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Shannon Powell's Tribute to Smokey Johnson
9 p.m. Sat., May 3
Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., 522-2841;

To oversimplify things, the first-call session drummer Joseph 'Smokey" Johnson's glorious, monster presence behind the kit created a bridge in New Orleans' rhythmic history between Earl Palmer's R&B beats and Joseph 'Zigaboo" Modeliste's untamed funk. His wild combination of R&B, jazz and funk rhythms anchored classic local tunes like Professor Longhair's 'Big Chief" and Earl King's 'Trick Bag," and for many years he held down the drum chair for Fats Domino. Johnson's biggest hit, the classic 'It Ain't My Fault," has had many musical lives. The Olympia Brass Band was the first to use the unmistakable central riff to drive second lines, and later New Orleans rappers Silkk the Shocker and Mystikal sampled it as the central hook on a track of the same name. Most recently, Mariah Carey borrowed it for a song on her Rainbows album. A presence on the skins in his own right, drummer Shannon Powell (pictured) pays tribute. Tickets $15. — Alison Fensterstock



WTUL Presents M.I.A. and guests
10 p.m. Sat., May 3
619 Frenchmen St.,

Voodoo Music Experience producer Rehage Entertainment sponsors this WTUL-FM show featuring 2007 Voodoo headliner M.I.A. (pictured), the London-born artist whose massively danceable sound is a hybrid of dub reggae, dancehall, electronic and hip-hop overlaid with her politicized rhyming. The rest of the bill is an appropriate mashup of sounds. Supporting M.I.A. on tour is the lo-fi electronica buzz band Holy F**k, and joining the pair for this show is King Britt, a funk and soul remix artist best known as the former DJ for Digable Planets, the '90s group that melded jazz and psychedelia with hip-hop. Filling out the lineup from the local end are the cabaret antics of the New Orleans Bingo! Show and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Tickets $25. — Fensterstock



Joe Lastie Jr. and Carl LeBlanc CD-release party
9 p.m. Sun., May 4
Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., 522-2841;

The release of these two albums kicks off a new series of recordings by Preservation Hall Jazz Band members produced by Preservation Hall Creative Director Ben Jaffe, aptly titled 'Preservation Hall Presents." Intended to showcase the individual talents that play under the umbrella of the hallowed Hall, the series will not be limited to traditional jazz. Banjo player Carl LeBlanc, who played guitar in one of the last incarnations of intergalactic jazz weirdo Sun Ra's band, has put together 7th Ward Griot , an eclectic mix of funk, soul and spoken word that features an emotionally resonant acoustic cover of Jackie Wilson's sweaty soul shout 'Lonely Teardrops" as one of its shining moments. Drummer Joe Lastie Jr.'s (pictured) album, The Lastie Family Gospel Choir, was apparently a happy accident: When he brought some family members (including cousin Herlin Riley) into the Hall to guest star on what was going to be a trad-jazz record, their hour-long traditional gospel jam was so intense that it became the album. Tickets $15. — Fensterstock



Basin St. Records 10th Anniversary and CD-release party
8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. Sat., May 3
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812;

Basin St. Records is the little label that could, handling its small roster of stellar New Orleans artists with care and savvy that keeps them calling the local label home. Founder Marc Samuels has gone through more than his share of strife with the business, including running it single-handedly after Katrina while also picking up the responsibility for CD sales at the Fair Grounds for the first post-K Jazz Fest. Henry Butler and Irvin Mayfield both perform two shows Saturday night to celebrate the 10th birthday of the label, which also is home to Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White, Theresa Andersson, Jason Marsalis, Jon Cleary and others. As an auspicious start to the label's second decade, the celebration also serves as the CD-release party for new albums from four Basin St. artists: Irvin Mayfield's collaboration with Ellis Marsalis, Love Songs, Ballads and Standards , Theresa Andersson's I the River , Dr. Michael White's Blue Crescent and Henry Butler's first live solo record, PiaNOLA Live . Ten percent of the gross proceeds benefits Desire NOLA. Tickets $25. — Fensterstock



Noon-midnight, Wed., April 30
The Truck Farm, 3020 St. Claude Ave.;

Three years ago, a group of New Orleans musicians organized the first ChazFest to console themselves about not having received invitations to play Jazz Fest. (Before and since that particularly unlucky year, most have played the Fair Grounds.) Held in the large yard behind the Truck Farm, a compound encompassing four houses and a recording studio partly owned by Grammy-winning producer Trina Shoemaker, the alternative festival has become a downtown institution, with two stages of local bands and food from Bywater restaurants. Eleven acts are scheduled to play Chazfest 2008. The Tin Men feature fest organizer Alex McMurray and fest namesake Washboard Chaz, and McMurray also leads his oddly popular sea shanty singing group the Valparaiso Men's Chorus. Ninth Ward neighborhood favorites Clint Maedgen, the Happy Talk Band (pictured), the Morning 40 Federation and Schatzy also play. The bill is rounded out by the cello-led chansons of Wazozo, old-timey junk-shop jazz from Loose Marbles, King James, the TBC Brass Band, Redwomen and the Geraniums. Tickets $20 in advance, $25 day of show. — Fensterstock



Injuns A-Comin'
6 p.m. Wed., April 30
Tipitina's, 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS;

Before Tipitina's started its annual Instruments A-Comin' show seven years ago, there was Injuns A-Comin', a benefit gathering of Mardi Gras Indian tribes at the Uptown club that was one of the earliest projects of the club's nonprofit arm, the Tipitina's Foundation. This year, Injuns A-Comin' is back, bringing together musical representatives from different tribes to benefit the Norman Dixon Sr., Fund, a part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation that has bought feathers for Indian suits and paid the annual second-line parading fees for several social aid and pleasure clubs. The night includes a silent auction of Indian costume pieces and art, plus performances by 101 Runners, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (pictured) and the Golden Eagles, the Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section, the Apache Hunters, Creole Wild West and the Hardhead Hunters. The Ninth Ward Hunters, the Golden Comanches and Wild Tchoupitoulas perform outside. A $50 VIP ticket includes food and open bar. Tickets $20. — Fensterstock



Lupe Fiasco
8 p.m. Sat., May 3
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Kanye can call his own number all he wants, but in reality, it's another Chi-Towner who rightly lays claim to the crown of Best Rapper Not Named Lil Wayne. Lupe Fiasco has been dropping show-stopping, record-wrecking guest verses for years — just witness him deflate West's swollen sense of superiority on the latter's Curtis Mayfield-sampling single, 'Touch the Sky." Hosting his own tag-team anthem in 2007, the remix of Top 40 favorite 'Superstar," Lupe would have no part of one-upmanship. His lilting, hypnotic cadence has all the best aspects of early Ice Cube and Nas, and on 'Superstar," it relegates talents like Young Jeezy and T.I. to spectator status. The scintillating track is actually a chart-topping exception to its album's concept-heavy rule. Where Lupe's debut Food & Liquor was packed with easygoing, old-school flashbacks, his sophomore LP The Cool (Atlantic) strives for greater heights, spinning an audio-book story of a hustler's rapid rise and fall in broad, analogous brush strokes. It's maybe the hardiest bridge mainstream hip-hop has built to its bygone, mid-'90s heyday. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

click to enlarge MARK SCHREIBER
  • Mark ScHreiber
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