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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go


9 p.m. Thu., Feb. 21
Southport Music Hall, 200 Monticello Ave., 835-2903

Formed in 1991, the quartet Down is known for a particularly Southern kind of metal. Guitars grind slow and heavy, as if slogging through a swamp — with all the weight of Led Zeppelin and the muscle of Black Sabbath. The monster rockers behind the sludgy sound make up something of a New Orleans-area supergroup: Pantera's (and the Metairie Halloween attraction House of Shock's) singer Philip Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan on guitar, Eyehategod's drummer Jim Bower, plus the local '80s-hardcore act Shell Shock's Kirk Windstein, also on guitar. The group's latest album, Over the Under, dropped in September on Warner Music Group's ILG subsidiary. Tickets $25 — Alison Fensterstock


Ace Frehley
8:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 23
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

At almost exactly this time last year, Ace Frehley and his publicist were responding to pervasive Internet rumors of his suicide. Happily for millions of KISS army conscripts worldwide, rumors of his self-inflicted demise were greatly exaggerated, and the guitarist has lived to shred another day. Back in the day (and in the makeup), Frehley anchored the bombastic cock-rock gang with his incendiary guitar licks. After its breakup, he spent the '80s releasing a string of solo albums. Word has it that his latest project — which he said he planned to wrap up before kicking off this tour — will hearken back to his first solo hard-rocking release in 1978. Hopefully, fans will hear some of the fresh material at this gig. The Trews open. Tickets $28.50. — Fensterstock




Fats Domino's 80th Birthday Celebration
9 p.m. Sat., Feb. 23
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

After a shaky end to 2005, the past couple of years have been good to the Fat Man: 2006 and '07 saw the release of Rick Coleman's award-winning biography, a triumphant return to the New Orleans stage, and progress on the rebuilding of his Caffin Avenue home. Not least, of course, was the Tipitina's Foundation-recorded, Vanguard-released blockbuster 2007 tribute album Goin' Home, which featured luminaries from Robert Plant to Neil Young performing the piano man's classic hits. As Fats enters his ninth decade, we only hope it keeps getting better. The lineup at this all-star birthday fete is a good start. Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and others will be singing Fats his birthday wishes backed by the Celebration House Band, which includes Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Jon Cleary, Shannon Powell, Roger Lewis and others. Rumor has it Fats himself will be making a special appearance onstage. Tickets $75. — Fensterstock




North Mississippi Allstars with Alvin Youngblood Hart
10 p.m. Fri., Feb. 22
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Though the North Mississippi Allstars just released Hernando (Songs of the South) in late January, this tour will be one of the few chances to see it live until the end of the year, since Luther Dickinson will be spending some time playing lead guitar for the Black Crowes. The Allstars have stripped down and gone back to the basics on the album. Gone are the rappers and Hill Country drone blues that populated their last two releases (Electric Blue Watermelon and Hill Country Revue). With a couple exceptions, this is a power-trio record in the vein of Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience and Grand Funk Railroad mixed with Southern boogie. The riffs are heavy and the band still takes flights of improvisation, but the steady backbeat and propulsive bass keep an ass-shaking element in the forefront. Lead singer and guitarist Dickinson leads off the album in top blues fashion. The record continues with the songs "Keep the Devil Down" — which features a brief but awesome drum solo from Cody Dickinson — and "Soldier," a tune about Katrina. Even the tunes that rely less on riffs rock the roof off, including bassist Chris Chew's vocal feature "I'd Love to Be a Hippy" — a cousin to Doug Sahm's "Lawd, I'm Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City" — "Mizzip," the slide guitar ode to Mississippi complete with gospel beat, and the quick Chuck-Berry-for-the-new-millennium "Blow Out." Although the Allstars have de-emphasized what makes its records unique, its instrumental prowess and great riffs still make this record worth listening to. If it had come out in the mid '70s, it would still bring smiles to the faces of music lovers listening to album-oriented rock and classic rock radio. Tickets $25. — David Kunian

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click to enlarge CHERYL GERBER
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