher, Albert invites groups of jazz musicians with an improvisational bent to get together and see what happens inside a structure he compares to improv theatre. The artists are matched up in combos, given loose parameters and set sonically free. Tonight's event features a large cast of characters, making the possibilities exponentially even more interesting. Peake, Oestreicher and Albert will be playing along with cellist Helen Gillet, guitarist Dr. Jimbo Walsh, saxophonist Tim McFatter (who plays with Walsh as well as the three series curators in the experimental jazz band the Other Planets) and drummer Dave Cappello. Free admission. — Alison Fensterstock




Buckwheat Zydeco
10 p.m. Wed., Nov. 21
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Atlantic records mogul Jerry Wexler once said that the best soul act he ever saw was Solomon Burke playing in Lafayette, La., with a "borrowed band." That band was led by a young Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, who made his R&B bones playing keyboards behind artists like Burke, Barbara Lynn, Joe Tex and Bobby "Blue" Bland as they toured through the Creole's hometown. In the mid-'70s, urged by his father to catch a show by zydeco master Clifton Chenier (a family friend), Dural had an epiphany. He stepped away from the funky sound of his Hammond B3 and spent two years practicing the accordion. Fast forward a few years and voila, Buckwheat Zydeco — the most well-known zydeco act (maybe the only well-known zydeco act) in the world. Buckwheat Zydeco's updated mix of traditional Creole music with funky innovations earned him many firsts for the genre, including a major-label contract and a spot on the Billboard pop charts. Recently, he returned to his soul roots to record with Hoboken's indie legends Yo La Tengo, playing B3 organ on several tracks for the soundtrack of the experimental Bob Dylan bio I'm Not There. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux opens. Tickets $12. — Fensterstock




Cash Money Millionaires "100 Million Dollars Anniversary Party"
10 p.m. Wed., Nov. 21
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since the upstart ballers at Cash Money Records started putting the now-astoundingly influential sound of New Orleans hip-hop on wax and on the map, introducing now-legendary artists like U.N.L.V., Juvenile, Li'l Wayne (pictured) and producer Mannie Fresh to the world at large. The platinum started piling up for the label about a decade ago — about the time of its acquisition by Universal Music Group — with the release of founding member B.G.'s landmark Chopper City album in 1998 and the all-star crew the Hot Boys' release Guerilla Warfare in 1999. The label has had its share of turmoil over the years, including the departure of both Juve and B.G. to Atlantic Records, the incarceration of original Hot Boy Turk and the mysterious murder of U.N.L.V. member Yella Boy. Still, label founder Bryan "Baby" Williams (aka the rapper Birdman) continues to hold it down in the Dirty South, with his protégé Li'l Wayne's fame increasing astronomically. The long-awaited official release of Weezy's Tha Carter III is slated for February. A new album of his own, 5 Star Stunna , is set to drop next month. Tickets $25. — Fensterstock




Celebration in the Oaks
6 p.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Nov. 23-24; 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Sun., Nov. 25; through Dec. 30
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, 483-9415;

It's inescapably the holiday season, with malls crowded to capacity, lights and decorations going up all over and weight gain looming large. A more merry sign of the season is Celebration in the Oaks, a New Orleans holiday tradition for more than 20 years, opening this weekend in City Park. The park has undergone major restorations following Katrina, and this year, the festival arrives with new features as well as old favorites. New this year is the Fir de Lis, the tallest decorated tree in the state and a laser light show set to holiday music performed by local musicians. Walking tours through City Park include heaps of holiday attractions, like nightly performances featuring school choirs and orchestras, Irish dancers, cloggers, bell choirs, ballet troupes, dance groups and gospel groups. There's the chance to pose for photos with Santa, and kids can visit and share their wish lists. The Cajun Night Before Christmas exhibit puts a local twist on the classic tale. The amusement park will be in motion as well, with the century-old Antique Carousel running for the first time since the storm. Storyland, City Park's fairy tale theme park, is renovated and updated with new fairy tale vignettes. Saturday, Dec. 22 will feature a man-made blizzard from 8:30 a.m. until it melts. The newly replanted Botanical Garden is decorated for the season with millions of lights and special exhibits, like the New Orleans Historic Train Garden and the Poinsettia Tree exhibit (pictured) housed in the Conservatory of the Two Sisters. And, of course, it wouldn't be the holidays without Mr. Bingle, who has flown from his historic Canal Street perch to reign over the festival in the park. Tickets $6 general admission, free for children under three. — Lindsey Netherly

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