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Carl LeBlanc's 7th Ward Griot
8:15 p.m. Sun., Dec. 30
Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., 522-2841;

Banjo and guitar strummer Carl LeBlanc is one of New Orleans' less heralded treasures. His effortless virtuosity crosses a range of styles and media. A onetime member of the visionary Sun Ra Arkestra (he's also played alongside Ellis Marsalis, Bo Diddley, Alvin Batiste and Fats Domino to name a few), LeBlanc can be seen most often playing founding Preservation Hall Band-member Narvin Kimball's banjo in that ensemble, though his many solo projects extend far beyond the trad-jazz realm. As a music educator, his workshops teach history through themed programs of traditional and original songs. As a player, he's an unpredictable fount of blues, funk, jazz, storytelling and poetry. His upcoming album, 7th Ward Griot , gives a nod to both his own neighborhood and to the West African oral tradition. Tickets $10. — Alison Fensterstock





New Year's Eve with the New Orleans Opera
6:30 p.m. Mon., Dec. 31
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Hall I, 529-3000;
Metropolitan Opera star and Louisiana native Paul Groves (pictured) headlines a gala night with the New Orleans Opera. Since its landmark "A Night For New Orleans" featuring Placido Domingo in March 2006, the opera has taken to thinking in grand terms. This event is also a gaudy spectacle of top talent, including singers from the Met performing classic arias and ensemble pieces. The evening's special guests include Raymond Aceto, Elizabeth Futral, Susan Graham, Bryan Hymel, Sarah Jane McMahon and Lucas Meachem. They are supported by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Orleans Opera Chorus. Following the performance, there is a dinner and Champagne toast at the Westin Canal Place. Round-trip shuttle service is available from the Westin. Individual tickets $10-120, dinner party tickets $250. — Will Coviello





Benny Grunch & The Bunch
6 p.m. Tue., Dec. 25
Mid City Lanes Rock 'N' Bowl, 4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3133;

Christmas just isn't Christmas in New Orleans without a healthy dose of Benny Grunch's cheesy Chalmatian cheer. The raspy-voiced Y'at icon proves year after year that while he may be a Grunch, he's no Grinch. His 12 Yats of Christmas album has been a Crescent City holiday mainstay for more than a decade, heralding the yuletide season with the appearance of its cheerful yellow packaging at Walgreens checkout counters in the greater New Orleans area each year. The 2007 edition of the record is an overstuffed stocking of NOLA-themed Christmas song parodies. With 27 tracks in all, it includes timeworn classics like "O Little Town of Destrehan," "Santa and His Reindeer Used to Live Right Here," "Norris the Nocturnal Nutria," and "Santa Put the Hurt on You." Tickets 45 cents. — Fensterstock




Buddy Guy
10 p.m. Mon., Dec. 31
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Guitar slinger Buddy Guy has had the blues for a long, long time, and he's not ready to give them up yet. At 71, the five-time Grammy winner is actually a young pup compared to the other architects of the sound whose influence matches his own. Born in Louisiana, Guy cut his first single in Baton Rouge in 1957 before heading for the bright lights of Chicago, where he'd develop the scorching electric style that was as much a landmark for rock 'n' roll as for the blues. The Rolling Stones counted themselves big fans; even a young Jimi Hendrix counted Guy's early blistering experiments with fuzz as an influence on his own later travels into psychedelia. His diverse career rides the night train through primitive Delta sounds all the way up into the spaceways. Tickets $85. — Fensterstock



Marva Wright's 8th Annual X-mas Show
8 p.m. Tue., Dec. 25
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

House-rocking blues mama (and retired public school secretary) Marva Wright knows how to get a Christmas party started — by inviting a dozen or so of New Orleans' musical elite to join in a holiday spectacular of funk and R&B jams. Besides her own regular spirited set of jazz standards, energetic blues and gospel, expect to jingle your bells well into the wee hours with the cast of characters Wright has lured away from their own homes and hearths this Christmas Day. The bill includes almost all of the usual suspects: Irvin Mayfield, Kermit Ruffins, Ivan Neville, the musical brothers Troy and James Andrews, Jo "Cool" Davis, the fiddling ingénue Amanda Shaw, Rockin' Dopsie and many others. For those who wait until the very last minute for their Christmas shopping, a ticket to this blowout wouldn't be a bad bet. Tickets $12. — Fensterstock




George Porter's 60th Birthday Bash
8 p.m. Wed., Dec. 26
Howlin' Wolf, 907 S. Peters St., 522-WOLF

Bass legend George Porter Jr. is entering his seventh decade, and he's not about to let it pass unnoticed. His annual birthday shindig at the Wolf includes an all-star cast of party guests, ranging from fellow founders of funk like Art Neville — who himself celebrated a birthday last week — to his current bandmates in PBS (Brian Stoltz and Russell Batiste, pictured with Porter), plus Bonerama, Ivan Neville, Tony Hall and many others. With a powerhouse 2007 release — It's Life, which featured a roll call of musical friends and collaborators from his 40-odd years in the biz — and a constantly crowded gig schedule, Porter may be aging, but he shows no sign of slowing down. The cost of admission includes a buffet dinner compliments of Jacques-Imo's and Mulates. Tickets $20. — Fensterstock



10 p.m. Fri., Dec. 28
Hi-Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 945-HIHO

This reunion show is an increasingly rare chance to see the quirky improvisational jazz group started by bass maestro James Singleton (pictured) in 1995 as a forum to collaborate with the virtuosic pedal-steel player Dave Easley. Tenor sax player Tim Green joined in three years later, and when the members' outside commitments (each of them gig and tour often with other projects) permitted, the group specialized in fresh, vital excursions into sound. An open-door policy for like-minded local improvisers meant each show might be defined by something totally different, for example, Charlie Miller's flute, Nicholas Simion's sax or Johnny Vidacovich's pounding beat. Tonight's show features the versatile drummer Stanton Moore; it's his second appearance with the group. Tickets $10. — Fensterstock



King Louie One Man Band
10 p.m. Sat., Dec. 29
Circle Bar, 1032 Lee Circle, 588-2616

Sometimes a strong public persona can get you noticed as an artist. Sometimes image can go too far and eclipse the actual work. For a long time, the latter seemed to be the case with King Louie Bankston, the Harahan-born guitarist whose outsized personality and wacky inebriated antics got more notice than his playing with bands like the old-school frat-rock group the Royal Pendletons. In the past year, though, his work fronting the hard-rocking, greasy garage outfit the Black Rose Band has — or should have — had music fans taking note of Louie's formidable songwriting talent. His gigs as the One Man Band are comparatively rare, but it's a chance to see Louie showcase his gift for crafting catchy, rough-edged pop songs like the cult favorite "Chinese Crawfish" — and playing solo with all the energy of a full band and then some. Free admission. — Fensterstock

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